I Did It My Way
by Paul Harris
a gay rights pioneer remembered by his friends
©1997 by Homosexual Information Center, Inc.
Jim Schneider, Chairman
Second Printing, revised
Assembled, edited, and composed by Joseph Hansen
Laguna Beach, CA
The qualities of Don that most come to mind are his very individual sense of independence, his idealism, and his strength of character. These qualities led him to oppose all phoniness, fraud, and hypocrisy, in and out of the gay movement. Of course this made him enemies and alienated groups that might otherwise have worked with him, but Don didn’t care.
He considered himself an anarchist, though some misread him as conservative, even reactionary. He would never ask for any type of government grant, and despised organizations that did, believing that they [had made themselves] agents of government control.
Had he been more practical, he might have applied to private foundations for grants to fund HIC. This would not have violated his principles. But he chose not to do so, [wary of all outside pressures]. Did this make him old-fashioned, cantankerous, living in the past? Some who knew him thought so.
Though he kept a sharp eye on gay developments, he didn’t keep up with other cultural trends. He relied for his knowledge of current books on those of us who reviewed them for him in ONE, Tangents, and the HIC Newsletter. Otherwise his reading was comfortably in the distant past, Shakespeare, Jane Austen. He disliked the movies as an art form-refusing to regard them as such. But he did appreciate the stage.
His endearing contradictions showed themselves in his constant emphasis on individual freedom of choice, while he could grow almost brutally insistent when someone declined to drink alcohol with him, as a sign of comradeship, I suppose.
Still, his virtues far outweighed his faults, as a result of his steadfast dedication to educating the public, making his points in a concise yet passionate way, and doing his best to dispel ignorance, prejudice, and stereotypical thinking. For this we can be eternally grateful, and hopefully, some of his notions may yet become dominant, given sufficient time to percolate in the public mind.
©1997, 2017 by The Tangent Group. All rights reserved.
The HIC is grateful to Stephen Brzoska for his help in digitizing this text.