James Kepner, Los Angeles, 9/23—24/76, at ONE, Inc. offices and 9/27—30/76 at his residence.
Introduction: In many ways, Jim Kepner functioned as the informal historian of the early homophile movement in California. He participated in the early Mattachine Society in Los Angeles and was also heavily involved with ONE. One of his roles at ONE was to report in the magazine on things that were happening in other parts of the country, based on letters received and newspaper clippings sent to ONE’s offices. This set in motion for Kepner an almost obsessive desire to document everything. Not only did he have access to the accumulated files of ONE, but he also maintained a huge archive of materials in his small apartment, as I discovered when I interviewed him there. Thus, the interview below includes observations and commentary based on personal experience, research, and informal interviewing that he himself had done.
The first part of the notes below consist of an initial meeting held at ONE’s offices in which I was introducing myself to him and trying to ascertain the scope of what he wanted to talk about in a more formal interview to follow. It wasn’t recorded. But Kepner immediately began talking [he needed no encouragement to talk] and so I began scribbling notes hastily. Later, I began interviewing him in his apartment over a four-day period. I have no explanation for the gaps below in the tapes. Is Side 4A the first side for which I have notes, or is it that I didn’t label the earlier notes according to which tape they were from? Is the absence of notes for tapes 7, 8, and 9 an indication that those tapes were lost or didn’t record? Or that Kepner went on tangents, which he often did, and what he spoke about wasn’t relevant to my research? I have no idea what the answer to these questions is!
9/23/76 at ONE Inc. Office
Kepner talked both about his own experiences and also about events that he hasn’t been part of but has since confirmed either through documents or through several reliable sources. I tend to trust the accuracy of what he says.
Kepner talked about the Mattachine Foundation. It was Hay who wrote up the original prospectus, finally finding someone else in July 1950 who was interested. The two of them then spent time gathering signatures on gay beaches for the Stockholm Peace Petition. Eventually Hay showed the prospectus to Bob Hull who was in his music class and in November 1950 the first real meeting was held—Hay, X, Hull, Charles Rowland (Hull’s roommate) and Dale Jennings. Two other people were soon added to this core group—Steve & Jim, “butch motorcyclists.” Kepner claims no one really knew what to make of these two since in those days “if you were gay, you almost invariably identified as a queer.”
Kepner went to his first Mattachine discussion group late in 1952 or early 1953 (he wasn’t exactly sure when). The discussion groups ranged in size from 2 dozen to 200 hundred; Kepner attended some with over 100 people. The groups did not have memberships. If you heard about it, you would go, or more generally were brought by someone. Kepner said he had heard about them several months before finally going to one. Usually there were co-chairpersons at the discussion group, who were under instruction not to be too obtrusive. Discussions were on personal topics of concern to gays; usually there wasn’t any discussion of political strategy. Occasionally someone would ask for a volunteer for a committee, e.g., to publicize the discussion groups, to collect dossiers on entrapment, etc. The groups were generally held every two weeks at the same house.
Kepner remembered that at his first meeting the topic was what do we do about the swishes who are giving us a bad name. This angered him since he felt that it was only the queens who were standing up and who had made “an open ground that was gay.”
The discussion groups were run by the guilds of the Mattachine Foundation. Though there have been claims that as many as 18 guilds existed in the Los Angeles area, Kepner says that he has only been able to verify the existence of three. The Guilds were membership units of 12 to 25 people. As they grew larger, they were supposed to subdivide. Anyone who spoke up intelligently at discussion groups or who worked on committees was invited to attend a guild meeting without actually knowing what it was. The Mattachine Foundation was rarely mentioned at the discussion groups. The guild would then vote on whether to include the new person—a unanimous vote was generally required. Many good people, according to Kepner, were rejected for membership because of one or two dissenting votes.
Kepner’s guild turned out to be the conservative, middle-class group. Kepner reports that Hull attended his guild regularly and sometimes Rowland did too. The guild members didn’t like Rowland; they were convinced he was a communist.
Guild members were supposed to be “responsible, reliable, someone you could trust your anonymity with.” Their major responsibility was to run the discussion groups; usually every 2-3 members were in charge of a group.
