deaths

Mattachine Society’s Last Living Founder James ‘John’ Finley Gruber Jr. Is Dead

James “John” Finley Gruber, Jr., the last living member of the Mattachine Society, died at home last month in Santa Clara, California.. He was 82. Founded in the early 1950s, the group — for which Des Moines native Gruber is credited with naming, though founder Harry Hay is also given the honor — is one of the oldest gay activist groups in the U.S., originating in Los Angeles before spreading to San Francisco, New York, D.C. and Chicago. [BAR, SFGN]

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10 Comments

  • Vatican Lokey

    While the young gays can easily recall the events at The Stonewall Inn, they are completely ignorant of the ground-breaking work of Harry Hay & The Mattachine Society. Despite the Communist ouvre they found themselves embracing in order to feel equal, these brave men laid the foundations for the Stonewall riot to happen. Every LGBT person in the nation is forever indebted to these men and their visions for a world where all are accepted and valued for their characters & contributions to society.
    Thanks for covering this story, Queerty.

  • Mark

    RIP.

  • Vatican Lokey

    Kameny didn’t come into the Mattachine Society until 1961, 11 years AFTER the initial formation according to the Wikipedia entry you cite. According to the same Wikipedia entry, his entry into The Society was also in Washington, D.C., NOT the original group created in Los Angeles, CA.

    Do your own homework, sir, before you make such specious accusations upon others more versed in the legitimate history.

  • Mike

    Most gay people know something about Stonewall and nothing about The Mattachine Society.

    I am always shocked by the number of older gay people who have no knowledge of our history never mind the young ones.

    “Every GLBTTQ person in the nation is forever indebted to these men and their visions for a world where all are accepted and valued for their characters & contributions to society.”

    Indeed.

  • TheRealAdam

    @Mike: This has more to do with the way gay history is told. Look how much emphasis is given to Stonewall and NYC as the mecca of everything gay-related in history, when in reality, Los Angeles was really where the gay rights movement started. There were “Stonewall-esque” uprisings in L.A. long before the riots in NYC, pride celebrations in L.A. technically before NYC, and, obviously, gay rights groups before anything in NYC.

    People – gay and straight, alike – don’t know about it because it’s not told to them. For some reason, people pinpoint Stonewall as the start of the gay rights movement, and nothing could be further from the truth. It’s really just an NYC bias.

    Anyway, I, too, am glad this story was covered.

  • declanto

    Knowing the Mattachine Society was there made all the difference as I grew up gay. RIP John Finley Gruber.

  • Lucas

    @6:

    You are correct, except it has more to do with how the gay activists at the time *wanted* history to be told. They took advantage of Stonewall, claimed it was “first,” commemorated it, and began a movement. Quite effectively, I might add.

  • Nick

    Interesting. There’s also a tendency to lionize the sixties and forget what came before.

  • Herbert Wassinger

    “Knowing the Mattachine Society was there made all the difference as I grew up gay. RIP John Finley Gruber.”

    Same for me.

    What courageous stuff!! Especially in those dark days!!

    But, remember, the struggle continues!! Let’s make our future gays proud of US, too!!

Comments are closed.