Scope and arrangement
The records (1970-83) reflect the activities of a homophile organization of New York City which was dedicated to the achievement of civil rights for gays through militant, non-violent means and which became a leader in the gay liberation movement during its more militant phase following the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Included are correspondence and collateral records of its principal committees including Ad Hoc Intro 2, Agitprop, Executive, Fair Employment, Legal Action, Municipal Government, National Gay Movement, and News and Media Relations Committee. There is also a topical file of miscellaneous records arranged by subject. The records document GAA's struggle to obtain fair housing and employment legislation for gays in New York City and State, the repeal of legislation respecting sodomy and solicitation, the ending of police harassment and entrapment of gays, and its role as a leader in promoting the development of gay rights groups in other cities.
The records which are contained in seven record center cartons and five boxes (10.5 lin. ft.) are arranged into five series: Series l. Committee Files; Series 2. Topical File; Series 3. International List of Gay Organizations and Publications; Series 4. Printed Ephemera; and Series 5. Restricted Records. The containers are numbered sequentially beginning with number "15" continuing the numeration of the records and papers contained in the I.G.I.C. collection. The series are described in sequence below.
The Gay Activists Alliance records are arranged in five series:
- Containers #15-17
Over one-half of the committee files consist of records of the National Gay Movement Committee and of the News and Media Relations Committee. (A complete listing of the committees present appears on the container list). The National Gay Movement Committee worked to establish contact with gay groups in other cities and to encourage the formation of sister organizations with a view to exerting pressure for gay rights at the national level. It also sought to develop a listing of all gay political, service, religious, social and student organizations as well as gay publications in the United States. The records consist of out-going correspondence arranged chronologically of the chairman (Albert C. Block) and corresponding secretaries (R. Paul Martin and Richard C. Wandel) and others including Charles Collins, Jim Owles and Robert Alan Roth; and a file of in-coming and out-going correspondence arranged by state. The correspondence reveals the influence of GAA on the development of the gay liberation movement especially in California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, and New York. Included are minutes of meetings and lists of gay organizations. Some collateral papers (including ephemera) are filed with the correspondence.
The News and Media Relations Committee acted as liaison with the media and strove to publicize the work of GAA and to furnish information on the gay community and the gay liberation movement. Included is correspondence (mainly out-going) of Bruce Eves, John Hammond, Jim Owles and David Thorstad with representatives of the audio-visual and printed media; and a file of press releases which document the activities, methods and tactics employed by GAA in its struggle to obtain civil rights for gays.
The Ad Hoc Intro 2 Committee lobbied for the passage of a gay rights bill in the New York City Council continuing the work of the Fair Employment Committee. Included is correspondence of Peter Fisher, minutes and other papers.
The Agitprop Committee sought to bring the message of gay pride to high school and college students and prepared written, oral and audio-visual material for presentation to students in New York City and suburban areas. Included is correspondence of Richard Wandel and John Hammond with educational authorities requesting speakers and papers of the talk group coordinating committee relative to consciousness-raising work.
The Executive Committee coordinated the work of the various committees, approved expenditures and acted for the organization in emergencies. Included are minutes (1970-73, 1980) of meetings and other records relating to motions adopted and general policies of GAA.
The Fair Employment Committee worked to achieve fair employment practices and to combat discrimination against persons because of their sexual orientation. Included are outgoing correspondence of Jim Owles and Rich Amato to homophile and business organizations, labor unions, government agencies, and city council members relative to employment discrimination against gays, in support of a gay rights bill, and in preparation for hearings before the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Included also are minutes of the committee and a copy of the report which was submitted by GAA to the Commission.
The Municipal Government Committee acted as liaison between GAA and New York City governmental agencies, lobbied for the passage of gay rights legislation. Included are correspondence of Jim Owles, David Thorstad, and Richard Wandel with labor union officials, city council members, and congressmen; and memoranda, reports, and copies of council bills concerning gay rights.
- Containers #18-20
The topical file includes constitution and by-laws, election questionnaires, records relative to the Gay Activist, its gay studies research project, and minutes of general meetings of GAA. The election questionnaires were sent by GAA to candidates for public office from the metropolitan area during the 1970 and 1972 electoral campaigns to ascertain the candidates' views on issues concerning gay rights. Included are signed questionnaires returned by several candidates including Bella Absug, Shirely Chisholm, Edward I. Koch, Louis J. Lefkowitz, Charles B. Rangel, and Stephen J. Solarz. Many of the questionnaires have been annotated by the candidates. The Gay Activist records consist of correspondence, scripts of articles, and a few make-up sheets. Included is a transcript of an interview (1976) conducted by David Thorstad with John Damien, a horse-racing steward who was dismissed from his job by the Ontario Racing Commission on the grounds that he was a homosexual, and who fought for reinstatement. The gay studies research project concerns a survey (1972) which was conducted by GAA relative to gay studies programs in colleges and universities. Included are questionnaires returned by respondents and copies of syllabi. The minutes (1970-74, 1979-80) of general meetings which were held weekly provide substantial documentation of the policies, plans, tactics and strategies adopted by the general membership. The minutes also contain reports by the president and by the committee chairpersons. Included also is a file of correspondence of James Owles as president of GAA.
- Container #21
This series contains mainly drafts of lists of names of gay organizations and titles of gay publications in the United States and other countries. The gay movement list was compiled by Robert Alan Roth with the aid of the gay movement committee of GAA. Roth had begun the list in 1970 as a project of the Cornell Gay Liberation Front. The international portion of the list was subsequently published (Nov. 1974) by Gay Yellow Pages (periodical). Included is a paper bound set of photocopies of heavily annotated page proofs of the list which was being prepared for publication by University Microfilms. Included are some notes and miscellaneous papers kept by Roth.
- Containers #22-24
The printed ephemera consists of ephemera issued by GAA and by other homophile organizations, and press clippings. The press clippings (1971-72) which are loose and arranged by state and city, contain articles having references to GAA, homosexuality, amnesty legislation, court decisions, and gay liberation movement. The clippings were furnished by the American Press Clipping Service, Inc. There are some foreign clips and a mass of unsorted clippings.
- Containers #25-26
The restricted records consist of correspondence and other records which have been removed from files and sealed until the year 2055 in order to protect the privacy of individual persons.