Dorr Legg and Martin Block were members of another guild which had a “vocal minority” of three or four women including Geraldine Jackson (pseudonym). ONE magazine came out of this guild.
Kepner described the discussion groups as “absolutely electric. There was this intoxicating feeling that it hadn’t happened before, but it had started and nothing would stop us now.” The groups constantly “fed that feeling: we’re getting organized and there are lots of us. We knew we were only a minority but it was obviously a large minority.”
Only guild members were allowed at the April 1953 convention. Hal Call stayed with Kepner. Curtis White (pseudonym) was Ken Burn’s roommate at the time and Kepner remembers him as being active in the counterrevolution. Kepner says the person who organized the 3 Bay Area chapters in 1952 was from Berkeley and was either a member of or close to the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Apparently Rowland and Hay were both somewhat cool to him since they considered FOR to be Trotskyist.
Kepner had lived in San Francisco and was close to gay circles that were radical, avant garde and later beat, concentrated around the North Beach area. He was therefore surprised that the San Francisco Mattachine should be so conservative, but he says that it drew upon the Tenderloin.
Kepner had a lot of negative words for Hal Call—says he was always very self-serving, concerned about himself and his own business and not the movement. Kepner claims that Call was in fact draining off funds into his own businesses, and was really playing dirty with NY Mattachine in the factional fighting. Kepner remembers going to a bar in San Francisco with Call where Call would “corner a friend, solicit a $15 membership fee, and then have the guy sign over a proxy.” That’s how the SF Mattachine had such high membership and how they were able to win key votes.
Kepner remembered the Denver groups as being of especially high quality. Almost all of them were “left-ish pacifists” who were close to the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
9/24/76 at ONE Inc. Office.
About ONE Magazine:
Dale Jennings, who also used the pseudonym of “Jeff Winters” among others, wrote most of the first few issues of ONE. In order to provoke a response from readers, he wrote an article called “Ten Reasons Why Your Magazine Won’t Last.” Included in the article was an attack on the low quality of fiction in the magazine with specific reference to a short story that Jennings himself had rewritten to make it sound badly in a previous issue. Rowland got furious about this and quit, but after Jennings left ONE, (sometime in 1954 according to Kepner), Rowland came back to work on the magazine. He took over circulation and promotion from Eve Elloree (pseudonym; real name was Joan Corbin[spelling?]. Elloree had done a lot of the tedious work for ONE; now she concerned herself mostly with the art work.
Rowland was given the task of putting on parties for the staff and these soon coalesced into a Friday night committee which was, in effect, the social services division. According to Kepner, Rowland was the perfect person to do this: he had a “real, magnetic quality,” a sort of “mother-hen quality” which was not effeminate. Rowland was blonde with a crew-cut, and tattooed on his arms from his wrist to his neck. He fixed nice refreshments and created a pleasant atmosphere in his home.
ONE’s first social service cases appeared at the office within days after the first issues hit the stands. People who were lonely, who needed help of various sorts, simply came to the office. Rowland’s Friday night gatherings were especially meant for them. They were given volunteer work to do—stuffing and addressing envelopes, licking stamps, etc—while a general rap session occurred through it all. Sometimes as many as 30-40 attended.
Rowland continued doing this until Jan 1956, when at a board of directors meeting (or a meeting of the corporation), Kepner and Reid gave a report on the general issues of social service. They argued that most of the cases were “intractable, religious ones,” and that although most members of ONE were not religious, perhaps ONE Inc should begin sponsoring a regular series of Sunday morning events. Sympathetic ministers and ex-ministers, as well as those with a bent toward the philosophical and spiritual could be asked to participate. Kepner and Reid in response to the objections of some Board members about seeming to come out in favor of religion, made it clear that this wasn’t to be an official project of ONE. ONE, Inc would simply act as facilitator for it.
To Kepner’s surprise, Rowland volunteered to take on the responsibility. Kepner described himself as being an “ex-Marxist” at the time, and assumed that Rowland, who also was an ex-Marxist, would not be interested enough in religion to want to do it. But Kepner apparently misjudged him; Rowland, despite his years as a Marxist, had a disposition that was always “basically religious.”
