Related Archival Material
Scope and Content
Title: Morris Kight papers and photographs
Identifier/Call Number: Coll2010.008
Contributing Institution: ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 27.5 Linear feet13 records boxes, 1 shoe box, 3 flat boxes, 8 clamshell photograph binders
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1980-2000
Date (inclusive): circa 1920-2003
The collection, 1920-2003, consists of photographs, correspondence, clippings, annotated materials, and organizational materials
primarily documenting Morris Kight's role as a gay activist in Los Angeles. He was born November 19, 1919 in Procter, Comanche
County, Texas, married in 1950 in New Mexico, left his wife in 1955, and relocated to Los Angeles in 1958. Kight dedicated
his life to a number of progressive causes including improving race relations, the anti-war movement, and the gay liberation
/ rights movement.
creator: Kight, Morris, (Venerable), 1919-2003
Relocated to the ONE Periodical collection:
This Week in Texas, November 19-25, 1993; December 3-9, 1993
Relocated to the ONE Banner Collection:
"Morris Says Hello," pride parade Banners (2), circa 1997
Processing this collection has been funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Formerly housed in record boxes 103-024, 103-064, 103-341, 104-076, 104-077, 104-078, 104-079, 104-080, 104-081, 104-082,
104-083, 104-158, A078, A079, A080, A081, A082, A083, A084, A085, A086, A087, A088, A089, A090, A091, A092, A093, and A094,
29 linear feet. Collection processed by Michael C. Oliveira, March 25, 2011.
Related Archival Material
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Rob Cole Papers, Coll2009-019, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Lillene H. Fifield Papers, Coll2007-014, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
L. A. Gay & Lesbian Center Records, Coll2007-010, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Pat Rocco Papers, Coll2007-006, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Unprocessed Christopher Street West Historical Collection, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Unprocessed Christopher Street West Records, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
Unprocessed Crossroads Employment and Job Counseling Services Collection, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles,
Unprocessed Hudson House Collection, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.
University of California, Los Angeles:
Morris Kight Papers (Collection 354). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of
California, Los Angeles.
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives collection of film and video, circa 1965-1999. UCLA Film and Televsion Archive, University
of California, Los Angeles.
University of Conneticut:
Foster Gunnison, Jr. Papers. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut
Morris Kight the youngest of three children was born in Procter, Comanche County, Texas, on November 19, 1919. His father
died when he was 7 years old. His siblings, John Lewis and Mildred, soon left home leaving Kight and his mother to fend for
themselves. After graduating from high school in June 1936, he continued onto Texas Christian University. In 1942, he graduated
from Texas Christian University. In New Mexico, he married and fathered two daughters. The marriage lasted five years, ending
in 1955. Kight relocated to Los Angeles in 1958 where his earliest involvement in the LGBT community can be traced to a donation
to ONE, Incorporated, in 1964 and a book review for
Tangents Magazine in 1968. According to his many interviews, during this time he continued his work on behalf of minorities, the environment,
and for other progressive causes. He became known for the founding of the Dow Action Committee (DAC) in 1967. DAC protested
the use of napalm and defoliants in Vietnam and appealed to Dow Chemical to end their production. In the same year he met
a "companion," Larry Allen. They were together until Allen’s death in 1972.
In December 1969, Kight collaborated with others to found the Los Angeles chapter of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Gay political
activism had caught up with the direct-action approach Kight had appreciated in other progressive non-violent organizations.
The target of the first GLF protest was Barneys Beanery’s "Fagots [sic] Stay Out!" signs.
Don Jackson, a GLF member, proposed the surreptitious take-over of the sparsely populated Alpine County by gays and lesbians.
His plan was to have hundreds of gays and lesbians relocate to and register to vote in Alpine County over a period time. While
Jackson believed in the feasibility of the plan, Don Kilhefner and Kight realized the publicity potential of the mission.
Kilhefner and Kight organized and held press conferences on the plan to re-locate hundreds of gays and lesbians to a new "gay
Mecca." The announcements received national media attention, and the Alpine County Board of Supervisors was soon requesting
advice from officials in then Governor Reagan’s office of legal affairs. Less than a year after the original proposal was
made public the GLF abandon the mission.
