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I just walked by Pat Field's 8th Street store and was almost in tears. It's all empty, dark & closed up with the windows soaped. It's so sad. There is just a little sign on the door that says "SALE". So many memories in that store. Decades of memories! Punk, New Wave, Paradise Garage, Ball House, Club Kid, Rave. And who hasn't worked there at least once? I knew it was coming but to actually see her closed is a shock. I know it's not a tragedy or anything, Pat is ruling the earth now with Sex & The City and showing in the tents etc. She is finally getting the homage she deserves. And I know there is still Hotel Venus but I'll really, REALLY miss the old store.
Subject: [queerleft] Fwd: Harry Hay obituary - New York Times

Is there going to be a NYC (or in other cities)
memorial for Harry Hay, and more than mourning, as
doing what Harry Hay had often done, which way forward for the queer movement? In May 2003 there will be a gathering of queer lefties in NYC at the Brecht Forum, to put the issue of queer liberation back in the heart of the socialist/anarchist/left movments and reconnect
the queer community to the left, on the 70th
anniversary of the Magnus Hirschfield/Institute of
Sexology/banning of gay press in Nazi Germany (May 6), also there will be a queer contingent at the antiwar march this Saturday.

New York Times [New York, NY]
October 25, 2002

Harry Hay, 90, Early Proponent of Gay Rights, Is

Harry Hay, who founded a secret organization six
decades ago that proved to be the catalyst for the American gay rights movement, died early Thursday morning at his home in San Francisco. He was 90.

Although little known in the broader national
culture over the years, Mr. Hay's contribution was to do what no one else had done before: plant the idea among American homosexuals that they formed an oppressed cultural minority of their own, like blacks, and to create a lasting organization in which homosexuals could come together to socialize and to pursue what was,
at the beginning, the very radical concept of
homosexual rights.

The group Mr. Hay founded one that exists in
remnants today-the Mattachine Society. Its name was taken from a medieval French term for male
dancers who performed in public, sometimes
satirizing social customs, but only wearing masks.

Starting in Los Angeles in 1950, Mr. Hay formed his secret society with a handful of others. Virtually no men or women in the country then identified themselves publicly as homosexual. The law in California and other states made it illegal for homosexuals to assemble in public. The American Psychiatric Association defined homosexuality as a mental illness.

The term gay rights would not come into general use until 1969, after the New York City police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, and its patrons staged a violent uprising against the arrests.

But by then, the political organizing and public
expression of gay consciousness begun by Mr. Hay was long established in many cities across the country, and had matured for a generation.

In 1948, Mr. Hay was a restless, middle-aged man
living with his wife and two daughters when he was struck one August night by the idea for a new kind of group. The impulse came out of a brew of other identities and allegiances that mingled in him, all of them described by his biographer, Stuart Timmons, in "The Trouble With Harry Hay: Founder of the Modern Gay Movement" (Alyson Publications, 1990). He was an ardent American Communist, a romantic homosexual, an amateur musician and aspiring actor, a disaffected Roman
Catholic, a sometime labor organizer and a man of
secretive nature. It was an array of opposing values that would put him in a state of conflict and tension for most of his life and would cast him out of the Communist Party and his own Mattachine Society before the 1950's were half over.

But that summer night in 1948, he would later tell
interviewers, he attended an all-male party in Los Angeles and fell into conversation about the next presidential election.

Maybe former Vice President Henry Wallace, the
Progressive Party candidate, would include a sexual privacy plank in his platform in exchange for votes and support from homosexuals, Mr. Hay suggested. The others hooted at such a crazy idea. But later, while his wife and children
slept, Mr. Hay wrote the future movement's first political manifesto. He raised the notion of
homosexuals as an oppressed minority. (It was an
organizing principle that would not appear in print until 1951, with the publication of "The
Homosexual in America," the first commercially
published nonfiction account of homosexual life in the United States written by a homosexual, though under a pseudonym, Donald Webster Cory.)

