Monday, January 3, 2011

"Our goal is total liberation"

“Our goal is total liberation”

In 1969, Hay once again contributed to the crafting of a charter document of the Gay movement - the statement of purpose of the Gay Liberation Front of Los Angeles, adopted that December following a series of meetings organized by Leo Lawrence, Morris Kight, Hay and others.  Hay served as the first elected chair and proposed that the group reject majority voting in favor of consensus - the younger activists eagerly embraced the idea.

            In this declaration, Gay liberation is seen as part of sexual liberation, which involves transcending guilt, finding an "antidote" to social alienation, and offsetting aggression. While Gay liberation seeks to free all "sexual beings," the specificity and reality of being homosexual is still affirmed-there is no call for universal bisexuality.  Rather, the "natural" state of human sexuality is seen to be varied and diverse, not homogenous or undifferentiated.  Nor are there speculations about what "causes" or "constructs" homosexuality - only an unqualified affirmation of homosexual presence.  Today this would be termed "essentialism" and "identity
politics" - but these were ideals and politics that inspired an entire generation to come out. Gay liberation, as this document asserts, was first and foremost self-liberation, beginning in self-acceptance and pride in being Gay.  Education and "street actions" follow from this.  At the same time, Gay liberation is seen as one element of a broad coalition of minorities and disadvantaged groups seeking "full rights" and "total liberation." 

We might ask, what has changed between this statement and the one adopted by the Mattachine founders in 1951? In terms of analysis of oppression and plan of action, almost nothing – both call for identity politics as the basis for a mass movement of homosexuals as a minority seeking its own freedom, and both project this movement as part of a broader coalition for social change. In terms of tone and self-esteem, however, everything has changed. Gone is the fretting over "ethical and social principles" and providing a "dignified standard" for "social deviants." In its place is an in-your-face affirmation of homosexual naturalness
and rightness, an utter refusal to make apologies or even respond to stereotypes-these are all "establishment hang-ups." Such an attitude, which we take for granted today, was unimaginable, even to the radicals who founded Mattachine, in the 1950s.

Statement of Purpose –
Gay Liberation Front,
Los Angeles, California

History: 1969 was the Year of the New Homosexual. During that year new groups, projecting a militant, activist, and determined viewpoint, began to spring up around the country:  Committee for Homosexual Freedom, San Francisco; Gay Liberation Front, New York; Gay Liberation Front, Berkeley; Gay Liberation Front, Minneapolis- new ones every week, with the current count at twenty-five.  During December 1969, Gay Liberation Front, Los Angeles, was founded.

Community of Interest: We are in total opposition to America's white racism, to poverty, hunger, the systematic destruction of our patrimony; we oppose the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and are in total opposition to wars of aggression and imperialism, whoever pursues them. We support the demands of Blacks, Chicanos, Orientals, Women, Youth, Senior Citizens, and others demanding their full rights as human beings. We join in their struggle, and shall actively seek coalition to pursue these goals.

General Methodology: Gay Liberation Front, Los Angeles, will be a one-human, one-vote, non-exclusionary organization, welcoming all concerned homosexuals and sexual liberationists into its association. Decision-making process is by consensus. There is no formal membership; participants are called "Associates."  Meetings are weekly, on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. Until further notice we are meeting in the offices of the Homosexual Information Center, as their guests. A future project will be to establish a working center.

Philosophy: We say that homosexuality is a perfectly natural state, a fact, a way of life, and that we enjoy our sexuality, without feelings of inferiority or guilt. We seek and find love, and approach love, as a feeling of loving mutuality. We refuse to engage in discussion of causation, "Sickness" (A LIE!), degrees of sexuality, or any other such Establishment Hang-Ups. We accept ourselves with total self-respect, and respect our associates as they are, not what some social arbiter says they should be.

Self-liberation: One of our foremost goals is to bring all sexual beings into total acceptance of their sexuality. We believe that homosexuals can best serve themselves by accepting the total naturalness of their homosexuality. We believe that, as quickly as possible, homosexuals should find ways to inform their friends, families, employers, and associates of their homosexuality, that through this confrontation might come freedom from gossip, blackmail, guilt feelings, and self-destruction.

Education: We shall as quickly as possible inform one another of our knowledge of life, and then take that knowledge out into the community to educate the Philistines who have for so long made life in America a petrified, joyless Puritanism.

Action: We shall go immediately and militantly to the defense of one another and any homosexual deprived of his [sic] right to a joyful, useful, and personal life. Street actions are now being organized, more will come; we shall not waste our energies, however, on irrelevant issues. Our goal is - total liberation - life is for the living! We are alive! We want all to be alive! Sex is a sure cure of boredom and an antidote to the violence that is so American-

( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( Power to the People) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) )

Gay Liberation Front, Los Angeles
Adopted December 1969.

1. Hay recalls: "At our second meeting, which, as I remember, may have been in early November, I had been elected chairperson. Morris [Kight] attempted to put through a Robert's Rules of Order type constitution.  I told the group about TILL [Committee for Traditional Indian Land and Life] and described 'consensus.' The group loved it. They adopted that whoever participated in the meeting was an 'Associate,' we'd pass the hat instead of dues - you put in what you could afford to share - each meeting would have a 'facilitator,' and decisions would be made by consensus. Morris tried every which way to get it back to parliamentary procedure and voting - to no avail then. (By 1975, through the rise of a new wave of assimilationism, he finally won out.)" Pers. comm.

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