QMH Scripts for December 2004...

QMH, Dec 13th, 2004, Part 1

Hi, This is JD Doyle and welcome to Part 1 of my Queer Christmas Special. That's right, this is only the first part, and if you stick around you'll hear Christmas music you won't hear anywhere else, and I'm starting off with L.A. drag queen Jackie Beat

Jackie Beat - Jackie Beat Is Coming To Town (2004)

You're listening to Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston, and my show Queer Music Heritage is usually heard only on the 4th Monday of the month, but this year I'm doing three Christmas shows, and I'll try to bring you gay-related xmas music that is entertaining and sometimes obscure.

Okay, who is Jackie Beat? Well, she's from Los Angeles and for many years she's been doing her own brand of comedy drag in which she sings twisted parodies of hit songs. She's appeared on Comedy Central, VH1 and MTV and in several movies. A few years ago she had a one-woman show that ran for 18 months at one of NYC's main cabaret clubs, Fez, and she returns there every year for her standing room only Christmas show.

That song was obviously called "Jackie Beat Is Coming To Town," which is also the title of her brand new debut CD. It's kind of hard to find. As I write this it can only be found on eBay, sold by Jackie Beat herself. I think the CD is very well-done, and it includes several parodies that are very faithful to the sound of the originals, but there's not much from it that I can play on the radio. I had to do a bit of editing to get this next one to work.

Jackie Beat - Do You Believe in That Guy Santa Claus (2004)

Once again, that was Jackie Beat.

Note: Jackie has informed me that the CD is now available at her site, at Jackie Beat Rules

Now, for my listeners hearing this show on the internet, you're probably wondering, gee, he said he had to edit that song for radio. Well, I did, but you heard the uncensored version. And here's a bonus track that in no way could be edited enough for radio play. Here's Jackie taking a "Sleigh Ride" in a very different direction.

Jackie Beat - Sleigh Ride in Leather (2004)

Well, I've already played an artist doing a parody of a Cher song. Next up is the artist herself, and I'm able to include it on a queer xmas show because she's doing a duet with Rosie O'Donnell. It appears on the 1999 album "A Rosie Christmas," on which O'Donnell does duets with a variety of top artists. The song is one of my favorite Christmas songs, originally done by Darlene Love in the 60s. Here's "Christmas Baby Please Come Home."

Rosie O'Donnell & Cher - Christmas Baby Please Come Home (1999)

Before we leave the dance mode, I want to share with you an unreleased track. It's by a New York artist named Matthew Duffy, whose debut album, called "Here I Come" was released this past year. I've seen him perform, and as he started out as a dancer, well, he knows how to work it. He was nice enough to send me his demo version of the Wham song "Last Christmas."

Matthew Duffy - Last Christmas (2004)

Matthew Duffy, with "Last Christmas."

Well, regular listeners of Queer Music Heritage know that I like to dig way back for some of music I play, and I love to find obscure songs. The next song is by far the oldest one you'll hear on my three christmas shows this year. It's from 1952 and the artist is Gladys Bentley. I've played her before, as she was one of the most blatantly lesbian blues singers of the 30s and 40s. She died in 1960 at age 52 and this song was recorded late in her career, as a guest vocalist with the Dexter Gordon Quintet. I told you it was obscure. The song is the "Jingle Jangle Jump."

Gladys Bentley - Jingle Jangle Jump (1952)
Robin Renee - Almost Had a Holiday (1995)

I followed Gladys Bentley's "Jingle Jangle Jump" by jumping to 1995 for the song "Almost Had a Holiday" by Robin Renee. Robin has had a couple of solo albums, including the excellent "All Six Senses" from 2002, but the song "Almost Had a Holiday" came from her days when she fronted a band called The Loved Ones.

Now, some of you may know that in addition to Queer Music Heritage, I also co-produce the Audiofile segment that is carried on This Way Out, and every year in December we do a special feature honoring the best albums of the year, from the ones we reviewed that year. The next two artists landed albums in that best of show.

First, KJ Denhert has a wonderful album called "Girl Like Me." But she sent me this Christmas song on a special CD that she's recorded. Here's her version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."

KJ Denhert - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (2003)

That was KJ Denhert. And the other artist with a holiday song who made our Audiofile best of the year show is Brady Earnhart. His amazing album "Manalapan" contains a song that doesn't immediately strike you as a Christmas song, but the story in the song takes place at Christmastime, with the song's narrator urging his lover to come out to his family when he goes home for the holidays.

