Gay Liberation Movement
Seeks Wider Acceptance

By JOE GOLD and
ELAINE NATHANSON
Star Staff Writers
(Second of a Three-Part Series)

On Friday, June 27, 1969, there was a full moon. Judy Garland was buried. And a police raid on the Stonewall, a Greenwich Village gay bar, turned into a three-day riot in which angry homosexuals first raised the cry of "Gay Power."

In Tucson, almost two years later, the cry was softer, the results of bringing together gay liberationists from both coasts.

"We need to enlighten the public that there are homosexuals who are being harassed by people who do not understand. We don't want to be violent or destructive, but the only way to let people know about the oppression of the homosexual is to bring it to the forefront," said Carol, a middle-aged lesbian from California and one of the organizers of GLAD II (Gay Liberation of the Arizona Desert).

To homosexuals across the country, June 27, 1969, was the birthdate of gay militancy. The movement, like so many other struggles for recognition of a minority, grew during that summer, sparking demonstrations in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Tucson's June meeting attracted about 50 homosexuals. GLAD meetings, held every Sunday at 3 p.m. at 838 N. 4th Ave., drew an average of about 25 persons.

The emphasis is on gay pride. A leaflet printed by GLAD II declares that "We accept ourselves with total self-respect, and respect our associates as they are, not as society and its arbitrators say they should be."

Emphasis on self-understanding and acceptance is one goal of the weekly consciousness-raising sessions.

The sessions take the form of group therapy and discussions of personal problems which may or may not be related to homosexuality.

Professional guidance counseling is also available, but gay liberationists are quick to deny any idea that the availability of counseling means that homosexuals are, by nature, maladjusted.

The purpose of GLAD is two-fold. Most apparent is the goal of full acceptance of homosexuals by society at large.

Less apparent—but just as important as social acceptance—is the goal of liberating homosexuals in their own minds, helping one another to understand themselves as complete human beings, including their own sexual values.

GLAD's statement of purpose commits its members to:
—Understand, accept and enjoy themselves.
—Inform and educate the public on the subject of homosexuality.
—Promote the repeal of laws prohibiting sexual acts in private between consenting adults.
—Alter discriminatory policies and practices applied to homosexuals.

The organization is a social and educational one. Political action is contemplated only if the leaders of the Tucson establishment will not listen to or compromise on the organizations requests, particularly requests concerning discrimination.

But GLAD also clearly states that "this organization was not created to accomplish or accelerate sexual encounters"—lest, one member says, it get the the image of a gay bar without liquor.

Carol, a student at Pima College, explains part of what she sees as a widespread public misconception. "Most people think a homosexual male is going to attack another male in a men's room somewhere, or that a lesbian is a woman who can't get a husband."

One educational goal, Carol continues, is to get information on homosexuals into school libraries so that at least young people can learn to understand how gay people are different—and how they are alike.

Carol says that being gay involves an entire lifestyle. But she adds that gays are still basically human beings—choosing to live with different values than most of society.

There seems to be no great showing of public concern, either for or against homosexuals. Chuck, a prime organizer of Tucson's contingent, attributes the lack of concern to the transient nature of Tucson's population.

With people coming in and out of Davis-Monthan AFB and the University of Arizona, many don't stay long enough to worry about dealing with gay people, he reasons, and the people who do stay prefer not to get involved.

Chuck came to Tucson from the East to attend the university a year ago.

"If you want to be gay and don't want anyone to know it, Tucson is a good town. People don't get involved in anything here. So there isn't much harassment, either," he says.

But that same apathy, he says, "oppresses us because no one knows and no one cares about us" at a time when gay liberationists want to be recognized and understood.

The effort to stimulate understanding includes a seminar on homosexuality run through the Free University, which operates around the university campus and Pima College. Most GLAD members are students at one of the two schools.

 

Continue to Part 3, Challenging discrimination