Forgotten Gay History: August 1971 Newsweek Magazine Publishes “The Militant Homosexual”
By Will Kohler Published August 30, 2016
Just two years following the Stonewall riots in NYC’s Greenwich Village on August 23rd, 1971, Newsweek magazine published“The Militant Homosexual” where it devoted four pages trying to explain it all to its readers where suddenly all these homosexuals came from.
The entire four-page article dealt with the sudden visibility of the gay community — a visibility which had personal, psychological, familial and political aspects, according to Newsweek. As one measure of the surprise this new openness must have engendered, the word “militant” appeared in the four-page article fifteen times. And what the authors regarded “militant” is revealing: they described “militants” coming out to their friends, families and employers; “militants” wanting acceptance; “militants” refusing to accept the APA’s verdict that they were mentally ill (the APA would set aside that verdict two years later); “militants” demanding an end to the ban on federal employment; “militants” starting gay churches and “militants” getting married in them, and “militants” saying it’s great to be gay.
That last point, according to Newsweek was especially dangerous:
To supporters of gay liberation, marching in the streets and holding hands in public are only minor gestures of assertion. They are picketing the Pentagon, testifying at government hearings on discrimination, appearing on TV talk shows, lecturing to Rotary Clubs, organizing their own churches and social organizations and, perhaps most important of all, using their real names. “Two or three years ago, a homosexual who tried to explain what he and the gay movement were all about would have been ridiculed,” says Troy Perry, a homosexual minister who established Los Angeles’s Metropolitan Community Church in 1968 and has been a movement hero ever since.
It’s Stonewall Youth’s 25th Anniversary. We’re reflecting on the many facets of our queer history & how grateful we are for all our queer elders and ancestors who led the way.
To Our Community:
This year, Stonewall Youth’s Staff Collective decided to support a group of Queer and Trans People of Color in creating space for an Ancestor Procession during the Pride Parade. Our youth participants and numerous community members contributed in the creation of the altar, brought flowers, herbs, signs, and other items they felt relevant to celebrate, remember, mourn, and call on our Queer Ancestors. (At the end of this letter, we have posted the text from the invitation the group posted on Facebook.)
As a contingent, we decided to walk at a pace that could accommodate the mobility of all people who marched with us in the procession. Due to this, many people who otherwise would have opted out of participating were able to do so, and we received feedback that our section of the parade this year was the most accessible it had ever been. The Procession also paused for several minutes near Sylvester Park to honor QTPOC ancestors and to acknowledge their living presence in our lives. For this particular day, our group intentionally decided that grieving and honoring the dead should not be rushed. We wanted to be respectful of ourselves and of the dead and not move on too quickly to convenient distractions.