Thursday, March 30th, 2023

About The Author

13 Comments

  1. Richard Schneider

    Hi Billy –Thanks for the feedback on the latest issue. Glad to hear that you liked my reply to your letter. It thought your comments opened the way to the kind of civilized dialog we like feature in the GLR (a dying art). The whole east coast versus west coast debate — surely irrelevant by the 80’s, no?

  2. Billy Glover

    Yes, by the 80s there were national organizations and much more knowledge of what was happening in the community/movement. We tried, with NACHO, in the 60s, but even today there seems little communication among the lgbt archives/libraries, probably because they only have time, energy and money to keep their own work going. That is one area I think that needs more support from our media.That is what I think is so wonderful about this cause, it started in a house with shades drawn, in a terrible era-and with the other main issue-communism- tainting our work-and each decade grew from ONE being open and then the Mattachine groups in major cities, and the Advocate going national, the national legal etc groups-such as lambda Legal, and the professional groups, such as Gay Lesbian Medical Assn, and the Queer Studies, and and I think we did it by education, exposing the lies of religion, law and medicine, etc. Once we accepted ourselves, we could reach out to the general community. This is historic success/change that all media, and academia should be shouting as proof that America’s way works. Other causes should learn how we did it-even though we ourselves still aren’t sure how it happened so fast.

  3. Phil Dragotto

    During the 1950s and ’60s, homosexuality was considered deviant and homosexual sex was illegal. For example, actors such as Rock Hudson, Montgomery Clift, Tab Hunter, etc. Had to hide their homosexuality. In Tab Hunters book, he educates the reader on how homosexuals interacted, met, and socialized. He mentions the “pajama parties” where people would go to mingle and how many of such parties were raided. As you know, there were dance bars in out-of-the way places like Topanga Canyon which were frequented by gays and lesbians. They had look-outs and when cop cars were heard or seen approaching, men stopped dancing with men, and women stopped dancing with women, and began interacting and dance with the opposite sex. I find these writings interesting and educational. Coming out then was not an option at the time for high profile people. They had a right to have their careers and outing themselves would merely have put them out of work and disgusted the straight community. I don’t see what good high profile people would have accomplished considering the mind-set of the Country at the time; i.e.: the McCarthy era.

  4. Billy Glover

    I lived in that era, including going to the Topanga Canyon Club. And while I understand your thoughts and their excuses, in a way that is not my problem-I don’t think we have been asked to claim them as glbt heroes as it seems some literary people claim some English writers-I except Isherwood who did actually do some work for the cause. But there were organizations they could have supported- anonymously if necessary-although even the ACLU did NOT consider our cause valid until about 1965.I think this is the issue I find worth discussing. There were people who learned how to live and survive as homosexuals. That does not prove that there was a movement before 1950. There were drag balls. They did not advance our cause, they helped us find some comfort. What I want is for the world to acknowledge that a few people did understand the need to change the world, to stop believing they were criminals, mentally ill and sinful. They gave their lives to change things-from which the rest of us continue to benefit. (That is true of the black civil rights movement too, and women’s, of course.) It is queer to give those who stayed in the closet a pass while giving no credit to those who risked everything to change the world. Glance at the calendars “honoring” glbt people, starting with ancient people we can’t even be sure of-but they never mention Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, the Barbara-Gittings and Grier, Don Slater, Hal Call, Dorr Legg, Jim Kepner, (most do cover Harry Hay, and they are happy to include any celebrity or famous person, including Rudi Gernrich) and most don’t even include our “stars’ such as Troy Perry, Larry Kramer, Frank Kameny, but they sure do Allen Ginsberg and literary figures.

  5. Wayne Dynes

    Literary figures like Allen Ginsberg, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, John Rechy, Carson McCullers, Audrey Lorde, and Edmund White are important because they change consciousness in a way that political activists regrettably cannot. Why not, though, honor both groups?Ever since we separated from King George III, this country has been afflicted with nostalgic Anglomania, the latest example being that silly film “The King’s Pee.” In this context it is not surprising that E. M. Forster, Somerset Maugham, and Christopher Isherwood should be acclaimed beyond their merits. One must live with it.

