Skip to comments.Brief history of the modern childlove movement
Posted on 03/03/2007 9:23:28 AM PST by Calpernia
NAMBLA describes itself as a "support group for intergenerational relationships," and uses the slogan "sexual freedom for all." According to the group's web site, its aim is to "support the rights of youth as well as adults to choose the partners with whom they wish to share and enjoy their bodies." Google Search of NAMBLA's IP http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=126.96.36.199&btnG=Search
One of the group's arguments is that age of consent laws can unnecessarily criminalize sexual relationships between adults and minors (particularly boys). http://www.warriorsfortruth.com/nambla.html In 1980 a NAMBLA general meeting passed a resolution, proposed by Tom Reeves, which said: "(1) The North American Man/Boy Love Association calls for the abolition of age-of-consent and all other laws which prevent men and boys from freely enjoying their bodies. (2) We call for the release of all men and boys imprisoned by such laws." http://www.warriorsfortruth.com/nambla.html This policy was still in NAMBLA's "official position papers" in 1996.
NAMBLA advocates a comprehensive youth rights platform of which sexual freedom is only a portion. In addition to supporting the repeal of age of consent laws, NAMBLA has also opposed corporal punishment, rape, and kidnapping, and has declared that sexual exploitation is grounds for expulsion from the group. http://www.qrd.org/qrd/orgs/NAMBLA/nambla.replies.to.ilga.secretariat
Although some sources allege that NAMBLA has used the slogan "sex by eight is too late" or "sex by eight or else it's too late", this motto is properly attributed to the René Guyon Society.
NAMBLA emerged from the tumultuous political atmosphere of the 1970s, particularly from the leftist wing of the Gay Liberation movement which followed the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. Although discussion of gay adult-minor sex did take place, gay rights groups immediately following the Stonewall Riot were more concerned with issues of police harassment, nondiscrimination in employment, health care and other areas.
Not until a "sex ring" of underage boys brought intense media scrutiny in Boston in the closing weeks of 1977, and police closed down the Toronto-area gay newspaper The Body Politic for publishing an article titled http://clga.ca/Material/Records/docs/hannon/ox/mbm.htm Men Loving Boys Loving Men did the subject of adult-minor sex garner enough attention to prompt the formation of a group like NAMBLA.
In December 1977, police raided a house in the Boston suburb of Revere. Twenty-four men were arrested and indicted on over 100 felony counts, including child pornography and statutory rape of boys aged eight to fifteen. Suffolk County District Attorney Garrett Byrne alleged that the men used drugs and video games to lure the boys into a house, where they photographed them as they engaged in sexual activity. Byrne accused the men of being members of a "sex ring", and said that the arrest was only "the tip of the iceberg." The arrests sparked intense media coverage, and local newspapers published the photographs and personal information of the accused men.
Staff members of the gay newspaper Fag Rag believed the raid was politically motivated. They and others in Boston's gay community saw Byrne's round-up as an anti-gay witchhunt. On December 9, they organized the Boston-Boise Committee, a name intended as a reference to a similar situation that unfolded in Boise, Idaho in the 1950s. The group sponsored rallies, provided funds for the defendants, and tried to educate the public about the case by passing out fliers. It would also later spawn NAMBLA.
District Attorney Garrett Byrne was defeated in his re-election bid. The new DA said that no man should fear prison for having sex with a teenager unless coercion was involved. All charges were dropped. The few who had already pled or been found guilty received only probation. http://www.ipce.info/host/radicase/ch_13_notes.htm#9
On December 2, 1978, Tom Reeves of the Boston-Boise Committee convened a meeting called "Man/Boy Love and the Age of Consent." Approximately 150 people attended. At the meeting's conclusion, about thirty men and youths decided to form an organization which they called the North American Man/Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA for short.
Some gay rights groups immediately following "Stonewall Inn", perceived age-of-consent laws as governmental tools to suppress homosexual behavior rather than as the safeguards against the sexual abuse of small children that they claimed to be. In many states that didn't explicitly criminalize homosexual behavior (the sodomy laws), age-of-consent laws were significantly lower for heterosexual couples than for homosexual couples. For example, in the state of Massachusetts, "Lawrence v. Texas", the age of consent for heterosexual couples was as low as 13 (with parental approval) but was 18 for homosexual men.
