HARRY HAY
and the
SPIRIT OF STONEWALL
New York, 1994
 

Harry made the following statement to a press conference on June 24, 1994, in the former Stonewall Inn on Sheridan Square in New York, site of the riots that launched the modern gay movement in June 1969.  The press conference was called to announce the Spirit of Stonewall (SOS) contingent in the Stonewall 25 march two days later.  It was moderated by SOS co-organizer and indefatigable activist Bill Dobbs.  Other participants were Christine Martin, sex educator and documentary filmmaker; Glenda Orgasm (aka Glenn Belverio), drag queen activist and filmmaker; Scott O’Hara, editor and publisher of Steam magazine; Val Langmuir of Feminists Against Censorship (London); Julia Smedley, member of Stonewall Now; and Charley Shively of Fag Rag and professor of American Studies at the University of Massachusetts.

This statement was transcribed from a videotape of the press conference. A much shorter version—which omits any mention of NAMBLA or SOS, as well as the entire last half of the statement and the first paragraph—appeared in Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the Words of Its Founder Harry Hay, ed. Will Roscoe (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996), p. 303. These omissions seem odd in view of the fact that Harry read from a written text.  The truncated version also used capital letters for words such as “Brothers and Sisters” and “Queers,” a convention that is not followed here since this complete version is not based on a written text.


Sir Julian Huxley, the great English biologist, said, at the beginning of this century, no negative trait—and, as you know, a negative trait is one that does not reproduce itself—no negative trait ever appears, and reappears, millennia after millennia after millennia, unless it in some way serves the survival of that species.  We gays and lesbians may embody, or have discovered, some things that you folks desperately need to know about.

I’m here today as a survivor, as well as the founder of the first ongoing gay organization in the United States, the Mattachine Society, first formed in 1950 in Los Angeles, and now, naturally, a member of SOS, the Spirit of Stonewall, because things we discovered about ourselves and principles we developed in 1950 to ‘53 are now being trashed by queers who don’t know their own history, all over the place.

We decided from the beginning that, first, because we were still discovering our parameters, we wouldn’t censure each other.  If people like NAMBLA self-identify themselves to me as gays and lesbians, I accept them as brothers and sisters with love.

Second, when we decided to rejoin the social or political mainstream again, we would integrate as the group we saw ourselves to be, complete with our own set of values, or we would not integrate at all.

And third, we would no longer permit any heteros—nationally or internationally, individually or collectively—to tell us who we are, what persons our groups should or should not consist of.  We assert our right to self-determination, we assert our right to collective self-definition.  We queers will decide for ourselves who our members should be.

Members of SOS, notably NAMBLA, have been accused of child molestation.  Insofar as child molestation is concerned, the most common form is the sexual coercion by which gay and lesbian children are bedeviled into hetero identities and behaviors.  And this is practiced daily by the whole national and international hetero community—parents, family, teachers, preachers, doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs, not to overlook U.S. senators and pooh-bah media.

This outrageous coercion of gay kids into hetero identities and behaviors against their wills is not only sexually abusive, it is spiritually devastating rape, because the child unbeknowingly is being led into developing self-loathing at the same time.  For this gigantic criminal trespass against not only today’s children but against all of us also—all of us—since childhood, from the queers my age of 82 down through all the generations of queers assembled here in New York, to the gay kids still being bedeviled by sexual coercion against their wills, we the international gay and lesbian people here this week should unite to sue the whole guilty heterosexual community lock, stock, and barrel to within an inch of their lives, and for every nickel they’ve got, as a beginning of compensation.  And while we’re at it, we should request our first-class citizenship as well.  This could be the class-action suit of the century.

Copyright © NAMBLA, 2003. All rights reserved.