Monday, December 23, 2013

Combining our cause with other causes

The Windy City Times has had articles/columns discussing what our movement has done this year.  Since it seems successful and with Illinois having marriage equality there is the question of what other causes to take on while we are on a roll. The latest example of having our voice joined with others in the joint letter of HRC and the NAACP about the views of the Duck Dynasty family.

It is a good debate to have, it seems to me, as to how much good we do our cause and another cause by joining the two. We did not have many offers from others when this movement started. Even Virginia Prince/Transvestia objected to being included in a list the Homosexual Information Center made of resources.There were good examples of those who could have worked from several causes, and a few examples show that the attempt backfired.  Bayard Rustin being only one.  I remember in theory a woman who could not do it all-a black lesbian and maybe working o get the right to vote for women.

I hope the movement is big enough now to handle different choices, but we would not want to harm our cause by devoting our time to another cause, no matter how good. 

Best wishes to you and all LGBT journalists/media for a good new year.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Letter from Don Slater, from Dec. 1990

Historians are talking on C-SPAN about how much harder learning history will be now that people no longer write letters.  So I thought I would share one, not important, letter Don Slater wrote to me here in LA while he was working in L. A.  It may be interesting if someone wants to know what he thought at the time of Stuart Timmons’ book on Harry Hay. (Or Troy Perry.) This letter was received on Dec. 3, 1990

Yes.  I wrote some time ago that Stuart Timmons' book about Harry, The Trouble With Harry Hay, had been published by Alyson. We got 2 review copies: 1 from Alyson via Timmons, and 1 from Dale Jennings who had been given a copy by Timmons here in the house when I had them over to meet. Martin, of course, is keeping the review copy we have given him, but I haven't seen the review yet. The book in my opinion is quite good. But unfortunately loaded with unimportant errors—all the result of Timmons’ relying almost exclusively on Kepner for his peripheral information. He had interviewed me a couple of times, but always for confirmation of what others had told him. I explained that I wasn’t going to second-guess, Jim or anyone else. If he wanted information about me or you, or the work we did, etc. I would have talked more to him. For instance, although it is not bad, most of the small bit about our break-up with ONE came from either Bill or Jim-or maybe both. And I said, okay, if those are your sources let it be. Everybody is mentioned including Tony (incorrectly),  me (incorrectly), no mention of our Committee to Fight Exclusion of Homosexuals from the Armed Forces, at least by name (which is strange considering that Harry was our head), no mention of you, and Dale wants to sue because he feels he’s been misrepresented. He has even consulted Herb Selwyn. But I say a suit would be the best thing that could happen to the book; I say this even thought I am basically in favor of it.  I can assure you, it was not easy for Stuart to deal with a living Harry Hay and all of the rest of the prima donnas still living. With all its errors the book is the best thing yet, and it should be allowed to die it own death; it doesn't need to be prodded. 
My fight at the moment is trying to get a review copy of the new biography of Troy Perry.  Jim and everyone else has it, but Troy sent me a formal note saying I would have to contact St. Martin’s Press if I wanted a copy. The whole tone of the note was distant. I want Chas. to review it in the same issue of the newsletter with Martin’s review of Harry, but I have a feeling that Troy may be afraid Charles will trash it since he ghosted the first biography as you know, and is not too happy with Troy who refused to give him any royalty. 
I will be writing to Karyn Schacter. But I can’t imagine a high school student is doing any serious “research,” as you call it.  She’s probably doing a school paper that’s all. You are wrong about Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund. They send us things all the time, and always addressed to you. In fact, a lot of material coming to the box is in your name so it is likely that some directory or other lists us there with you as secretary. This is fine except large packages I can’t get if I go on Sundays, and United Parcel will not deliver to a PO Box so some things get sent back, I imagine because I never get them even when I phone, and ask that they be forwarded to the house. 
Yes, we get the Gay & Les. Hist. Co. Newsletter from SF. But I like the old cumbersome name better than the new one, and I haven’t seen your letter. However, I’m glad you are getting printed because despite the length of time you’ve been in the movm’t you're still generally unknown. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Passion of Dan Choi article

I think this article, in Prospect Magazine, is very important, for the LGBT community but generically for anyone thinking that celebrity lasts forever and everyone will love you-especially those working for the same cause.  Each person has to be able to work for the cause and still like him/herself after his time in work is past. That seems to be  generic problem with many people-they feel worthless without a job and title.

It confirms most of what Don Slater and Dorr Legg and others warned activists about from 1950s on.  The writer, Gabriel Arana, has done a good job and his article does what I have often asked GLBT journalists/historians to do: follow up and tell us what happened to those who were active and then disappeared.

Perhaps I found it interesting because he seemed to do what I did, reach a point where you said to hell with it and acted badly and not in the best interests of the service—which he chose to join.

In a strange world, he both found out you can not depend on those who should be supporting you AND he became a bad example of why letting one person be the speaker, is not good.  What even the article fails to point out, and is relevant, is what had been done BEFORE Choi, on the problem/issue.  He should have known of the early efforts.  It seems to me a copout to call DADT a bad idea—it was the best for that time.  And his efforts to get ahead of others working more silently and even for a longer time, is not honorable and shows he is not a good co-worker/soldier.