Our Own Faerie Way
Our Own Faerie Way

Harry Hay recalls the heady days when the modern Gay
movement was born and the "Golden Dream of Brotherhood was
enveloping us all."

     Eighteen years before the Stonewall Rebellion, Harry
Hay formed the Mattachine Society -- the first continuously
existing Gay political organization in the Unites States --
out of his organizing experience in the workers and
communist movements. In 1994, the impossible was made
possible, and Harry was able to reunite the many strands of
his multifaceted identity as he "came home" at the annual
awards dinner of the Southern California Library for Social
Studies and Research. The Library, a treasurehouse of
progressive resources and left history located in the heart
of South Central Los Angeles, presented Harry with the Emil
Freed Award, named after the Library's founder. The entire
evening was dedicated to celebrating the Lesbian and Gay
movement. Harry -- who has also been a Contributing Editor
of CrossRoads since the magazine's inception -- gave this
acceptance address at the dinner in March.

     When, in 1991, the shining, presumably monolithic,
granite peaks of socialism, which had served for 80 percent
of my almost 82 years as beacons of social change and
political liberation, suddenly revealed new and heretofore
unknown and so -- for now, at least -- unpredictably
volcanic dimensions of themselves, it was heartening and
comforting to know that Emil Freed's great Library and
Workingclass Archives was still here in the city, still
plugging along as that fine CP Organizer, Emil Freed, always
     There are, I imagine, a number of people here tonight
who wonder -- not necessarily what woodwork the American
20th century Queers materialized out of...but maybe, at
least, where did the Gay Movement come from? In the 1930s,
and '40s, there were dozens of clusters of Homosexuals all
over the country impassioned to get a group of some sort
going. Brothers would meet, and spark up a storm of ideas:
by the 2nd meeting word would get out that such doings were
a novel way to cruise, and at the 3rd meeting attendance
would double. But when the 4th meeting didn't produce any
more new faces...the 5th meeting would only get the by-now
burnt-out first meeting sparkers. FINI! And this pattern
would repeat itself over and over...and year after year!
     Its and old but still useful cliche, amongst
Progressive and Trade Union Activists, that -- socially or
politically -- the Middle Class has never produced anything
of significance...any movement or activity they do develop
originates from the grass-roots below. The Mattachine
Society was no exception...it equally had come out of the
rough-and-tumble Trade Union Organizing experiences of one
of us, and out of the outlaw underground Community-
organizing experiences, with their subsequent disciplines,
undertaken in the previous decade by the other three and
sometimes four of us. We all knew how to invoke the U.S.
Constitution's 5th Amendment to protect membership lists, or
membership activities, from unwelcome scrutinies, when and
if the local Police or the Feds got nosey. Like experienced
Leftwing Fellow-travellers, we all automatically assumed we
would be infiltrated by the FBI. And it turned out we
weren't wrong.


     The political climate in 1948 was ominous. Senator Joe
McCarthy's scurrilous unAmerican Committee Witch-hunt, then
into disgracing Hollywood Actors or Writers or Directors,
who were Marxist-oriented activists or sympathizers, had
dragged on for months terrifying decent people into becoming
public Snitches fingering friends and former fellow-
employees alike, and thereby demoralizing the entire
Nation's cultural environment. "Loyalty Oaths" suddenly
became -- everywhere -- a basic pre-requisite to public,
and/or professional employment. America seemed to be moving
rapidly toward that very type of POLICE STATE in which
public scapegoating had already proven itself to be the most
effective and inexpensive form of People control. With
President Truman's rush to recognize the new State of
Israel, with Truman's equal rush to integrate Negroes into
the Armed Forces, with the further integration of Blacks in
Organized Labor, with the political and legal outlawing of
Lynching in the South, not to mention the several movements
to get rid of the now-hated Poll Tax...it was obvious to me,
as I wrote in my original CALL-to-organize in 1948, that the
political scapegoat victim for POLICE STATE People control,
this time round, would be us, the QUEERS! We had to begin
finding out who we were! Where we had been! What we might be
able to be for! WE HAD TO ORGANIZE!
     As it turned out, my prediction of us Queers being used
as the scapegoat by which workers could be stampeded into
acknowledging working potentials of otherwise Fascist-like
conditions, as contained in the FAMILY PROTECTION ACT --
introduced by Jerry Falwell's Christian Fundamentalist Right
into the Congresses of 1981-82 -- was 30 years early. But
don't relax. The FAMILY PROTECTION ACT, now the property of
Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, and Christian Fundamentalists
everywhere in the Country, is still very much alive and
well. You all are going to be hearing from it again shortly.
It's a good thing You Progressives, and We Queers, are
reaching out to one another now, to find ways to work
together. Because this way we'll be able to point out to
you, and you'll hear us -- this time, maybe -- the really
dreadful Fascist dangers with which the FAMILY PROTECTION
ACT threatens us all, dangers which Homophobic Trade
Unionists insisted upon overlooking totally -- the first
time round -- in 1981-82. Thank Goddess the ACT failed in
1982, in spite of the Trade Unions' stupid fumbling.


