Reading thru the 150 pages of de-classified FBI surveillance records of the Gay Activists Alliance, I have been able to learn who some of the major players were in the early gay rights movement. My research involved finding the earlier origins for the First National March on Washington in 1979. These efforts have been hampered by the absolute lack of historical records in some cases and the lack of on-line archives in others. Some of the best sources have been recorded interviews with the few remaining survivors (bless you IN THE LIFE) and FBI records.
The karmic payback of J Edgar Hoover’s homophobia and obsession with the “radical” homosexuals who insisted on “coming out”, was the exhaustive records left for today’s gay historians. Perhaps J Edgar and Roy Cohen are rolling in their fire pits of hell, knowing that we have hundreds of documents laying out who, what, where, how and why of our early gay history. For the makers and keepers of these early activist records, came possible consequences comparable to today’s kiddy-porn collectors.
Many of the 1940’s and 1950’s gay activists were Marxists. The 1950’s McCarthy witch-hunts cleared the ranks of these “pinko commie fags” and it wasn’t until the mid 1960’s that the socialist gay movement picked up steam again. The activists need for secrecy combined with J Edgar and Roytoy Cohen’s obsessions gave us heretofore missing gaps in our history. Thanks to the efforts of the FBI, we now know of more people deserving of honor, in the gay annals of history.
Amongst others, the CONTELPRO surveillance programs in the 1960’s and 1970’s included the Black Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement and the women’s movement; including the efforts to pass ERA. These investigations followed the women who later served in the post-ERA lesbian and gay movement, who were our experienced backbone from the mid 1970’s. The FBI was concerned that the defeat of ERA would cause a radical backlash. This backlash, they feared, would manifest thru the lesbian and gay movement, in the form of riots and domestic terrorism. Their fears are laughable in today’s perspective and are worthy of an epic comedy, or at least a Mad-TV skit (visualize J Edgar Hoover in Islamic drag, spying on drag queens and lipstick lesbians for make-up tips, pretending it’s for Homeland Security).
In 1965, a tradition started of lesbians and gays marching on July 4th in Philadelphia, the city of love. These peaceful, respectful and quick marches were some of the early roots for the first national march on Washington. It was at these marches where people risked arrest, incarceration and hospitalization for their courage; not to mention jobs, homes and family. July 4th of 2005 will mark the 40th anniversary of these early first marches.
These more known events are contrasted with the FBI’s intelligence, which include later obscure events, including a little sit-in on July 30, 1971. According to FBI records, 170 people demonstrated at City Hall in Bridgeport Conn., a soiree organized by the Kalos Society-Gay Liberation. Personally, I probably would never have heard of this little ACT-UP grandpa, if it weren’t for J Edgar’s obsessive need to know what his fellow gays were wearing after Memorial Day.
Another little factoid revealed in the de-classified records, concern the FBI’s worries that gays would try and disrupt the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in 1972. Imagine all that time wasted in 1972, following gay activists while G Gordon Liddy and his gang from CREEP (their own acronym for the Committee to Re-elect the President), were breaking into nearby Watergate offices. Makes you wonder how much time the FBI is wasting on simliar “Curve Balls” of intelligence in 2004; with the gays all in a twitter over constitutional amendments banning their basic human rights and all. What laws, currently being violated by today's CREEP, are being ignored while the FBI worries obout gays disrupting the 2004 Republican and Democratic Conventions? Perhaps the de-classified files 20 years from now will be able to fill-in gaps in our present sloppy recording of gay history.
Today, the Christian-hate mouthpieces in Congress warn of “The Dangers to National Security of Homosexuals Destroying the Sacred Institution of Marriage” while Rep. Nancy Pelosi points out the immediate and real threat to national security, the Bin Laden network. Yet again, our country’s surveillance systems are given backseat to Christian-hate politicians. Meanwhile, the hate-Christians are probably slipping by the incompetent FBI, once again.
For these and other tid-bits, the Freedom of Information Act official website is a treasure trove of gay history. To J Edgar Hoover, wherever you’re rolling, my wigs and heels are off to you. It’s too bad they didn’t bury you in your favorite drag outfit; because every good drag queen, worth her tips, ALWAYS wears flame retardant wigs and pantyhose - dahling.