Tag Archives: Mattachine Society

Gay History - June 20, 1951: Mattachine Society Officially Adopts It's “Missions and Purposes”

Gay History – November 11, 1950: The Mattachine Society Holds It’s First Meeting In Los Angeles

A rare rare group photograph of the Mattachine Society . Pictured are Harry Hay (upper left), then (l–r) Konrad Stevens, Dale Jennings, Rudi Gernreich, Stan Witt, Bob Hull, Chuck Rowland (in glasses), Paul Bernard. Photo by James Gruber.
A rare rare group photograph of the Mattachine Society . Pictured are Harry Hay (upper left), then (l–r) Konrad Stevens, Dale Jennings, Rudi Gernreich, Stan Witt, Bob Hull, Chuck Rowland (in glasses), Paul Bernard. Photo by James Gruber.

On November 11th. 1950,  Harry Hay and a group of Los Angeles friends formed The Mattachine Society, a group to protect and improve the rights of gay men and lesbians.

Hay conceived of the idea of a “homosexual” activist group in 1948 after signing a petition for Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry A. Wallace. Hay had planned to call this organization “Bachelors Anonymous” and wrote the organizing principles that night, a document he referred to as “The Call”. 

Hay met fashion designer Rudi Gernreich in July 1950 and the two became lovers. Hay showed Gernreich The Call and Gernreich said: “You know that I’m an Austrian refugee. This is the most dangerous thing I have ever read. And, yes, I’m with you 100 percent.” and became an enthusiastic financial supporter of the venture, although he did not lend his name to it going instead only by the initial “R” when signing it.

Finally on November 11th, 1950, Hay, along with Gernreich and friends Dale Jennings and lovers Bob Hull and Chuck Rowland, held the first meeting of the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles, at Hay’s apartment under the name of The Society of Fools.  

The Mattachine Society name was  suggested by member James Gruber, inspired by a French medieval and renaissance masque group.

In a 1976 interview with Jonathan Ned Katz, Hay was asked about the origin of the name Mattachine. He mentioned the medieval-Renaissance French Sociétés Joyeuses:

One masque group was known as the “Société Mattachine.” These societies, lifelong secret fraternities of unmarried townsmen who never performed in public unmasked, were dedicated to going out into the countryside and conducting dances and rituals during the Feast of Fools, at the Vernal Equinox. Sometimes these dance rituals, or masques, were peasant protests against oppression—with the maskers, in the people’s name, receiving the brunt of a given lord’s vicious retaliation. So we took the name Mattachine because we felt that we 1950s Gays were also a masked people, unknown and anonymous, who might become engaged in morale building and helping ourselves and others, through struggle, to move toward total redress and change.

The Mattachine Society existed as a single national organization headquartered first in Los Angeles and then, beginning around 1956, in San Francisco. Outside of Los Angeles and San Francisco, chapters were established in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and other locales.

The primary goals of the society were to

  1. “Unify homosexuals isolated from their own kind”;
  2. “Educate homosexuals and heterosexuals toward an ethical homosexual culture paralleling the cultures of the Negro, Mexican and Jewish peoples”;
  3. “Lead the more socially conscious homosexual to provide leadership to the whole mass of social variants”; and
  4. “Assist gays who are victimized daily as a result of oppression”

The Mattachine Society existed as a single national organization headquartered first in Los Angeles and then, beginning around 1956, in San Francisco. Outside of Los Angeles and San Francisco, chapters were established in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and other locales. Due to internal disagreements, the national organization disbanded in 1961. And each group became its own single entity

In 1963 Congressman John Dowdy introduced a bill which resulted in congressional hearings to revoke the license for solicitation of funds of the Mattachine Society of Washington; the license was not revoked.

During the 1960s, the various unaffiliated Mattachine Societies, especially the Mattachine Society in San Francisco and the Mattachine Society of New York, were among the foremost gay rights groups in the United States, but beginning in the middle 1960s and, especially, following the Stonewall riots of 1969, they began increasingly to be seen as too traditional, and not willing enough to be confrontational.

The  Mattachine Society eventually lost support and fell prey to internal division.

Mattachine review

Gay History: "Where Were You During The Stonewall Riots?" - Rare Flyer (1969)

Gay History: “Where Were You During The Christopher Street (Stonewall) Riots?” – Rare Flyer (1969)

This rare flyer made by the Mattachine Society asks members of the gay and lesbian community asks “Where Were You During The Stonewall Riots?” and the main reasons for much of the tension and the aftermath.

A true glimpse at our past and the main tenants of the real problems we were facing in 1969.

Gay History: April 7, 1912: Happy Birthday Harry Hay, The Forgotten Founder of Gay Liberation

Gay History – April 7, 1912: Harry Hay, One of the Forgotten Founders of Gay Liberation Born

Image result for Harry Hay

John Burnside, Harry Hay and Jim Kepner

April 6, 1912 – – Harry Hay (Activist, Co-founder of The Mattachine Society, 1950)  – Henry “Harry” Hay, Jr .(April 7, 1912 – October 24, 2002) was a teacher, labor advocate and early leader in the American LGBT rights movement.

Drawing on his background in the Communist Party USA, Hay co-founded the Mattachine Society, the first enduring LGBT rights organization in the United States.

in 1950. Following his ouster from Mattachine leadership in 1953, Hay largely withdrew from organized LGBT activism until the late 1970’s, although he continued to participate in the movement informally and following the 1969 Stonewall riots became involved in a local Gay Liberation Front chapter. 

Hay’s developing belief in the cultural minority status of homosexuals led him to take a stand against the assimilationism advocated by the majority of gay rights campaigners.

Said Hay:


“We pulled ugly green frog skin of heterosexual conformity over us, and that’s how we got through school with a full set of teeth. We know how to live through their eyes. We can always play their games, but are we denying ourselves by doing this? If you’re going to carry the skin of conformity over you, you are going to suppress the beautiful prince or princess within you. “

In 1979, Hay and his longtime companion, inventor John Burnside, founded the Radical Faeries. The term “Radical” was chosen to reflect both political extremity and the idea of “root” or “essence”, while the term “Faerie” was chosen in reference both to the immortal animistic spirits of European folklore and to the fact that “fairy” had become a pejorative slang term for gay men.

Hay and Burnside remained together for almost 40 years, from 1963 until Hay’s death.

Unfortunately Hay’s life was not without controversy.

In the early 1980’s and still highly critical of the mainstream gay rights movement. Hay joined several other early gay rights activists in protesting the exclusion of the North American Man/Boy Love Association( NAMBLA) from participation in LGBT social movements, most noticeably pride parades on the grounds that such exclusions pandered to heterosexual-dominated society. When questioned on his support for NAMBLA in a 1983 New York University forum, he remarked “If the parents and friends of gays are truly friends of gays, they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world”, highlighting his own relationship with an adult man when he was 14. At the 1986 Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade he courted controversy by carrying a banner with “NAMBLA Walks With Me” written on it, after organizers banned the group from joining the march; the organizers complained to police and he narrowly avoided arrest. From that moment on Hay was persona non grata in the new organized and corporate backed LGBT rights movement and is rarely ever mentioned by them.

Despite this Harry Hay has been described as “the Founder of the Modern Gay Movement” and “the father of gay liberation” and has been the subject of numerous biographies and a documentary film.

Harry Hay died of lung cancer on October 24, 2002 at age 90. His ashes, mingled with those of his partner John Burnside, were scattered in Nomenus Faerie Sanctuary, Wolf Creek, Oregon

*Learn more about Harry Hay read Stuart Timmon’s published biography, The Trouble with Harry Hay.

Gay History – December 20, 1957: Frank Kameny Fired from Government Job For Being Gay.

Today In Gay History - December 20, 1957: Frank Kameny Fired From Government Job For Being Gay And A Gay Civil Rights Hero Is Born

In 1957, Frank Kameny was a Harvard educated, WWII veteran working for the Army Map Service until the Government found out he was gay and fired him which started the events that would make Kameny one of the greatest gay activist heroes of our time.

