[Marxism] Forwarded from John O'Brien

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 20 07:01:41 MDT 2004

Comrade Perez,

Thank you for both trying to understand my viewpoint and providing ideas 
on a better alternative than the SWP and so many of the "vanguard 
groups" that had become small sects of arrogant "all knowing" and 
condescending people who were hostile to people like me, wanting to be 
with comrades working for a better world.

While I grew up in poverty and never finished high school ("who needed a 
degree with the revolution coming any day now!")
and was at one time overwhelmed with the fast words and arrogant "know 
it alls" in some of the sectarian groups - I learned they really did not 
"know it all".  I understood as I read many books and learned on my own 
- that the people who usually brag "how much they know" - usually know 
very little.  They are insecure and trying to impress to make up for 
their deep insecurity.

I have to work every day - and have not had a chance to sit down and 
write a "well thought out response" to Melvin in his responses.  But I 
hope this weekend when I have some time free to actually send in a major 
response and contribution - not with anger - but with many historical 
and political points that he seems to be unaware of.  Maybe that 
approach to offer information will have a positive response from Melvin 
and others who share part or most of his "view" and opinions on Gay 

When I moved to California in late 1976, from my former old tenement 
surroundings in Harlem New York City, where I was born and grew up - I 
had little formal education. Since living in California I have read and 
learned a great deal and have far more awareness than when I was a 
teenager with just a "spirit of wanting real change and openly embracing 
a socialist perspective for a better world." I learned a great deal 
about Gay/Lesbian history from Jim Kepner (a writer for the Daily Worker 
before he was expelled from the CP in the late 1940's, when he said he 
was Gay.)  Jim became a good friend an a mentor - in encouraging me to 
learn and read - to go along with my strong "passion" for change.  I owe 
him a great deal in strengthening me through knowledge - and not just 
having the correct "instincts" - which got me as far as it did.  Jim 
founded the first Gay Archives in the U.S. and I worked with him for 20 
years before he died in 1998.  Today thanks to Jim, I am prepared to 
take on the ignorance and lack of knowledge of the history of Gay and 
Lesbian people - and in this list - specifically on Gay Left history. 
It goes way back - and I hope to share some of this with you and the 
others on this list this weekend.

My first activism was at the age of 13 when I joined the Harlem branch 
of the NAACP and soon after was in CORE and Friends of SNCC (the high 
school group) and then the NCCJ in my high school - which allowed me to 
participate in the historic Civil Rights Movement in the South, where as 
a teenager I was beaten, bitten by dogs and placed in an open field 
enclosed by a fence with adults.  It was in this movement that I met 
people involved in the traditional pacifist groups which I joined.  I 
then became won over to revolutionary socialism in November 1966 - and 
soon after with my mentors Fred Halstead and others in the SWP - I 
joined the YSA.  I still have high regard for Fred Halstead and the 
other comrades who worked so hard for the beliefs we all shared and the 
struggles and experiences we shared.

I have been privileged to know many of the "giants" of socialism in my 
time - met them in the national headquarters of several groups then in 
New York City when I was young - and heard their wonderful experiences. 
  I also met many other famous persons who have added to all our lives 
over the past 42 years of activism.  I will stop there for now - and 
hopefully will this weekend put together a response and some information 
for Melvin and others on this email list.  I think many will appreciate 
the contributions.  I hope so.  I am still "passionate" and hope to tone 
down my "passion" when I next contribute something that I truly hope 
will help improve the ideas and thoughts for those that know very little 
about either the Gay or the Left Movements histories.

There is much to do to build a real effective fighting Left in this 
country.  In the brief time I have been on this email list - I have 
appreciated the many contributions that people have provided in their 
writings and links.  Thank you all for this and the person who moderates 
this site.  I appreciate people's work - and I very much appreciate the 
knowledge and information!!!!

Thank you all - but especially to you supportive comrades who responded 
to my original email.  Much appreciated!

In Struggle and Solidarity,

John O'Brien
Los Angeles, CA

The Marxism list: www.marxmail.org

More information about the Marxism mailing list