Category Archives: Ancestors

Defend Harry Hay’s Reputation at the National Equality March

As thousands of LGBT activists prepare to march on Washington, Harry Hay, one of the most important and beloved founders of the modern gay movement, is being used by right wing extremists as a bogeyman to destroy the career of Kevin Jennings, the Obama Administration's highly qualified Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. 
Most recently Sean Hannity has mounted the
Harry Hay is being branded as a pederast and anyone who has ever spoken praise of Harry is being condemned as a supporter of pederasty. 
As one of the six heirs to the Estate of Harry Hay and John Burnside, I feel it incumbent upon myself to defend his reputation against the attacks that have become a staple of those members of the right-wing establishment who are bent on destabilizing the Obama Adminstration and destroying the careers of members of his administration through guilt by association. 

Let us make it clear: 



Harry n John - LaCresta - Timmons His defense of the organization at several points in his 90-year history of speaking truth to power was based on his experiences as a young teenager exploring the world of sexuality with older men, himself being the aggressor. These experiences were very positive for the young Harry and are described in Stuart Timmons’ excellent biography, The Trouble With Harry Hay. There are no records of the adult Mr. Hay ever having had sexual relations with under-aged youth. It is also innacurate to say, as it is frequently written, that NAMBLA promotes the “legalization of sexual abuse of young boys by older men.” Hay agreed with NAMBLA that in many cases initiation into sexuality, as has been the case across cultures and millenia, is better suited to those with experience than with other youth who also have no knowledge of the complexities and responsibilities of sexuality. Hay also concurred with NAMBLA that age of consent laws are out of step with the age of sexual awakening and exploration. Harry Hay’s ideas concerning youth and sexuality were based on his desire to protect youth, not to exploit and abuse them. 
The second instance of his defense of NAMBLA was in 1994 at Stonewall 25: Spirit of Stonewall March in New York City. ILGA, the International Lesbian and Gay Association had been granted NGO status by the UN theprevious year. As a result, the US Senate unanimously passed a motion sponsored by the right-wing senator Jesse Helms that the USA would withhold funds of more than 118 million dollars due to the UN and its sub-organizations unless the President of the USA could certify to the Congress that no agency of the United Nations "grants any official status, accreditation or recognition to any organization which promotes, condones or seeks the legalization of pedophilia or which includes as a subsidiary or member any such organization." On June 23, the week of the march, NAMBLA was expelled from ILGA, on the motion of the executive committee, and it was decided that "groups or associations whose predominant aim is to support or promote pedophilia are incompatible with the future development of ILGA." Hay felt that if the emerging gay movement allowed the outside to define it, outside forces would then control it. It was in this context that Hay was critical of ILGA’s position and stood in defense of NAMBLA. We again stand at a similar crossroads. 
It is morally and intellectually dishonest and patently false to reduce the life and work of Harry Hay to one of pederasty. He was a courageous hero who pioneered the movement for the equal rights of an entire class of people denied the basic civil rights guaranteed to them under the Constitution of the United States of America. A Dutch friend who spent some of his youth in a Japanese Concentration Camp in Indonesia told me recently that if Americans remain silent at this critical juncture in our history we will live to regret it. 
Speak out. Defend the reputation of our beloved Harry Hay. 
Bo and Cove Robert Croonquist aka Covelo 
(Seen on the left with friend, and White Crane publisher, Bo Young, right.)

Looking for a Map

Our friend, White Crane contributor, and author of Stonewall: The Riot That Sparked The Gay Revolution, David Carter sends this…

Dear Friends, The first rough cut of the full-length PBS film on the Stonewall Riots — now one and a half hours longStonewallHRDCVR — is close to being assembled and we are looking for era maps of Greenwich Village to use in the film. 

I will make inquiries at the usual and obvious archives and collections, but we all know that one can't assume that one will find the best such map in any one collection … and that any friend who either lived in New York at the time or has moved here since and who loves the Village might have a much better map than even New York's most famous archives might own: so if any of you happen to own a map that was made in the late 1960s or early 1970s of Greenwich Village, especially one that is detailed or features the area around the Stonewall Inn, and you would be happy to share it with the world in an American Experience documentary … please let me know.  The filmmakers are on deadline for submission of the rough cut to a film festival and need a PDF of such a map ASAP … they'd like to receive the PDF this coming week if possible.