Kameny described the event in Making History

When I was on assignment in Hawaii in November or December of 1957, I got a call from my supervisor in Washington, D.C., to come back at once. I told him that whatever the problem, it could wait a few days, and I returned to Washington at the end of the week. As soon as I got back, I was called in by some two-bit Civil Service Commission investigator and told, “We have information that leads us to believe that you are a homosexual. Do you have any comment?” I said, “What’s the information?” They answered, “We can’t tell you.” I said, well, then I can’t give you an answer. You don’t deserve an answer. and in any case, this is none of your business.” I was not open about being gay at that time — no one was, not in 1957. But I was certainly leading a social life. I went to the gay bars many, many evenings. I’ve never been a covert kind of a person, and I wasn’t about to be one simply because I was working for the government. I’ve never been one to function on the basis that Big Brother may be looking over my shoulder.

So they called me in, and ultimately it resulted in my termination. They did it the way the government does anything: They issued a letter. They said they were dismissing me for homosexuality. I was in shock.

Keep in mind I had been training all of my life for a scientific career, for this kind of occupation. I was not at all familiar with the job market. When I was thrown out, I had nowhere to go. Perhaps if this had happened five or ten years later, I would have had a professional reputation to fall back on, but in this case I didn’t. For a long time I applied for jobs in astronomy, but there was nothing. Ultimately, in 1959, I got a job doing something in physics. My bachelor’s degree is in physics, in the area of optics.

But meanwhile, I had decided that my dismissal amounted to a declaration of war against me by my government. First, I don’t grant me government the right to declare war on me. And second, I tend not to lose my wars.

And so the battle began.

Kameny went on to co-found the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., which in 1963 launched a long campaign to overturn the federal employment ban on gay people and to overturn the district’s sodomy law.

In April of 1965, Kameny organized the first picket line in front of the White House in support of gay rights and was also an instrumental player in the fight to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders. In 1971, he became the first openly gay candidate for the U.S. Congress when he ran for D.C’s non-voting Congressional delegate. In 1975, the U.S. Civil Service Commission notified him that they had changed their policies and were now allowing gay people to work in federal jobs and  in 2009, the U.S. government officially repudiated Kameny’s firing when John Berry, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management who delivered a formal apology during a special OPM ceremony in his honor.

Upon receiving the apology, Kameny tearfully replied, “Apology accepted.”

Frank Kameny passed away in 2011 at the age of 86 in Washington, D.C.

#PRIDE50 – Learn About The First Christopher Street Liberation Day (PRIDE) March – RARE VIDEO

 

On November 2, 1969, just 4 months after the Stonewall riots Craig Rodwell, his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, and Linda Rhodes of the newly formed Gay Liberation Front proposed the first “gay pride parade” which was then called the “CHRISTOPHER STREET LIBERATION DAY MARCH.” to be held in New York City by way of a public resolution at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) which meeting in Philadelphia..

Using Philadelphia’s smaller Annual Reminder protest which happened every year on the Fourth of July in front of Freedom Hall Rodwell, Sargeant,  Broidy, and Rhodes proposed the following to ECHO:

We propose that a demonstration be held annually on the last Saturday in June in New York City to commemorate the 1969 spontaneous demonstrations on Christopher Street and this demonstration be called CHRISTOPHER STREET LIBERATION DAY. No dress or age regulations shall be made for this demonstration.

We also propose that we contact Homophile organizations throughout the country and suggest that they hold parallel demonstrations on that day. We propose a nationwide show of support.

All at the meeting in voted in favor of the march except for Mattachine Society of New York City, which abstained.(HYMN).

Meetings to organize the march began in early January at Rodwell’s apartment in 350 Bleeker Street not far from the site of the Stonewall bar.  At first there was major difficulty getting some of New York organizations like Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) to send representatives. In the end Rodwell , Sargeant, and Broidy, along with Michael BrownMarty Nixon, Brenda Howard of the the Gay Liberation Front and Foster Gunnison of the Mattachine Society made up the core group

For funding Gunnison sought donations from the national homophile organizations and sponsors, while Rodwell and Sargeant solicited donations via the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop customer mailing list. Nixon worked to gain financial support from GLF in his position as treasurer for that organization.  Believing that more people would turn out for the march on a Sunday they  scheduled the date for Sunday, June 28, 1970, the 1st. anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

The parade route covered 51 blocks from Christopher Street to Central Park ending in a “Gay-In” in Sheep’s Meadow.

