Harry Hay


Harry Hay : biography

07 April 1912 – 24 October 2002


Radical Faeries

In 1970, Hay and Burnside moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they became involved in activism over water rights to the Rio Grande. They also became involved with a local LGBT rights group, Lambdas de New Mexico.Hogan, et al., pp. 273–74 There Hay continued his studies into Native American culture. Hay, along with Los Angeles activist Don Kilhefner and Jungian therapist Mitch Walker, co-hosted a workshop on the subject at UCLA in 1978. Building on that workshop, the three collaborated for months to develop a "Spiritual Conference for Radical Fairies".Hay and others switched to the older spelling, "faeries", after 1979 (Hay/Roscoe, p. 240). This conference, held over the Labor Day weekend in Benson, Arizona, attracted over two hundred participants,Shively, from Bronski, p. 176 and led the three, along with Burnside, to form the Radical Faeries.

However, less than a year after the Faeries formed, internal pressures threatened to fracture the group. Walker secretly formed the "Faerie Fascist Police" to combat "Faerie fascism" and "power-tripping" within the Faeries. He specifically targeted Hay: "I recruited people to spy on Harry and see when he was manipulating people, so we could undo his undermining of the scene."Timmons, p. 275 At a gathering in Oregon designed to discuss acquiring land for a Faerie sanctuary, a newcomer to the group, coached by Walker, confronted Harry about the power dynamics within the core circle. In the ensuing conflict, the core circle splintered. Plans for the land sanctuary stalled and a separate circle formed.Timmons, pp. 277–78 The core circle made an attempt to reconcile, but at a meeting that came to be known as "Bloody Sunday", Kilhefner quit, accusing Hay and Burnside of "power tripping". Then Walker resigned, in the process allegedly calling Hay a "cancer on the gay movement" (a remark Walker later denied making).Timmons, pp. 282–83 Walker and Kilhefner formed a new gay spiritual group called Treeroots.Timmons, p. 284

Early life

Hay was born April 7, 1912 to Americans Margaret (née NeallShively, from Bronski, p. 171) and Harry Hay, Sr. in the coastal town of Worthing, Sussex, England. His father was a mining engineer who had worked for Cecil Rhodes and the Guggenheim family.Loughery, p. 224 Hay was raised Catholic, in deference to his mother Margaret’s family as a condition for the marriage.Timmons, p. 9 While Harry Sr. was negotiating his Guggenheim contract, Margaret gave birth to their second child, Margaret Caroline (nicknamed "Peggy") in February 1914.Timmons, p. 11 Hay’s family moved to Chuquicamata, Chile in 1914, where his father managed an Anaconda Copper mine.Hay/Roscoe, p. 355 In May 1916, Hay’s brother John William (nicknamed "Jack") was born in Chile. Harry Sr. managed the mine until an accident in June 1916 cost him a leg.Timmons, p. 15 The family moved to the United States and settled in California where Harry Sr. bought and ran several commercial citrus farms.Timmons, p. 18 The Hay family moved to Los Angeles in 1919. Hay became an avid outdoorsman.

Hay had a strained relationship with his father, whom Hay believed had unconsciously realized that Hay was, if not homosexual, at least "sissified". Harry Sr. repeatedly punished Hay, including boxing his ears so often that Hay suffered permanent hearing loss.Timmons, p. 20 In an incident Hay recalled as being at the root of his later lack of guilt over his sexuality, Harry Sr. made a statement about Egypt over an evening meal and Hay, knowing him to be wrong, tried to correct him. Harry Sr. flew into a rage, beating his son with a razor strop in a futile attempt to get the boy to recant. After later confirming that he was indeed correct, Hay realized, "If my father could be wrong, then the teacher could be wrong. And if the teacher could be wrong, then the priest could be wrong. And if the priest could be wrong, then maybe even God could be wrong."Hay, quoted in Timmons, p. 23 Hay’s mother, on the other hand, was devoted to Hay, making no secret of the fact that he was her favorite. She encouraged his early interest in and talent for music, spending hours playing the piano and singing with him and arranging for piano and dance lessons. Hay became an accomplished pianist and organist and a professional-caliber ballroom dancer. When his dance instructor suggested he take ballet, Harry Sr. put a stop to the lessons.