Monday, March 30, 2009

Washington Blades’ coverage of the salaries of glbt leaders

I wonder what other people thought if they have seen the news in the Washington Blade on how much money the heads of glbt groups are paid. In a sense it is only the concern of those who give money to these groups.

But intelligent donors should want to know how their money is spent—a question the Johnny-Come-Lately Republicans are asking about the current stimulus money of the Obama Administration but didn't seem to worry about when it was the Bush Administration..

But I can give a personal view, and not out of jealousy. I worked from the ’60s to today with the oldest lgbt organization, coming out of early Mattachine (and I was at the infamous Mattachine Convention in Denver that got all the publicity in Denver and San Francisco, with mostly bad results) as ONE, Inc (1952) to be the public voice, the first national publication, which won the first legal battle of our community/movement and then co-founded out of ONE the information part, the Homosexual Information Center (1965–68).

I did financial work at ONE/HIC. I helped put out the magazine. We had little income, little media support and few homosexuals supporting us. The opposite is true today. Every major media service is eager to support our cause. Where we had a few heterosexual attorneys, publishers/printers that helped, we could get no gay professionals to help us.

The opposite is true today. So the job of these leaders is not hard. And if we accomplished what we did-they sure have built on what we have done and in a sense are still doing with our libraries/archives—with so little support and money, they have no excuse for not doing a great job, but that does not mean I personally would accept their reasoning for taking so much money to do their job. Again, if we are saying the Wall street greedy people who got our nation in the financial mess we are in should not be rewarded, we should ask why these leaders with all they have, mostly donated work they if fact refused in the Prop 8 effort, need such high salaries, to do what we did with so little, and we DID succeed. Have these leaders known about Harvey Milk, or seen the movie?

I would like to know where the income of these groups comes from. I suspect lots of it is tax-payer money-I’m sure the gay center in L. A. was donated by the government and much of their income comes from the city/county/state. So we are entitled to know where the money goes. I wonder how easy it is for someone to get help from these gay centers in L. A., New York, Chicago, San Francisco. I sure can remember sitting with the only person at the L. A. gay center, on weekends when it was really doing a good job, on Highland, and few people had an income from the work.

And I suspect many people have good memories from the first days of the L. A. center, at that old Victorian house on Wilshire Blvd., when Morris et al. did something, and inspired so many at a time when it was a rare thing, not something seen daily on many TV shows, and written up often in the newspapers, etc. Do young people today who have contact with gay centers come away with a good feeling?

After all, there are now organizations specifically for help them-GLSEN, The Point Foundation, etc. And there are legal (lgbt) groups to help them, Lambda legal, NCLR, GLAD, and for military issues SLDN, etc. So what does the Human Rights Campaign do? What does The Task Force do? The name doesn't tell us who it serves.

And who knows what the professional glbt groups do. Do we know what the gay/lesbian journalists do? The gay physicians? And do we hear anything from the groups for sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, politics???

I have no doubt that if the pioneers had had the money and media support the current leaders have they could have done even greater things. I can tell you that it sure is cheaper to reach people on the internet than it was to type and mail letters, and to pay telephone bills. Of course we didn’t have to have expensive offices-sort of like those bankrupt bankers do.

I know these groups will not get any financial support from me-but they do from taxpayers. And like the call to eliminate the tax-exemptions for religious organizations that indirectly get taxpayers’ money, that may come for such groups as HRC, the centers, etc.

But like a lot of things that people seem to think were better in the old days—we did the work with no income and in fact donated not only our time and energy but our money, and it was our desire to change things that gave us the motivation.

I suggest that income for these leaders be ended and let’s see how many of them are still willing to give some of their spare time—as they earn a living elsewhere as some of us did—to the cause. Then they will deserve credit and respect. Now they don’t need that—they get lots of money as the motive.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Milk, a major ingredient, but only one of many in community/movement

Milk, the movie, like milk the drink, is important (although I understand there are some people who can't take either).

I think the movie is important, and it is educational, and in a way, entertaining. And it is interesting to consider Milk and Brokeback Mountain as movies, their timing and what they say to and about homosexuals.

Like Stonewall, Milk, the man and "event" owe a little of their success to the media. As has been pointed out, not only did the movement for homosexual civil rights (and please, that covers—despite dear Morris Kight, et al.—gay rights, lesbian rights, queer rights, dyke rights, etc.) start in Los Angeles (Henry Gerber and any others were a blip and died fast) but so were the first of everything, including riots, or as Stonewallers prefer, rebellions, happened in California but the media ignored them. And so lazy "historians" have ignored them. As they have ignored the founders of Mattachine and ONE. Has anyone wondered why there is no mention of Mattachine in the movie Milk?

Milk came to San Francisco, as hundreds of thousands of others came to California, some from New York, etc., perhaps because they knew that things were happening in California.

Hal Call came to California. He joined early Mattachine and immediately started taking over, using the clam that the founders were communists and this would hurt the cause-probably true, although some think that ONE went too far in the other direction, being mainly conservative Republicans.

There should be no question that Harvey Milk was a great person, and inspired man people, including those who heard of him in other places. But it does not take away one iota from him and his co-workers to point out that this is true of Harry Hay, Don Slater, Dorr Legg, Jim Kepner, Frank Kameny, Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon, Frank Kameny, Barbara Grier, Barbara Gittings, et al.

Such people, publications and organizations had been preparing the way for Stonewall and Milk since the early 1950s.

And that is true of Mattachine in San Francisco, and Hal Call, Don Lucas et al (Guy Strait, SIR, Tavern Guild, etc).

What worries me about Milk is its main point: success. All the marches, the victory of No on 6—how would people have thought of this if they had seen it before the loss of Prop 8? You can't miss the exact tactics used by the religious bigots on 6 and 8. Only time can tell if the people running No on 8 had learned nothing from the No on 6 people or if new times needed new tactics.

And if young people come away from Milk feeling good and hopeful, will they join an organization to continue Harvey's work? Or do they think, despite anti-gay marriage wins, Milk did it, so we can just enjoy it?

Again, Harvey, like others, came to California because they thought it was better there, and thankfully a few like Milk joined to help make it even better. I'm not sure, as the movie hints, that generic "David Goodsteins," (and his Advocate) did.

But, as in other civil rights movements, it takes many ways to a goal, education, picketing, entertainment, etc. Hal Call and his Mattachine was visible—certainly from that great good and terrible convention in Denver in 1959, when innocent people voted to praise the mayor of San Francisco for being gay-friendly, the purpose of the person who made the proposal was to defeat the mayor and what happened, as so often in life, sometimes good and sometimes bad, is that it had the opposite affect. The newspapers were not gay-friendly, but they shouted that this was a "attack" not only on the mayor but on the citizens and city of San Francisco. Think what that word meant—it sure didn't mean they were "gay-friendly."

Hal Call and Mattachine were well known in San Francisco. Later others started working the cause from different angles, SIR (social until the stupid police forced them to be activists along with the preachers and attorneys of the newly formed Council of Religion and the Homosexual), the Tavern Guild (Bill Plath, et al), Guy Strait—no comment—his wonderfully campy U S News & Cruise News newspaper. And into the mix came Harvey.

But if people get a good feeling from Milk, did they get a realistic view? And how does that compare in promoting the cause of civil rights for homosexuals to Brokeback Mountain. That is not a "gay" movie. And while today many people say to those two men, and others like them, then and now, get out of that place and go to the big city. How realistic is that today, with our economy, as it was at the time of the movie?

And do we abandon the rest of the nation to religious bigots except the blue states and urban areas? As we abandon the churches to the bigots? And is it possible that many people, seeing and feeling the pain of the men of Brokeback Mountain might finally come to a better understanding of what society has done to homosexuals? As entertainment perhaps Milk is better, as education, I'm not sure. And I wonder how I would feel if Milk had come first? But I have no doubt that both will influence everyone, even those who don't bother to see the films. And does it do any good to tell someone that they should see them?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Arthur Laurents and Don Slater: You can be affected by and inspired by, someone you never knew

My thinking about the book I found accidentally, the autobiography of Arthur Laurents, titled, strangely, Original Story By, subtitled A memoir of Broadway and Hollywood, is proof to me that I was affected by the work of this man that I had never heard of. Yet he was working in “Hollywood” during the time I was working in Hollywood (both on Cahuenga Blvd. West across the freeway from Universal Studios and later ON Hollywood Blvd. in 2 places, 6715 and 6758.

