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Monday, 19 November 2012

Morris Kight (1919 – 2003), US. Labor and Gay Rights Activist

b. November 19, 1919
d. January 19, 2003

Born in Comanche County, Texas, but later based in Los Angeles, Kight was active in many political, civil rights, and labor rights groups. He is considered one of the original founders of the gay and lesbian civil rights movement in the United States.

Even in high school in the 1930's Texas he recognized his sexual orientation, and then as a student at Texas Christian he was "somewhat" sexually active, although social opportunities for gay men were limited.  After graduation, he moved to New Mexico, where he found gay bars and a gay community. Even so, he married in 1950, and remained married until 1955.

After he moved to Los Angeles in 1958, where he found a much more active gay community,Kight became involved, opening his house for meetings to foster gay identity and pride, and helping arrested gay men secure lawyers so that they could get out of jail.

He is considered one of the original founders of the gay and lesbian civil rights movement in the United States.
He was a pioneering leader in Southern California's gay rights movement - former owner of a hotel chain, activist and health worker; co-founder of the Gay Liberation Front, 1969; co-founder of the Los Angeles Gay Community Services Center; co-founder of the Van Ness Recovery House, an addiction treatment centre for gay people. A key figure in the West Coast fight to end discrimination against homosexuals, who founded the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, he led the 1970 demonstration outside Barney's Beanery, the well-known West Hollywood bar, which had a bar sign reading "Faggots Stay Out!"

His activism was not limited to gay issues. He had been involved in union organising in the 1940's, and was later a prominent peace activist during the Vietnam war.

In 2003 the City of Los Angeles dedicated the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and McCadden Place, in Hollywood, California as "Morris Kight Square."

Morris died of liver cancer and pneumonia at age 83.
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  1. Thanks for remembering Morris on what would have been his 92nd birthday. One time, while celebrating his birthday, I mistakenly referred to him as "79 years young." He politely corrected me saying, "My dear, I am comfortable with who I am, I have earned and appreciate my oldness. Celebrate my true age."

    I appreciated and now miss his clarity on issues. The world is a better place for him having been here.

  2. And thanks to you, Mary Ann for dropping by, and for this personal anecdote.

    (Mary Ann is writing a book on Morris Kight. You can read some excerpts at her blog, Also see