     Meantime, back at the ranch -- in 1948 -- even with
copies of my CALL-to organize, and a new book (an overnight
best seller, when it was published in 1948), Alfred Kinsey's
carried to give me credibility, it took me two long and
scary years to find my first recruit. Forming a society of
TWO, and determined to get a discussion group going, we went
to an unmarked section of Santa Monica Beach we knew was
frequented by Gay Brothers. Because the Media was already
whumping up support for the Korean War started only two
weeks earlier, we figured that asking Brothers to sign our
Stockholm Peace petition would be so far-out scary radical,
they'd be more interested in agreeing to come to a more
conventional Kinsey Report Discussion Group, right? WRONG!
By end of summer, we had gotten 500 signatures on our
Stockholm Peace petitions, and had not found one person who
would dare to come to our Discussion Group so overpowering
were Homosexual men's terrors of possible police reprisals,
or blackmail, to such Discussion Groups.
     The next three members came out of my 1950 Fall
Historical Materialist music classes I had developed for
PEOPLES SONGS at the Southern California Labor School. We,
the first 5 of what our group would call the Mattachine
Society five months later, all of us so long previously
trained in underground struggle, for social and political
justice, knew that we Brothers -- of a different
consciousness than the Heterosexuals around us -- were not
the degraded, degenerate monsters that Society's cruel
oppressive laws and religious prejudices made us out to be.
But we also knew -- equally -- that we didn't yet have the
concepts, let alone the words, to say.
     At our first Discussion Group, in December 1950, 18 of
us sat for two hours not really knowing what to say to one
another, but sensing that nobody wanted to leave. At the
second meeting, to break the ice, we five Steering Committee
Members started the ball rolling by "coming out" to one
another. After about two hours of this, it suddenly flashed
on us all that just maybe we had more in common with each
other in this room, friends and newcomers alike, than ever
we had had with anybody before -- in all our lives! We five
realized that -- inadvertently -- by our process, we'd
turned a major corner in our perceptions of Gay
Consciousness. People couldn't wait for the next meeting to
learn more about each other, and so about themselves in each
other -- and bring a friend. The Golden Dream of Brotherhood
was enveloping us all. Twenty years later, in the 1970s,
this process would be known as "consciousness-raising raps."
But in 1951, we'd not yet developed such concepts, let alone
the words. We just knew we'd invented the organizing tool
we'd been looking for. This contagious fever for Brotherhood
developed for First Mattachine a mailing list of about 5,000
people in the State of California alone, in 1952, in the
teeth of Senator McCarthy's Witch-hunt.
     Of course, our luck didn't last: our very excitement
attracted the first inundating wave of the opportunist
Middle Class Assimilationists, the Negative-Imaging
Homosexuals, rather than the joyous Positive-Imaging Gay
Brotherhood, the Opportunists who would insist that we were
all exactly the same as the Heteros, except in bed, and who
would equally insist that Homosexuals had absolutely nothing
in common with one another except their sexual inclinations.
The Assimilationists ("A" Gays the Faeries call them) would
waste First Mattachine's Golden Dream of Brotherhood, and
totally scotch First Mattachine's notion that we might be a
cultural Minority. Yet when STONEWALL burst upon the scene
16 years later, these new Brothers and Sisters assumed
everybody had always known we were a cultural Minority since
Day One!


     In those heady First Mattachine months prior to the
Winter of 1952, we re-discovered within ourselves many
deeply-preserved principles we continue to honor throughout
the Movement today. Among the many, two are particularly
     1. At our seasonal group initiations, we would stand in
a circle connected to one another through crossed hands, and
pledge in unison "Let us hereby resolve that no young person
among us need ever take his first step out into the dark --
alone, and afraid, again."
     2. After a long and comprehensive discussion of many
months, wherein we collectively recognized that long before,
as well as during, Western Europe's crusade by Organized
Religions to obliterate us, we had elected to be our
Brothers Keepers, we had determined to be one another's
Protectors, and that my brother's silence was my only
security, as, equally, my silence was his. and we had
concluded that, even in the terrifying years of Senator Joe
McCarthy's Witch Hunt, "When we finally have earned the
right to integrate into Society's Mainstream, we shall
BE...or not at all!" No one -- neither Heteros, or self-
loathing Gays or Lesbians -- demanding censorship or
expulsion of this Group or that -- shall be tolerated!
     I mention these two basic principles at this moment
because -- at the International Gay and Lesbian Summit
(ILGA) this Summer in New York City, of which STONEWALL-25
is a member, it is expected that Opportunist self-appointed
Middle-Class leaders, for whom respectability is more
important than self-respect or self-affirmation, will
undertake to violate them. With the anxious and trembling
eyes of young Gay and Lesbian Youth around the world
watching to see if their older Brothers and Sisters still
honor the ancient pledge to be each other's -- and so also
their -- mentors, I am hoping that many of us will join me
in New York to send those young Darlings a message of "Hope
along the Wind"...and to oppose the Opportunists' betrayal
of our ancient and beloved principles. (See "The Third
Gender Vs. the Senate Circus," page xx)
     And to the handsome assemblage in this room here
tonight, I would like to say -- that the spectacle of dear
friends and comrades, of the powerful political first half
of my life, reaching out in appreciation and respect to my
beloved Queer Minority, whose re-discovery and re-invention
has enriched and rewarded the political second half of my
life, I feel at last that -- for the very first time ever --
I am being enabled to come home. Thank you all for having
made this impossible -- possible.