|Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay: Press Release|
ITVS and KQED Present Eric Slade's "Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay"
Television Premiere to Air June 28 at 9 p.m. During Lesbian and Gay Pride Month
Film Paints Portrait of Gay Civil Rights Movement Icon, Founder of Mattachine Society
San Francisco, California -- Political activist Harry Hay started America's first successful gay rights organization, the Mattachine Society, in the midst of America's most conservative era, as Joseph McCarthy rabidly interrogated suspected Communists and deviants. Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay, winner of the Golden Gate Award for Best Bay Area Documentary at the 2002 San Francisco International Film Festival, tells the powerful story of Hay's work, which laid the foundation for the modern U.S. lesbian and gay rights movement. Hay, currently a resident of San Francisco, celebrated his 90th birthday on April 7, 2002.
The film traces Hay's roots in the Communist Party and the Labor Movement, where he learned the organizing skills he needed to bring together "America's most hated minority." In 1948, while working on the Henry Wallace presidential campaign, Hay wrote a startling document declaring homosexuals an oppressed minority. While the idea is widely accepted today, at the time the notion of homosexuals as a minority was considered absurd. But it was this key concept that would eventually bring the movement together.
Late one evening in January of 1953, Dale Jennings, a member of the Mattachine Society, was on his way home from a meeting and walked through Westlake Park in Los Angeles. Within minutes a team of L.A. police had arrested, handcuffed, and taken Jennings off to jail. It was a common event in the fifties: L.A. police entrapped homosexuals every day. And every day lives were ruined when the men pled guilty and their names were printed in the newspapers.
But this arrest would be different. For the first time a group would fight the charges, and they would win. It was this event that would help launch a battle for equality that would continue to this day. In one of the most unlikely periods for a homosexual rights movement to begin, one individual would stand up for the rights of this oppressed group, and a revolution against oppression would begin. The Mattachine Society, lead by Harry Hay's convictions and tenacity, took up this challenge during the decade most known for conformity and sexual repression in post-WWII America.
Within several years the group blossomed from its Los Angeles beginnings to become a nationwide organization, forever changing the course of gay and lesbian civil rights. Mattachine chapters survived in several cities until the early 1980s.
As the Mattachine Society's secret underground meetings grew larger, Hay was forced to resign from the Communist Party. Ironically, within a few short years he would be ejected from the Mattachine Society for his former Communist involvement. Hay's more than 70 years of activism make for a roller coaster ride of triumphs and defeats.
Featuring interviews with the surviving members of the group, dramatic archival film and photos, and evocative stylized imagery, Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay follows the founding of the group, the dramatic court trial that put the Mattachine Society in the spotlight and the group's politically charged breakup. The film continues with Hay's life to the present, including his co-founding of The Radical Faeries, counterculture gay people who explore a spiritual dimension of their sexuality, and his participation in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day parade as a marshal.
Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay reveals Hay's challenging and controversial views that continue to place this 90-year-old activist at the center of political debate. In the end, the film is an inspiring chronicle of an activist who refused to quit, and as a result, founded one of the most dynamic movements in modern American history.
Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay is a co-production of Eric Slade Productions and KQED Public Television in San Francisco, produced in association with ITVS, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding was provided by SBC Communications, Wells Fargo Foundation, The California Council for the Humanities, The San Francisco Arts Commission, Horizons Foundation, The Bridges/Larson Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, Columbia Foundation, Fleishhacker Foundation, Small Change Foundation, Frameline/Tzabaco Fund and Phil Willkie.
KQED operates KQED Public Television 9, the nation's most-watched public television station, and Digital Television 9, Northern California's only digital public television signal, KQED Public Radio 88.5 FM, the nation's most-listened-to public radio station, and the KQED Education Network, which brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and media professionals through workshops, seminars and resources; and kqed.org, which harnesses the power of the Internet to bring KQED to communities across the Web.
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