Culture

Investigating obscure mysteries is often fun but not often rewarding. However, publishing information about one puts it out there and other armchair sleuths piggyback on the work you have laid out. That is just what happened with my July 17, 2019 investigation on the mysteries Allen Parsons, published in the South Florida Gay News. The statute of limitations on the case had run out and were no longer chargeable, but I still figured it would be a fun piece to read and thought it to be practically unsolvable after 40 years.

It’s hard to believe now but from the time South Florida began to grow in the 1890s through World War I in the 1910s, the land boom of the 1920s, the great depression in the 1930s, and World War II in the 1940s, the LGTBQ population lived in relative obscurity. There were always gay people, there were gay bars and clubs and even drag shows (known as female impersonators). It was just something that was there, something that was happening and nobody really talked about it or interfered and everyone was just fine with that…until 1954. The famous “Homosexual Panic” that battled gays from the 1950s through the 1980s and still has lasting remnants today in South Florida can be traced to one incident; the murder of Eastern Airlines Flight Attendant William T. Simpson in August of 1954 and Miami Daily News journalist Milt Sosin’s reporting of the incident.

1898: The German Social Democratic Party was the first to support gay rights. The only one to support the demands of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee when it submitted its first petition for repeal of the anti-homosexual Paragraph 175 of the German penal code.

Pensacola, Florida wasn't supposed to be a place that was crucial in the movement for gay rights. It was a typical southern town essentially in "the bible belt” with all the stereotypes that come with it. One of the primary towns of Florida’s panhandle coastal area colloquially known as the “Redneck Riviera,” Pensacola was the location of one of the country's biggest LGBT movements and it was all because of Emma Jones and the strangest part is, she does not exist.

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