Friday, March 31st, 2023

Don Slater to Dale Jennings, 08-04-91

Slater1August 4, 1991

Dear Dale:

How do you suppose the word dilettante got such a bad name?

I see the slight even in my Century Dictionary definition. I’m convinced, however, that It wasn’t always so. Those who pursue any branch of art or learning for the sheer love or enjoyment of the thing are spoken of by those who have taken it up for the sake of gain—attracted solely by the prospect of money—with scorn. The scorn comes from the belief that no man will seriously devote himself to anything unless spurred on by want, hunger, or some form of greed; hence the general respect for the professional and the distrust of the dilettante.

You’re right about the word amateur. But even the amateur is viewed as unworthy in the eyes of most everyone when compared with the professional. The truth in my opinion is that the dilettante or amateur treats his subject as an end, whereas the professional treats it merely as a means. To me the words dilettante and amateur suggest impartial interest. These men, no hirelings, do the greatest work.

I admit I still haven’t come up with the name of an artist or writer of any stature who lived without fame or fortune. But I’m sure their number is so large as to be uncounted. Which brings me to your album and HIC. There probably is a young man or boy somewhere pasting up pictures of men. When your picture albums are properly displayed some day, someone will come along and say, “Gosh, that gives me an idea. I’d like to do that.” Maybe they will take up where you leave off; maybe they’ll go off on their own. But I don’t think you need to advertise for such a disciple.

I feel the same way about HIC. Once we get set where people can see who and what we are and how we operate, we will get volunteers. They already know what we stand for.The Mormon church is one of the wealthiest churches on earth today. The church functions without a paid staff by its own authority. Neither the bishops, the secretaries, the missionaries nor anyone else is paid. Have you seen their temples? The one on Santa Monica Bl. in Westwood is most Impressive. I understand that if they hire a contractor or an attorney or others of the sort they may pay. But church members and staff volunteer. I’m sure their argument is, How can you accept payment for doing God’s work? Now, HIC is not the Mormon church, but I like the idea.

All the early homosexual movement workers were dilettanti and amateurs. We didn’t look on the movement as a profession. It wasn’t until the professionals (including the LA Times) realized that the plight of homosexuals could be packaged and sold that it was turned into a money‑making business. The same thing has already happened to AIDS.

I’m certainly the first to agree that there’s nothing wrong with HIC that a few bucks won’t help. Like ONE, we have been in daily business with a street address longer than any other group in the U.S. We have challenged the laws in the courts, we have challenged military regulations, given advice and made referrals to hundreds of persons.

But it is now an information age. Homosexuality is currently the subject of intense interest. Personal problems still abound, but we now answer hundreds of inquiries each month from students, writers, researchers, marketing men, and the merely curious. We have some of the answers, but we need all of the answers—at our fingertips.

With most of our material in boxes in my basement we are no longer a center. We used to hold meetings, forums, discussions, parties, but I’m not sure we should return to that. Our collection should be available for on‑site inspection, but do we need a drop in center? We get inquiries from all over the world. Our headquarters can be anywhere so long as our resources are known and available through some information system.

Don Slater

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