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Former senator to participate in mock trial of Joe McCarthy

Accused of blackmailing colleague over son’s gay sex scandal

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Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, House Un-American Activities Committee, gay news, Washington Blade
Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, House Un-American Activities Committee, gay news, Washington Blade

Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn. (Photo public domain)

Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and gay former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Robert Raben will be among a cast of prominent attorneys participating in a “mock trial” in D.C. of the late U.S. Senators Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.), Styles Bridges (R-N.H.), and Herman Welker (R-Idaho).

The three deceased senators are to be “charged” at the trial with blackmailing and causing the suicide of fellow Sen. Lester Hunt (D-Wyo.) over a 1954 gay sex scandal involving Hunt’s son, who was arrested for allegedly soliciting an undercover D.C. police officer for sodomy. The mock trial, to be performed as a “readers’ theater” play, is scheduled to take place Oct. 23 at All Souls Unitarian Church at 16th and Harvard Streets, N.W.

According to a newly published book on which the mock trial is based, “Dying For Joe McCarthy’s Sins: The Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt,” McCarthy and the other two senators hatched a scheme to force Hunt to resign and withdraw from running for re-election to the Senate. The book says the senators threatened to publicize the arrest of Hunt’s son at a time when homosexuality was considered taboo and a mental disorder.

Hunt emerged as a vocal critic of McCarthy and his notorious crusade in the 1950s against what he claimed were communists working in prominent roles in the U.S. government, including the State Department and the Army, to subvert the government. In a less publicized crusade, McCarthy also pushed hard for exposing and expelling gays who worked for the government, according to historians that have studied McCarthy’s career as a senator.

Author Rodger McDaniel reports McCarthy and the other two senators wanted to force the highly popular Hunt into dropping out of his re-election bid at a time when Democrats controlled the Senate by just one vote. Hunt’s ouster was expected to result in the appointment and later the election of a Republican to replace him, enabling Republicans to gain control of the Senate and strengthen McCarthy’s hand at what critics called communist witch hunts.

In addition to Simpson and Raben, others scheduled to participate in the mock trial are gay Republican attorney and U.S. elections finance expert Trevor Potter, who will play the prosecutor; D.C. lesbian attorney Mindy Daniels, who will act as the defense attorney; retired Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Michael Golden, who will preside over the mock trial; and Verizon legislative affairs executive Ed Senn, who will play McCarthy.

The Mattachine Society of Washington, co-founded by the late D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny, is sponsoring the event at the direction of gay rights advocate Charles Francis. Francis and gay activist Rick Rosendall reinstated the corporate charter for the Mattachine Society of Washington as a new organization after Kameny allowed the charter to expire shortly before his death.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Rick Rosendall

    October 17, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Correction: Frank Kameny let the charter of the original Mattachine Society of Washington expire several years before his death, not “shortly before.” I was an officer of that earlier Mattachine, as was Frank’s longtime friend (and former GLAA president) Craig Howell.

  2. Rick Rosendall

    October 17, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    The October 23 mock trial at All Souls Unitarian, incidentally, is at 7:30 pm.

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Comings & Goings

Nathanson takes role at Outright Action

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Rikki Nathanson

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected] 

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. 

Congratulations to Rikki Nathanson on her new position as Senior Advisor – Global Trans Program with OutRight Action International in New York. Nathanson will be based in D.C.  

 “I am absolutely thrilled to be taking on this new role as Senior Advisor in OutRight’s Global Trans Program,” said Nathanson. “I have finally found the perfect fit for me: as a trans woman who has been fighting for equality not only for myself, but for others globally, this position is not only a job, it’s intrinsically part of who I am. So, what better way to live, nurture and grow myself.” 

Nathanson will be working closely with all program staff to ensure a cohesive and intentional approach to gender issues throughout OutRight’s programs, including its approach to gender ideology movements. She will lead new initiatives on gender advocacy and policy change, focused but not limited to legal gender recognition and anti-discrimination legislation and policies.

Prior to this Nathanson was director of housing programs at Casa Ruby in D.C. She has also held a number of other positions including: founder/executive director of Trans Research, Education, Advocacy & Training (TREAT), Zimbabwe; chairperson Southern Africa Trans Forum, SATF, Cape Town, South Africa; executive director, Ricochet Modeling Agency, Zimbabwe; and company secretary for Dunlop Zimbabwe Limited, Zimbabwe. 

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SMYAL Director Shakir to step down Dec. 31

Board to launch Executive Search beginning in January

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SMYAL Executive Director Sultan Shakir addresses the crowd at the 2021 Fall Brunch. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Sultan Shakir, who has served as executive director of D.C.’s LGBTQ youth advocacy organization SMYAL since August 2014, announced on Friday that he will be stepping down from his position effective Dec. 31.

In a Dec. 3 announcement, SMYAL said details of Shakir’s future career plans would be announced in the coming weeks.

“While we are sad to see Sultan leave, we wish him nothing but the same success in his new endeavor as he had at SMYAL,” said Rob Cogorno, SMYAL’s board chair. “His leadership and vision enabled SMYAL to expand greatly needed services to LGBTQ youth in the DC metro area throughout his tenure,” Cogorno said.

