Good day! I came across your article regarding Randy Wicker being deleted from gay history and I must say THANKS. Thank you for that article. Mr. Wicker’s place in LGBT rights is undeniable. He was the first one to picket. Not, with all due respect, Dr. Kameny. He was the first one to defend homosexuals on radio-WBAI. Mr. Wicker’s contributions to gay rights are unshakable and must not be forgotten. Although you wrote the article some years ago, I came upon it today and wanted to voice my thank you to you for keeping this man’s legacy alive. He did so much and we are thankful.
Thank you for the kind remark about Randy Wicker.
I will let him know that you wrote and made the comment that he deserves full credit for being a very unique individual within the gay rights movement. Many people have forgotten he ever existed (along with all the gay pioneers, for that matter!) and don’t know that he was the first to hold a picket against the military’s exclusion of gay and lesbian people from service to their nation in 1964.
If you read some of the other essays I’ve written, you would see that I’ve also stated that one year later, it was Jack Nichols’ idea to begin the protests on the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the Pentagon. Frank Kameny, his very close friend and co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington D.C., went along with it and supported the plan to become “more radical,” but anyone who knew Frank, he was no street rebel. Frank would have preferred to go about gay rights activism a bit differently than multiple protests on the street—he was more of the “letter writing campaign” type. But to Frank’s credit, when he agreed to Jack’s plan, he went all-in.
Barbara Gittings and her lover, Kay Lahusen, were the primary movers and shakers behind the Annual Day of Remembrance on July 4th between 1965-1969. Jack Nichols and Frank Kameny, along with most of the D.C. Mattachine supported that effort as well. It was actually Frank’s fault that the Annual Day of Remembrance fell apart. He demanded that everyone dress “for the job,” on the basis of trying to convince people we were employable, he wanted everyone in the protest to look as though they would or did at their jobs. After Stonewall (a few days later, in fact), there was huge turn-out for the Day of Remembrance, but the gay rights movement was now populated with people who were not just gay hippies, but kids who didn’t want to dress up in the searing July sun of Philadelphia for 8 hours. About 400 people turned up in jeans, tee shirts, casual blouses, and drag queens in all their regalia. Frank was furious but was simmered down by Jack, Barbara and Kay. The next year they started planning another but Frank pulled his support because of the age of casual dress we were suddenly immersed in.
When Randy did the protest on the Whitehall Military Induction Center in 1964, some people dressed in suits and ties or dresses for the women, but others dressed for a Saturday in Central Park. It didn’t matter much to Randy—as long as they showed up!
Randy was also one of the primary original leaders of the New York Mattachine Society and managed to press local government for more gay civil rights, but the outcome was that he only got the NY Mattachine kicked out of their office building.
Randy has told me through the years that they used to do impromptu marches through the streets of New York. They would stop at every gay bar and plead with the gay patrons, “Please come out and march with us for your civil rights!?” But until Stonewall, everyone would just look up momentarily and then resume finding someone to have sex with or getting drunk.
His one faux pas in activism came from his pronouncement that “Rocks through windows can’t open doors,” over the Stonewall Riot. He was so despised by many gay activists that he virtually dropped out of sight from 1969-1972. He has said that it was his greatest mistake in life condemning the actions of those at Stonewall.
Randy is still very active in the gender non-conforming crowd. He does many videos (but much to my dismay, he refuses to write an essay) about Radical Faeries, transgender, intersex, and other gender non-conforming functions. A few years ago he said he wanted to be known as “Itsy,” because he’s taken to mixing articles of female and male clothing. He seems happy and that’s the most important thing.
Randy, of all the gay pioneers, is a genuinely unique individual in endorsing gay civil rights, human cloning, and gender non-conforming rights. I value him not only because he’s my friend, but because the world will never see another unique individual like Randolfe Hayden Wicker.
Stephanie Donald, Publisher/Editor
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