The Ladder, June 1966, Vol. 10, No. 9
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A LESBIAN REVIEW
Adults Only .50
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Published monthly by the Daughters of Bilitis, Inc., a non-profit corporation, 3470 Mission Street, San Francisco, California 94110.
NATIONAL OFFICERS, DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS, INC.
RECORDING SECRETARY--Meredith Grey
CORRESPONDING SECRETARY--Marjorie McCann
PUBLIC RELATIONS DIRECTOR--Phyllis Lyon
THE LADDER STAFF
ASSISTANT TO THE EDITOR; ART EDITOR--Kay Tobin
PRODUCTION MANAGER--Donna Manns
CIRCULATION MANAGER--Doris Hanson
THE LADDER is regarded as a sounding board for various points of view on the homophile and related subjects and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the organization.
|Interview with Ernestine||
|Action in the Courts||
|DOB National Convention||
U. S. Government Hides Behind
Immoral Mores--Franklin E. Kameny
My Lover--or My Enemy?--Review by Leo Ebreo
of TRAP FOR CINDERELLA by Sebastien Japrisot
A PATRIOT FOR ME--by John Osborne
Play Review by Leslie Smith
Cover photos of Ernestine Eckstein by Kay Tobin. (See p. 4)
Copyright 1966 by Daughters of Bilitis, Inc., San Francisco, California.
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(This interview with Ernestine Eckstein--our cover subject this month--was conducted by Kay Tobin and Barbara Gittings in January 1966. Miss Eckstein was at the time vice-president of the New York Chapter of Daughters of Bilitis. The opinions she expressed were her own and not necessarily those of DOB.)
Q. To start with a stock question, how did you hear of DOB?
A. Through the public lectures sponsored by Mattachine Society of New York--which I also belong to now. They were advertised in the Village Voice, and I have this thing about going to lectures anyway. So I'd go, and pick up Mattachine literature from the literature table, and their magazine mentioned DOB's name and address. I can't strongly enough recommend homophile magazines' plugging other homophile groups'. I don't know how I'd lived in such a vacuum but I'd simply never heard about DOB before, or for that matter about Mattachine.
Q. Where were you living before you came to New York?
A. I was at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where I was majoring in magazine journalism, with minors in government and in Russian. However, I had a lot of faith in New York. That's why I came here after graduation three years ago. It seemed to me, for a lot of reasons, that New York was the place to live. I consider it very stimulating. It was the only place to live so far as I was concerned.
Q. Did you know when you came here that you were a lesbian?
A. No, I didn't. I had been attracted to various teachers and girlfriends, but nothing ever came of it.
Q. Did you know there were homosexuals in college?
A. It's very hard to explain this, but I had never known about homosexuality, I'd never thought about it, it's funny, because I'd always had a very strong attraction to women. But I'd never known anyone who was homosexual, not in grade school or high school or in college. Never heard the word mentioned. And I wasn't a dumb kid, you know, but this was a kind of blank that had never been filled in by anything--reading, experience, anything--until after I came to New York when I was twenty-two. I look back and I wonder'. I didn't know there were other people who felt the same way I did.
Q. What did you used to think about your uniqueness, how did it affect you?
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A. I used to think, "Well, now, what's wrong with me?" But at the same time I felt there was nothing unusual about people loving other people regardless of sex. I've always believed that love transcends any kind of label--black, white, woman, man. So I didn't think it was unnatural for me to have reactions to other women. Why not? However, I'd never thought about sexual activities between those of the same sex.
Q. What happened after you came to New York?
A. Well, as a matter of fact, I had a college friend who had come here earlier. He was my best friend in college. It wasn't a sexual relationship, never even a romantic one. Very platonic. And he was a homosexual, but I didn't know it then, he didn't tell me. Anyway, we had a very good relationship going in college. We could do everything together, really communicate. Just the best of friends. And I liked it that way and so did he. I never understood why--but I never questioned why either. So when I came to New York he was one of the first persons I looked up. And he said, "Ah...Ernestine, you know I'm gay?" And I thought: well, you're happy,so what? I didn't know the term gay. And he explained it to me.
Then all of a sudden things began to click. Because at that time I was sort of attracted to my roommate, and I thought: am I sexually as well as emotionally attracted to her? And it dawned on me that I was. And so my college friend sort of introduced me to the homosexual community he knew. Still, I went through the soul-searching bit for several months, trying to decide if I was homosexual, where I stood.
But then having once decided, the next thing on the agenda was to find a way of being in the homosexual movement--because I assumed there was such a movement, or should be. And at that time I saw the New York Mattachine ads in the Village Voice.
Q. Do you think that because you were accustomed to thinking of the Negro movement with its organizations, you automatically felt that homosexuals would have organizations?
A. Yes, that was a definite influence.
Q. There are some white people who have the impression that there is so much sexual freedom among Negroes that they naturally know all about homosexuality, that they try everything'. What do you say to this notion?
A. When people talk about sexual freedom among Negroes, I think what they may mean is that Negroes have less inhibition generally, also that they have fewer other outlets. But I don't agree that there are any sexual differences between Negroes and whites. There may be more freedom for Negroes to participate in sex--but not a variety of sex.
I think there is more freedom to try different things among whites than among Negroes. Negroes are not now at the stage where they can begin to explore. They' re still very caught up with other people's definitions of how to live. So they can't
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explore yet. Which is one of the reasons why I've never gone with a Negro girl. I prefer people who are free to try things and see how they work, people who can define their own values, And Negroes by and large don' t do this yet. There's a fear of not being accepted if they try anything new or different.
Q. Do you find that your closest friends are homosexual?
A. No, I don't. I wish it were true. I'm always reaching toward a complete communication with people, and I would like to be able to really communicate with a Negro lesbian. This would be a perfect situation so far as I' m concerned.
Q. If your closest friends are heterosexual, have you told them you' re a lesbian, and do you communicate well with them?
A. Most of my close friends know I'm a lesbian. I do find there's a sort of gap in communication that can only be overcome with a lot of effort. For instance, one of my colleagues at work who's a very close friend of mine has just gotten married. So she talks to me in terms of her being a wife having a husband. And I talk to her in terms of my being a lesbian, having a girlfriend. And we talk, but it's still very strange. Our problems are so different. So there is a gap. It can be overcome, but it takes effort.
