Leo Laurence

Meanwhile, in the same week as the first issue of Kaliflower, an essay appeared in Vector calling for gay revolution. Vector was the publication of S.I.R., the Society for Individual Rights, one of the half dozen homophile organizations at the time. S.I.R. was founded in San Francisco in 1964 after police closed a dozen bars with gay and lesbian customers. By 1969, S.I.R. had more than a thousand members. In the April 1969 issue of Vector, the magazine’s new editor, Leo Laurence, wrote a column in which he called for a radical new approach to gay rights. He criticized gay establishment organizations, including S.I.R., for their cautious attitudes toward radical advocacy, getting waylaid by ego-trips and hypocrisy. He criticized the Tavern Guild for racism, citing their opposition to Cititzen’s Alert, a project initiated by the Reverend Cecil Williams, the Black head minister of Glide Church to end police harassment and brutality. Laurence ended his essay with a clarion call that rang loud, and which foreshadowed similar language a decade later from Harvey Milk. Laurence wrote, “Individual homosexuals must open up and honestly accept their own homosexuality. Say you’re gay at work, at home, church, wherever you go. Come out from behind a double-life of straight at work and home, but gay at night. I’ll admit it's not easy to be honest, but neither was writing this article.”

The same day that the April issue of Vector hit the newsstands, the Berkeley Barb published an article that reported on its revolutionary message. Its lead in sentence read, “The largest gay organization in the United States has been challenged to join the revolution ‘today not tomorrow.’” In the photo accompanying the article appeared Leo Laurence with his arms embracing a young shirtless friend who was unnamed.