Gays have entered the National Political arena this American election year of ’72. Five explicit homosexuals successfully captured delegate and/or alternate delegate seats to the Democratic National Convention. They were chosen by their electorates in New York City and Buffalo, New York; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and San Fransisco, California. Our gay delegates addressed the United States Government, the people of America and the World in twenty minutes of International TV network time. In stirring rhetoric they told of the denial of civil liberties exercised at all levels of government and business against twenty million homosexuals here and urged the passage of their Gay Rights Plank. The proposed plank fell to the voice “No” vote, but Gay History had been made and Homosexuals had now become a visible minority.
They became so visible that when a Gay Activist came to the Republican Platform Committee some months later, with a small group of gay lobbyists, they were greeted with the sight of a vicious caricature of a homosexual, a black welfare woman and a woman for abortion, an American Indian and others depicted on the cover of the Republican Party’s official magazine, First Monday. It was the Party’s blatant message to all its members and especially to their platform committee, which was meeting that week, to ‘hands off’ sensitive issues.
Gays burned some fifty copies of First Monday gleefully and furiously, in turns, in front of the Fountainbleau Hotel, used as Republican Headquarters. The demonstrators were a small but extremely vocal group of gay non-delegates from all over the US. They were subjected to covert police brutality but continued cheering and jeering. ‘Gay is angry! Gay is proud! …’ brandishing flaming magazines in the air before adding them to the sidewalk bonfire. It was a very hot day. Over twenty police cars carrying tour pigs each arrived. Added to the fifty already present, gays were outnumbered six to one, but kept right on burning, chanting and making speeches.
As the Republican Convention Week progressed it became apparent that the Nixon Administration, unlike the McGovern group, exercised media blackout of gay activities and just about the only ‘gays’ to get coverage were the known CIA agents in our midst.
Riot Wednesday came and about two hundred gays cast their lot with radical groups to demonstrate against the war and to smear the Nixon image. They were maced, gassed and roughed up along with SDS, VVAW, etc, and tourists and old-people bystanders. Demonstrators were finally beaten back to Flamingo Park after some four hours of street battle, only to have their Medic Hospital thoroughly gassed and their camp guards maced under the glare and rumble of the State helicopters.
The Nixon overkill, so evident in Vietnam, was activated against America. Over 1000 nondelegates were arrested, about fifty of them explicit homosexuals certified by their gay buttons. (They were treated beautifully by their straight cellmates those two days in jail.) Most of the non-delegates elected to stay in jail and were released to get rid of them without posting their assigned bond.
It is noteworthy that a national gay effort by various groups has taken place in this immense and diverse country. Our Convention Summer of ’72 portends an additional directioning in America which is viable and national and which can effectively augment the mighty efforts of regional and/or factional groups.
Edda Cimino Female co-ordinator of National Coalition of Gay Organisations for the Republican National Convention