Morris Kight papers and photographs
Scope and Contents
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.
- circa 1920-2003
- Majority of material found within 1980 - 2000
- Kight, Morris (Person)
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.
Researchers wishing to publish material must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives as the physical owner of the material. Note that permission to publish does not constitute copyright clearance. ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials from the copyright holder(s).
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 more widely adopted the direct-action approach Kight had appreciated in other progressive non-violent organizations. The first and successful target GLF protests was Barneys Beanery’s "Fagots [sic] Stay Out!" signs.
Later, 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 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.
27.5 Linear Feet (13 records boxes, 1 shoe box, 3 flat boxes, 8 clamshell photograph binders )
Language of Materials
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.
Relocated to the ONE Periodical Collection:
This Week in Texas, November 19-25, 1993; December 3-9, 1993
Relocated to the ONE Video Collection:
VHS copy of Steven J. McCarthy's televison program DISH with Morris Kight as a guest, call number VV1350.
"A Report from the Front: The Gay Liberation Front, 1969-1996", by Morris Kight for the Humanist Association of Los Angeles. June 6, 1996, 88 minutes * Service Honoring Morris Kight, with Reverend Joseph Gilbert and Reverend Ro Hatford of Metropolitcan Community Church. May 29, 1994, 1 hour 40 minutes. (JUSTICE VISION), call number VV2816
Early L.A. Gay and Lesbian History- James Furhman Interviews Morris Kight, call number VV2815
Excerpt From West Hollywood City Council Meeting, June 1, 1998; Item Relating to Coors Resolution; West Hollywood CityChannel10, call number VV2814
From Vienna - 1995 New Years Celebration, call number VV2813
Heart to Heart- Two Conversations Between Robert Hales and Morris Kight, Taped: Friday, November 12, 1999, call number VV2812
Heart to Heart- Two Conversations with Morris Kight, call number VV2812
Honoring the Lesbain, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Class of 1999, UCLA's 2nd Annual Lavender Graduation- June 19, 1999, 82 minutes, Call number VV2811
The Life and Times of Morris Kight- Liberator, Call number VV2810
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, 7.30.02, 3:21, Part One, Call number VV2809
1. Morris Kight with Delta Productions, 2. Pat Jordan Talking About Pat Rocco, Call number VV2808
Morris Kight/MMOW, Call number VV2807
Morris KTLA-TV, Call number VV2806
Personal Best with Morris Kight, 3/19/01, TRT 28:30, Call number VV2805
West Hollywood Citychannel 10, Show#47- "Voices of our lives: Morris Kight," Call number VV2804
Relocated to the ONE Banner Collection:
National March on Washingtion for Lesbian and Gay Rights, October 11, 1987
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival 1992
"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.
- Finding aid of the Morris Kight Papers and Photographs
- Michael C. Oliveira
- © 2011
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in: English
Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles California 90007 United States