Q. I have had heterosexual friends argue with me that heterosexual love Is by Its very nature more fulfilling than homosexual love. What would you say to this?
A. I can only speak from my own experience,and all I can say to that is that I've known heterosexual love, and comparing the two, I find homosexual love preferable. Speaking again personally, it is much more beneficial to me. I communicate much more easily, sexually and in every other way, with a woman. I can reach a much closer kind of unity with a woman than I ever could with a man. Because after all the whole object of love is to reach a kind of unified state. And homosexual love enables me to do this, in essence. But let every man speak for himself'.
Q. Have you found any discrimination against Negroes in the homophile movement?
A. No, I feel the homophile movement is more open to Negroes than, say, a lot of churches, for example. Unfortunately, I find that there are very few Negroes in the homophile movement. I keep looking for them, but they're not there. And I think there should be more, I really do.
Q. Have you been active in the Negro civil rights movement?
A. At Indiana University I was active in the NAACP chapter there, and I was an officer of the chapter in my senior year. At the time I was there, there was no other organization, no other choice. Then suddenly more progressive groups like CORE and SNCC came along, and I got out of NAACP and Joined CORE when I came to New York.
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Q. There's an article by William Worthy in TEE REALIST for September 1965 in which he claims that NAACP was "emasculated" by the white liberals in the organization. Worthy says that the white liberals' influence has had a "fatal, debilitating effect"--because they donate money and lend prestige and then expect that NAACP will go along with their ideas for slower progress, and will defer to their wishes. Do you agree here?
A. You have to remember that NAACP's whole policy was structured with the white liberals in mind. I think they have more influence than they should have, but I don't think they can be said to have "emasculated" NAACP. Without the financial support of the white liberals, the NAACP wouldn't have gone anywhere anyway, so I think it was a choice that had to be made.
Q. Does this choice then account for NAACP's conservatism?
A. I think it does, historically, yes. More so than any other single factor. But you also have to take into account the fact that the NAACP Is made up of middle-class Negroes who are every bit as conservative as white liberals. So there is this combination of forces in NAACP. The square Negroes are very conservative and very frightened. They've reached a certain level in society, and any kind of protest really seems a threat to them. Because if the whole mass of Negroes were raised up, then the position of these middle-class Negroes would not be singular, not be distinctive anymore, I don't say they deliberately try to hold the mass of Negroes down. But they just don't make any big effort to help.
Q. There are some people who feel that to demonstrate or make any kind of public protest is somehow not nice. Do you think this too is tied in with middle-class values?
A. Right. And most Negroes do have middle-class values, they really do. They absorb them.
Q. I brought up these points because there are parallels in the homophile movement. Some homosexuals prefer to work through influential heterosexuals and also to have them in our movement even to the extent of having them on the governing boards of our organizations, where they can wield a great deal of influence in determining the way things go. Other homosexuals feel we should work with the prominent heterosexuals who want to support our movement and that it's fine to get their help, but that we shouldn't let them control or determine the way things go, shouldn't allow them to take over to any degree or gain a superior influence. What do you think?
A. I think Negroes need white people, and I think homosexuals need heterosexuals. If you foster cooperation right from the start, then everyone is involved and It's not a movement over there.
Q. What If the "outsiders" get superior influence?
A. I think that's a chance we take. I would prefer cooperation, equality.
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Q. But the white liberal, for example, doesn't feel the same strong motivation to get things done that the Negro civil rights worker feels. And similarly in our cause, the heterosexual doesn't share the homosexual's strong motivation. And so there are those in the homophile movement who fear that influential heterosexuals in our movement might hold us back.
A. True. But that' s why I feel so strongly that an organization should be formulated with a definite aim in mind and then the membership should fall in line with this aim.
Q. But the outsiders can modify the tactics used and make them less dynamic, even if they don't modify the aims.
A. I think this is a justifiable fear, but I think it's a chance we must take. I would like to see in the homophile movement more people who can think. And I don't believe we ought to look at their titles or at their sexual orientation. Movements should be intended, I feel, to erase labels, whether "black" or "white" or "homosexual" or "heterosexual."
Q. Would you give us your opinion of picketing? Some people consider it radical, or untimely, or both,, What do you say?
A. Picketing I regard as almost a conservative activity now. The homosexual has to call attention to the fact that he's been unjustly acted upon. This is what the Negro did.
Q. Let me tie this in with what we discussed a moment ago. There are those in our movement who want prominent persons, especially from the psychology and therapy professions, on our governing boards and in our organizations--feeling that these persons will lend not only prestige but good judgment. Yet we find that, almost to a man, these psychology-oriented persons tell us, "Don't picket." They say we must first educate the public. Some homosexuals fault them for this and say, well, they're heterosexual and they're not suffering the way we are.
A. But I do regard picketing as a form of education'.
But one thing that disturbs me a lot is that there seems to be some sort of premium placed on psychologists and therapists by the homophile movement. I personally don't understand why that should be. So far as I'm concerned, homosexuality per se is nor a sickness. When our groups seek out the therapists and psychologists, to me this is admitting we are ill by the very nature of our preference. And this disturbs me very much.
Q. What do you think of as sickness?
A. To me, a sickness represents a maladjustment. That would include Negroes who can't adjust to being Negroes, and homosexuals who can't adjust to being homosexuals. Such people may fail to adapt or to function properly in a society.
Q. Surely though you must think that some degree of anxiety would be legitimate in a hostile society. That is, if you're a cat in a world of dogs...
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A. Yes, that's true. I think it takes a very strong, Independent-minded person to accept all the pressures and to function well in spite of them. I think some homosexuals do find it hard to overcome these pressures--not because they are homosexuals per se, but because of the pressures exerted by society and the prohibitions against homosexuality.
Q. Then do you think the homosexual's anxieties are helped best by a therapist or by his being with like-minded people?
A. I think the best therapy for a homosexual is reinforcement of his way of life, by associating with people who are like him. I think the whole anxiety business comes in when he is constantly pitted against a different way of life--you know, where he's the odd-ball. I believe homosexuals need this sort of reinforcement that comes from being with their own kind. And if they don't have it, then they have to be awfully strong to create their own image. Most people are not that strong.
