Visiting novices to S.F. Pride’s Radical Faerie Village (and “Faerie life”) outwardly exhibited revolutionized emotional experiences. Absorption bloomed in colorful thrill spaces, cloaked by anciently tapped, spirited human-refreshment.
In this avant-garde arena though, neophytes were unaware: just who had sacrificed to pass-on this capsule’s enduring legacy, generating a brief, annual opportunity?
Harry Hay as previously noted realized his “gayness” as a young child. Never feeling shame was attributed to an incident with his father; not retracting a correcting of his patriarch’s “Egyptian theory” got him soundly beaten—an experience which often occurred.
But young Hay’s rationale about Egypt was correct and drew an epiphany: other so-called “authority figures” could also be wrong, which included priest’s concepts of God. Then and there Harry resolved to never leave postulations from professed “social experts” unchallenged.
Back in the U.S. the family hit L.A. Harry spent childhood summers east on cattle ranches where “hands” exposed a few firsts: Marxist philosophy and miner’s tales of indulged homosexuality. In 1922 another exposure found him witnessing Hopi ritual dances. Native American spirituality affected Hay’s “Westernization” for the rest of his life.
Hay “came out” as temperamental (then a “gay code”) attending Stanford in 1930, but headed to San Francisco 2 years later after dropping-out; there the artistic scene captured his heart, yet a “B movie” career got him back to L.A. Now, doing urban street theatre at strikes and demonstrations reintroduced Marxism—he joined the “Party” in 1934.
Tony Pastor Theatre experience escalated dedicated “social involvement” and he met the “leftist” actor Will Geer (known today as “grandpa” on The Waltons)—Geer became Hay’s mentor and lover. Incidents at local strikes finally led to radical gay political exposure; back north with Geer (after a rousing supportive performance) they witnessed police firing on S.F. General Strike crowds.
The relationship unraveled in 1937 when advice from “Party members” (and their Jungian therapist) was followed: Hay married co member Anna Platky. Soon they became L.A.’s “leftist jewels,” hosting such activists as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie; Hay aided global chanteuse Josephine Baker, protesting an L.A. restaurant’s Jim Crow policies.
Homosexual reality though, couldn’t “dissipate”—affairs with men continued. In 1951 they divorced. The event released Harry from pretentious confines and proved to be most fateful. The stage was set for Harry’s concept, spawning one of America’s earliest enduring, openly homophile advocacy institutions: The Mattachine Society.
To be continued…