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
He was one of the hottest young movie stars in the 1950s…
Tab Hunter — who grew up as Artt Gelien — was a figure skater as a teenager. As a young man, a friend introduced him to a Hollywood agent who specialized in beefcake actors like Rock Hudson and Rober/ Wagner. That agent dubbed Art Gelien “Tab Hunter” and by 1950 he was in the movies.
And by the mid 1950s was major star, the strapping blond hunk of a man every girl wanted. Hunter made over 40 movies, and even recorded a hit song.
Hunger was also a witness to, and a participant in, the end of the Hollywood studio contract era. His movie and TV roles were fewer, until his last film role in 1992.
Then, in 2005, Tab Hunter wrote a memoir called Tab Hunter Confidential. In that book, he acknowledged publicly, for the first time, that he was gay. Turns out those gossip rags back in the day that had him romantically linked with various starlets were all fiction.
So here now, from 2005, Tab Hunter…
Tab Hunter died in 2018, just three days befopre his 87th birthdayl.
Margaret Cho rose to prominence in the mid 1990s, with her TV sitcom All-American Girl. Since then, she’s established herself as not only a talented actress but as a standup comic, fashion designer, and social activist.
I’ve met her and interviewed her twice, about her first two books. This interview was the second one we did, and as you’ll hear, her views seem as current today as they did the day we talked, 16 years ago.
A little bit of backstory: in 1979 major league baseball umpires went on strike. MLB hired substitutes — scabs, as m,any call them — and veteran minor league umpire Dave Pallone was offered a big-league job.
He remained in the National League for ten years.
But as he told in his 1990 book “Behind the Mask,” his fellow umpires disliked him. And he developed a reputation for being quick-tempered.
In April 1988, Pallone had a very high-profile confrontation with someone else who had a reputation for his temper: Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose. During an argument over a controversial call, Rose shoved Pallone — a very serious offense in baseball — and was suspended for 30 days.
Dave Pallone was forced to resign from baseball in September 1988.
I met him two years later, when he published his book.
Here now, from 1990, Dave Pallone.
“Behind the Mask” was a New York Times best-seller
Dave Pallone is 68 now, and does diversity training for corporations, as well as NCAA colleges, universities and athletes.
And he’s in the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.