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An impassioned plea by the Mattachine Society
Started in 1950, by Harry Hay and Rudy Gernreich in Los Angeles, the Mattachine society was probably one of the earliest formal organizations that came up for the cause of supporting the activities of homosexual men. The society led pioneering causes in the study as well as creating a legal framework conducive to the homosexuals. One of their primary objectives was to ensure stopping of persecution of homosexual men.
The Mattachine society initially out of Los Angeles spread its wings and a number of chapters came up in many other cities. The society had formal systems that showed their seriousness and commitment to the cause of homosexuals in the society. Hay spent much of his adult life in the development of vision of sexual oppression and possibly its liberation. The membership pledge is very clearly and indication of the social and legal conditions that existed in that time, and is very similar to that of a brotherhood.
In the Mattachine review, published the Mattachine society as part of its third annual convention, sees a very impassioned speech by Ken Burns. The speech is impressively profound, and strongly emotional with a very strong logical built. He starts diving into the problem of homosexuality from numerous social and familial angles. It is apparent from his pleas in that speech that homosexuality was very much prevalent in the society, and Ken Burns even points to the fact that 20% of the American men were temporarily homosexual with about half of them being permanently so. He starts with identifying the fact that every individual in the society needs to promote and protect everybody else’s interests in the society, and that is the only universally accepted norm in civilized world. He points out in the very beginning of the speech that he is antagonized by those in authority.
He starts with the fact that homosexuality is not an accepted practice under the American law and the fact that homosexuals are persecuted more by the law keepers than by law itself. He promotes the cause of equal rights for homosexuals and they being able to exhibit their homosexual bent of mind universally, and the fact that it must be accepted by the law.
Burns starts almost chiding the Mattachine Society members that they cannot be cannot have a complete run of their will at all times and need to abide by the law or face the consequences that must go with breaking of it. It is apparent that he wants all the members to be law abiding at all times. He also advises the members that the Law is a fact however there could be a meaningful discussion on how it is made and implemented. He takes the right path of a visionary saying that everyone is subjugate to the legal system, and no one is above the law.
Burns was emphatic on the jurisprudence of the law, and he examines it intently. He promoted the cause of implementation of law in its spirit more than its letter. He decries authorities indulging in harassment, blackmail as well as entrapment, and assuming larger than assigned roles in implementation and application of the law.
He goes into the basic and fundamental aspects of jurisprudence and takes the opinion that law is a means to punish, rather than act as a deterrent. He claims the implementing authority of being vindictive at times. He strongly argues that the acts of consenting adults in absolute privacy of their homes, is merely the business of the consenting adults and none else. He says it is ok that consenting adults do what their mind dictates, and it is nobody else’s business as long as no one is injured or offended due to these acts. In support of these, he points to certain fundamental machinations of the great American democracy. He also takes on the church and opines that the spirit of God is one for all and that universe has a plan for every individual.
God, he says is not exclusive to non-homosexuals and that God is all forgiving and all-encompassing. His creations are made not to be rejected and forgotten, and that few men of the church, those against homosexuality, are unable to comprehend the love of God or man. He treads the fine line between morality and legality, and he forces examination of values and ethics constantly, and readjusting them to the contemporary situations.
At a point of time, when homosexuality was deemed to be a disease of the mind, he decries the analytical ability of the doctors that they are unable to look at homosexuality through a different lens, and there is not sufficient research to explain the homosexual behavior in men. He says doctors are still ignorant of this problem, that has inflicted millions across the world, and that there is no focused effort made by any professional group to understand the physical, social, and psychic trends of the homosexuals and that the research is limited and was not holistic in nature.
Burns urges the medical professionals to solve this unknown behavior of homosexuality in all its dimensions and that it would lead to the rebirth of possibly the entire humanity. It is at this juncture that he gives out statistics of 20% of an average American adult man being a homosexual at any given point in time.
Burns goes on to talk about problems faced by homosexuals as part of social and family settings and that inability of a homosexual to share their leanings with others. He speaks about the tragedy of the homosexual who faces the problem of not being able to confide in anybody and seek that support that is required for people with different bents of mind, which creates a conflict in the minds of homosexuals. He speaks at lengths about families that understood the problems of the homosexuals and the unfailing and unconditional love that they have given to these, and also highlights the tragedy of those men who do not have the family support. He speaks about the commonness of homosexuality and its prevalence in the society, which unfortunately has been seen as a menace, while the need of the hour was to evaluate, accept, and acknowledge homosexuality. He highlights that unfortunately the federal government had taken the stance that homosexuals could compromise the nation’s security. He pours out the woes from the depths of his heart of how a homosexual is also truly patriotic and never otherwise. Unfortunately, the federal government, which upholds the freedom and equality of all men, Burns says, has unfortunately given the homosexual men a very raw deal, and he calls upon the homosexual men to continue serving and to face the world boldly and without compromise.
Burns, Ken. "Homosexuals face the Challenge." 3rd Annual Convention of the Mattachine Soceity. Mattachine Review, 1956. 285-288.