Saturday, November 19, 2011

Excerpt from Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism by Rosemary Hennessy, (pp. 104-110)

Let me sum up some of the points I am making. First of all, heteronorms are cultural-ideological.  They depend on the reification of sensory-affect into identities that legitimate and enable certain historical processes of capitalism. The gender foundation of heteronormative sexual identities is directly related to the extraction of surplus value through the gendered division of labor both in the family's role in the reproduction of labor power and in the workplace. To the extent that heteronormativity is premised on a gender hierarchy, it has served to legitimate and naturalize the gendered division of labor. However, just because capitalism has made use of heteronormativity does not mean that it is necessary for capitalist production.  Capitalism does not require heteronormative families or even a gendered division of labor. What it does require is an unequal division of labor. If gay- or queer-identified people are willing to shore up that unequal division – whether that means running corporations or feeding families, raising children or caring for the elderly – capital will accept us, and in areas where production has moved far out of the patriarchal household and patriarchal gender ideologies have flexed or changed, it has done so, though unevenly and reluctantly. This limited acceptance is not just a freestanding cultural phenomenon any more than the emergence of "new families" includes all non-nuclear arrangements. While heteronormativity's dependence on gender difference continues to bolster an unequal division of labor in the home and in the marketplace, and the ideology of family shelters an unwaged domestic labor force - whether straight or gay - race still has to bear a great share of the burden for the production of surplus value. The companion to the “New (white) Gay Family” is the single workfare mother whose sexual identity is less relevant than her social status as excessive breeder.

Finally, I am arguing that reified sexual identities - straight, gay, queer - are tied to capitalism's class system in that they are ways of seeing and knowing oneself and others that shore up the logic of commodity exchange on which capital is based. This is a logic that abstracts social phenomena, including human relationships from the historical conditions that make them possible.  In this regard, claiming a queer identity or claiming a straight identity can participate in the same cultural logic.  The point I want to stress here is not that sexuality has a class character or that class trumps sexual identity, but that consolidation of new sexual identities that pursues the logic of commodification limits the development of collective agency.  The occlusion of class in theories of sexuality and the disavowal of class struggle or class affinities in sexual liberation movements are part of the legacy of capital’s commodification of consciousness.  One of the costs of the reification of eros into heteronormative identity and its homo-alternative is the separation of class and sex analysis.  Underlying this split is the loss of a way of seeing and a form of social organization that recognizes that human needs are collectively produced and that can address the immense human toll taken by the contradictory relationships through which this process is enacted under capitalism.

The rationalizing bourgeois subject Lukacs described so well in the 1930s still persists, but changes in the relations of production and the production of new commodity forms in late capitalism have adjusted its particular articulations.  What are these new commodity forms and what are their effects on the ways of knowing and forms of identity – especially sexual identity – that are historically available, even prescribed now?  By the mid-twentieth century, changes in the appropriation of relative and absolute surplus value under Fordism had made possible several important innovations in capitalist production:  the penetration of capital into new geographical and social spaces, including the export of consumer capitalism to the third world, an increased scale of economic activity, and an expansion of the commodity form in everyday life….  By the 1980s these innovations were already being displaced by the gradual introduction of new flexible technologies, deregulated labor markets, and the movement of standardized production to a “peripheral” position in the world economy.  These adjustments to production increased the rates at which relative and surplus value could be procured, dramatically altering the structure of those core relationships capitalism relies on.  The physical expansion of capitalism begun under Fordism continued through the creation and extension of markets, including the deeper penetration and commodification of the body and identity – the growth of health, food, fashion, and athletic markets, for example….  Changes in the intensity and organization of labor and to the means of production – the flexible character of modern production and consumption – issued in innovations to the ideal commodity-form.  The key commodities of the 1980s were those goods best attuned to freeing up the previously static and relatively fixed spatial and temporal dimensions of daily life; products like the Walkman and microwave are two examples….  The increased ‘fluidization’ of everyday life in turn implied changes in the composition of needs and the cultural framework within which needs are made meaningful.  The success of this new logic of consumption depended on and was accompanied by a resocialization of everyday consciousness, a historical condition generally referred to as “postmodernism”.

While we have by now an almost exhaustive catalog of the cultural-ideological effects of postmodernism, less readily available are analyses that explain how ways of knowing and living sexuality are linked to the changing logic of the commodity as the keystone of capitalist production.  What might some of these links be?  We know that the dominant discourses of sexual identity in overindustrialized sectors, spun across national lines through media and travel industries, seem to be changing, albeit in uneven ways.  In these parts of the world, the network of equations among sex, gender sexual practice, and desire on which normative heterosexuality as a matrix of intelligibility came to depend under Fordism is being disrupted.  The discrete asymmetrical opposition between male and female is being thrown into question, pressuring the imaginary logic of opposites and sex-gender equations that the prevailing heterogender system once relied on.  In the media images generated in overdeveloped capitalist centers especially, more permeable, fluid, ambiguously coded sexual identities are allowed, even promoted.

It is important to acknowledge, however, that even though heteronorms are being challenged and recast, capitalist production does continue to rely on compulsory heterosexuality as a way of organizing sex, gender, and desire, and it continues to exert its force on human bodies and imaginations through strategies of abjection, disciplinary, and brute violence.  There is no question that normative sexual identity remains a battlefield on which the lives of lesbian, gay, and queer-identified people are damaged, even lost, nor that the nation-state remains a prime enforcer of prescribed sexual norms through public education, marriage, immigration, and other state-regulated social policies.  Nonetheless, the fact also remains that middle-class professional lesbian, gay, and even queer-identified subjects are being welcomed into the cultural and corporate mainstream, an incorporation that bears testimony to the fact that capitalism does not necessarily need heterosexuality.  New, non-normative sexual identities support innovative “lifestyle” marketing niches, and in the academy and publishing worlds of the United States especially, they also furnish lucrative marketing vehicles for the knowledge industry, often under the rubric of cultural studies.  My concern is that these knowledges are producing subjectivities that seem all too congruent with the forms of reified consciousness required of the new stewards of capitalism, the middle class fraction of professional service workers.

What sort of consciousness is this?  What are the qualities demanded of service workers?  The answer reveals the degree to which new forms of cognition blur with new affective and physical demands on the laboring body.  Service workers are primarily knowledge workers who need to be able to carry out multistep operations, manipulate abstract symbols, command the flow of information, and remain flexible enough to recognize new paradigms.  Their work requires new affective and physical responses:  habitual mobility, adaptability in every undertaking, the ability to navigate among possible alternatives and spaces, and a cultivation of ambivalence as a structure of feeling.

