A selection of letters about TV turnoff global campaign

To Those Who are Perhaps More Like Me than Others:
I am 18 years old and have not had access to television programs since I was 16. I’ve never really wanted to after realizing there was not anything worth watching. A few things about myself: I will be graduating from high school this year with a cumulative GPA of 3.00. I have held a 3.5 for the past year and it is steadily rising. I work 39 hours a week at the neighborhood drug store while running cross-country in my spare time. I was asked by my friends what I do in my spare time, “What form of release from the pressures of school, parents, etc.” I replied in a matter-of-fact tone that I live. I. Sloan, Ocala Fla.

White Dot:
The county has provided every classroom in our elementary school with a TV. What a waste! I found that the majority of teachers were letting students watch “Hollywood” movies on a daily basis. My fifth-grader watched more than 15 full feature films during her class year — this at a National School of “Excellence.” After letters, phone calls and a meeting with the principal, I finally had the TVs turned off (except for instructional videos). D.Taylor, Marietta Ga.

White Dot:
In the fall of 1974 [my wife] and I decided to implement a survey of our family’s TV habits. Unknown to the six children we faithfully recorded each minute the set was on and who was in the audience for a month.We were above the national average of 5.6 hours per day. We decided to develop a plan to control our TV habit and eliminate a lot of hours in favor of family unity. Two months later I accepted work in Belgium. Since we couldn’t understand the language, all of the programming fell on deaf ears. We found two English channels, but they provided a few hours per week of U.S. programming. Then something began to happen: The children forgot TV in favor of Eurpoean activities like bike riding, soccer and hiking. We are convinced that our children’s progress in reading, music and science there in private schools, plus the absence of TV were deciding factors that blessed them later. We know that we all benefitted. We are re-committing to this lesson learned more than 20 years ago through the encouragement of your publication. R & J. Harris, Bountiful, Utah

White Dot:
The more I think about computers and your Web site, the more I’m sure it will degrade the purity of “no TV” doctrine (the White Dot). A computer monitor is just another TV, since much TV and movie programming comes up on computers. It’s best to jettison the computer screen and Web site, to keep your grand effort pure. The compromise at present would rear its ugly head sooner or later and byte (bite) you. (You may be accused later of getting rid of the “old” TV to help bring in the more damaging “new” TV.) James Sorrell, Boise Idaho

White Dot:
I am kind of a disciple of Jerry Mander. I am 70 years old, as is my wife. I am particularly turned off by TV news. Instead of real news, what is offered is an “entertainment of terrible happenings” carefully edited to maximize entertainment value and carefully omitting any background to provide understanding of why these things are happening. The content is cleverly manipulated to serve the intersts of the “powers that be.” I remember during the Vietnam era there were countless marches and demonstrations agains the war but on the TV news any demonstrators shown would always include those bearing placards of the “Young Communists League” etc., in order to grossly mislead the public. TV news is real news to about the extent that commercials are real news. R.T. Gabbert, Chicago

White Dot:
What I find truly amazing is the number of friends who I have told that my wife and I dont watch TV and yet they still ask if I saw such-and-such show last night! I guess there must be some type of subconscious block that does not allow TV addicts to acknowledge the fact that there are those of us who live life TV-free. R. Ziolkowski Jr., Crystal Lake, Ill.

White Dot:
I have not had a TV or seen a program (except I went next door to see Nixon’s resignation speech) for 28 years and haven’t missed it at all. A Reader

White Dot:
Since I work the 3pm to 11 pm shift at work, I miss “prime time’ completely, and pretty much the only thing on when I get home are infomercials and old reruns, all of which are well worth skipping. The amazing thing is, I don’t miss it. M. Campbell, Milwaukee

White Dot:
I agree fully with the reader who feels that a website would be contrary to the spirit and philosophy of “no TV.” This whole website business is indeed the new TV and has in common with the old TV the relentless way in which it soon becomes an end in itself. The idea should be ditched. Then, if I may be permitted two comments in one letter, I see you have printed the “information” that Bette Midler and Madonna do not permit their children to watch television. Do you really believe this, coming as it does from — well, people like that? I think it’s a put-on and I think you swallowed it. A. Cosnow, Glencoe, Ill.

