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Pink Money Power

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Pink Money Power
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Pink money is a rather recent idea meaning the purchasing power of the gay community. This alternative history asks what would have happened if the power of pink money happened sooner in history.

Background

The Society for Human Rights (SHR) was the first American homosexual rights organization, formed in Chicago in 1924 by Henry Gerber. The organization was inspired by the work of Germany's Magnus Hirschfeld and his Scientific-Humanitarian Committee. The SHR also published the first American gay-interest publication, Friendship and Freedom. Yet, the organization didn't last very long when a trial in 1925 financially destroyed the young organization.

Gerber attempted to persuade some prominent persons to support the organization, but he was unsuccessful. He operated on a small budget with John Graves, a clergy man; Al Weininger, a laundress; and a railroad worker. Unknown to the other members, Al was a bisexual who was married with two children. His wife informed a social worker about the organization.

The police broke in on Gerber in the middle of the night with a reporter from the Chicago Examiner in tow, interrogated him, seized his personal papers and arrested him. The next morning, Gerber arrived in court to learn that Graves, Weininger and Weininger's male companion had also been arrested. The Examiner reported the story under the headline "Strange Sex Cult Exposed".

The trial caused Gerber to lose his life savings and his job. In 1927 he re-enlisted in the Army where he served until 1945.

Point of Divergence

Henry Gerber was able to persuade two different prominent homosexual men in the Chicago area to financially support the Society for Human Rights. Whom these persons were is lost to history as Gerber never disclosed their identity.[1]

When Gerber, Graves and Weininger were all arrested, Gerber was able to not only financially survive the costs of the trial, but he was able to sue the Chicago Examiner. Although the settlement was meager, the publicity of the suit helped to promote the SHR and Friendship and Freedom.

Differences with Our Timeline

See also: Timeline (Pink Money Power)

The financial backing enabled the SHR to survive, but there still was some police harassment. Yet with strategically made bribes with judges and lawyers the police were kept at bay from successfully shutting down the organization.

Eventually, the SHR began associating with the North Side Gang who helped to protect the organization and provide the growing membership to socialize at their speakeasies.[2] The North Side Gang was struggling to stay alive after the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre on February 14, 1929 and the end of Prohibition with the the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment on December 5, 1933. It was the monopoly on the growing homosexual underground that eventually saved them.[3]

While Magnus Hirschfeld was on a lecture tour in the United States, the Nazi Party burns the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexology) in Berlin on May 8, 1933, destroying over 20,000 volumes, 35,000 photographs, a large collection of art and other objects. Fearing for his life, Hirschfeld stays in Chicago and never returns to his homeland. He sets up the Institute for Sex Research, later renamed the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, at the University of Chicago to continue his work.[4] Hirschfeld dies of a heart attack May 14, 1935.

Harry Hay hears about the Society for Human Rights and the publication Friendship and Freedom from his lover, actor Will Geer, in 1934.[5] That same year Hay witnesses the 1934 West Coast waterfront strike and "Bloody Thursday". This motivates Hay to fight for social justice within the gay community.[6] He writes a letter to the Society for Human Rights to allow him to set up his own chapter in San Francisco and is eventually approved.

Alfred Kinsey first becomes interested in different sexual practices in 1933. He gives his first lecture at Indiana University attacking the "widespread ignorance of sexual structure and physiology" two years later. The Society for Human Rights, wishing to find a replacement for Magnus Hirschfeld, gets word of his lecture and manages to convince him to be the director of the Institute for Sex Research at the University of Chicago with financial backing from the SHR. Kinsey accepts the new position and leaves Indiana University.[7] Kinsey manages to publish Sexual Behavior in the Human Male in 1944 and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female in 1949.[8]

Harry Hay expressed his desired to change the direction of the Society for Human Rights to one of education to political advocacy. Hay was impressed with the Progressive Party's presidential candidate, Henry A. Wallace and wanted the SHR to fund his campaign.[9] The board voted in favor of endorsing Wallace for the 1948 United States presidential election.