The thoughts in Mr. Hay's manifesto, which he
revised and which later became known as "The Call," seem antique now. He labeledhis unformed group "Bachelors Anonymous," and was both grand and bland about its purpose. "We, the Androgynes of the world, have formed this responsible corporate body to demonstrate by our efforts that our physiological and psychological handicaps need be no deterrent in integrating 10 percent of the world's population towards to constructive social progress of mankind," he wrote.

It took him more than two years to find four other
men willing to discuss how they might organize. Two had also been members of the Communist Party in the prewar years when Communism seemed an
attractive enemy of fascism. Another was Austrian, a Viennese refugee from fascism named Rudi Gernreich, who would become famous as a fashion designer, for miniskirts, the topless
bathing suit and other creations. The last was Dale Jennings, whose arrest the next year for soliciting a police officer to commit a homosexual act gave the new group its first cause.

It was a case of police entrapment, common in those years, but instead of pleading no contest to avoid a public trial, as homosexuals usually did, Mr. Jennings, at Mr. Hay's insistence, went to trial with a lawyer hired by Mattachine, and swore that yes, he was homosexual, but no, he had not solicited.

The jury acquitted him. With that victory, the
Mattachine Society grew, spreading chapters across the country. But as the cold war deepened, the group, fearful of Mr. Hay's history in the
Communist Party, forced him out. The party, with which he had felt such class kinship before the war, rejected him as a homosexual after he and his wife, Anita, divorced, early in the 1950's. More than 20 years later, still on
the sidelines of the main gay movement, he cofounded another kind of group, a brotherhood built along the lines of the spiritual tribe that he always thought gay men naturally formed. He called it The Radical Faeries.

Because Mr. Hay did not last long as the leader of
the Mattachine Society, because it was a secret society, and because his role in it remained unknown until he talked about it to Jonathan Ned Katz for his reference anthology "Gay American History," (Arno Press, 1975) others became better known as leaders in the gay-rights movement and carried on the public fight that Mr. Hay had begun.

After his expulsion from the society's leadership,
Mr. Hay became a fixture of West Coast progressive politics, of the antidraft and antiwar campaigns, worked in the Women's Strike for Peace during the Vietnam War, and with
Native American activists, especially the Committee for Traditional Indian Land and Life.

Harry Hay was born Henry Hay Jr. in England in
1912, and raised by nannies. His father was a manager of gold and diamond mining in South Africa for Cecil Rhodes, and of copper mining in Chile, before settling the family in California.

He said he had his first homosexual sexual
encounter at 14 while shipping on a tramp steamer down the California coast. He attended Stanford University, but did not graduate.

It was the actor Will Geer, who decades later
played Grandpa Walton on television, who introduced Mr. Hay to Communist organizing, including the general union strike which closed the Port of San Francisco in 1934.

When he realized that the Communist Party would not accept homosexuals, he married a fellow Communist, Anita Platsky. They adopted two daughters, who survive him: Kate Berman and Hannah Muldaven, both of Los Angeles. He is
also survived by his partner of 40 years, John
Burnside, with whom he registered as a domestic partner in California weeks before his death.


[This message was edited by Rose Royalle on 10-27-02 at 06:23 AM.]
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Thank You R_R for posting the Hay obit. I was truly hoping someone else would so that I wouldn't, least others think I might be obsessing on death here. I am or do, but I try keeping it under wraps until my own moment arrives. Something I find myself looking forward to the older I get, the more disturbing the world becomes. What I love about reading these accounts is the wonderful golden nuggets of information you discover about people who've managed to make a differnce for the better throughout the course of their lives. Gives you hope about many things that matter but sometimes get overlooked or lost in the struggle to survive.


[This message was edited by dreambot on 10-27-02 at 01:44 PM.]
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Gay Activist Harry Hay Dies

Subject: radical faerie founder died in San Francisco

Our beloved faerie sissy brother Harry Hay left this earth plane at 2 a.m., PDT, this morning, October 24, 2002. The Duchess died peacefully in his sleep at home while attended by his beloved companion John Burnside and a circle of loving friends. Let us join hands in a circle to remember Harry and how he has graced our lives, as he joins with our faerie ancestors.

