Every Elder Lost is a Library Lost…

Teal G. Donn Teal, one of the founders of the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) organization in late 1969, died February 3, 2009 after a long illness. He was 76 years old.

 

On February 23rd 1969, his pro-Gay New York Times article, "Why Can't 'We' Love Happily Ever After, Too?" appeared: a protest against the "doomed misfit/sinner" stereotype of American Gay men and lesbians in film, on stage, and in literature. The article provoked great response, and was followed on June 1st by "Why Record Homosexual Anguish?", a Times review of A&M Records' original-cast recording of Mart Crowley's play "The Boys in the Band."

More importantly, he wrote the first history of the Gay liberation movement, "The Gay Militants" (Stein & The Militant Homosexual Day, 1971; St. Martin's Press, 1995), as well as articles in The Advocate, Ovation, Musical America, and other magazine and newspapers, notably the Village Voice, in which appeared "Straight Father, Gay Son: A Memoir of Reconciliation" on June 26, 1978; the article was later republished under Mr. Teal's nom de plume, Roger Forsythe, in Ralph Keyes' 1992 collection for HarperCollins, Sons on Fathers.

Historian David Carter adds: Donn's closest friends, Trumbull Rogers and Randy Wicker, the early homophile movement militant, asked me to make the above material available to the media. I volunteered to use whatever media was available when they remarked to me that he and Randy would arrange a memorial service for Donn "although only seven people will show up."  

I volunteered to do this, because I regard Teal's book, The Gay Militants, as one of the most important works of LGBT history and I did not want Donn's passing to be noted by only a handful of people. As the author of The Stonewall Riots I have always said that the Stonewall Riots are important only because they gave birth to the Gay liberation movement, just as the fall of the Bastille is important because it led to the French Revolution. If that book was about the spark that set things off, then Donn's was about something immeasurably more important: the revolution itself. And a damn fine history it was, written by Donn, who went to all the meetings he reported about in the book, allowing the book to be both highly accurate, have a wealth of detail and be told with an immediacy that makes it gripping to read. Unfortunately the book has been rather forgotten except by scholars. Anyone who has an interest in Gay history should — no…rather he or she must read this book.

 

Donn was one of the co-founders of the Gay Activist Alliance (GAA), the organization that was the main exemplar of that revolution, and, unfortunately today too many people have forgotten about GAA, Donn was so modest that not many people ever thought of him as a founder of GAA, but he was one of the original 13 wo started it in December of 1969. 

 

Let us remember, then, that this is year is not only the 40th anniversary of the birth of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and of the Gay Activist Alliance and hence of the Gay liberation movement, that critical phase of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender civil rights movement that put us on the map for all time. 

 

Donn Teal was born in Columbus, Ohio.

 

Also: The Oscar Wilde Bookstore has announced that, under the strains of the current economy, it is closing its doors. The Oscar Wilde Bookstore first opened in 1967. OscarWildeoutside

One thought on “Every Elder Lost is a Library Lost…”

  1. Donn Teal’s “The Gay Militants” was one of the first books I read as I was coming out, along with Pete Fisher’s “The Gay Mystique” and Jack Nichols’s and Lige Clarke’s “I Have More Fun With You Than Anybody.” In “The Gay Militants,” Teal quoted extensively from ephemeral movement material that is now long lost or very hard to find. His is still the definitive account of the GLBT movement during its post-Stonewall “heroic age.”

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