We are familiar with this postmodern subject.  We see him in the deconstructions of hetero-homo identity that underscore the postmodern, performative queer whose identity is always open – not to history so much as to the shifting play of signification.  We see her in the reformulations of sexual identity that take a Deleuzean productive desire as their point of departure.  And she is often quite subtle, even appealing, in her free-form mobility.  IN the work of Elspeth Probyn or Elizabeth Grosz, for example, queer sexual identity does not seem to be reified – quite the contrary.  It is a matter of continuing movement and making strange, of desire freed from any location in individual or historical necessity, desire aimed not to a person but to individual body parts.

There is a rich and alluring evocativeness to much of this work, a mining of desire as a series of intensities that throws one onto the vagaries of the other, an exploration of the “psychic life of power,” to reference the title of one of Judith Butler’s books, that posits provocative ways of entertaining the desiring subject.  But there is also an eerie if familiar immateriality to this new queer subject, who moves in a milieu of virtual relations, whose desire is the unleashed mobility of disconnected images and whose body becomes the site of provocations, reactions, disruptions, and blurred boundaries “so that it is no longer clear where one organ, body or subject stops and another begins”.  These more open, fluid, ambivalent sexual identities – what I call “postmodern sexualities” – announce more flexible gender codes and performative sexual identities that are quite compatible with the mobility, adaptability, and ambivalence required of service workers today and with the new more fluid forms of the commodity.  While they may disrupt norms and challenge state practices that are indeed oppressive, they do not necessarily challenge neoliberalism or disrupt capitalism.  To the extent that they de-link sexuality from its historical connection to the human relationships of exploitation capitalism relies on, and to the extent that they reify desire, postmodern sexualities participate in the logic of the commodity and help support neoliberalism’s mystifications.

Certainly the restructuring of the labor market has not given all service workers more freedom and autonomy.  Yet some members of this new professional class fraction are indeed an elite group who can live and travel globally and who are rapidly developing a certain homogeneity, fed by consumerism, the media, entertainment, and tourism.  Theirs is a transnational culture that appropriates eccentricity, including the eccentricity of gay culture.  As Dennis Altman has argued, it is fashionable to point to the emergence of the “global gay,” that is, the internationalization of certain forms of social and cultural identity based on homosexuality and often conceptualized in terms derived from recent American fashion and intellectual style.  Most evident in cosmopolitan centers in Southeast Asia, South and Central America, and Eastern Europe, images and rhetoric of a gay culture linked to consumerism and the development of a gay and lesbian press spread from the United States to other countries after 1969.  Their most obvious indicator is the development of commercial space:  entertainment venues, restaurants, shops, catering to a homosexual – usually male – clientele.  In all of its unevenness, the consolidation of public gay identities transnationally follows in the wake of late capitalist commodification as it affects the growth of affluence and the formation of a free subject.  Wealth and education seem to be prerequisites for the adoption of new counter-heteronormative forms of identity, though as authoritarian governments in the Middle East and East Asia make clear, the operation of state repression and traditional cultural codes are clearly mediating forces.

Seeing through the lens of historical materialism, the ways cultural forms, including identities and desires, follow the logic of commodification in itself cannot eliminate the exploitative relationships on which capitalism relies.  But making visible the connections between forms of identity and capital’s historical processes can change the frame through which we might imagine the horizon for change and can perhaps enable us to forge new forms of subjectivity and political alliance that might target for transformation the exploitative, oppressive, and acquisitive relationship neoliberalism protects. 

My own professional work has offered me opportunities to travel to cities as far-flung as Sydney, Birmingham, and Berlin, where I have met and learned from lesbian, gay, and transgendered people and participated in the commercial and political spaces of gay and queer communities.  I know that these privileges of mine have been made possible by some of the very forces I have described:  the transnational network of knowledges that comprise cultural studies, queer identities, and the class relations of late capitalism that supports them.  I acknowledge my participation in capitalist relations not simply to display the contradiction s between my historical position in the professional middle class and the horizon of social transformation I am committed to but in order to emphasize that in the short term it matters a great deal what we do with the contradictory historical positions that for many of us are accidents of birth.  Cultural workers, in and outside of universities, have an opportunity to make use of our access to teaching arenas of many sorts to put into crisis the reified cultural forms we simultaneously strain against and enjoy, and – given the premium placed on identities as merely cultural constructs – I would say on identities especially.

Cultural theory and political activism that focus our attention only on the spectacle of sexual identity commodify sexuality by separating the organization of sexual identity from the complex historical ways capitalism shapes the human capacity for pleasure, affect, and social interaction.  The kernel of human relationships that is characteristic of transnational late capitalism condition the terrain on which these capacities are enacted and felt; they set the cultural agenda.  We need to ask, “Are cultural theories of sexuality and their accompanying politics directing our attention to this terrain?”  It is my contention that refusing transnational capitalism its foundational status as a mode of production makes impossible the cognitive mapping that needs to be the point of departure for radical sexual politics.  This is a way of knowing and a politics that does not rally around identities but rather inquires into their reasons for being.  It is a way of knowing and a politics attuned to the historical links between culture and political economy precisely because social reality is shaped by their connection.  And finally, this is a way of knowing and a politics that does not dismiss the human capacities for sensation and affect, but rather attends to their historical organization, and their commodification under capitalism especially, precisely because these human abilities are so integral to the process of transformative social change.

Afraid You're Not Butch Enough? by Arthur Evans (the Red Queen)

Bitch bites butch, and vice versa...

BUTCH ENOUGH? Drummer Presents Some “Found” Prose
from the Red Queen, Arthur Evans by Jack Fritscher


     Produced September 1978, and published in Drummer 25, December 1978. This piece is about Gay Civil War in the Titanic ’70s. For all its entertainment value, Drummer was a timely test-bed for purposeful versions and visions of the gay-liberation dream unfolding. Some misunderstand homomasculinity as if it were an absolute. When I coined the term in 1972, I meant not masculinity as a power tool of male privilege or male entitlement, but rather a masculinity whose identity was in traditionally masculine goodness in the Latin sense of virtue, which comes from the Latin word vir, meaning man, causing virtue to be the quality of a man, and that was quintessence I sought to define in my coinage.

     I published this article written by the Red Queen, Arthur Evans, for a reason of political “authenticity” just as I recommend the “authentic” political analysis of unfolding gender ambiguities made by David Van Leer in his benchmark book of the years between World War II and Stonewall, The Queening of America: Gay Culture in a Straight Society. In the gay civil wars of the ’70s, I respected Arthur Evans’ representing one kind of “authentic” queening and queering. In Drummer, I chose to give his voice free publicity.

