"We're Gay and We're Proud"

The Committee for Homosexual Freedom was very active in the following months of 1969, holding picket lines at Tower Records in San Francisco to protest the firing of another gay employee; showing up with pro-gay signs at the People’s Park demonstrations; picketing Safeway in solidarity with Cesar Chavez and the Grape Boycott of the Farm Workers union. The campus at UC Berkeley, like for so many movements in the past decade, was an ideal location for getting their message out. One of the photos here was taken at Sproul Plaza protesting police entrapment of gays on campus. Committee members also showed up at S.I.R. meetings to lobby for more progressive policies. Also included is a photo of Lendon Sadler, an active member of the Committee, to show what he was doing before his involvement with the Cockettes the following year.

The photo at top right depicts a protest at the San Francisco Examiner on October 31, 1969. The Committee for Homosexual Freedom set up a picket line to protest an article by Robert Patterson, an Examiner reporter, that purported to be an expose of San Francisco’s gay clubs where “homosexuals gather for their sick, sad revels.” As the picket line proceeded in front of the Examiner building on Fifth Street, with chants of “Say It Loud, We’re Gay and We’re Proud,” suddenly a bag of purple printer’s ink was hurled over the roof onto the protesters. The picketers proceeded to dip their hands into the ink and leave handprints and slogans on the side of the building. At this point, the Tactical Squad was called in and a dozen arrests were made. The Chronicle report of the protest noted that “the homosexuals … prefer to be called gay.” In subsequent reports of the arrests and follow-up court hearings, the name of the organizing group shifted from the Committee for Homosexual Freedom to the Gay Liberation Front. The reason for this change in nomenclature will become clear with the next slide.