NPR's 23 Minutes for 'Gay Pride' Include Praise For a Communist

National Public Radio awarded almost 23 minutes to “Gay Pride Month” on the afternoon talk show Tell Me More, including 13 minutes to a segment promoting gay parenting that featured Marcus Mabry of The New York Times (formerly of Newsweek).

But first came almost ten minutes devoted to the leftist author Linda Hirshman and her new book Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution, How a Despised Minority Pushed Back, Beat Death, Found Love and Changed America for Everyone. Hirshman offered a glowing tribute to “Radical Faeries” founder Harry Hay and even said his background in the Communist Party gave him an “oppositional consciousness” that was crucial to the gay revolution:

MICHEL MARTIN: And, you know, obviously, you wrote a whole book about this, but I wanted to ask if you could just name a couple of events in the gay rights movement, pivotal events that perhaps most Americans are not aware of yet.

LINDA HIRSHMAN: I would like to call attention to a communist - a recent ex-communist, Harry Hay, founded the Mattachine Society in California and that was the first time that someone self-consciously brought political consciousness to the gay community. It had always been a community and there had been individuals who were conscious of the political wrongdoing that was being done to them, but Harry Hay founding the Mattachine Society in 1950 was, to my mind, one of the most important events in the history of the gay revolution.

Martin just happened to have a soundbite of Hay:

HARRY HAY: I also can say to the hetero world, well, thank you very much. I have learned a lot of how to organize and how to reach people. You have taught me what it means to live as an outlaw in your society, legally, when I had been an outlaw sexually all my life, anyway.

MARTIN: Well, does that kind of capture him?

HIRSHMAN: It does sort of capture him. He was absolutely insurgent on behalf of gays and lesbians and you can hear the indignation in his voice at being an outlaw and he was the one who realized or made it manifest that the decision to outlaw gays and lesbians was a political decision. It wasn't a fact of nature. It was not the rule of God. It was a conscious political decision that the society made to make gays and lesbians an oppressed minority.

Harry Hay got that insight from his long training as a communist and he brought it to bear on the problem. He brought what we call oppositional consciousness to the community and that was crucial.

Somehow, they never quite arrived at the stubborn fact that this gay "pioneer" was an unrepentant backer of the National Man-Boy Love Association (their tribute page is here).

Martin began the segment with praise for Leon Panetta’s Gay Pride event at the Pentagon and ended by “outing” Hirshman as a heterosexual:

MARTIN: Before we let you go, do you mind if I out you as straight? And I wondered if your own identity as a heterosexual woman affected how you pitch this book or who you hope will read this book or - do you know what I mean?

HIRSHMAN:  I am hoping that all Americans of good will read this book because this is a great American story. This is one of the three great social movements of the 20th and 21st centuries and it has too long been sort of the stepchild of social movement literature. I am hoping that people will - straight and gay - will read this book to learn how you build a successful social movement.

In the "hilarity of gay parenting" segment, Martin interviewed Hollywood actor and producer Dan Bucatinsky, plugging his new book Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? (which Martin insisted was "laugh out loud funny") and Marcus Mabry of the New York Times. She asked Mabry about how he believed being gay made him a better parent and person:

MARTIN: Marcus Mabry, you wrote a very poignant piece for the New York Times Motherlode blog titled "The Gift of Being Gay and a Dad" and, in it, you write that you feel that growing up gay actually made you a better parent and person. I know that a lot of us, you know, straights are probably throwing pens at you at the moment, but tell us. Tell us more about why you feel that way.

MABRY: Well, you know, Michel, I think, in the same way, you know, I also grew up poor and African-American and I also think, you know, growing up, at first, by the time I became I aware I was poor - and it wasn't until I was a teenager because, before that, I had no idea we were poor because we had everything we needed.

At first, I thought, well, this must be some kind of disadvantage, once I was aware of it, but what came out was being black and being poor and, in my case, being gay, in the end, you learn a lot of stuff being an outsider. You learn a lot of stuff about compassion. You learn a lot of stuff about caring. You learn a lot of stuff about judgments. And so, if you can bring all that together, I think, as a dad or a mom, I think it probably does make you better. It may make you worse in all kinds of ways that I'm not yet aware of because my boys are only two and a half, so that may be the case, too.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis