George Mortenson’s Address to the Assembly
for the 10th Annual Business Meeting of ONE, Inc.
by Fred Frisbie, as George Mortenson
January 26, 1962
Ten years of working on behalf of the homosexual has been stimulating, frequently inspiring, often vexatious, sometimes rewarding, constantly frustrating in one way or another, and forever on the brink of privation for the officers. The available funds were so meagre that no salaries at all were allocated for the first four years.
Then as circulation increased & donations dribbled in, we ventured to declare salaries —
But not yet for the Chiefs — oh no! We could not afford it! But we desperately needed at least one full time employee — a gentleman took a sabbatical leave from his place of employment (but was not paid by his employer) and came to work at ONE. An extraordinary meeting was immediately called to deliberate the matter of salary, and the munificent sum of $25.00 was considered feasible.
Gradually the editorial help became manifest and finances improved. Now, we though, surely now we can pay the Secretary/Treasurer and the Executive Editor each a salary — and we did! We were inexpressibly jubilant! Now and long last they could gloat over their paychecks each Friday—no longer depend on long suffering benefactors for roof and board. The fact that income did not keep up with the inexorable demands of three paychecks each relentless week of the year did not dampen our joy — we simply skipped a paycheck or two every third or fifth week. They had their cake last week we, said, now let them exist on the memory of it! Maybe next week we can pay them. Besides, it will teach them thrift, and heaven knows we need to be thrifty!
But when I saw holes in the shoe leather I skipped payment on a bill of my own, put some cash on the desk and said, “For Christ’s sake, buy a pair of shoes!”
“Good!” said the recipient. “I’ll have half soles put on and put the rest towards the printing bill.”
Now there you are! With this kind of disregard for mere creature comforts that most of us take for granted as our just due — With this kind of abstemious, devoted, dedicated will to serve — and go on serving come what may — so is it any wonder that ONE rocked along for ten years?
The wonder of it all is that, in a measure, we did prosper. We made tremendous gains in serving a segment of humanity — and by this token, all humanity.
We are a child of our times — we are a voice no longer in the wilderness but are heard in the cities — ever militant are we and this is our strength. The milestones of achievement are passed by and remain as markers.
Before 1952, an organization like ONE, working forthright and publicly in behalf of the homosexual, now in half measures nor in undertones but boldly proclaiming its avowed intentions — emblazoned in its very masthead “The Homosexual Magazine” — “The Homosexual Viewpoint” would have seemed impossible.
But there we were with our masthead in broad daylight — publicly displayed.
It so happened that a certain man whose spirit was heavily burdened with troubles stemming from his homosexual orientation thought he saw the “word” in print as he glanced over the wares of a newsstand. He took a double take — another look — Well I’ll be damned! Actually a homosexual magazine, and no mistake!
Well this is my point — any statement more decorously, discretely disguised would have misfired! Most of you know how this man reacted — you’ve heard the story before, how he reached for the magazine with its message ringing in his ears — how he devoured it in one compelling sitting — how he subsequently came to the office to see with his own eyes who these undaunted, articulate, brash idiots might be who would have proclaimed such lofty ideals—Incorporated yet and wonder of wonder avowed homosexuals!
Its an old story how he became our first Social Services case. How he redeemed his self respect — how he achieved a successful equilibrium—how he jumped on his sputtering scooter and stormed the newsstands and successfully disseminated our subsequent issues.
And then in 1954 we conducted our first public program in New York city.
This page was created by C. Todd White from information gathered while researching his doctoral dissertation, Out of Many… A Social History of the Homosexual Rights Movement. Dr. G. Alexander Moore was director of White’s dissertation committee, in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California.