Brady Earnhart - Honey, Don't Think Your Mama Don't Know (2003)

I just love that. Brady Earnhart with "Honey, Don't Think Your Mama Don't Know."

Kiki & Herb - Opening Medley

And that strange little song was just called "Openly Medley" and came from the album "Do You Hear What We Hear" by Kiki & Herb, a very strange cabaret duo.

This past year grammy-nominated jazz artist Dave Koz came out of the closet, which makes him eligible for this show, and also that gives me an excuse to put his photo on my website for this month, he's very cute. Here's the title track from his 1997 album, "December Makes Me Feel This Way."

Dave Koz - December Makes Me Feel This Way (1997)
Dave Koz - Auld Lang Syne (1997, part)

Again, that was Dave Koz, and you'll be hearing a little more of him while I lead up to the next selection.

This is a good time to remind you that you can see photos of Dave Koz, Kiki & Herb, and all the other artists on my xmas shows at my website, at www.queermusicheritage.com, and you can hear all my shows there anytime. Queer Music Heritage is a part of Queer Voices on KPFT, 90.1fm, in Houston. And, be sure to listen to KPFT every Saturday night from midnight to 4am for After Hours with Jimmy Carper. It's Queer Radio, With Attitude.

Okay, it's hard to do a Christmas show without some choral music, and I've got an expert to tell you about a couple selections. Eric Lane Barnes is assistant artistic director of the Seattle Mens Chorus, and prior to joining them in 2000 he was director of the Windy City Slickers in Chicago. He's also written a number of musicals, many of which have been performed in Houston, such as "Fairy Tales," "Fruit Cocktail," and "The Stops." And he's done commission work for a number of gay choruses across the country. I interviewed Eric a few weeks ago and that will appear on a future QMH show, but I wanted this month to share some comments about some of his Christmas songs. In 2000 the album "Glad Tidings We Bring, A Windy City Holiday" was released as a joint project of the Windy City Performing Arts Organization, and one of the groups, the women's ensemble called Aria, contributed "Shades of Christmas," so I asked him about that.

On "Windy City Holiday" I'd like to hear about "Shades of Christmas."

Eric Lane Barnes comments (2004)

Okay, it's a mixture of "Blue Christmas," "White Christmas" and then a Christmas that I came up with, which was "Lavender Christmas," the gay approach of Christmas. I found it really surprising that you can play "White Christmas" and "Blue Christmas" together and the songs are shaped exactly the same, and with just a couple of note changes the songs go together, to the point that it made me wonder if the person who wrote "Blue Christmas" had that in mind when he first wrote it, cause it's so much like "White Christmas" and I thought it was really fun putting those two together.

Aria (Windy City Women's Ensemble) - Shades of Christmas (2000)

And, the Cincinnati Men's Chorus recorded another one of his songs on their album from two years ago called "A Homemade Holiday."

Eric Lane Barnes comments (2004)

Two years ago I wrote a song called "Am I Welcome Here?" which is about somebody walking by a church on Christmas Eve and wanting to go in, but not knowing if he'd be welcome, because he's gay. And it never actually says 'because I'm gay' but the connotation is pretty clear. And there are three verses and in the first two verses he walking by wondering "should I do it?" and he's remembering bad experiences he's had in churches in the past. And in the final verse the people in the church open the doors and say "please come in, please sing with us, we love you, you belong to God" and I think a lot of churches are missing the fact that many of their, many of the people in the churches, many of the congregants are gay, whether they like it or not and whether they know it or not, and churches are going to have to deal with that, and for the more hardline fundamentalist congregations to just say that "no, you can't be gay, God says you can't be gay," well, that just doesn't work anymore, because A, God didn't say that, and B, you can't convince somebody not to be gay. That's like telling someone not to be brown-haired or telling someone not to be a woman. And that's one of my favorite holiday things that I've written.

Cincinnati Men's Chorus - Am I Welcome Here? (2002)

That was "Am I Welcome Here?" as recorded by the Cincinnati Men's Chorus.

Lea DeLaria is well known for both her comedy and her singing. In 2001 she contributed the song "Sleigh Ride" to the Broadway Cares benefit album "Home For The Holidays."

Lea DeLaria - Sleigh Ride (2001)

Before we get to the last two selections, I want to thank you all for tuning in to the show, and I especially want to thank Eric Lane Barnes for his interview comments. You can see photos of all the artists and recordings on tonight's show and view the playlist at my website, at www.queermusicheritage.com. And you can also hear the show and all my past shows there as well. And if you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, you can write to me, and I'd love to hear from you. This is JD Doyle for Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston, and I'll be back next Monday, December 20th, with Part 2 of my Queer Music Heritage trio of Christmas Specials.

I'm ending the show with two selections that are very campy, each in their own way. From 1943 we'll hear Bette Davis pitching war bonds in a Christmas sketch, and I'll follow it with my favorite Bette Davis impersonation Christmas song. That's done by Jimmy James, from her 2002 album, "Have Yourself a Jimmy James Merry Christmas."

Bette Davis - A Present With a Future (War Bonds) (1943)
Jimmy James - Feliz Navidad (2002)


QMH, Dec 20th, 2004, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Queer Music Heritage Queer Xmas Special

Pledge Drive & One of Each - Christmas Rhapsody (2003)

Hi, This is JD Doyle and welcome to Queer Music Heritage and Part 2 of my Queer Christmas Special. Now it's very unusual for me to start off a show with a song almost six minutes long, but I'm quite taken with that one. I think it's a wonderful parody of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." And it took two groups to pull it off. The instrumental group Pledge Drive was joined in 2003 by the an acappella group called One of Each. Amazing work, and you can see the lyrics on my site.

Last week on Part 1 of my Xmas Special I started it off with drag queen Jackie Beat and her brand new album "Jackie Beat Is Comin' To Town." Well, I've got another song of hers to share with you. It's a very faithful Eurythmics parody called "Here Comes the Reindeer Again."

Jackie Beat - Here Comes the Reindeer Again (2004)

And again, you internet listeners got to hear the uncensored version of that, and also you get to hear two more Jackie Beat tracks that in no way could I edit for radio. Here are "Boy or a Girl" and "I Saw Daddy Doin' Santa Claus."

Jackie Beat - Boy or a Girl (2004)
Jackie Beat - I Saw Daddy Doin' Santa Claus (2004)

That was Jackie Beat, and my listeners to the internet version of the show get to hear two more twisted Jackie Beat songs, that are…not ready for radio.

Up next is Rufus Wainwright with a Christmas song that is only available on a various artists album called "Maybe This Christmas Too," from last year. His song is called "Spotlight on Christmas."

Rufus Wainwright - Spotlight on Christmas (2003)
Melissa Ferrick - White Christmas (1994)

And, following Rufus Wainwright was, as you could tell, Melissa Ferrick. I was delighted to have her as a studio guest on Queer Voices last month and got her to record what radio folk call a "drop in" because I knew I wanted to play her Christmas song on this show. Back in 1994, when she was on the Atlantic label, they issued a various artists album called "You Sleigh Me," and that was her contribution.

And now for a couple of English acts. You probably haven't heard of John Springate, but in the 80s he was a member of the UK group the Glitter Band, and was very out of the closet. In 1982 he had a solo release with the "A Song For Christmas," and I'm following him with group with a very campy name.

John Springate - A Song For Christmas (1982)

Okay, now you're going to think I'm making up the name of this next act, but I'm not. This English cabaret quartet call themselves, are you ready, 4 Poofs & a Piano.

4 Poofs & a Piano - Camp Up Your Christmas (2003)

From last year, that was 4 Poofs & a Piano, singing "Camp Up Your Christmas"

Every year the New York charity organization Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS records a holiday album that includes the casts of most of the major current Broadway hits. Last year's album included Hugh Jackman and the cast of the show "Boy From Oz." And if that being a gay-themed show isn't enough to get the song on my queer xmas special, well, the song was written by a New York City friend of mine, gay songwriter, Jim Laev. It's called "Wrapped Up Nice, and here's a hint, they're not singing about wrapping presents, it's about safe sex.

Hugh Jackman & cast of "Boy From Oz" - Wrapped Up Nice (2003)
Johnny Mathis - The Sounds of Christmas (1963)
Paul Parker - Home For Christmas (2003)

Well, who else would follow a song about safe sex with Johnny Mathis? That was the title track of his 1963 album "The Sounds of Christmas." And following that was a nice song called "Home For Christmas," done by Paul Parker. Now, a few of you may be thinking, gee, the name Paul Parker sounds familiar but surely not connected with the type of song you just heard. It's the same Paul Parker who had a smash disco hit in 1982 called "Right On Target." The Christmas song came from a various artists album from last year called "Carols Across America," which was produced by DJ and producer Johnny Hedges, who worked with many of the disco artists from the early 80s.