Q. Would you say the burden of change is on society or on the homosexual, if his lot is to be Improved?
A. I think to a certain extent it's on both. The homosexual has to assert himself more, and society has to give more. Homosexuals are invisible, except for the stereotypes, and I feel homosexuals have to become visible and to assert themselves politically. Once homosexuals do this, society will start to give more and more.
Q. You think more homosexuals should declare themselves, and get in homophile picket lines and so forth?
A. Any movement needs a certain number of courageous people, there's no getting around it. They have to come out on behalf of the cause and accept whatever consequences come. Most lesbians that I know endorse homophile picketing, but will not picket themselves. I will get in a picket line, but in a different city. For example, I picketed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on July Fourth last year, and at the White House in October, to protest discrimination against homosexuals.
Q. Were you concerned about being seen on television here, since CBS-TV and ABC-TV covered most of the demonstrations?
A. I'm not worried about that. I think eventually my philosophy will reach a point where I'll decide that it's my right to picket, whatever the cause, whatever the city and no matter what my job is. I don't quite have that much courage yet.
Q. Do you believe in any forms of civil disobedience for the homophile movement at this time?
A. I think our movement is not ready for any forms of civil disobedience. I think this would solidify resistance to our cause. This situation will change eventually. But not now.
Q. Are there any ways in which you feel our movement should emulate other movements more?
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A. I don't find in the homophile movement enough stress on courtroom action. I would like to see more test cases in courts, so that our grievances can be brought out into the open. That's one of the ways for a movement to gain exposure, a way that's completely acceptable to everybody.
Q. What ideas do you have for attracting more people into the homophile organizations?
A. Well, first of all, I think there should be officers who are not so prone to get involved in the personal problems of the members. This getting involved in individuals' problems is a factor that has held back some of the homophile groups quite a bit, I think. My feeling is that there are certain broad, general problems that we all have as homosexuals, across the board so to speak, and we should concentrate on those--the discrimination by the government in employment and military service, the laws used against homosexuals, the rejection by the churches. The kinds of things that touch us all, affect us all, or substantial segments of the homosexual population, rather than things that simply touch individuals.
Also, I think we ought to have for officers of our organizations people who are ordinary-looking men and women. I feel very strongly that a woman who's very masculine, or a man who's very effeminate, should not be an officer in the homophile movement. This is my personal opinion. Our officers shouldn't be the stereotypes, for God's sake! We're trying to counteract the notion that all homosexuals are like that.
Also, I think there should be more planned activities for everyone to participate in.
Q. Do you think that planned social-action activities, such as picketing, would attract more people who can think, as you put it earlier?
A. I think they would, yes. But planning social-action activities is too often put aside in order to concentrate on internal matters in an organization.
I do believe we need more quote, intellectual and more quote, professional-level people in the movement. Maybe they belong to other groups, maybe they're afraid to join us, maybe they feel they have too much to lose. But I think they are what we need more of. And I can't get over the feeling that these people have some need, too, to belong to our organizations. So far as I'm concerned, attracting these people is one of the main problems of the movement.
Beyond this group, however, I'd like to find a way of getting all classes of homosexuals involved together in the movement.
Q. Do you think that's possible?
A. I think that if we meet on the common ground of our unjust position in society, then we can all go from there. This is a new frame of reference, a new way of thinking almost, for some.
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Q. You said earlier that you feel the leaders in our groups should not get involved in the personal problems of individual members. What about the organization as such? Does NAACP, for example, attempt to help the individual Negro in any way, to give him discussion groups or social events or counseling?
A. No, it doesn't. NAACP's whole focus is on the courts, and on the mass of Negroes. It was formed for the purpose of eliminating all kinds of discrimination against Negroes as a group. NAACP doesn't care about that black man walking down the street. It cares about the Negro minority as a whole.
Q. Do you think there's much of a parallel between the homophile movement and the Negro movement in regard to variety of organizations and approaches?
A. There's only a very rough parallel. Generally, NAACP is the most conservative of all civil rights groups. And some homophile groups are the same, with the same sort of predisposition to take things easy, not to push too fast, not stick their necks out too far. For instance, demonstrations, as far as I'm concerned, are one of the very first steps toward changing society. The NAACP never reached this stage--or at least not until it was pushed into at least giving lip-service to demonstrations by other Negro organizations. And I think that in the homophile movement, some segments will have to be so vocal and so progressive, until they eventually push the ultra-conservative segments into a more progressive line of thinking and action.
Incidentally, I want to say that one thing that has held the Negro movement together so long has been its martyrs. Every time somebody gets killed, the organizations are willing to work together again, whatever their differences. If the Negro movement hadn't had martyrs, I doubt if it would be anywhere near where it is now. They needed those kids killed down in Mississippi.
Q. Do you think it will ever come to that in the homophile movement?
A. I think in a sense the homophile movement is more civilized, more genteel. So it won't require a murder, but it will require martyrs in other senses of the word. I personally feel that martyrdom ought to be used to its best advantage by a movement, it should be spotlighted as much as possible.
Q. What do you feel is the positive value of homosexuality?
A. I think homosexual relationships can be very creative. People who are freed from family responsibilities can begin to take more responsibility toward society. They can be more productive. They can feel more at liberty to give of themselves to the outside world. And also, you can explore yourself more--which I think is very important
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Homosexuals in New York City may no longer have to fear being entrapped by plainclothesmen, if the police department keeps "its recent promise to end the practice of entrapment.
Months ago, the Mew York Post ran a 5-part series of articles about the Vice Squad, highlighting the tactics police use to lure citizens into making illegal solicitations so that the officers can then arrest them to meet vice-squad quotas. The Post reporter had consulted the Mattachine Society of New York, the city's largest homophile organization, while preparing his articles. He followed up by asking the police for a statement on their entrapment policies. A high official said the police department "will not tolerate" use of entrapment tactics to boost the, number of arrests on morals charges. Still entrapment continued--and so did the disavowals by police officials.
It was early in February, for example, that First Deputy Commissioner John Walsh, speaking for then Commissioner Broderick, told the Post, "We do not approve of the police enticing someone to commit a crime." Yet later that same month, a man was arrested for inviting to his apartment for a drink a plain-clothesman who had unsuccessfully tried only four days before to entice the same man in the same restaurant.
