Four Methodist ministers came to Glide church in 1964. The one that probably had the most impact on society was Ted McIlvenna. There is not much I need to say about Ted because he has been the subject of books and is currently the subject of a masterful documentary film.
Ted's first work was in finding legal protection for gay male prostitutes in San Francisco and for all of the non-prostitute gay men who were regularly arrested for gay sex in semi-public places. He also hired as his assistant the leading lesbian organizer, Phyllis Lyon. Her partner, Del Martin, an accountant, rented an office in the Glide Office Building.
All of this led Ted into the field of human sexuality, where he found absolute and abysmal ignorance. Even after the two major 1950’s Kinsey reports and after 15 years of Playboy magazine, public awareness and understanding of human sexuality was exactly zero. The same was true for professionals to whom people turned with sexual questions, such as doctors and ministers. Example: when asked if sexual intercourse was feasible during the last months of pregnancy, nearly all professionals said ‘No’. Wrong.
Ted set up a training program for doctors and ministers in human sexuality. For the first decade these classes were run out of the basement of Glide church where Ted created a multimedia training world. Classes involved movies and slides on three large white walls. A sex-arama. (Actually called a ‘fuck-a-rama’).
Ted rapidly found that there were few adequate films, tapes and videos to show the incredible variety of human sexuality. He therefore had to set up an entire film studio and equipment to make appropriate sex training films. He used another Methodist minister, Laird Sutton, to make the visual training material.
Since this biography of Ted will all be available in documentary film form, I needn't go into much detail. Ted will be remembered for three extraordinary and historically important things:
Ted trained nearly all the doctors and ministers in America in human sexuality for a 20 year period. This brought actual knowledge and information into a desperately blind Puritan world.
Ted brought the issue of sex for the disabled to the appropriate and relevant people. For this humanity will always be grateful. Disabled people are sexual beings and for millennia, if they were allowed to live, they have been left out of the world of human sexuality.
And lastly, Ted created a graduate school in human sexuality which has produced vast numbers of trained sexual professionals as well as supported graduate research into the dozens of complex and arcane elements of human sexuality.
Ted has changed the world and done it in a very quiet methodical and scientific manner.