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Visionaries & Victories

Two award-winning films profiling three of the founders of the movement for LGBT equality.

 

film stillHope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay

Eric Slade 2001 57 min. USA

In the late 1940s — a time of violence and oppression against gays and lesbians — activist and labor organizer Harry Hay began organizing one of the country's first homosexual rights organizations, the Mattachine Society. Through interviews, archival images, and visually stylized dramatizations, Hope Along the Wind provides an engaging profile of one of the first activists to identify LGBT people as an oppressed minority and insist they deserve equality.

 

film stillNo Secret Anymore: The Times of Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon

JEB (Joan E. Biren) 2003 57 min. USA

When Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon courageously launched the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955, it became the first public organization for lesbians in America. With incisive interviews, rare archival images and warmhearted humor, No Secret Anymore covers many aspects of social change in US history through the public and private lives of these two unapologetic activists who had been partners in love and political struggle for more than 50 years until Del's passing in August 2008.

 

Curriculum Guide Learning Objectives

Chronological and Spatial Thinking:

  • Students compare the present with the past, evaluating the consequences of past events and decisions and determining the lessons that were learned.
  • Students analyze how change happens at different rates at different times; understand that some aspects can change while others remain the same; and understand that change is complicated and affects not only technology and politics but also values and beliefs.

Historical Interpretation:

  • Students show the connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical events and larger social, economic, andpolitical trends and developments.
  • Students recognize the complexity of historical causes and effects, including the limitations on determining cause and effect.

  • Students interpret past events and issues within the context in which an event unfolded over time and periods of social change, rather than solely in terms of present-day norms and values.

  • Students understand the meaning, implication, and impact of historical events and recognize that events could have taken other directions.

Sample Classroom Discussion Questions:

  • Both the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis are named after obscure historical/ artistic references. What is the significance of each group's name? Why do you think neither of these organizations have the word "lesbian" or "gay" in their name?

  • At the time that Harry Hay, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon began organizing for LGBT rights, homosexuality was considered a psychological disorder and same-sex sexual behavior was a crime. Being openly gay could lead to harassment and physical violence, or to more serious consequences like incarceration in a prison or mental institution. How have laws and attitudes changed as a result of the efforts of these LGBT rights pioneers? What challenges does the LGBT community still face?

  • Harry Hay, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were all considered radicals of their generations for their outspoken and unconventional politics. What advantages and disadvantages did their roles as rebels bring to the LGBT movement for civil rights?

Sample GSA Activities:

  • Identify other important individuals from LGBT history. Each GSA member (or small group) should select an historical figure to research and present their findings at an upcoming meeting (or, see the guide for resources that already have biographical information that you can print out). Consider doing this as an ongoing project at meetings throughout the year. Or, create a series of posters to hang in classrooms or hallways, create a website or podcast, or produce a YouTube video on famous LGBT people.

  • Respect your elders! Find out if your local LGBT community center has a seniors group, look up LGBT retirement homes in your area, or contact SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) to learn about partnerships in your area. Organize a "dialogue" event with LGBT seniors to find out more about your history. You may choose to host an informal social gathering, or a panel on "LGBT Organizing, Then and Now." Consider making this an ongoing relationship — and earn community service credit — by volunteering.

 

Together, these two videos provide a powerful testament to the early organizing efforts in our movement, and give the viewer a good sense of the political and social realities of the 1940s and 50s. Put this video in your library; it belongs in EVERY kind of library, for classroom use, personal growth, and public education.

— Morgan Gwenwald, SUNY New Paltz, American Library Association's GLBT Round Table

 

No Secret AnymoreThe GSA advisors at our school got together to watch Visionaries & Victories and educate ourselves about the history of the LGBT movement, the climate of the 1950's, and the struggles still faced today. So much of the video was new to us and it made us realize how much we still have to learn! It truly was an educational experience and left us thinking.

I have read over the Curriculum and Action Guides and am very impressed by their quality. They are more comprehensive and engaging than most curriculum we have available in the schools. These supplements are a must have!

Ultimately, the film and guides are valuable resources to our school video library and will be used in the future.

—Jocelyn Chavez, GSA Advisor, Summit High School

It was very enlightening for our students to realize that the struggles of LGBT people have been going on for so long. They felt a great deal of empathy and support for the people featured in the film. It's important for students to know what people have gone through to get us to the point we are at today; I want them to have an appreciation of that history so they will continue the battle for equality and equal rights.

—Nancy Nelson, GSA Advisor, Los Banos High School