Book Talk: Morris Kight by Mary Ann Cherry

Sunday, September 20, 2020
1:30pm - 4:30pm
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90007

About the book: Morris Kight: Humanist, Liberationist, Fantabulist: A Story of Gay Rights and Gay Wrongs

No matter how unlikely it is that an effective gay movement could have been born from an upper middle-class, law-abiding, conservative populace, there are those who refuse to identify gay history with a liberal ideology. Obtuse efforts are underway to deny the "hippie" element that makes up a large part of the DNA of gay rights. 

Activist Morris Kight, a unique force of nature and the grand panjandrum of post-Stonewall gay liberation, represents a large part of that hippie DNA. He was a complicated character with an instinct for social services and a tendency towards self-aggrandizement. His ego stood out in a room full of egos. In a time before "gay pride," Kight quite deliberately and openly shunned the shame that was expected of homosexuals.

He created organizations, sat on boards, worked with committees, and lead seminal protests that created a new quality of life for homosexuals and, eventually, the first generation of never-closeted Gays.

This book does not provide all the answers on the history of gay liberation; however, it may pose a few new questions.

About the author: 

Mary Ann Cherry is a Los Angeles based writer with a diverse background in network and syndicated television and independent documentary films. Cherry has worked with non-profit organizations, most recently created the historical archive for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. She enjoys a second career as an in-demand specialized yoga therapist.
Praise for the book:

"Morris Kight was a great teacher. He told me if you ever get a standing ovation don't say 'oh sit down, sit down,' - just take it in and let it was over you. Morris didn't ask permission and he didn't ask for forgiveness either. He was the walking clichÇ about how one person can make a difference. There was only one Morris Kight and this book keeps his memory and his incredibly activism alive for generations that will never know anyone quite like him. He was worth knowing and is certainly worth being remembered." ~Sheila Kuehl, Los Angeles County Supervisor

"Mary Ann Cherry has given us a portrait of Morris Kight that jumps - or should I say sashays? - off the page with her subject's characteristic brio. But Cherry does not fawn, she does not castigate; she depicts the complexities that comprise a giant of a man who is, after all, mortal."  ~Michael Kearns, Artist - Activist

"This story can be wrapped up in the simple words of Los Angeles City Mayor James Haln: 'There won't be another Morris Kight.' Kight was a man of exquisite simplicity and almost perplexing complexity. This book takes us through both-from his hardscrabble beginnings in very bigoted rural Comanche County, Texas, to his triumphant though still economically marginalized years as a gay icon and organizer in Los Angeles and West Hollywood. Mary Ann Cherry has done an excellent job of bringing Kight not only to life, but to that place of fitting glory where he belongs.  ~Perry Brass, Author, Journalist, Activist


*Mary Ann Cherry will also be at the LA Times/USC Festival of Books (April 18-19) with a panel at 4:30pm on the 18th. There will also be an event to celebrate the book on Saturday June 7 at Skylight Books. 


Image: (top) Henning von Berg, The Last Sitting, 2002.