White Dot:
We raised our daughters — now age 28 and 26 — without TV. We just never bought one. It is amazing how many people will try to give you a TV when they know you don’t have one. When they were younger and had paper routes they threatened to buy a TV. I decided not to worry about it until they raised the money. They never did. Once my sister’s daughter (age 6) asked her grandmother (b. 1908) what her favorite TV shows had been when she was a little girl. My mother replied “None, there was no TV then — pause — and there wasn’t even any radio.” Granddaughter: “Gosh, Grandma, what did you DO?” M. Milhous, Ft. Collins, Colo.

White Dot:
Help me please! I find myself unable to look away, paralyzed as I bask in the blue glow of my master. I have been beginning to suspect that it doesn’t love me and care about me as I felt before. You are right. Hawkeye and Trapper really don’t care about me. My kids watch The Waltons every day. This is a “good” show, a nice show. But, instead of spending time being a close family we just watch one. I realize now that the Waltons never watch TV! Help me be alive again. Help me experience life and not just “watch” it. P. Lavigne (by e-mail)

White Dot:
Your article “Static Symbol” about where people physically put their TVs could stand this updating: starting next year when digital television arrives, the average TV set is going to get much larger — actually much wider — than what’s out there today. The superior image is supposed to push consumers into buying giant-sized sets. Even modest sets will be wider that what’s currently out there. By 2006 all sets sold in this country should be HDTV, so that new Scandinavian entertainment center you just plunked down thousands for may be less attractive in a few years. Of course, everyone will have to buy a new TV and VCR too, since by 2006 (as it currently stands) all TV programming will be delivered digitally, making analog equipment non-functional. Keep swimming against the tide. If there’s ever anything good on television I’ll let you know. PJ Bednarski, editor, Electronic Media

White Dot:
We had a brief correspondence about my idea of doing a dissertation project on the psychological effects of TV viewing vs. abstention. Regretfully, I’ve abandoned the idea and have begun another project. As I dug deeper into the effects-of-TV literature and writing up a prospectus for my project, a lot of problems arose that seemed insurmountable. The possibility of getting college students to voluntarily refrain from or cut back on their TV viewing for any substantial period of time seemed pretty slim. Realistically, I would have had to limit the abstention period to a week or maybe two, but two would be really pushing it. All sorts of selection bias and what they call “demand characteristics” would creep in as most participants would likely balk at the idea of giving up TV. So the outcomes I started envisioning were: at best, giving up TV did show some positive gains but the methodological flaws would undermine the results substantially; at worst, the short-term abstention from TV might well cause greater short-term distress, which would lead to a conclusion that TV is good for people! I didn’t want to do a study where that was a very possible outcome. I’m guessing that people who give up TV (even voluntarily) have an adjustment period where they have to figure out what to do with themselves, so there is probably a short-term distress period to get through before a long-term gain. This could be demonstrated in a study, but not without some heavy funding as an inducement to participants to give up TV for…2 months? 6 months? How long before the benefits become apparent? I’m sure it varies from person to person, but my guess is that for college students who are giving it up only because of a psych study, it would be more than 2 weeks. Anyway, I hope somebody does this at some point, and I hope they are in touch with you. J. Chamberlain, Silver Spg., Md.

White Dot:
Please send me your newsletter and any extra back issues. My husband and I need all the support we can get in this area of TV. Our seven sons watch way too much. Today, we are removing the TV to rebuild the structure of our home. Thanks for listening. Deb O’Reilly, Ralston, Nebraska

White Dot:
Last night my wife and I were invited to the mansion of a colleague to see a movie on his posh projection system (movie-size screen, Dolby sound.) He has taken into his home a divorced woman with two children, (10 and 14). We were supposed to watch Orson Welles MacBeth; but then he said he’d been outvoted by the children. (They have the system to watch every day; he rarely has any company. They made this demand just to show us they’re in charge.) We watched instead The Usual Suspects which involved endless slaughter, including burned bodies shown up close, and so on. After a half hour of slaughter I said, “These children should not be watching this show.” The response was that the children had seen it already and wanted to see it again. I said, “I’m leaving. I will not watch this movie with children.” My wife joined me reluctantly. She deplored my bad manners… D. Lyons, Fort Collins, Colo.