If you have a map that they can use and can help, please contact David at or the editors at White Crane at

Gay: A recent history…from Arthur Evans

Whatever happened to the word “Gay”? If you go down to the Community Center on Market Street in San Francisco, you’ll have to look long and hard until you find it. Likewise if you visit the Historical Center on Castro Street. Not to mention that it fell out of the term “Pride Week” a long time ago.

The situation reminds me of the pre-Stonewall era. Many in our community in those days were embarrassed by the word. They balked when new groups appeared calling themselves the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. But these were the groups that triggered the Gay revolution.

Rainbow Flag After Stonewall, politicians eventually deigned to talk to us, but some still choked on the word “Gay.” I remember how this reticence infuriated Chris Perry, a founder of the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club.

In the late 1970s, Chris got the club to go after Quentin Kopp, a local politician, because he couldn’t bring himself to utter the word in public. Ironically, that group today calls itself the San Francisco LGBT Democratic Club. The word has shrunk to a letter, and in second place.

The taboo on the word “Gay” developed because lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people saw the word as referring only to homosexual males. However, such a limitation was never intended. In effect, we let the popular media take a word away from us and redefine it for their own purposes, diminishing us all in the process.

Ganymede - Rubens Some academicians have added to the problem. They claim that the word with its present double meaning of both cheerful and homosexual doesn’t go back before the 19th century. Apparently, they never heard of the myth of Ganymede, the beloved of Zeus. In ancient Greek, the word “Ganymede” (Ganumedes) means both cheerful and homosexual, just like our word “Gay.” Both words come from a common Indo-European root (ga-).

The word “queer,” which has supplanted “Gay” in some quarters, is an insult. It means odd or unnatural. But there is nothing odd or unnatural about being Gay. Homophobia is the thing that’s odd and unnatural.

I acknowledge the right of other people to call themselves GLBT, or G, or queer, if they want to. But please don’t dump any those terms on me. I’m still Gay and proud.

Yours for gay liberation, Arthur Evans

Remembering Stonewall – Arthur Evans

We got a nice note from our friend, philosopher, playwright and rabblerouser, Arthur Evans:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Stonewall Riot, which initiated the modern phase of the gay liberation movement, occurred at a Manhattan gay bar forty years ago this June.StoneWallInn

Other gay riots occurred before Stonewall, but they were flashes in the pan. Stonewall was unique because its energy persisted in various organizational forms for decades. This fusion of new energy with organizational continuity is what triggered the gay revolution.

Unfortunately, I missed the Stonewall Riot itself. However, I was deeply involved in two groups that it generated: the Gay Liberation Front (G.L.F), and the Gay Activists Alliance (G.A.A.), the second of which I helped create.

In those days, politicians avoided us, the media derided us, members of the clergy called us sinful, and psychiatrists said we were sick. The same was true of even the most liberal elements of society.

For example, Carol Greitzer was the city council member for Greenwich Village and a leader of the most liberal Democratic club in the state. Yet she refused to accept, or even touch, a simple petition calling for basic civil rights for gay people.

The Village Voice, one of the most liberal newspapers in the U.S., refused to accept any ad that appealed to gay people. The New York Times refused to use the word “gay” in its news reports.

In sum, we were excluded from both civil society and the body politic. Which meant we had to elbow our way in. And so we did, using “zaps.”

These were vociferous, but nonviolent, personal confrontations with homophobes. Zaps combined theatricality, humor, and impassioned eloquence. G.A.A., in particular, at the instigation of Marty Robinson, perfected zaps into an art form.

For example, Herman Katz, the City Clerk, was responsible for issuing marriage licenses in New York. One day in 1970, out of the blue, he made scornful comments to the press about the very idea of same-sex marriage.