On the same weekend gay activist groups on the West Coast held a march in Los Angeles on June 28, 1970 and a march and ‘Gay-in’ in San Francisco.

In Los Angeles, Morris Kight (Gay Liberation Front LA founder), Reverend Troy Perry (Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches founder) and Reverend Bob Humphries (United States Mission founder) gathered to plan a commemoration. They settled on a parade down Hollywood Boulevard. But securing a permit from the city was no easy task. They named their organization Christopher Street West.”   But they had more difficulty with Los Angeles than New York City.  Rev. Perry recalled the Los Angeles Police Chief Edward M. Davis telling him, “As far as I’m concerned, granting a permit to a group of homosexuals to parade down Hollywood Boulevard would be the same as giving a permit to a group of thieves and robbers.” Grudgingly, the Police Commission granted the permit, though there were fees exceeding $1.5 million. After the American Civil Liberties Union stepped in, the commission dropped all its requirements but a $1,500 fee for police service. That, too, was dismissed when the California Superior Court ordered the police to provide protection as they would for any other group. The eleventh hour California Supreme Court decision ordered the police commissioner to issue a parade permit citing the “constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.” From the beginning, L.A. parade organizers and participants knew there were risks of violence. Kight received death threats right up to the morning of the parade. Unlike what we see today, the first gay parade was very quiet. The marchers convened on McCadden Place in Hollywood, marched north and turned east onto Hollywood Boulevard. The Advocate reported “Over 1,000 homosexuals and their friends staged, not just a protest march, but a full blown parade down world-famous Hollywood Boulevard.”

The first marches were both serious protests and fun, they served to inspire the widening activist movement. The marches were repeated in the following years, and more and more pride marches started up in other cities throughout the world. In Atlanta and New York City the marches were called Gay Liberation Marches, and the day of celebration was called “Gay Liberation Day”; in Los Angeles and San Francisco they became known as ‘Gay Freedom Marches’ and the day was called “Gay Freedom Day”. As more cities and even smaller towns began holding their own celebrations, these names spread and evolved.

In the 1980’s there was a cultural shift in the gay movement. Activists of a less radical nature took over, mostly due to the advent of big organizations like the HRC and  also because of the AIDS crisis which took the lives of so many of the original activist.  At this point many groups started dropping the original “Gay Liberation” and “Gay Freedom” from the names, replacing them with “Gay Pride”.

Watch the rare video belows of the first Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade which took place on June 28, 1970.  

 

 

Gay History - June 20, 1951: Mattachine Society Officially Adopts It's “Missions and Purposes”

Gay History – June 20, 1951: Mattachine Society Officially Adopts It’s “Missions and Purposes”

In 1950, a group of seven men met at the home of Harry Hay in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles to found a new society for gay people they tentatively called “The Society of Fools”. The following April, the group followed Hay’s suggestion to change its name to the Mattachine Society, after the medieval French secret societies of masked men whose anonymity empowered them to mock and criticize kings and other nobility. That same month, one of the newer members suggested that the group’s ideals be put down in in writing. They began drafting the Mattachine’s “Missions and Purposes,” and marked it “confidential” out of fear of attracting the attention of the police. Jim Gruber one of the founders, described the whole effort as “a dare” with serious potential consequences, as they saw it. Given the tenor of the times amid the McCarthy-inspired Lavender Scare, their fears weren’t out of line.  

The members ratified the document on July 20. It read:

MISSIONS AND PURPOSE of the Mattachine Society.

TO UNIFY: While there are undoubtedly individual homosexuals who number many of their own people among their friends, thousands of homosexuals live out their lives bewildered, unhappy, alone, isolated from their own kind and unable to adjust to the dominant culture. Even those who have many homosexual friends are still cut off from the deep satisfactions man’s gregarious nature can achieve only when he is consciously part of a large, unified whole. A major purpose of the Mattachine Society is to provide a consensus of principle around which all of our people can rally and from which they can deprive a feeling of “belonging.”

