Reprinted with permission from the Rochester DAILY PLANET, Dec. 21, 197X). Watch for its ‘Gay Scenes’ column.
by Bob Osborn
There is now a Rochester Gay Liberation Front, headquartered at
the University of Rochester as an official student organization with an office in 202-D Todd Union, a loosely knit “membership” of a couple hundred men and women, and a monthly magazine. Its meetings have featured guest speakers ranging from A.C.L.U. representatives to national movement leaders, and it has held a public dance. Don’t be surprised that you hadn’t heard the news, because the organization sprang into existence just last October with little advance notice. And don’t be surprised at its achievements in two short months, because it is simply a response to the awakening needs of an extremely large oppressed group . It is one of many such groups.
The last ten years has seen the growth of a strong humanist movement in this country to right the wrongs of centuries. It is tedious to speculate on the source of its strength or the direction of movement, but a lot of articulate people in this country and elsewhere have become personally involved in trying to redirect an essentially oppressive and exploitative WASP culture to fulfilling some goals it has only given lip service to.
Many groups have been conceived in desperation and ”dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights—that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
It is an international movement, since the Black people in the U.S. are tied to the Black world, the workers here a r e exploited the same as workers everywhere, people everywhere are suffering from industrial pollution; the Koreans and the Vietnamese are simply the most glaring examples of the vengeance of our “system” against a rebellious third world. Women, too, are beginning to have new hope that the “system” may fall, and now the international homosexual community is awakening to its place in the movement. Since the groups overlap (there probably are Black lesbian handicapped factory workers) it can be hoped that a truly international brotherhood can be developed to bring from the present chaos a truly human world.
So much for speculation. In this country, following the organization of the first Mattachine Society in San Fransisco in 1950, the gay world has begun getting itself together. And now, from Talahassee, Florida to Butte, Montana, gay liberation groups are assessing their strength and flexing their muscles. Oppressive laws can be removed, as they have in many European countries, Canada, and even partially in Illinois and Connecticut, but the struggle goes far deeper than that. The prejudice against homosexuality in the contemporary western culture has existed for centuries and a hatred for (or fear about?) homosexuality is more intense that that against liberated women. Communists, beatniks, orientals or Blacks.
A million homosexuals have been tortured, condemned to death and burned at the stake for their “crimes” against the church or the state. The last official death sentence was over 80 years ago but there are still 48 states which consider sodomy a “crime against nature,” and 5 prescribing life imprisonment for this heresy.
But why ? Is the church’s influence so strong that they may legislate “morality” at will? Or does the “heterosexual” hate and fear the homosexual so much because he is unsure of his own sexual orientation?
And on other levels, more questions. Should psychiatrists be allowed to pratter about the sickness of homosexuality when every strata of our entire “system” is full of normal well-adjusted homosexuals? Indeed, why is the word “homosexual” used so much as a noun when most people have had enjoyable experiences with people of both sexes? Why does a sincere love between two people become evil when they happen to be
of the same sex? Is not overpopulation an evil “crime against nature?” Can it ever happen that economic and social discrimination be eliminated for all people regardless of race, creed, sex or sexual orientation?
There are no easy answers to these questions, and this column will never attempt to supply any. But some thinking must be done if gay liberation is to happen and the awakening humanist movement is to fully reflect the human condition. The first step in consciousness-raising.
You, dear Reader, are not alone. Most of your friends have had homosexual experiences , too, and they have the same hangups you do about them. In answering the above questions, maybe you can see yourself as part of an expanding movement that is asking a lot of questions about a lot of established norms. And maybe you’ll want to join the G.L.F. or other movement groups who are desperately searching for a better world.