Span Dates: 1948-1998
Volume: 7 linear ft.
The Donald Lucas Papers, sub-series D, contains the most extensive collection of organizational records of the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (1955-1970).
Donald Stewart Lucas was born in rural Colorado in 1926, but moved to San Francisco in 1949, performing in local theater until the middle 1950s. There, he was introduced to the Mattachine Society and the idea of homosexual education and activism. An acquaintance invited Lucas to a meeting of a San Francisco chapter of the recently re-formed Mattachine Society in mid-1953. In November 1953 Lucas attended a Constitutional Convention of the Society in Los Angeles and from that point in time became progressively more involved in the organization. As the leadership of the Society migrated from southern to northern California, Lucas assumed greater leadership responsibilities. In 1954, Lucas was a representative of the San Francisco Area Council and in 1955 he moved into the position of chair of the Society's Legal-Legislative Committee. Beginning in 1955, he also worked with Hal Call on publishing the Mattachine Review in the position of Business Manager.
During that time, he kept the books for the publishing company he founded with Hal Call, but spent most of his time performing what he called "lay counseling" for the Society. This activity included working with individuals who contacted the Society with a whole variety of problems relating to employment, housing, civil rights, arrests, family, gender identity, and psychology at a time when the San Francisco homophile movement experienced a period of significant growth. Lucas played an important role in the expansion of the movement as he helped to found the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH) in 1964.
The Council on Religion and the Homosexual
The key event in CRH history was the New Year's Day Mardi Gras Ball of 1965. This Ball, held at California Hall on Polk Street, was a fundraiser for CRH and was sponsored by the city's homophile organizations. Although all the proper permits had been obtained, the members of the San Francisco Police Department photographed and otherwise harassed attendees; they also arrested several ministers, three lawyers, and a housewife for supposedly interfering with police work. What happened next is well documented: the behavior of the police backfired and, with the help of the CRH ministers, the event turned into an extremely important public relations coup not only for CRH and the homophile movement, but for San Francisco homosexuals in general.
The Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH) was an outgrowth of several San Francisco-based homophile organizations: the Mattachine Society, the Daughters of Bilitis, and the League for Civil Education, as well as the Glide Memorial Center. Since the late 1950s, one goal of these organizations was to build alliances with liberal, mostly Protestant, ministers with hopes that they would become allies in the fight for homosexual civil rights. The immediate impetus of the organization dates to June 1964 when a two-day "Consultation" on "The Church and the Homosexual" was held in Marin County. The Consultation was sponsored by the Glide Foundation, two other agencies of the Methodist Church, and several homophile organizations. Out of this Consultation grew CRH. Along with the general goal of increasing understanding and tolerance of homosexuals was the more specific goal of addressing the problems and needs of young homosexuals and gender variants, many of whom ended up on drugs and working in prostitution in San Francisco's Tenderloin, where many of the homophile and religious organizations were located.
In the second half of the 1960s, the CRH focused its activities on educating clergy and seminarians. It also helped legitimize sexuality as a topic worthy of discussion in universities and other establishments of higher education, like the National Sex Forum (which emerged out of Glide Church) and the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (which developed out of the National Sex Forum).
A finding aid with extensive biographical notes is available online.
The papers are located at the GLBT Historical Society of Northern California (San Francisco).
Lucas, Donald | Council on Religion and the Homosexual | Mattachine Society | New Year's Ball (San Francisco) | California | San Francisco