Consequently, a number of gay rights groups opposed age-of-consent laws at the time of NAMBLA's founding. A "Gay Rights Platform" http://www.rslevinson.com/gaylesissues/features/collect/onetime/bl_platform1972.htm formed and adopted by about 200 gay activists at a convention in Chicago held by the National Coalition of Gay Organizations (NCGO), called for the "repeal of all laws governing the age of sexual consent" at the state level. (The NCGO, which was formed at the Chicago convention, primarily consisted of New York's Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), which was composed of many small gay activist groups organized mostly on college campuses throughout the U.S.). The GAA opposed age of consent laws and had hosted a forum on the topic in 1976. The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Rights Coalition also supported eliminating the existing age-of-consent laws.
The relative acceptance or indifference to opposition of the age-of-consent began to change at the same time as accusations that gays were child pornographers and child molesters became common. Judianne Densen-Gerber, founder of the New York drug rehabilitation center Odyssey House, argued that gays were responsible for child pornography. In 1977 former beauty queen Anita Bryant staked a similar position, starting the "Save Our Children" campaign. "The recruitment of our children," she argued, "is absolutely necessary for the survival and growth of homosexuality."
Bryant's campaign focusing on the alleged "recruitment" of boys by gay men succeeded in overturning a law that had protected civil rights for gays in Dade County, Florida. As a result, the age-of-consent issue became a hotly debated topic within the gay community, and disputes over the age of consent issue within and between gay rights groups -- many of which directly or indirectly involved NAMBLA -- began to occur on an increasingly frequent basis.
Disagreement was evident following the conference that organized the first gay march on Washington in 1979. In addition to forming several working committees, the conference was responsible for drafting the basic organizing principles of the march (the five demands http://www.rainbowhistory.org/mowprogram.pdf [see p. 23]). Originally, the Gay Youth Caucus had won approval for its proposal demanding Full Rights for Gay Youth, including revision of the age of consent laws. However at the first meeting of the National Coordinating Committee, a contingent of lesbians threatened not to participate in the march unless a substitute was adopted. The substitute, authored by an adult lesbian and approved in a mail poll by a majority of delegates, stated: Protect Lesbian and Gay Youth from any laws which are used to discriminate against, oppress, and/or harass them in their homes, schools, job and social environments.
In 1980 a group called the Lesbian Caucus Lesbian Gay Pride March Committee distributed a hand-out urging women to split from the annual New York City Gay Pride March because the organizing committee had supposedly been dominated by NAMBLA and its supporters. The next year, after some lesbians threatened to picket, the Cornell University gay group Gay PAC (Gay People at Cornell) rescinded its invitation to NAMBLA founder David Thorstad to be the keynote speaker at the annual May Gay Festival. And in the following years, gay rights groups attempted to block NAMBLAs participation in gay pride parades, prompting Harry Hay to wear a sign proclaiming NAMBLA walks with me as he participated in a 1986 gay pride march in Los Angeles.
Thus by the mid-1980s, NAMBLA was virtually alone in its positions and found itself politically isolated. Gay rights organizations, burdened by accusations of child recruitment and child abuse, had abandoned the radicalism of their early years and had "retreat[ed] from the idea of a more inclusive politics," opting instead to appeal more to the mainstream. Support for "groups perceived as being on the fringe of the gay community," such as NAMBLA, vanished in the process. Today almost all gay rights groups disavow any ties to NAMBLA, voice disapproval of its objectives, and attempt to prevent NAMBLA from having a role in gay and lesbian rights events.
The case of ILGA illustrates this opposition. In 1993, the International Lesbian and Gay Association, of which NAMBLA had been a member for a decade, achieved United Nations consultative status. NAMBLA's association with ILGA drew heavy criticism, and many gay organizations called for the ILGA to dissolve ties with NAMBLA. Republican Senator Jesse Helms proposed a bill to withhold $119 million in U.N. contributions until U. S. President Bill Clinton could certify that "no UN agency grants any official status, accreditation, or recognition to any organization which promotes, condones, or seeks the legalization of pedophilia, that is, the sexual abuse of children". The bill was unanimously approved by Congress and signed into law by Clinton in April 1994.