     To me, tub-thumping an emergent and defining theme of a populist homomasculine “authenticity”–that actually existed among Drummer readers–was the key ingredient leading to Drummer’s success. By “authenticity” I mean something Platonic like: a gay man in a police uniform, with his fetish act together and his head together, may be more authentic than an actual, real, straight cop, because the gay man has the feeling and soul to plunge to the heart of, and understand and act out the quintessence of copness which the cop may not understand because to him it’s just a paycheck.

      By “authenticity” I mean the heart of the archetypal best that males do, not the stereotypical worst. Perhaps that should be repeated for the blind-and-deaf politically correct. Flannery O”Connor wrote something like: “To the almost blind you have to write in very large letters. To the almost deaf you have to shout.” Critics should not misread Drummer which they are only reading in their rear-view mirror. Drummer was about archetypes, not stereotypes.

     I was coincidentally predisposed to a sibling kinship to Arthur Evans who was interestingly rather diametrically opposite Drummer. Early on, we both were graduate students majoring in philosophy, and working toward our doctorates: Arthur Evans at Columbia University and I at Loyola University, Chicago. Arthur Evans’ dissertation was not approved for apparently anti-gay reasons, and he withdrew from his doctoral program. My dissertation, Love and Death in Tennessee Williams, about ritual, race, and gender, was published in 1968 when I received my doctorate. From the early ’60s, we were both activists in black civil rights, the peace movement, and then as gay activists theorizing on the nature of homosexuality. Evans was one of the founders of the Gay Activists Alliance, 1969; representing gay interests, I was one of the founders of the American Popular Culture Association, 1968.

     Evans was helping invent the Radical Gay Faery Movement and working toward writing his nonfiction book, based on his doctoral work, Critique of Patriarchal Reason, while I was championing masculine-identified queers in Drummer and writing my reflexive fiction book Some Dance to Remember which, while dramatizing the immense disaster of masculinist patriarchy, eschews both patriarchy (masculinism) and matriarchy (feminism) for something grander–humanism–which is also Arthur Evans’ goal. In some weird way, Patriarchal Reason and Some Dance to Remember are complementary reading. At the same time, in the mid-’70s while Arthur Evans was working with the magazine Fag Rag, I was editing/writing Drummer. Both magazines should be studied together. We both wrote about magic and wicca, ritual and culture, in two books. At the same time as I published him in Drummer 25, Arthur Evans published his Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture. His book immediately caught my attention, coming, in 1978, six years after the publication of my own book, Popular Witchcraft: Straight from the Witch’s Mouth (1972).

     No scholar has yet written a cohesive literary analysis of the gay books written during the 1970s, particularly those written outside the New York axis. These books–as defined objects floating to the surface after the Titanic ’70s hit the iceberg of AIDS–are particularly valuable, because like Drummer itself, they are intellectual and esthetic time capsules, authentically in and of the time when gay culture first came queening, queering, butching, and bitching out of the closet. They show modern gay culture self-consciously inventing itself. These books’ texts are not inauthentic revisionist and condescending looks back at the ’70s. In such a literary and historical project lies, perhaps, a grant, and certainly, a PhD dissertation of value.

     People mouth the word “Stonewall” like a magic pebble on their tongue, but the invocation of Stonewall is meaningless if analysts, critics, and historians dismiss the ’70s literature and culture as ten years of gay juvenalia based on gay bacchanalia.

     If the Stonewall model is real, then serious scholars cannot pretend–like anti-70s bigots–that worthwhile gay culture and gay literature only began after the advent of HIV in 1982 when actual gay publishers of gay books first appeared. (Magazines came first in gay publishing.). I mention this because, as a retired university professor who is a veteran pioneer of gay liberation, I have traveled across the globe to visit places that are the cradles of civilization and culture. In the dolmans of Ireland and the catacombs of Paris and the caves of New Mexico, I have seen stonewalls of early civilizations. Reading our Stonewall Decade should be no less valued and valuable. People should never ignore their own infancy and childhood.

     Because some of these thumbnail introductions may be read out of continuity, there will be some repetition, which I hope will be forgiven, because these were written over many years. To illustrate how magazine publishing in gay culture led to book publishing, consider that while editor-in-chief of Drummer, I was writing the novel Some Dance to Remember. In fact, so integral was the creative experience of the magazine genre evolving into the book genre that many passages in Some Dance appeared first in the pages of Drummer.

      Reporting gay culture as it happened, I assayed the battles of the Gay Civil War that fractured the Golden Age of Liberation in the 1970s. Several reviewers, including gay-culture critic Michael Bronski, actually caught the trope of how I plugged the struggles of gay lib into the pop cultural mainstream of American literature. One of my main influences was John Dos Passos’ USA Trilogy with his avant garde sweep through American history by means of a collage and pastiche of newsreels and headlines and popular culture. Sam Steward/Phil Andros wrote about Some Dance, “My God, what a book!... it will be looked on as that period’s Great American Novel.” The Advocate called Some Dance “the gay Gone with the Wind.” And if any publication recognized that gay society was torn by civil war, it was the Advocate, which over the years, with different editors, took sides in the civil war–most often the queenly and politically correct.

     In truth, Some Dance is a romantic homage to Gone With The Wind in its sweeping themes and content, in its specific characters and real events, and even in its epic page count because I love novels one can sink into for a week. The protagonist’s name is Ryan O’Hara who, like Margaret Mitchell’s tempestuous Scarlett O’Hara, is impossibly in love with his own hyper-masculine Rhett Butler, Kick Sorensen All around Ryan and Kick a Civil War rages between the North and the South of “capitalist gay lib” versus “Marxist gay politics,” of “sissy identity” versus “butch identity,” as well of a dozen other archetypal-stereotypical polarities in the war between “women and men”–and “men and men.”

     Some of these complexities, which grow integrally from actual history, have been misunderstood by some who presume that Some Dance is my autobiography and that what the characters think or do– and what the decade dictated–are politically incorrect things I dreamed up or that are endorsed by me personally which is like beating the messenger, because as an artist who is a writer I am only channeling characters and plots and settings.

     Mine is not an ingenuous statement, because it is my declarative manifesto of ars gratia art is/art for art’s sake as well as of the alpha and delta consciousness I fall into when I write, or the theta consciousness in which I sleep and compose the next day’s writing. One of the reasons I have always faulted the politically correct attitude is its lack of talent for, and education to, literary interpretation, and art interpretation.

     As Exhibit A, I suggest a look at all the censorship my bicoastal lover Robert Mapplethorpe suffered at the hands of the ignorant in the United States Senate.

