Friday, 8 February 2008

66 - Gays in the Military: Skip Williamson

Skip Williamson in "The Realist", May 1967

This was spot cartoon to illustrate a few letters complaining about Gerberg's "Fag Battalion" piece. As we'll see, the "Uncle Sam wants you" motif gets a full exploration come the hoo-ha over gays in the military in 1993. Although this relies the most on nelly images -pursed lip and long curling eyelashes.

Letter from a Homosexual (May 1967)

For some time now I have been a fan of the Realist. I find it interesting, stimulating, thought-provoking and, all in all, a great publication. Your analysis of major and minor events is superb. For these reasons, I cannot help but wonder why the Realist seems to be anti-homosexual—or at the very best, not informed of the work of the Mattachine Society Inc. of New York.

For an instance, I found "The Fag Battalion" [issue #69] to be as obnoxious to me as
I do "The Committee to Fight the Exclusion of Homosexuals from the Armed Forces." We at the Mattachine are aware of the activities of this very small group of people, and we have received a great deal of undeserved criticism from their activities.

I would like to use this opportunity to point out that we are not only non-related groups, but the MSNY vigorously disapproves of their stated policy.

MSNY is a civil-rights group; nothing more, nothing less. Some of us vigorously oppose the war in Vietnam, whereas others in our group favor it. Since the goal of this Society, and the Homophile movement, is to procure the legal rights denied the homosexual by law and to educate the public in regard to homosexuality, we refuse to mix issues by engaging in foreign policy. Our main goals are difficult enough to achieve.

MSNY is not a social organization; nor is its purpose to apologize for homosexuality. We are activists who are convinced that the time for asking to be treated as human beings is past—we are demanding our right to human dignity now. We use the methods of leafleting, picketing and court-action to achieve our goals.

This is the other side of homosexuality, the side I would like to see presented in the Realist. If nothing more, we would appreciate a statement in your pages to the effect that there is no connection between MSNY and the Committee to Fight the Exclusion, etc. We would also like to make it clear to your readers that, not only did we not participate in their leafleting campaign, but we heartily disapproved of it, because it splits the homosexual community into pro-war and anti-war factions.

John L. Timmons, Secretary
Mattachine Society of N.Y.

Editor's note: Fighting the exclusion of homosexuals from the armed forces would certainly qualify as a civil-rights activity; if that form of discrimination is ever remedied, then those homosexuals who don't want to be drafted will no longer be able to exploit their deviation rather than face the consequences of conscientious objection.

No comments: