Thursday, March 17, 2011

RE: the death of Jim Gruber

I am doing ok, living back in LA the state after most of my life in L.A. (the city). That is why it is “interesting” that I have heard of more movies being made here—one scene right around the corner from my house. For instance, the film Battle: Los Angeles was made partly here in Shreveport/Bossier and Baton Rouge.  (The offices of ONE/HIC at the time of the separation were at 3473 1/2 Cahuenga Blvd West, across the freeway from Universal and down the street from Hanna Barbera.  That is where Harry and John, Don Slater, et al, did the Motorcade on the military and homosexuals in 1966.)

From Jerry Berbiar:

I’m not sure if you know me—Jon Sugar sometimes forwards me your emails about the history of ONE, Inc.
I was a close friend of Harry Hay and John Burnside and was one of the Circle of Loving Companions who brought Harry and John to San Francisco from Los Angeles in 1999 to care for them.I'm in SF and am guessing your probably in LA.
I thought you would want to know that the last living founder of Mattachine, John (Jim) Gruber recently passed away at the age of 82. You can see his obituary in the Bay Area Reporter of 3/10/11, online at They have an archive link to past issues. Hope you are doing well.  
Jerry Berbiar, aka “Jerry the Faerie”

Mary Alice's visit/I've said most of what I want to say

It is a beautiful day and I have had a great visit with Mary Alice. Tell Lynn she is visiting here, and now it is his time. I just realized I didn't hug her as we ate and then drove to see Buddy and they were talking and I left to come on to the library.

I'm thinking, partly to save gas, that I will start going less to the library, and in a sense I have said all I feel the urge to say about my/our history. As Don said, it is on record, and his part is in the magazine and newsletters, etc, so let history decide on its own.

But it is strange to find a book at the library on the discard rack that is about Don & Tony's area, called The Madonnas of Echo Park. It is of course interesting to see mention of all the areas we have walked in, and it would be nice to share this with Tony, but he doesn't do computer and in a sense seems not to care to remember those long years they lived there.

It is doubly interesting as the author is Mexican American and shows a side of L. A. I would not have experienced, and doubt Tony did. But mention of Pioneer Market-for some reason he changes the name to Pilgrim- and other local places and streets brings back memories I have forgotten. Above the lake is where the picture of Melvin and me was taken that is on the cover of ONE. I don't know if the area has changed much-the book is 2000. The houses on Carroll St are still on a tour route I think. But who lives in that house across the street where the author of the book/movie Love Story lived-next to Rudi, and a few other famous people. I think the houses are still expensive. And he talks about it being Angelino Heights, remember Don insisted on calling it that even though everyone else calls it all Echo Park.

AND he of course echos one of the many "concerns" of Don that made him so special. That is that he, and the book, never forgave L. A. for stealing Chavez Ravine from the owners to give it to the Brooklyn Dodgers. That is the Don that others can't seem to know or that would help them understand him.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why Don Slater, and thus the Homosexual Infomation Center, is either ignored or misunderstood

The first point to make is that no one else talking about the subject knew Don Slater or ONE in the days before the division in 1965. Some came after and ONLY talked to Dorr Legg and his co-workers or Jim Kepner, who took Dorr's side/view even though he had quit ONE twice over Dorr's deceitfulness, which is why Don Slater acted as he did. (I became a staff member to replace Jim when he quit the second time.) As far as I know, there are only three people still living that were at ONE at the time of the separation. Tony and Melvin are no longer active. And that leaves me. I have no ego to protect, but have a moral duty to see that the facts are on the record. Apparently either most people did not read Todd White's book on the subject (Pre-Gay L. A.) or refuse to accept facts that don't support their agenda.

Historians and journalists who have written or spoken on this subject have been incompetent and unethical since they never heard our side of the history. That includes an editor of a West Hollywood newspaper who calls our archives a "rump" part of ONE. And it includes those who only listen to the lies of those who now have what remains of Dorr's (and Jim Kepner's) part of ONE, especially John O'Brien, who keeps sayng we stole Dorr's library and he "saved' it later when Don died. You have to wonder about the person who will ignore legal documents and listen to the version of history by someone who was not there and has a personal agenda to promote.

The most outrageous claim is that Don Slater, and even Dorr and others at ONE were not "gay" enough, and were not "out" enough. That is hard to say of course when you consider the facts-THEY were the first public voice of this movement. Not many people had their picture in a major magazine, LIFE, in 1964 as editor of a homosexual publication, As Don and Hal Call did. Usually this nonsense is said by those who have a different view of the movement than ONE/HIC has. While in a sense the great work of ONE is now mainly two libraries/archives a few of us continue to speak on issues based on the work started in 1950. And serious people will find good information and history in the issues of ONE Magazine. Reference is made to Don's views in articles published in general newspapers as well as a week of tv discussion in 1966 by Don as co-host on a L. A. tv station, with Maria Cole.

