Friday, March 24th, 2023

The homosexual civil rights movement in the early days

Billy Glover

June 20, 2010.

I think the best part of these exchanges is getting us to look at our lives and the history we lived through and the little bit we helped make.

I must admit now, although I guess I knew it all along, how easy my life has been compared to a lot of us.

I had a good early life — was having sex but never thought about it as an “issue.” And none of the boys were homosexual. Most are dead now. The only part abut sex I remember — other than when parents caught four or five of us under a small wooden bridge in the alley behind our house (when I was about four years old, checking ourselves out) is that I was reading in a magazine a story of Flicka, the horse, and apparently it mentioned birth of a colt. I asked my mother what that was about, and she told me how babies were born. It was totally unimportant to me — I’m guessing I was about 11.

I first thought about the subject in a psychology class at LSU in 1954. I went into the Army in Feb ’55, never thought about sex the first eight weeks, and only later had sex.

And then I got kicked out late ’56, went to Los Angeles, got regular job —had not told anyone where I was going — having left with about $200.

I found a place/bed in a rooming house on Mariposa at 3rd, near Normandie, immediately got a job, and for about two years only got in the movement as far as reading ONE magazine.

I finally got in contact [with the Mattachine Society and ONE, Inc.] in late ’59, then went to Mattachine’s convention/conference in Denver, and I think I’ve said the rest.

My parents knew about me being homosexual, after the Army. But I was alone and on my own for only less than a year — all other times I had their financial support and their support otherwise even though they never really understood the homosexual part.

We got back together when I joined the Methodist Church in L.A. which told the Bossier church where I was. They gave money to Tangents/HIC when I asked for it.

I had lots of sex with marines and sailors, one of each on a long-term basis. When in Louisiana, I picked up airmen from Barksdale AFB.

I settled down for the about 13 years Melvin and I were together, starting in 1963 — the day JFK was killed — having met walking down 6th Street. And don’t worry about sex now.

I’m retelling this to point out that I never had any problems with being homosexual. I never had a job to lose, or lost a family, etc. I did work temp jobs mainly to be able to get Social Security and thus Medicare. Otherwise I gave all money I had to Tangents/HIC. Never planned ahead. So I also lucked out that from the family I have the house and car, which makes me able to live on a small SS income.

So that affects in a sense how I look at the issues. It sure makes a difference from what you and others had to face. And I had to learn this.

But it is sure what was in the mind, and was the intention, of the founders: to make life better for young people so that they would not only not have to face what you did, but if they did, to have resources to help them.


About The Author


  1. Billy Glover

    I guess someone could be objective and say that, but I am subjective, as i’ve said. I have discussed this before, but maybe not in something i sent you a copy of, so will say what my thinking is and was.

    I was volunteer drafted, in Feb of 1955 the week after I finished LSU-late as usual as my grades from the first semester on were terrible, until I hit Sociology. (I had already done the physical months before in New Orleans.

    I first left Shreveport induction center and bussed overnight to Camp Chaffee (Fort Smith). First 8 weeks I did what everyone did-I was little older than most and not very athletic but did ok, and can’t remember a thing about it now except the feeling of not knowing what to expect, which I had already had first at LSU. Like in movies, we walked over to the movie theater, etc and talked with the men just coming there too, but for discharge, and heard some of their ideas. We lived in barracks, did KP and then did the 8 weeks training. We were warned if we messed up we would repeat and probably go into infantry. That made me mad as a good friend/neighbor was there too and was already in the Infantry and liked it.

  2. Billy Glover

    I never thought of sex once the whole time. As an interesting aside, they asked a few of us to talk about going into CID but I said no but knew they would not take me as they said even a speeding ticket would disqualify you and I had had one while at LSU. Then they said I would go into Signal training and I told them I’d never make it as couldn’t learn Morse Code, etc. Wasted 3 weeks before they finally said ok, go elsewhere. But despite the threat they for once sent me to the right place. I had been a non-conformist in high school-boys didn’t type-and so had already studied typing and so went to Clerical School. Finished and went by tran overnight to Ft Riley which is where the later problem started. I was not 5th Div, but 1st Inf Div, which was in Germany, the two divisions were slowly exchanging locations.

