National Gay Mobilizing Committee for a March on Washington, May 1973-December 1973

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Contents

Conference for a March on Washington

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Mask201.jpg The Cast - Major players identified. Actual historical figures on left.

Jeff Graubart, GLF activist, YSA member, Coordinator NGMC, Narrator Dave Rosen
William Stanley, GLF activist, YSA member, NGMC member Winston Stanfield III
Roger Walther, President GLF and NGMC Roger Hamilton
Wayne Sunday, GAA Secretary, YSA member, NGMC supporter Zach Doubleday
John O'Brien, GAA member, SWP member, NGMC supporter Austin O'Rourke
Garret Gray, Leader, Illinois Gays for Legislative Action Larry Gulian
All other LGBT activists mentioned, some with minor speaking roles Real Names Used

Keeping my Demons at Bay

Having won some points with the national and regional offices of the Young Socialist Alliance and Socialist Workers Party for my strong showing (by revolutionary socialist standards) in the Urbana Mayoral race, and by this time completely obsessed with the fight for gay liberation as the only way to keep away my demons, I decided to call in my marker with the YSA and push them to provide the infrastructure for a gay and lesbian march on Washington.


Not only were LGBT people suspicious of revolutionary socialists and vice versa, but I was not well-known on a national level as either a gay activist or a revolutionary socialist. However, sometimes audacity and naivete can make for good history.


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Dramatization of Early Discussion between Bill Stanley and Jeff Graubart on Washington march[1] A fictionalized account to show my state of mind.


The IGLA Conference in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois

Urbana failed to pass the gay rights bill as I had assumed and instead threw the bill into the Committee on Legislation. At this point, the Washington march was just beer talk at Bill Stanley's, although, on one drunken occasion, he called a gay YSA comrade in New York who supported the idea.


Bill Stanley and I both supported a march on the Illinois State Capitol, Springfield, and we planned on bringing that up at a statewide meeting of a group based out of Chicago called, Illinois Gays for Legislative Action, although Bill was certain they would defeat the proposal without the Urbana victory to give credence to our style of direct action politics.


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Dramatization of Bloomington-Normal IGLA Conference[2] I am uncertain how much of this dramatization is fiction and how much is fact. IGLA did endorse the march on Springfield and I did mention the false assertion that the SWP/YSA were considering building a gay and lesbian march on Washington.


Mission to New York

With the prospect of a march on Washington with resources provided by the SWP and YSA known beyond our small circle, Bill Stanley and I traveled to New York in late May to get a sense of support from the New York comrades and to get the reaction from the nation's largest and most militant gay organization, the New York Gay Activist Alliance (GAA).


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Dramatization of Trip to New York[3] The dramatization is intended to be accurate. Bruce Voeller, president of GAA, whose real name is used, said a lot more about the march and conference than the one line attributed to him, all of it negative. The discussions with and about Steve Endean, whose real name is used, are reported to the best of my recollection. A few other YSA comrades and GAA members who joined us for dinner were omitted from the novel for conciseness.


The National Gay Mobilizing Committee for a March on Washington

William Stanley was hooked by the New York trip. Now it was time to set up an office, get officers and send out mass mailings.


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Dramatization of the Birth of the NGMC[4] Accurate to the best of my recollection

A heart-warming endorsement[5]


I spent as much time as possible in the National Gay Mobilizing Committee for a March on Washington office, at least an hour a day and sometimes dawn to dusk. Endorsements for the conference were pouring in from all over the country. Each day, at least three and as many as eight would arrive in the mail. There were donations. Usually one to five dollars, but there was a donation of a hundred dollars that arrived from rural Indiana.

Some endorsements were extra special. From small towns, the praise and gratitude were greatest. “Thank-you for bringing the sun back to the sky,” said one. The larger cities were less enthusiastic. The tone of their endorsement or response was: “Who the fuck gives you, Champaign-Urbana, the right to call this conference?” Nevertheless, even replies from the grumbling bigger cities mostly were endorsements.