“I am immensely proud of the work we have been able to accomplish together in my time at SMYAL,” Shakir said in a statement released by SMYAL. “SMYAL has been an integral and vital resource in the DMV community for over 37 years, and while we have come a long way in combating homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexual health stigma, homelessness, violence against the LGBTQ community, and oppression, we have a long way to go,” he said.

“This work has never been about one person,” said Shakir. “SMYAL was founded by our community and we’re still around because of our community,” he said. “I leave knowing that the commitment and passion of the SMYAL Board, staff, volunteers, and youth leaders have created a solid foundation from which our work will continue to grow until LGBTQ youth no longer need us.”

The SMYAL statement says that under Shakir’s tenure, SMYAL, which stands for Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders, expanded its programs and services for LGBTQ youth. Among other things, in 2017 SMYAL opened its first of several housing facilities for homeless LGBTQ youth that include culturally competent case management, education and employment assistance.

“The Youth Housing Program now comprises five programmatic models that serve a combined 61 youth residents,” the statement says.

It points out that also under Shakir’s leadership, SMYAL expanded the age range of the youth its programs serve under a new Little SMYALs program, which welcomes LGBTQ youth ages 6-12. And earlier in 2021 under Shakir’s guidance, SMYAL began a new Clinical Services Department “which provides affirming and accessible mental health counseling,” the statement says.

“The SMYAL Board of Directors will officially launch an Executive Search beginning in January 2022 and expects to have named a new Executive Director by summer 2022,” the statement says. It says the board will soon name an interim executive director to work with SMYAL’s Deputy Executive Director, Jorge Membreno, and the organization’s leadership team to oversee the day-to-day activities until a new executive director is named.

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Rainbow History Project to honor LGBTQ ‘Pioneers’

Virtual celebration to take place on Dec. 9

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David Mariner, gay news, Washington Blade
David Mariner (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C.’s Rainbow History Project says it will honor and recognize 12 individuals and one organization by designating them as Community Pioneers “for their diverse contributions to the Washington-area LGBTQ community” at a Dec. 9 virtual celebration.

“Rainbow History Project is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing the LGBT history of metropolitan Washington, D.C.,” the group says in a statement announcing the event. “The Pioneers awards recognize diverse community leaders for their roles as organizational founders, innovators, advocates and volunteers,” the statement says.

“The Pioneers celebration will be held virtually and is designed with special features that reproduce the feeling of attending in-person, such as live streaming and video chatting with other attendees and Pioneers before and after the core awards programing,” according to the statement.

“Celebrating our Community Pioneers has been a cherished tradition since Rainbow History Project’s founding 21 years ago,” said Rob Berger, the organization’s chairperson. “It’s always an inspiring event, and we are happy that our virtual platform will still allow participants to meet and talk with the Pioneers,” Berger said in the statement.

The virtual event is free and open to the public, the statement says. Organizers released this link for those interested in attending, saying a short registration process may require registering in advance. 

Remo Conference

Following is the list of Community Pioneers scheduled to be honored at the Dec. 9 event as released by Rainbow History Project along with the project’s description of their backgrounds.

Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance, a local group that since its founding has addressed equal rights issues for LGBTQ Virginians from a state and local perspective.

– Eboné F. Bell, founder and editor-in-chief of Tagg Magazine and Tagg Communication LLC.

Bart Forbes, founding member of “Gay Fairfax,” a pioneering television newsmagazine program in Northern Virginia.

– Ellen Kahan, youth and family advocate, president of Rainbow Families, former director of the Lesbian Services Program at Whitman-Walker Health, and currently senior director of programs and partnerships at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

– Theodore Kirkland (deceased), a co-founder of D.C. Black Pride in 1991, member of the Gay Liberation Front and Skyline Faggots, active community health volunteer and advocate.

– Paul Marengo, community leader through LGBTQ organizations including Reel Affirmations, Cherry Fund, and Pride celebrations for youth, Latino, Black and Transgender communities.

– David Mariner, executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, and former executive director of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community.

– Mark Meinke founder longtime chair, Rainbow History Project, and co-founder of Rainbow Heritage Network, a national organization for the recognition and preservation of sites, history and heritage associated with sexual and gender minorities.

– Michael “Micci” Sainte Andress, artist, health educator and advocate and an early leader in bringing African Americans into HIV/AIDS clinical trials.

– Boden Sandstrom, founder and owner of Woman Sound (later City Sound), the first all-woman sound company, which makes LGBTQ rights rallies and the women’s music scene possible.

Casse Culver (deceased), nationally acclaimed D.C. lesbian feminist singer-songwriter, and partner of Boden Sandstrom, whose followers said her love songs and feminist lyrics moved audiences from foot stomping to silent reflection.  

Alan Sharpe, playwright, director and co-founder of the African American Collective Theater in Washington, D.C., in 1976, which now focuses on LGBTQ life and culture in the Black community.

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