He was born in England, came to America at seven, and, in his twenties, had an affair with Grandpa Walton when that actor was in his thirties: Even now there's so much we don't recall about Harry Hay who started The Mattachine Society in 1950 in Los Angeles. To grasp the bravery of founding a gay rights group at that time, remember it was illegal for homosexuals to gather in public. A woman accompanied them for cover, or they met in private. Depending on your view, Hay is the most interesting or the most difficult of the movement's founders because he was permanently opposed to gay assimilation. He was also a longtime member of the Communist Party, a founding member of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, and a cofounder of Radical Faeries. (Happy, carefree NSFW fairy photo after the jump.) He met his life partner at fifty-one and died at ninety in 2002. Read a collection of his own writings, Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the Words of Its Founder or his biography, The Trouble With Harry Hay [Kindle] by Stuart Timmons.
Today he would be 102. For his centenary, Los Angeles dedicated a Silver Lake staircase in his honor, The Mattachine Steps. We visited them in January and were very grateful to the person who added the much-needed homemade sign beneath the staid, gray official marker that says Mattachine but doesn't say gay.
A favorite on Thebes' queer lit survey, R Zamora Linmark's Leche [Kindle] is about a young gay Filipano-American returning to the country where he was born and coping with his dual identities. Or, as Kevin Killian says, the novel "takes that old exile-returns cliché and fucks with it till it cries out in ecstasy." Critic Nicholas Boggs said, the book "is a riotous ride through modern-day Manila featuring encounters with a larger-than-life cast of characters including a (perhaps) bisexual cabbie, an activist nun, an acclaimed movie director, and President Corazon Aquino’s actress daughter, also known as the Massacre Queen of the Philippine Cinema.” A two-time Fulbright recipient, Linmark has also written poetry and plays and has taught at the University of Miami and the University of Hawaii.