White Dot:
I am pleased to report that one week ago I took delivery of Get a Life: The Little Red Book of the White Dot Anti-Television Movement and after reading it was able to locate the “off” button on my TV (elusive little thing!) I am now in the process of getting back my life. It is costing me a fortune in stamps as I am catching up on those long overdue letters to my friends and family!) Also, the local library’s lending figures have gone up by an incredible leap of 3. (Three novels in one week — not bad!) The old acoustic guitar that I learned to play “Proud Mary” on in the seventies has had a bit of a dust down and will be going to a nice man in Bognor Regis to be restrung this weekend and I have a sneaking feeling that the local Adult Education prospectus will have an important part to play in my future TV-Free life when it is published next month.I intend to live my life now, not by “remote control” but by first hand experience. Linda Kennedy, Worthing, England

White Dot:
My wife and I watched a debate last night on Australian television between David Burke (co-author of Get A Life) and a couple of Australian mass media magnates. We were very nearly sick. David was polite, well-spoken, friendly and calm as he presented his case. The media junkies fired verbal assault after assault, complete with trite personal insults – not bad for a person they’d never met and didn’t know. They labelled him as a born-again addict, a modern day Luddite, and accused him of being incredibly boring – all because he didn’t watch television. David just smiled – he obviously didn’t feel the need to lower himself to their level. I’d always thought of the anti-TV crowd as being a little bit odd, and of making a lot of noise about nothing. Something about David’s calm demeanour and secret smiles made me start to wonder, and the fear in the eyes of the TV vampires made me more than a little unnerved. What if this guy was right? The pro-television preachers told of the benefits of television, and stated that it actually broadened the minds of children. David cited a couple of reseach programs into attention deficit disorder and the delayed acqusition of language and their links to television. When he asked the television pushers where their evidence was, they said that they didn’t want to get into that sort of argument. When the insults from a female broadcasting guru got too much for our stomachs, we turned the TV off. We would have liked to have watched the whole debate, but we were both raging fit to burst. We sat down and talked about it. We were still talking about it when we went to bed. We’ve just realised that we work between eight and ten hours a day so that we can spend another five or six hours watching television. We don’t have lives – we have a TV that lives for us. We eat our meals in front of it. Monday’s newspaper is our most read – it has the TV guide in it. We cut telephone calls with distant family short when a must-see show comes on. Most of the time we don’t even have a show in mind when we turn on – we just suck in whatever happens to be on at the time for hours on end. Our living room is a maze of couches and cables, all geared towards worshipping the box. Our lives are organised around television, and yet we both knew we hate it with every fibre of our being. We keep watching anyway. We’re addicted. Enough is enough. We’re actually going to get a life. We’ve decided the spend the five hours a night we spend in front of the box reading, listening to music, going out to dinner, playing with our cat, taking courses at the local college, cooking, making love, playing chess, enjoying the company of friends and family. We might even end up gutting our 68cm set and turning it into an aquarium. We’re not going to watch lifestyle shows where they make furniture and cook with exotic ingredients and say oh, how lovely – we’re going to buy cookbooks and a bandsaw, spend some time browsing the local fresh food markets and hardware stores and bloody do it for ourselves. Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and the rest of the gang can rot in hell. We’re going to tape South Park and tell ourselves we’re watch it some day when it’s raining and the buses are on strike. Thanks for giving us eleven years of our life back – we’ll make sure that when we have kids, they won’t make the same mistake we have. Cheers! Matt, Australia

White Dot:
Hi !!! You’re crazy and I really like You. I found your (web) page today and I write now. I’m from Poland, I study psychology and I’m interested in TV influence. Nowadays, in Poland, the problem with TV is getting bigger and bigger. People love TV and believe TV. I hate TV and I read about it and I talk with friends. Now, in Poland people are manipulated by TV and they don’t realize it at all. Young children watch TV, Play computer and then… This problem is maybe not so big as it is in USA or UK, but it is started. We have “free Television” since 10 years. If you could, please send me some articles, news, researches or anything that enrich my knowledge about TV. Thank You very much. PS. I’d like to correspond or cooperate with you. [Readers, how about dropping him a line?] Mirek Urban UL. SKIERKI 1/191 20 – 601 LUBLIN POLAND

White Dot:
We are a TV-Free family, have been for 6 years now. We are now parents of a 4-month old daughter named Kate, and want to connect with other TV-Free families out there. How do we do it? Can you help? S. Brenner, Ellsworth, Maine [See David Burke’s column, p. 11, Ed.]