ILGA had passed a resolution in 1985 which stated that "young people have the right to sexual and social self-determination and that age of consent laws often operate to oppress and not to protect." In spite of this apparent agreement with NAMBLA on the age of consent issue just nine years before, ILGA, by a vote of 214-30 expelled NAMBLA and two other groups MARTIJN and Project Truth in early 1994 because they were judged to be "groups whose predominant aim is to support or promote pedophilia." Although ILGA removed NAMBLA, the U.N. reversed its decision to grant ILGA special consultative status. Repeated attempts by ILGA to reacquire special status with the U.N. have not been successful, but the group does exercise consultative status with the European Commission.
Gregory King of the Human Rights Campaign later said that "NAMBLA is not a gay organization ... They are not part of our community and we thoroughly reject their efforts to insinuate that pedophilia is an issue related to gay and lesbian civil rights." NAMBLA responded by claiming that "man/boy love is by definition homosexual," that "man/boy lovers are part of the gay movement and central to gay history and culture," and that "homosexuals denying that it is 'not gay' to be attracted to adolescent boys are just as ludicrous as heterosexuals saying it's 'not heterosexual' to be attracted to adolescent girls."
In 1994 the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) adopted a "Position Statement Regarding NAMBLA" saying GLAAD "deplores the North American Man Boy Love Association's (NAMBLA) goals, which include advocacy for sex between adult men and boys and the removal of legal protections for children. These goals constitute a form of child abuse and are repugnant to GLAAD." Also in 1994 the Board of Directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) adopted a resolution on NAMBLA that said: "NGLTF condemns all abuse of minors, both sexual and any other kind, perpetrated by adults. Accordingly, NGLTF condemns the organizational goals of NAMBLA and any other such organization."
Documents relating to the court case Curley v. NAMBLA and others provide further information on NAMBLA's structure and activities. In March 2003 Judge George O'Toole of the Massachusetts federal court found that in the 1990s (the period being considered by the court), NAMBLA was controlled by a national Steering Committee, "a group which purposefully directed NAMBLA's outreach activities generally."
The court documents also shed light on some of NAMBLA's activities, including that:
:"NAMBLA was established as an unincorporated association in 1978 to encourage public acceptance of consensual sexual relationships between men and boys. Its principal place of business is New York, and its primary mechanisms of public outreach include its Bulletin, a quarterly publication sent to dues-paying members... Gayme Magazine, a NAMBLA publication mailed periodically to dues-paying members and sold at some bookstores; a NAMBLA website... TOPICS, a series of booklets providing more focused consideration of issues related to "man-boy love"; a prison newsletter; Ariel's Pages, a NAMBLA project through which literature concerning "man-boy love" was sold; and membership conferences.
:"The Steering Committee, through several of its members, also formed "Zymurgy, Inc.," a Delaware corporation, which was operated as a profit-making arm of NAMBLA. Although the defendants describe the Bulletin, Gayme Magazine, Ariel's Pages, and Zymurgy, Inc. as separate and distinct from NAMBLA, it appears from the materials submitted, including minutes of Steering Committee meetings, that the Steering Committee controlled all of these entities, providing monies to initiate and support various projects and freely transferring funds among them."
:"In addition to managing NAMBLA's financial matters, the Steering Committee also directed the association's policy, political, legal, and public relations efforts. Steering Committee members held frequent meetings and retreats during which they discussed NAMBLA's public image, formulated the association's outreach efforts, and nominated spokespersons. Members of the Steering Committee in close coordination with each other, created and maintained NAMBLA's website, and wrote, marketed, sold, and otherwise disseminated a variety of publications. Working in Massachusetts, William Andriette served as the editor of the Bulletin and Gayme Magazine. He did not act alone but rather under the supervision of the Steering Committee in producing these publications and in holding himself out as a NAMBLA spokesman.
:"In addition to the financial support and supervision provided by the full Steering Committee, the content of the Bulletin was guided by the "Bulletin Collective," an editorial board comprised of NAMBLA members from across the country who contributed and edited articles, screened photos and pictures, and participated in coordinating the production and distribution of the publication."
