Morris Kight

Morris Kight
Photo by Henning Von Berg, 2002

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Morris Kight: Gay Pride and Resistance

Morris Kight: Gay Pride and Resistance:   Let’s Have A Parade!        

Gay Pride and Resistance

🌈      🌈       🌈                                               Let’s Have A Parade!                         🌈        🌈       🌈

As Morris Kight’s biographer, I was asked a few different times for my thoughts, or more accurately, what I thought would be Morris Kight’s thoughts about Gay Pride acceding to allow its parade become a Resist march. I was uncomfortable giving my thoughts on the topic yet speaking on behalf of Morris, I’m fairly confident.

First of all, I’m glad that a resolution was reached. The festival will be in the usual place with the usual suspects and a Resist march will cover Hollywood and into West Hollywood.

I’m as anxious as anyone to resist the current administration.

When Morris shouted “Let’s have a parade” it was meant to be a joyous celebration. Gay Pride Parade was always about a celebration of being gay, all things gay, and all things about to be gay. The celebration in and of itself was the protest.

The most important thing to Kight and other gay leaders at the time was that it be non-violent. In the early 1970s, non-violence was a challenge for the nascent movement. In fact, the first gay parade was a commemoration of a violent event. The watershed Stonewall Inn rebellion in 1969 by all accounts was violent. Now, the commemoration of the event has played a vital role in the survival of a non-violent liberation movement.

When closets doors swung open and brave men and women hit the streets in all their outrageous gayness, the world was forever changed. We mustn’t forget the magnitude of the very act to march down the street proclaiming yourself to be something that could, at that time, have you committed to a sanatorium (or far worse), it could lead to professional suicide and family alienation. Yet, they marched loud and proud. As a result, the world was different the next day. The world was and continues to be a much better place for gays being gay.

From a 2006 article in American Sociological Review regarding the first Los Angeles parade, it is noted “... The first commemoration of Stonewall was gay liberation’s biggest and most successful protest event.” 

Gay Pride is an affirmative. It is not about opposition. It is an optimistic message of inclusiveness, action and empowerment. It’s not about hope. It’s about actualities.

With that in mind, Morris Kight would’ve been saddened to see the message of pride usurped by a message of opposition. He was very clear at different times that he didn’t want gay liberation to be filtered down or derailed by singular causes. Even though he tried to align early liberation with the anti-war movement (with a certain amount of success), the gay movement proved itself to be far more diverse and divisive. And yet, year after year, pride prevailed.

We resist. We will resist every day until that thing is removed from the highest office in the land. Then, given who is waiting to come out of the shade and sit in the oval, there will be a need for opposition. If you can imagine Anita Bryant having John Briggs’ bastard child on steroids, that’s Mike Pence. Once the current pile of power is swept away and the second-in-command steps into place, gays, women, and every marginalized group in America will be unsafe. Realistically, it is probably a necessary walk on hot coals in order to remove what is already in office. Don’t worry so much about people who’ve already marched in parades. Morris Kight would’ve worried about young people who are figuring out who they are, how to become who they are meant to be, and live openly and safely. Once Pence sits in the oval office, the world will become a hostile place for them. Resisting the current administration will not help those young people find the fortitude they’ll need. Marching down the street in all the bright and blatant gayness one can muster, openly claiming pride, will assure young people that, indeed, there is room for them, there are places they can safely be who they genuinely are meant to be.

Always the strategist, Morris Kight would encourage the party to continue. Not a political party, a loud gay party that shoots rainbows from rooftops and sings Judy Garland tunes off-key. Morris Kight would not allow any toxic power to impede a gay celebration. Outrageous spectacles freed people and will continue to hold a light for next generations.

Pride is more than rainbows and flags. Liberation means more than the right to marry and share property. The whole movement was begun and continues because of young people. There will always be young people needing examples of gay power, gay pride no matter who sits in the oval office.

With all that said, let your multi-colored freak flags fly. In memory of Morris Kight- be loud, be bright, and don’t ever be silent.

Morris Kight video post #2

In 1993, Morris Kight spoke with Peter Nardi and David Sanders for their book (written with Judd Marmor) Growing Up Before Stonewall (Routledge, 1994). Here are few snippets, the entire interview is available in their book. Morris talked about the "bad old days," as he called them. He discussed the historical uselessness of psychiatry to homosexuals, he also discussed sex and guilt.

In a rare vulnerable moment, he talks about his own, very brief, experience with guilt.