I have thought of some of Don's words/views as him being the devil's advocate and others say Don never said anything he didn't mean. That is too easy a black and white assertion.. For instance it is not easy to deal with what were and are the two most difficult aspects of pr for this movement-children and politics-usually communism. Bigots gleefully connect homosexuality and communism, and they are helped by the fact that this continuing movement ws started by communists-or more correctly ex-communists, as they were kicked out of the party because of their sexuality and the correct fear that the political effort would be attacked because of homosexuality. So how then do we think of Don's words about the (CSW) Pride parade? He accused the founders of being hypocrites since they were going to exclude two groups, NAMBLA and the "gay nazis.," while bragging of their diversity and unity of the cause. Now we had no connection to youth issues and we always thought that the "gay' nazis were FBI or some undercover people. We also thought that two nice young men who showed up to help with the Motorcade, and were never heard from again, were FBI. It didn't matter, they helped and we were happy to have them there. I don't think Don wanted them in the parade, but he wanted to point out the false claims of the parade people. I think Joe Hansen worked on the parade.

But now I am going to show you, in case even you have not read some of Don's thinking, what scares these current "gays." The quote is from Homosexual Information Center Newsletter #47, of December, 1992. Devoted to book reviews, the newsletter shocks the reader first with the negative review of a play/book, Queer Edward II , screenplay and commentary by Derek Jarman, British Film Institute, distributed in the U. S. by Indiana University. For those closet cases who fear the honesty of Don Slater, they will really be ungay with the words of Mattachine and ONE co-founder (and author of The Cowboys), Dale Jennings. But what is apparently still shocking to most glbt people today are the following words of Don Slater (while reviewing Eric Marcus' book, Making History: the struggle for gay ad lesbian equal rights, 1945-1990, an oral history ):

"This tiny, California-based magazine (Lisa Ben's Vice Versa) was a beginning. But like the early Mattachine Society (ed. note, it seems it should be Foundation) that followed, neither was the start of the homosexual movement in this country. They were forerunners. The late Chuck Rowland tells us that from 1950 and into 1953, the Mattachine Society held numerous discussion groups in Southern California. Topics dealt with how to come out and how to deal with the law and one's family and job. No printed advice was available; there was no one qualified to write as an authority on a subject hitherto unexplored by unbiased scholars. Just as Vice Versa was published for a chosen few, the Mattachine also aimed at a special band of followers. The meetings were often large but closed to the public. Those who gathered talked to one another in private.

The idea of educating the public began with the publication of ONE Magazine in January, 1953. ONE was the start of the homosexual movement and the start of the gay press as well. The Magazine aimed at a readership that included the general public. It was sold on newsstands beside the leading periodicals of the day. Professionally printed and having two-dozen pages of a 6x7 format, ONE sold for 25 cents. Boldly on the cover were the unequivocal words: ONE, The Homosexual Viewpoint, a matter of much contention among editors and readers. Its much criticized lack of subtlety and taste was ONE's chief selling point. It said: "We are! There is movement." Homosexuals were no longer whispering among themselves under obnoxious euphemisms such as "homophile," "lambda," and the insanely misleading term "gay."

The secrecy and fear of those times runs through many of the stories in the Marcus collection. There was the personal anguish over "coming out." The concern of these sexual emancipators with what society will think about their homosexuality borders on the paranoiac. They were hung up over homosexual urges most farm boys take for granted. One young man in New York City named Morty Manford was so mortified about his homosexuality during the Stonewall riots that he ran to his mother for comfort and support. At the city's christopher St. Liberation Day Parade in June 1972, Mrs. Manford carried a sign that read: "Parents of Gays: United in Support of Our Children." This is how the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays groups got started. And the parents in PFLAG still console their young today.

With the opening of politics in the early 1970s the movement became ripe for exploitation, and the usual army of profiteers moved in. Bruce Voeller, Howard Brown, Jean O'Leary, Virginia Apuzzo, Charles Brydon, Troy Perry, David Mixner, Torie Osborn began to steer the elected bureaucracy and the "gay community" into the right, "safe and correct" causes that could be endorsed by politically savvy politicians. Brydon describes how he took a job at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force that paid $17,000 a year in 1979. It was "a totally impossible salary" according to him. Since that time lesbians and gay advocacy has become the fastest growing industry in the nation. Executives of the larger organizations now command $75,000 to $100,000 a year. And they would all go back into their closets tomorrow if the salaries wsere cut off.