Judge O'Toole found that Dennis Bejin Joe Power, David Thorstad, David Miller (also known as David Menasco), Peter Melzer (also known as Peter Herman), Arnold Schoen (also known as Floyd Conaway), Dennis Mintun, Chris Farrell, Tim Bloomquist, Tecumseh Brown, Gary Hann, Peter Reed, Robert Schwartz, Walter Bieder and Leyland Stevenson were or had been members of the NAMBLA Steering Committee or had held other leading positions in the organization.
(The full text of these documents can be seen here.)
More recently, media reports have suggested that for practical purposes the group no longer exists and that it consists only of a web site maintained by a few enthusiasts. NAMBLA maintains a web site at http://www.nambla.org that shows addresses in New York and San Francisco and a phone contact in New York, and offers publications for sale, including the NAMBLA Bulletin.
NAMBLA is identified as a lobby group in Jon Stewart's America: The Book A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction (2004), and is also alluded to on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, often tagged on to an existing lobby group's acronym for the parody.
Gay groups, Christian groups, anti-sexual abuse organizations, law enforcement agencies and other critics see NAMBLA as a front for the criminal sexual exploitation of children. They say NAMBLA functions as a meeting place for male pedophiles and pederasts and their sympathizers. A number of alleged NAMBLA members have been charged with and convicted of sexual offenses against children.
Onell R. Soto, a San Diego Union-Tribune writer, wrote in February 2005: "Law enforcement officials and mental health professionals say that while NAMBLA's membership numbers are small, the group has a dangerous ripple effect through the Internet by sanctioning the behavior of those who would abuse children." http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20050217-2208-manboy-daily.html
Suspicion pertaining to the group's activities led both the U.S. Senate and U.S. Postal Service to conduct investigations of the group, both of which concluded without allegations of legal impropriety.
NAMBLA responds to the criticism that it is a "front for criminal and sexual exploitation of children" and that it advocates sex between men and boys by stating unequivocally that "NAMBLA does not engage in any activities that violate the law, nor do we advocate that anyone else should do so". Since sex between adults and minors is illegal, it is presumably included in NAMBLA's avoidance of advocating activities that violate the law.
NAMBLA rejects the widely held view that sex between adults and minors is always harmful, arguing that "the outcomes of personal experiences between adults and younger people primarily depend upon whether their relationships were consensual,". In support of this position NAMBLA cites research such as A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples, which was published in the Psychological Bulletin in 1998. NAMBLA devoted a web page to a brief overview of the study under the heading "The Good News About Man/Boy Love," and claimed the study showed, "On average, nearly 70% of males in the studies reported that as children or adolescents their sexual experiences with adults had been positive or neutral."
http://web.archive.org/web/19981205120531/www.nambla.org/metaanalysis.htm Some researchers dispute the findings of the meta-analysis http://www.ipce.info/ipceweb/Library/rbt_files.htm
Gay rights groups opposed to NAMBLA contend that their reason for disavowing NAMBLA has always been their sharing of the general public's disdain for pedophilia and child sexual abuse (as expressed in issues statements). These gay rights groups reject NAMBLA's claims of an analogy between the campaign for gay and lesbian equality and the abolition of age-of-consent laws, and view NAMBLA's rhetoric about "the sexual rights of youth" as a cover for its members' "real agenda".
Radicals like Pat Califia http://www.ipce.info/ipceweb/Library/califa_aftermath_frame.htm argue that politics played an important role in the gay community's rejection of NAMBLA. Califia says that although the gay rights mainstream never committed itself to NAMBLA or its platform, neither did it actively ostracise NAMBLA until opponents of gay rights used the group to link gay rights with child abuse and "recruitment." As evidence, subscribers to this theory point to statements made by prominent gay activists which contain political assessments of NAMBLA's impact on gay rights. One such statement was made by gay rights lobbyist Steve Endean. Endean, who opposed NAMBLA, said: "What NAMBLA is doing is tearing apart the movement. If you attach it [the man/boy love issue] to gay rights, gay rights will never happen." Gay author and activist Edmund White made a similar statement in his book States of Desire: "That's the politics of self-indulgence. Our movement cannot survive the man-boy issue. It's not a question of who's right, it's a matter of political naivete."
