ayGay Liberation & the African American Civil Rights Movement: Exploring the Connections Kelly Arruda
Equality is a good start, but it is not sufficient. Equality for queers inevitably means equal rights on straight terms, since they are the ones who determine the existing legal framework. We conform— albeit equally—with their screwedup system. That is not liberation. It is capitulation. —Peter Thatchell
Recent developments in samesex marriage have raised emotions, awareness and many questions about equality and rights as well as inquires about the benefits of marriage for society in ...view middle of the document...
The Movement promoted the dignified treatment of minorities, inducting equality in the areas of education, work, health care, housing, marriage, and
public life. For instance, it was not until 1948 that President Truman ordered the end of segregation in the U.S. armed forces; schools did not begin desegregation until 1954; and miscegenation laws were not entirely struck down until 1967. In a parallel effort, gays and lesbians were working to combat discriminations of their own. Isolated and invisible, gays and lesbians throughout the country began to quietly network during the 1950s to develop strategic structures that would frame the Gay Liberation Movement of the last sixty years. Those involved in the Gay Liberation Movement collaborated with and benefited from the framework and strategies of the African American Civil Rights Movement. The following is a select chronological account of the two movements.
1950s The 1950s McCarthy Era was a troubled time of great paranoia in America. Anyone suspected of communist activity was investigated and blacklisted. Despite the tightlipped secrecy and culture of fear, the African American community gained a critical breakthrough in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Brown v. Topeka Board of Education decision to desegregate schools. It was a integral step toward equality for the African American community. The ruling was met with tough resistance and the country remained tensely divided. That same year, the U.S. Postal Service placed a ban on One, the first homophile publication to circulate in the United States. The magazine was produced by the Los Angeles liberalist Mattachine Society founded in 1951 by Harry Hay. Then in 1955, the Daughters of Blitis, the first lesbian organization in the U.S., was founded by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon in San Francisco. They also published a magazine, called Ladder, that circulated for years around the country. For many closeted individuals, these publications served as the only link to others like themselves. It was a first step out of isolation.
Both Mattachine and the Daughters of Blitis were prominent architects in structuring the modern gay movement. They began the work of organizing individuals, creating networks, and
g g developin ideolo ies. The movement developed two distinguished perspectives: assimilation and
liberation. According to Craig Rimmerman, the assimilationist approach adopted a civil rights perspective based on political access and legal reform (Rimmerman 14). "The assimilationist approach typically embraces a rightsbased perspective, works within the broader framework of the pluralist democracy—one situated within classical liberalism—and fights for a seat at the table" (Rimmerman 5). Liberationists sought a broader, more radical cultural shift in society. They felt it important to reach beyond the political system to a mind change throughout society (Rimmerman 5). They argued that ...