Early in April, for another example, Chief Inspector Sanford Garelik, at a public meeting,, denounced entrapment and urged citizens to report cases of individuals being lured by police into a violation of law so an arrest could be made. Later the same night, two young men were entrapped by a pair of plain-clothesmen in a bar only a few blocks from the church where Inspector Garelik had made his statement. And a few days later in April, A Brooklyn tailor, married and the father of two children, was arrested in a Manhattan Turkish bath for allegedly "loitering" for the purpose of committing homosexual acts. The entrapping officer reportedly had drawn this victim's attention by standing in his underwear near-his locker, clutching his groin and moaning.
A New York Post columnist wrote that "there is something crawling and soiled" about such police activity, and suggested that "it would probably take a psychiatrist to examine the darker aspects of these capers: the ingenuity and patience the police work requires, the relish with which the detectives seem to go about their Jobs, the fact that a lot of the cops really believe they are decontaminating the society by ferreting out and arresting these people."
How many other entrapment incidents did not get publicized, no one knows. Confronted with such discrepancies between their stated policy and their activity, the police sometimes claim, as Inspector Garelik did in April, that "we don't encourage people to commit a crime that they weren't going to commit."
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This claim has been publicly challenged by psychotherapist Clarence A. Tripp, Ph.D. At a Mattachine-sponsored panel discussion in April (attended by a police official who came on invitation but refused to speak on the panel and said he would merely observe and take notes), Dr. Tripp said that solicitations are just not made out of the blue. They evolve from a lengthy exchange of small talk and conversational gambits in which both persons take a meaningful part. Psychologists call this "backing and filling operations." Dr. Tripp pointed out that an entrapping policeman has to knowingly participate in this exchange in order to elicit a proposition for which he can make an arrest.
Protests against the police activity--including letters to New York's new mayor, John V. Lindsay, as well as to police officials--were kept up especially by the New York Mattachine Society, the New York Post, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and several prominent psychotherapists.
On April 30, the Mayor held a closed-invitation meeting to air frictions between city agencies and groups of Village citizens including homosexuals and artists. He said he was disturbed by complaints about "excesses perpetuated by the city bureaucracy during the (spring) 'clean-up'." He agreed to a suggestion that attorneys for the city conduct seminars for top city officials on ways of safeguarding individual civil liberties.
Richard Leitsch, president of New York Mattachine, represented the homosexual community at this meeting and raised the issue of entrapment. Mayor Lindsay condemned the practice, and so did the New Police Commissioner, Howard Leary, who said he had already begun to issue orders to stop it.
The police department soon issued a directive ordering plain-clothesmen not to entice homosexuals into making illegal overtures. Police were reportedly also being discouraged by their superiors from making such arrests without a supporting complaint from a civilian witness. But it remains to be seen whether the New York police are only making public-relations noises for the moment and whether entrapment will be resumed.
ACTION in the COURTS
(Editor's note: In her January interview (see pages 4--11 of this issue), Ernestine Eckstein suggested that the homophile movement put more emphasis on court action. Following are notes on three major cases now pending which may help to firmly establish rights for the homosexual in this country. These and other relevant legal actions will be reported on in THE LADDER from time to time.)
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FLORIDA: A homosexual is suing the city of Miami to remove a city ordinance that prohibits "homosexuals, lesbians and perverts" from assembling in, being served in, or being employed. in any place of business licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.
Richard A, Inman, president of Mattachine Society of Florida Inc. (P. O. Box 301, Miami, Florida 33101), charges that this (ordinance is unconstitutional and illegally discriminatory, and that-it arbitrarily denies certain citizens their rights to equal opportunities, among which is the homosexual's right to go into a bar with his homosexual friends and have a drink like any other citizen over 21. What makes the case unique is that Mr. Inman filed his suit as a homosexual. His challenge is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
CALIFORNIA: The Council on Religion and the Homosexual Inc., along with three lawyers and a housewife as individuals, filed suit late last year against the city and county of San Francisco and various members of the city's police department for a total of $1,050,000 in damages arising form police harassment of a private costume ball.
The ball, held on New Year's Day 1965, was sponsored by six homophile organizations in San Francisco (including Daughters of Bilitis) to raise funds for the work of the Council. Several Bay Area ministers and members of their congregations attended the ball, along with homosexuals and their friends.
The police broke faith with ministers from the Council who had gone to the police in advance to review plans for the benefit ball and to get assurances that there would be no undue police attention at the event. Several dozen policemen, including police photographers, dogged the orderly assembly throughout the evening, harassed and intimidated the 600 guests both in side and on the way into and out of the hall where the ball was being, held, and arrested three lawyers and a housewife who verbally challenged the police for invading the hall without a warrant.
In its suit, the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (330 Ellis St., San Francisco, California 94102) charges numerous specific violations of civil liberties, as well as discrimination against those holding or helping unpopular viewpoints. The suit also claims that the Improper police action has deprived the Council of cooperation from businesses and individuals who anticipate "trouble" with the police and adverse publicity if they deal with the Council, and that it has hampered the Council's efforts to win rapport with homosexuals who fear police persecution and discrimination if they openly identify themselves with the council. The $1,050,000 damages sought are for injury and loss suffered by the four persons arrested, and for exemplary damages to punish the defendants and deter them from continuing their unlawful and oppressive conduct.
NEW JERSEY: The owner of an Atlantic City gay bar which is known as a quiet, orderly place is fighting the state's move to suspend the bar's license solely on the grounds that homosexuals assembled in the bar.
A regulation of the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission says that bars may not be operated in such a way as to create a "nuisance." At one time a New Jersey Superior Court ruling defined the presence in a bar of homosexuals as a nuisance, and this ruling has been interpreted by the ABC to mean that any bar in which homosexuals gather, no matter how peaceably, can be termed a "nuisance" and closed
Unlike some cases of gay-bar closings, the case of Val's Bar reveals no evidence whatsoever that there was any improper conduct in the bar or any improper operation of the bar in the usual senses. It is therefore a clear, unencumbered test case for homosexuals' right of assembly and the right of a business to cater to a peaceable homosexual clientèle. A favorable decision is not expected from the ABC or on appeal in the state courts, so the case could possibly be taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where a favorable ruling would be binding throughout the country.
