In this day and age, we see a lot of really nasty anti-gay and anti-equality sentiments, the sort of rhetoric that rattles us to our very core. What might be worse – or, at least, equally as disturbing – is what was reported on CBS in March of 1967.
CBS Reports: The Homosexuals was a project nearly two years in the making, and both researched and hosted by 60 Minutes mainstay Mike Wallace. For 45+ minutes, Wallace follows the mentality of the time period, providing his audience with some of the most disturbing anti-homosexual propaganda you might ever see. This isn’t news, as much as it’s ignorance masked to behave as news, although ignorance surrounding homosexuality was the norm in 1967, and Wallace later admitted his ignorance and regretted his involvement in its creation.
Wallace includes some information about public attitudes toward homosexuality that may curdle your blood: during the time, homosexuality was considered more harmful to society than adultery, abortion, and prostitution combined. He indicated that most folks found it to be both “disturbing and embarrassing,” with two-thirds of people surveyed stating that it brought about feelings of disgust, discomfort, and fear. Another ten percent felt “hatred” toward homosexuals. And the majority of the population still believed – around the beginning of 1967 – that homosexual conduct should be punished. When this news show was produced, only Illinois had dropped its sodomy laws from the books. Every other state – including Massachusetts! – still prosecuted homosexuals for their “behavior.”
Before getting into the full extent of his reporting, Wallace reminds us that the average homosexual is promiscuous and incapable of loving relationships. When he says “love life,” you can hear his fingers making the air quotes, and see those quotes on the script or cue card he is reading. It actually sends shivers down your spine. When he mentions “the homosexual,” you get the feeling he is referring to us as an animal species.
This is one of those jaw-dropping pieces that everyone should stop and watch. It not only explains the general beliefs about homosexuality during a time when many of us either weren’t born or hadn’t come out yet, but indicates that the mindset of many anti-gay and anti-equality folks has yet to evolve. You’ll also get a rather candid view of a graduate course taught by Dr. Charles Socarides, a prominent New York psychiatrist who believed homosexuality could be cured, and a disturbing outline of the Boise Homosexuality Scandal where a McCarthy-esque quest to find and prosecute homosexuals in the capital city of Idaho led to a number of gay men spending up to 15 years in prison, and one man going there for the rest of his life.
This is worth the 45 minutes, if only to realize how good we actually have it now, compared to how it was before.
(The quality of the film is a bit grainy and choppy, but 99.9% is of an acceptable quality.)