Disagreements among pioneers and early movement activists

From William A. Percy
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Billy Glover wrote:

I had not intended to email today, but I had to get out for another reason so came by my young, but old friend and neighbor's house and so am checking email.

I intended to keep looking in what material I have, since I have to admit i have no idea bout The Myth of the Gay Mystique. I thought of a book called The Gay Mystique, but not sure i even have it here. But I looked through many copies of ONE/Tangents and can't seem to find an article. And the copies of some of our newsletters I have found so far also don't have it. So can you tell me where it appears?

As to Harry's versions, I don't know how to view the differences. I do know i never bothered to ask him, or the others, any questions, as i just enjoyed being with them and liked them all and was only aware from the start that Don & Dorr's views were not the same, mainly over us being special. But it was and is clear to me that like others who are outsiders-i think a black wolman hAs written a book even titled canary in the mind meaning blacks see things earlier, which was what i think harry meant. We have no dog in the fight heteros have so can be objective. I see no conflict with that, and Harry was always in American Indian/Native American thinking and wasn't that a part of Racial Faeries-but not sure why nudity is there.

I know there are several things in print etc that seem to me to not be what I remember, but there are things And events and timelines I have never been able to work out about my own life. I honestly can not remember how I got to the Mattachine convention in Denver, but think it had to be by car. I had a car most of the time, but can't remember driving, or even the hotel, but am sure i stayed in the one hosting the thing. I don't remember anyone there, and don't even remember seeing Kepner even though he was the first one I met at ONE, and in fact replaced him when he quit the 2d time. But he told me about the convention-As we talked in the Thrifty Drug across from Pershing Square.

I took so many trips back and forth from L. A. to LA, I confuse them. I know that I went to the Chicago NACHO conference with a man from L.A. but right now can't remember his name, and am sure he drove. Afterwards he drove us down to St Louis and we went in that oval thing, and then he returned to L. A. and I came down to LA to visit and then returned. I think his name wAs eddy Casaius, and his partner ran a stamp making/office supply on I think Western Ave. He was not HIC or ONE but not sure what group he was with.

I have the bound volumes ONE did, 1953 to 58 I think. But I just found a copy of something they did but may not have used, for April Fools, called TWO. And while it was satire on the magazine, it was also called Truth Will Out. (In it the word Mattachine became Matasheen.) I found one of Kepner's paper things I have never read, so will enjoy that. But I can't believe that anyone interested in homosexuality would not find most copies of ONE/Tangents interesting. There was one issue with a cartoon series on how a man riding a bicycle got others to do that, or something-I forget already.

I think I've said that the time I spent with Hal Call after the Denver convention I wrote a review of Advise and Consent, which he used later in Mattachine Review. I had forgotten that I later did a review of a book,l whose title now I can't remember, but think it was The Big Smear, just like Advise and consent, and I sid was better, that was in ONE in early 1962. If someone had asked me if I wrote it, I would not have remembered it. I don't think any double versions of something I might give would be deliberate and trying to confuse people, but just bad memory.

Some things I only remember because of other reasons. For instance, I only remember the specific time I met Melvin because we met the evening JFK was killed. Other wise I would only know that we met and stayed together most of 13 years. And sadly he and his partner Peter and in terrible health right now. I do not remember the day I actually came to ONE and met Kepner. It was in September, 1959, as I know when the convention was and it had to be before that. Anyway, I of course find remembering the time I have spent interesting, and will later quote more letters, as letters from Morris or Joe Hansen seem to contradict events, but I don't think either is wrong, just their thinking "aims" their memory.

David wrote:

Thanks, Billy. Actually those passages from Harry are easier to swallow than many. I have compared two accounts by Harry that discuss a single incident. The first account is in a 1956 letter to Kepner and the second is a passage from Harry's 1980s oral history. The first is ambiguous, the second is crystal clear, but each contradicts the other. Oh, well.

Billy Glover wrote:

I don't know who wrote it. Don't know about other questions. But I do see in your quotes once again why the ONE Institute Quarterly was dead on arrival, as we kept telling Dorr. It was an idea that as far as i can tell would not succeed even today. But Harry's writing is unreadable. But then Don said mine is to.

As I said, I have found several letters, from Joe Hansen, and Morris that remind me of just how we disagreed and thought each other were wasting time on wrong issues, etc, yet we all seemed to work so that we covered all aspects. ONE stayed out of politics, Morris didn't. Morris co-founded GLF and also the Gay Center, one died and the other kicked him out essentially. sounds like Harry in a way.

David wrote:

Thanks, Billy, for including me in Dale Jennings's remarks on the Mattachine. In the context of his memorial remarks for Jim Kepner, Jennings's scathing tone was unusually restrained, don't you think?