    We were assigned, temporarily, to the 5th Quartermaster, and worked in 1st Clerical, and did paperwork for Personnel, mostly those just back and needing money. I/we started arguing with Finance, and so one day I walked across the street and fussed at them, and they said, listen, we are short, and if you think you can do better, come one! I told Personnel people and they said, oh, that makes sense, you know our side, so we’ll send you there and you can handle what we send better, faster, since these men (mostly) need their money.

    So I transferred to Finance, under a Major from Brown University who never bothered any of us, and as usual, and I consider this a positive, we privates ran the place. There was not any problem but most of us were “U.S.” meaning draftee, in for only I think 16 or 18 months. The higher up’s were “R.A.-regular Army.” It seemed to me we USers were willing to take risks. If there was a “problem,” I knew how to get the man paid as I had done the personnel stuff too, and as I said, the major trusted us, and we never had a problem as we were honest.

  3. Billy Glover

    No ego, but they needed me to go to Finance School to keep me, and that is when the problem started, not sexuality, but doing what is best for the Military or what’s best for me. I failed the test, that is why I never fussed when they kicked me out, in theory for being homosexual, although for no specific act, despite the fact that what brought the discharge to a head was my driving fast around the post in a bright red, black and white Pontiac convertible, and being stopped by another major and cussing him out. I didn’t understand the situation then, but soon did-I know now that they were following what was best for the service, which a good soldier would have understood, but I didn’t until after a while when I thought about it. Sitting peacefully in L. A.

    But I got sent to Finance School at Ft Ben Harrison in Indianapolis, with what I thought was a promise that when finished I would be sent to Germany. That didn’t happen-not enough time left in the Army-unless I reenlisted. I didn’t think I should, and it could be that fate was why. It is possible I would sooner or later been kicked out anyway, if I kept having sex, which I did after getting to Riley and Harrison. The one thing confusing is that I could have, since I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do in life and liked the Army, and everyone I dealt with. I think, still, that they were better bureaucrats than the people at LSU.

  4. Billy Glover

    I finished at Fort Ben, came back, and that is when they said I would not go to Germany and that is when I started acting badly. And the rest is history.

    I drove to Bossier city, decided to leave the car, and a note, not telling anyone where I was going, (just saying don’t worry about me, I was ok) and got on the train and went to L.A., with about $200 to live on. I had decided long ago that that is where I wanted to live, when I saw it on a family vacation. From that time till I got back with my folks — a little less than a year — was the only time in my life I was on my own, with no one to help me.

    But I was lucky as the moment I got off the train, I got a copy of the Los Angeles Times, found an ad for a bed/rooming house at the corner of 3d and Mariposa, near Normandie, and found a job in two days (clerical/office). Changed it after my dad came for a visit and then came back to LA for a while to visit, then got another job and quit it, mutual agreement both times, after the 2nd company had even sent me to San Francisco for months to see if I would like it better. (I did like the city, ok, but did not do a good job — I fussed at a customer on the phone once (it was credit rating firm) so then quit and left my car parked on street and took a bus tour of nation.)

    I came back, moved to L.A., decided to visit ONE — had of course known about it — bought ONE magazine on the newsstand at Las Palmas (Hollywood Blvd).

    I met Jim Kepner first, we talked at Thrifty Drug on 5th at Pershing Square, he told of Mattachine convention in Denver, so went there.

    I honestly can’t remember, but probably had the car again by now. Then stayed in San Francisco for a while with Hal Call, week at least as I worked in Mattachine/PanGraphic office, wrote a book review he later published in Mattachine Review (Advise and Consent, which I liked).

    Then back to L.A., volunteered at ONE, became a staff member late ’60 or early ’61 when Kepner quit the second time. This was the old office on Hill St./actually Broadway too, over that Goodwill thing.

    I think it was ’62 when we moved to 2256 Venice Blvd., in the upstairs floor, liked it, expanded (at corner of Western, I have said Vermont but that is wrong).

    We often ate at a cafeteria on Hoover at Wilshire, which is at Lafayette Park near the first office I worked in. And later where one of the places Melvin and I lived in was, at 3d.

    So I have no problems to feel bad about, that is why I say what I do.

    So I never suffered much about Army, have good memories and loved all the time with ONE, then we separated and became HIC, still loved it, trips with Don Slater to Colorado, and then when folks died came back from L.A. to LA. Where I am now.

    June 20,2010

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