This morning gay activists and Silver Lake residents gathered near the base of a steep hill to celebrate the designation of a section of the Cove Avenue stairway in honor of pioneering gay activist Harry Hay and the movement he helped set into motion.The teacher, actor and Communist helped found one of the nation’s first gay rights groups, The Mattachine Society, in November 1950. Today, on what would have been Hay’s 100th birthday, a section of the Cove Avenue public stairway west of Silver Lake Boulevard was officially designated as The Mattachine Steps. The occasion was marked with speeches, a few tears and ended with a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for Hay.
Hay, who according to some accounts moved into Silver Lake during the early 1940s, lived at 2328 Cove Avenue, according to Silver Lake resident Wes Joe, who has been researching Silver Lake’s gay history. Hay would soon part ways with The Mattachine Society over his Communist affiliation but the group continued and established chapters in other cities.
Today’s Mattachine Steps dedication is one of several events to mark the 100th birthday of Hay, who died in 2002. On Sunday, April 15, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives will present film clips, a panel discussion and literary readings about Harry Hay at ONE archives building, 909 W. Adams.