A memorial in NYC is being planned - information will be forwarded via this email service. Donations in his memory can be made out to
'Faerie Camp Destiny' and mail to:

P.O. Box 150296,
Brooklyn, NY 11215.

They will forwarded on to the Vermont Sanctuary.
The NYC Circle of Loving Companions


Harry Hay Official Obituary

Dear friends
Memories of Harry Hay.
Please take note of the passing of a very important pioneer for gay rights. When, together with my friend Beano, I helped to organize a Gay Men's Week at Manorbier Youth Hostel Pembrokeshire Christmas 1997, we let Harry Hay
know about the event.It was the first occassion on which significant numbers of the Edward Carpenter Community and the Eurofaeries Group from Europe celebrated a week together. He sent some very nice Christmas decorations from the Smithsonian and we spoke to him on Christmas Day. He was certainly very charming nonetheless forceful and articulate.
Two years later I traveled to a gathering of all the American gay rural communities and radical faery groups at Faery Camp Destiny in Vermont,
partly in the hope of meeting Harry.
Unfortunately he was already confined to bed by that stage, but nonetheless we held a conference call with him from the interesting setting of a 50 man Mongolian Yurt tent. He
spoke to us at length, particularly on the ideal of subject-subject consciousness in which everything on the earth including the stones beneath our feet is deemed to be a subject, not just an object, and should be respected as such. I spoke with him about the gay composer Poulenc, whose anniversary it was that year. As ever it was so interesting to talk with Harry Hay, a still living figure from history.
It says a lot for the kindness of the gay community in San Francisco that they took on the task of caring for Harry in his declining years and honored him as Parade Marshall on their annual Gay Pride March on at least one occasion.
Read the book 'The Trouble with Harry Hay' to find out more about this fascinating man.

Tom Brooks
4 Connaught Mansions
London SW9 8LE England
home telephone: +44 207 924 0834
mobile: 0778 0691650

[This message was edited by Rose Royalle on 10-27-02 at 06:43 AM.]
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With his sometimes crackpot notions and radiant, ecstatic, vision of the holiness of being queer, Harry Hay refused to play the model homosexual
EVEN IN THE GLOW of its conservatism, America "” which was formed via revolution, after all has always taken a certain pride in its radicals.
Even so, America prefers to remember its history-makers in sanitized versions with none of the messy, often embarrassing flaws that are usually
inscribed on the souls who take it upon themselves to change the world.

Thus, we prefer to think of Thomas Jefferson as a revolutionary genius, rather than as slave owner who not only had sexual relations with his female
slaves but consigned his own children to slavery.

The fiery stances taken by anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman in the early part of this century are
softened "” or forgotten "” in her incarnations as a grandmotherly figure in the film Reds and an innocuous witty commentator in the musical Ragtime.

The popular image of Rosa Parks as a tired seamstress who just wanted a seat on the bus is far more comforting than the reality: she was a skilled political thinker and secretary of the NAACP chapter that planned the bus boycott long
before she refused to sit down. Even the most serious biographers of Martin Luther King Jr. portray him in rosy hues, as an American saint, not as a deeply religious man whose promiscuity and adulterous behavior tore him apart.

So it is with Harry Hay founder of the gay movement in America who died at the age of 90 on October 24. Obits in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Associated Press left the impression that Hay was a passionate activist and something of a romantic. The New York Times referred to him as "an ardent American Communist, a romantic homosexual," who was a "restless middle-aged man" by the time he formed the Mattachine Society, the first gay-rights group in the United States. The Los Angeles Times described
Hay's penchant for wearing "the knit cap of a macho longshoreman, a pigtail and a strand of pearls" and also noted that he and John Burnside, his lover of 40 years, lived most recently in San Francisco in a pink Victorian house.