Kinsey Sicks - Deck the Halls (2004)

That's the Kinsey Sicks, and I'm a little disappointed. They promised me that they would have a Christmas CD ready for this year. It didn't happen, but they did post to their website an 11 minute montage video from their twisted Christmas show called "Oy Vey In A Manger." So I cobbled together two clips to share with you from it. But before we get to the second clip, I'm taking this moment to remind you that you can see the playlist and photos of all the artists at my website, www.queermusicheritage.com. My show is a part of Queer Voices on KPFT, 90.1fm, in Houston. And, be sure to listen to KPFT every Saturday night from midnight to 4am for After Hours with Jimmy Carper. It's Queer Radio, With Attitude. Okay, Kinseys, hit it.

Kinsey Sicks - Have Yourself… (2004)

I've been meaning to play this next song on my xmas show for several years now, and it never quite made it. This time it will. Brian Grillo and his group Extra Fancy had this very neat song, called "It's Christmas Time."

Extra Fancy - It's Christmas Time (1996)

That was the group Extra Fancy. Next up, from 1993 RuPaul and "Little Drummer Boy."

RuPaul - Little Drummer Boy (1993)

Well, RuPaul released "Little Drummer Boy" on a CD single in 1993, but we had to wait four more years for her full length Christmas album, called "Ho, Ho, Ho," and I think it's one of the best queer xmas albums ever. I got to interview RuPaul recently and that interview will be featured next month on my fifth anniversary show, but I wanted to share just a taste of it now, because of course I asked her about the Christmas album.

RuPaul comments (2004)

I just love the Christmas album. I think it's fantastic

Thank you very much. I love that album too, and you know I think what makes it special is that we recorded that album in my living room over a period of three days, so we didnt have enough time to sort of over-think it, or re-do..in fact, I was hoarse at the time from doing shows. I was doing a lot of shows at the time, my night club act. When it came time to sing the album, my voice was shot, but you know it didn't matter because the album retains the fun and the love that you know we put into it

It's very well produced. I'm amazed that you said you did it in three days.

Yeah, three days, in my living room

Wow, I'd particularly like to hear about "RuPaul the Red-Nosed Drag Queen"

(laughs) Well, you know, drag has been a critique on our culture. We drag queens are the shamans or the witch doctors of every tribe, and what we do is remind the tribe to not take itself so seriously, to not believe that these bodies are who we really are. We're much greater than these bodies. So there's always humor and fun in the drag queen world and what we preach, what we remind our culture of

That's such a natural extension for that song, and you're the one who did it.

Yeah, yeah, I think I did...didn't I do "I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus"?

Yeah. You're going to do another Christmas album maybe?

I would love to. In fact you know I guess it will have to be next year but it's something that I've been really planning for a long time. I've got great ideas for it, and I'd like to do it. I think it's probably going to have to be a Christmas duets album with a lot of my friends...

And maybe even queerer than the other one.

Oh, yeah, oh definitely queer. Everything I do is queer.

RuPaul - RuPaul the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1997)
RuPaul - I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus (1997)

From RuPaul's album "Ho, Ho, Ho," that was of course "RuPaul the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus."

I've got time to squeeze in a New Year's song, cause it's a short one, more like a refrain. By Sophie B. Hawkins, here's "Happy Happy New Year."

Sophie B. Hawkins - Happy Happy New Year (2003)

Before we get to the last song, I want to thank you all for tuning in to the show, and I especially want to thank RuPaul for her interview comments. You can see photos of all the artists and recordings on tonight's show and view the playlist at my website, at www.queermusicheritage.com. And you can also hear the show and all my past shows there as well. And if you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, you can write to me, and I wish you would. This is JD Doyle for Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston, and I'll be back next Monday, December 27th, with Part 3 of my Queer Music Heritage Christmas Special.

And now, closing the show, from 2000 here's a group calling themselves Holiday Express. I acquired this song last year, but too late to be included on my shows, and I've been itching to play it ever since, because it's very queer. Here's Holiday Express with their wonderful Village People parody called "Disco Santa."

Holiday Express - Disco Santa (2000)


QMH, Dec 27th, 2004, Part 3

Mystery Date - All I Want For Christmas Is You (2003)

Welcome to Part 3 of the Queer Music Heritage Queer Xmas Special. Every year I love putting together these shows that are packed full of the Christmas music you won't be sick of by now. I gather this music all year and for 2002 and 2003 I did two xmas shows each year. This year I had plenty of material to do a third, and my producer went along with it, so here it is.

