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Letter to Councilman LaBonge
Real People as Fictional Characters
Female Actors, Part Two
One Culture Hero Award
Adelante Gay Pride Gala
Best Work of Fiction?
Tom of Finland: Sexual Liberator or Enslaver
Lying Writers
Review of The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson
Promiscuous Thoughts
A Crime of the Heart
A Letter to Michael Silverblatt
"Have you no decency, sir?"
Political Incorrectness: Female Actors and Trojans
He Hugged Moms and Dads
What is a Girly Man?
Review of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
From Sunset Boulevard to Mulholland Drive
The Gay Mammies
A Writer Protests
Review of Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro
A Spirit Preserved in 'Amber'
The Supreme Court Case
Review of Live from Golgotha: The Gospel According to Gore Vidal
Review of Lost Years: A Memoir 1945-1951 by Christopher Isherwood
Review of Out For Good
Review of Hoyt Street: an Autobiography
Review of Sergei Eisenstein: A Life in Conflict.
Review of Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation
Review of Whores for Gloria
Muscles and Mascara
Review of "Blonde"
Brother Paul, Sister Jan, Brother Hinn, God and the Folks
Advice to the Next Generation
Sins of the Fathers
Beatin' Around the Bush

Cruise Not Gay! The Judge Has Spoken

The Horror, The Horror
LA--a Cliché?
Dominick, Mark & Orenthal
Holy Drag!
Ms. Hill & Mr. Tom
Mrs. guy Ritchie 
Supreme Court 
Tom Cruise 
New Times Article 

On John Rechy:  

"In retrospect, one of the few original American writers of the last century."

Gore Vidal




"Mr. Rechy's writing and his outspoken and unwavering presence has made him an integral part of the LGBT community for many decades. Over the years, his activism has ensured that the voice of the LGBY community remains strong. Furthermore Mr. Rechy's writing has been a catalyst for unity among LGBT people, particularly during a time when the community could not openly celebrate its heritage and embrace its experiences. Through his writing, teaching, and social visibility, he has been able to bridge the gap between cultures and identities, successfully finding commonalities among people from all walks of life."

John Heilman
City of West Hollywood.

One Culture Hero Award

One National Gay & Lesbian Archives honored John Rechy's writing, teaching and activism by making him the first recipient of their ONE Culture Hero Award.

On October 28, 2006, One celebrated John Rechy's talent, courage, and commitment: "He has lived his life as an outlaw in many arenas– being a Mexican-American, a gay man, a writer living in and celebrating Los Angeles, a teacher of writing (always noting, “Break the rules”), and an LGBT social critic and activist. His writings, particularly his latest work, "Beneath the Skin: The Collected Essays of John Rechy" (2004), depict his unique stance from all of these positions"

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recognized the accomplishments and achievements of John Rechy:

"As Mayor of the City of Los Angeles and on behalf of its residents, it is my pleasure to congratulate you on being honored with the "One Culture Hero Award" given by the One National Gay & Lesbian Archives. This is certainly a special occasion and I am pleased to join with other members of the community in recognizing your accomplishments and achievements throughout the years."

The following is the text of the speech that evening by John Rechy.

I think I am safe in saying that those who know me would not describe me as humble. Still, there is an unwritten rule that demands that one claim humility while being honored. Being humbled by an honor has always seemed odd to me. No honor should humble one. It should elevate not only the one receiving it but those who give it, and, emphatically, all others who deserve it, often more so.

     I have never felt heroic. Nor have I considered myself an activist--I have never marched in a demonstration; but I do believe in the power of the word to goad action. That, I have attempted to do with my writing.

     In accepting this wonderful honor, I share it with many others. I include gay men and women, veterans, who survived on the frontlines of repression, during a time not long ago when a sexual act between members of the same sex, in private, exposed one to being sent to prison for five years.

     I include those who survived the concentration camps. Identified by a pink triangle, they were then again arrested as deviants by the allies. They are heroes for enduring.

     Heroic, too, were the thousands of men who fought trumped-up sex charges, easily made, even though they knew that judges and juries would dutifully find them guilty. Convicted, they faced prison, court-ordered aversion therapy, shock therapy, registration as sex criminals.

     Asserting their right to live their lives despite ubiquitous dangers, men daily faced exposure to muggings, entrapment by vice cops, routinely hurled insults. Being in a gay bar exposed one to being summoned out by police bull horns: "All queers come out now." Verbally and physically humiliated as they walked into the glare of harsh lights, these men knew that some of them in those condoned raids would be plucked out of the line and arrested on whatever conjured charge was chosen--being in a "known hangout for perverts" or simply for loitering. Those held might be jailed uncharged for 48 hours, released, and then held again for as long.

     Men were followed out of bars and to their homes by plain clothes cops, who then broke in, without a warrant to arrest them--and this was legal as recently as June 2003.

     It was illegal for members of the same sex to dance together, but brave men and women did so, often having to resort to cunning. When a hostile presence was detected, gay men would shift partners, dancing with lesbians.

     Suicides, bashings, unreported murders--countless lives were invisibly destroyed by such arrests, men and women lost their jobs, were ostracized, mandated to stay away from any place catering to their own. And still they endured.