Rowland’s involvement with this project almost immediately led to the end of his relationships with ONE, Inc. It was soon discovered that he had organized a Church of One Brotherhood. ONE, Inc felt this was an infringement on their name. The Board of Directors went to a service, had very negative feelings about it, and nasty things were said and written in ONE’s members-only publications, including by Kepner. Kepner says he now regrets this.
Kepner said that the Church grew rapidly for almost a year. It held an anniversary service which ONE, Inc. boycotted. Hal Call was the guest of honor and perhaps a hundred people attended it. Immediately after, the church collapsed. Within two to three years, Rowland went back to the Dakotas to live.
Mattachine, April 1953 Convention:
Hal Call, Don Slater and Dorr Legg were conservative Republicans at the time, Slater and Legg being of the rugged individualist type. At the time of the convention, Legg was definitely being groomed for treasurer and may already have been admitted to the steering group. Legg’s guild included Geraldine Jackson and Martin Block, and was the one that was politically mixed.
Legg grew up in an aristocratic, socialist family somewhere in the Midwest, but had rejected it (Kepner says William Lambert was not entirely a pseudonym. Legg was taken in and adopted by relatives when he was young. The Lamberts and the Dorrs—Kepner referred to the Dorr Rebellion—were old families). Despite his conservative politics, Legg was “an aggressive type, who believed gays should fight.” He was therefore upset by the counterrevolution of 1953, not because of the Communist issue, but because the new leaders seemed too afraid to do anything. According to Kepner, Legg was “not horrified by communists in Mattachine. He thought it [communism] was bullshit, but if they [communists] got things done, fine.”
Legg’s chief gripe with Hay was that he felt Hay “abdicated before the outcome was clear.” But Legg didn’t know Hay had been so closely involved with the CP and that if congressional investigators came out West, Hay was likely to be called as a witness. According to Kepner, Hay withdrew “for the good of the organization.”
Rowland and Hull participated in both convention sessions [April and May]. Kepner described Hull as someone who “never got angry,” and also as someone who was not good in convention settings. He often didn’t see the implications behind a resolution and so rarely acted forcefully enough to defeat motions that later would become disastrous.
The meetings at the April 1953 convention virtually were held round-the-clock. After the main sessions, Kepner attended the preamble committee meetings held at Dorr Legg’s house. There, Kepner and Legg did battle with Hal Call, Dave Finn (from SF and according to Kepner, Call’s truck-cruising buddy in SF) and Ken Burns (Burns was the leader of Kepner’s guild) over inclusion of the phrase “highly ethical homosexual culture.” Finn and Call in particular thought it was a sign of Communist influence.
At one of the general sessions where Finn was the parliamentarian and Burns was chairing, Finn threatened to turn the names of every one over to the government unless all Communist influence was kept out of Mattachine’s goals. Kepner was immediately on his feet, charging that Finn has disqualified himself as parliamentarian and moving that he be ejected from the convention. Legg seconded the notion but Burns quickly intervened and deftly called a recess.
When the session reconvened, Finn apologized and retracted what he had said. Kepner wasn’t satisfied, however; he still wanted Finn ejected, as well as a formal repudiation of the sentiments Finn expressed by the convention as a whole. It was at that point, however, that Kepner made the “horrible discovery” that supporters “cannot be relied upon to maintain their anger and stay on their toes” long enough to follow through in a debate. Kepner’s efforts failed and Finn remained.
Kepner also remembers viewing Call as the “de facto leader” of the San Francisco delegation.
Kepner said that Rowland gave the opening speech at the April 1953 convention. “Shock waves went through the room, people were really displeased.” Kepner remembers it as a rousing speech with Rowland saying “‘I look forward to the day when my brothers and sisters can march together with fists upraised down Hollywood Boulevard.’” [Tears came into Kepner’s eyes as he related this.]
About the Society for Individual Rights:
It was founded by a group who went to a League for Civil Education meeting expecting a real organization with political direction and goals, and instead found it was a one-man operation—just like Hal Call’s Mattachine. They went across the street to a bar run by Bill Plath and founded SIR.
Morris Kightmay have been there. He was certainly at the Black Cat demonstration against police brutality held in LA on Feb 11, 1967, but not as an open gay. He came with a contingent of people from the peace movement who were there in support of gays.
