HPPUB MOVIE REVIEW of Hope Along the Wind

 

Title:  Hope Along the Wind: The Life and Times of Harry Hay

Release Date:  2001

Nationality and Language: English, USA

Running time: 57 Minutes

MPAA Rating:  N/A (PG-13)

Distributor and Production Company:  PBS; Women Make Film

Director; Writer: Eric Slade

Producer:

Cast:  

Technical: MiniDV and Video

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Review:

 

This documentary of the life of Mattachine Society founder Harry Hay provides a lot of historical footage from back to the 1930s, as well as various interviews, and it covers the evolution of his ideas, and the relation of homosexuality to other cultural or political movements. Ironically, Hay, as a boy, took refuge from competitive sports in military R.O.T.C., where he excelled. An episode with his father, where he proved his dad wrong on a matter of Egyptian history, would lead to his understanding that any authority could be questioned.

 

Hay, born in 1912, had, as a young man, turned to the Communist Party for much of his life. Gradually, he became more determined to organize his “band of brothers” in the LA, by 1952. Mattachine was originally organized into separate independent cells, for security, and functioned very much as an underground organization (and this bears an unfortunate resemblance, at least superficially, to terrorist groups today, but fifty years ago any revolutionary group had to do that). But why Communism? The progress of the film makes it clear. Society a few generations ago was really much more collective even when announcing that is supported freedom. Homosexuals were indeed oppressed (“as a class”) because they were just “different.” Therefore, many people thought of homosexuals as alien and competition for their way of life, without even understanding why they felt that way. In a modern technological world where people have much more opportunity to make their own ways, this connection (of gay liberation to the far political Left) does seem irrational; so we see that the leftist origins of the gay movement in this country are more historical than matters of principle. At one time, the word “homosexual” did not exist; the word was “that way” and then “queer” or “fag.”  “Gay” would come later.

 

Hay would eventually feel, from his “proletariat” side, the pressure to marry and procreate, and this would contribute gradually to his own loss of interest in Communism. At one point he would be called before the McCarty hearings, that at the time equated perversion with pinkoism. Police would raid gay bars and arbitrarily arrest people for nothing and publish their names. At one point, one of Hay’s friends is falsely arrested in a public park, and beats the rap, gradually leading to a turn of fortune.

 

Such is the atmosphere in which I got thrown out of William and Mary. As late as 1980, the police were harassing gay bars in Dallas, Texas, when the Dallas Gay Alliance, with the help of one defendant who got acquitted, out an end to most of the entrapment and false charges.

 

Hay would later become interested in Native American culture, which sometimes sees homosexuals as a “third gender” to keep men and women in check. 

 

Some of Hay’s peers revered him as a great man, who surprisingly had few personal friends and was actually rather distant in interpersonal relations, outside of his own lover. 

 

 

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