Entrapment! The trials of Dale Jennings

Dale Jennings (1917-2000) was a writer, producing and stage director in Los Angeles and Pasadena. He studied dance with Lester Horton and Martha Graham, and served in the U.S. Army stationed in the Asiatic-Pacific theater. He was awarded a World War II Victory Medal, an American Campaign Medal, and Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and a Philippine Liberation Ribbon.

Dale DancingIn 1950 he was one of the original founders of the Mattachine Society.

In 1952 he was arrested for indecent behavior, and they decided to fight the charge in court under grounds of entrapment. After a dramatic court trial, Jennings was acquitted, which energized other persecuted homosexual people into action throughout the nation and brought respect to the Mattachine Society. Most states have removed the infamous “Crimes Against Nature” statutes, party due to the influence of Dale Jennings.

He went on to publish ONE Magazine, dedicated to speaking out for homosexuals and sold on newsstands and by mail subscription. In 1954, the mailing was confiscated by the Los Angeles Postmaster on the basis of obscenity. The Federal Court case that followed ended with a 1958 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that a magazine calling for equality for homosexuals is not obscene. This decision brought more freedom to all media and was the basis for all future growth of the gay and lesbian press.

Source: http://www.outhistory.org/wiki/Dale_Jennings

The Temperamentals

Justin Ison will portray Dale Jennings and others in Arouet’s upcoming production of The Temperamentals, which recalls the founding of the Mattachine Society. Contribute to our Kickstarter campaign to bring their story to the Seattle stage.

Where did we put the money from “The House Of Bernarda Alba”?

Here’s the thing: we are asking you to support The Temperamentals, but if our last Kickstarter Campaign is any evidence, then the money will be carried forward to other events in the Seattle community. For example, not only did our last Kickstarter campaign cover The House Of Bernarda Alba, but it also funded the free Arts Crush even Lawfully Wedded and our next production (with Driftwood Players) called The Hen Night Epiphany.

Your donation to support The Temperamentals will probably fund many other theatre events that enrich the community. And you can get tickets out of the deal. And a tax write off. How cool is that?

Rudi Gernreich

Rudi Gernreich
Photo of Rudi Gernreich by Julian Wasser

Rudi Gernreich (1922-1985) was born in Vienna, Austria and moved with his mother to the United States following the 1938 Anschluss as Jewish refugees, settling in Los Angeles, California. Gernreich was a dancer with the Leslie Horton Modern Dance Troupe from 1942 to 1948 and, when he moved to the fashion world, took that influence with him translating the flexibility and comfort of dance clothes to high fashion. In 1950, having been convicted in an entrapment case himself, he became one of the five founding members of the Mattachine Society with his lover, Harry Hay. He supported the organization financially albeit anonymously, known only as “R.” He is noted for creating the monokini – the first topless bikini – and the thong, and designed the Moonbase Alpha uniforms in the British sci-fi series Space: 1999. He has been hailed as “one of the most original, prophetic, and controversial American designers of the 1950s through the 1970s” and was named one of Time Magazines All-TIME 100 Fashion Icons.

Read more about Rudi Gernreich on Wikipedia and The New York Times online.

The Temperamentals

Rudi Gernreich will be portrayed by Scott Abernethy in Arouet’s production of The Temperamentals in May 2013. Contribute to our Kickstarter campaign today to bring the story of The Temperamentals to the Seattle stage.

Harry Hay

Harry Hay
Photo of Harry Hay by LeRoy Robbins

Harry Hay (1912-2002) was a controversial labor advocate, teacher, actor, and early leader in the American LGBT rights movement. He was active in the Los Angeles avant-garde arts movement of the 1930s and fought against Fascism, racism, and anti-Semitism in 1940s. He is known for his roles in helping found several gay rights organizations, including the Mattachine Society, the first sustained gay rights group in the United States, and the Radical Faeries, a counter-cultural movement seeking to reject hetero-imitation and redefine queer identity through spirituality. His belief in the cultural minority status of homosexuals led him to take a stand against assimilationism, which led to his support to controversial groups and to criticize both the mainstream gay rights movement and some of the movement’s radical components.

Read more about Harry Hay on Wikipedia and The San Francisco Public Library website.

The Temperamentals

Harry Hay will be portrayed by Daniel Wood in Arouet’s production of The Temperamentals in May 2013. Contribute to our Kickstarter campaign today to bring the story of The Temperamentals to the Seattle stage.

The Mattachine Society

The Mattachine Society
The Mattachine Society in a rare group photograph. (l-r) Harry Hay, Konrad Stevens, Dale Jennings, Rudi Gernreich, Stan Witt, Bob Hull, Chuck Rowland (in glasses), Paul Bernard. Photo by James Gruber.
[/caption]The Mattachine Society was the first sustained gay rights group in the United States. Founded in 1950 by Harry Hay, Rudi Gernreich, Dale Jennings, Bob Hull, Chuck Rowland, James Gruber, and Konrad Stevens. Referred to as “Society of Fools” at their first meeting, the group changed its name to “Mattachine Society” as suggested by Gruber and chosen by Hay. The name is inspired by a French medieval and renaissance masque group of masked men who, through anonymity, were empowered to criticize ruling monarchs with impunity. “So we took the name Mattachine because we felt that we 1950s Gays were also a masked people, unknown and anonymous, who might become engaged in morale building and helping ourselves and others, through struggle, to move toward total redress and change.”

Mattachine’s membership grew slowly at first but received a major boost in February 1952 when founder Jennings was arrested in a Los Angeles park and charged with lewd behavior. Often, men in Jennings’ situation would simply plead guilty to the charge and hope to quietly rebuild their lives. Jennings and the rest of the founders saw the charges as a means to address the issue of police entrapment of homosexual men. The group began publicizing the case (under the name “Citizens Committee to Outlaw Entrapment”) and the publicity it generated brought in financial support and volunteers. Jennings admitted during his trial to being a homosexual but insisted he was not guilty of the specific charge. The jury deadlocked (11-1 in favor of acquittal) and Mattachine declared victory.

Following the Jennings trial, the group expanded rapidly and diversified, with more women and people from a broader political spectrum becoming involved. With that growth came  concern about the radical left slant of the organization. In particular, Hal Call and others out of San Francisco along with Ken Burns from Los Angeles wanted Mattachine to amend its constitution to clarify its opposition to so-called “subversive elements” and to affirm that members were loyal to the United States and its laws, laws which declared homosexuality illegal. In an effort to preserve their vision of the organization, the founding members revealed their identities and resigned their leadership positions at Mattachine’s May 1953 convention. With the founders gone, Call, Burns and other like-minded individuals stepped into the leadership void, and Mattachine officially adopted non-confrontation as an organizational policy. The reduced effectiveness of this newly-organized Mattachine led to a precipitous drop in membership and participation. The Los Angeles branch of Mattachine shut down in 1961.

The Temperamentals

The Temperamentals is a play about the Mattachine Society and the complex relationships of its founding members. Contribute to our Kickstarter campaign today to bring the story of The Temperamentals to the Seattle stage.