Just last night I transcribed an early letter (Nov 1954) from Harry Hay to Dorr Legg, which actually echoes Jennings's assessment of the Mattachine. Hay begins by praising Legg for persevering in his "self-appointed tasks" (cf Jennings's "jobs out of whole cloth"), "regardless of the mäelstrom of turgid vacillations with which even those who presume to subscribe to leadership of our people surround you," although he seems to have gotten caught up in his own syntactical vortex. He continues:

Perhaps by the next time I call I shall have some material to forward for preliminary reading. Dorr, -- if this reconstruction "pours" as well as it seems to have prepared, -- perhaps, after its publication and (as a consequence of) the maturation of consequence which it may invoke, -- we may be enabled to launch the "Mattachine Idea" again. Only this time we must secure the guidance and approbation of churches and colleges, and avoid the quagmires of fragile reeds and false democratisms. Democracy is never possible until there is a concerted congress of tried and mature persons who know where they are going!

The turgid vacillations came from such fragile reeds as Chuck Rowland and Bob Hull, whom Hay discusses by name in other correspondence. Rowland thought the bid for democracy was worth the gamble, and look where that got him.

I've been planning to cover Jennings's view of "homosexual" in my book. Jennings and Gore Vidal give very colorful, quotable critiques of homosexual-as-noun. HIC's two-page "The Myth of the Gay Mystique" (the copy I have is dated 2/77) also criticizes gay ghettoization, the institutions and "quick-profit schemes."

Questions:

Did Jennings write "The Myth of the Gay Mystique"?

How did Jennings and others imagine a compartment-free, metasexual world absent those institutions, schemes, and specialization?

Can you point to descriptions of such a world -- or worlds of 1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s, etc.?

I'd be grateful for any responses you have. Thanks. - David

Billy Glover wrote:

I should be sending this to Wayne, as he only said the Morris versus Don issue at a time i was already planning on putting on record this very issue. I thought I gave Todd most of the letters I have since I came back to work from LA, but I have been glancing at some and they only confirm what I said to Wayne. I intend to quote some to show that even those who worked closely always had disagreements. I recall a letter from Don mentioning that both Kepner and Dorr were doing a book review-for the HIC newsletter. And even though I also said things about others and others said things about me-mostly true-we always worked for the cause.

I will start with the first letter on the stack, for no real reason. Remember that Jim Schneider took care of Dale Jennings for the last 4 or 5 years he lived. Remember that Dale came down to stay with me for a week to see if he could live down here-assuming he could it would be cheaper, etc. He, like Don, hated the humidity so didn't stay and then got sick and Jim put him in the nursing home near him-across the street really but it was in Pico rRvera I think yet Jim is in Commerce. Anyway, for some reason he got Dale to give his thoughts on Jim Kepner- I think he may have not wanted to go to Jim's memorial-I actually forget who died when.

But while we all knew the good and bad of Kepner, I didn't understand then or now Dale's views, especially since for years Dale had dropped out-not surprising considering how he and Dorr had fought, but then so did Kepner and Dorr, yet Kepner always took Dorr's position even when Dorr was wrong-but not in a cocoon and Dorr had his valid reasons.

We thought Jim (Kepner, not Schneider) was a sort of gadfly, he also was with the Advocate and was an "honorary" DOB, etc. But he pushed saving our history and wrote good things.

Jim (Schneider) says that Jim (Kepner) was not a mover and shaker in the movement. I disagree. But he says Kepner was a writer and collector of papers. That is what all parts of ONE are now.

Dale says Kepner's ambitions were beyond his reach-I disagree. He claims associates said that-I never heard it. He says Kepner was unsentimental. Now that I reread this, it is worthless as most of the "thoughts" on Kepner turn out to be Dale's usual thoughts on the founding of early Mattachine. In exactly the same words he says Kepner was not important he says "Those who distinguished themselves in the making of the Mattachine made their own jobs out of whole cloth. In doing so they created a structure that was special-not to the needs of the movement, but to their own abilities or lack of them. Drawing up their rules as they went along, they made an organization that is quite unique in both structure and purpose. ...It is difficult, if not impossible, to sum up the purposes of the organization which they founded. The worst dissension came, not by the outside, but by the members themselves.

In spite of having contributed little or nothing to the philosophy of homosexuality, the Mattachine did stir up the thinking of its members which had been confusing up to its founding. Far from an exercise in futility, it triggered strangely creative thinking. As such it will go down in homosexual history as a courageous failure and an explosion of creative ideas which the future will undoubtedly put to good use.

In sum, the Mattachine was not an end of itself, but a beginning for all who look on themselves as being "homosexual."

He wrote this in 1998. It is very interesting to read it today as new york celebrates gay marriage. But like Dale, it goes on a tangent from a few words about Kepner, to again think of when he and the others co-founded Mattachine. He was the one who said someday we would march down Hollywood Blvd. He was right of course, but he went from being a communist to a almost rightwinger. So that says something about him, and us.

And while he and Don Slater were the best of friends, Don disagreed with most of his thinking.

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