Knew Lisa Ben also from sci-fi circles: but didn’t know she had published Vice Versa.
Geraldine Jackson had been married—she and Kepner came out to each other and developed a circle of friends who talked about gay things.
“Word was around all over town”—about the Mattachine.
Attended first meeting either late 1952 or early 1953.
Claims “Dr. Bob [Gwartney] of Mattachine Foundation Board of Directors was chief organizer of Laguna Beach discussion group.
“Widely publicized in bars and on beaches”—Committee to Outlaw Entrapment.
Don Frey – a former Lutheran minister, friend of Jackson—takes Kepner to first Mattachine discussion group. 140 persons there. Exciting—Kepner had been trying for 9 years to do something like that. Kepner knew there were several others going on too.
At Kepner’s guild, reports given on how discussion groups going—thinks 6-8 discussion groups being sponsored, 22-24 members of guild. Kepner’s was the “uptight” guild.
Don Frey—hysterical over letter sent to candidates—saying some terrible people trying to destroy Mattachine. Frey “politically conservative and closety”
House in Norwalk referred to as “the commune”—frightening to people.
“Sort of whispering nervousness when Bob Hull would show up.” Thin, blond, unobtrusive guy with a crew cut.
Very concerned about intrusion of Mattachine into politics: “don’t make waves, don’t make a public campaign”—just find someone with influence.
Discussion groups knew about ONE Mag from the beginning—word getting around town like wildfire. Kepner bought copies at discussion group—brought there for sale.
6 or 7 page mimeographed agenda and call to conference for April 1953 Mattachine convention. (There had been two or three previous conventions of Mattachine). Estimates 110-140 at April 1953 Convention. Explicitly called to reorganize—everyone except Hay knew reorganization was necessary—Rowland especially aware that a revolution was brewing.
Describes convention both as last ditch effort by founders to keep control and attempt from bottom to oust leaders.
[Kepner is speaking second hand, based on post-facto information]
Call to Conference included draft of a constitution.
Ken Burnschairmanof conference [Kepner wrong!]—level-headed but conservative.
Two other draft constitutions put on floor almost immediately. One perhaps from Legg’s guild; another perhaps from SF Bay Area had proxy votes, used as a bloc.
Issues brought up: 1) that an Oakland officer was having an affair with a 17 year old and this could destroy organization; 2) Jennings deliberately enters Conference with a serviceman in uniform—told to leave, endangering everyone’s security.
Rowland gives opening keynote speech. Saturday morning rousing, pride, etc. rustling and muttering—Kepner’s guild shocked and angered by his speech.
Early decision made to put all 3 drafts on floor at the same time—and go through each by paragraph and section. Voting the alternatives up and down—chaotic.
Preamble committee met at Legg’s house.
“A great amount of agitation about the terrible things that were being done by the leaders of the organization that were likely to destroy the organization.”
1st discussion group he attended far more than maximum size. Some groups are all male. Most from 1/10 to 1/5 women.
“An excitement that was fed at every meeting by personal statements from a number of individuals that ‘I just did not believe this could happen,’ ‘this is the most wonderful thing in my life,’ ‘I thought I was the only one in the world.’ ”
Part of discussion group = announcement of activities, dossiers, etc.
At his meeting, decision made to divide discussion group into 3: one on women’s problems. Very quickly, begin to grow again. One group decides to do book reviews.
Kepner very quickly invited into guild—he was very talkative. But didn’t know what he was getting into. Convention being discussed (Kepner went to either 1 or 2 guild meetings before Convention). Frey talked a lot—convinced people Mattachine facing a serious threat.
At this point, Kepner had attended about a dozen discussion group meetings.
Kepner knew about ONE before it came out—through Jackson
Bay Area delegation led by articulate, progressive sounding woman.
Rowland’s keynote: Kepner disturbed and turned on.
Aware of “rustling and muttering toward the end of the speech…a majority of the people [in my guild]... were shocked and angered and infuriated by the entire speech. They considered it totally improper and insulting.”
Marilyn Rieger—a guild member, maybe 2nd order. Some committee meetings at her house in Echo Park. In Block’s guild, but aligns with conservatives in Kepner’s guild.