  6. Billy Glover

    Now this I can understand-even though how they affect society might not necessarily be relevant to our cause, but is generic in helping us understand nature, etc. But would this still not be necessarily a credit to them as homosexuals?

  7. Randolfe (Randy) Wicker

    The hostility & disappointment expressed about Logo giving excessive coverage to RuPaul’s Drag Race is something I share. I personally dislike the petty personality traits too-often displayed by his drag-race contestants. There are two interesting caveats to that opinion, I think few LGBT people are aware of. First is the fact that RuPaul is a married man with children & as I have been lead to believe is heterosexual if not bisexual. The second interesting detail I discovered (by accident) is that RuPaul had a series of shows with a twist on the popular “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” & “How Not To Dress” show themes. On those shows, he appeared as a bald-headed male-attired MC & women subjected themselves to commentary & make-overs by Drag Queens, then competed in their changed/improved ‘personas’ in front of audiences composed of their families & friends & others. Since I’ve only seen a few of shows in that format, I assume it did not get as large an audience share as the Drag Race shows did.I lived through the era of Allen Ginsberg’s fame. In fact, I met him in the mid 1960s when I was one of the small group of activists which founded LeMar (Legalize Marijuana) & was the first-listed editor the first edition of the LeMar Newsletter. His public persona as an active unashamed homosexual poet served as an opening wedge to public social discussion of homosexuality in the late 1950s & early 1960s. The legitimacy of that discussion on the public airwaves finally became official only after social conservatives challenged WBAI-FM’s broadcasting license because they had broadcast “Live & Let Live”, a discussion by five homosexual/bisexual males of their lives. This is fully documented in Ed Alwood’s book on the history of the gay press.Allen Ginsberg’s first “appearance” as a “gay-movement spokesperson/commentator” came in articles in The Village Voice covering the Stonewall Riots. However, he and Peter Orlovsky had participated in a 1965 demonstration opposite the U.N. organized by myself to protest Fidel Castro’s rounding up and placing Cuban gays in “rehabilitation camps” to “straighten them out” because Cuba considered homosexuality to be a disease rooted in Capitalist societies. Frank Kameny & Jack Nichols organized a protest because of the same circumstances but held it one day earlier in front of The White House in Washington, D.C. & included discrimination against homosexuals by the U.S. Government in their signage & literature.The Gay Establishment & Gay historians have chosen to claim that demonstration as the first demonstration for homosexual civil rights in the United States for that reason. In reality, an ignored demonstration outside the U.S. Army Induction Center on WhiteHall Street in NYC by my Homosexual League of New York and the NYC League for Sexual Freedom on September 19,1964 (about 7 months earlier). Frank Kameny does not dispute the foregoing facts & I’m sending him a copy of this comment in the event I’ve worded something incorrectly.Public coverage of these three events focused mostly on the Washington, D.C. demonstration. In my opinion, the greatest “benefit” for the movement generally came from, of all things, an expose in Confidential Magazine entitled “Homos Picket the White House” because that article included a mailing address for the Mattachine Society & letters poured in from people in the Midwest & elsewhere saying that they “had heard of the Mattachine Society, had always wanted to get involved but had never known how to contact Mattachine previously”. That is an amusing example of the truth under the often quoted statement: “I don’t care what they say about me just as long as they keep talking about me.”

  8. Billy Glover

    Thank you very much for putting this news on record-it may already be some place that I do not know about. But I had just had an exchange with a PFLAG lady in Phoneix who said the same thing, that she “heard’ about homosexuality from a lousy book-Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex, and the ‘attacks’ made her wonder what the truth was and she sought information elsewhere. She later had a gay child. And so yes, even the bigots help people know of the resources in the community/movement.And I understand that Allen Ginsberg helped the cause and deserves honor. My concern is that only what many consider as “out of the main stream” people seem to fascinate the general public more than those who do good/serious civil rights movement work. But considering Charlies Sheen, I guess that is a generic truth. Much less Lindsey Lohan.And I have no problem with RuPaul or drag shows, my problem is, that is about the ONLY thing LOGO has, except some celebrity hetero singers. You would never know about you, or Frank Kameny, et al, if you only saw LOGO. I do wonder about any “ratings” that say drag shows get a larger audience than shows about other aspects of glbt people, events, issues.

