The Phoenix Society and the Homophile Movement

Publishing Network

At the inaugural 1966 NACHO meeting in San Francisco, members agreed that they needed a publishing clearinghouse to print NACHO publications and distribute information from homophile organizations across the country. Phoenix Society members accepted the task, using the professional printing equipment the group already owned.

Publishing was Phoenix’s most significant contribution to the homophile movement. Volunteers spent long hours stuffing envelopes and managing mailing lists. They reprinted magazines, newsletters, and pamphlets from other homophile groups across the country and produced official NACHO publications, and subsequently distributed them nationwide.

National Role

A postcard image of the Bellerive Hotel
NACHO’s 1969 meeting took place in Kansas City’s Hotel Bellerive, 214 E. Armour Boulevard. Courtesy: GLAMA

In the years after the planning meeting, Phoenix Society members took on national and regional leadership roles. Drew Shafer and Gene Todd served as active members on NACHO’s Credentials Committee. Bill Wynne, Phoenix Vice President, coordinated plans for the 1968 meeting of the Midwest Conference of Homophile Organizations in Chicago. Publishing and distribution responsibilities consumed Phoenix members’ time, as did the opening and maintenance of the Phoenix House. Eventually, all of this activity began to take its toll on Phoenix leadership and the organization itself – local and national responsibilities stretched the resources of the Phoenix Society to the breaking point.

The publications that the Phoenix Society distributed nationally created a crucial social network and allowed gay men and women in remote locations to connect to political organizing. By bringing regional activists into a national movement, the clearinghouse helped form a community poised to react to a major national event.