Thoughts from Billy

From William A. Percy
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Well, at age 75, I was thinking, a rare thing since I think I already know everything, sort of like a rightwinger, about how little most of us know about what came before us. I didn't really understand what my folks went through in the depression, mainly because by the time I was at an age to understand, they had gotten successful, and we had everything we could have wanted, even though we were only middle-class. Just having a job was a great advance, and owning a home and having a good education, etc. while the black families around us did not, I was ignorant of the real world I guess.

So I try to understand how young homosexual men and women can't grasp what our generation and those before us went through. I also have been reading books on our history, and while they got most facts right, they got the truth wrong. As i've said so many times, any book that jumps from early Mattachine and the DOB to Stonewall in 1`969 is obviously incompetent and unethical. I don't believe I am wrong to insist that at all of the late 50s and 60s it was ONE that did all the things that seem to be attributed ONLY to the East Coast. We picketed, we had plays-I see they are going to do a movie of The Women, which don Schneider and friends did as a benefit for us years ago, all male. We didn't picket the White House, but we did the L. A. Times, Fort MacArthur, we had a Motorcade about the military/draft though L. a., we appeared on a dozen tv and radio shows, Don Slater's articles appeared in the L. A.Times and the Herald Examiner. We had a 24 hour answering serve, we held discussion that dozens of USC and UCLA students came to, we spoke to classes a UCLA, high schools, law school classes, all of which it seems the "historians" think only happened in New York. It was Joseph hansen who started the gay authors on their way. It was in L. A. that Troy Perry started the MCC. Morris Kight et al got involved in politics. And started the first Gay/Lesbian Community Center, still going strong. It is great that there are equally great ones in san Francisco, New york and a great new one in Chicago. But we had it first, and that is an "issue since again historians seem to "cover" such issues and ignore us.

To continually discuss the Mattachine Review and The Ladder, and ignore ONE Magazine which outsold and outreached them by miles, is strange/queer. And to if it is mentioned, since they seemed to only find Dorr Legg, it seems "historians" say only Dorr Legg did everything at ONE, even giving him in some cases credit for the magazine, which he did not have any editorial control over, and that is what the separation was mainly about. He tried in fact to downplay the magazine, and yet it is clear that it was the main part of ONE, it existed in fact BEFORE ONE. And the importance of publishing is proven by the emphasis by these "historians" on the Mattachine Review and The Ladder, and the irony is that both publications, as well later as Vector (SIR) also had internal problems.

Now all of this may not be important to young people, but it is part of how we got, with all disagreements and different priorities, to where we are today. No one can think that suddenly without any preparation, Stonewall happened. And most books do credit outside influences, such as movement due to World War II , and the Kinsey books, etc with helping prepare the ground, but it wa only when a few people actually came forward and said we need to change things and we are NOT sick, sinful or criminal, that in what is historically a short time, we changed the nation. And that is why we can be happy, and gay, and have Pride. We could be the same even if society and academics and medical doctors and the world had refused to hear us and change, as it was our selves that changed first and would be different and better even without society's changing.

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