Gay Links

Queerty: Reddit rediscovers Mattachine Society’s “Homosexuals Are Different” ad

Advertisements | Advertising at The News And Times - - WE CONNECT!
Listen to this article

Mattachine Society group photo

Six decades after it was first printed, a Mattachine Society ad is making the rounds online. The ad bears the image of a zebra proudly wearing spots instead of stripes—and it shares a message still revenant today.

“Homosexuals are different… but we believe they have the right to be,” the ad reads. “We believe that the civil rights and human dignity of homosexuals are as precious as those of any other citizen…. we believe that the homosexual has the right to live, work and participate free society. Mattachine defends the rights of homosexuals and tries to create a climate of understanding and acceptance.”

The image comes from the New York Public Library, which has the original ad in its Manuscripts and Archives division and offers digital reproductions of it for free through its Digital Collections website. The library also displayed the ad as part of its “Love and Resistance: Stonewall at 50” exhibit in 2019.

Related: The moment when “homosexual” became “gay”

And the NYPL reports that the Mattachine Society — an early gay rights organization co-founded by labor activist Harry Hay, pictured at top right in the group photo above — distributed the ad in 1960.

The ad also marks the Mattachine Society’s definitive answer to the question of whether to assimilate, a question that activist Jim Kepner pondered in a 1954 issue of the magazine ONE, published by the Mattachine offshoot One, Inc.

“Are homosexuals in any important way different from other people?” Kepner wrote. “If so, ought that difference be cultivated, or hidden under a bushel, or extirpated altogether? … What can a Society accomplish if half of it feels its object is to convince the world we’re just like everyone else and the other half feels homosexuals are variants in the full sense of the term and have every right to be?” (For the record, Kepner was all for the differences. “Homosexuals are natural rebels, he wrote.”)

Related: This 1972 author predicted gay rights, non-monogamy, and maybe even Grindr

As this Mattachine ad circulated on Reddit recently, users posted their appreciation for its message and their fears for societal regression. “I was born in ‘65 and legal gay marriage is one of the things I thought I would never see in my life,” one wrote. “I also never thought I’d see a Black president or weed legalized. I hope I don’t see gay marriage stricken from that list.”

Another person wrote: “It’s written like someone really didn’t like the darker implications of the word ‘tolerance’ because it spells out really explicitly ‘this is about social equity, not mere existence.’ Really nice stuff today, to be honest. If I read this on an ad right now, as a man who voluntarily has sex with other men, I’d be pretty stoked.”

255834 Queerty

Advertisements | Advertising at The News And Times - - WE CONNECT!