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20 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

Stonewall gives middle finger to oppressive heterosexist ‘normalcy’ Fight against the APA was just as profound By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com

Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny, and John Fryer as ‘Dr. H. Anonymous’ at the APA meeting in 1972. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

In the Trump era, the massive LGBT parades in New York City and elsewhere on June 28, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, commemorate more than an annual Pride event: they symbolize an LGBT people intent on joyfully countering white male-dominated heterosexism and the tentacles of hatred it inspires. This counter-culture moment in many ways mirrors the counter-culture movement of the 1960s and early 1970s where hope for full equality and the spirit of freedom and democracy clashed with oppressive hardcore conservatism. Stonewall was a line of demarcation between passive acceptance and courageous self-empowerment in a culture war that is not yet won. Violent raids on gay bars were routine until Stonewall, as the Washington Post reported in their review of Howard Mann’s book Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969. “The imposition of the notorious Production Code, for example, was accompanied by a crackdown on ‘pansy’ clubs in Los Angeles and elsewhere -- all part of a reaction to the liberalization of the raucously roaring ‘20s.” Outside of dark hideouts and clandestine hookups, LGBT people survived by hiding in the closet, passing as straight. Those who couldn’t hide or got caught were often scandalized, humiliated, beaten or killed without repercussions. Gays like Howard Efland, a nurse who checked into the SRO Dover Hotel in downtown LA on March 9, 1969—roughly four months before Stonewall—hoping to meet someone in those otherwise freewheeling pre-bathhouse days of the 1960s. But the LAPD didn’t just bust the “faggot” on a trumped-up charge—they dragged him naked by the feet down a flight of stairs where they savagely beat him in front of horrified witnesses as he screamed for help. When he died shortly thereafter, they told his parents he suffered a heart attack. The Coroner called his death an “excusable homicide.” The LA Advocate found out and reported the murder, prompting the Rev. Troy Perry and gay troublemaker Morris Kight to organize a march and rally at the site. But no one was ever held accountable. Protest rallies had become common in the 1960s as more people joined civil rights marches and students protested the war in Vietnam. But the 1968 assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King, along with the televised brutality of the Chicago police during the Democratic National Convention, led the country to

split asunder debating politics, ethics and morality. But Stonewall in 1969 and the less celebrated earlier LGBT rebellions against police in Los Angeles at the Cooper DoNuts in 1959, Compton’s Cafeteria in 1966, the Black Cat Tavern on Feb. 11, 1967 and at Lee Glaze’s The Patch in Aug. 1968 were significant for another reason, as well. They symbolized an arbitrarily constructed minority fighting back against the prevailing definition of homosexuality as an icky moral perversion worthy of degradation, condemnation—and as the Bible suggests, death. As a result of the acceptance and promotion of that longstanding belief by society, the state, religion and families, in 1952, the American Psychiatric Association  listed homosexuality as a mental disorder and a “sexual deviation” in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual  (DSM) during the height of the McCarthy era witch hunts. Many LGBT individuals internalized that hate-based definition of homosexuality as a sin, a crime and a sick perversion, leading to suicide, profound shame, secrecy, and agonizing isolation. “It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and halfbelieved, before I was able to walk in the earth as though I had a right to be here,” gay author James Baldwin once wrote. “Cures” for homosexuality included lobotomies, electroshock aversion therapy, and chemical castration among other tortures—as well as the perennial “conversion” or “reparative” therapy, still thriving in many states today. Not all LGBT people were cowed by the danger, however. Edythe Eyde (aka Lisa Ben) started the first known lesbian newsletter Vice Versa in 1947 during off time as a secretary for RKO Pictures. Harry Hay and a few others founded the Mattachine Society and ONE Inc, which published ONE Magazine, in LA in the early 1950s when poet Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” was all the rage. San Francisco drag queen and Army vet Jose Sarria ran for political office in 1961, before founding the Imperial Court System. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon founded the Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco in 1955, also publishing The Ladder for lesbians. But most of the early organizations were clandestine since being discovered to be a homosexual led to instant unemployment, loss of family and friends and a myriad of other personal horrors, including depression, anxiety and other emotional

Profile for Los Angeles Blade

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 26, June 28, 2019  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 26, June 28, 2019

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 26, June 28, 2019  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 26, June 28, 2019

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