Through Marcus's histories we come to see that the level of commitment today is dramatically different from that of the pioneering activists of the 1940s and 1950s. The pioneers saw themselves as ordinary individuals, homosexual activity as something personal. They wanted equal protection, assimilation, privacy. The politicized gays see homosexuality as the sum total of what they are. They want position, rank, and public recognition on the basis of this one most intimate aspect of their lives. As such, they are part of a failed revolution which seems to be plunging back into prejudice and opprobrium, making it necessary to start all over from the beginning as human beings, not as clowns and sexual performers."

(Charles Lucas did give a favorable review of The Dreyfus Affair, a love story by Peter Lefcourt.)

The average person may not agree with much of Don's thinking, and know that he and others got salaries of perhaps $50 a week which may help explain his thinking on someone complaining about a salary of $17,000. And a few people who disagreed with personality issues ignored that because of the great work Don (and Dorr, et al.) did. They were conservative, I am a liberal Democrat. And Troy and others did work with Don (such as picketing the Los Angeles Times) and ignore his irascible nature-or perhaps they would use other adjectives. It was not money or politics that separated Don and Dorr, it was what effort deserved the higher priority. But I think it is politics that separates others then and now-such as John O'Brien. As in generic politics, I don't understand why John, et al, can't disagree with Don (and thus Dorr) without telling lies and making false claims.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

From Madeline Davis

Hi Billy,

Your list may be interested in a recent film: Swimming With Lesbians, filmed & directed by David Marshall. It gives the history of the Buffalo, NY gay community going back into the 30s but predominantly dealing with the social history from 1970 on. I had the privilege of narrating the film which has been shown at numerous gay film festivals, including the Frameline FF at the Castro Theater in SF. It is available from Frameline distributors. It deals a lot with the drag and trans communities in Bflo as well as the history of gay politics, essential kicked off by a speech here by Frank Kameny. It’s really a look at how the communities that were not on the coasts evolved into centers for gay activism.

Best, Madeline

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book Review of Interest

Review of Martin Duberman's Dual Bio of Deming and McReynolds by Doug Ireland, The Rag Blog. 

From Allen Young:

Doug reviews Martin Duberman’s recently released A Saving Remnant: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds. Historian Duberman is known as the father of gay studies, and Deming and McReynolds are “two openly queer Americans who devoted their lives to the struggles for peace and social justice.” Ireland tells us that A Saving Remant is “radiant with an emboldening and unquenchable humanity.”

Perhaps we should check it out?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stinson Carter article in current issue of The Forum News (Shreveport/Bossier)

It was a pleasant surprise to be glancing through the free local “alternative” newspaper, Forum News, and see an article, with picture, of Stinson on his book, False River.

And, talk about a small world, it points out that one of the writers he likes is Walker Percy, and of course my friend in Boston is history prof William (Bill) Percy, Walker’s relative (another Percy wrote a famous book, I think it is Lanterns on the Levee). 
Bill has a paper/dissertation on him by a former student at UTX. I found it very interesting not only about Wm. Percy but about the times, race relations, and he knew famous people, etc. This was a good reflection on life in Greenville MS and also in Europe.

A Vintage Montage Of Guys Together

Thanks for this group of pictures of early homosexual men-the men look great but what is interesting is the question of -who took the pictures!
_ _ _ _

RE: Subject: "Secretly" - A Vintage Montage Of Guys Together on Vimeo

We have been around forever, many folks just didn't seem to see us (for whatever reason).
This is nice. Turn on your sound for the music.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Discussion in Letters Section of new issue of The Gay & Lesbian Review- March/April 2011

The new issue of The Gay & Lesbian Review has a letter from me with a reply from the editor concerning articles on closeted gay authors from earlier eras. I wonder if other people are frustrated when authors of the 1950s and ’60s, who were out, such as Joseph Hansen, have been ignored, while many literary publications keep having “tributes” to closeted English authors, who did nothing to change things but merely hid and enjoyed life as hidden homosexuals—thus making lots of money and giving none of it to our cause.?

The other issue is that the “artistic” community keeps pushing movies and articles on a few hippy-era people who were homosexual and out but were “special” since they were weird and did outrageous things, personally and artistically. I find it hard to believe that Allen Ginsberg and such people did more to make life better from our community than did those who worked in movement publications, such as Don Slater, Barbara Gittings, Barbara Grier, et al., who managed to affect the world without writing pornography or needing drugs to be creative.

And it is time to tell the world that the LGBT community is not limited to drag queens, which is apparently what sells, since LOGO, the supposed LGBT network can’t seem to find anything else of value in our community. I suggest they look up resources listed in Gayellow Pages and give some balance to their coverage, or else we should tell the advertisers they are wasting their money as no one watches 24 hours of repeat RuPaul.