I’m watching that documentary “Before Stonewall” about gay history pre-1969, and uncovered something which I think is interesting.

The documentary includes a brief clip of a 1954 televised newscast about the rise of homosexuality. The host of the program interviewed psychologists, a police officer, and one “known homosexual”. The “known homosexual” is 22 years old. He identifies himself as Curtis White, which is a pseudonym; his name is actually Dale Olson.

So I tracked down the newscast. According to what I can find, Dale Olson may have been the first gay man to appear openly on television and defend his sexual orientation. He explains that there’s nothing wrong with him mentally and he’s never been arrested. When asked whether he’d take a cure if it existed, he says no. When asked whether his family knows he’s gay, he says that they didn’t up until tonight, but he guesses they’re going to find out, and he’ll probably be fired from his job as well. So of course the host is like …why are you doing this interview then? and Dale Olson, cool as cucumber pie, says “I think that this way I can be a little useful to someone besides myself.”

1954. 22 years old. Balls of pure titanium.

Despite the pseudonym, Dale’s boss did indeed recognize him from the TV program, and he was promptly fired the next day. He wrote into ONE magazine six months later to reassure readers that he had gotten a new job at a higher salary.

Curious about what became of him, I looked into his life a little further. It turns out that he ultimately became a very successful publicity agent. He promoted the Rocky movies and Superman. Not only that, but get this: Dale represented Rock Hudson, and he was the person who convinced him to disclose that he had AIDS! He wrote the statement Rock read. And as we know, Rock Hudson’s disclosure had a very significant effect on the national conversation about AIDS in the U.S.

It appears that no one has made the connection between Dale Olson the publicity agent instrumental in the AIDS debate and Dale Olson the 22-year-old first openly gay man on TV. So I thought I’d make it. For Pride month, an unsung gay hero.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.