In the last 20 years the LGBTQ movement has made enormous social and political strides, but what we sometimes forget is that enormous strides begin with baby steps.
More than seven decades ago, a man who took many of those first baby steps and established the modern gay rights movement was a man named Harry Hay.
Hay knew something about organizing unpopular political movements because as early as the 1930s Hay was a communist — and this was at a time when the Communist party was very homophobic. Hay married a woman and was married for several years before finally acknowledging that he was gay.
By 1950 Harry Hay recognized that the gay and lesbian community — which didn’t even really have a name yet — had rights and needed those rights protected.
Calling up on some of the same skills he used as a communist organizer. Harry Hay started the Mattachine Society. And that, many historians agree, gave rise to the modern gay rights movement.
I met Harry Hay in late 1990. He was the subject of a biography by writer Stuart Timmons called The Trouble With Harry Hay.
So here now from 1990 Stuart Timmons and Harry Hay
Harry Hay died in 2002. He was 90.
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