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About Harry Hay

Harry Hay was born in 1912, England. When he was in America he was known for starting two gay rights movement groups called the Mattachine Society (in 1950) and the Radical Faeries (in 1979).

Until Harry was 7 he and his family lived in England. Then in 1919 he imagrated to California. During the year of 1950 he worked with many suporters the found the Mattachine Society. All of this was 19 years before the Stonewall riots broke out and not many gays or lesbians came out. At that time it was illigal for homosexual people to get together in public. Also, the American Psychiatric Association clamed that homosexuality was a mental illness. Harry Hay got people to come to the Mattachine Society in secret. People were so scard at police finding them out, the men normally brought along a woman so they thought they were not gay. Harry could be the one that got the gay rights movement because of the successfull lanching of the Mattachine Society.

In 1948 Harry wrote down the first manifesto of the gay rights movement. It said: We, the Androgynes of the world, have formed this responsible corporate body to demonstrate by our efforts that our physiological and psychological handicaps need be no deterrent in integrating 10 percent of the world's population towards the constructive social progress of mankind.
After leaving the Mattachine Society Harry helped found Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition and the gay men's group the RAdical Faeries. Harry was not only active in gay rights. He was also active in the Native American rights movement.

"We pulled ugly green frog skin of heterosexual conformity over us, and that's how we got through school with a full set of teeth," Hay once explained. "We know how to live through their eyes. We can always play their games, but are we denying ourselves by doing this? If you're going to carry the skin of conformity over you, you are going to suppress the beautiful prince or princess within you. I took this to mean that many boys and girls are in high schools and other schools try to hide who they are and say that they are not gay. He was worried that the gay boys and girls are denying their sexual orientation.

Another organization that Harry helped out with was NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association). It is and was trying to promote adult men and young boys to have relationships. Although Harry was not appart of the organization, he made speeches and marched in parades.

One of Harry's frist gay partners was a famous acter, Will Geer. Hay (with the help of others) directed a short film in 1937.

At the age of 51, 1963, Harry met his life partner, John Burnside. They lived in Los Angeles, moved to an indian reserve in New Mexico, then moved back to Los Angeles were they helped orginize the Radical Faeries movement. Harry and John moved to San Francisco were Harry died of lung cancer at the age of 90 in 2002.



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