June 20, 2010.
To Ron Tate, re: Boston Globe article “FBI Gives a Glimpse of its Most Secret Layer” (Bryan Bender, Globe Staff, March 29, 2010)
I could not find mention of Hal Call but did of Mattachine Society in 1958, which of course is a totally different Mattachine from the original one (the Foundation), which was started by Communists but in no way aimed at undermining the U. S. government.
And in fact they were kicked out of the Party for being homosexual — Harry Hay, Dale Jennings, and later Jim Kepner I think.
If the FBI did its job, they would know that that was exactly why Call took over Mattachine and moved it to San Francisco. It was tremendously successful in southern California and then less so in San Francisco, but that is generic — it was new and so it grew from one small gathering in a home to hundreds all over the state. But the people did not know of Harry’s Communist connection, and Call feared if they did it would kill it.
It was killed anyway, in order to “save” it.
That is why it is so historically important, despite the East Coast bias and wall to wall Stonewall exploitation by the lazy media, to know that the original Mattachine Foundation morphed into ONE, Inc., as the core people decided to go public (only because they thought it was time to reach out publicly since it had been so successful in reaching people who were still in the closet) and publish ONE magazine.
And to do that, they had to incorporate, get a public office, and later hold public meetings to which most of the members would still be afraid to attend — etc.
And then ONE had to fight the legal battle (from 1954 to 1958) with the Post Office — over mailing the magazine.
So, I’m not a happy camper if the FBI thought Mattachine San Francisco was more important than we were at ONE and HIC. I wonder if the reporter/journalist saw any mention of ONE, DOB, etc. at all?
But if the FBI did investigate, they had to see immediately that Hal and ONE (Dorr Legg and Don Slater mainly) were “conservatives” and therefore not a left-wing threat.
I don’t think there was any conscious plan, but it is clear that the movement started with left-wingers. Some (Hay and Jennings) were actually former Communists — who had been kicked out of the party. Almost immediately after Jennings and Hay were expelled, the original Mattachine was taken over by extreme conservatives (such as Hal Call), and the new Society moved to San Francisco.
I think serious social scientists and political scientists will say that the reason this civil rights movement, which started in 1950 in the McCarthy era, has been so successful is because it took the best from the left and from the right and used them to work all angles.
And another irony is that we did it better than the government does things, and the first converts to our cause were in fact big businesses.
Such a story may not be sexy, but it sure is historically important. And that is why the slogan is right: We started with that ripple in Los Angeles in 1950 which has grown into a raging wave all over the nation — and the media just caught on about the time of Stonewall.