Now that first song was very queer indeed. It was written by Ernie Lijoi, an artist I like quite a bit, who has several excellent solo albums. Singing the song was a group called Mystery Date, made up of Ken Browne, Joshua Koffman, Bob Stern and John Whitley. Three of those artists were in an earlier group that I've played before on this show, called Sons and Lovers. Backing up Mystery Date were members of the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, and the song appears on the Choruses album from 2003 called "A Holiday Homecoming." Well, that's a lot of information about one song, so I want to move on to another song by the same foursome. In 2001 Mystery Date had an album called "Sweet Sixteen" on which they did a cover version of the Pretenders' song "2000 Miles."

Mystery Date - 2000 Miles (2001)

That was two songs by the group Mystery Date. I love this next song, and it's sung quite nicely by the Cincinnati Men's Chorus on their album from 2002 "A Homemade Holiday." It was written by Eric Lane Barnes, who I featured briefly on Part 1 of these xmas shows, and I'll have a full scale interview with him on a future show. But this song was too good postpone any longer. Pay attention to the words, as they speak directly to what some of us may have dreamed for in our youth. It's "Miss Twinkleton's School for Sensitive Boys."

Cincinnati Men's Chorus - Miss Twinkleton's School for Sensitive Boys (2002)
Seattle Men's Chorus - Boogie Woogie Hanukkah (2001)
Jill Sobule - Jesus Was a Dreidle Spinner (2000)

After the Cincinnati Men's Chorus you heard two Jewish holiday songs. The Seattle Mens' Chorus sang "Boogie Woogie Hanukkah," which was from their 2001 album "Joy," and it was another Eric Lane Barnes song. And after that was the very distinctive voice of Jill Sobule, with "Jesus Was A Dreidel Spinner," from a CD EP she put out in 2000 called "Jill's Holiday Songs," which was available only from her website.

And now for a very pretty song written by Thomas Raniszewski, from his album "A Midnight at a Time" from 2003. Kathy Fowler sings vocals on Tom's song "Through a Child's Eyes."

Thomas Raniszewski - Through a Child's Eyes (2003)

That was Kathy Fowler with "Through a Child's Eyes," from an album by Thomas Raniszewski. And now, as they used to say on Monty Python, for something completely different. And like Monty Python, this next act is British, and carried on the British fascination with men dressed in drag. Through the 70s and 80s on radio and then television, the duo of Hinge & Bracket charmed millions. Patrick Fyffe and George Logan portrayed two lovable elderly spinsters named Hinge & Bracket. They devoted their lives to music and here is a brief clip from one of their Christmas shows. I give you Dr. Evadne Hinge and Dame Hilda Bracket.

Hinge & Bracket - Christmas Jottings (1983)

Hinge & Bracket. That was just a few minutes taken from an hour special of theirs called "Christmas Jottings" from 1986. Now, one of my regular listeners in England named David send me this contribution to this show, saying what could be more Christmas than something Disney. And this particular bit of Disney is very gay indeed. It's one of those parodies you can find on the internet and never know who sang it or when, but it's kind of neat. Here's "Disney Goes Gay."

Disney Goes Gay (year and artist unknown)

definitely gay Disney

Oh yeah, and of course I got out of that bit of Disney nonsense with part of the opening of the theme song from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." And I'm not at all sure you're ready for this next song.

Transexpistols - Silent Night (2001)

Now wasn't that about the longest 47 seconds you've ever heard? That was a Los Angeles cross-dressing punk rock band called, are you ready, the Transexpistols. And this is a good time to remind you that you can see photos of the Transexpistols and all the other artists you're hearing, along with the playlist at my website www.queermusicheritage.com. My show is a part of Queer Voices on KPFT, 90.1fm, in Houston. And, be sure to listen to KPFT every Saturday night from midnight to 4am for After Hours with Jimmy Carper. It's Queer Radio, With Attitude. And here's another punk band, this one a little more legitimately transgendered, who call themselves Temptress and a bit of their "White Christmas"

Temptress - White Christmas (2000)
Vandals - My Brother Is Gay (2002)

Following Temptress were the Vandals, who are a presumedly straight group, but they've had a number of GLBT-themed songs on their releases. A couple of yeas ago I played for you from their holiday album "Oi To The World" the song "My First Xmas As A Woman." But this time you heard "My Brother Is Gay" from their CD from a couple years ago called "Internet Dating Super Studs."