White Dot:
I realize that your organization advocates watching less television, but I am hoping that you will be able to help me. When I was younger, I used to enjoy watching the white dot disappear at the end of the day’s broadcasting. Do you know where I could get a video copy of the disappearing white dot? Lea Tucker, Honiton, England

White Dot:
I’m a squash player who threw his TV set away five years ago. I was talking to (Squash Champion) David Woodman the other night. He played in the World Juniors at Princeton in 98. We came to the conclusion that the answer isn’t in getting squash on TV. The answer is getting TV viewers off their big fat arses and onto squash courts!!! Paul Baggott, Britain

White Dot:
I have not owned a television in 30 years. Nor do I allow one over my threshold. I worry about virtual reality taking over civilization. I would like to share ideas with others who elect to live without television. JeffryRSmith@AOL.com

White Dot:
I wholeheartedly support you. I don’t mean to say that TV is all in all a bad thing, but is overly used and time-consuming and braincell-damaging for those who do overuse it. White Dot is a good idea. It creates more of a conversation around it and TV becomes more controversial. I hope that, ultimately, people will come around and realize that they’re spending more time with a piece of furniture than with other people.

Source: Cineoculto.com

My caseworker

Your agency gets a lot of grumbling (and) complaining letters. This one is just the opposite. I would like to tell you about my caseworker, Abbey VanHoeven, from the Kent County office. Two years ago I was 44 years old and homeless with two teenage children. I showed up at DHS a mental mess as I was brought up to “take care of myself.” Here I was, in the “welfare place” having to ask for help. Abbey was assigned to my case.

Not only did she make me feel like a human and that it was okay to ask for help, I walked out with a food card and hope of finding a place to live. Abbey went above and beyond the “duty” of a caseworker to help me. But most of all, she made me feel good about myself again and that things would be okay.

I was enrolled in the Michigan Works! program that put me through college and graduated the medical administrative assistance program with a 96.4 GPA, feeling good; but that was quick to end. I did not give up when resume after resume went overlooked. Finally, after 200 applications and two interviews from the whole bunch, I got a job. After six months, my back injury returned, landing me in bed for the past five weeks and a few more before we are done with treatment. My work is bending over backward to keep my job by offering me FMLA (usually one year of employment is required).

Yesterday, after being stubborn enough to let us almost starve to death, I called Abbey. We talked and she found that even working I had only been able to buy groceries twice since Thanksgiving. I had gone to local church for food and made arrangements with my electric company to hold off … but time was running out and panic of no money was hitting me hard.

Now the purpose of this letter, Abbey VanHoeven came to my house with paperwork (I live on second floor of a historical home and cannot make the steps well and had no gas in my car). Not only did she bring paperwork, she showed up with five bags of food! She had gone home on her lunch, as did her supervisor, to gather what they could spare. She knew that we had not had a loaf of bread or gallon of milk in over a
month. She used her own money to pick up some hamburger, buns, milk and bread.

Your office is very, very lucky to have someone with an attitude, smile, and love of helping people as Abbey
VanHoeven. She sets the example of human kindness. If your office has something as “Caseworker of the Year”, I would like to nominate Abbey VanHoeven. (She has mentioned previously, that she has gone to her house to get blankets for people she couldn’t help immediately).

Thank you for listening to my tale and I hope that this letter gets to the proper persons that will let Abbey know that she is one special caseworker as well as human being. I was walking with God when he gave me Abbey as a caseworker. She is truly a living angel and I know this from talking with her over the telephone and having porno meetings during the previous two years. Please, please do recognize Abbey in some way as she is truly one of the most genuinely kind persons I have ever met.

A story of food disorder by Missy

Hi everyone. Thanks for visiting my site! I would like to share my own personal story with you, since I found that hearing other peoples’ experiences helped me to feel better.

