Harry Hay (1912-2002) was founder of the first national organisation campaigning for gay rights in the 1950s, the Mattachine Society, and one of the founding father-mothers of the, now global, tribe of Radical Faeries. His life-long passion to liberate gay people from religious, legal and conformist pressures was motivated, he said, by a “vision I’ve held since I was a boy: that the overwhelming urge to sexuality I’ve felt since perhaps the age of eight or nine… had been always urging me that we are supposed to discover something about our sexuality collectively – something it is supposed to accomplish when we invoke it as once voice collectively.”
Will Roscoe wrote in Radically Gay : Gay Liberation in the Words of Its Founder (1997) –
“For Hay, the transcendence of the individual, the discovery that one is part of an interconnected whole, is the truth of life itself and the essence of spirituality, as well as the source of political ideals… The vision of society that emerges from this interconnection of spirituality and politics is multicultural, cooperative, and decentralized. Rather than objectifying diverse communities as ‘Other’, subject-SUBJECT consciousness fosters the extension of common humanity to all. Affirming the other who affirms you does not require the erasure or denial of difference.
“For Hay, activism informed by spiritual values is the modern version of the community service traditionally performed by third-gender figures like the Native American Two-Spirit. But Hay stresses that his visions and ideals are a ‘call’ – for those who hear the message in their hearts as well as their minds. A spirit quest can never be imposed, require, legislated or prescribed, nor can matters of the spirit be reduced to political discourse. But, of course, taking ourselves seriously, inquiring into the nature of our sexuality and its deepest meaning, and loving ourselves and each other for being Gay remain crucial first steps towards liberation. Gay politics thus begins in the realm of the human spirit, and while politics can never take the place of spirituality they eventually lead us back to that realm, as we seek to find the language to express our visions of a better world.”
HAY: “The way out of our comprehensional stalemate, the quagmire into which the Binary inheritances of our brain-training and our cultural superstructure have hurled us…. Humanity must expand its experience to thinking of another, that other, not as object – to be used, to be manipulated, to be mastered, to be consumed – but as subject, as another like him/her self, another self to be respected, to be appreciated, to be cherished.”
HAY: 1986 March on Washington
“Brothers and Sisters, isn’t it about time we started to tell our parent Society who we really are? Isn’t it about time we helped them to understand that rather than being merely a sexual variation of them, in all other senses exactly the same of they, we are a Separate People with, in several measurable respects, a rather different window on the world, a different consciousness, which may be triggered into being by our lovely sexuality?
“But before we can do that, before we can tell them who we are, we shall have to begin telling each other. Up to now it’s been easier to march in the streets and scream and holler than it has been to sit in a circle and examine and evaluate. It’s been easier to pretend we’re really almost the same as everyone else, although we don’t fool the Heteros for a minute, than it is to dig and dig into the bicameral subterranean channels of collective memory – a cataloguing and a collecting we’ve been avoiding like the plague….
“Our lovely and talented Gay Community with an enormous 100,000 year history of discovery and largely selfless contribution, our Minority of Ducks-in-whatever-henhouse-of-Chickens-they-were-inadvertently-born-into knows that we as a Separate People comprise a total deviation of consciousness that is not to be reduced by the nasty sexual drooling of dirty legalistic inferior minds.”
Hay presents a call to action – which still rings loud today, and deserves to be heard by the wider queer community:
“Now that we are beginning to have a glimmering of how to earn for ourselves Space in which to contemplate affirmatively our particular dimensions of self-realisation, IT IS TIME FOR GAY LIBERATION FAIRIES TO RECONSTITUTE THE AGE-OLD AND AGE-LESS RINGS OF THEIR FOLK RESPONSIBILITIES!…
“IT IS TIME GAY LIBERATION REGENERATES ITSELF INTO THE GAY FAIRY FAMILY OF LOVING-SHARING EQUALS, each choosing of his own volition to be responsible for himself, each choosing of his own volition to be responsible to each of the others of his chosen fairy ring!…
“IT IS TIME FOR GAY LIBERATION TO GATHER FOR COLLECTIVE REBIRTH AND RENEWAL!”
“The key to functioning by consensus is learning to listen to one another non-judgmentally! Radical Faeries have discovered that , by learning to slip the non-essential Hetero-male ego, we can really listen to one another with our inner ears. … To facilitate governing by the process of mutually respectful sharing consensus, Radical Faeries and, if there were of a mind, all Gay Brothers and Sisters, exercising their innate inclinations to process in subject-SUBJECT consciousness, might make a major contribution to Society by helping to create the most politically healthy of all possible communities.
“We need to make the leap in consciousness for a second reason as well – to reclaim our own sense of an ancient and historical legitimacy, parallels to which are continually being held open for us to duplicate by our Brothers of the Third and Fourth Worlds.
“… I am proposing that we take a hand-up example from our potential allies in the Third and Fourth Worlds, whose cultures may well be overtaking, and even out-numbering, our Hetero Western so-called Free World sensibilities in the not-too-far distant first decades of the 21st century. I propose that we Gay Men of all colours prepare to present ourselves as the gentle non-competitive Third Gender men of the Western World with whole wardrobes and garages crammed with cultural and spiritual contributions to share.
“… time for us Gays to reclaim our Third Gender responsibilities…
“It is time for us Third Gender folk… to rejoice in the gifts we bring!“