Wedding Cake So Marc Rubin and Pete Fisher of G.A.A. organized a take-over Katz’s office. With Marc and Pete in the lead, about a dozen of us suddenly appeared in Katz’s inner sanctum, bearing a big wedding cake with two same-sex figurines on top.

We gave coffee and donuts to the clerical staff. Pete strummed his guitar, while the rest of us sang enthusiastically about the delights of gay romance.

I took over the phones and told callers that the office was only giving marriage licenses that day to gay couples. “Are you a homosexual?” I asked one nonplussed caller. “No? Well then, you’re out of luck. Try New Jersey.”

Naturally, the police came and took us away. But the spectacle, which had been witnessed by the press, made engaging news copy.

Because of highly publicized zaps like this, hundreds of gay men and women who had been closeted were inspired to step out into the light and join the struggle.

Thanks to the lasting consequences of the Stonewall Riot, it is now possible for politicians in some parts of the nation to be openly gay. In fact, in places like San Francisco, being openly gay can help build a career in politics.

Which is a good thing. But I hope we never forget the sassy attitude of the Stonewall era to all people in authority, including even gay politicians.

Stonewall means having a sense of self worth, thinking for yourself, and taking on all the bullies.

Yours for gay liberation,
Arthur Evans

Jesse’s Journal: Stonewall at 40

As an event and as a symbol, the Stonewall Riots of June 27-29 1969 continues to shape our lives.  Forty years later, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender generation that was not even born in 1969 looks back fondly at “the Stonewall girls” as role models for GLBT activism and resistance. Even so, there are many young people today who do not know what “Stonewall” was, or what is represents, or why so many of our institutions and organizations are named after it.
Stonewall_pioneers When “Stonewall” took place, I lived in Miami. I was sixteen years old, in high school and uncertain about my future. It wasn’t until I graduated from high school in 1972 that I learned about the events that shook Greenwich Village three years before.  By then the event that Martin Duberman (in his 1993 study Stonewall) called “the emblematic event in modern lesbian and gay history,” had already become a symbol of pride and resistance. The late Donn Teal, whose Gay Militants (1971) included the best account of the Riots prior to the one in David Carter’s Stonewall (2004), wrote that Stonewall “jolted awake . . . an only half-remembered outrage against straight society’s bigotries in those older, generally conservative ‘Boys in the Band’ who had been out of town on the weekend of the 27th-28th-29th, tanning their thighs at Cherry Grove and the Hamptons. And, as a slur, it posed a challenge to and goal for those younger . . . gays who’d had to make do with Greenwich Village and who’d seen [the] action.  It may have created the gay liberation movement.”
Though Stonewall inspired a generation of young New Yorkers (and others), its effect on the rest of us was more symbolic than real. After all, Stonewall was not the beginning of queer liberation. The Riots came after almost two decades of Mattachine Society and ONE and Daughters of Bilitis and Tangents and Janus Society and Society for Individual Rights and West Side Discussion Group; of demonstrations in Philadelphia and  Washington, D.C.; and of riots in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and elsewhere. It was the much-maligned Mattachine Society that got New York City to repeal its law against serving liquor to homosexuals in 1966, three years before Stonewall. (The NYPD continued to raid gay bars after the Riots, as it continues to do so today, though not because of the bar patrons’ sexual orientation.) Historian John Loughery was right when, in The Other Side of Silence, he pointed out that Stonewall was only the climax of a “maelstrom” year of gay resistance and activism.
New York City is the capital of America’s communications industry, and anything that happens there gets blown out of proportion. Though the New York media — especially the Village Voice, which had an office down the street from the Stonewall Inn – covered the Riots in their own unique ways, out of town papers largely ignored the event. And I was not the only gay person who lived through 1969 in blissful ignorance of Stonewall.  In fact, most gays at the time were not aware of the Riots till they became a symbol. For most lesbians, Stonewall made less of an impact on their lives than the feminist movement, then in its heyday. To this day there is still doubt as to what role lesbians played in the Stonewall Riots, or even if there were lesbians at the Stonewall Inn.
StoneWallInnLike any symbolic event, the truth about Stonewall lies hidden in myth and legend. To this day, the Uprising has been attributed to a variety of causes, from the full moon to Judy Garland’s death (her funeral was on the morning before the Riots). Even the names and number of Rioters are in dispute: for example, the transgender activist Sylvia Rivera, who played a mayor role in Duberman’s Stonewall, is absent from Carter’s Stonewall. None of the Rioters – Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Jackie Hormona, Zazu Nova or Jim Fouratt, just to name a few – achieved the mythic status given Diego Viñales, the Argentine student who was impaled on a fence while trying to escape the cops in the aftermath of a police raid on the Snake Pit, another Village bar (March 8, 1970). The Stonewall Riots were largely a group effort; and history has kept it that way.
Having said all that, one must give Stonewall credit where credit is due. Taking place in 1969, Stonewall was the culmination of a decade of political activism and resistance. Some Rioters were veterans of the 60s counterculture and/or the civil rights, antiwar, feminist or youth movements, and used their experiences to help create a new, more radical gay liberation movement. New York activists, living at the hub of American business and culture, used their privileged positions to launch a national movement.  For much of the seventies — until the rise of Harvey Milk, himself a New Yorker who moved to San Francisco — New York activists led most of the groups that we joined (or its local chapters) and published most of the books that we read.
All in all, the Stonewall Riot’s greatest achievement was their impact on the hearts and minds of several generations of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Though many heterosexuals remained firmly antigay, most of us who are G, L, B or T learned to accept and celebrate who we are. Thus it is significant that the anniversary of Stonewall has become the date of most annual GLBT Pride celebrations, not only in New York City but around the world. The late poet Allen Ginsberg, one of the fathers of our movement, saw the significance of Stonewall when he visited the site of the Riots soon after the first night: “Gay power!  Isn’t that great! . . . We’re one of the largest minorities in the country – 10 per cent, you know.  It’s about time we did something to assert ourselves.”
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and gay activist who lives in South Florida with his life partner.  Write him at

