So I’m reading an article in today’s LA Times that tells me California has a law on its books, requiring health experts to find a cure for homosexuality. Nice. I’m sure as time goes by, we’ll discover lots of these little nuggets of legalized anti-gay persecution embedded in various state laws. Virginia for example, so I’m told, still has on its books somewhere a law forbidding bars and restaurants from serving known homosexuals. As the Times article says, “That code is like the old race restrictions on property deeds.” We’ll be finding a lot of those as the culture wars draw to a close.
Yes, yes…those were different times you say. But you need to notice how homosexuality had nothing, really, to do with why the law was enacted…
This 60-year-old relic was not some gay-baiting prelude to the McCarthy era. It came, rather, in response to public outcry over sex crimes in California, specifically the molestation-murder of a 6-year-old Los Angeles girl. The murderer was not a gay man. There was no connection between the crime and homosexuality at all.
Linda Joyce Glucoft went out to play after dinner on Nov. 14, 1949, and never came home. She was raped and murdered by the grandfather of one of her playmates, a repeat sex offender who offered no resistance when arrested in a downtown bar. He admitted to the gruesome slaying, to wrapping her body in a colorful blanket and hiding it near an incinerator. He told police he was acting on an indescribable compulsion and that he hadn’t made her suffer long. He was the personification of what was then called a sexual psychopath.
The rape and murder struck a nerve. There had been nine such slayings in Los Angeles in the 2 1/2 decades before Linda’s murder. But in the following week, police fielded 25 reports of molestation. Public outcry grew. It took just days to gather 10,000 signatures on a petition demanding action from Sacramento.
Sacramento was ready to oblige…
And who got caught up in the public outcry? Need you ask? And never mind that it wasn’t a gay man who raped and murdered a six year old girl, but a family member who turned out to be a sexual psychopath.
This was not an unusual incident of gays taking the blame for crimes committed by heterosexuals. In his book, Sex-Crime Panic, Neil Miller documents how in 1955 Iowa passed a law permitting homosexuals to be declared sexual psychopaths and locked up indefinitely after two children were found murdered in Sioux City. The actual killer or killers of those children were never found, but the public demanded action, so twenty gay men who the authorities never claimed had anything to do with the crimes were rounded up and locked away in a mental institution.
I find it impossible to believe that this was the only time that ever happened, and I wonder about the stories of those eventually made to take whatever cure for homosexuality California eventually came up with. Somewhere, other horrors are waiting to be unearthed, and eventually will be. This is the reckoning the culture warriors are terrified of. Not that gay couples can finally marry, not that gay teens can at last have a school life that doesn’t involve ducking the other kid’s fists. It’s that the persecution of gay people the right keeps mistaking for righteousness is finally seen for the mindless brutality it is, and the horror stories start coming out into the light of day. No, we never had to sit at the back of the bus. Sometimes, we sat cast away in mental wards like so much human garbage, so our straight neighbors in this life could feel cleansed of their own sins…at least for a while.