An Old Warrior Dies

  • olden

    Posts: 194

    Jan 15, 2008 6:03 PM GMT
    Today's LA Times carried the obituary of Kennith H. Burns, one of the early leaders of the Mattachine Society. He died at the age of 81 of lung disease.

    As an early and visible leader for gay rights in the 1950s and 60s, Kennith and the Society did a lot to assist those in the gay community and to lobby against the discrimination and for the abolishment of the sodomy laws that were prevalent at that time.

    Although I only knew Kennith slightly, his work helped me accept my own gayness.

    Good bye old soldier.
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    Jan 15, 2008 6:31 PM GMT
    Mattachine Society

    The Mattachine Society was the earliest homophile organization in the United States.

    From a Times Staff Writer
    January 15, 2008

    Kennith H. Burns


    Kennith H. Burns, an early leader of the Mattachine Society, one of the country's first gay rights organizations, died Dec. 16 at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. He was 81.

    The cause was lung failure, according to a friend, Dale Olson.

    Burns was a founding member of the Mattachine Society, which was founded in Los Angeles in 1950 by activist Harry Hay and others.

    In 1953, when McCarthyism was strengthening its grip on the national consciousness, Hay and other Mattachine leaders with communist ties were ousted and Burns assumed a prominent role in the organization.

    The society moved in a more conservative direction during Burns' tenure as Mattachine president in the mid- to late 1950s. Along with other Mattachine leaders, including Harold Call and Don Lucas, he urged members to temper their public image and assimilate into society.

    "We must blame ourselves for much of our plight," Burns said during this period. "When will homosexuals ever realize that social reform, in order to be effective, must be preceded by personal reform?"

    Born Jan. 21, 1926, in Santa Ana, Burns grew up in Long Beach. He briefly attended USC before joining the Army and serving in the medical corps during World War II. After the war, he returned to USC to study international relations.

    Instead of pursuing a career in diplomacy, he went to work for the Carnation Co. in Los Angeles as a safety engineer, eventually rising to the post of safety director. He retired from the company in the 1980s.

    After stepping down from his duties as head of the Mattachine Society in 1959, he remained active in the gay and lesbian community and was honored for his contributions by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
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    Jan 15, 2008 9:21 PM GMT
    ......goodbye Ken. icon_sad.gif
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    Jan 15, 2008 9:23 PM GMT
    icon_cry.gif He will be missed. He helped lay down the foundation for the movement today.
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    Jan 15, 2008 11:04 PM GMT
    If only there were more men like him around.