Friday, March 24th, 2023

Remembering Harry Hay and John Burnside

Billy GloverJuly 28, 2010.

I met Harry and John at ONE in the early 1960s as they came to work and visit — worked on a Friday night committee as I recall.

I still think that is how they met, although I’ve seen other versions. I think Harry had not been active for a few years after being kicked out of his Mattachine by Hal Call et al. in about 1953. The publications section had already come out to publish ONE magazine, and incorporated to do that and then the other needed things, such as have lectures, classes (ONE Institute) and help in social services and legal work. (In between as I recall is when the Dale Jennings legal case, over his entrapment arrest, happened, as reported by him in I think the first issue of ONE. As a co-founder of Mattachine and ONE, Inc. he was one of the main people at the time.)

Jim Kepner had just left ONE for the second time — over Dorr Legg’s not being honest about our tax-exemption-which he had not completed, which is why ONE never was tax-exempt, and had a license as we had the Book Service. That is why in 1965 ISHR was formed, with Reed Erickson giving the funding for a tax-exempt part of ONE. Don and I switched to it, but then Dorr tried to force everyone out who disagreed with his priorities, and Don led the separation that Easter Sunday in 1965.

Hay and Burnside
Harry Hay and John Burnside

The Annual Meeting during the Midwinter Institute had been a disaster, and right after John and Harry had become voting members, they quit over this as had Morgan Farley. They had all warned Don that Dorr was causing trouble and didn’t think Don cared as he liked Dorr so much, and till then they had run different parts of ONE, Don the magazine and library.

In the early 1970s as I recall, Don and his lover, Tony Reyes, bought the house in Colorado, and about the same time John and Harry moved to the cottage at San Juan Pueblo. In earlier years they had lived in Laguna Beach and other places. And they lived in Hollywood after moving back and then to San Francisco. I am not sure when they did the Faerie bit. They in I think the late ’80s visited me here in Louisiana while coming back from a speaking trip. I think they were in a Volkswagon or some such small car.

I/we of course went to their place on Washington Blvd. at Western right around the corner from our office on Venice at Western (around 1962–64). There they made the Teleidoscopes that John had invented, but later I think his wife took control. He had lived with her on Outpost in Hollywood, where we went once. But their material burned up in a fire that destroyed the Trading Post in New Mexico, and then they were poor. (There Harry continued his interest in Native Americans, and did the work to stop the building of a dam that would hurt the tribe.)

We had a great time around May, 1966, when they and we worked together on the Committee to Fight Exclusion of Homosexuals From the Armed Forces. They rode in a car (we did a Motorcade of a dozen or so cars through L.A.) and were interviewed on some TV shows.

Dale talked about Harry as dominating, such as choosing the name Mattachine, and yet his experiences in the early days, and his Communist work, may have helped get it started, even if later it was a hindrance — which is a generic thing for lots of causes. But I never saw a downside of either of them. In theory Harry was the dominant one, but they both talked a lot.

I don’t remember much of the conversations we had over the years, as I don’t even remember much of the time with Don and Dorr. Fortunately Don’s work is in print in the magazine and newsletters and a few columns in general newspapers. And Harry is in several books, such as Stuart Timmons’ The Trouble with Harry and the short biographical material in Vern Bullough’s edited book, Before Stonewall, and C. Todd White’s history of early Mattachine/ONE/HIC, Pe-Gay L.A.

Can we assume the history will be dealt with in what I understand is a 2012 celebration of Harry?


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