Re: [sixties-l] early gay movement

From: Bill Davis (
Date: Wed Aug 30 2000 - 01:29:14 CUT

  • Next message: Allen Cohen: "[sixties-l] Sixties Poets reemerge w/ Bands"

    I travelled to Washington DC in some of the earliest days of open MayDay
    planning, must have been late 1970 or early '71. I was 19 years old, and
    there to learn all about the action and get materials to take back to use
    to organize my home state. I was getting academic credit, college credit,
    while doing this, in part by keeping "sociological observations." I
    remember being impressed, in a way mesmerized, by the fact that there was a
    disproportionately large proportion of "seemingly gay" young people
    working in that national office. I also noted how free, and free flowing,
    everything seemed there; in very stark contrast to the trot-operated Mobe
    office downstairs in the same building. I remember being challenged by
    this, as a young idealist; and wondering--in my simplistic way--why should
    we exclude, from those we love, either half of humanity. It was
    troubling, and like so much else going on, damn interesting!

    I kept those observations to myself, but thought I was so open
    minded. Then came the Atlanta gathering of the tribe, I guess it was
    called. There was to be a meeting of activists in Atlanta, of the MayDay
    persuasion, to plan the next move, the next national action. It was in the
    summer after MayDay, maybe August, over a long weekend I think. There was
    also scheduled, to commence a few days beforehand and carry over into the
    larger gathering of all the "MayDay Tribe" [forgive me if that is
    presumptuous], a Gay MayDay meeting and a women's meeting.

    Thus, when my friends and I arrived, along with maybe hundreds of others
    [mostly men], we were met by a group of folks who had just finished
    spending days raising each other's consciousnesses [spell that one!] to a
    frenzy; and we were treated--when we got there--as the awaited yet dreaded
    "straight males." And of course, we did need a little consciousness
    raising, and we got some! It was an incredible experience! In a day or
    two, we learned how to talk! No "chicks" here!

    The upshot of it all was that a lot of guys left, but those of us who
    stayed had the time of our lives! Everybody of all persuasions got along
    splendidly. We stayed in the Jewish Community Center, on a big gymnasium
    floor with a full featured spa downstairs. The bond was wholesome and
    energetic and electric. I am wondering if anybody on this list was there.


    Oh, and Stew, thanks for your continuing contribution.

    At 12:34 PM 8/28/00, wrote:
    >I received an e-mail about this and thought I would take it to the list as a
    >topic. Something like -- what were your first reactions to the gay movement?
    >I was, as a straight guy, forced to be an early supporter because some of my
    >friends turned out gay -- and well, you have to support your friends -- but I
    >really examined nothing about my inner feelings views, etc. Then Tom Foran,
    >the prosecutor in the Chicago 8 case denounced the defendants as "fags" and
    >said we were losing our children to the "freaking fag revolution." He made
    >headlines with this hate speech. So I wrote an article for the Berkeley Tribe
    >stating that Foran was a repressed homosexual and that the repression drove
    >him crazy. I pointed out that during the trial after he finished
    >cross-examining Allen Ginsberg - he whispered "faggot" on the loud side. In
    >my article I expressed support for the gay movement. I figured Foran would be
    >given the piece by an FBI agent and be furious. And it certainly was my
    >intent to make him very angry. I was also expecting to win some sort of
    >"straight man of the year" award from the gay community -- but instead was
    >attacked -- my article was being interpreted as saying that it was a bad
    >thing to have homosexual desires -- and that Foran was bad because he had
    >them. I reread my article and it seems that I was saying just that in every
    >third paragraph -- after endorsing the gay revolution in the preceding two
    >paragraphs. I did not enjoy the hostile response -- but it forced me to think
    >about the new gay movement in a deeper and more challenging way. And to see
    >how much street Brooklyn bigotry I still possessed. I wonder how others dealt
    >with the movement when it was new? Gay or straight.--
    >Stew Albert

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Aug 30 2000 - 03:03:01 CUT