>John Finley Gruber Has Died

>from South Florida GayNews.com:

James “John” Finley Gruber, Jr., the last original member of the Mattachine Society, died in his home in Santa Clara February 27, at the age of 82. Born in Des Moines on August 21, 1928, Gruber enjoyed sexual relations with both men and women from an early age. In 1946, Gruber enlisted in the Marines where, as he recalled, he “went bananas in the sex department.” After Gruber was honorably discharged in 1949, he studied English literature at Occidental College and befriended authors Christopher Isherwood and W. H. Auden and psychologist Evelyn Hooker.
In April of 1951, Gruber and his boyfriend Konrad “Steve” Stevens attended a meeting hosted by a gay advocacy group soon to be known as the Mattachine Society. Soon Gruber and Stevens were invited to join the other founders: Harry Hay, Rudi Gernreich, Chuck Rowland, Bob Hull and Dale Jennings. According to historian John D’Emilio, it was Gruber who suggested the name Mattachine Society for the new group, inspired by Hay’s talk about medieval “mattachines.”
“Gruber and Stevens were the only two of the original seven without strong left-wing ties or sympathies,” wrote the historian John Loughery, “but their physical charm, youth, and eagerness made them highly desirable additions and a speedy and significant difference in attracting new members.” Gruber readily embraced his “newly chosen family,” and brokered a meeting between the Society and Gruber’s famous friends Isherwood and Hooker.
Gruber was also responsible for a famous photo of the early Mattachine Society that now appears in LGBT history books. Taken at Harry Hay’s house on Cove Avenue, the photo preserves for posterity Mattachine members Hay, Gernreich, Rowland, Hull, Jennings, Stan Witt and Paul Bernard. According to historian Daniel Hurewitz, “Hay was so concerned about secrecy that Gruber had to convince him that there was no film in the camera when he took the picture; he revealed the truth only years later.”
By 1953, concern among Society members about their leaders’ Communist ties led to new elections and a change in leadership, Gruber included. Gruber then joined the editorial board of ONE magazine, but soon resigned because of differences with Editor-In-Chief Dale Jennings. Soon after this debacle, according to Jim Van Buskirk, “Gruber worked at KECA radio, created a motorcycle club called the Satyrs…dated both men and women” and taught at various California schools. He called himself “an unmarried alcoholic bisexual teacher,” at least until he joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 1976. On November 12, 1998, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality in Los Angeles gave Gruber a Public Service Award for his work as a “pioneer and barrier broker.” Gruber lived his last years in Santa Clara, enduring ill health but ably assisted by his good friend Nicholas Pisca. Gruber left behind a manuscript, “The Deviant: an Illustrated Autobiography,” which chronicles his life and times.

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3 Comments

Filed under Gay Activists, Hero, John Finley Gruber, LGBT, Mattachine

3 responses to “>John Finley Gruber Has Died

  1. >WOW. Amazing and sad. Thank you. =/

  2. >The death of a loved one is, of course, devastating. We tend to withdraw from others, compounding our grief with isolation. Now, however, thanks to the new web community at Life-book.com , you can forge stronger connections with your family and friends, sharing memories of the departed and the ongoing life lessons and values that come from that distinctive bond your network shares. Life-book.com lets you design and administer a memorial network that is just for you and your relatives and friends. On Life-book.com, you can -easily set up and run a custom memorial network -select and invite relatives and friends-share memories, documents, songs, photos and videos-serve as administrator, and determine what posted content the network features-create enduring bonds among your friends and familyLife-Book -makes communication simple: Each time a network member posts new content, the other members are automatically notified-offers a range of bucolic and serene backgrounds to create just the right atmosphere for your memory Visit Life-book.com today for examples of what you can do. Then get started building a worthy tribute to your departed, and forging new links with those who remain.

  3. >Great piece Bob. Big shoes to fill for those of us who are stepping up to fill the voids.

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