The reality is that while Hay may have been a romantic, he was also notoriously promiscuous, and his communism was far more rabid than "ardent." And while he did wear pearls with his longshoreman's cap, it wasn't a form
of charming "gender-bender" chic, as the Los Angeles Times put it, but a political statement Hay first donned back when it was still quite dangerous to do so. Hay, in fact, was fanatically resistant to the grandfatherly image the modern gay movement not only tried to attribute to him but expected him to play out. The documentary Word Is Out, for instance, filmed in 1976,
portrayed Hay and Burnside as paragons of gay domesticity. More recently, he was invited to address the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Creating Change Conference, in 1998, and was billed as a major speaker. But he was given no context in which to talk about his politics and found himself treated more as an artifact of gay history than as an activist with ideas.

Hay had strong opinions and never pandered to popular opinion when he voiced them "” whether he was attacking national gay organizations for what he saw as their increasingly conservative political positions ("The assimilationist
movement is running us into the ground," he told the San Francisco Chronicle in July 2000) or when he condemned the national gay press in particular,
the Advocate for its emphasis on consumerism. He was, at times, a serious political embarrassment, as when he consistently advocated the inclusion of
the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) in gay-pride parades.

HAY'S UNEASY relationship with the gay movement he reviled what he saw as the movement's propensity for selling out its fringe members for easy, and often illusory, respectability didn't develop later in life. It was there from the start. In 1950, when Hay formed the Mattachine Society technically a "homophile group," since the more aggressive idea of gay rights had yet to be conceived his radical vision was captured in a
manifesto he wrote stating boldly that gay people were not like heterosexuals. Indeed, Hay insisted , homosexuals formed a unique culture
from which heterosexuals might learn a great deal. This notion was at decisive odds with the view put forth by many other Mattachine members: that homosexuals should not be discriminated against because gay people were just like straight people. By 1954, the group essentially ousted Hay.

It wasn't the first time Hay had been booted out of a group he helped create. From the 1930s through the early 1950s, Hay had been an active
member of the American Communist Party. In 1934, Hay and his lover Will Geer, who later played Grandpa on the long-running television series The
Waltons, helped pull off an 83-day-long workers' strike of the port of San Francisco. Though marred by violence, it was an organizing triumph, one that became a model for future union strikes "” such as the one currently under way (but stymied by the Bush administration) at West Coast ports. During the 1940s, Hay struggled unsuccessfully to be honest about his homosexuality of which he'd been certain since adolescence while maintaining his status as a member of the Communist Party, which banned homosexuals from joining.
He married a follow Communist Party member and adopted two daughters even as he worked to form the Mattachine Society. But homophobia eventually won out. After the Mattachine Society gained notoriety in the early 1950s, Hay was unceremoniously kicked out of the Communist Party.

The story of Harry Hay's life was that he was always a just little too radical and since he was also a bit of an egotist, too disinclined to
demure for the groups with which he was involved. He was also too idealistic. Hay took the name Mattachine from a secret medieval French society of unmarried men who wore masks during their rituals as forms of social protest. They, in turn, took their names from the Italian attaccino,
a court jester who was able to tell the truth to the king while wearing a mask. As an old-time socialist, he was drawn to communism because of its egalitarian vision and, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, its stand against fascism. But he was also an actor and a musician drawn to a brand of scholarship that romanticized popular culture as intrinsically progressive and revolutionary.

Despite, or perhaps because of, Hay's difficulty getting along with others, his vision of gay liberation was decades ahead of its time. His monumentally important contribution to the gay movement was his ability to communicate the notion that homosexuals made up a cultural minority with its own history, political concerns, and organizational strengths. An often-told story about Hay (retold in the New York Times' obituary) recounts how he came up with a political strategy in 1948 that no one had ever voiced before: giving votes in exchange for ideological support. To wit: identity politics for homosexuals on the same model African-Americans had begun to use in organizations like the NAACP. Hay wondered out loud, the most basic
form of political organizing if Vice-President Henry Wallace, who was the Progressive Party's candidate for president, would back a sexual-privacy law if he could be assured that a majority of homosexuals would vote for him.
The politics of quid pro quo was revolutionary for its time. Remember, at that time it was dangerous to publicly identify as a "homosexual" you could be arrested merely on the suspicion that you might be looking for sex; many states legally forbade serving drinks to homosexuals, much less allowing homosexuals to gather together in public. Indeed, the American Psychological Association's lifting of the definition of homosexuality as a mental illness was a good 20 years away.