The bar owner is willing to fight the case as far as necessary to win it, but he cannot finance it alone. Several homophile organizations are helping to raise money for a defense fund for this significant case. Chief collectors of donations earmarked for the Val's Bar Fund are the Janus Society (34 South 17th St., Philadelphia, Penn. 19103) and Mattachine Society of New York (1133 Broadway, New York, New York 10010).
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DOB National Convention
San Francisco AND ITS HOMOPHILE COMMUNITY --A MERGING SOCIAL CONSCIENCE
is the theme of the Fourth National Convention of Daughters of Bilitis, Inc., to be held on August 20, 1966 at the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco, California.
The tentative program includes the following speakers:
The Rev. Lewis Durham of the Glide Foundation; Bernard Mays; head of San Francisco Suicide Prevention, Inc.; Dr. Joel Fort, director of the San Francisco Center for Special Problems; Robert Gonzales, President of the Mexican-American Political Association; A. Cecil Williams, chairman of Citizens Alert; a representative of The Council on Religion and the Homosexual.
The morning session will explain "The Homophile Community and Civic Organizations--How They Relate." The afternoon session will explore the topic, "The Homophile Community and Governmental Agencies--Can They Relate?" The afternoon session will end with a round-table discussion by all the speakers.
The Rt. Rev. Bishop James A. Pike of the Episcopal Diocese of California will be the luncheon speaker. The speaker for the banquet is still to be announced.
This convention is open to the public. Cost of the all-day meeting, including lunch and the banquet, is $15 per person. Reservations may be made for $5 down, with the balance payable in two installments of $5 each. For registration forms, a schedule of fees for portions of the program, and information on housing, contact Daughters of Bilitis, Inc., 3470 Mission Street, San Francisco, California 14110.
DOB is arranging a full schedule of social events for the week of August 20-28, in cooperation with other homophile groups in San Francisco. For details write to DOB as above.
Make your plans now to vacation in San Francisco on August 20!
Calling Los Angeles
Plans are being made to reactivate the Los Angeles Chapter of DOB. Women over 21 in the Los Angeles area who are interested in DOB activities are invited to write to the national office in San Francisco.
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by Gene Damon
337. THE MANDELBAUM GATE--by Muriel Spark. Knopf, 1965.
The old "spark" is definitely gone in this novel. Depending upon your previous reaction to this author, this is her worst or her best book. If you liked the earlier novels, you may not like this one, but if you found the others too satirical and downright nasty in spots, then this may be for you.
English school teacher Barbara Vaughan visits Israel, ostensibly to consider her possible marriage to archaeologist Harry Clegg. She unwisely crosses the border into Jordan where her part-Jewish ancestry is a virtual death sentence, and has many adventures before being safely delivered back to Israel, where she at last decides to marry Harry.
The headmistress of Barbara's school, Miss "Ricky" Rickward, has long been in love with Barbara and tries to prevent the marriage (in the end, ironically, she assists it). Ricky is presented sympathetically, and there is some doubt in the reader's mind that Barbara is suited for her marriage to Harry, despite Miss Spark's assuring us in an aside that they lived happily ever after.
338. GENTLY WITH THE LADIES--Alan Hunter. London, Cassell, 1965.
John Fazakerly's lesbian wife has been bludgeoned to death. Inspector Gently must tiptoe through the tulips as he wends a precarious way among the lesbian friends of the deceased only to find that copying the gospel according to Marcel Proust can be dangerous--you can even get caught dead!
339. RAGE--by Lorenza Mazzetti. London, The Bodley Head, 1965; New York, David McKay, 1965.
Teenage Penny and her younger sister are orphans in postwar Italy, their parents having been killed by the Nazis Adolescence typically can be a trying time, and for Penny, who is mentally and sexually precocious, it is doubly difficult In one incident during her coming of age, Penny dresses as a boy and visits a nightclub, where an elderly man makes a pass at her but recoils in disgust on discovering she is a girl. Toward the novel's end Penny falls in love with Milton,a young American only to find that he is a homosexual--one more "betrayal" from the world. Miss Mazzetti writes well and the book is worth reading despite the very pessimistic tone.
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Behind Immoral Mores
One of the most pernicious manifestations of anti-homosexual practice is the systematic exclusion from Federal employment of those engaging in private homosexual acts involving adults --not only because such exclusion is simply immoral in its own right and because homosexual citizens have the same right as other citizens to employment by a government that is supported by taxes paid by homosexuals no less than by heterosexuals, but also because government employment practices set the tone and example for private employment practices. Accordingly, one of the primary goals of the Mattachine Society of Washington since its founding has been change in the policies of the United States Civil Service Commission.
Peeling, correctly, that a democratic government has a moral obligation to give a hearing to those seeking redress for the grievances of a large group of the citizenry, the Society wrote on August 28, 1962, to the Honorable John W. Macy, Jr., chairman of the U. S. Civil Service Commission, asking for a meeting to discuss the Commission's policies on employment of homosexual citizens. Mr. Macy refused. He stated that it was the Commission's policy that homosexuals are not suitable for appointment to or retention in positions in the Federal civil service, and that the conference requested would serve no useful purpose.
Correspondence continued, fruitlessly, through 1963 and into 1964. It was resumed in April 1965. When it was again clear that the Commission would not respond favorably, the Civil Service Commission building in Washington, D, C, was picketed in June 1965 (after specific notice to Mr. Macy, sent well in advance) by homosexuals and supporters of their cause.
On August 28, 1965, in response to a follow-up letter after the picketing demonstration, the Society received a letter from the Commission agreeing to a meeting. The meeting was held on September 8, 1965,at the Commission's building in Washington. Five representatives (three men, two women) of the Mattachine Society of Washington were present, to confer with Mr. Lawrence V. Meloy, General Counsel (since retired) of the Commission, and Mr. Kimbell Johnson, Director of the Commission's Bureau of Personnel Investigations, both officially representing the Commissioners.
Near the end of the conference, the Society representatives were asked to present to the Commissioners a formal statement of their position, with any supplementary background material
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which was felt appropriate. Assurances were given that the Commissioners, personally, would read the material presented.