TO EDUCATE: The total of information available on the subject of homosexuality is woefully meagre and utterly inconclusive. The Society organizes all available material and conducts extensive research itself — psychological, physiological, anthropological, and sociological — for the purpose of informing all interested homosexuals and for the purpose of informing and enlightening the public at large.

The Mattachine Soeity holds it as possible and desirable that a highly ethical, homosexual culture emerge as a consequence of its work, parallelling sic the emerging cultures of our fellow-minorities — the Negro, Mexican and Jewish peoples. The Society believes homosexuals can lead well-adjusted, wholesome and socially productive lives once ignorance and prejudice against them is successfully combatted and once homosexuals themselves feel they have a dignified and useful role to play in society. The Society, to these ends, is in the process of developing a homosexual ethic — disciplined, moral and socially responsible.

TO LEAD: It is not sufficient for an oppressed minority like the homosexuals merely to be conscious of belonging to a minority collective when, as is the situation at the present time, that collective is neither socially organic nor objective in its directions and activities — although this minimum is, in itself, a great step forward. It is necessary that the more far-seeing and socially conscious homosexuals provide leadership to the whole mass of social deviants if the first two missions (the unification and the education of the homosexual minority) are to be accomplished. Further, once unification and education have progressed it becomes imperative (to consolidate these gains) for the Society to push forward into the realm of political action to erase from our law books the discriminatory and oppressive legislation presently directed against the homosexual minority.

The Society, founded upon the highest ethical and social principles, serves as an example for homosexuals to follow and provides a dignified standard upon which the rest of society can base a more intelligent and accurate picture of the nature of homosexuality than currently obtains in the public mind. The Society provides the instrument necessary to work with civic-minded and socially valuable organizations and supplies the means for the assistance of our people who are victimized daily as a result of our oppression. Only a Society, providing an enlightened leadership, can rouse the homosexuals — one of the largest minorities in America today — to take the actions necessary to elevate themselves from the social ostracism an unsympathetic culture has perpetrated upon them.

And the rest is history.

Gay History – March 10,1958: WABD-NY Hosts First Televised Daytime Discussion With Gay Panelist

While not the first television station to feature a televised panel discussion on “homosexuality” (that honor would go to WRCA which did one a year and a half earlier but that program did not include any real-live gay people.)  WABD in New York decided to host a discussion on “homosexuals” during it’s lunchtime public affairs talk show program Showcase.  

While looking for guests the producer contacted Tony Segura, the New York chapter president of the Mattachine Society, about coming onto the program. Segura agreed to appear but only on the condition that his name wasn’t mentioned and he could wear a hood while on the air because homosexuality was still at that time a felony in the state of New York with a punishment of up to twenty years in prison.

The program that day dealt mainly with dispelling some of the stereotypes about gay people.

No one is really sure what happened next.  Perhaps it was blow-back from the public or pressure from the then all powerful Archdiocese of New York.   But the higher-ups at WABD cancelled the follow-up show the next day which was scheduled to host another discussion, this time about lesbians, with a member of the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis.  Fifteen minutes before airtime, the topic was cancelled and the guests were to talk about something else — anything else. Because one of the guests, Helen King, had written a book about handwriting analysis, that was chosen to be the riviting topic of the day, but not before the host for the day, Fannie Hurst, announced that “after the high plateau reached yesterday, the station feels we are a little premature.” The guests quickly exhausted the topic, and the program ended early as Hurst apologized once more for the fact that the program had “undergone severe censorship,” and expressed the hope that “fear of living” would in time be replaced with enlightenment and human understanding.  Hurst closed the show saying  “hail but not farewell.”

Unfortunately no footage from either of the episodes has survived.

Gay History Month - October 11th: The Life and Death of Heroic Gay Rights Activist Frank Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011)

Gay History – October 11: The Life and Death of Heroic Gay Rights Activist Frank Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011)

Frank Kameny was one of the most significant figures and iconic figures in the American gay rights movement.

 In 1957, Frank Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the Army Map Service in Washington, D.C. because of his homosexuality leading him to begin “a Herculean struggle with the American establishment that would transform the gay rights movement” and “spearhead a new period of homosexual rights movement of the early 1960’s.

