Friday, March 31, 2006

Betty lists "Lesbian to the Rescue"

Our San Francisco talk is in this week's "Betty's List." Thanks, Dr. Betty Sullivan, for helping spread the word!

Here's the post: "Lesbian to the Rescue: Dr. Marie Equi and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Relief
Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch
3555 16th St. (near Market)
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Who was the most prominent lesbian/gay person in the story of the 1906 Earthquake? Portland doctor Marie Equi rushed from Oregon to help the sufferers of the calamity. She supervised nurses at the Presidio Hospital and earned the acclaim of the U.S. Army and the mayor of San Francisco. Equi was later arrested with Margaret Sanger, jailed with women strikers, and sent to San Quentin for opposing World War I. Here is an opportunity to celebrate a lesbian in our centennial of the 1906 earthquake with this one-hour slide review of "the stormy petrel of the Northwest" by Michael Helquist.

This program is in commemoration of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire Centennial.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

New light on another 19th century LGBT life

Today's NYT had a book review for The Collected Poems of C.P. Cavafy. The review identifies Cavafy as a Greek homosexual poet who chose to live in Alexandria. It also describes his links with E.M. Forster, and this helped me remember that it was during my studies of E.M. Forster - long ago, in my Senior year English class in high school - when I first heard the name of this poet.

Here is a sample of his poetry:
When I entered the house of pleasure,
I did not stay in the front rooms where they celebrated
Conventional lovemaking with some order.

I went to the secret rooms
and I touched and lay down on their beds.

Well! I have never been able to consume too much poetry but I enjoyed that one. And the review speaks of "the emergence of a modern sensibility." Okay, I'll buy that.

Cavafy lived from 1863-1933; he was born a decade before Marie Equi in another continent. It would be silly to try to connect this life with Marie Equi's life - but I will note that the article calls Cavafy "an uncompromising spirit." I see there is a website in Greek and English devoted to his life and work.

Credit where credit is due: the review in the paper is by Brad Leithauser; the new translation of Cavafy's work is by Alika Barnstone. Posted by Picasa

An earlier American War pictured in "The Forbidden Book"

Our Marie Equi research has led us to look back on U.S. history in a more critical light. One example is the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War. I've just read The Forbidden Book, a very interesting work that compiles hundreds of political cartoons related to those conflicts. It's edited by Abe Ignacio, Enrique De La Cruz, Jorge Emmanuel, and Helen Toribio and published by T'Boli Publishing and Distribution, here in San Francisco.

The images in the book are very rich and colorful. They are also shocking in how they graphically relate the story of that war. The book gave me a better understanding of the war, especially these aspects:-

---How large the conflict was. About 127,000 U.S. troops had to be deployed to fight in the Philippines. More than 4,200 Americans were killed in the first two years of the war. Estimates of the number of Filipinos killed range from 200,000 to 616,000 and some even higher. The first image here also shows the use of physical torture by American forces to extract information from prisoners of war: in this case, "Water Torture" is performed by holding the man down and pouring water down his throat using a funnel. The real kicker of the cartoon of course is that the other nations, looking on, say "Those pious Yankees can't throw stones at us anymore." The cartoon is from Life, May 22, 1902 and the artist is William H. Walker.

---How deeply the country was divided over the issues. The annexation of the Philippines was approved by the U.S. Senate by a one-vote margin on February 6, 1899! In 1900, the 2 Presidential candidates (William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan) had very opposing views on the war. I'm posting a funny cartoon showing the stake that McKinley had on the success of the ongoing war for his re-election. The tally of the (U.S.) soldiers dead is 2,394 and the expenditures on the war total over $186 million. The cartoon is from The Verdict, August 27, 1900 and the artist is Bristol.

All of this doesn't really have that much to do with Marie Equi. However, she was in San Francisco in the years leading up to the war and our city had many powerful forces promoting an expansionistic foreign policy. [for more about this, check out the chapter called "The Scott Brothers" in Imperial San Francisco by Gray Brechin] We don't have a record that Marie was politically active during those years. She had just left her Oregon homestead and was probably busy working in a restaurant - and then beginning medical school! BUT - given her high level of political awareness and passion AND her passionate anti-war activism around World War I - we can speculate about what she might have thought about the conflict. And we can also become more aware about the legacy of these wars for the country at large. Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 20, 2006

...The Oregon Doctor Train...on 5/12, in Portland


In addition to our San Francisco presentation, Michael Helquist will also present the story of Marie Equi and the SF 1906 Earthquake in Portland. This lecture will include a broader picture of the efforts of Oregon doctors and nurses, who left to offer relief just one day after the disaster struck San Francisco.

The lecture is presented in the lecture series of the History of Medicine Society at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). Michael is excited to present this story at OHSU, where Marie Equi went to Medical School and received her medical degree. The story of the Oregon Doctor Train also involves other great figures in Oregon medicine, including Kenneth A. J. Mackenzie, the second dean of the University of Oregon Medical School.

Friday, May 12, 2006
"KAJ Mackenzie, Marie Equi, and the Oregon Doctor Train: Portland's response to the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake"

Guest Lecturer: Michael Helquist
Public Lecture: 12:15 p.m.
Location: OHSU Auditorium

Saturday, March 18, 2006

1906 Earthquake Centennial Alliance

We'd like to thank the 1906 Earthquake Centennial Alliance for listing our upcoming slide presentation.

There are lots more events related to the earthquake to check out. Go to:

http://1906centennial.org/

Marie was called "the stormy petrel of the Northwest" Posted by Picasa

Lesbian to the Rescue!

Next monthy, my partner Michael and I will tell the story of an episode from the life of Marie Equi at the Harvey Milk Library in San Francisco.

The title of the talk is Lesbian to the Rescue! While it may sound a little silly, we wanted to highlight Marie Equi's spirit of helping others, and to offer a bold alternative to many other stories being told around the SF earthquake commemoration.

Here are some more details:

LESBIAN TO THE RESCUE: Dr. Marie Equi and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Relief

Who is the most prominent lesbian/gay person in the story of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, fire and relief?

Portland doctor Marie Equi rushed from Oregon to help the sufferers of the calamity. She supervised nurses at the Presidio Hospital, rescued 26 mothers and their new-born infants from a raging fire, and earned the acclaim of the U.S. Army and the mayor of San Francisco.

Equi championed women's suffrage, birth control and workers' rights. She was later arrested with Margaret Sanger, jailed with women strikers, and sent to San Quentin penitentiary for opposing World War I.

Add a queer presence to your centennial quake observance with this one-hour slide presentation by historian Michael Helquist about Marie Equi, "the stormy petrel of the Northwest."

When: Tuesday, April 11, 7 p.m.
Where: Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Branch,
San Francisco Public Library
3555 16th Street (near Noe/Market Street)
Note: Free event

Based on Michael's research for the biography of Marie Equi.

Presented in collaboration with Dale Danley.

Sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.