Endorsements and Criticism From Around the Country

Article in Pittsburgh Gay News calling for a local chapter of NGMC[6]
                  Support


Morris Kight Endorsement[7]


Loretta Lotman Letters[8]


Letter From Jeff Graubart Printed as Article in The Fountain[9]


A Collection of Endorsements and Comments[10]


Frank Kameny Letter[11]


           A Chill Wind in DC


Allan Vick Letter[12]


Larry Maccubin Letter[13]



March on Springfield?

The original plan called for a march on the Illinois state capitol, Springfield to demand a state civil rights law and to build the NGMC convention in Champaign-Urbana. Larry Gulian, chairperson of Illinois Gays for Legislative Action, took on the task of building the Springfield march. It was September and Champaign-Urbana was waiting on a date from Larry so we could charter a bus.


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Dramatization of Larry Gulian Discussion on Springfield March[15] In actuality, there was a check for $100 made out to Larry Gulian for advertising and a personal delivery of several thousand flyers which we worked out together on the phone.


With no Springfield march, Larry Gulian took on the leadership role in organizing buses to the NGMC convention from Chicago.



Allen Ginsberg Endorses the Convention[16]

Halloween Nightmare

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Dramatization of the events of October 31st, 1973[17] The dramatization is a fictional representation of events that occurred within a week of Halloween. The facts are discussed below.

Wayne Sunday discusses possibility of New York GAA endorsement[18]


The endorsement from Allen Ginsberg probably did not arrive the same day as the Advocate with the article on the conference. The exact dates are unknown. The call to Wayne Sunday happened in early November and within a week of the publication of the Advocate article.


Despite all the feedback to the contrary, I believed at the time that if gays and lesbians could get the SWP to use their infrastructure to build a march on Washington, it would be the greatest thing possible for gay liberation. I was using the SWP/YSA and they knew they were being used and did not like it. The bitter irony was that the rest of the gay community figured I was a pawn of the socialists. So that one paragraph in David Aiken's Advocate article, mentioning the active role of YSA and SWP members in building the convention, including specifically, YSA member William Stanley and SWP member John O'Brien, was the kiss of death for the convention. The SWP and YSA no longer had deniability and ordered all comrades to stop building and not to attend the convention. The red-baiters in the gay movement had a field day calling the convention a communist plot.


The reasons behind the formation of the National Gay Task Force are conjectural. Whether they formed as a direct response to the National Gay Mobilizing Committee or not is uncertain. It stands to reason that establishment gays would fear a radical group filling the void of no national gay umbrella organization. It is true that Bruce Voeller, one of the founders of the NGTF, fought the NGMC and the Champaign-Urbana convention at the New York GAA meeting Bill Stanley and I attended. I have heard that the Task Force took a stand against the convention at their first meeting, but have no documentation on this. Ironically, if the NGMC did spur the formation of the NGTF, it would be the NGMC's greatest legacy.


Advocate Article on Convention and March on Washington[19]



The Thanksgiving Conference

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Dramatization of Final Phone Conversation With Larry Gulian[21] To the best of my recollection


Larry Gulian's reaction to the latest edict from the SWP and YSA, forbidding their comrades from building or attending the conference, was puzzling. At the time, I took his silence and subsequent curtness for disappointment.


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Dramatization of the Convention[22] Details of who arrived first, room assignments and exact times are fictional. The actual proposed agenda to the right shows the first session at 2:00 pm instead of 5:00 pm. The kid who poked his head into the room is completely fictional and part of the story line in The Quest for Brian. The rest is to the best of my recollection, although my memory of the event is foggy.


There were two things that I remember most clearly from the conference. The report that the American Psychiatric Association was changing their position on homosexuality was most welcome. My emotional state was not very good and I considered it immoral to see a psychiatrist while they considered homosexuality a disease--except to get drugs.