Preamble Committee: went pretty well—there was some disagreement but “reasonable and restrained.”
Kepner knew Geraldine Jackson through sci fi circles; knew she was gay. Kepner heard about Mattachine from many sources: word was all around town – the latter half of 1952.
Claims that Mattachine really small until Committee to Outlaw Entrapment but real flurry of growth follows—both guilds and discussion groups. Committee also leads to real loosening of structure and admission—growth not entirely planned or expected. Rowland favors loosening up; hay against it.
Discussion groups in Laguna, Santa Monica, Long Beach, San Diego by late 1952; Bay Area early 1953. Discussion groups met every two weeks; several meet simultaneously. Every 2 people in a guild responsible for a discussion group—doesn’t know how strictly practiced. Kepner’s guild sponsoring 6 to 8 discussion groups.
Letter sent out to candidates for city council and board of education—members of Kepner’s guild feared this would destroy the organization—not aware, however, that Mattachine Foundation members were CP-associated—just concerned about intrusion into politics. Guild members didn’t know who Mattachine Foundation members were—but Hull and sometimes Rowland came to give reports.
Ken Burns in Kepner’s guild; Burns had made trip to SF; knew Hal Call and other SF leaders.
Discussion group topics were personal: parents, job, church, coming out, etc. Very warm atmosphere, exciting, exhilarating. This changes after Apr-May, 1953. Would also have announcements about committees: e.g. to collect dossiers, to do publicity.
When discussion group got too large, would be subdivided. Oral book reviews done: Well of Loneliness; Strange Brother.
Kepner’s guild didn’t have any member on Mattachine Foundation. Guild business—largely talk about discussion groups and about prospective guild members—each person discussed in detail. Ken Burns chaired Guild meeting—seemed to be leader. Don Frey did lots of talking.
Point of issue in preamble committee was 1) whether to relate gays to other oppressed minorities—quickly rejected. 2) “highly ethical homosexual subculture”—accepted overwhelmingly by committee. Kepner and Legg strongly pro. SF people, especially Call and Finn, object to it violently as communistic. Call claimed he has lots of rich friends, top researchers, willing to help—but not if communistic.
Many committees didn’t complete work. Some brought in compromise drafts; lots more debates, amendments, etc.—not nearly finished that weekend.
Call has confrontation with Rowland during recess following Rowland’s speech—had met before when Rowland in SF—Call was very threatening. (Kepner compared Burns to Jim Foster in SF)
During floor discussion of preamble—after Call’s big speech about influential friends and communism—Finn, the parliamentarian, demands no communist phrases or he’ll turn over everyone’s name to FBI, Naval Intelligence, etc. Details previous experience in reporting subversives. Kepner and Legg on their feet. Kepner demands Finn’s expulsion. Uproar lasts 30-45 minutes. Burns calls for a recess. Heavy caucusing.
Conservative SF group also has support from Kepner’s guild. After recess, more attempts to have Finn expelled. Burns gets Finn to apologize—doesn’t satisfy Kepner and others, but apology accepted by a slim majority.
Also, controversial phrasing dropped from preamble [my note: this happens in November, not April].
1st session goes on to decide questions of structure—very unwieldy; several different bodies were given “final” authority—coordinating council; annual convention; and area councils and chapters. By 2nd session already obvious that structure is unworkable.
Sunday of 1st session [my note: Wrong!]: Hay addresses assembly—very angry and rhetorical—a farewell address: not happy with new direction, but you are on your own. Announces that board of Mattachine Foundation voted to dissolve. Kepner near Hull & Rowland—they were shocked.
Kepner has talked to others since: all were surprised and shocked. [my note: pure bullshit]
2nd session a more smoothly run.
Guilds had already disappeared—chapters had been set up. 9 or 10 in LA; 3 or 4 in Bay Area [my note: wrong – this is by November, not May]. Line between discussion groups and chapters blurring. Some chapters not sponsoring discussion groups.
Chapters—instead of being all purpose as intended, begin to stake out own territory.
Legg chosen treasurer at convention—remains so for a few months but antagonism between ONE and Mattachine develops—both because of reporting and because “radicals” associated with ONE.