Kameny appealed his firing through the judicial system, losing twice before seeking review from the United States Supreme Court, which turned down his petition for certiorari.  After devoting himself to activism, Kameny never held a paid job again and was supported by friends and family for the rest of his life. Despite his outspoken activism, he rarely discussed his personal life and never had any long-term relationships with other men, stating merely that he had no time for them.

 In August, 1961 Kameny and Jack Nichols co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington,[an organization that pressed aggressively for gay and lesbian civil rights. The goals of the Mattachine Society were “to unify, to educate, and to lead.”

Kameny and the Mattachine worked diligently for fair and equal treatment of gay employees in the federal government by fighting security clearance denials, employment restrictions and dismissals, and working with other groups to press for equality for gay citizens.

In 1963, Kameny also launched a campaign to overturn D.C. sodomy laws; he personally drafted a bill finally passed in 1993. He also worked to remove the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the American Psychiatric Association’s manual of mental disorders.

Kameny launched the first organized public protests by gays and lesbians with a picket line at the White House on April 17, 1965 and  expanded the picketing to the Pentagon, the U.S. Civil Service Commission, and to Philadelphia’s Independence Hall for what became known as the Annual Reminder for gay rights.

In 1971, Kameny became the first openly gay candidate for the United States Congress when he ran in the District of Columbia’s first election for a non-voting Congressional delegate. Following his defeat by Democrat Walter E. Fauntroy, Kameny and his campaign organization created the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Washington, D.C., an organization which continues to lobby government and press the case for equal rights. 

Kameny realized that the battle had to be fought on more than one front; that the negative images of homosexuals, which had even permeated the self-identity of gay and lesbian people themselves, also had to be challenged. In 1966, he coined the slogan, “Gay is Good.” Then in 1971, he demanded microphone time at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association where he challenged their speculative theories as being entirely unscientific and harmful to the psychological well-being of millions

He described the day – December 15, 1973, when the American Psychological Association finally removed homosexuality from its manual of mental disorders – as the day “we were cured en masse by the psychiatrists.”

Kameny suffered from heart disease in his last years, but maintained a full schedule of public appearances, his last being a speech to an LGBT group in Washington DC on September 30, 2011.

In 1975, he was appointed a Commissioner of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, thereby becoming the first gay municipal appointee.

Frank Kameny was found dead in his Washington home of a heart attack on October 11th, 2011 National Coming Out Day.

Frank Kameny was and always will be one of the greatest gay american activists and heros that our movement will ever have.  And many today would be well served to use him as a role model in our fight for equality.

Frank Kameny young

5 Gay Celebrities and Heroes We Lost in 2018

Gay Rights Pioneer Dick Leitsch Whose Famous ‘Sip-In’ Helped Change NYC , Dies at 83

Dick Leitsch, a leading gay rights activist in 1960’s New York, where he helped end police entrapment of gays and organized the first major act of civil disobedience by a gay rights group — a  Sip-In at Julius’ bar — died June 22 at a hospice center in Manhattan. He was 83.

In 1966 being homosexual was, in itself, seen as a disorder, It was also “illegal” to serve a homosexual liquor by order of the New York State Liquor Authority. Leitsch who was president of the Mattachine Society’s New York chapter in 1965, took the group in a aggressive direction, taking on the city’s police chief and newly elected mayor, John V. Lindsay.

On April 21, 1966 Dick Leitsch along with two other Mattachine Society members invited along four newspaper reporters, including Thomas A. Johnson of The New York Times. The plan was to convene at noon at the Ukrainian-American Village Hall, a bar on St. Marks Place. “ The Times reporter tipped off the owners, who shut the place. A sign in the window made the establishment’s attitude clear: “If you are gay, please stay away.”

So the men moved across the street to The Dom, a club that, by night, hosted concerts by the Velvet Underground. It had a sign just as unwelcoming as the one at the Ukrainian Hall. The Dom, too, was closed.

After going to a Howard Johnson’s, at Eighth Street and the Avenue of the Americas which served them. The men then advanced to a Mafia-owned tiki bar, The Waikiki. The  amused manager told them: “How do I know you’re homosexuals? Give these guys a drink on us.”