Some conservative Christians in the United States have used NAMBLA to attack gays in general. With the outbreak of the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal in 2002, this practice intensified. Critics of such organizations have pointed to statistics from national professional associations, such as the American Psychological Association and the Child Welfare League of America, which indicate that there is no correlation between homosexuality and child abuse.
Although NAMBLA itself has never been prosecuted, there have been a number of prosecutions of alleged NAMBLA members for sexual offences involving children or adolescents. The most recent of these cases involved a number of men arrested by the FBI in Los Angeles and San Diego in February 2005. Seven men were charged with planning to travel to Mexico to have sex with boys, the FBI said. An eighth man was charged with distributing child pornography.
According to a media report http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20050217-2208-manboy-daily.html, the FBI believes that at least one of the arrested men is a member of NAMBLA's national leadership, a second organized the group's national convention last year and a third said he had been a member since the 1980s.
Brief of amicus curae of Bill Wood and Joseph Ureneck for Massachusetts Senate Bill 2175
Gamson, Joshua. 1997. Messages of Exclusion: Gender, Movements, and Symbolic Boundaries. Gender and Society 11(2):178-199.
The Curleys v NAMBLA and others
Johnson, Matthew D. 2004. NAMBLA. An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture.
Thorstad, David. "Man/Boy Love and the American Gay Movement," Journal of Homosexuality 20 (1990): 251-274.
- Art Cohen, "The Boston-Boise Affair, 1977-78", Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, Vol. 10, No. 2. March-April, 2003.
- Benoit Denizet-Lewis, "Boy Crazy: NAMBLA: The Story of a Lost Cause," Boston Magazine
- John Mitzel, The Boston Sex Scandal, Boston, Glad Day Books, 1981
- http://www.nambla.org/ Home page of NAMBLA
- http://www.lib.neu.edu/archives/voices/gl_sexual2.htm Gay Community Responds to Revere
- http://www.qrd.org/qrd/orgs/NAMBLA/ NAMBLA-related Documents on the Queer Resources Directory - http://www.bostonmagazine.com/ArticleDisplay.php?id=27&print=yes
Boston Magazine: Boy Crazy] A history of NAMBLA, May 2001 - http://www.thecpac.com/Curleys-v-NAMBLA.html The Curleys v NAMBLA and others
- http://www.cnn.com/2001/LAW/01/08/nambla.suit.crim/ CNN: Parents of murdered child sue child-sex advocates January 8, 2001 - http://www.stcynic.com/blog/archives/2003/12/the_aclu_and_th.php
BLOG: Dispatches from the Culture Wars: The ACLU and the NAMBLA Case] December 22, 2003
- http://www.aclu-mass.org/legal/docket_2003-2004.asp ACLU of Massachusetts :LEGAL DOCKET 2003- 2004: Summary of their defense of NAMBLA
- http://www.columbia.edu/cu/thefed/v3/volume20/4/nambla.shtml The Fed goes to a NAMBLA meeting: Category:Pedophile organizations Category:LGBT organizations Category:United States organizations
Russian Organized Crime
Practicing law under the name LOUIS J. POSNER, P.C. at 305 Madison Avenue & the Lincoln Building at 60 East 42nd Street “Big Lou” lists substantial experience as a debtor and creditor lawyer in bankruptcy courts including bankruptcy appellate practice.
According to The Daily News, many of the hookers were Russian women forced to work as prostitutes to pay off debts to their “handlers”, a process otherwise known among women’s rights advocates as sex industry slavery.
I thought we had some pretty serious laws against transporting women across state lines (and international trafficking) for prostitution. Consider the Mann Act which now confronts Posner’s pimpin’ cousins in crime Eliot Spitzer and Mark Brener. But Posner appears caught in an extremely serious level of organized crime: money laundering, operating a fake charity, tax fraud, slavery, and so forth - that’s got to be a life sentence. There are only two ways out for someone in Posner’s shoes: the perp has to hope that the chief prosecutor deems his victims race ethnicity to be so low that they are unworthy of justice and the corrupt official lets it slide, or or the perp cuts a deal and rats out a bigger catch for the officials to parade in a prosecution.
Let’s try to forget the salacious details involving Posner’s expensive manhattan strip club with the private rooms available for $5,000 and up and remember that we are talking about a bankruptcy lawyer. The bankruptcy industry is not merely a bunch of slimely lawyers who have organized crime members and corrupt hedge funds as clients. Posner’s outing is indicative of the “shocking” notion that the bankruptcy industry consists of organized crime operators who also hold law degrees.