RFD: 35 Years – Remarkably Festive Divas


Join the NYC Circle of Radical Faeries for an evening of readings, ritual, high drag and magic! Celebrate the 35th anniversary of RFD,

the digest of the Radical Faerie community.

Saturday, May 30th at BLUESTOCKINGS

6:00 PM Meet, Greet, Drum and Chant

7:00 PM Readings…and…


RFDIssue132 The current issue explores the relationship between the Radical Faerie's ritual practices and Starhawk's Reclaiming Collective. It includes articles on the life of Faeries and Witches in the 1970', 80's and 90's
as well as meditations on the current practice of Faerie Ritual. Rare back copies from the last 35 years of quarterly publication will also be available for sale. 

a bookstore, fair trade cafe, and activist center
in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
172 Allen St.
New York, NY 10002
Bluestockings is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington, one block south of Houston and First Avenue.

By train: F train to 2nd Ave , exit at 1st Ave , and walk one block south.

By car: If you take the Houston exit off of the FDR, then turn left onto Essex
(a.k.a. Avenue A), then right on Rivington, and finally right on Allen, you will
be very, very close.

Witt Pratt – Maker of Beauty.. Rest In Peace

Witt_cat I just received word that a good friend, Witt Pratt, a dear deep luscious soul of great beauty and creativity, is no longer alive in this world.  I'm in a state of shock with the news.  He was such a delight in my life and even though I didn't know him long before he moved from the city, he gave of himself with every interaction.  He was the sort of guy who would light up every room he walked into.

I had the chance to interview him for White Crane a few years ago.  I so loved interviewing him for the issue, which was on "Craft."  He was a friend, but he was more importantly, a man who had dedicated his life to making beauty without making any excuses for it:

65_wittpratt Well, I think that whether its hobby or salvation or occupation or preoccupation, it depends on how we look at it. I do believe that as difficult as it may be that it is possible for us to decide that we would rather spend our lives expressing ourselves in that way. In my case the expression is with knitting, in somebody else’s case with making really amazing cakes, or whatever. Sometime ago I decided to do that. But it took a conscious decision and it took a lot of conscious effort to bring what had been a hobby or a pastime into a more enriching and focal position in my life.