  9. Randolfe (Randy) Wicker

    One of the most important developments in expanding the social dialogue about the LGBT movement lies with the activities & the work of “Barbara Gittings” successful lobbying of the American Library Association. Her dedication to improving the resources available to all in public libraries came was born of her own bad experience in looking up “homosexuality” in the library as a young lesbian and finding what she would forever describe as “the lies in the library”.I personally left the organized gay movement in the early 1970s & don’t know the history of the divisions between the east & West coasts. Those “divisions” always struct me as based on the ego clashes between various LGBT leaders. I disliked the political intrigues, political-correctness, etc. that always seems to come with organized political movements – the LGBT movement being no exception. I chose to be a gadfly during the last years I was involved in the movement & those to work as a reporter for Gay newspaper & The Advocate, among others. I remember ECHO, an East coast multi-group organization but don’t recall NACHO.I subscribe to & support the The Gay & Lesbian Review but usually only scan the contents & read only a selected articles in each issue. I find the advertisements/notices in the back of the magazine to be its most interesting and valuable section.I’m glad to see the few survivors from the early LGBT movement passionately discussing and attempting to preserve an accurate record of that era. James T. Sears “Behind the Mask of the Mattachine” gives the best account of the early movement I’ve found. Harry Hay was expelled from the early movement & returned later to form The Radical Faeries, the only group I enjoy being active in today. I left the LGBT movement to join other social reform movements I felt to be more important in the larger world like the Anti-Vietnam war campaign. The scope & range of my involvement in social causes since leaving the organized LGBT movement have caused LGBT-centric historians to minimize or ignore my own early contributions. As a student of sociology & political history, I know social movements frequent disown their founders & early advocates. A news story/commentary explaining this is entitled: “Queer History Establishment dumps Randy Wicker” by Carl Cole. The most convenient link for finding this article is:http://www.lgbt-today.com/news-a-articles/featured-articles/112-reprint-of-qqueer-history-establishment-dumps-randy-wickerq-by-carl-cole-and-randy-wickers-response-with-editors-noteMy central conclusion regarding each activist’s version of gay history is that most commence with the timing of their own involvement. I try to avoid that shortcoming insofar as possible by saying the “first root” of the gay movement begins in the 1860s (I believe it was 1865 or 1867) when the first social scientist created the term “homosexual” which finally was an accurate scientific description/category/term for individuals sexually attracted to members of the same sex.Here’s hoping the recipients of this email will share it with others who are interested in LGBT history.

  10. Billy Glover

    I agree, about Barbara Gittings work with the libraries being important. HIC also issued a short bibliography and also a directory of organizations the libraries got for a few years. (I also agree about the info in G &L Review, and Sears’ work and even though I have no interest in the Radical Faeries, I do see this as another example of how Harry, et al did contribute to the diversity in our movement, just as MCC does, etc.I must have missed it-as I did not see the problems you mention in the early movement, about personalities or jealousy. I saw difference of opinion and, as you yourself say near the end, or priorities. That is the main reason for the separation of ONE. (You later thought other movements may be more important than the narrow glbt one.) The East-West issue was more about what we did-for instance it is my understanding that our West Coast bars had different issues than the East Coast ones. We had the Tavern Guild, etc. But on the picketing on the military issue, both coasts did it. And I don’t remember any personality issues in NACHO. Perhaps I just didn’t care so didn’t see it.But as far as I know, there is no book that even tries to give a short history of this movement, covering both coasts and the various aspects-such as founding of gay church, glbt professional groups, legal victories, etc. It must be important that, with all our educational efforts, publications, etc, it was a Texas lawsuit that got rid of sodomy laws, and the marriage issue was a grass roots thing mainly, (including of course the Lambda legal man who pushed it).The main reason our movement has succeeded is that slowly more and more of us rejected the main arguments against us-we are not criminals, sick or sinful. And it took input from all areas to do this-our magazines, our picketing, the later movies, tv talk shows, challenging the medical people whose opinions were based more on religion than science, our allies, such as PFLAG, COLAGE, etc.