Since I was a little girl, maybe 7 or 8, I’ve been worrying about my weight.
My mom has her own eating issues and insisted that if “I got fat I would be unhappy”. However, although her intentions may have been good, she inadvertently helped to introduce a theme in my life. Before she said anything, I hadn’t even given a second thought to my body shape yet.
As an young adolescent, I actually was overweight by about 15 pounds. At this point, I still didn’t really notice except that others began to tease me about it. Even some of  my “close friends” at the time would constantly berate me for my weight and make me feel ugly.

By my freshman year of high school I’d begun to thin out a bit naturally due to growth in height, however, at this point I was already on the road to an obsession with my weight and had begun to diet. My diet was extremely restrictive. What I thought was “eating healthy” was actually a diet
that included almost no fat whatsoever, so I was restricted to a few “safe foods”. An example of my meals for a day might have been: A small bowl of cereal w/skim milk, a salad with fat free dressing and grilled chicken,and a piece of grilled fish, rice and vegetables. True, this does sound nutritional. However, when one forces oneself only to eat certain foods, and punishes oneself for eating any foods that are enjoyable to them, it becomes restrictive and can often lead to eating disorders.

And, for me, it did lead to a disorder. By my sophomore year of High School,
I had lost about 20 pounds, and was the thinnest I’d ever been. However, due to my restrictive diet, I soon gained it all back. This was around junior year and I was so depressed by this that I could hardly function. I didn’t want to go to school or be with friends. I just wanted to be alone. I would wear a long pea-coat everyday, even in warm weather so that I could cover up my body and not feel insecure. I began dating my current boyfriend around this time too. He didn’t notice/ care about my weight, but I did. I was embarassed to let him touch me, to hold me, and nevermind see me naked. He felt terribly that I was so insecure and I often resented him for seeing me naked eventhough I had allowed him to, because in truth I assumed that he must see me as fat and ugly, since  in my mind, all guys wanted super-thin, tiny waisted girls.

That year I also began to engage in binge eating. There was no purging (vomiting, over-exercising, etc.) afterwards. I would simply consume huge quantities of junk food inorder to
make myself feel better and then feel horribly sad about my body. Before I binged I would usually change into a large, flowing shirt of some kind in anticipation of the fact that I would feel too ashamed to look
at myself in the mirror otherwise (I thought delusionally that I would see the weight gain immediately).
This led to even more anxiety. I was still dieting constantly but the bingeing caused weight fluctuations. I was worried constantly about it and would plan not to binge before important events or parties, etc. so that I would feel a little less guilty on that day. However, this rarely worked.

Senior year came and I was still bingeing and depressed though I’d somehow managed to drop enough weight so I was no longer overweight (according to today’s accepted measurements of height/weight ratio etc.). I still felt like I was enormous and disgusting however. Sometimes I would even drive around in my car from one fast food place to another so I wouldn’t have to be embarrassed that I was back buying more food at the same one.

The summer before I went off to college, I exercised obsessively to try to get back to my “ideal” thinness that I had reached sophomore year of HS. It didn’t work obviously, but I began to feel better about myself in college anyway as I saw more body types and began to re-learn the idea of beauty.
Still, I was far from recovered. I became absolutely vicious with my boyfriend about whether or not her thought I was fat. He would always, always insist that I was beautiful at any weight and that he thought I was crazy to think I was fat, but I didn’t believe him. I couldn’t because everywhere I looked, guys were drooling over tiny, thin women. So, I assumed my boyfriend was the same. It must have been extremely frustrating for him to go through this with me, and I honestly don’t know how he did it.
Sometimes I would even feel angry when we were making love because I would picture him thinking my body was fat or not pretty enough and it would enrage me. Of course, this was completely delusional, but I did not realize that at the time. Often I would lose my arousal quickly or if I maintained it I wouldn’t be able to have an orgasm.

Of course, during this time, I was in counseling but it was mostly for depression and anxiety and we only briefly touched on the issue of my binge eating disorder.