By its own being, it is creation in motion. Like so many things if we take the time to notice, when you’ve got a ball of yarn, which to many of us represents nothing short of infinite possibility, the world just opens up before you. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have found this for myself. Knitting can be practical, it can be nonsensical, it can be insanely complex or completely simple. There’s beauty in all of it if you take the time to notice it. I’m thankful to be able to notice that and just want for everyone to find something in the world that they can notice that enriches them similarly.

The excerpted interview is here:

In his memory, whether you knew him or not, I invite you to pay attention to your surroundings, to speak about the beauty you see, to go out of your way to make others happy in their day.  This was what he taught me by his presence and his example.  My thoughts are with his beloved Gary who I know is deeply missing his fere, his companion, his heart.  I know he was so close to his beloved mother Bobbie, and my heart goes out to her as well.

Rodger McFarlane – R.I.P.

The following statement was released by friends and family of Rodger McFarlane today:

Rodger-Web New York, Monday, May 18, 2009 – It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our friend, colleague, and hero, Rodger McFarlane. A pioneer and legend in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and HIV/AIDS movements, Rodger took his own life in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico last Friday. In a letter found with his remains, Rodger explained that he was unwilling to allow compounding heart and back problems to become even worse and result in total debilitation. We know that Rodger was in a great deal of pain. Already disabled in his own mind, he could no longer work out or do all the outdoor activities he so loved. He was also now faced with the realization that he could literally not travel, making employment increasingly difficult. As his friends and family, we thought it was important that we communicate to the world that it has lost an amazingly wonderful individual who contributed so mightily to our humanity.

Rodger approached every aspect of his life with boundless passion and vigor. While many people go their entire lives wanting to be good at just one thing, Rodger excelled at virtually everything he did. Brilliant activist and strategist, decorated veteran, accomplished athlete, best-selling author, and humanitarian are just a few of the accolades that could be used to describe our friend. To know Rodger was to love an irreverent, wise-cracking Southerner who hardly completed a sentence that didn’t include some kind of four-letter expletive. He fought the right fight every day, was intolerant of silence, and organized whole communities of people to advocate for justice. These were traits that endeared him to us and are traits that make his legacy incredibly rich and powerful.

The power of Rodger’s many personal and professional accomplishments cannot be denied. He was on the forefront of responding to the AIDS epidemic that ravaged our country – and specifically the gay community – in the 1980’s. Before HIV even had a name, in 1981, Rodger set up the very first hotline anywhere; he just set it up on his own phone. That was the Rodger we knew. A born strategist and leader, Rodger took three organizations in their infancy and grew each into a powerhouse in its own way, empowered to tackle this national tragedy.

One of the original volunteers and the first paid executive director of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the nation’s first and largest provider of AIDS client services and public education programs, Rodger increased the organization's fundraising from a few thousand dollars to the $25 million agency it is today. Until his death, he was the president emeritus of Bailey House, the nation's first and largest provider of supportive housing for homeless people with HIV.

From 1989 to 1994, he was executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA), merging two small industry-based fundraising groups into one of America's most successful and influential AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. During his tenure at BC/EFA, annual revenue increased from less than $1 million to more than $5 million, while also leveraging an additional $40 million annually through strategic alliances with other funders and corporate partnerships. Rodger was also a founding member of ACT UP – NY, the now legendary protest group responsible for sweeping changes to public policy as well as drug treatment and delivery processes.

Most recently, Rodger served as the executive director of the Gill Foundation, one of the nation’s largest funders of programs advocating for LGBT equality. He transformed the Foundation by sharpening its strategic purpose. He focused its philanthropy in the states, aligned its investment with political imperatives and forged relationships with straight allies that helped to further both the LGBT movement as well as the greater progressive movement. Rodger was instrumental in the creation of the Gill Foundation’s sister organization, Gill Action. The brilliance of Rodger’s vision is being seen today as important protections for LGBT people become a reality in more and more states.