Did anyone ever get some hard facts about the “mysterious” death of Lou Tersigni? No matter.
Remember this: Posner has been considered an honorable officer of the court, recognized to appear before Federal Bankruptcy Judges and by law his statements before a bankruptcy judge are automatically deemed true while statements by “ordinary” business people are not accorded such authority.
Proven Link Between Prostitution Ring and Bankruptcy Law Firm
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is Eliot Spitzer, the Federal prosecutor and New York’s Attorney general whose duty was to enforce the laws. BankruptcyMisconduct.com reported back in 2006 via an AP press release delivered to every periodical in the nation which covered the legal services industry that Eliot Spitzer was corrupt and was protecting those persons involved with the death threat against the whistle-blower to bankruptcy ring corruption in the largest bankruptcy, fee fest, and hedge fund scandal in history called Worldcom.
Subsequently, all other citizens have learned that Eliot Spitzer abused prosecutorial discretion all those many years during which he actually did business with organized crime. In fact, the prostitution ring operators held career ending dirt on Eliot Spitzer and thus held de facto immunity for all of their criminal operations.
Some main stream media disparaged our linkage between prostitution rings and bankruptcy rings. Of course, Lou Posner was never arrested when Eliot Spitzer was in power. Upon information and belief, Posner was never even investigated under Spitzer. Did Posner’s having dirt on Spitzer after providing the Governor pervert with prostitutes enable Posner to operate free of criminal consequences for so long? How many crimes related to bankruptcy proceedings was Posner involved with under the protection of Eliot Spitzer? How many other criminal enterprises were protected by Spitzer? Only a Federal Special Prosecutor can answer that question for us.
Judging by the lack of action against certain elements of organized crime by the DOJ and other law enforcement entities controlled by corrupt officials such as Eliot Spitzer, there is simply no such thing as a Russian mafia, there is only an Italian mafia. The fact that Moscow is now rated the most expensive city in the world and has the highest concentration of new money billionaires has absolutely nothing to do with the coincidental failures of our DOJ to prosecute organized crime in America when perpetrated by race and ethnicities other than Italian Americans. That Mukasey is Russian is only a coincidence.
Tidbit, in Russian Chertoff = Devil
N-i-c-e work. Thanks.
I’m waiting for Enron to show up in all of these. I remember a tidbit that came out about them bringing clients to high priced strip clubs.
Funny how things go in circles.
Another excellent dig for the facts.
He could use the George Burns defense:
“At my age they are all younger”...
relates to this thread on ACORN
It goes much deeper than that too.
ACORN is affiliated with Voter March and No Blood For Oil.
Those groups were headed by Lawyers and IRS Certified Tax Agents that were funneling monies from Brothels with International affiliates.
That encompasses prostitution, human trafficking, illegal aliens, minors money laundering, extortion and drugs.
These brothels also ran *activisms* through Premium Events. Hello, Code Pink??!!
74 posted on Tuesday, September 30, 2008 1:14:51 PM by Calpernia
Mattachine: Radical Roots of Gay Liberation
You can’t hardly separate homosexuals from subversives ... A man of low morality is a menace to the government, whatever he is, and they are all tied up together. Senator Wherry in New York Post, 1950
It may come as a surprise that the gay movement not only began in the 1950s, but that its founders were former communists and radicals. Harry Hay, who wrote the first call for a gay movement in 1948, had been a party member for 20 years, active in labor organizing and cultural work. The fact that these organizers had already spent most of their lives outside the mainstream no doubt prepared them for the risks involved in forming a gay organization.
The modern gay movement in America began in Los Angeles, a city that symbolized the mobile, affluent lifestyle of Americans after the War. The Mattachine Foundation (to be distinguished from the post-1953 Mattachine Society) was formed in the winter of 1950 by a group of seven gay men gathered together by Hay. The name refers to the medieval Mattachines, troupes of men who traveled from village to village, taking up the cause of social justice in their ballads and dramas. By sharing and analyzing their personal experience as gay men, the Mattachine founders radically redefined the meaning of being gay and devised a comprehensive program for cultural and political liberation.