     Even in the lesbigay community which has never understood or accepted Robert Mapplethorpe, I had to beg the Advocate on the telephone to get them to put Robert on the cover as Person of the Year, because he was the most famous and influential gay lightning rod at that time. In a compromise worthy of Solomon, the Advocate divided the cover in half: the left side for Urya Vashit ??? and the right side for Mapplethorpe–not in his signature leather gear, but in, of course, mascara drag.

     Whatever. The Advocate is only slightly offensive when compared to the ruffian, unwashed gangs of the politically correct whose unforgivable damage to the art and humanism of gay culture I will till my dying day equate to Stalin and Pol Pot and Nixon. Those far-left Marxist queers are the same fundamentalist Taliban as the far right of religious politicians in their destruction of humanist art, metaphor, symbol, and personal identity. (Let me tell you how I really feel!)

     Anyway, Ryan and Kick’s tumultuous gay love story explodes with the destruction of their society. As the ’70s climax, the Folsom Street Fire, signaling the doom of sex, equals the burning of Atlanta. Quoting Gone With The Wind in its film version with the famous rising boom shot of a railway yard strewn with wounded and dying men, I laid out the shocking body count of the first deaths from AIDS. Ryan O’Hara, who thinks of himself as the gay grandson of Scarlett O’Hara, is also called “Miss Scarlett” behind his back by effeminate queens because of his worship of a masculine man and for his writing his “Masculinist Manifesto” in a magazine called Leather Man, which is, actually, a parallax Drummer, reflecting the exact culture of Drummer.

This back-story thumbnail introducing the Red Queen eventually leads back to the emblematic Arthur Evans. He was typical of the chorus I aimed to reflect in Drummer which I wanted wide open to all gay voices so Drummer could serve the times. I’ve mentioned how pressed Drummer was for reflexive material, so I gladly pulled the Red Queen’s “protest poster” off a telephone pole during the Castro Street Fair and slammed it into Drummer. This “found” poster satirized the uncivil “civil wars” in gay culture. So many were those civil wars, I have often wondered why academic queer-culture theorists have never yet called the strife in the ’70s gay community a “civil war” in gay culture. In 1982, I used the words “civil war” for the first time. For the very focused back jacket of Some Dance to Remember, I wrote copy, purposely referencing the opening of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, to orient the reader to what the novel was about. Because we were all movie-goers then, I wrote the copy to read like a movie poster in a theater lobby:

The Cosmos. The Solar System. The Earth. North America. California.. San Francisco.
18th and Castro. South of Market.
The Golden Age 1970-1982
A Drop-dead Blond Bodybuilder.
A Madcap Gonzo Writer. An Erotic Video Mogul.
A Penthouse Full of Hustlers.
A Famous Cabaret Chanteuse Fatale.
A Hollywood Bitch TV Producer.
A Vietnam Veteran.
An Epic Liberation Movement.
A Civil War Between Women and Men and Men.
A Time of Sex, Drugs, and Rock ’n’ Roll.
A Murder. A City.
A Plague.
A Lost Civilization.
A Love Story.

     The operative line here is, of course: “A Civil War Between Women and Men” and then the purposeful break in rhythm: “and men.” “Between women and men,” it was still the same old battle of the sexes. The new spin was the battle of “men versus men,” specifically of “gay men” versus “gay men” fighting to control gay “becoming” and gay “being.” In short, it was a civil war to define and control the new gay word, lifestyle.

     This civil war included the very nasty bitch fight between two “corporations”: the Advocate and Drummer. I mean specifically the struggle between Los Angeles’ David Goodstein, publisher of the Advocate, and Los Angeles’ John Embry, publisher of the Alternate and Drummer, to take over and define the emerging new gay lifestyle. Both moved their battlefield to San Francisco at about the same time in 1975.

     The rivalry between the Advocate and Drummer created a gay apartheid of artists that exists to this day.  Their rivalry to control and own gay culture divided gay culture and its artists and readers. Their rivalry, I think, destroyed the very unitive notion of Stonewall.

     The two of them, both villains in my opinion, caused rifts in gay American culture that will take generations to heal.

      The fighting publishers divided artists by demanding fierce loyalty: if you work for him, you’ll never work for me.

     In San Francisco, I walked into Drummer not knowing of this Los Angeles quarrel, until John Embry, finding that I had turned Drummer into a success, asked me to take on editing his second magazine, which he always felt was his first magazine, the Alternate. The very name, Alternate–like John Embry’s calling his publishing company, Alternate Publishing–was to confuse the brand name of the Advocate.

      I refused, because editing Drummer was a full-time effort, and I had no more feel for John Embry’s Alternate than I had for David Goodstein’s Advocate, which to most readers in the ’70s was of interest only for its Personal Sex Ads in what the Advocate called its “Pink Section.” The truth at the time was that everyone read the Pink Section” and threw the rest of the Advocate away, while they jerked off to Drummer. Even here, I am not taking sides on which corporation, the Advocate “corporation,” or the Alternate “corporation,” was then, or is now, correct.

     Some would say the Advocate won the war because the Advocate survived commercially, and is, I think, now a conglomerate owned by a corporate dotcom. Drummer, renamed International Drummer, was bought by a Dutch businessman in Amsterdam where the terminally ill can be put down, and that’s more or less what happened to the ailing print magazine Drummer in 1999.

     Twenty minutes in the future from now, all gay art and gay publishing and gay film will be owned by a conglomerate corporation like Disney–which is why I’ve always guarded my copyright on my intellectual property, both in writing and in video, because some day there will be a gay channel hungry–as is every channel–for material to fill its programming. The principle is that everything that is pornographic and avant garde becomes acceptable twenty years later.

     The Advocate identified itself with gay culture’s Freudian Super-ego of lickety-lickety morality. Drummer identified with gay culture’s sex-driving Id. So actually, Goodstein and Embry were fighting over making a buck off polarities of human existence. Goodstein, so the word went the word on the street of the ’70s forced all his employees to undergo “The Advocate Experience.” Red Queen Arthur Evans satirized this as “The Avocado Experience.” I published his satire with John Embry’s blessing, because all of San Francisco was laughing at the “victims” of “The Advocate Experience” which was a kind of “gay sensitivity training” spun out of the movement called est founded by Werner Erhard who eventually took a hike amid reports of tax fraud.

     Running a gay profile on the so-called graduates of “The Advocate Experience,” I offer my own analysis that Goodstein’s Advocate Experience, mixed with Marxist-Leninist politics from Berkeley, created the fascistic monster-machine of the politically correct.

     Drummer wanted tie-you-up and tie-you-down erotica.

     The Advocate wanted to know your, uh, feelings about S&M.