The second was Chicago gay radical Step May's report on how Larry Gulian never publicized the NGMC convention, never attempted to build a march on Springfield and told members of the Chicago Gay Alliance that the convention was a communist plot to take over the gay movement.


I'm not sure if those who attended the convention kept in touch. The address and phone number I put on the sign-up sheet was in Urbana and I moved to Chicago the next day. Some of the people involved in 1973 were active in the 1979 march on Washington. The LGBT movement entered a new era in June, 1977, just as it had in June, 1969 and would again in October, 1987. So the 1973 NGMC convention probably had little influence on the 1979 march.



Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold


There was a great deal of honest dissent over the Washington march and NGMC convention. This is how a democratic process unfolds. But there were two instances of dishonest, active sabotage of the convention. The YSA and SWP allowed me to build the convention, and then forbade all comrades from attending and then used the small turnout as proof that the gay movement was dying. Even more maliciously, Larry Gulian, chairperson of Illinois Gays for Legislative Action lied about building a march on Springfield, lied about supporting the convention, took resources of the NGMC ostensibly to build the convention in Chicago, but did nothing other than tell Chicagoans that the convention was a communist plot to take over the gay movement.


The YSA convention was held in Chicago at the end of December, 1973. I stayed a member just long enough to let my "comrades" know what happened. Wayne Sunday and I handed out almost 200 copies of the flyer pictured to the right before we were stopped. The end of 1973 and early 1974 saw a general exodus of gays from the YSA and SWP. The Advocate article below describes what Wayne and I did at the convention as well as the rift between gays and the YSA/SWP.


Gay issue splits Socialist Party ranks[24]


As for Larry Gulian, my confrontation with him did not occur until June of 1974. It is beyond the scope of Champaign-Urbana. I'll save the story for readers of The Quest for Brian. That story could aptly be titled "The Day the Chicago Gay Alliance Died."


Exhibit Page Links


References

  1. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,6:1
  2. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,6:8-12
  3. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,6:24-30
  4. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,6:30-32
  5. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, File1973-1, NGMC March on Washington Conference
  6. Anonymous 1973, National Gay Convention In November, Pittsburgh Gay News, September 1st, Page 6
  7. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, File1973-1, NGMC March on Washington Conference
  8. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, File1973-1, NGMC March on Washington Conference
  9. Jeff Graubart, 1973, National Gay Convention Planned, The Fountain Northwest News, November, Vol. 3,Number 11, Page 1
  10. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, File1973-1, NGMC March on Washington Conference
  11. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, File1973-1, NGMC March on Washington Conference
  12. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, File1973-1, NGMC March on Washington Conference
  13. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, File1973-1, NGMC March on Washington Conference
  14. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, 1973-28, NGMC Checkbook
  15. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,6:54
  16. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, File1973-1, NGMC March on Washington Conference
  17. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,6:54
  18. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, File1973-1, NGMC March on Washington Conference
  19. David L. Aiken 1973, Washington Gays not happy about 'mass march' plans, The Advocate, December 5th, Page 19
  20. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, File1973-1, NGMC March on Washington Conference
  21. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,6:72-73
  22. Graubart, Jeff. 2009. The Quest for Brian, 4th Draft,6:73-71
  23. Graubart, Jeff, 2007, Archives, File1973-1, NGMC March on Washington Conference
  24. Anonymous 1974, Gay issue splits Socialist Party ranks, The Advocate, February 13th, Page 9

Contact Person

Jeff Graubart jeffgrau@rcn.com



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Steve Endean was involved in New York GAA. I remember him clearly at the Firehouse meetings. I do not know of any other YSA/SWP member who was in the Stonewall Rebellion besides myself. I was never an SWP member, but was a YSA member. I was listed by name in a small article by The Advocate then in 1973, supporting this first effort for a national Washington March.

John O'Brien



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