However, I wound up transferring schools my sophomore year of college and in the new place I decided to go see a new psychologist and she referred me to a nutritionist. Finally I was on the road to recovery! I was afraid that the nutritionist would tell me I had to gain all my weight back in order to recover. She didn’t. She worked with me, and was very patient and understanding. She made a sample meal plan for me that incorporated foods I enjoyed and were nutritious at the same time. She taught me how to make my own meal plans and to stay around a certain calorie limit most of the time so I wouldn’t become overweight again. At first, I was terrified to try the new porno diet. I thought that maybe she was lying to me and the meal plan would actually make me gain weight. I couldn’t believe that a diet with actual fat in it could possibly not make you fat. But my nutritionist taught me that it is calories that make us gain weight not fat. So I could eat whatever I wanted, as long as the quantities were ok. I was extremely nervous still about this and wound up calling her several times to talk about my frustration and nerves but she convinced me to follow through with it and I figured that whatever the outcome, it wasn’t going to be worse than bingeing forever. So I took that first plunge and after a couple of days I started to feel healthier. At first my body rejected the “good fats” like those in peanut butter and olive oil and I actually had an oily discharge when I went to the bathroom for several days (sorry everyone hehe but the graphicness was necessary!). But,  I was so happy, I cried several times during meals when I realized that I could eat food again and not feel guilty. I didn’t gain any weight, I even lost a bit because of the lack of bingeing. Being able to eat what I wanted boosted my self esteem and happiness immensly. I no longer had to feel like the only one at the table who couldn’t get dessert or try a new pasta dish, etc. My mood began to stabalize because I wasn’t constantly obsessing about my next meal, and I had more energy to do things that I needed to do like school work, hanging out with friends, and singing with my band.

Most amazing of all was when I began to look in the mirror and more and more I would see how beautiful I really was. I realized that somewhere between my adolescense and my adulthood, the fat on my body became a mark, not of overweightness, but of a womanly figure. I have hips and breasts and thighs. So what? That’s called nature.

Anyway, that about brings us up to date. I  now consider myself recovered at age 19. I haven’t felt so great in years. Things are going amazingly in school, in my personal life and with my amazingly special boyfriend who’s been with me through all of this( I Love You, Lee!).

 

Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope this has been helpful or at least educational.

Very Truly Yours,

Missy
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gay History in South America

~ 1513 ~ PANAMA: Institutionalised homosexuality observed among the natives of Quarequa by Balboa.

~ 1533 ~ PERU: Institutionalised homosexuality observed among the Peruvian natives by Augustin Zarate. Similar observations were made in 1574 by Lopez de Velasco.

~ 1844 ~ BRAZIL: Anthropologist KFP von Martius noted that apprentice healers of the Coeruna and Bororo tribes inherited their powers sexually from an older healer.

~ 1951 ~ BRAZIL: Institutionalised homosexuality observed among the Cagaba (Reichel-Dolmatoff).

~ 1955 ~ PERU: The anthropologist Tobias Schneebaum studied the Amakaeri people of the Peruvian Amazonian rainforest, among whom homosexuality was the norm and heterosexuality only occurred for the purposes of reproduction.

~ 1966 ~ BRAZIL: Institutionalised homosexuality observed among the Pokomam (Reina).

~ 1971 ~ PERU: Institutionalised homosexuality observed among the Cueba by Francisco Guerra.

~ 1972 ~ VENEZUELA: Lesbians observed among the Yanomamo (Wilbert)

~ 1977 ~ BRAZIL: Institutionalised homosexuality observed among the Tapirape (Wagley).

~ 1979 ~ BRAZIL: Institutionalised homosexuality observed among the Barasana (Hugh-Jones).

17th century ~ BRAZIL: Zumbi dos Palmars, black anti-slavery leader was of Jaga tribe of Angola (see Africa: Native Peoples), and lived in intimate friendship with a priest (Mott).

1984 ~ ARGENTINA: Comunidad Homosexual Argentina formed.

1991 ~ BRAZIL: Salvador becomes the first Latin American town to ban discrimination against gay people.

~ COSTA RICA: 1st Lesbian & Gay Pride celebration.

1983 ~ ARGENTINA: Federation for the Liberation of Homosexuals

1993 ~ BRAZIL: 1st Gay Pride March, Rio de Janeiro.

1995 ~ CUBA: Cuban Association of Gays and Lesbians ‘came out’.

1996 ~ ARGENTINA: Buenos Aires becomes the first Spanish-speaking Latin American city to ban discrimination.

