Harry made the following statement to a press conference on June 24, 1994, in the former Stonewall Inn on Sheridan Square in New York, site of the riots that launched the modern gay movement in June 1969. The press conference was called to announce the Spirit of Stonewall (SOS) contingent in the Stonewall 25 march two days later. It was moderated by SOS co-organizer and indefatigable activist Bill Dobbs. Other participants were Christine Martin, sex educator and documentary filmmaker; Glenda Orgasm (aka Glenn Belverio), drag queen activist and filmmaker; Scott O�Hara, editor and publisher of Steam magazine; Val Langmuir of Feminists Against Censorship (London); Julia Smedley, member of Stonewall Now; and Charley Shively of Fag Rag and professor of American Studies at the University of Massachusetts.
This statement was transcribed from a videotape of the press conference. A much shorter version�which omits any mention of NAMBLA or SOS, as well as the entire last half of the statement and the first paragraph�appeared in Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the Words of Its Founder Harry Hay, ed. Will Roscoe (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996), p. 303. These omissions seem odd in view of the fact that Harry read from a written text. The truncated version also used capital letters for words such as �Brothers and Sisters� and �Queers,� a convention that is not followed here since this complete version is not based on a written text.
Sir Julian Huxley, the great English biologist, said, at the beginning of this century, no negative trait�and, as you know, a negative trait is one that does not reproduce itself�no negative trait ever appears, and reappears, millennia after millennia after millennia, unless it in some way serves the survival of that species. We gays and lesbians may embody, or have discovered, some things that you folks desperately need to know about.
I�m here today as a survivor, as well as the founder of the first ongoing gay organization in the United States, the Mattachine Society, first formed in 1950 in Los Angeles, and now, naturally, a member of SOS, the Spirit of Stonewall, because things we discovered about ourselves and principles we developed in 1950 to �53 are now being trashed by queers who don�t know their own history, all over the place.
We decided from the beginning that, first, because we were still discovering our parameters, we wouldn�t censure each other. If people like NAMBLA self-identify themselves to me as gays and lesbians, I accept them as brothers and sisters with love.
Second, when we decided to rejoin the social or political mainstream again, we would integrate as the group we saw ourselves to be, complete with our own set of values, or we would not integrate at all.
And third, we would no longer permit any heteros�nationally or internationally, individually or collectively�to tell us who we are, what persons our groups should or should not consist of. We assert our right to self-determination, we assert our right to collective self-definition. We queers will decide for ourselves who our members should be.
Members of SOS, notably NAMBLA, have been accused of child molestation. Insofar as child molestation is concerned, the most common form is the sexual coercion by which gay and lesbian children are bedeviled into hetero identities and behaviors. And this is practiced daily by the whole national and international hetero community�parents, family, teachers, preachers, doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs, not to overlook U.S. senators and pooh-bah media.
This outrageous coercion of gay kids into hetero identities and behaviors against their wills is not only sexually abusive, it is spiritually devastating rape, because the child unbeknowingly is being led into developing self-loathing at the same time. For this gigantic criminal trespass against not only today�s children but against all of us also�all of us�since childhood, from the queers my age of 82 down through all the generations of queers assembled here in New York, to the gay kids still being bedeviled by sexual coercion against their wills, we the international gay and lesbian people here this week should unite to sue the whole guilty heterosexual community lock, stock, and barrel to within an inch of their lives, and for every nickel they�ve got, as a beginning of compensation. And while we�re at it, we should request our first-class citizenship as well. This could be the class-action suit of the century.
So those who insisted Rudy "saw the light" after 9-11 and wasn't so pro-homosexual, well... this certainly disputes that.
HARRY HAYon MAN/BOY LOVE by David Thorstad
The speeches that Harry Hay made at meetings in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the 1980s and in New York in June 1994 during Stonewall 25, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that launched the modern-day gay liberation movement, are published here for the first time.
Harry, founder in 1950 of the first American gay group to survive, the Mattachine Society, cofounder of the Gay Liberation Front, Southern California chapter, in 1969, cofounder of the Radical Faeries in 1979, father of the U.S. gay movement, and grandfatherly icon of gay liberation, died on October 24, 2002, at the age of ninety. Harry was a vocal and courageous supporter of NAMBLA and intergenerational sexual relationships, though since his death many of the assimilationists in the gay and lesbian movement, including its most prominent organizations, have already sought to erase that part of his radicalism (not to mention his Communist roots and vocal critiques of their own accommodationist approach to the powers that be). In order to bring truth to the record, I have transcribed these comments.
I first met Harry in early 1983, at the time of the first of these speeches. I was introduced to him and his lovelyI almost said saintlycompanion, John Burnside, a lovable gay man if ever there was one, by lesbian activist, self-professed witch, and sometime weed partner Katherine Davenport, a mutual friend and journalist for the New York Native. I knew about Harrys past as a Communist and labor activist, as well as the central role he had played in efforts to launch a gay movement in the dreary, conformist 1950sa time when homosexuality was still totally medicalized as a sickness or excoriated as a satanic perversion. I also knew that he had developed a philosophy of same-sex love that seemed inspired by the writings of Edward Carpenter, though without the explicit intermediate sex or third sex baggage, yet retaining a hint of the idea that gay men were destined to lead society to a higher level of sexual freedom and social justice.
When I was president of New Yorks Gay Activists Alliance in 1975, we received a letter from Harry from Taos, where he was then living, in which he expounded his ideas, with lots of capital letters and, to me, rather strange formulations. I was excited, because I hadnt realized that he was still alive, since he had remained largely silent so far as gay issues were concerned since he was driven out of Mattachine for his radicalism. So when I met him in 1983, I prepared a lavish turkey dinner for him, John, and Katherine.
From then on, I considered him a friend. I was lucky to have spent more time with him than I could have hoped for, yet far less than I would have likedat Phil Willkies Wisconsin cabin and his St. Paul apartment; at the Stonewall 25 demonstration in New York in 1994, where Harry and John, as well as the late Jim Kepner (another early member of the Mattachine Society and a gay archivist) marched with the Spirit of Stonewall contingent that included NAMBLA; and at the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) conference in New York that same week, which expelled NAMBLA (despite Harrys vocal protests and subsequent disgust) under pressure from U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, the Clinton administration, gay congressman Barney Frank, and the gay and lesbian assimilationist organizations; at his and Johns apartment in San Francisco; at a Faerie event in Stuyvesant Square Park in New York; at several NAMBLA conferences
When I learned last September that Harry had inoperable cancer and only weeks to live, I wrote him a card that ended with a thought that expresses an appreciation for his life that I am sure many others would share: You are leaving the world an unforgettable legacy, and will be an eternal part of our gay Pantheon, along with Ulrichs, Carpenter, and Whitman.
Of course, Harry stood for much more than the comments published here. But these views were also important to him, as his moving expressions of love for Matt, the man in his life as a boy, make clear. Wherever he is, I thank him for them, and offer them to posterity.