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Gay Activists Alliance  
 
page: 1  2  

The Firehouse began its tradition of weekly dances in May 1971. The events were an immediate hit. Not only did the dances provide a significant source of income for the GAA, but they also attracted new members. Some in the organization worried that the dances would distract attention from the GAA's serious political mission, but it soon became apparent that the Firehouse was important as a community center and a visible sign of gay men and lesbians in the city.

Schisms eventually arose in the GAA. Led by Jean O'Leary, many women members, finding that they had little voice in the primarily male GAA, left in 1973 to create their own organization, Lesbian Feminist Liberation, to focus specifically on lesbian rights.

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The same year a split occurred between GAA president Bruce Voeller and a faction of the membership. Critics of the well-educated Voeller felt that he was out of touch with the GAA's "community roots." Voeller, for his part, complained of the "blue-jean elitism" of his detractors, who opposed his efforts to reduce the amount of street activism and steer the GAA into the mainstream of political discourse.

As a result of the imbroglio, Voeller quit in October 1973. He promptly invited a number of other discouraged members of the GAA to join him in a new organization, the National Gay Task Force (now the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force).

The GAA lost its Firehouse headquarters in 1974 when arsonists set it ablaze. Both disaffected GAA members and were considered possible suspects, but the crime has never been solved.

Its membership greatly diminished for a while, the GAA nevertheless continued its zaps, pickets (most notably of the home of homophobic lawyer Adam Wollinsky, in response to a column he wrote for the New York Daily News), and other activities. In 1977, in response to the Anita Bryant crusade, the organization experienced an upsurge in membership and expanded its role somewhat to monitor media depictions of homosexuals and homosexuality.

The GAA folded in 1981 or soon thereafter; hence, its life was relatively brief. Yet it is remembered as an important organization of the early post-Stonewall era. It strove to give gay men and lesbians visibility in American politics and a welcoming home in its community center.

Linda Rapp

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social sciences >> Overview:  Gay Rights Movement, U. S.

The U.S. gay rights movement has made significant progress toward achieving equality for glbtq Americans, and in the process has become more inclusive and diverse, but much remains to be done.

social sciences >> Overview:  Homophile Movement, U. S.

The homophile movement of the United States refers to organizations and political strategies employed by homosexuals from the end of World War II to 1970.

social sciences >> Overview:  New York City

Off and on over two centuries, New York City has also reigned as the capital of homosexual, transgender, and queer life in America.

social sciences >> Overview:  Organized Labor

Early in the gay rights movement activists challenged organized labor to broaden its struggle against discrimination to include sexual identity; consequently labor unions became some of the first mainstream organizations to call for equal rights.

arts >> Overview:  Patronage II: The Western World since 1900

Patronage--the sponsorship of artists and the commissioning of works from them--has remained a significant factor in the creation of queer visual culture in the modern era.

arts >> Overview:  Symbols

The various symbols of glbtq pride render marginalized communities visible and assert self-esteem in the face of discrimination and oppression.

social sciences >> Overview:  Teachers

Historically, glbtq teachers have faced all manner of social pressures, including open hostiliy and expectations that they hide their sexuality; now, however, teacher groups and individuals are working to improve the climate for glbtq teachers.

social sciences >> Brown, Howard

A distinguished physician and founder of the National Gay Task Force, Dr. Howard Brown helped change the image of gay men and lesbians in the United States.

social sciences >> Bryant, Anita

Former beauty queen, popular singer, and orange juice pitchwoman, Anita Bryant became the poster-girl for homophobia in the late 1970s; her name continues to be a byword for bigotry.

social sciences >> Gay Liberation Front

Formed soon after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the short-lived but influential Gay Liberation Front brought a new militancy to the movement that became known as gay liberation.

social sciences >> Kameny, Frank

One of the founding fathers of the American gay rights movement, Frank Kameny helped radicalize the homophile movement, preparing the way for the mass movement for equality initiated by the Stonewall Riots of 1969.

social sciences >> Manford, Morty

A pioneer in the gay liberation movement, New York activist Morty Manford inspired his parents to help found the organization that became Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians (PFLAG).

literature >> Miller, Merle

One of the first mainstream American writers to discuss his homosexuality publicly, Merle Miller is best known for his groundbreaking book On Being Different and for his best-selling presidential biographies.

social sciences >> National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF)

The oldest continuously operating national glbtq interest group, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has played a significant role in the development of the glbtq movement for equal rights.

social sciences >> O'Leary, Jean

Jean O'Leary devoted her life to activism for gay and lesbian rights.

social sciences >> Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), an American organization of some 460 affiliated chapters and 80,000 members, works to support glbtq people and their loved ones.

social sciences >> Rivera, Sylvia

A legendary veteran of the Stonewall Riots, Sylvia Rivera is notable for helping to spark the event that ushered in the modern-day Gay Rights Movement.

social sciences >> Voeller, Bruce

American activist and scientist Bruce Voeller was a leader in both the gay rights movement and the fight against AIDS.


    Bibliography
   

Clendinen, Dudley, and Adam Nagourney. Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.

Kissack, Terence. "Gay Activists Alliance (GAA)." Gay Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia. George E. Haggerty, ed. New York: Garland, 2000. 363-64.

McGarry, Molly, and Fred Wasserman. Becoming Visible: An Illustrated History of Lesbian and Gay Life in Twentieth-Century America. New York: Penguin Studio, 1998.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Gay Activists Alliance  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated January 15, 2007  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/gay_activists_alliance.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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