The Mattachine Society: "In Case You Didn't Know"
The Mattachine Society, Inc. “In Case You Didn’t Know.”
Tri-fold brochure, c. 1956. Rare ephemera in very good condition, cover illustrated with the Society’s “M” logo and a cartoon of a gentleman in formal dress, stamp of “Detroit Area Council,” a branch of the Society founded in 1957, on the final page.
ABOUT THIS ITEM
“IN THE UNITED STATES ALONE….
There are between 12,000,000 and 15,000,000 homosexuals, based on the findings of Kinsey and other leading research experts.
They are found among all races, nationalities and religious denominations—in every profession and in every occupation.
They are found in every city and town, regardless of size.
UNDOUBTEDLY YOU KNOW SOME OF THEM…”
This brochure introduces a positive view of homosexuality to an imagined public of likeminded homosexuals, or professional allies, including The Mattachine Society’s mission, to work “Toward the Day When The Homosexual Will….”—among other aims—“Live a well-oriented, socially productive life with pride and without fear.” The brochure continues to list area councils of the society—at this point in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Denver, and Washington D.C.—and other available publications, including the bi-monthly Mattachine Review.
According to correspondence between Hal Call and Mattachine co-founder Chuck Rowland, this brochure was revised from an earlier version titled “Whether You Like It Or Not”—a pamphlet that became infamous when quoted in Paul V. Coates’ column in the Los Angeles Mirror in an attempt to cause panic over the prevalence of homosexuality. It was also published in the June 1956 issue of the Mattachine Newsletter. Later issues of the newsletter (e.g. June 1959) advertised this title and other “Information Folders” for sale, “designed to be used as companion mailing pieces,” 100 copies for $1.50.
The Mattachine Society was founded in 1950 by a group of gay communists (although the Communist Party did not allow homosexual members): Harry Hay, Rudi Gernreich, Dale Jennings, Bob Hull, and Chuck Rowland. Their first meeting was held in Los Angeles, and it became one of the earliest organizations in the United States to promote tolerant views of homosexuality. This brochure attests to the scandalous—and dangerous—undertakings of the Society in the 1950s and early 1960s. Whereas members of the group that had favored a more radical approach had organized events such as “Sip-Ins” at bars where they were refused service in 1966, after the Stonewall Riots those members by and large left to continue more radical activism with other groups. By the time of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, the Mattachine Society represented a conservative, assimilationist approach toward gay liberation, and their official statement asking “our people to please help maintain peaceful and quiet conduct,” was met by outrage and a decline in membership.
David Hughes, “Mattachine’s Queer Questionnaire,” The Tangent Group,