Gay Socrates talks to Harry Hay's friend and carer Joey Cain about Hay, the man, and the movie made about his life, coming to the Brighton Fringe next month.
Harry Hay (1912-2002) was born in Worthing. As an adult he became a gay activist in the US and founded the first Gay Liberation movement (The Mattachine Society) in 1950. He then went on to co-found the Radical Faeries.
'Hope Along the Wind...' is a lovely movie which sets this unlikely story in its historic context and captures rare interview footage of this iconic character in his later years.
Joey Cain knew Harry in person and was one of the devoted band of 'Loving Companions' who tended to the care of Harry and his partner in their closing years. For the 100th anniversary of Harry’s birth in 2012, he curated a major exhibition about his life and times in San Francisco and co-organized a conference about Harry in New York City.
Joey is flying from his home in San Francisco to present a screening of this movie as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival next month.
GS: Who was Harry Hay to you?
JC: Harry was a dear friend, political comrade and gay visionary the likes of which we probably won’t see again. Without his tenacity, deep thinking and integrity, the LGBT revolution, at least as far as the USA goes, would have been a much longer time coming. He traversed many worlds, as Gay people often do.
A Communist activist and great music lover who was a trained baritone, he read long and deep in history and anthropology to find the hidden history of our People.
GS: Why are you bringing Harry Hay's story to the Brighton Fringe?
JC: Harry was born in Worthing, his birth house still stands, and we thought it would be a lovely idea to “bring Harry back” to this part of England, where he started out. This whole area is so rich in Queer history what with Edward Carpenter being born in Brighton, Oscar Wilde writing “The Importance of being Ernest” practically around the corner from where Harry was born. And that’s just scratching the surface.
GS: Why do you think conceiving of the Radical Faeries was important to Harry?
JC: Harry always said that the Radical Fairies was the realization of the dream he had when he started The Mattachine Society in 1950. The essence lies in the 3 questions he posed to be answered by both groups: Who are we? Where do we come from? Why are we here? For Harry, the Fairies were about answering those questions and acting on the answers.
'Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay' is showing at the Fabrica Gallery, Tuesday May 8 7.30pm