In 1951, Mattachine began sponsoring discussion groups. Years before women’s consciousness-raising groups, Mattachine provided lesbians and gay men a similar opportunity to share openly, for the first time, their feelings and experiences.
The meetings were emotional and cathartic. From 1950 to 1953 attendance snowballed. Soon discussion groups were meeting throughout California. As Dorr Legg described it, The thing was growing. Never was there a mass movement in America like it. There were tens of thousands of people in the L.A. area involved with it.... You could go to a Mattachine meeting every night of every week, year in and out. Groups began to sponsor social events, fundraisers, newsletters, and publications.
In April 1951, Mattachine adopted a Statement of Missions and Purposes. This encompassing vision of gay liberation stands out in the history of the movement because it incorporated two important themes. First, Mattachine called for a grassroots movement of gay people to challenge anti-gay discrimination. At the same time, the organization recognized the importance of building community: Mattachine holds it possible and desirable that a highly ethical homosexual culture emerge, as a consequence of its work, paralleling the emerging cultures of our fellow-minorities . . . the Negro, Mexican, and Jewish peoples.
This ideal of a gay cultural and political community with a unique place in democratic society linked Mattachine to Whitman’s vision of a hundred years earlier.
The discussion groups proved effective in building gay consciousness. In 1952, the Mattachine founders pushed forward into political action. That spring, when one of the original members of the group was entrapped by the Los Angeles vice squad, Mattachine decided to mobilize the community and challenge the case in court.
Under the auspices of the Citizen’s Committee to Outlaw Entrapment, Mattachine hired a lawyer, raised funds, published newsletters, and distributed leaflets. When the jury was unable to reach a verdictand the case was dismissed Mattachine claimed victory. An acknowledged homosexual had beaten the vice squad and been acquitted in court!
Encouraged by this success, Mattachine took an even bolder step the following year. In 1953, the group sent questionnaires to local political candidates, asking them to state their positions on gay rights issues.
In March, a local newspaper columnist wrote an article about this strange new pressure group, noting that Mattachine’s lawyer had been unfriendly when he appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Of course, at this time McCarthy’s anti-communist witch hunt was at its peak.
The article set off a panic among Mattachine members, who were horrified at the thought of their activities being linked to communism. In the controversy that followed, two conventions were held and opposing sides took shape. These conventions were unprecedented public meetings of gay people, attended by delegates representing hundreds of discussion group participants.
Conservative delegates questioned the organization’s stated goals, challenging the idea that gay people were a minority. They claimed such an approach would only encourage hostility. Mattachine board members, however, argued that we must disenthrall ourselves of the idea that we differ only in our sexual directions and that all we want or need in life is to be free to seek the expression of our sexual desires.
While efforts to adopt anti-communist resolutions failed at the conventions, the original leadership was shaken. They, too, feared the consequences of a government investigation of Mattachine activities, which would expose the identity of members and destroy the movement. So, in May 1953, the founders resigned, turning the movement over to the conservatives.
Unfortunately, the new leadership shared none of the vision or experience of the original founders. They drastically revised the goals of the organization, backtracking in every area. Instead of social change, they advocated accommodation. Instead of mobilizing gay people, they sought the support of professionals, who they believed held the key to reform. They stated, We do not advocate a homosexual culture or community, and we believe none exists.
The results were devastating. Discussion group attendance fell and groups folded. The small core of members that remained, in San Francisco and other cities, invited psychiatrists to speak to them and sat patiently through the homophobic diatribes of these experts, to prove their impartiality. As Barbara Gittings said, At first we were so grateful just to have people anybodypay attention to us that we listened to everything they said, no matter how bad it was.... It was essential for us to go through this before we could arrive at what we now consider our much more sensible attitudes.
— Will Roscoe
August 17, 2005
Contact: Gail Stewart
For Immediate Release (619) 531-3790
Former Carter Administration Official Joins DAs Office
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis has announced that former Assistant to President Jimmy Carter, Midge Costanza, has joined the DAs Office as a Public Affairs Officer.
Our office and the San Diego community are fortunate to have someone with the credentials, experience and background that Midge brings to the job, DA Dumanis said. Her public service has been characterized by a strong social conscience and unwavering support of human rights and civil rights issues.
