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1978 Pride

44827 458487117017 672192017 6339937 5253150 n1Celebration: Through A Man's Eye

By Galen Moon, GAYLIFE Magazine 1978

GayPride Weekend at the University of Missouri at Columbia, (Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 1, 1978) was a high point in my 76 years of living: an open statement by several hundreds of people, saying, "This is who I am, no longer do' I have to hide!"

It was also a milestone for the University of Missouri: the implementation of the rights of gay students to share campus facilities with other organizations for educational, political, and social activities. It was a particularly neat way of saying, to those who fought for seven years to legally practice them, "See, we are not monsters. We are affable human beings, capable, understanding, and willing to be productive parts of society."

My prayer is that the success of Gay Pride Weekend at Columbia becomes the door-opener for many of the hundreds of closeted gays on UMC campus' (and elsewhere) so they will step out and enjoy the reward of living free of the fear of letting their masks slip.

In 1948 the boy my partner and I had reared as a son found himself confronted with bigotry and ignorance in Princeton. There was no place to turn for backup strength. The several fraternity brothers he knew were too scared to stand with him. NOW, with an organization at hand, gay students can be honest.

This, as you have already discovered, is a highly personal recapitulation of that momentous Gay Pride Weekend. (Actually all reviews are such even though the reviewer tries to assume an objective viewpoint.)

I rode to Columbia with the handsome young photographer who did the pictures in this magazine, and a talented young black student in Forest Park Community College at St. Louis.

Anticipation had run high in St. Louis. We admired the members of Gay Liberation UMC and encouraged their chosen leaders to step out boldly. This just had to be a success!

Not only Columbia but the whole state had to learn the truth.

From the moment of arriving Friday evening, we found people and big things happening—beautiful, happy being, at ease, comfortable, and who's afraid? This is me, sorry if you don't like it! Pleasant, happy women; confident, friendly men—people from everywhere: Kansas City, St. Joe, Rolla, Springfield, St. Louis, Belleville (Ill.). Students from UMKC and WUSL, possibly priming their hopes for similar accomplishments.

Elaine Noble was the EVENT of Friday evening. EVENT is the word because with her upfront political stance and discerning analyses she can well be a "role model" for the young gay person trying to decide on a career.

She is definitely a "direction pointer" and proof that gay people can get into "the system" and exert some influence with "good sense input". I was personally pleased when, after her talk, she said to me, "Send me a tape of that 'Queer for 70 Years' thing you're doing tomorrow. I have to get back to Boston." (Glenda sent the tape.)

Winston, Richard and I were put up in a warm and gracious household--we and five others--and our hosts added to the pleasure of the Gay Pride Weekend in Columbia.

Saturday: workshops and discussion groups from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the movie WORD IS OUT at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. with a dance to begin at 9 p.m.

Which one? I heard them asking. Richard is doing one called Anita's Fruits: Homophobia. Terry and Jim are dealing with Coming Out and something from the Advocate Experience. Judy and Sue are into long term relationships with the title, Gay Lifestyle Is Not A Battle. In Dave's room they are exploring Behind the Masks. And Galen's telling about being Queer for 70 Years. Even though the sessions will be repeated you can only participate in two of them.

TV cameras and radio taping machines are around but the operators are considerate and ask if it is okay. A few people withdrew at once from my session but, apparently after thinking it over, all but one returned and took their seats while the camera rolled and the tape deck turned.

WORD IS OUT--a very positive account of various gay lives; a movie to which gay people respond with hope that family, friends, educators, law makers, and others will realize the reality and the humanness our being--THAT WE ARE!

That dance! Real Gay Pride! The ballroom was crowded. Smiles and laughter and as many dance styles as there were people. Great for getting acquainted and having fun. A sudden hush and floor almost empties--the TV camera has rolled into the room. "What tha hell," one person said, "I don't care who knows it. I'm gay and I like to dance!" Soon the corner on which the camera was focused was full of dancers.

Well after midnight our hosts and their eight house guests assembled in the living room to sum up the happenings. Conversation ranged from what has been, what ought to be, to what is...mistakes, dreams, hopes...assurance that gay can be good.

Gay can also be concerned and a Sunday morning meeting of the Missouri Coalition for Human Rights was very businesslike and purposeful, covering plans and programs for the coming year.

At two in the afternoon we attended religious services in the campus Green Chapel. Rev. David Pelletier of M.C.C./St. Louis interpreted the words of encouragement and love. The offering was sent to the Californians fighting against the Briggs effort to legally discriminate against gays.

Coming home, we talked about how good we felt and how everyone had seemed to feel comfortable and friendly toward others. A real indication that the hope and purpose of the Gay Pride Weekend had succeeded. Let's do it again!

Copyright Steven Louis Brawley, 2007-Present. All Rights Reserved.