  11. Wayne Dynes

    Here is my reminiscence of Barbara Gittings (from the site lgbt today): Barbara Gittings (1932-2007) was a major American activist for gay and lesbian rights, scholarship, and visibility. From 1958 to 1963, she led the New York Chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, the pioneering lesbian organization founded in San Francisco by Dell Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Barbara Gittings edited the national DOB magazine The Ladder from 1963 to 1966. Her home in Philadelphia remained her base, though she was tireless in her willingness to travel for the cause to other centers, such as New York City and Washington, DC, where she worked closely with Frank Kameny.Her determination to learn more about lesbianism fueled her lifetime work with libraries. At the beginning of the 1970s she began to operate within the framework of the American Library association, joining the gay caucus there, which ranks as the first such caucus in a professional organization.It was in this group that I first met Barbara Gittings. I had been recruited by a close friend, Jack Stafford, who was a librarian at the Queens Public Library. Oddly enough, at that time there were only a few gay and lesbian librarians who were willing to staff the group, so that outsiders had to come forward to pinch hit. Barbara and I were two who filled the bill; but it was Barbara who excelled.At the time most of the printed materials available in libraries were hostile books and articles by so-called experts, who insisted that we were sick individuals, misfits who had brought all our troubles on ourselves. In the aftermath of Stonewall in 1969 some editors at mainstream trade publishers began trying to change this situation by commissioning positive books. For her part, Barbara sought to make sure that these books were properly distributed and reviewed. She also commissioned Jack Stafford to create a bibliography of positive materials. After Jack died unexpectedly in 1973, Barbara reorganized the material into an eight-page circular. Tens of thousands of these invaluable items were distributed to libraries, gay groups, and private individuals. The fact that today young people can seek out GLBT information in libraries with confidence is largely due to this initiative.My work on the project made a personal difference to me, because my continuing reflection on the matter led finally to my book “Homosexuality: A Research Guide” of 1987, fully annotated and still the largest work of its kind. Some activists (like most people, I fear) are “underwhelmed” by bibliographies. Such indifference is a mistake, because these research tools are vital underpinnings of any valid understanding of sexual orientation–and ultimately of the social and legal changes which were such a necessary component of the last fifty years.In the fall of 1973 I persuaded Barbara to serve as a keynote speaker at convention of the just-organized Gay Academic Union at John Jay College in New York City. The title of her presentation was “Take a Lesbian to Lunch.” It was a humorous talk that addressed a serious problem, the shroud of invisibility that we had to contend with. Even now, some of our “respectable” opponents insist that if only we would be quiet and remain in the closet, all would be well. Barbara would have none of this. She insisted that we activists must always be busy oiling the hinges of the closet doors so that everyone could come out.

  12. Wayne Dynes

    Perhaps Barbara’s most outstanding quality was her universality: she could talk to anyone and was not shy about doing so. In part this ability stemmed from her family’s background in the diplomatic corps. But it was also personal, relying upon her natural warmth and strength of character. Because of the Vietnam War and other issues, the 1970s, which saw the birth of the modern GLBT movement, were a very turbulent era. From my vantage point in the New York Chapter of the Gay Academic Union I saw, close up, the conflicts between the radicals and the reformers, the hippies and the squares, and the separatists and the integrationists. Only time could heal these splits, as it it did, but Barbara Gittings played a very important role in hastening our progress towards the relative unity we now enjoy.Eventually, our paths diverged, and I saw little of Barbara Gittings in her later years. Yet I was glad to have the assurance that she basked in the deep and sincere love of her partner Kay Tobin Lahusen. They were together for forty-six years.NOTE. For a fuller portrait of Barbara Gittings, see Kay’s piece in Vern Bullough, ed., Before Stonewall, Binghamton, NY, 2002, pp. 241-52. There is also a good entry in Wikipedia.

  13. Billy Glover

    Thanks for this personal info on Gittings, a true pioneer, and one who has not been given the credit she deserves. Isn’t there a branch library named after her? The problem with bibliograhies, as she knew, is that they do not help people know which books are worthwhile, and most people see a long list and just give up. But you are right that scholars need them.Am I right, that another example of irony and the media, is that she got more publicity when she did the “kissing” than when she gave serious information.

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