In December 1965, the Society presented to the Commission a 17-page mimeographed statement entitled "Federal Employment of Homosexual American Citizens" (available for 50 cents from the Mattachine Society of Washington, P. O. Box 1032, Washington 13, D. C). Four other documents supplementing the statement were handed in: (1) the National Capital Area Civil Liberties Union's policy statement opposing the Commission's policy on employment of homosexual citizens; (2) the 3-page leaflet "Why Are Homosexuals Picketing the U.S. Civil Service Commission?", which had been passed out at the demonstration; (3) the Society's Statement "Discrimination Against the Employment of Homosexuals", which had been presented to the U. S. Human Rights Commission in 1963; (4) "A Brief of Injustices" (with special passages marked), drawn up by the Council on Religion and the Homosexual Inc., San Francisco.
The Society's Statement first set out the Commission's formal position, and then the Society's, which in simplified form is that private, consensual, out-of-working hours homosexual acts on the part of adults are not the proper concern of an employer, public or private; that eligibility for employment should be a matter of relevant background, training, competence, and on-the-job conduct, and not of off-the-job private sexual acts; that matters of morality and immorality per se are not the proper concern of the government and are not relevant to employment.
A definition of homosexual was presented, along with an estimate of the number of homosexual American citizens and a detailed justification for considering them as a full-fledged sociological minority group.
Because the Commission views the employment of homosexuals as a moral issue (its position can be paraphrased as: homosexual acts are immoral; we don't want to hire immoral people), the Society also placed the matter upon a basis of morals and mores rather than upon law.
The Society felt that there is more to morality than the sexual; that denying citizens equality of opportunity, on grounds unrelated to job performance (and homosexuality is unrelated), is a far more important and fundamental immorality than any of the immoralities the Commission alleged. This approach was carefully and fully developed in the document presented to the Commission. The possibility of support from various segments of the larger heterosexual community was pointed out.
The document closed with a recommendation that the Commission's policy be changed--or short of that, that an active program of continuing, meaningful, constructive discussions be initiated between the Society and the Commission, in order to effect the desired change in policy.
On February 25, 1966, the Society received a four-page reply signed by Mr. Macy. In a masterful stroke of illogic, this
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reply first denies the existence of a homosexual, per se, and then re-invokes his existence by calling him a sexual deviate and then denies his existence again by claiming in effect that sexual tendencies do not exist, only acts.
Next, the Commission, in claiming that it does not ferret out homosexual conduct, invokes a most unorthodox definition of privacy. Apparently its criteria of a private act are not merely the usual ones involving the circumstances under which the act itself took place, but require that the act remain permanently unknown to anyone else at any later date. In true Victorian fashion, we must not even talk about sex'.
Finally, the Commission rests its case primarily on the obviously erroneous belief that as an arm of the government, it must uphold and concur with all existing mores. The weakness of its position is evident when one realizes that in this instance, "mores" is being used as a synonym to provide a cloak of respectable camouflage for "prejudice." It must be remembered that the government of the Union of South Africa, in instituting apartheid, the government of Nazi Germany, in sending Jews to ovens, and various governments in the American south, in reinforcing segregation, were all submitting to "mores." This makes their actions not one whit less odious.
The weakness and inconsistency of the Commission's position in this regard become fully evident when we examine three statements: (1) Veterans Administrator William J. Driver (1965): the Civil Service "has been discovered to be an instrument of social change...by which large and...recalcitrant social tasks can be accomplished"; (2) Civil Service Commission chairman John W. Macy, Jr. (1965): the Commission plans "a renewed attack on prejudice itself...with the goal of eradicating every vestige (of prejudice) from the Federal service...the goal... means full acceptance... of minority associates"; (3) Report of the President's Commission on National Goals (1960): "One role of government is to stimulate changes of attitude."
Clearly, not only is there no duty to adhere to all prevailing mores, but, on the contrary, the Commission itself, and the government of which it is a part, fully recognize the duty and the obligation to work for changes in prejudicial mores. Unfortunately they seem unwilling to apply their admirable principles to their homosexual citizens.
The full irresponsibility of the Commission's position is seen when the impact of its policies outside the government is noted. Federal employment is no longer a minor aspect of the national employment picture. The Federal government sets the tone and the example for private employment the country over. The standards set by the Commission for Federal employment eligibility are becoming increasingly pervasive throughout the nation. When the Federal government does not discriminate, private employers may or may not, and will ultimately tend not to; when the Federal government does discriminate, private employers will. In short, discriminatory Federal hiring practices reinforce discriminatory private hiring practices. For the Federal government to refuse to employ homosexual citizens
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is to lay the groundwork for widespread refusal by private employers to do so. Unless our government actually considers it desirable that several million homosexual American citizens be in the ranks of the unemployed, the Civil Service Commission's policies on this question seem to be the height of irresponsibility.
Basically, the commission's policy of disqualifying homosexuals from Federal employment represents a submission to prejudice and the administration of further penalty to those who are already the victims of prejudice, rather than to those who are prejudiced.
The Mattachine Society of Washington is preparing a full reply to Mr. Macy's letter. The importance of this latest exchange lies in the fact that the Commission has at last been induced to begin public formulation of a rationale--as feeble as this rationale may be--for its discriminatory policies.
--Franklin E. Kameny
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My Lover--or My Enemy?
TRAP FOR CINDERELLA--Sebastien Japrisot
(Simon and Schuster, 1964 Pocket Books, 1965) Winner of Le Grand Prix de la Literature Policiere
A young girl wakes up in a hospital. She has been badly burned on hands and face, both of these being reconstructed. She also has amnesia. The doctors who are trying to help her regain her memory inform her she is a young heiress, injured during a fire when she tried to rescue her girlfriend. Later events lead her to suspect that she is not the heiress at all but the friend who supposedly died in the fire, and indeed, that she had murdered the heiress whose place she now occupies.
Only one person holds the key to her identity: the heiress's guardian. This guardian has at various times been the lover of the heiress, of the heiress's girlfriend, and of an older woman, now dead, whose legacy of millions led to the murder.
The story then evolves into a duel between the two women": the disordered girl searching for her identity, and Jeanne the guardian, on whom she must rely and who may be either her most faithful lover or--the accomplice in her murder.
The author's talents range far beyond those of the ordinary writer of suspense fiction, although the novel's framework clearly places the book in that genre.