No one will ever doubt that our friend Rodger lived a rich and complete life. A proud U.S. Navy veteran, Rodger was a licensed nuclear engineer who conducted strategic missions in the North Atlantic and far Arctic regions aboard a fast attack submarine. A gifted athlete, he was a veteran of seven over-ice expeditions to the North Pole. He also competed internationally for many years as an elite tri-athlete, and in 1998 and 2002, competed in the Eco-Challenges in Morocco and Fiji, where he captained an all-gay female-majority team.

In spite of the fact that Rodger never completed college, he was an accomplished and best-selling author and the producer of works for the stage. Rodger was the co-author of several books, including The Complete Bedside Companion: No Nonsense Advice on Caring for the Seriously Ill (Simon & Schuster, 1998), and most recently, Larry Kramer’s The Tragedy of Today’s Gays (Penguin, 2005). In 1993, he co-produced the Pulitzer Prize-nominated production of Larry Kramer’s The Destiny of Me, the sequel to The Normal Heart.

Rodger had a reputation as a hard-ass. That reputation didn’t do him justice. Many of us will remember Rodger as a caregiver, a man who nursed countless friends and family members battling cancer and AIDS. He was the most compassionate and giving of friends, especially to those in physical or emotional distress.

His many achievements were recognized throughout his life. Most recently, he had received the Patient Advocacy Award from the American Psychiatric Association. Other honors included the New York City Distinguished Service Award, the Presidential Voluntary Action Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Award, and the Emery Award from the Hetrick Martin Institute, as well as Tony and Drama Desk honors.

How do you sum up someone’s life in just a few words? It’s impossible and you can’t. To commemorate Rodger’s life, his friends will organize celebrations of his, the details of which are still in the planning stages. If Rodger was anything, he was a character through and through; there are, quite literally, thousands of “Rodger stories.” That’s part of what made him such a special person. During our celebrations, we’ll share some of these stories and reflect on the many legacies left by our friend for life, Rodger McFarlane.

Information on donations in memorial will also be forthcoming.

Free Speech

I think
as I please

And this gives me pleasure.

My conscience decrees,

This right I must treasure.

My thoughts will not cater

To duke or dictator,

No man can deny —

Die gedanken sind frei.

— German 16th-century peasant
song (revived as a protest anthem against the Nazi regime)*

As emotionally satisfying as it is to hear that the British Home Secretary has banned San Francisco radio shock jock Michael Savage (ne Michael A. Weiner) and the despicable Fred Phelps and his family from entry into Great Britain, along with various and sundry mad Muslim imams, Egyptian clerics and Russian skinheads…it is, alas, the most wrong-headed ham-fisted response, to say nothing of an appalling lack of imagination.

Soapbox Simply put: the proper answer to abuse of free speech is not the stifling of speech, but rather more speech.

That is to say: Let idiots be heard. Let their rantings be viewed in the cleansing light of day. Ugly speech, like cockroaches, can't take the exposure to light.

Are we really so afraid of one another that we must repudiate our own values in the defence of those same values? Are we so afraid that they will gain greater audiences that reason will be lost (Japanese internment camps, the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Defense of Marriage radicals notwithstanding)? 

The time to defend core values, essential rights is not when it's easy, but when it's difficult.

The world has been presented with a teaching moment in which the
argument for free thought — that die gedanken sind frei ("thoughts are
free") that the Nazis and every other absolutist dictatorship have
excelled in crushing — has not been advanced by those who know better. The easy way out is not the answer. It's convenient to simply stifle ugly speech, but it also serves to elevate its standing.

As a result,
a world sorely in need of a crash course in the efficacy of free debate
received nothing of theMuzzling (1)  sort from the British Home Office. Instead, the lesson has been that the suppression
of ideas is valid, as long as the suppressors are convinced and self-assured that they are "more moral," of "higher character" and in
the right.

As usual, it helps to remember Mark Twain: "Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.

And you also have to think, when will my speech be deemed "offensive"? 

When will they come for me?

* with thanks to Robert Scheer