He was working with rich and famous celebrities (actors/writers/directors) whose work reached millions in books and movies—and would today on the TV celebrity shows. We were reaching hundreds with a message that he personally needed. He wrote, and we wrote.

He reached millions, most of whom did not know who he was, but saw his work, on Broadway and in the movies. He seemed to know every famous person, and had sex with most, such as of course Farley Granger. We did a lot of talking about homosexuality—we were educational, not entertaining—but had little sex. The media did not find the work of the early people working for civil rights for homosexuals of interest, even that of the cute, sexy ones. So no one heard of Don Slater-even though his work appeared not only in ONE/Tangents Magazine but also in the pages of the Los Angeles Times, the Herald Examiner and our work was written up by Peter Bart in The New York Times, and his military work was covered briefly in Randy Shilts’s book, Conduct Unbecoming: Gay and Lesbian People and the Military, and later in the book of short biographies of pioneers edited by Vern Bullough, Before Stonewall, plus tv and radio talk shows (Joe Pyne, for instance, that day’s Rush Limbaugh?) and at college and church discussions. I was on Regis Philbin’s show, treated shabbily, and Louis Lomax’s, treated well, and a few others. As were Harry Hay and John Burnside. And so were people on the East Coast, making news, which Laurents doesn’t seem to have known about, as he dealt with his “issues.” But Judd Marmor was one of his consultants, and he worked with our movement too.

So I personally got much pleasure out of The Way We Were, and I did so then and now regardless of any “issues” Laurents had with the others who got the movie made. My overall feeling was and is that it is both a love story and how politics etc affect even those who love, and how things turn out. That was what I wondered then, and now at the age when I KNOW how things turned out. And the issues covered by the move, the black list, HUAC, applied not only to Laurents and his friends, but to our movement’s main co-founder, Harry Hay, so this all is the same even if the players never knew each other.

I feel America is better for the work of Laurents, even if we don’t know it, and that is true of the work of Don Slater.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gay Lib New York pictures and articles in current Gay & Lesbian Review

The cover alone of the March/April 09 issue of The Gay & Lesbian Review, the two contrasting pictures of gay marches, is great history. My first thought is, tell us where the people in both pictures are today and how they view the world today? The idea of a picture of early gay lib days, the great Come Out picture (1970, New York), and the more recent picture of people in California marching in 2005 for marriage is great visual history of the homosexual community/movement.

And the article “The Look of Liberation,” by Steven Dansky, and the additional pictures should put this part of Stonewall history in place for future generations. I do wonder about the continuitng disagreement on the term to describe the event—riot versus revolution. (I cannot understand the places in the picture versus the names, but to see names such as Jim Fouratt makes this still relevant today.)

It could be another philosophical discussion on tactics, etc, when you think that the Come Out!! picture was staged and some people think only “spur of the moment” things are valid—and yet the actual photo is almost accidental and so even more valuable as at another second it could have been just another picture. And that some people are not in the picture, such as Allen Young, and others almost weren’t, such as Ron Ballard, makes it of interest as it tells us of how people had to deal with being “out.” then. And the pictures that record such things as the Effeminist Manifesto, with Kenneth Pitchford, et al., show that much was happening.

I personally was happy to see that even the people at events then now can not remember all that happened, even where the picture was taken or which house a meeting was held in, as I have the same lack of specifics on what happened, where, when,etc.

Let’s hope the people in the 2005 picture and the events since Prop 8 protests, etc will keep a record. And the article on Milk was valuable for the same reasons, to know the general atmosphere in San Francisco then as compared with today is important.

I also liked that Lillian Faderman tries to keep reality in how Hollywood really was in those early days. Some people try to make it sound gayer than it really was, and that distorts history. Wonder why Brett Abrams in Hollywood Bohemians tries to make us think stars were out and life was easy when it was not?