1997 ~ ECUADOR: Several days of demonstration in Cuecna following police harassment.

~ ARGENTINA: Pensions rights granted to gay partners.

The Gay History: East & South Europe

17th century ~ PORTUGAL: Gay and transvestite inns reported in Lisbon.

1948 ~ YUGOSLAVIA: A form of sworn brotherhood and sisterhood was common which “takes on some homosexual aspects”, and these pacts were celebrated in (rural) churches. (Tomasic, 1948)

1974 ~ AUSTRIA: Criminal Law Amending Act decriminalises homosexuality.

1983 ~ AUSTRIA: Vienna: Lesbian Centre and Social club founded.

1989 ~ YUGOSLAVIA: Lesbian magazine Lesbiska Sekcija published in Slovenian.

1990 ~ POLAND: Gay magazine Inaczej published.

1991 ~ CZECHOSLOVAKIA: International Lesbian & Gay association (Eastern & South East Europe) 5th Regional conference (April 19th-21st).

1993 ~ CYPRUS: European Court of Human Rights rules (1993) that Cyprian law prohibiting male homosexuality violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The law is ammended, decriminalising homosexuality in private between consenting adults over 18.

1994 ~ LATVIA: 1st Lesbian & Gay Week.

1995 ~ ALBANIA: Shoqata Gay Albania formed; Article 137 of the 1977 Penal Code repealled, legalising sex at 14.

1996 ~ MALTA: 1st Pride (June 29th-30th)

1996 ~ POLAND: 1st Lesbian Information and Counselling centre founded (OLA-Archiwum).

1997 ~ PORTUGAL: Portugese Assembly equalizes the age of consent at 16.
~ 1st lesbian and gay community centre opens in Lisbon.
~ AUSTRIA: Article 221, banning gay organisations and dissemination of positive information is repealled.
1997~ SAN MARINO: Homosexuality legalised.

1998 ~ ROMANIA: President Emil Constantinescu promises to pardon men imprisoned for consensual gay sex.

~ LATVIA: Age of consent equalised; also plans to offer refuge to gay people persecuted in other countries.

Gay History in Pacific Asia & Australia

Native peoples: ~ Many Polynesian tribes have institutionalised male homosexuality; in contrast with heterosexist modern Western cultures, it is an essential element of manhood and masculinity. Among the Malekula (Deacon, 1934) Marind, Sambia and Kiman (Herdt, 1984) it is believed that semen is the essential male substance that gives a man his strength and prowess as a hunter and warrior, and that it is not produced spontaneously by the body but has to be planted there, where it will grow. For this reason, pubescent males are ritually inseminated by an uncle or proscribed male who is not the father. In Marind society, heterosexuality is viewed as a ‘necessary evil’; the vagina being identified with excrement and women with castration.
~ IN AUSTRALIA: The aborigines revere semen for its association with creating life. In the bora ceremony of Kimberly District in Western Australia, young men drink semen. Elderly dying men do the same, for medicinal purposes. Social homosexuality was recorded by anthropologists in the Tiwi tribe (Pilling).

Anthropological studies:
~ 1870 ~ Borneo: The manang bali are the gay shamans of the Iban, and can become chiefs (Perelaer).
~ 1896 ~ Institutionalised homosexuality noted among the Kanaka Popinee of New Caledonia (Jacobus).
~ 1903 ~ Hawaii: gay shamans are refered to as healers (‘mahu’)(Malo).
~ 1911 ~ Institutionalised homosexuality noted among the Maoris of New Zealand and the Tonga and Pukapuka of Java (Kaarsch-Haak). ~
~ 1928 ~ Samoa: As in Hawaii, gay shamans are refered to as healers (‘mafu’)(Mead).
~ 1954 ~ Indonesia: The Ngadju have gay shamans.
~ 1971 ~ Easter Island: Lesbian relationships noted by anthropologist Alfred Metraux.

Folklore:

NEW ZEALAND: Tutanekai and Tiki were takataapui, “intimate companions of the same sex.”

BC 57 – AD 918 ~ KOREA: Hyekong the 36th king of the Shilla dynasty was described as ‘a man by appearance but a woman by nature’.

