June 24, 2013.
Mary Ann Cherry, from Los Angeles, writes:
Scroll down for a nice photo of Don Slater at the Barney’s Beanery picket.
I was surprised to see him there (well, to see a photo of him there) as my understanding was that he wasn’t opposed to Irwin Held’s constitutional right to have a sign in his establishment (you know, the Libertarian stand). Decent article, even if the facts are a little mixed up.
I hate you. You confused me to my core. I think I know how the Exodus man feels—if he is sincere. To have what you believed for over 50 years challenged by a picture is not a gay feeling.
But, the fact was and is that Don Slater opposed the picketing. He believed, as a conservative Republican and based on his personal faith and beliefs that the owner (of a private business) had a right to be wrong. The answer was to educate him and not support his business. (If taxpayers were involved, that was different.)
If that is truly a sign of him at the picketing, I can assure you his sign was not like the rest. I did not know he went there. I did not. We had enough work to do with the magazine and organization so did not take on every project, no matter how worthy. He did like—even though he worried about the idea of a ghetto church—Troy Perry and Morris Kight, even though we also did not agree with Morris’ early idea that anyone showing up for a meeting had a right to vote. That was one of Harry Hay’s ideas too as I recall.
What this article, I gather based on the death of one of the owners, does is force us to think about what the media and historians are finding of “importance” in our movement’s history. There is a new film about the fire at the gay bar in New Orleans, Upstairs Lounge.
Why, I ask, is it not just as important to have covered the picketing of the Los Angeles Times, by these same pioneers/activists? It was successful in more ways than one. Morris, Troy, Joe, Don, Melvin, I and others picketed, peacefully, at the newspaper when it refused an ad for a forgotten (I gather) play, The Geese, by a man later honored as a Louisiana celebrity, because it had the word homosexual in it. There had first been a meeting with the paper’s representatives and ours.
The religion person at the paper (John Dart) came down and talked to Melvin and Troy. He did not interview Melvin (Cain) as his church was not a “gay” church, but the writer decided Troy’s was, and his interview/ article went “viral” as it did in the old days—other papers reprinted it, and the MCC got publicity.
And the paper changed its policy. And later had the same problem with gay and lesbian.
I welcome any facts that differ from my history. I have no contact with Troy or others still living, and have no faith in what is said or claimed by people who were not there or got in the movement, say at ONE Archives, years later and have only taken the time to learn/hear one biased version of “history.”
Sadly, that includes most “media” people.