Convention adopts a loyalty oath—says maybe 2nd convention [my note: November].
(Kepner hates Call)
Kepner’s guild, some of them—Frey—and also SF object to ethical culture as communistic. Call gives impassioned speech on the floor against it. In committee says he has rich friends willing to finance Matt efforts. “Heated but creative and relatively friendly meeting… a general feeling of accomplishment.”
[Kepner thinks Lucas was at 2nd session—a satellite of Call—didn’t speak up much]
“A shifting majority”—constitution filled with inconsistencies.
Burns chairing: “smooth and competent.” Active in Episcopal church. Appointed Finn as parliamentarian—April convention. [wrong!] [Kepner admits memory shaky on this]
After Finn’s threat, Burns, as chair, refuses to recognize motions to expel Finn. On his own, calls recess. Says Call and Rowland may have had confrontation during recess. [also, this could be Nov 1953] Kepner says even members of his guild were upset by Finn’s threat.
Kepner fought for chapter autonomy when he realized thatcoordinating council controlled by conservatives.
“Chapters staked out certain areas” instead of being “all-purpose” as intended. Los Angeles public relations chapter—Rieger, John Loy: “the center of the conservative ruling clique in LA.” Loy also on Coordinatingcouncil, and head of LA-Area Council..
After convention: no more Laguna Beach.
“Dr. Bob’s” trip to Midwest before convention—St. Louis and Chicago—claims these Chicago contacts became Chicago Mattachine chapter.
Claims he has Rowland’s mailing list from time convention was called: “Flurries of correspondence” from different parts of country.
After convention: San Diego intermittent; also Long Beach though better than San Diego; Berkeley down the drain; Oakland too. SF—claimed several chapters. UCLA group dissolved. Growth completely stopped.
Prior to convention, despite suspicions, general feeling was one of “unbelievable optimism. We are on the march... virtually an irresistible force.”
Though no one concerned themselves much with strategy, almost no one understood it would be a long hard fight—especially didn’t believe gays would be fighting each other: convention was “a devastating experience. Probably a majority of those who attended the convention never came back.” Discussion groups immediately dwindled and disappeared.
Before April—never less than 50. After May—5 to 10, and most of discussion group is negative and consumed with organizational difficulties, problems, business instead of consciousness raising. Turned newcomers off. Fighting going on in discussion groups—unheard of before convention.
After May: growing friction between Coordinating Council (very conservative), Area Council (somewhat conservative) and chapters which were going their own independent way.
May Convention: discussion about name of organization.
November Convention: Jennings’ impassioned speech—enormous reaction—Burns gives speech immediately after disavowing Jennings’ remarks. Chapter autonomy firmly rejected.
Late 53—Kepner active in LA-Area Council. Claims Burns dropped out by early 54; also Rieger (Boopsie)
“The Importance of Being Different”—Kepner’s first article for ONE—c. March or April 1954. Starts collecting articles on English witch hurts, writes it up for ONE. Had been on staff of LA Matt newsletter, wrote too—had articles rejected by Coordinating Council: then moves to ONE)
Don Slater—not in Mattachine or initial planning meeting for ONE. “A queen bee type.” Came soon after. A friend of Martin Block.
Tony Reyes was Slater’s “roommate” – i.e., lovers. He, Slater, and Block sign incorporation papers.
ONE: Dorr Legg resigned his job soon after ONE got started to devote full time to it—business manager of magazine. Had savings, some income. By 1956 and 57, he and Slater get subsistence salaries. $35/wk. 1st year: office across hall from where Jennings sister worked—they put the magazine together.
Toward end of 1st year, Joan and Corky show up. Joan—different approach to lay out from Dale—getting too big for amateurish; wants it done professionally. Threatens Jennings’ control who was doing layout. Jennings’ offers his resignation as a threat—board accepts it. Jennings out.
Joan takes over much of work done by Jennings. Cory Book Service offers ONE its mailing list, early 53—leads to big jump in circulation.
Donald Webster Cory: book had a “smashing effect.” Sold widely in LA—prominently displayed in bookstores—correspondence between him and Mattachine. Knew about ONE from start—sent in articles which were almost illiterate, with homophobic qualities to it—wondered if it could actually be Cory.