That said, Hay's vision was not completely original. It drew partially on the work of late-19th/early-20th-century gay British socialist Edward Carpenter and, to a lesser extent, the political work of Magus Hirschfeld. Carpenter pushed the idea that people with homosexual desires were a distinct group with a well-defined identity, and thus could have a distinctive consciousness about their place in society. Hay, who was born in England in 1912 and moved to the US with his parents almost 10 years later,
would have had easy access to Carpenter's ideas, which were popular through the 1920s. But even though Hay's notions had roots in European intellectual circles, they were truly radical in American political thought.

Political genius that he was, Hay never would have achieved what he did without his training as an organizer for the American Communist Party. He
used the party's own "cell" organization to build and propagate the ever-growing Mattachine. Even the group's recruitment tactic it was as dangerous to walk up to someone and say, "Hey, are you a homosexual? Want to join our club?" as it was for someone to drum up membership for a seditious political group was modeled on the Communist Party's strategy of getting names of potential members from current members.

THE HOMOPHILE movement of the 1950s and 1960s gave way after the 1969 Stonewall riots to the Gay Liberation movement. With its roots in feminism, the Black Power movement, street culture, and the antiwar movement, the Gay
Liberation movement initially appealed to Hay. It was, essentially, the movement he had envisioned in 1950 but that never came to fruition. Soon,
however, Hay became disenchanted as the radical Gay Liberation movement became corporatized with groups like Gay Activist Alliance and the National
Gay and Lesbian Task Force, whose goals were to assimilate into the mainstream rather than change the basic structures of society. Hay, yet again, was a queen without a movement.

During these years, Hay spoke out against what he saw as the increasing conservatism of the gay-and-lesbian movement. As he saw it, the gay "” and
now, lesbian "” movement was far more interested in electing homosexuals to government positions than in making the government responsible to the needs of its people. It was more interested in making sure that gay people were represented in commercial television and films than in critiquing the ways mass culture destroyed the human spirit. It was too interested in making
strategic alliances with conservative politicians, rather than exposing how most politicians were working hand in glove with bloodless, destructive corporations.

Hay's response was to reinvent gay politics all over again: in 1979, he founded the Radical Faeries. The spiritual core of the Radical Faeries was the same as the one Hay had invisioned for his original Mattachine Society:
the conviction that gay men were spiritually different from other people. They were more in touch with nature, bodily pleasure, and the true essence of human nature, which embraced both male and female. Hay's spiritual radicalism had its roots in 17th-century British dissenting religious
groups, such as the Diggers, Ranters, Quakers, and Levelers, who sought to refashion the world after their egalitarian, socialist, non-hierarchical, utopian views. Unlike his dissenting predecessors, however, it wasn't
millennial Christianity that drove Hay, but a belief that all sexuality was sacred. And a belief that queer sexuality had an essential outsider quality that made the outcast homosexual the perfect prophet for a heterosexual world lost in strict gender roles, enforced reproductive sexuality, and numbingly straitjacketed social personae. The Radical Faeries were something
of a cross between born-again queers and in-your-face frontline shock troops practicing gender-fuck drag.

By this time, the gay movement which had devolved from a "liberation" movement into a quest for "gay rights" treated Hay as a benign crackpot.
He was frequently praised as an important historical figure, but no one was really interested in what he had to say, especially since the Christian right had already begun to launch vicious anti-gay attacks with Anita Bryant
's "Save Our Children" campaign of 1979 and California's Briggs Initiative (which would have banned openly gay schoolteachers) a year later. Often the discomfort with Hay was coupled with an overriding discomfort with his long history of involvement with the American Communist Party. More often than not, though, his relationship with Will Geer was touted as proof that just like Grandpa Walton Hay was an icon of safe respectability.

