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“Our Militancy is in Our Openness”: Gay Employment Rights Activism in California and the Question of Sexual Orientation in Sex Equality Law

Abstract

On Good Friday of 1973, members of San Francisco's homosexual community staged a public demonstration amidst the skyscrapers in the business district. Shen Hayes, described as a “frail nineteen-year-old,” claimed to embody the suffering of the city's gay population. Hayes dragged a telephone pole “cross” on his back while throngs of protesters cheered and chanted. The local minister leading the action likened gays’ lack of rights to murder, and the caption accompanying Hayes’ photo in the newspaper claimed that he and other gay Californians had been “crucified.” Despite, despite the protest's religious intensity, its objective was secular. Activists had convened to oppose discrimination against those workers whom Pacific Telephone & Telegraph (PT&T) had labeled “manifest homosexuals”: employees and job applicants who either claimed or seemed to be gay.

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klt110030@utdallas.edu
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Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
  • URL: /core/journals/law-and-history-review
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