Kight continued to prove his abilities to organize and promote LGBT causes. He went on to contribute to the founding of Christopher
Street West (1970), the sponsor of the Los Angeles Pride parades; L.A. Gay Community Services Center (1971), currently known
as the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center; Van Ness Recovery House (1973), a center for substance abuse recovery; National New Orleans
Memorial Fund (1973), to aid the survivors of the Upstairs Lounge fire; First Tuesday (1975), a collaborative space for LGBT
organizations; Stonewall Democratic Club (1975); Gay and Lesbian Caucus/ California Democratic Party (1977); Orange County
Against the Briggs Initiative (1978); Moscone - Milk Memorial Committee (1978); Asian / Pacific Lesbians and Gays (1980);
Aid for AIDS (1982); Gay and Lesbian Olympics Visitors Hospitality Committee (1983); and Old / Older / Senior / Elder Lesbian
/ Gay Advocates (1992). Kight also promoted LGBT causes such as the boycott of CBS, Coors Beer, and the motion picture
Cruising. He also sought recognition of LGBT rights as human rights, the formation of a Los Angeles police review board, and the reform
of United States immigration laws. He served on a number of tasks forces and commissions including the Governor's Task Force
on Civil Rights, Lieutenant Governor's Commission for ONE California, and the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.
Along with all of this he campaigned for a long list of social justice issue, and yet he would still be available to plead
for such causes as the continued funding of Gay Student Union by the UCLA student council.
Beyond his time and experience, Kight contributed his art collection to the community. This tangible legacy grew from his
love of art and his own showcase, his residence on McCadden Place. As his collection became more prominent, an increasing
number of quality works were donated to the collection. While the collection was located at McCadden Place, it was curated
by David T. Spencer (David Schwinkendorf), Kight and his partner, Roy Zukeran. After Spencer's death and because of Kight's
failing health, Miguel Angel Reyes and Ron Anderegg became the collection's curators. The collection was exhibited at a variety
of events from 1985-1995 and later went into storage, before its donation to ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives.
Kight died on January 19, 2003, survived by Roy Zukeran, his "companion" of twenty-five years.
Ciotti, Paul. "Morris Kight: Activist Statesman of L.A.'s Gay Community: [Home Edition]."
Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext), December 09, 1988, http://www.proquest.com/ (accessed April 1, 2011).
Clendinen, Dudley, and Adam Nagourney.
Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.
Nardi, Peter M., David Sanders, and Judd Marmor. "Interview with Morris Kight."
Growing Up Before Stonewall: Life Stories of Some Gay Men. London and New York: Routledge, 1994. 15-34.
Wat, Eric C.
The Making of a Gay Asian Community: An Oral History of Pre-AIDS Los Angeles. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2002. 109-110, 112-113.
Scope and Content
The Kight papers consists primarily of fliers, correspondence, and other records that document his involvement in a number
of LGBT, progressive, and political organizations in Los Angeles. While Kight exchanged letters with several lesbian and gay
leaders his longest running correspondence of a dozen letters, 1972-1983 was with Marty Manford of the Gay Activist Alliance
of New York. The other records include awards, proclamations, resolutions, plaques, and trophies documenting the community's
recognition of his contribution to LGBT causes. The clippings Kight collected provide a rich source of information concerning
his public involvement in the movement. His notes and annotated documents provide insight into the mundane tasks of organizing
and his personal views of people and events. The notes include various lists, such as incoming and outgoing calls, along with
speaking and event planning outlines. Kight issued statements and press releases to inform the media and the public of his
position on community events and plans, along with notices of events he was planning. He often hosted events at his residence
on McCadden Place, this allowed him to show and grow his art collection. The growth and exhibitions of his art collection
are recorded in the McCadden Place / Morris Kight Collection Series.
The McCadden residence provided a meeting space for many of the organizations, including those that Kight contributed to founding,
such as First Tuesday and the Stonewall Democratic Club. The collection contains documents from many of the organizations
and causes he led or contributed to their efforts. His role as a Commissioner, 1980-2002, on the Los Angeles County Commission
on Human Relations is the best documented. His photographs primarily document his later life from the 1990s until the year
before his death in 2003.
Files are arranged in the following series:
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Christopher Street West (CSW) (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Gay activists--California--Los Angeles
Gay liberation movement--California--Los Angeles
Gay pride parades--California--Los Angeles
Gay rights--California--Los Angeles
Gay rights--United States--History--20th century