Category:Dynes, Wayne R.

From William A. Percy
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Recently Wayne R. Dynes published on his website a bird’s eye view of the early gay movement. Growing up as he did in LA and attending LA high school with his good friend Paul Harris (both class of ‘52 and then together again at UCLA class of ’56), he was on location when Harry Hay founded the Mattachine Society. Although neither student participated in the very early movement, both knew about it and followed its ups and downs before joining it sometime after their graduation from UCLA. Like almost all the early activists, they were middle class white males. Billy Glover, who joined the movement in 1957 and met Harris shortly afterwards, recently insisted correctly that middle class white males like himself predominated in the early movement. Unlike them, Wayne was a red-diaper baby, though not a former communist party member like Harry Hay or Jim Kepner – both of whom The Party kicked out for being homosexual – as well as some other of the older founders, whom The Party had not expelled.

Wayne did his graduate work getting his Ph.D. at NYU, which with its large contingent of Jewish refugees from Germany, at that time had perhaps the best art history department in the world. After years in England doing research and one year in Italy, Wayne taught for six years at Columbia, meeting there and befriending Stephen Donaldson, who formed the first ever gay student union at Columbia in 1967, and later – after being jailed for an antiwar rally in D.C. and raped while there – the Stop Prison Rape Society. In 1969 they joined the Gay movement, first in the short lived Gay Liberation Front with John Lauritsen and Warren Johansson, with whom Wayne continued to ally when that group broke up. They subsequently all joined the Gay Academic Union, Wayne and Warren seizing control of its scholarship committee from their rivals Martin Duberman and Jonathan Ned Katz, the latter a Red Diaper Baby like Dynes.

Out of that emerged Wayne’s avant-garde journal that ran for a number of years under various names such as Gay Books Bulletin and Cabirion. Using his west coast connections and Warren’s erudition, Wayne refined and improved the vast but rough two-volume bibliography that Dorr Legg (a lifelong republican) and others in LA had earlier edited. Garland, which published it, then published Wayne’s lexicon Homolexis, again compiled with Johansson’s help. Warren Johansson, primarily a philologist studying for his Ph.D. at Columbia who read 40 languages, had quit academia because of a trauma caused by his beloved father’s brutal murder, and had changed his name from Joseph Wallfield. Next Wayne and Johansson as associate editor published the two-volume Encyclopedia of Homosexuality in 1990, having invited me very late on in the process – to my astonishment and delight – to become the second associate editor of that prize-winning work.

Later, Wayne and Donaldson, whom Wayne had used to make an analytical table for the big Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, contracted to do a concise version, which was then cancelled under peculiar circumstances after Garland, under pressure from Feminists and Leftists, outrageously shredded the few remaining unsold volumes of the big encyclopedia. It had been deemed politically incorrect, supposedly because Wayne had authored twenty articles about lesbians under the pseudonym Evelyn Gettone. In 1993, before the cancellation, Wayne and Donaldson edited and wrote introductions to a 13-volume series of important articles on gay studies, aimed at small college libraries, who by that time wanted such scattered and hard to find materials for their students. We have now put all this up on my website, except for the volume on theology, which one bookseller is advertising for $400. As soon as I find a cheaper copy to shred, I’ll put it up, or failing that, I’ll scan a library copy.

Finally, after his dispute with Garland, Dynes was commissioned by DeCecco to edit a series of biographies on the leaders of the early homophile movement. Eventually Wayne transferred the editorship, at my suggestion, to Vern Bullough, who completed Before Stonewall for Hayworth Press. Of all those biographies, only one was written by a person who did not personally know the subject: John Lauritsen, who also wrote the life of Arthur Warner, one of Wayne’s mentors, described Prime Stevenson, who had died decades before. Incidentally, it was not I who completed a life begun by someone else, as Vern mistakenly wrote in his introduction, but Dynes who completed the life of Dorr Legg. The person who had started it, Dorr’s lawyer, had died before finishing it.

One final item worthy of note is that a great many of the early leaders described in Before Stonewall used pseudonyms, ostensibly the reason why Garland shredded Wayne’s big encyclopedia, an outrage I have remedied by putting it up online, as I have now put online what remains of the concise version, which I am trying to complete by soliciting articles.

Links: Wayne Dynes' draft memoirs Wayne Dynes' blog

Pages in category "Dynes, Wayne R."

The following 71 pages are in this category, out of 71 total.

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