In desperation, the troupe trudged over to Julius’ on West 10th Street. “It was a rather dull, neighborhood place which was about three-quarters gay,” said Randy Wicker, 78, who joined the action at that stop. “I called it a closet queen bar.”

The activists knew Julius’ had to refuse them, because the night before, a man who had been served there had later been entrapped by an officer for “gay activity,” meaning the bar was in jeopardy of having its liquor license revoked. As they entered, the men spied a sign that read “Patrons Must Face the Bar While Drinking,” an instruction used to thwart cruising. (They enforced that rule well into the 1980’s)  

As soon as they approached, the bartender put a glass in front of them. Dick Lietsch announced they were gay and the bartender put his hand over the glass; it was captured in a photograph by Fred McDarrah for The Village Voice.

The next day’s New York Times featured an article about the event with the headline “3 Deviates Invite Exclusion by Bars.” Two weeks later, a far more sympathetic piece appeared in The Voice. The publicity prompted a response from the State Liquor Authority chairman, Donald S. Hostetter, who denied that his organization ever threatened the liquor licenses of bars that served gays. The decision to serve was up to individual bartenders, he said.

Dick Leitsch’s Sip-In led to a growing acceptance of gays at bars in New York and across the country. Perhaps most significantly, the publicity resulted in a Mattachine lawsuit in New Jersey, where in 1967 the state Supreme Court ruled that “well-behaved homosexuals” could not be barred from a drink.

Richard Joseph Leitsch, who often used the family name Valentine as his middle name, was born in Louisville on May 11, 1935. Survivors include a brother and sister. His partner of 17 years, Timothy Scoffield, was diagnosed with AIDS and died in 1989.

Gay History 1961 – WATCH: “The Rejected” The Long Lost First Aired Television Documentary About Homosexuality

While there were  a few previously produced television panel discussions about homosexuality  The Rejected was the first ever full-length televised  documentary about the then controversial subject.

Originally produced and broadcast  by KQED for National Educational Television (NET) – the predecessor of WNET – and first aired on September 11th 1961, on KQED Ch.9. it includes discussions about sexual orientation from: Margaret Mead (anthropologist, pictured aboved); Dr. Karl Bowman (former President of the American Psychiatric Association); Harold Call, Donald Lucas and Les Fisher of the Mattachine Society;

“We think the swish, or the queen, represents a small minority within the homosexual grouping,” Call states. “These people in most cases are not even liked by their homosexual brethren because they have perhaps rejected themselves and they feel society has rejected them.”

Call calls for a change in laws and restrictions that put the lives and livelihood of gay people in danger, while Lucas emphasized the number and ubiquity of homosexuals living in America, not just clustered within large cities.

But it’s  Call’s closing remarks that resonate most deeply:

The homosexual is no different than anyone else except perhaps in his choice of a love object. He desires the same kind of right to live his life freely and without interference, to pursue his happiness as a responsible citizen and to receive the benefits of constitutional rights, due process and protection of the law that all of us enjoy.”

The documentary also includes: San Francisco District Attorney Thomas Lynch; Dr. Erwin Braff (Director of San Francisco’s Bureau for Disease Control; Al Bendich; Mr J. Albert Hutchinson and Mr. Morris Lowenthal (who engage in debate); Bishop James Pike and Rabbi Alvin Fine.

This documentary was written by John Reavis Jr., produced by Reavis Jr. and Irving Saraf, directed by Dick Christian, with location photography by Philip Greene.

This copy of The Rejected was lost for many years and has been restored as much as it could.  The Library of Congress states that there were several problems with the edited 2-inch quad videotape master. Many different tape stocks were used to create this program and the quality of these was often poor. The base of the tape is slippery at times, which causes an unstable control track. The stock was also physically heavy, which causes tension during take up. The audio quality is consistent throughout but there are three extended sequences – noted onscreen by subtitles – which feature bad picture quality.  The Library’s Recording Laboratory remastered these 2-inch tapes onto digital.

You can watch The Rejected in its entirety here.