Laid in the world of the ultra-rich, on the Riviera and in Paris, the story provides a realistic picture of the waste, sorrow,and boredom in jet-set living--and, in flashbacks, an equally realistic picture of the life of the working-class girl, passing endless hours clerking in a bank or making heels for shoes.
Into this world of purposeless leisure that the two women inhabit, the men who appear bring no comfort, hope, or distraction. The doctors, lawyers, gigolos, playboys, mechanics are curiously cruel, impersonal, unhumorous, selfish.
So the young girl, in her search for her identity, is thrown back again and again on her guardian, The reader finds the question raised, not the who-dun-it? or will-she-be-caught? of, the conventional thriller, but the question one faces in Real Life: "Is this person my lover or my enemy?"
The book ends with a double resolution: the girl learns at one time of both her own identity and the nature of her guardian.
--Reviewed by Leo Ebreo
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A Patriot For Me
Review of A PATRIOT FOR ME--a play by John Osborne
Opponents of homosexual law reform in England often talk as if the only thing that restrains Englishmen everywhere from indulging in mass homosexual orgies is the threat of imprisonment. There is also of course the Lord Chamberlain (official government censor for the theatre) to see that our lusts are not inflamed in the theatre--as playwrights as various as Arthur Miller, Jean Genet, and John Osborne have discovered to their cost. The House of Lords may talk of buggery clubs, but John Osborne must not mention the 'clap' or 'crabs' lest he pervert public morals. Their lordships, presumably, are either corrupted already or beyond corruptions
It was fairly predictable that a play like John Osborne's A PATRIOT FOR ME, which sought to present in an adult, responsible way aspects of the homosexual world (a drag ball, a love scene between two men) would run into trouble with the censor. (Perhaps, to be consistent, he should refuse to licence pantomimes like DICK WHITTINGTON, where the hero is impersonated by a girl with shapely legs and kinky leather boots?) In the event, A PATRIOT FOR ME was performed in a club theatre, where it did not require the Lord Chamberlain's approval, and only private members were corrupted. Had it ever reached the general public, a variety of ludicrous cuts would have been-demanded. A list of these is given at the end of the published text (Faber and Faber, 1966) and it is clear that, had they been made, the play would have been rendered meaningless. Melancholy evidence, this, of the prurience and hypocrisy of the official mind.
But that the fuss was made in the first place is symptomatic, as is the fact that journalists seeking for a convenient label to describe A PATRIOT FOR ME called it 'a play about homosexuality'. Nothing derisive about this, you may say--a straightforward indication of the play's content. In a way, yes. But would anyone call ROMEO AND JULIET a play about heterosexuality? Did the Elizabethans call Marlowe's EDWARD II, for that matter, a play about homosexuality? I doubt it. Gaveston's chief crime is not that he is the king's bedfellow, but that he is baseborn. As one of his enemies puts it:
'His wanton humor grieves not me,
But this I scorn, that one so basely born,
Should by his sovereign's favor grow so pert.'
The robust sexuality of Marlow's play makes Tennessee Williams sound like Henry James. Moreover, in a theatre where boys took the women's parts, and sexual confusion reigned to
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the extent apparent in Shakespeare's romantic comedies--boys acting women, pretending for plot purposes to be boys, and reverting to women in the last act--a very wide range of sexual tastes could be discreetly appealed to. And Faustus could invoke masculine standards of beauty with perfect naturalness when expressing his rapturous response to the 'boy' Helen:
'Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter...
More lovely than the monarch of the skies
In wanton Arethusa's azured arms'
I am not saying that past ages were more enlightened in their treatment of homosexuality than ours--one need only remember how Edward II met his death, to thank God for the Wolfenden Report--but at least dramatists like Marlowe seem to have been spared the obsessive self-consciousness of homosexuality as a problem, which, I believe, tends to cast a blight over plays about homosexual people, whether men or women.
Frank Marcus's THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE is an honorable exception here, in that it deals with two women who happen to be lesbians but whose importance for us lies in their humanity, not their sexual preference. They are not treated as cases, or as ciphers on which to hang a discussion play. The result, even if rather superficial--what Terence Rattigan would call an 'Aunt Edna play'--Is refreshing.
John Osborne, whose play is far wider in scope and more ambitious than Marcus's, has tried to avoid the problem-play aspect; the nearest we get to it is a gossip session at the drag ball, of the 'when did you first discover you were queer' kind. This rings true enough on the documentary level, but, as with so much of the play, it does not seem to get much beyond that level.
What Osborne gives us is the career of a young, able, and ambitious officer, Alfred Redl, in the Austro-Hungarian army between 1890 and 1914. The first half of the play hinges on Redl's slow discovery of his homosexuality; the second half on his blackmail by the Russians (a possible parallel suggests Itself here with the Vassall case) and his eventual suicide when his treason is discovered.
But it almost seems as if Osborne, anxious to avoid self-consciousness and the 'problem play' approach, has settled for an utterly neutral and colourless treatment. His great strength as a dramatist has always been the tirade. His best plays, LOOK BACK IN ANGER? THE ENTERTAINER? INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE? are built around a series of monologues. Jimmy Porter, Archie Rice, and Bill Maitland are all compulsive talkers, obsessively concerned to justify themselves, haranguing an audience they are forever afraid of losing. The talk is vivid, rancorous, contemporary.
But when Osborne deserts present for past--as with the Austro-Hungarian army in A PATRIOT FOR ME? or the Reformation in his earlier play LUTHER--his 'lovely gift of the gab' seems lost. His structure in both plays is Brechtian and
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episodic, a rapid succession of short scenes, but the writing lacks Brecht's astringency and didacticism. We are never made to feel for Redl as we are for Osborn's crumbling entertainer, 'dead behind the eyes', or his third-rate solicitor Maitland; they at least communicate their pain. Redl does this only for one brief scene in the second half when he torments himself and his-current boy friend with a wild outburst:
'You've no memory, no grace, you keep nothing...All you are is young. There's no soft fat up here in the shoulder and belly and buttocks yet. But it will. Nobody loves an old, squeezed, wrinkled pip of a boy who was gay once. Least of all people like me or yourself. You'll be a vulgar fake, someone even toothless housewives in the market place can bait. You little painted toy, you puppet, you poor duffer, you'll be, with your disease and paunch and silliness and curlers and dyed wispy hair and long legs and varicose veins like bunches of grapes and prostate and thick waist and rolling thighs and big bottom, that's where we all go. In the bottom, that's where we all go and you can't mistake it. Everyone'll see it. (He pauses, exhausted. His dressing gown has flown open. Viktor is sobbing very softly and genuinely, Redl stands breathless, then takes the boy's head in his arms. He rocks him. And whispers): It's not true. Not true. You are beautiful...You always will be...There, baby, there...Baby...It won't last...All over baby.'