AD 8th century ~ KOREA: Myojung, a very young Buddhist monk was loved and sought after by several male aristocrats, and even by a Chinese Emperor from the Tang dynasty

1436 ~ KOREA: Choson dynasty: Sejong, the 4th Choson ruler, convened a meeting of his to discuss the rumors that his daughter-in-law had been sleeping with her maidservant.

17th century ~ KOREA: In folklore there are many stories about male homosexuals, including the hwarang (flower boy) of the Yi dynasty.

1973 ~ NEW ZEALAND: November Rotorua Gay Liberation Front formed.

1978 ~ AUSTRALIA: The Gay Solidarity Group was formed in Sydney by Ken Davis and Anne Talve. Their planned commemoration of the “Day of International Gay Solidarity” (the 9th anniversary of the Stonewall riots) on June 24 attracted somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 people. The festival, with dancing and music which Margaret McMann described as a “Mardi Gras”, is celebrated every February and is the world’s largest gay festival.

1991 ~ AUSTRALIA: Outrage, the national gay magazine, becomes the first gay product to be advertised on national television.

1993 ~ THAILAND: Lesbian group Anjaree (“women following different ways”) formed. Disliking the word lesbian because of associations with psychiatry, the use the term ‘ying-rak-ying’ (women loving women).

1995 ~ TAIWAN: 3rd Asian Lesbian Conference in Tapei.

1996 ~ PHILIPPINES: 500 lesbians and gay men marched through Manila for equality.

~ TAIWAN: Daily gay radio show begins in Tapei.

1997 ~ VIETNAM: A Vietnamese-Australian and his Vietnamese partner celebrated their ‘wedding’ with 100 guests in Ho Chi Minh city.

~ TASMANIA: The Legislative Council decriminalises gay male sex.

An in-breadth look at the presence of gay people around the world, throughout history.

The aim of this work is to show the prevalence and significance of gay people on our planet; in particular, to oppose the prevailing notion that homosexuality is a recent or regional phenomenon (a result of ‘foreign’ influences or a ‘modern permissive society’). As the evidence clearly indicates, homosexuality is – and always has been – an integral feature of human life and society.

In this work, I am concentrating on a broad represntation of as many countries, over as great a span of time as possible, so you won’t find any lengthy essays here. For some good, in-depth gay history sites, see the links page. Also, I have emphasised mostly the positive aspects of gay history and culture; those seeking details of the grimmer side of things are directed to other sources!

Where indigenous peoples are mentioned, it is in reference to cultures where homosexuality is an accepted part of that culture. Same-sex activity has been observed by many anthropologists in countless tribes around the world; this only reinforces the realisation that human sexuality is universally polymorphous. I have emphasised instances in which same-sex relationships or homosexual individuals occupy a clearly defined, equal (or superior) social niche. Of particular interest in this regard are the Native American gay shamans and the predominantly homosexual Polynesian cultures.

Many past and present cultures have socially instituted transvestism and transsexualism, but this is not always an indication of individual sexual orientation, so I have not included such references. Likewise with the many instances of ritualised pederasty; the majority of lesbian, gay and bisexual people (in the modern, ‘civilised’ world, at least) do not perceive this as being part of gay identity.

The omission of gay characters from world history is no more evident than in regard to lesbians. The notion that gay women are scarcer than gay men, or that their sexuality is somehow less ‘real’ than male sexuality, has much to do with the predominance of patriarchal societies, the status of women throughout history and modern homophobia. There is less information here regarding lesbians, although the references I have found will be a revelation to many; lesbianism is just as prevalent and widespread in world history as male homosexuality, if not always as prominent.

The word ‘gay’ is used throughout this site in reference to women and men who form erotic same-sex relationships.

I must apologise in advance for the blatant lumping together of many great nations in the same categories (and the total absence of others), but this reflects the amount of relevant information I have collected so far on each. As more information comes my way, no doubt some of these will warrant their own sections!

In regard to the development of gay culture, I have paid particular note to the foundation of national organisations, improvements in legislation, and cultural landmarks such as Pride marches and international ventures.

Every gay person on Earth, regardless of nationality, race or background, has a gay heritage not only in their own homeland but also as a member of this gay species and as a citizen of this gay planet.