Presentation on theme: "The Gay and Lesbian Movement. Background Homosexuality as a way of life not an option, in US history, except for a very few, until late 19 th century:"— Presentation transcript:
The Gay and Lesbian Movement
Background Homosexuality as a way of life not an option, in US history, except for a very few, until late 19 th century: growth of cities Impact of First, Second World Wars: young men thrown together; shell shock during First World War, public discussion of its causes after the war: immaturity, neurosis, homosexuality. World War Two: program of psychiatric screening of recruits. Promoted psychiatry, and postwar obsession with homosexuality.
The Fifties 1948, 1953: Alfred Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male; Female. Found extensive homosexual feelings, experience, especially men, also women; increased public fears Cold War: homosexuality part of vocabulary of McCarthyism. Homosexuals fired from government jobs, dismissed from Army. Police harassment. Extensive literature on homosexuality: scandal sheets, lurid novels. Portrayed as invisible conspiracy. Result: extensive repression but also formation of homosexual identity, beginnings of community
Homophile Organizations 1951: Mattachine Society. Founded by former members of Communist Party (Harry Hayes and others) along with others, also leftists Regarded homosexuals as oppressed minority Homosexual rights magazine, One, established 1953: more than 2,000 members. New leaders elected reflecting mainstream politics of membership. Shifted away from mobilizing gays to reforming penal code, working with professionals, even considering homosexuality a disease to be treated. Largely professional membership.
1955: Daughters of Bilitis. Organized by Del Martin, Phyllis Lyons, 6 others. Overwhelmingly professional women. Magazine: The Ladder. Even more cautious than Mattachine. Smaller than Mattachine. Daughters of Bilitis
Emergence of a Radical Sensibility 1961: Franklin Kameny calls on gays to adopt direct action tactics of civil rights movement, confronts government on discrimination against gays 1962: Randy Wicker, civil rights movement veteran, initiates campaign to get male homosexuals to speak publicly (New York) Kameny, Wicker, other radicals press for change in Mattachine Society Frank Kameny In 2009 with old Mattachine Society Protest posters
San Francisco: a Gay Subculture 1959: in wake of attacks on mayor for turning SF into “gay headquarters,” police attacks on gay bars escalate. Mattachine and DOB uninterested. But response from the bars: at the Black Cat, employee, Jose Sarria, performs pro-gay operas/demonstrations 1961: The League for Civil Education distributes leaflets attacking police abuse of gays 1964: The Society for Individual Rights (SIR) calls for defense of gay rights Glide Church and others arrange dance for gay community, police harass those in attendance, including ministers, lawyers etc. Result: increase in sympathy for gay rights Jose Sarria
Gay Liberation June 27, 1969: New York: police raid the Stonewall, a gay bar. Gays attack back. Riot continues all weekend. Mattachine Action Committee calls for meeting; Gay Liberation formed. Groups form in SF, NY, elsewhere. Stance: not civil rights but transformation of sexuality, erasure of boundary between homosexuality and heterosexuality. 1970: Carl Wittman (SDS leader): Gay Manifesto
Radical Lesbianism Issue of lesbianism emerges in women’s movement. 1970: Betty Friedan speaks of “lavender menace” threatening credibility of feminism; several lesbians purged from NOW 1970: Kate Millett, feminist leader, comes out as lesbian, defended by other feminists In SF Gay Women’s Liberation joins with Bay Area Women’s Coalition Conference 1971: NOW acknowledges the oppression of lesbians as a legitimate concern of feminism Kate Millett in 1970
Attack on Gay/Lesbian Rights Early seventies ordinances prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sexual preference passed in many cities 1977: Anita Bryant, conservative spokesperson, leads campaign to repeal ordinance in Dade County, Florida: succeeds Similar campaigns elsewhere (Eugene, Oregon; Austin, Texas) also successful 1978: Briggs Initiative to repeal California ordinance fought by coalition; repeal defeated Widespread threat to gay rights prompts emergence of liberal gay movement, late 70s and beyond