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Slater, Don (1923-1997)  
 
page: 1  2  3  

Slater was persistent in his quest for justice for gay and lesbian veterans denied honorable discharge and ruled ineligible for pensions. Though rarely successful, he was tireless in supporting gay veterans, some of whom had served valiantly in the fiercest battles of World War II.

When the youth movement erupted in the late 1960s, Slater embraced it, festooning the cover of an issue of Tangents with pictures of forty protest buttons advocating glbtq rights. In his editorial Slater optimistically wrote that "these buttons say openly and flatly what yesterday's youngsters only dared whisper . . . . The buttons indicate a change in attitude toward Western sexual hypocrisy by a whole generation." He went on to express the hope that these young people "as mature men and women will make up an America a whole lot less harrowing for homosexuals to live in."

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Slater was less than impressed with other manifestations of the burgeoning gay rights movement, notably the founding of the Metropolitan Community Church by the Reverend Troy Perry. Slater rejected organized religion for its condemnation of homosexuality and felt that Perry and other people of faith ought to demand changes in policy in their own churches "instead [of] . . . accept[ing] their judgment of us as loathsome monsters, who must creep off and pray with our own kind, forever despised and rejected."

Slater had always hoped to use journalism to spark a dialogue between homosexuals and heterosexuals. However, the subscribers to Tangents were overwhelmingly gay, and with the arrival of publications specifically targeted to a gay readership such as The Advocate (originally a bi-weekly tabloid before it emerged as a powerhouse of the gay press), subscriptions to Tangents declined, and eventually the magazine folded.

Slater carried on, working at the Homosexual Information Center (HIC) in Los Angeles until a heart ailment forced him into the hospital for a valve implant in 1979. In the process of surgery he became infected with hepatitis B and nearly died.

He was able to resume working, but in 1983, upon leaving the HIC office, he was mugged and severely beaten in the parking lot. After a long recovery in the hospital, he and Reyes retired to a cabin in the mountains of Colorado, where they could enjoy time together, surrounded by their beloved pets and the natural beauty of the place.

Warned by doctors of the need for further heart surgery but fearing another infection, Slater put off additional medical procedures. He suffered a serious heart attack in December 1996. Too frail to survive another operation, he languished until Valentine's Day 1997, when he died in the loving company of his partner and old friends.

Linda Rapp

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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.

literature >> Overview:  Journalism and Publishing

The gay and lesbian press is of prime importance in sustaining a frequently embattled minority and has been crucial in the development of a national mass movement for gay rights.

social sciences >> Overview:  Los Angeles

The glbtq history of Los Angeles, the U.S.'s second largest metropolis, is replete with cultural, social, and political firsts.

social sciences >> Overview:  Metropolitan Community Church

The Metropolitan Community Church, a Christian denomination founded to minister to the glbtq community, has grown into a worldwide ministry with over 40,000 members in 18 countries.

literature >> Grier, Barbara

As bibliographer, reviewer, collector, editor, and co-founder of Naiad Press, Barbara Grier was an important nurturer of lesbian literature.

literature >> Hansen, Joseph

Best known as the author of the Dave Brandstetter mystery series, Hansen also published a considerable body of nonmystery fiction and poetry, most of it dominated by homosexual characters and themes.

social sciences >> Hay, Harry

Activist Harry Hay, an original member of both the Mattachine Society and the Radical Faeries, is recognized as one of the principal founders of the gay liberation movement in the United States.

literature >> Jennings, William Dale

Editor and author Dale Jennings was a pioneer of the American gay rights movement, one of the co-founders of both the Mattachine Society and ONE, Inc.

literature >> Kepner, Jim

Jim Kepner was both a pioneering gay journalist and a homophile activist who founded the International Gay and Lesbian Archives.

social sciences >> Legg, W. Dorr

A pioneer in the American gay rights movement and in glbtq studies, W. Dorr Legg won a landmark Supreme Court decision establishing the right to send homosexual content through the U.S. mail.

social sciences >> Mattachine Society

One of the earliest American gay movement organizations, the Mattachine Society was dedicated to the cultural and political liberation of homosexuals; but in the face of McCarthyism, it adopted conservative policies of accommodationism.

social sciences >> Perry, Troy

Troy Perry is the founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a Protestant denomination devoted to ministering to the spiritual needs of glbtq people.


    Bibliography
   

Hansen, Joseph. A Few Doors West of Hope: The Life and Times of the Dauntless Don Slater. Universal City, Calif.: Homosexual Information Center, 1998.

Nichols, Jack. "Homosexual Pioneer, Don Slater, Dead at 78." Gay Today (February 21, 1997). www.gaytoday.badpuppy.com/garchive/events/022197ev.htm.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Slater, Don  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated December 8, 2006  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/slater_d.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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