     Drummer was alpha-dog, aggro-lit celebrating rough sex with working-class bravado.

     The Advocate was soignee sweater essays ranging from timid to outright negative about S&M. In 19XX, I wrote a letter to the Advocate editor, my friend, Mark Thompson, concerning a totally ignorant article about the leather-and-S&M lifestyle written by _________. The tacit aggression between the two magazines, between the two lifestyles, was such that Mark Thompson’s partner, the priest, Malcolm Boyd, was given a mixed review in Drummer by Ed Franklin of Los Angeles.

     I’m not going to detail this civil war between corporate publishers. Let some young student, with a grant, decipher the battle for control of the official gay lifestyle. This apartheid in gay arts and culture, fought out between the Advocate and Drummer, requires its own book studied out of research, internal evidence in both magazines, as well as from feedback from discussion panels at gay literary conferences and gay studies seminars. And it is important that someone speak up about this apartheid in gay culture pinioned on Goodstein’s Advocate and Embry’s Drummer.

     Drummer, like leather culture itself, stayed below the radar, rather non-commercial, and never acceptable to middle-class homosexuality. The apartheid of talent, from artists to writers, carried from the ’70s into the ’80s and continues to this day. The East Coast literary establishment, famous for endless sensitive coming-out novels reviewed by the Advocate, wins awards from the East Coast Lammies corporately sponsored by the Los Angeles Advocate which publishes Alyson Books.

      Drummer is symbolic of the West Coast literary establishment of erotica, and therefore, of worldwide leather erotica. One needs to follow the DNA of the incest in gay literature to see who’s fucking/publishing/reviewing/awarding whom and who’s jerking each other off. I can be analyst and historian and artist writing primary literary texts, but someone more objective needs to see why even back in the ’70s, the Red Queen Arthur Evans, who after founding the Gay Activists Alliance and forming the Faery Circle, so disliked the Advocate, and had probably little use for Drummer as well. Eventually, however, the Red Queen wrote for the Advocate.

     Anyway, I introduced this “Butch Enough” poster with a thumbnail about the mysterious Red Queen in 1978. The satire needs to be translated like this. The Zombie Works is the gym The Muscle Works; All-American Clone is the popular clothing store, All-American Boy, which was at that time considered both a sexy and political thing to be; the Avocado Experience is, of course, the way over the top, expensive est experience that Advocate publisher David Goodstein (David Goodsteal) pushed on all Advocate employees to increase their sensitivity, which, of course, turned into political correctness. The Advocate Experience was a joke in San Francisco from the first day any of us heard about it. Drummer publisher, John Embry, had created Alternate Publications, and the Alternate magazine, to compete with David Goodstein whom Embry could not abide. As a result of this rivalry, the middle-class Advocate for years has pretty much hated leather and manliness and Mapplethorpe. In 19XX, X wrote as nasty an article about leather as that hideous expose, “S&M: The Dark Side of Gay Liberation,” written by Richard Goldstein in The Village Voice, July 7, 1975. Like the Life article about the Tool Box, no gay studies scholar has mentioned the Goldstein article before my mention of it here. It has long been in my collection, because it was published the month after Drummer was first published in June 1975, and shows how misunderstood BDSM was in New York by Goldstein, about the same time as BDSM was being misunderstood in San Francisco by Goodstein.

©2003 Jack Fritscher

The editorial was written in September, 1978, and published in Drummer 25, December 1978

Bitch bites butch, and vice versa...

BUTCH ENOUGH? Drummer Presents Some “Found” Prose
from the Red Queen, Arthur Evans
by Jack Fritscher

Drummer, THE MAGAZINE OF GAY POPULAR CULTURE, has tracked “The Red Queen” in his/her rapier-like dissection of gay rip-off stereotyping. Drummer strives to be the authentic chronicle of gay fantasies, realities, attitudes, fads, postures, and politics. We wanted to send this letter from Mecca out to the national and international gay community of men. Whoever is the writer of this anonymous insight, incitefully pasted up on Castro walls and lamp-posts in the dead of night, deservedly wins our “Golden Drumsticks Award–even if Drummer turns out to be next on the (s)hit list! Remember: Just because a guy is gay doesn’t mean you can trust him like a brother.


     Those who join now will get a free enrollment in the HUNGRY PROJECT, a humanitarian program designed to eliminate world hunger by the year 7,000. The HUNGRY PROJECT is based on the brilliant insight that mass starvation is not caused by the greed of the rich but by fuzzy thinking among the poor.

As a member of the HUNGRY PROJECT, all you have to do is sign a statement saying you’re opposed to hunger. That’s it! Elegantly simple! You get to take a strong moral stand and keep all your middle-class privileges.

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     After just a few weeks at the ZOMBIE WORKS, you’ll look just like everyone else on Castro Street. No more anxiety over being an individual! Now you’ll blend in and look like you came from the same mould as everybody else. Only $250 a month (or $200 a month if you work out before 5 AM).

     Once you get your ZOMBIE body, you’ll want to complete your image with a new wardrobe from the ALL-AMERICAN CLONE [All-American Boy, clothes shop on Castro]. Here you can get a wide assortment of Alligator Shirts specially preserved in formaldehyde since the 1950’s and tailored with that tasteful David Eisenhower look.

     In addition, you can get blue jeans in six different hues of blue, as well as a fine collection of vinyl visors (in white, red, or green, to match your mood).

     This week only, the CLONE is featuring Hong-Kong-Made Naugahyde baseball caps at a special reduced rate of only $45.00 each. When you shop at the ALL-AMERICAN CLONE, you never have to worry about being a big hit on Castro Street. We know that conformity makes sex appeal.

     With your ZOMBIE body and CLONE clothes, all that remains is to build up your middle-class values. For this, we offer “The AVOCADO EXPERIENCE,” [“The Advocate Experience”], a marathon six-day encounter-group bonanza sponsored by David Goodsteal, [David Goodstein] , the multi-millionaire publisher of The AVOCADO newspaper [The Advocate]. Through 108 uninterrupted hours of intense mutual sharing (at only $650 a head!), you’ll learn that whatever happens to you in life is solely your
own responsibility and nobody else’s.

–The Red Queen

©1978, 2003 Jack Fritscher

Zap, You're Alive! by Arthur Evans

Zap, You’re Alive!
By Arthur Evans

Today a growing number of upfront gay men and lesbians hold political office.  Colleges have gay/lesbian support-groups and offer courses in gay studies.  Millions of gays and lesbians have come out of the closets to their parents, spouses, children, and employers.

Thirty years ago, in the period that ended with the Stonewall Riot of 1969, the picture was entirely different. Gay people were regarded as a tiny minority of perverts. Media coverage consisted of
occasional articles about arrests or new medical techniques for "treating the problem." Upfront gay activists were limited to a few brave souls exposing themselves to a chilly public opinion. Most gay people lived furtive lives, with a low sense of self-esteem.

In December 1969 a group of us in New York City decided to explode, once and for all, the great silence that was smothering gay life. We were the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), a new group dedicated to street activism on behalf of gay issues.

We would explode the smothering silence by using "zaps." These were nonviolent, but militant, face-to-face confrontations with homophobes in positions of authority. GAA aggressively followed this strategy for the next four years under its presidents Jim Owles, Rich Wandel, Bruce Voeller, and Morty Manford. The gay world would never be the same.

Cakes and Dolts

Zaps had two intended audiences--our own community and the larger political world. In regard to our own community, zaps often used humor and theater to build up group morale and gay identity.

An example was a zap in the summer of 1971 involving Herman Katz, the City Clerk of New York.  Katz had learned that a clergyman was performing "holy unions" for same-sex couples at a Manhattan church. He was upset because his office was responsible for issuing marriage licenses. An upstart clergyman was violating the sanctity of marriage, which it was his duty to protect! In an interview with The New York Post, Katz made unpleasant remarks about gay folks and threatened criminal prosecution of the clergyman.

A few weeks later, about a dozen GAA members, led by Marc Rubin and Pete Fisher, congenially ambled into Katz's office with a coffee wagon and a large wedding cake. It was topped by a male couple and a female couple. We schmoozed with the people waiting in line for their licenses. We gave them printed invitations for a gay wedding reception, about to be held in the City Clerk's office.

Once we were inside the office, I made a bee line for the switchboard and started answering the telephone. The clerical workers didn't seem to mind very much. They hated their jobs, just like everybody else! I advised the callers that the City Clerk's office was only issuing same-sex licenses that day. I told them that if they weren't gay or lesbian, they couldn't get married.

At that point, a large and not very articulate male bureaucrat entered the room. He started shouting uncontrollably. I felt sorry for him. I figured he was upset because he hadn't received an invitation. So I thrust one into his hand, saying, "Here, you want an invitation to our party?"

Alas, he was a party pooper. He called the police, who eventually arrived with guns and clubs, ready to defend the sanctity of marriage. As the cops entered, I yelled out, "Here they come, the agents of institutionalized violence!" They ordered us to leave, cake and all.

Zap and Hype

We left, but we didn't lose. GAA members Randy Wicker and Peter Ogren had videotaped the entire event and later showed it to hundreds of visitors to our headquarters on Wooster Street.  The heterosexual oppressors came off looking like heavy-handed dolts.  The gay militants came off looking vibrant and witty. Closeted gay people who watched the video were exposed to an image of gay/lesbian verve that they had never before witnessed. It showed them that there was sassiness and humor in community.

As was our common practice, we also made sure that the mass media heard of the zap. We were lucky to have two savvy media pros in GAA, Arthur Bell (my lover at the time) and Ron Gold. Arthur was a publicist for Viking Press and Random House, and later a columnist for the Village Voice. Ron was a former reporter for Variety. The two got us dish on politicians' itineraries and made sure our actions got good play in the press.

Zap and hype, zap and hype. With that two-step, we danced our way into the limelight of public awareness and broke through the taboo of discussing things gay.

A Long-Term Payoff

Our zap of the City Clerk also delivered a longer-term payoff. One person who heard of it and enjoyed it thoroughly was a local politician named David Dinkins. In 1975 he succeeded the doltish Herman Katz as City Clerk. Later, in 1989, Dinkins was elected Mayor of New York City, with strong support from gay and lesbian voters.

In 1993, this same David Dinkins signed an executive order enabling same-sex couples to register as unmarried "domestic partners" with the City Clerk's office. His order enabled gays and lesbians to enjoy some of the benefits that straights just take for granted, especially medical insurance benefits. Our zap 22 years before was the first step in the long road to winning this victory.

Know Your Neighbor

Zaps were not just morale builders for our community. They also generated immediate political payoffs. An example was a zap we conducted in June 1970 against Saul Sharison, chairman of the General Welfare Committee of the New York City Council.

Sharison had refused to hold hearings on a bill we wanted--a simple measure that would outlaw discrimination against gay people in employment and housing. In fact, Sharison's committee hadn't considered any bills at all for nine months. After many meetings with his staff, it became obvious to us that Sharison wasn't going to budge and that our bill would die.

Sharison apparently hadn't heard of the feminist principle that the personal is the political. He didn't realize that the politics he was playing were about to have as big an impact on his personal life as they already had on ours.

GAA members Marc Rubin and Pete Fisher did some personal investigating of Sharison. They discovered that he lived in a luxury high-rise apartment building on East 10th Street, which covered a whole city block. By chance, the building was about a half-hour's walk from GAA headquarters, which was then in a run-down, throw-away neighborhood (although it's since been yuppified).

Marc and Pete also discovered that Sharison got an extra $20,000 a year as a committee chairman. Yet he had convened only two meetings of his committee during his whole term! Sharison was, in Marc Rubin's immortal words, "a useless shit."

Pete took this dish and worked it up into a beautifully ironic leaflet entitled "Know Your Neighbor." He and Marc dutifully handed it out in front of Sharison's building, to all his neighbors. Now they all knew what kind of a low-life was living in their building!

A Stroll by 1,000 People

As mentioned, Sharison's building was not far from our headquarters. It was a big old firehouse that we had refurbished and made into a community center. The ground floor could accommodate over a thousand people, and we held dances there on the weekends.

On a Saturday night in June 1970, we stopped the music at 1:30 a.m. We explained to the crowd that we were going to stroll over to Saul Sharison's luxury apartment building and give him a show of gay/lesbian pride. We urged the crowd to be quiet as we walked the distance to Sharison's, but to let loose once we got there.

We opened the huge rolling doors that covered an entire wall, and a thousand of us poured out onto the street. I thought of the ancient Israelites crossing the Red Sea!

When we got to Sharison's at 2:00 a.m., we raised a joyful noise unto the goddess. You can imagine the scene--screaming, shouting, blowing whistles, banging on walls, wailing police sirens, search lights scanning the crowd, the whole bit. We could see lights going on in apartments all over the front side of the building. Seven of us (including Pete Fisher, Marc Rubin, and myself) managed to get through the front door and hold a sit-in in the opulent lobby, where we were arrested.

The wealthy tenants who lived in the building were furious. After all, they lived where they did in order to get away from people like us. But there was nothing they could do to GAA. So they turned their wrath on Saul Sharison instead. He was deluged with phone calls from his neighbors, who started a petition drive to have him evicted as an undesirable tenant. Now he, too, knew what it was like to lack housing protection.

