In order to begin my reflections I must first recognize that while I am talking about the targeting of queer and transgender people and communities by the FBI, as well as the multiple forms of resistancethat have come out of queer and transgender communities, I in no way want to make the queer andtransgender people within other liberation movements invisible. People like Angela Davis of the Black Panther Party, Kuwasi Balagoon of the Black Liberation Army, and Sylvia Rivera of the Young Lordsare just a few queer and transgender people who were impacted by FBI surveillance and repression intheir movements for liberation. Just as whiteness and racism are major struggles of the queer andtransgender movement of today, white supremacy was a serious division within the movement of queers of the past. Many of the movements and organizations I will discuss were dominated by whitepeople. This reality reflects the racism that divides queer movements and the practice by liberationstruggles of often forcing individuals to choose between their sexuality, gender, and other aspects of their identity.I also want to mention that the division that exists today between assimilationist and radical queers andtransgender people is not a new phenomenon. This is a tension that has been a struggle within thesemovements for six decades. Before queer was a political/sexual identity, when gay only mean happy,there was a budding movement of same-gender lovers, the homophile movement. The term was coinedby a German Sexologist in 1924. Homophile, as an identity, was preferred by many early same-gender loving activists because it emphasized love, the Greek suffix, phile, rather than sex as emphasized inhomosexual. In the United States the first Homophile organization was the Mattachine Society,founded in 1950 followed by the Daughters of Bilitis, founded in 1955. The Mattachine Society didbegin with radical and even revolutionary ideas. Harry Hay, the primary founder, was an activemember of the Communist Party. Unfortunately the Communist Party was wildly homophobic,believing that homosexuality would disappear along with capitalism, being that homosexuality wassimply a sick symptom of a bourgeios economic system. Harry Hay focused on his organizing with theMattachine Society, leaving the Party to do so. The first five years of the Mattachine Society theyfocused on growth, public education, and defense of men constantly entrapped by police for sexualcrimes like public lewdness and sodomy. After the second public meeting of the Mattachine Societythe FBI sent an informant to nearly every meeting to deeply infiltrate the organization. Their purposewas to secure information of all members of the organization and publicize it to employers, familymembers, and newspapers. The FBI worked with the US Postal Service to gain access to as manypeople as possible who received publications from the Mattachine Society or any other Homophileorganization. FBI agents would consistently show up at the work places of people they decided werehomosexuals, outed them, got them fired, and many, many times those individuals committed suicide.As the surveillance of the Mattachine Society was beginning the U.S. Senate was also convening abipartisan committee to weed out any homosexuals working within the federal government, leading tohundreds of people losing their jobs. This witch hunt was done in conjunction with the McCarthyhearings, but was quite separate as McCarthy himself was regularly under attack for likely being gay.The FBI did not only use intimidation to harass people active in the Homophile movement. Theobscenity laws of the day were blatantly used to target the growing movement and people within it.Multiple issues of the regular newspaper of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis,
was declared obscene and unmailable due to work by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles. FBIagents raided houses and offices to get access to newspapers and other information about theHomophile organizations. Obtaining warrants was never very difficult as homosexuality was,essentially, illegal and the public advocacy for homosexuality was forbidden under numerous decencylaws. FBI agents regularly brought Mattachine Society leadership into offices for questioning andintimidation, even setting some up with charges unrelated to their organizing, a tactic perfected later during COINTELPRO.