Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book by Dick Hewetson: History of the Gay Movement in Minnesota and the Role of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union

This is a wonderful history of Minnesota LGBT history [click for the PDF] , but it covers the national history too-and should be in every library.

I do think it is important to ask the question that will anger many people.  How is it possible that all of the people and resources in this book did what they did and apparently never heard of or had contact with ONE—the first public national publication, which for a decade covered the news and views for the nation?

6 comments:

Victory Salvo said...

It took a long time before LGBT people viewed themselves as part of a national movement, in spite of the cheerleading political and activist rhetoric out of LA, SF, and DC at the time. Many were deeply afraid of anything outside their own limited realm. This is likely the reason why many did not reach out to ONE - it was too public for a lot of people and those struggling in the trenches, often alone or within a small group - they were just not thinking on broader terms or willing to take the risks that came somewhat more easily to the folks at ONE who were far more experienced at pushing the envelope. That's my guess, anyway...

Billy Glover said...

I look back and think it may have been too easy for those of us at ONE, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. We were really open and did not understand that few people could be that open—we had public offices, which except for Mattachine SF, others did not for years. Then SIR in SF went very public, and irritated the government, which in a sense we did not. They reached out to religion before we did, but then we were doing everything, so had little time to devote to any particular area-religion, politics, even legal except for the lawsuit. What we did was send out the news with some views, which today is done by dozens of online news sources, with a dozen links each day on glbt issues. Such as, the disagreement over marriage in the Chaney family!!! (I have a good fun theory about Mary and Liz and maybe Dick)

BUT, the point I failed to make is the obvious one, here in America's heartland were many people working on many fronts (marriage, etc) before Stonewall, and their work has not been covered by the media on either coast.

Victor Salvo said...

That is why it is important that these archives be saved - even if no one is yet ready to do the scholarship to assemble it all. Because someday there will be. In Legacy's work with young people we have found that at that age, when they are just discovering themselves, they are also naturally thinking about the larger context and they have a ready fascination about LGBT roles in general history and LGBT history. So they soak it up like sponges. The key is to get them before going to the bars becomes central to their awareness of our existence. That is why we are hopeful and continue to produce materials and resources to inspire kids to explore further on their own. We are so tiny, unfortunately, but the work - and the response - is very rewarding. If we make a point of reaching out to our children most will respond. And they will be more well-rounded adults in the end.

Billy Glover said...

You are a great resource, and the movement/community media needs to give your work coverage. I know Windy City Times does, but I'm thinking generically. C-SPAN, and even The New York Times, need to cover glbt archives/places, etc.

Victor Salvo said...

We struggle like anything connected to history for lack of funding. Very few places can command the resources of OutHistory.org. We are fortunate in that GLAAD has taken a sincere interest in our work as our mission to identify and promote inspirational stories about LGBT contributions to history runs parallel to GLAAD's mission to promote contemporary stories which shape and influence the way LGBT people are represented in the media.

GLAAD wants to help connect us both to heftier donors and to the celebrities whose public support of Legacy would naturally draw broader press recognition to our work. People like Whoopi Goldberg and Lady GaGa, who have a social conscience and passion both for historic preservation and youth advocacy, would be natural allies to the Legacy Project and would flip over the 23 bronze memorials on the Legacy Walk. The problem is they don't know about it and vast armies of people are employed to keep the riff-raff away. Hopefully these connections we are building with GLAAD will help to finally elevate our profile and get people talking.

Ironically we have found that when we describe what we have achieved here to most people they simply don't believe it and think we are exaggerating. For surely if such a thing truly existed everyone would already know about it. And, indeed, if it were in LA, or NYC, or DC, or SF everybody would know about it and the money and celebrities would pour in. But there is this bias that if it is in Chicago it must just be about only Chicago people and thus not important. It is international, but no one seems to know - or fully grasp the significance - of an outdoor installation that unites LGBT contributions to the rest of the world's history. It is VERY powerful.

We hope to break this cycle of indifference someday. Maybe GLAAD will be able to help. We need that recognition to draw the kinds of funding needed to establish a national presence. We are hoping that, maybe with an introduction by GLAAD, we can get Rachel Maddow to sponsor a plaque... probably Frances Perkins, whose work redefined Americans' expectations of their government after the Great Depression. That she was a lesbian is something only Conservatives seem to know (and only adds to their hatred of her) but most everybody doesn't even know who she was, let alone that she was a lesbian.

Perkins's is the type of story that blows straight people away... and shows that history can be a very powerful tool for breaking down walls and building relationships. That is why the elite and powerful have always sought to control history and how it was taught. Which is why our work with youth is so important: we are giving them what they are still not getting in school.

Billy Glover said...

Whoopi is a good idea She just did a great (HBO?) documentary on Moms Mabry and was open about her sexuality and it of course indirectly gave overage of the black civil rights movement and how segregation affected the black community. And yes, it would be good if GLAAD could find a way to combine its work influencing the media and celebrities and our historic people who were also in The Industry.

Windy City Times has coverage of so many celebrities, that might be a way of telling them about your work. But I do think C-SPAN has an obligation to cover our movement as well as it has the black movement, and some women's work.

And I would think some lgbt journalist and publication, as well as The new York Times, would do an article on how we are preserving LGBT history.

I think the gay press did have some issue that was covered by most members- archives would be a worthwhile subject for an article.