With the backing of the SHR, Henry A. Wallace wins Massachusetts and his home state of Iowa during the United States presidential election.[10] Harry S. Truman wins the Presidency by narrowly taking Illinois' 28 electoral votes, giving him a total of 277 electoral votes. Shortly after the election Truman and the Democratic National Committee made sure that the Progressive Party and the States' Rights Democratic Party (also knows as the Dixiecrats) did not return for the 1952 election.[11] Both political parties dissolved in 1948.[12]

Senator Joseph McCarthy makes a speech on February 9, 1950 in Wheeling, West Virginia to the Republican Women's Club. He claims that he has a list of people within the State Department who are members of the Communist Party with intent to bring Communism to America. He also claims that Communists are "sexual perverts" that wish to recruit children into their lifestyle.[13] This list of people that McCarthy claims to have gains wide spread media coverage. The list is never released by McCarthy, but he uses the idea to spread fear about communism and homosexuality. This red and pink scare becomes known as McCarthyism.

The progress made by the Society for Human Rights to educate the community on homosexuality is set back due to the growing Pink Scare. Harry Hay urges Henry Gerber to change the direction of the SHR to become a political organization rather then a education organization. Gerber agrees to help gain support for a new organization to be involved in politics, but doesn't want to change the core vision of the SHR. On December 2, 1951 the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) was set up in Washington, D.C.[14] Hay leaves the SHR and relocates to Washington, D.C. to become the president of the new organization.

Popular war hero General Dwight D. Eisenhower defeated Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee in the 1952 United States presidential election to become the 34th President of the United States. On August 24, 1954, Eisenhower signed into law the Communist Control Act and the Family Values Act.

Eisenhower was reelected to his second term when he defeated Governor Adlai Stevenson of Illinois in the 1956 United States presidential election.

Notes

  1. In reality, Gerber never publicly disclosed whom he contacted to gain support for the SHR. In this alternative history he would have also not given up their identity and the information is lost to history.
  2. It was not unusual for criminal organizations to cater to homosexuals, since sodomy laws made it illegal for gay men to gather and it provided another avenue for exploiting illegal activity along with bootlegging, prostitution and gambling. The Chicago gay community was not as large as it was in New York City in our timeline, so Chicago criminal organizations did not provide speakeasies for homosexual men and women, but ones in New York City did. In fact, Stonewall Inn was run by the Mafia.
  3. The North Side Gang controlled the 42nd and 43rd Wards, where Gerber's home was located. In our timeline the North Side Gang after the Prohibition attempted to economically survive on gambling, but it didn't keep them thriving and they folded in about 1935.
  4. In our timeline Hirschfeld stays at Nice, France where he tries to continue his work.
  5. Harry Hay in our timeline heard about the SHR in 1929 from a former member, but that event never happened. Geer heard about the SHR when he was studying at the University of Chicago in this alternate timeline. In our timeline Geer studied at the University of Chicago
  6. In our timeline this motivates Hay to join the Communist Party. Hay was not accepting of his own sexuality until 1941, but in this alternate timeline he gains acceptance of his homosexuality through Gree, reading issues of Friendship and Freedom, and the SHR.
  7. In our timeline Kinsey stays at Indiana University and obtains funding from the Rockefeller Foundation.
  8. In our timeline these publications came out in 1948 and 1953 respectively.
  9. Hay was interested in backing Wallace in our timeline and founded the organization "Bachelors for Wallace" in 1948. This group would eventually become the Mattachine Society, but in this alternate history this organization was never founded.
  10. Henry A. Wallace never obtained any electoral votes in our timeline. Massachusetts had a strong Progressive Party backing.
  11. The Democratic Party fractured into three different parties: the moderate Democratic Party, the right leaning Dixiecrats and the left leaning Progressive Party. In our timeline the Progressive Party was not seen as a threat to the Democratic Party since it didn't carry any electoral votes. In this alternate timeline both of them picked up electoral votes, so both parties were seen as threats.
  12. No action was taken to destroy the Progressive Party by Truman and the Democratic National Committee in our timeline. The party did return in the 1952 election, but did not gain enough media attention and won very few votes. The party dissolved in 1955 in our timeline.
  13. Many liberal and progressive politicians and activists were supporters or sympathizers of Communism during the 1940s and 1950s of our timeline. Harry Hay had to step down from the Mattachine Society due to this era of McCarthyism.
  14. The Human Rights Campaign in our timeline was not formed until 1980.

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