Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  15 / 70 Next Page
Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 15 / 70 Next Page
Page Background

alternatives, that we also had a responsibility to help other

agencies respond positively to the Gay community. Many

people had reservations, but we soon founcl out that when

people were saying "They are oppressive, we should have

nothing to do with them," they were often really saying

"I'm frightened they'll rejl.!ct m\;.." If Gay Power and Pride

is to have any meaning, it must be found in our willingness

to risk hurt or rejection and to rc..ct

as

strong people

willing to deal with actio11s which are just as much rooted

in oppression as the pain of our identity-seeking process.

Whatever we might think about capitalistic structures,

the institutional church, counselling professions, etc., they

do

exist, they

are

powerful and

we

have the power to affect

change in them. The most important fact about these

groups to me is that they deal with Gay people continually,

and if we won't help them do it well, then no one else will.

Every time one of us approached another alternative

culture agency, a psychologist, a clergy person, or a

personnel director from a position of strength and integrity,

we were convinced that the next time a weaker Gay person

came into contact with these people, he or she would be

dealt with with less hysteria and more humanness. If the

situation proved so totally oppressive that action was called

for, we have never shrunk from that action, but much to

the surprise of some we found allies. We helped form the

Youth Service Coalition in alliance with other alternative

culture groups in Minneapolis and St. Paul and have been

able to call on these groups for support and action

whenever we felt the need. (Interestingly, the most

vehement opposition to all our activities has come from the

old left - especially college-oriented Marxist-Leninist

groups playing with revolution.)

One important factor in the development of Gay House

and the Gay movement in Minnesota has been the evolution

of strong leadership among the men and the women and the

support of the leadership by the Gay community. It is not,

I believe, a case of messianic cults or of blind ego trips.

Most often, it is not a question of anyone taking control of

a Gay group - that's not the form of leadership I mean–

rather, it's a question of someone like Jack Baker winning

the presidency of the Minnesota Student Association, or

Mike McConnell fighting his job case, or the others of us

being willing to take public stands and willing to encounter

the rest of the society with integrity.

Often this "leadership" functions as

~

vicarious exper·

ience. ("I wish I had the guts to do what you're doing.")

Soon it becomes an example. If I can take what looks like a

major exposure by appearing on television without fear,

then another could take an apparently smaller risk of no

longer presenting a false front to an employer. We have

been, and I am sure will continue

to

be, attacked by some

for taking ego trips, but the impact of our models does not

give me so much the fc:i:ling of power (the dirty word of

radical rhetoric) as it does the awe of responsibility. I can

imagine no worse misuse of power than for a Gay person

not to recognize the reponsibility of using all means

available to present pos1tivc alternatives to America's

oppressive sex roles.

A

gain, it is

a

question of

prc~enting

positive models

instead of just negative reactions. It is far more

effective for me to present other options to

people instead of attacking her or his position. It

seems that the usc of such phrases as "smashing mono–

gamy" when used on a less-aware person is not in any way

1972

aimed at change or communication; few people can hear

those messages when they are so threatened. What then is

the purpose? I am afraid that all too often Gay people and

our movements take on the American characteristic of

totalitarianism. All too often we feel that if a life style is

the most valid for us then it must be accepted by all others

and whoever does not accept 1t must be at fault - never

have we to examine our positions? Such mind sets are

frightening. It is obvious to me that we have to have

alternative approaches to our thought processes if we are to

achieve change.

We have accomplished change in Minnesota on

many levels through Gay House, FREE, through our two

newspapers, through continuing expanding programs of

community organization and education. In doing so, we

soon found out that change was not going to happen

through confrontation alone, but to some extent we had to

be willing to confront with an openness for dialog and a

large measure of love. I understand and feel the pain of

those who turn off to Am<!rican society; I too hurt from

13