HARRY HAY
New York City, 1994

Harry made the following remarks on June 25, 1994, to the NAMBLA conference in New York held during the Stonewall 25 commemorations.  They were transcribed from a videotape and appear to contain several puns and neologisms.





The early seventies were a time for rage.  The late seventies were a time for wide-open experimentation.  NAMBLA participated in instituting and developing the International Lesbian and Gay Association during this period.  The eighties were to have been a time for growth and change, developing ourselves and firming up contributions we’d always dreamed to introduce to the mainstream society around us.  Changes would be in the social mainstream as our contributions began to interact.  But, as is so often the case with the best-laid plans of mice, we had overlooked taking reckon of our host, the Reagan administration, the slimy creature of finance capital and the world economy.  By 1983, the gay and lesbian community, already so beset—and in places devastated—by our frightening, and frightful, terminal illness, moved in to take care of ourselves and our own, setting up counseling and support groups, raising funds to help care for those whose insurance policies were failing them.  We roused and motivated the whole community to establish national research foundations, care groups, Meals on Wheels around the clock, setting an example to the world of how an emerging and inventive social minority, even though oppressed and suppressed for a thousand years, could mobilize in the twentieth century to take care of its own.

At one point, the Congress voted to set aside $485 million for AIDS care and research.  Reagan refused to appropriate one cent.  Republican neofascism had struck its second blow, and this time it choked.  The first blow was to have been Jerry Falwell’s inspirational Family Protection Act of 1981-82.  Planned to sneak through Congress—and it very well might have gotten through had not a couple of us out west spotted two little paragraphs on the last couple of pages of the 500-page report which scapegoated the gay and lesbian community—had it passed, we would have had rampant fascism within weeks of Reagan’s happy signature.

Growth and change indeed has taken place in the eighties and nineties—but on the cutting edge of the gay and lesbian community, to its everlasting honor, and not in the hetero mainstream, to its everlasting shame.  By far, gays’ and lesbians’ greatest strides were in the dimensions of gay consciousness and in our breathtaking discoveries in the richness and diversity of gay spirit.  It is in the realm of gay spirit where all the groups comprising the gay and lesbian community currently are being challenged to take great leaps, to expand their self-visions and potential horizons.

Here I would suggest that NAMBLA’s recent affronts from the likes of ILGA’s national board and other similar respectables be taken into account. The climate of gay consciousness has changed since the rip-roaring weeks and months of July ‘69 through July ‘74.  Many of the forward-moving groups have upped the quality of their perceptions and expanded the parameters of their horizons.  In this period, my beloved Radical Faeries moved to perceive that our lovely and beautiful sexuality is the gateway to spirit.  Perhaps NAMBLA might consider expanding its parameters also.

Here, NAMBLA, since so much of its literature enjoys to invoke classic Greek mythology, might take a leaf from the prehistorical traditions of the great ceremonial which seems to have taken place every fourth year at Olympia—the wrestling ritual.  A votive piece, recovered from the soil, not often quoted—not strangely, it must be noted:  from the standard hetero point of view, it happens to be very embarrassing—it reveals two nude figures locked in contention.  But differently from most wrestling matches, in which the contenders are face to face, these two figures are upside down, in what might also be delicately referred to as the 69 position—except that no mutuality, no sexuality, is either indicated or inferred.

Here we must mention that the society, that so-called Greek dark ages, that period between the fall of Mycenae and the arrival of the Dorians in the ninth century, the Greek mainland, before it was divided into demes, was tribal, and apparently co-conscious, as are our Native American tribes still.  Differently from the domination-submission, subject-object brutality of our hetero white man consciousness, co-conscious tribal rituals would have been sharing rather than contentious.  In such ritual sharing games, the old contender would be eager to share sagacity, wisdom, and endurance, and the younger one grace, suppleness, and invention, each eagerly needing and seeking what the other had to offer.  The shining product of this ancient sharing tradition in historic times would have been the example of the Theban Band.

The manner of gay spirit is different, please note, from those trendy buzzwords like “spiritual,” “spirituality,” “soul”—all of these euphemistic sticky-crap tools, safety-valve accoutrements used by organized religions to keep their sheep in order, as they were set up to do by the hetero male estate.

There are myths aplenty in almost all state-controlled cultures describing how the ruling classes continually buy and sell soul as a commodity.  There are no myths that I know of that ever bought or sold spirit.

In the riotous sensual and sexually experimental years in the late seventies and eighties, Arthur Evans’s Dionysus called the gay spirits to be immersed in Ecstas-eros with him.  Ecstas-eros calls the devoted to themselves in the numinous Dionysus dancing incandescently.

Meanwhile, the body, abandoned by the soul’s control, gleefully frolics in all manner of deliciously wanton and spendthrift dissipations, mortally wounding itself occasionally in the process, and so destroying itself in the bargain.

I would propose that Dionysus’s twin brother, Apollo Phoibody [Phoibos-a pun on Peabody?], born at the same time, of the same father but of different mothers, thus kept in the stoichidia, the women’s quarters, and so in skirts longer than most boys, both of them serving as surrogates for their mothers from time to time, wearing her robe and diadem, guarantor orb of authority, perhaps even sexually entertaining the extended family fathers of a given tribe from time to time.  I propose that Apollo Phoibody [Phoibos] might be the shining one, to invoke as sharer of the gay spirit of the nineties.  Both brothers require their devotees to join them in joyous union with their respective godhead.  But, whereas Dionysus requires you to discard your body to its wanton disadvantage, the service to Apollo Phoibody [Phoibos] requires you, the worshiper, to invite the shining one to enter your body.  Apollo Phoibody [Phoibos], like his mother, the shining one of the night sky, was inspireous, the inspirer (inspireous meant to enter on the breath).  To be inspired was to be entered by the god on your breath, for the shining one to in effect invite him to preside in equivalence on your breast.

To all intents and purposes, then, Apollo temporarily transforms your body into his temple, and while he dances luminously within your body, you are totally responsible for his safety, his care, and his entertainment.

 It is my purpose today, in this brief discourse, to lay out for your delection these ingredients, which you might find engaging in devising a fresh decor for your 1990s parameters, ones that might infer delightful hidden approaches to gay spirit.  The image of the older devotee being totally responsible for the shining boy Apollo, whose inspirational shaping is within his spirit care, the modern-day equivalent of the immortal pair of the older-younger lovers of the Theban Band, each nonpossessively challenging the other to grow and develop to his finest potential, continues to embody, in my view, the responsible cutting edge of gay spirit, a truly shining path to live for.  In today’s frightening world where the hysteria of the hetero world is clearly out of control, we all of us need more of such hand holds to steady our courses.

Copyright © NAMBLA, 2003. All rights reserved.