January 31, 2009.
Hundreds of people are meeting in Denver this week for The Task Force’s Creating Change Conference.
It has been well publicized. And it will be well received, before and after it does its educational work. That will be important for the homosexual community/movement to understand and think about. For that is far from the results of the first public homosexual meeting in Denver that Mattachine held there in 1959.
What a difference 50 years can make.
While the 1959 Mattachine conference was covered by the local media and at first was thought to be a breakthrough for homosexual events, the result was a disaster for the Mattachine members who hosted the event. Their names in the paper led to their loss of jobs and some had to move out of Denver.
A side affect of the conference was a “congratulation” proposal suggested by a stranger and voted on to the mayor of San Francisco (the headquarters of the Mattachine Society) for his being what is now called gay-friendly.
This was a trick by an opponent of Mayor Christopher. As a first indication that politics can be used by both sides, the media in San Francisco as well as the public, though not gay-friendly, were furious at this attack, and supported the mayor who won reelection. The problem is that they were furious that the city had been called gay-friendly. Think about San Francisco today. Think about the movie Milk.
So how do we view the Mattachine conference today? It was both a success and a warning of how much work had to be done to change people’s attitudes toward homosexuality.
Now, fifty years later, it is doubtful that Creating Change’s event will be anything but successful, and the results will be helpful for homosexuals and the cause of civil rights for all Americans.
So best wishes to those in Denver today from someone who was there fifty years ago this year, when a few dozen men and women met openly and the citizens of Denver heard of our cause for the first time.