But,this moment apart, Osborne keeps us at a safe distance from Redl. We see him from the outside, maintaining a facade of correctness, of icy indifference. We are left to guess his reaction to his discovery of his homosexuality (Osborne ends Act I with Redl beaten up by his first male pick-up, and he opens Act II with Redl well-adjusted to his new way of life). Redl appears at the drag ball, but only, it seems, with reluctance and on the fringes of it, and nothing he says or does there contributes particularly to our picture of him. He encounters both the blackmailers and the officers who discover his treason with the same tightlipped stoicism.
At no point are we made to care much about this man whose life has been wrecked by a quirk of nature. Nor at any point are we compelled to see the situation in terms of the principles involved--as would happen, say, in an Arthur Miller play. And the result is that the historical background which in a Miller play like THE CRUCIBLE buttresses the idea that beyond the period differences there are more important parallels with other ages, other witch hunts, in A PATRIOT FOR ME is merely picturesque period detail, encouraging, fatally, a comfortable sense of remoteness.
A PATRIOT FOR ME has its good qualities. It conquers some new territory for the theatre. It is authentic enough on the documentary level. It exploits rather well the ironic discrepancy between appearance and reality common both to the world
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of espionage and to parts of the homosexual world (Which of the guests at the Baron's drag ball have we already seen in a heterosexual context, and which is a real woman?).
Equally ironic and effective is Osborne's characteristic device of the merry-go-round in which everything keeps moving in circles (in INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE, where the solicitor's clients are, hallucinatingly, the same woman, played by the same actress, telling the same tale): Redl's mistress complains he won't make love with the light on, he makes the same complaint to his male pick-up; she jeers at fat-bottomed queers, he uses her ammunition to hurt Viktor; a pompous lecture on homosexuality is cross-cut into a gaggle of gigglers at the drag ball, at the end of the play the lecturer is himself being investigated by the Russian secret police.
The disappointment lies in the fact that the play doesn't rise to its theme; it doesn't convey adequately the issues involved or the personal tragedy of Redl. Indeed Osborne has said almost more on the subject of homosexuality in a single scene from INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE (the statement John Mapes makes to the solicitor when he is charged with importuning) than in the whole of A PATRIOT FOR ME.
Which brings this review full circle. For I see I have got round, like the journalists I mentioned at the beginning, to writing of homosexuality as a 'subject'. This is, I suppose, inescapable; in the present context of illegality and blackmail it must, tragically, remain so. When the battle for law reform Is won, and we see homosexuals as people before they are homosexuals, then It will be easier to write plays like A PATRIOT FOR ME--and paradoxically (as far as the blackmail issue Is concerned) less necessary to do so.
Meanwhile we can but cheer when Osborne's Baron von Epp says, with jaunty defiance (Lord Chamberlain please note):
'I'm quite happy as I am, I'm no criminal, thank you, and I don't corrupt anything that isn't already quite clearly corrupt, like this ghastly city. On the contrary, I bring style, wit, pleasure, energy and good humour to it that it wouldn't otherwise have.'
Editor's Note; Our thanks to Mr. Smith for his review--and also to Mr. Antony Grey, Secretary of the Homosexual Law Reform Society, who obliged us by asking Mr. Smith to write it.
The Homosexual Law Reform Society welcomes donations to help its continuing work for change in British law affecting homosexuals. A bill for the primary reform needed nearly passed earlier this year before the general election was called. Send contributions in international postal money orders or bank drafts payable in England, and mail to: Homosexual Law Reform Society, 32 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W. 1, England.
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Leo Ebreo is a god for his wonderful analysis (April) of the novel THE GROUP and the movie. He may not have chosen to mention this, but the movie makes Lakey's lesbianism immediately clear--in the credits yet. I don't know how to explain this in a letter. Just go see it and watch for the WAY in which they choose to give you your first glimpse of each of the eight girls. Their individual characters are outlined in a single shot of each of them: Kay directing a play, Libby being a bitch, Polly being a dear thing, and Lakey showing unmistakably where her interests lie in one of the cleverest half-second shots I have ever seen'.
Dear Miss Gittings,
Thank you for the copies of the April LADDER. Kay Tobin's report of my remarks at the Janus Society forum on February 25 was a very good one. However, I'd like to clear up one point about the work of Dr. Evelyn Hooker, since I apparently did not make this point clear at the forum.
Dr. Hooker found that, in her study of homosexual and heterosexual males, severe emotional maladjustments were not more common among the homosexuals. In fact, experts looking just at the test results could not distinguish between the two types of individuals.
However, she did not go on to generalize that "severe emotional maladjustments are not more common among homosexuals than among heterosexuals," as the report stated. Dr. Hooker could not make such a generalization since the cases studied were not a typical cross-section of homosexuals. What she was investigating was whether homosexuality per se is the result of general personality disturbance, as so many psychoanalysts have held. She concluded that homosexuality is not necessarily associated with personality disturbance and added that "homosexuality as a clinical entity does not exist" and that "its forms are as varied as those of heterosexuality."
On the basis of the limited research so far done, no one is in a position to make sweeping generalizations about homosexuals.
Isadore Rubin, Ph.D.
Editor, SEXOLOGY Magazine
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Ernestine Eckstein in demonstration at the White House October 1965 to protest government discrimination against homosexuals
Her sign reads:
"Denial of Equality of Opportunity Is Immoral"
SPEAKING OF OPPORTUNITY...
There are many ways to support the homosexual cause. For example--if you can, won't you:
--Send money to DOB
--Get friends to subscribe to THE LADDER
--Give your back copies of THE LADDER to a library, a clergyman, a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, a counsellor, your favorite newspaper columnist
--Attend DOB's National Convention in San Francisco on August 20, 1966 (see page 15)
DOB WELCOMES YOUR SUPPORT!