Despite his 40-year relationship with John Burnside, the aging radical still proclaimed the joys of sexual promiscuity and denounced the increasingly popular mandate that monogamy was a preferable lifestyle. In his own determined, often irritating, manner, Harry Hay resisted becoming a model homosexual hero. Nowhere was this more evident than in Hay's persistent
support of NAMBLA's right to march in gay-pride parades. In 1994, he refused to march with the official parade commemorating the Stonewall riots in New York because it refused NAMBLA a place in the event. Instead, he joined a competing march, dubbed The Spirit of Stonewall, which included NAMBLA as well as many of the original Gay Liberation Front members. Even many of Hay's
more dedicated supporters could not side with him on this. But from Hay's point of view, silencing any part of the movement because it was disliked or hated by mainstream culture was both a moral failing and a seriously mistaken political strategy. In Harry's eyes, such a stance failed to
grapple seriously with the reality that there would always be some aspect of the gay movement to which mainstream culture would object. By pretending the movement could be made presentable by eliminating a specific "objectionable"
group drag queens and leather people were the objects of similar purges in the 1970s and 1980s gay leaders not only pandered to the idea of
respectability but betrayed their own community.

In death, though, Harry Hay's critics have finally been able to do what they couldn't do when he was alive: make him presentable. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign have issued laudatory press
releases. (The HRC's Davis Smith says, for example, "When you were in a room with him, you had the sense you were in the company of a historic figure." A sense I certainly didn't get at a cocktail party 12 years ago, when he came
across as nothing but a cantankerous old queen who was more interested in speculating about what some of the younger party guests would be like in bed than discussing the connections between 1950s communism and gay-community organizing.) Even the Metropolitan Community Church issued a statement
hailing Harry Hay's support for its work (a dubious idea at best). Neither of the long and laudatory obits in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times mentioned his unyielding support for NAMBLA or even his deeply radical credentials and vision. Harry, it turns out, was a grandfatherly figure who had an affair with Grandpa Walton. But it's important to remember Hay with all his contradictions, his sometimes crackpot notions, and his radiant, ecstatic, vision of the holiness of being queer as he lived. For in his death, Harry Hay is becoming everything he would have raged against.


-Michael Bronski can be reached at
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Although Michael Bronski did not actually post his obit synopsis here, I'm wondering if it is serving some other purpose or wherever else it was submitted. His seeming objection to the tendency of the media and others to paint rosy post mortem pictures fails to take into account some prerequisites of the moment, including timing, the emotions of the bereaved, and the fact the person in question or under attack is no longer here to defend themselves. Most everyone will agree that it's nearly impossible to lead an entirely dirt free life without offending someone, somewhere, unintentionally or otherwise but is the 'obit' the forum to take someone to task for misgivings, miscalculations or other indiscretions? Is it so immediately necessary to cause friends and family in their current moment of crisis to circle wagons to ward off the slings and arrows of their deceased's detractors? And what about the accuracy of these accounts? How much is hearsay? Verifiable? How much is innuendo of those with an agenda or final score to even? These questions in the context of an obit, leads me to believe it doesn't seem to be the proper time and place to be considering fresh or divergent suppositions. This is not to say someone should not be held accountable or the truth should not be known but I believe there are better forums for this other than the notice of obituary. Mr. Bronski's account of Harry Hay's total life while illuminating and neatly polite may be better served in a biography or some other historical record.

Convicted "Moors Murderer" Myra Hindley died today, November 15, after spending nearly half her life in prison for participating in a two year murder spree, which began in 1963. Together with her then-lover, Ian Brady, Hindley was convicted of abducting, torturing, and murdering at least five children whose bodies were found in shallow graves on Saddleworth Moor, near Manchester, England. She had begun an unsuccessful bid for freedom in the 1990's.
Ms. Hindley was portrayed chillingly onstage in 1992 by Marti Domination in the Blacklips production, "Myra."
I don't know if any of you remember him. He was a British club kid/artist who spent some time in NY a few years ago, around the time Susanne Bartsch got married. He had skulls built into the sides of his shoes, as well as on his headpiece. He told me he'd been a friend of Leigh Bowery's.

Well, anyway, a British DJ told me he died recently. I was so sorry to hear about it, he was a very sweet guy.
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