chapter
Mattachine Society
Pages 14

One of the first gay rights organizations, the Mattachine Society was founded in Los Angeles in 1951 by Henry (Harry) Hay, Chuck Rowland, and Bob Hull. The three were members of the Communist Party, and their understanding of the society’s goals and ideology was deeply influenced by their party experience. An instructor in the history of music at the party-sponsored People’s Education Center, Hay took the name of the society from an obscure medieval fraternity of musicians who wore masks to conceal their identities when performing in public. He and the other founders were eager to build a mass movement of homosexuals capable of militant, collective action. They identified three objectives: The society would seek to mobilize and unify homosexuals, teach them to conceive of themselves as an oppressed minority with their own distinct culture, and provide them with leadership in their struggle for emancipation.