ONE’s attempts to get started in NY. Ed Dakin, author of biography of Mary Baker Eddy, and others were working on distribution of magazine in NY; soliciting manuscripts from NY writers—during early 1954.
Ben Tabor—had become secretary of ONE in LA; corresponds with New Yorkers—goes to NY, May or June 54, to hold a meeting of friends of ONE. Large attendance, maybe 100. Ask lots of questions about how ONE being run—e.g. why no more Jennings, Block, Rowland. NY group becomes uppity—writes nasty letter to ONE. ONE orders them to disband—the group becomes the League.
Kepner claims he had heard about Metropolitan Benevolent Association in NY when he was there in late 40s.
Why so many articles in ONE about philosophical issues: because readers hadn’t heard it before and we wanted it to sink in.
Kinsey told Kepner that he thought it was a terrible mistake to call anyone homosexual: a form of behavior not a category of person.
Said “social problem” would vanish when people realized that the category doesn’t exist—there really are no homosexuals. But as Kepner and Legg believed, people are gay even if they don’t have sex.
Kepner always thought—ONE also - that homosexuals should do their own research. When Kepner suggested that to his Mattachine chapter, they argued that research is getting professionals to study us.
Hooker began her research because she had homosexual friends and knew that the professional literature didn’t apply to them.
[Long digression about someone named West at UCLA who was doing homosexual research]
ONE’s attorneywas Eric Julber.
Institute of Homophile Studies and the Quarterly:
Social service grew up accidentally—people came in for advice—so what do you do?
Library also unintended—needed books for reference to do magazine—just keeps growing.
ONE visited c 1956 by two prison chaplains from Chicago…needed info on homosexuality for their prison work. Leads ONE into its educational work. Start classes…many questions which needed answering. Approaching subject through several scholarly disciplines. Classes initially intended for staff only. But grew quickly: made public in the 2nd year. [Much talk about conducting classes, content, etc]
Merritt—Professor Emeritus, School of Education at USC.
“Woody”—Robert Underwood, member of editorial board. By 1955, doing most of ONE’s production work—salaried. Had given up his well-paying job.
Slater: “Extreme cantankerousness:” ONE’s librarian—also a professional librarian.
Kepner was receiving clippings in the mail on homosexuality.
Claims ONE’s statistics on attendance were made up by Legg: would multiply number of hours per class by number of classes by number of students to get huge attendance figures.
MCC soon founded too—late 1968. Kepner going to services by February 1969—a real gay spirit there. Troy Perry, Harry Hay, and Kepner & others involved in States Steamship demonstrations in LA – Leo Laurence expels LA from Committee for Homosexual Freedom since Perry was still pro Vietnam War.
Paul Lamport campaign—Perry, Kepner, Hay, Morris Kight, Don Slater—what to do about Lamport’s efforts to get gay vote.
Harry Hay traveling up to SF mid to late 69, involved with radical gay liberationists—Free Particle in Berkeley.
Gay Lib conference, Berkeley—12/69. LA Gay Lib already a few weeks old. Kepner apprehensive about early GLF—feared it was being controlled by communists, eg, Kight—but quickly won over to GLF in LA. Don Jackson brings up Alpine County idea at Berkeley Gay Lib conference.
Gay Liberation Front-LA—Jackson, Hay, and Kight. Don Slater wanted to use young radicals to destroy other gay organizations. Early meetings held at Tangents office. Hay had been noticing young, radical movement, realizes there must be many gays in it, need an organization for them. Kight involved in Dow Action Committee with freaky gays. “obviousness”
Kight at first clearly in charge of GLF—controls meetings. Result is shift to rotating chair. Kight takes it badly. GLF decides to join Perry’s candlelight march. Don Jackson plays important role; also Len Richmond. GLF very heterogeneous—from former Panther member to Republicans.
Dover Hotel killing and coroner’s hearing—near riot. MCC supports.
Memorial demo for Dover Hotel victim—Perry and GLF. By this time, GLF and MCC drawing closer. Perry gives militant speech, Kight calms crowd down. 40-50 demos in next year or so—good rapport between Kight and Perry: avoids heavy political splits that characterized NY and SF.