Costanza made history when she was the first woman named Assistant to the President by Jimmy Carter in 1976. She was a liaison between the President and groups that had previously been given only limited access to the executive branch of the U.S. government. Those groups included youth, women, seniors, veterans, minorities and the handicapped. California Governor Gray Davis appointed Costanza as Special Assistant to the Governor in 2000, serving as a liaison for womens groups and issues. She often traveled throughout the state speaking on his behalf. In the early 1970s, Costanza was the first woman elected to the Rochester, NY city council.
Costanza will be assigned to the Communications and Community Relations Division, with an emphasis on crime prevention. As an Elder Abuse advocate, Costanza will be helping to educate seniors throughout the county how to protect themselves against elder abuse. She will also be working with financial institutions on identity theft deterrence. Her contribution in the areas of elder abuse and identify theft prevention will contribute greatly to our number one priority of public safety.
Midge will be a welcome addition to our team, DA Dumanis said. I look forward to working with her in making San Diego County a better place.
# # #
Who is Margaret ("Midge") Costanza?
- 1976 New Yorks Vice-Mayor, Margaret Midge Costanza
- 2000 Special Assistant to California Governor Gray Davis
Harry Hay, working on the Henry Wallace presidential campaign, wrote a startling document, declaring homosexuals an oppressed minority. While the idea is widely accepted today, at the time the notion of homosexuals as a minority was considered absurd. But it was this key concept that would eventually bring the gay and lesbian rights movement together.
Harry's platform for the Wallace campaign was never voted on, but he remained determined to organize homosexuals to fight for their equal rights. Two years later, he met Rudi Gernreich (who would later go on to become a noted fashion designer)[more on Rudi Gernreich at link on this post: post 90 and listing in Henry Hay's obituary post 91] and together they canvassed beaches in the Los Angeles area known as homosexual gathering places, inviting people to a discussion group about the just released Kinsey Report. In November 1950, Harry showed the plank written for the Wallace campaign to Bob Hull, a student in his Southern California Labor School class. Bob shared the document with two of his friends, Chuck Rowland and Dale Jennings, and on November 11, 1950, the five met for the first time to discuss forming a political group that would later become the Mattachine Society. All of the founding members identified themselves as leftist.
Given the fearful political climate, Mattachine Society meetings often took place in secret with members using aliases. Like the Communist Party, the organization was organized in a cell structure that was non-centralized so that should a confiscation of records occur only limited information would be available to the authorities. In 1951 the group of five was joined by two other members, Konrad Stevens and James Gruber, and together the created the Mattachine Society Missions and Purposes statement and held their first conference. Given the risk that homosexuals presented the to Communist Party, Hay resigned from the Party in that same year.
Over the course of the next two years, the Mattachine Society worked to organize and increase regional chapters throughout most of Southern California, but it was not until the arrest of member Dale Jennings on police entrapment charges that the Mattachine Society took on its first political battle. Police entrapment was a common form of harassment against homosexuals during that period. Suspects' names were printed in the newspapers, which caused many to lose their jobs and become estranged from their families. By standing up to defend Jennings, the Mattachine Society not only rose to the defense of one of their members, but also took on the notorious Los Angeles Police Department for its pattern and practice of homosexual harassment.
Jennings charges were dismissed due to the judge catching the arresting officers in a lie. This victory was not reported in the papers, but the Mattachine Society took it upon themselves to publicize the vent through flyers distributed throughout Los Angeles to areas where homosexuals met. The result was a swelling of attendance at Mattachine Society meetings. But the newcomers, nervous about the founders ties to leftist political causes, called for a statewide conventions. On the last day of the conference the original Mattachine founders (Hay, Rowland, Hull, Jennings, Stevens, Gruber) resigned due to political differences with the new membership.
The Mattachine Society grew into a national movement, and in conjunction with a lesbian organization, the Daughters of Bilitis, became the above ground civil rights organizations for gays and lesbians until the Stonewall riot in 1969. The final Mattachine Society office closed in the 1980s.
I’m sure this was pinged out when you posted it (maybe not!) but I will ping it out again later.
Ping regarding the Stone wall Veterans Association, for which Rudy attended board meetings.
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