A Call from Saul

Within a few days, GAA got a phone call from Sharison's staff. His committee would meet and begin to hold public hearings on our bill. Who would we like to testify?

Sharison made this concession not because he liked us or because we were polite and well dressed. He got off his duff because we would have made his life miserable if he hadn't. His response confirmed an old adage from another Saul, Saul Alinksy: politics is the art of getting people do the right thing for the wrong reasons.

It took a long time to get our bill passed in New York. It didn't happen until 16 years later, in 1986. The opposition was fierce--from the Roman Catholic archdiocese, the Orthodox rabbinate, the Protestant fundamentalists, the police, and the fire department. Even the Non-Leaders of the Gay Liberation Front were opposed (especially Jim Fouratt). They derided the whole idea as "reformist" and "assimilationist." But in the end the bill passed. The first step of all was holding public hearings on the issue, which our zap of Sharison had made possible.

Trophy Liberalism

Saul Sharison was a good liberal, as were many of the targets of our zaps. Some people criticized us for going after the liberals. "Why alienate our friends?" they asked. "If we turn off the liberals, who will support us?" This was especially the view of New York's conservative Mattachine Society, although they later rethought the matter.

Marty Robinson, the chief architect of zapping, argued that we should go after the liberals precisely because they claimed to be our friends. They said the right things, Marty pointed out, but failed when it was time to deliver the goods. What kind of a friend is that?

Many liberals are hypocrites, Marty felt. Their liberalism is a kind of trophy that they like to show off in order to prove their educational status. Anyway, you never accomplish anything in politics by being dependent on someone's good will. You get ahead by creating power.

Marty was nothing if not a realist. He summed up his realism with two phrases: "climbing up the liberals" and "politicians--use 'em or abuse 'em." He meant that the only way for us to get ahead was to dare to climb up the body politic, first going for the toes (the liberals), whether they liked it or not.

The Biggest Toe

The biggest toe we went for was John Lindsay, New York's liberal Republican mayor. Educated, suave, handsome, and rich, he had been the Congressman from New York's swank and soooo-liberal Silk Stocking District before winning election as mayor.

Unfortunately, though, Lindsay's liberalism didn't extend to controlling the city's rabidly anti-gay police force in its never-ending attacks on us. Individual complaints had been made to his office. Polite demonstrations had been held. All to no avail. So we decided to zap him every time he appeared in public.

A Night at the Opera

A memorable zap of Lindsay occurred on the opening night of the 1970 season of the Metropolitan Opera. As was customary, the mayor was to enter the cavernous lobby of Lincoln Center at the last minute. The well-heeled patrons held glittering poses on the lofty staircase waiting for the grand entry.

We, too, were in the lobby, disguised in suit-and-time drag. Some of us even wore tuxedoes, including GAA's Mr. Natural, Eric Thorndale. (Even so, though, Eric decided to go barefoot, for the sake of sartorial balance.)

The large glass doors opened, and in stepped his Honor, along with Mary, his wife, both smiling graciously as if they were a duke and duchess. At that moment we surged forth from the crowd, blocked the two in their tracks, and shouted at the top of our lungs, "END POLICE HARASSMENT!" and "GAY POWER!"

The police, confused by our bourgeois drag, hesitated for a few seconds, allowing our chants to swell and echo off the walls, while the spectators gazed at this spectacle with amazement. Then the police jumped in, shoving, pushing, and dragging us (some by the hair). They threw us out the door and down the outside steps, but without arresting anyone.
As a result of the zap, the curtain was delayed for the opera. In the next day's New York Times, the opera critic noted the delay in his review. This was the first time I ever recalled seeing the New York Times make any mention of the new gay activism. And we got it through an opera review!

Two in a Row

A few days after this spectacle, we zapped Lindsay again. We discovered that his wife was sponsoring a benefit performance of the new play Two by Two for one of her charities. Once again, we found ourselves milling around in a lobby wearing bourgeois drag and sipping cocktails, just like the well-heeled liberals.

When the mayor and his wife entered, the scene at the opera repeated itself, but with a difference. Mrs. Lindsay lost her temper and suddenly lunged at the demonstrators, kicking several in the shins, and punching me in the chest. His Honor kept his cool while in the lobby, but when the two entered the auditorium, he lashed out at his wife for her uncool reaction.

We were delighted that we had turned a political issue into a personal quarrel between the mayor and his wife. It meant that we were breaking down the barrier between the political and personal, a barrier that always protects the oppressors.

A few days later, GAA got a phone call from Richard Aurelio, New York's Deputy Mayor. Could we come down to City Hall to discuss what was bothering us? We met with Aurelio and the top brass of the police department. They agreed to exile Inspector Seymour Pine, who had been instigating much of the recent anti-gay harassment, to a remote post in Brooklyn. It was about time, too. Pine was the captain in charge of the 6th Precinct (Greenwich Village) when their boys had raided the Stonewall Inn on June 27, 1969, provoking the famed riot of that night.

President Lindsay?!

Although we got some movement out of Lindsay on police matters, he wouldn't publicly support our anti-discrimination bill. And after all our work to get Saul Sharison to hold hearings! Privately, Lindsay's aides told us over and over, "The mayor has never been on the wrong side of a civil-rights issue." But publicly, there was a big silence.

We knew we couldn't pass the bill without public support from the mayor, so we decided to go after him again. As it turned out, Lindsay set himself up for what proved to be our most spectacular zap ever.

In late 1971, the mayor announced to the world his delusional ambition of becoming the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Now we understood why he hadn't given us public support. The party of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford would never make a fag lover its nominee for president.

The Good Witch Strikes

A few months later, in early 1972, Lindsay decided to promote his presidential candidacy in a big way. He would host a rally for himself at New York's huge Radio City Music Hall. In order to fill the house and make money, he put all city employees on notice: they were expected to buy a ticket to this event, attend, and applaud.

We planned to attend, too, but not to applaud. Our wily publicist Ron Gold managed to finagle tickets for the event from friends of his in the projectionists' union.

When His Honor arrived, he had to enter by a back door because of a noisy demonstration out front by GAA. But he hadn't given us the slip, after all. Unknown to Lindsay, GAA members Morty Manford, Ernest Cohen, and Corona Rivera (then known as Cora Perotta) were ready. They were quietly sitting high up the balcony, waiting for their cue.

All in the house had taken their seats. The mayor emerged from behind the curtain and confidently strode forth to the podium to speak. For a moment, there was total silence. Suddenly, Morty and Corona ran down to balcony railing and shouted full blast, "WHY DON'T YOU SUPPORT GAY RIGHTS?!"

