East Coast Homophile Organizations Discuss the Great Society
Vol. 1 No. 2
Essay by Jody Shotwell
As originally printed in the November 1965 issue of Tangents
ECHO has done it again, and this reporter feels justified in believing that those of us who have now gone through three ECHO conferences are veterans.
The 1965 ECHO conference (New York, September 25–26) had the usual headaches, panics, and exhausting labor for those involved. It would be impossible to praise too much the members of the groups affiliated with ECHO who have lent most of their waking lives this entire year to the planning of this event.
It was worth it. From the moment this reporter turned the key in the lock of the ECHO suite at the Barbizon Plaza hotel to make ready for the press conference to the last goodbyes on Sunday afternoon, it was worth it.
Despite the newspaper strike in New York during the conference period, the press conference on the Friday evening preceding the ECHO conference was well attended. Although none of the major news media was represented on that occasion, there were reporters from various other periodicals, college publications and minor newspapers. Several of the conference speakers were also present, and this afforded the ECHO delegates an opportunity to meet them prior to the main event. We were also visited, during the course of the evening, by two members of the New York Police force, who came with only one purpose in mind — to protect our conference and the hotel against any possible disturbance from outside sources.
The limited press coverage on Friday evening, however, was more than compensated for during the conference proper. On Saturday CBS Television was on the spot during the afternoon and evening sessions, and filmed a lecture, the cocktail party, and the banquet. This material will be used in a documentary on homosexuality which CBS will air sometime* before next spring. On Sunday a part of the proceedings was filmed by ABC-TV, and the New York Herald Tribune sent a reporter to interview Dick Lietsch, ECHO conference coordinator.
The conference was attended by approximately 150 people, including visitors from other homophile organizations all over the United States.
It was an historic event in the sense that never before had representatives from so many homophile organizations gathered together in one place. Among them were officers of the Mattachine Society of Florida, the Mattachine Society, Midwest, SIR of San Francisco, Daughters of Bilitis New York, Janus Society of Philadelphia, and the Demophile Society of Boston.
The theme of the 1965 ECHO conference, “The Homosexual in the Great Society” was approached by the speakers from varied perspectives.
The over-all tone of the talks during the two day conference period was one of hope for what is finally being recognized as a new minority. Transcripts of the addresses will be available in binding at some later date.
The groups comprising the ECHO affiliation wish to express appreciation to those who attended the 1965 conference and to express, also, the wish that more of the readers of Tangents will attend future conferences. This one was great, and those of us involved in its planning are proud to have been part of it.