Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Should Be Laughing: LGBT History Month: Harry Hay

I Should Be Laughing: LGBT History Month: Harry Hay:
"When Dale Jennings was arrested in 1952 for allegedly soliciting a police officer, it was Harry Hay who bailed him out. The Mattachine Society established the Citizens' Committee to Outlaw Entrapment in Jennings' defense and, at trial, Jennings lawyer proved the arresting officer had lied. While eleven jurors favored acquittal, one vowed to keep voting guilty 'till hell froze over.' After forty hours of deliberations by the deadlocked panel, the judge dismissed the case and though it was less definitive than an acquittal, the decision was seen as a victory in the struggle for gay rights.

As a result of the Jennings case, Mattachine membership soared from just a few hundred to several thousand which brought about notoriety, and a homophobic backlash. A newspaper columnist called the organization potentially 'dangerous,' and another identified Hay as 'a Marxist teacher.'

Members were uneasy about the group, especially new members who, in 1953, called for a new constitution and new leadership. It wasn't being labeled homosexual that caused the unrest, however; they were concerned about being perceived as a Communist organization in the McCarthy era. While new members favored assimilation, and Hay fought for action,in the end, the newcomers won, and Harry Hay reluctantly left the Mattachine Society."

Ugh. Don't I know how Harry feels sometimes! Ha!

I really fucking hate the recent "Harry Hay loves NAMBLA" meme. I hate that gay activists are trying to separate Kevin Jennings from Harry Hay because of it. Harry Hay was a great man. NAMBLA is a disgusting, vile piece of shit. That said, I believe in Free Speech, and so should any decent American. How could you call yourself American if you didn't? When Harry advocated for NAMBLA's inclusion in Pride, he was not advocating for NAMBLA's ideals but their right to free speech.

I would not have done what Harry did. I would have been on the other side, advocating to keep NAMBLA out. However, I would have respect and DO respect Harry's unwavering regard for the First Amendment of our great land's constitution. Harry Hay WAS A GREAT AMERICAN, and Kevin Jennings' praise of Harry Hay was well-placed. Neither of the two were advocating for NAMBLA's beliefs. But distancing the movement from Harry Hay because he stood up for the right to free speech is COWARDLY. FUCK NAMBLA--I think we'd all be better off if they didn't exist. However, fuck anyone who paints someone as a villain who stands up for the Constitution. THAT is despicable.

Our movement owes a googolplex of gratitude to Harry for standing up and standing out way before anyone else was. He was certainly a LOT left of even ME... and a free spirit... but he was and still is a brilliant light in our history.

...Jim Burroway, I'm talking to you.

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