Because of the excellent acoustics at Radio City Music Hall, their cry filled the entire auditorium, as all heads turned to the balcony. Police surged down the balcony steps to drag Morty and Corona away, but they couldn't. The two had handcuffed themselves to the railing, and continued shouting.

At the same time, Ernest Cohen rushed to the railing and let fly a shower of thousands of leaflets, explaining the reason for the zap. They floated benignly down like the missive snow flakes of Glinda, the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz. The now-wakened crew below eagerly snapped them up.
Lindsay, furious and speechless, stomped off the stage. The house lights dimmed, and the projectionist began showing a canned film about His Honor's life. His many guests, cajoled to attend, had a good laugh at their ungenerous host's expense.

This zap alone did not derail Lindsay's presidential plans, but it helped. For that, the entire country should be grateful to GAA, because this sophisticated, well-heeled liberal later became a born-again Christian.

Trouble in Long Island

Although effective in building up community morale and generating immediate political payoffs, zaps could be dangerous. An example was an incident that occurred in Suffolk County, Long Island.

The Suffolk County police, with headquarters in Happauge, Long Island, had authority over Fire Island. They liked to harass people who visited gay-favored beaches on the island. In addition, two drunk cops had raided a lesbian bar in Coram, Long Island, and beaten the manager.

We had been trying for some time to get George Aspland, the Suffolk County District Attorney, to investigate the police for their criminal attacks. But he wouldn't act. So we decided to go en masse to Aspland's office in Happauge and make a citizen's arrest of him, charging him with malfeasance in office.

In late November 1971, we rented a bus and set out for Happauge. We hoped to gain entry into his office under the pretense of delivering some affidavits about police brutality. What we didn't know was that an informer had infiltrated our planning meeting for the zap (held by GAA's executive committee in the basement of the firehouse) and tipped off Aspland.

Our bus pulled into the street in front of the county hall, the doors opened, and we all ran as fast as we could up the stairs toward the front door. It felt as though we were paratroopers jumping out of a plane onto enemy terrain. At the same moment, we heard a police siren go off (not a good sign).

We managed to get through the front door of the building and into a small reception room adjacent to the DA's office. Its door was locked. From behind a small open window in the adjacent room a cop identified himself as Lt. Calley. A second bad omen, I thought to myself, since another Lt. Calley had recently been in the news for committing atrocities against civilians in the Vietnam War. Our Lt. Calley said he would take the affidavits.

I asked him about the disposition of previous complaints concerning the police. He refused to answer and started to shut the window. I blocked the closing of the window with my hand and shouted as loudly as I could, "DON'T SLAM THIS WINDOW IN OUR FACES! WE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW THE STATUS OF THIS INVESTIGATION!"

At that moment, the door to the DA's office suddenly opened, and six or seven plainclothes police came rushing in, wildly swinging blackjacks.

I was lucky. I just got pushed to the floor in the shoving match. Others didn't fare so well. Many ended up with cuts and bruises, two gay men had their noses broken, and one lesbian suffered a broken rib that punctured her lung.

We were pushed and shoved outside, down the steps. Three people were arrested. One was beaten in his cell and told that if he didn't stop "this gay lib business," he would be found dead with a planted gun.

The Folks Next Door

We were down, but not out. As it happened, the Suffolk County Legislature was meeting in a building next door. Also, they had only recently been discussing charges of police brutality in the county. We charged into their meeting (some of our people still had blood streaming down their faces) and denounced the police for their attack.

The legislators were horrified. Later that day, H.L. Dennison, the County Executive, issued a statement saying the police commissioner had been lying to him about the extent of police brutality in the county and that an investigation would be launched. In addition, two legal observers from the ACLU had been beaten by police while photographing the event. They telegrammed the Department of Justice in Washington, demanding an FBI probe.

Of course no help would come from the FBI. Those were the days when Pres. Nixon was using the FBI to sabotage groups like ours. Nonetheless, our zap was a success. It generated a tremendous amount of publicity in Long Island about gay/lesbian issues. The long silence there was broken.

The upshot: local gay and lesbian residents started coming out of the closet, organizing politically, and having an impact on local elections. The genie of gay power was out of the bottle in Long Island, and nobody could force it back in.

The Big Wake-Up

The zaps mentioned above are just a small sample of GAA's repertoire of occupations and disruptions. Some targets of other occupations: Republican Party headquarters, Harper's Magazine, Fidelifacts (a private investigatory agency), the New York City Taxi Commission, St. Patrick's Cathedral, The New York Daily News, and the Board of Education.

Some targets of other disruptions: gubernatorial candidate Arthur Goldberg and presidential candidate Edmund Muskie, Arthur Godfrey, Dick Cavette, the American Psychiatric Association, and New York's "Inner Circle," at whose banquet Jim Owles and Morty Manford were savagely beaten.
In addition to zaps, we also held many demonstrations of a more conventional nature, not involving occupations or disruptions. And, of course, we had ongoing behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts directed at politicians at every level of government and at the mass media.

Our zaps, demonstrations, and lobbying attained a magnitude and a degree of cunning previously unknown in the history of the gay/lesbian movement. Within a few years, we had completely transformed gay life in New York City.

We also inspired the creation of hundreds of similar groups throughout the United States in the 70s. Later, in the 80s and 90s, our zaps became a model for AIDS activists.

Our role-modeling impact on other groups didn't just happen, but was due to persistent propaganda efforts. The spearhead on the national level was our National Gay Movement Committee, first chaired by Pete Fisher, and later by Rich Wandel. Locally, the spearhead was our Agit-Prop Committee, the brainchild of Eric Thorndale. (Agit-Prop = Agitation-Propaganda.) And, as noted early, we relied heavily on our wily media people, Arthur Bell and Ron Gold.

Let Us Raise a Standard

In the mid 60s, before GAA was founded, I used to go to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village during the warm summers, sit on a favorite park bench, and read. The handsome arch dedicated to George Washington was always in view, rising majestically above the scene below. At the top was an inscription of one of Washington's sayings: "Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest may repair."

I often thought of that inscription later, first when we created GAA in 1969, and then when we hit the streets with our zaps in the 70s. In the end, beyond all the noise and frenzy of our public confrontations, we were doing something rather simple: raising a standard for the gay and lesbian community, inviting those who were ready, to come forward, step across the line, and join us.

Marty Robinson summed it up in more prosaic words: "Set a good bad example." That was a liberating idea. It was also part of an old American tradition going back to George Washington.

A subsequent article by Arthur Evans will explore the cultural activities of GAA.