- Category : 1917-births
- Type : GP
- Profile : 1/4 - Investigating / Opportunist
- Definition : Split - Small (5,27,28,34)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Laws 3
American gay rights activist, playwright and author, who was one of the founders of the Mattachine Society, one of the earliest homophile (gay rights) organizations in the United States.
In November 1950, Jennings accompanied his then-boyfriend Bob Hull, to a Los Angeles meeting with Harry Hay and Chuck Rowland to discuss a prospectus that had called on the “androgynies of the world” to unite. This meeting began the first official meeting of the International Bachelors Fraternal Order for Peace and Social Dignity, which would later be renamed as the Mattachine Society. The society sought to gain acceptance through greater communication between homosexuals and heterosexuals. The group began to grow and by the summer of that year they had adopted official missions and purposes which proclaimed homosexuals to be one of the largest minorities in America.
In the spring of 1952 Jennings was arrested for allegedly soliciting a police officer in a toilet in Westlake Park, now known as MacArthur Park. The trial that took place drew national attention to the Mattachine Society and membership increased drastically due to the decision of the Mattachine Society to help contest the charges brought against Jennings. Jennings called fellow Mattachine founder Harry Hay, and they enlisted the help of attorney George Sibley, a member of the Citizens' Council to Outlaw Entrapment. Jennings was one of the first homosexual men to contest charges such as this one. Most homosexuals at the time pleaded guilty so as not to be publicly scrutinized. His decision to fight back was a pivotal point in the movement. The organization raised funds and promoted Jennings’ case nationally. The trial began on 23 June 1952 and lasted ten days. Jennings confessed to being a homosexual but denied any wrongdoing. While there were different accounts of what exactly occurred that day, by the end of the trial the jury voted 11–1 for acquittal on the basis of police intimidation, harassment, and entrapment of homosexuals, and the case was dismissed.
His novel, The Cowboys, based on a film treatment he sold to Warner Bros., caused considerable controversy among publishers due to its glimmers of homoeroticism. The Cowboys was made into a film of the same name in 1972, starring John Wayne.
He died on 11 May 2000, aged 82, at Specialty Hospital in La Mirada, California.