     Among the ranks of heroes are many of those now disdained as stereotypes, daring outlaws whose very presentation challenged concepts of acceptability, questioning, redefining. I include noble flaming queens who vaunted their identity; I include roaring bulldykes, doubly menacing. Viewed closely, those courageous stereotypes become shock troops paving the way for the more acceptably reputable fighters of today.

     AIDS created more heroes. Bravely, men took care of their sick companions even as they saw the reflection of their own slow dying. Lesbians came unquestioningly to help, offering gay men unlimited support and kindness, heroic sisters indeed. Parents who learned their sons were gay only when they were dying stood by them bravely; others marched in dignified files at gay parades proclaiming their love for their sons. Heterosexuals who ran alongside gay men and lesbians in marathons to raise funds for research into the illness, doctors who fought bureaucracy to find new drugs--all are heroes.

     The history of homosexuals, men and women, is long. Its recorded history is sadly short. The reasons are obvious: For centuries, homosexual men and women were forced into invisibility by the threat of violence. During the inquisition, cardinals as corrupt as those of today, tortured and burnt at the stake those suspected of "sexual deviation." Entrenched judgments extended for decades. The possibility of a recorded history was denied, myriad acts of courage and heroism left unacknowledged.

     In the early 1950's in a small room, with drapes drawn because just the fact of such a gathering exposed them to being arrested, five men met secretly to form the Mattachine Society, a group dedicated to spreading the message to those who felt they were alone in the world that they were not. Out of that gathering, emerged the first issue of One Magazine, a gay magazine that, though non-erotic, was prosecuted by the post office. Those five men who met secretly and those who fought the courts to continue to be able to mail the supportive magazine are heroes. The names of Harry Hays and Dorr Legg come easily to mind.

     In a humble storefront in Hollywood, a middle-aged man occupied a small dusty room filled with fading newsclips, photographs. Alone, intrepid, dedicated, piecing together the jumble of gay history, that man, Jim Kepner, is a hero.

     And so out of humble beginnings began the attempt to restore lost history, and it is continued here at One Institute in this beautiful setting by volunteers who cull through private collections, boxes and boxes, to restore at least the recent decades of otherwise lost history.

     Roam through these archives and you'll sense the essence of heroism, survival against great odds, lonely acts of defiance asserting that pride and courage were not born, as some now insist, during the Stonewall Inn in New York in 1969.

     There were acts of equal significance in earlier, even more dangerous times. In 1958 major civil disobedience occurred in downtown Los Angeles outside a favorite gay after-hours gathering place, Cooper's Donuts. In routine harassment, two cops would walk along the aisles among seated gay men. Randomly checking ID, they turned their harassment into a game, walking out as if to leave. Marching back in, they randomly chose men to take to jail, counting derisively, "One, two, three, four, we'll come for you later." Those four would be taken to "the glass house," jail, finger-printed, kept for 48 hours "for open investigation." That one night, after they had chosen their four men and were cramming them into a squad car, one of the men broke away. Those inside the donut shop ran out. Helping the other three men to escape, they flung debris, cups, spoons, trash at the arrogant invaders. So powerful was the protest that the police fled into their car, now rocked by defiant gay men. The police radioed for backups, cop vehicles blockaded the street into morning. Undaunted, gay people danced about the squad cars, exulting in a feeling of justified civil disobedience.

     In my books I've written about uncelebrated survivors, those people I mingled among, those whom I used as models for my characters. Characters in books are left frozen on the page, forever there. But what about the actual living person?--left, say, on the dead-end streets of the time? When my first novel was published, sadness tinged with guilt ambushed me when I recalled them, those people living on the edge. As I became a writer, those I had written about remained in a turbulent world then secret except to them. Had I betrayed their lives by having lived among them, with them, as one of them?--and then violently separating from them, becoming a writer--escaping, as it were--a life that I would then record as one having for most no exit.

     What, I wondered, and still do, happened to Chuck, the lazy cowboy who lingered under the apathetic palm trees of Pershing Square? A cowboy without a horse, no frontier left to explore. In my novel he will always be basking in the warm sun, certain that tonight will allow him another tomorrow. In real life, did it? The world I shared with him and others was only blocks from skid row, waiting.

     Miss Destiny, the fabulous Miss Destiny--she will continue to exist in my work--and you may see her actual photograph, in resplendent defiant drag, on the cover of an issue of One Magazine on display upstairs. Did she have her longed-for white wedding? Or did she, as she had begun to do, drown in alcohol to still the painful knowledge of the limited possibilities the times allowed to her dreams.

     I share this honor with all of them.

     I will end my talk with memories of heroism that inspired me when I was a teenager in El Paso: There were two women who ate regularly at Luby's Cafeteria. They wore their hair smartly short, they wore suits. When they entered, there were often sniggers. They walked in with squared shoulders and a steady pace, undaunted.

     I remember two men, always together, slightly effeminate, in the same popular cafeteria in El Paso. The two could not have escaped the overt and covert looks of disdain, the leering smiles, and, not infrequently, a not-too-whispered reference to "queers." They never lost their dignity as they invaded what must have seemed to them a minefield of derision. Heroes, yes, those two men, those two women--they proclaimed their difference silently, courageously: "I am not what you want me to be."

     I share this honor with the many, many heroes whose history of endurance is, finally, being asserted here, in these splendid archives, the largest in the world.

John Rechy
October 28, 2006

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Original material by John Rechy appears frequently on these pages.

© John Rechy, 1999-2006. All rights reserved.
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