I've got time to slip in another song of questionable taste. From their album "Eternally Hard" from 2001, with the production help of Ani DiFranco and Dutch Boy, here's the duo Bitch & Animal and their song "Ganja." Now, the lyrics aren't Christmasy, but the tune is.

Bitch & Animal - Ganja (2001)
Dusty Springfield & Rod McKuen - Baby It's Cold Outside (1978)

Well, I followed Bitch & Animal with a very unlikely duo, Dusty Springfield & Rod McKuen, singing "Baby It's Cold Outside." That's from a Rod McKuen TV special from 1978.

Now, I can't believe I've never played this next song on one of my Christmas shows. I'll remedy that right now. From the 1985 album called "Snow Angel," here's Cris Williamson with "Greetings of the Season."

Cris Williamson - Greetings of the Season (1985)
Meg Hentges - Christmas Time Is Here (1994)

After Cris Williamson came Meg Hentges with "Christmas Time Is Here." That's from an obscure various artists album from 1994 called "It's Finally Here." Meg Hentges has had a number of solo releases but also was a member of the group Two Nice Girls.

Now to say I don't follow football would an understatement of grand proportions, so I had never heard of NFL football player Esera Tuaolo before I saw his photo on the cover of The Advocate. It turns out he had spent nine years as a tackle for such teams as the Minnesota Vikings, the Green Bay Packers and his career included a visit to the Super Bowl with the Atlanta Falcons. He became only the third NFL player to come out of the closet in 2002. But he's also an excellent singer, and his first release, a Christmas EP, just came out this month. In fact, I held up recording this show a few days to allow for his Public Relations rep to send it to me, so that I could include a song from it, and I think it was worth my wait. Here's the title track, "First Christmas."

Esera Tuaolo - First Christmas (2004)

Esera Tuaolo  Esera Tuaolo  Esera Tuaolo  Esera Tuaolo  

Before we get to the last song, I want to thank you all for tuning in to the show, especially if you've waded through all three of my queer xmas specials with me. You can see photos of all the artists and recordings on tonight's show and view the playlist at my website, at www.queermusicheritage.com.

And if you missed the first two parts of this series you can also hear them, and all my past shows, on my site as well. And if you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, you can write to me and I'd love to hear from you. This is JD Doyle for Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston, and I'll be back next month to celebrate my fifth anniversary show. That show will include an interview with dance music diva RuPaul, and some other goodies.

And now, since this show airs after Christmas I'm closing it with a New Year's song. It's from a various artists album from last year called "Carols Across America." I played a track from that on last week's show. This time the very appropriate ending song is dance artist Ernest Kohl singing "Happy New Year."

Ernest Kohl - Happy New Year (2003)

     Back to December 2004 show page  

and, below, a queer greeting from 1955

Matt Review

A brief background of the Mattachine Society: the Mattachine Foundation (later Society) was founded in the winter of 1950 by Harry Hay and six other gay men, all radical progressives or former communists. The term "Mattachine" has its roots in the Societe Mattachine, a French medieval masque group that traveled from village to village, using ballads and dramas to point out social injustice. The name was used in its present sense to underscore the reality that gay men and women were a "masked people, unknown and anonymous." The structure of the early Mattachine Foundation closely followed the organization of the Communist Party, with secret cells. In 1951, the Mattachine Foundation issued its ground-breaking "Statement of Missions and Purpose" which called for a grassroots movement of gay people to challenge anti-gay discrimination throughout society, as well as recognizing the importance of building a gay consciousness.

By 1953, the Mattachine Foundation began to legally challenge the entrapment of gay men by law enforcement officials and to poll political candidates on gay rights issues. By that year, however, the witchhunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his poisonous movement known as McCarthyism to identify and ferret out all undesirables in government and society at large were at their peak, and a newspaper article appeared linking the Mattachine Foundation with the communist movement. Panicked, conservative members of the Mattachine Foundation gained control of the organization and the group's founders, including Harry Hay, resigned. It was in that year that the organization changed its name to "The Mattachine Society" as well as redirecting its goals from claiming a minority status and building a gay consciousness to one of assimilating gay people into mainstream society. And yet, although its earlier roots were far more progressive, the Mattachine Society stands as a pivotal and foundational turning-point in gay American history that laid the groundwork for what was to become the modern gay liberation movement.