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Pre-Gay L.A.

A Social History of the Movement for Homosexual Rights

C Todd White

Publication Year: 2009

This book explores the origins and history of the modern American movement for homosexual rights, which originated in Los Angeles in the late 1940s and continues today. Part ethnography and part social history, it is a detailed account of the history of the movement as manifested through the emergence of four related organizations: Mattachine, ONE Incorporated, the Homosexual Information Center (HIC), and the Institute for the Study of Human Resources (ISHR), which began doing business as ONE Incorporated when the two organizations merged in 1995. Pre-Gay L.A. is a chronicle of how one clandestine special interest association emerged as a powerful political force that spawned several other organizations over a period of more than sixty years._x000B__x000B_Relying on extended interviews with participants as well as a full review of the archives of the Homosexual Information Center, C. Todd White unearths the institutional histories of the gay and lesbian rights movement and the myriad personalities involved, including Mattachine founder Harry Hay; ONE Magazine editors Dale Jennings, Donald Slater, and Irma Wolf; ONE Incorporated founder Dorr Legg; and many others. Fighting to decriminalize homosexuality and to obtain equal rights, the viable organizations that these individuals helped to establish significantly impacted legal policies not only in Los Angeles but across the United States, affecting the lives of most of us living in America today.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

front cover

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vi-

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Preface

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pp. vii-xiv

This book, part ethnobiography and part social history, is the result of my eight-year exploration of the origins and history of the movement for homosexual rights, which originated in Los Angeles, California, in the late 1940s and continues today...

Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xviii

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Abbreviations

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pp. xix-

This has been a collaborative—and thereby corroborative—endeavor, and so it is appropriate that I introduce with gratitude those who have made this work possible. I am grateful to Walter L. Williams, Ernie Potvin, Jim Schneider, Vern L. Bullough, Billy Glover, Joseph Hansen, Reid Rasmussen, John O’Brien...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

In an age where homosexuality is increasingly tolerated and discussed within North America’s urban centers, it may be difficult to understand the apprehensions these men and women endured fifty years ago, fearful that the police or...

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1. Mattachine (1948-52)

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pp. 11-27

It would seem that today’s lesbian and gay rights movement, commonly referred to as the LGBT or LGBTQ movement since it came to include the rights of bisexual, transgendered, and queer people, began in 1950 largely through the efforts of...

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2. The Launch of ONE (1952-53)

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pp. 28-40

As Mattachine’s popularity grew after Jennings’s trial in the summer of 1952, Hay felt his authority within Mattachine—the organization that he had created and nurtured—begin to diminish. Hay became increasingly annoyed by Jennings...

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3. Cleaning House (1953-54)

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pp. 41-61

This chapter documents a paradoxical time of prosperity and growth on the one hand, internal strife and ultimatums on the other. When it became clear in 1953 that they were on to something, the men of ONE began jockeying for power. Who...

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4. The Establishment of ONE Institute (1955-60)

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pp. 62-92

Ousting Dale Jennings did not solve any of the problems simmering within ONE, Incorporated. But it did significantly shift the balance of power from the editor-in-chief to the senior bureaucratic administrator, Bill Lambert. Indeed, as will...

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5. Separation (1960-62)

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pp. 93-115

I have come to think of the late 1950s and early ’60s as the golden years for ONE, Incorporated. Though plagued with personality conflicts and paucity of resources throughout its history, the organization had pulled though very difficult times...

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6. Division (1963-65)

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pp. 116-136

In prior chapters, we have seen that ONE, Incorporated, was a house divided almost from inception, two primary camps emerging as the corporation sought to define itself. At first blush, the shared sense of purpose and the excitement for the...

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7. Two Years of War (1965-67)

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pp. 137-174

The ideal outcome would have been for the 1965 division of ONE, Incorporated, to mark both the end of one era for the Los Angeles movement and the dawning of a new, more productive one. Theoretically, the infighting over, each group had the...

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8. The Founding of ISHR, HIC, and Christopher Street West (1965-70)

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pp. 175-199

Since the 1965 division of ONE, Incorporated, many have debated whether the split ultimately benefited or injured the homosexual rights movement in Los Angeles and in the greater United States. Legg’s loyalists first branded Slater’s mutiny...

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9. Conclusion(s)

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pp. 200-226

After years of mutual antagonism, Don Slater and W. Dorr Legg eventually buried their hatchets (after first having to remove them from each other’s backs) and declared a truce between them. It is fair to wonder if their newfound respect for each other came more from having endured so many years of tenacious onslaught...

Appendix A: Significant Locations

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pp. 227-229

Appendix B: Pseudonyms

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pp. 230-231

Appendix C: Dramatis Personae

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pp. 232-234

Notes

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pp. 235-244

References

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pp. 245-252

Index

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pp. 253-258

back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780252092862
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252034411

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2009

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Subject Headings

  • Gay rights -- California -- Los Angeles -- History.
  • Gay liberation movement -- California -- Los Angeles -- History
  • Gays -- California -- Los Angeles -- History.
  • ONE Institute of Homophile Studies.
  • Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History.
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