Hal Call

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Harold Leland "Hal" Call (September 1917[1]–December 18, 2000[2]) was an American businessman and LGBT rights activist. Born and raised in Grundy County, Missouri, Call enrolled in the University of Missouri in 1935 on a scholarship. He studied journalism. Call enlisted in the United States Army in June 1941 as a private. He was promoted to sergeant within the year and, after completing Officer Candidate School was promoted to lieutenant. He saw combat in the Pacific Theater, where he was wounded and received the Purple Heart. Returning to the United States in 1945, Call left the Army at the rank of captain and returned to the University of Missouri to complete his journalism degree.[3]

After graduating Call worked for several news outlets, including the Kansas City Star.[4] In August 1952, while working for the Star, Call was arrested for "lewd conduct" and paid an $800 bribe to have the charges dismissed. Call resigned his job and he and his lover Jack moved to San Francisco.[5]

With his arrival in the city, Call became involved with the Mattachine Society, the first sustained gay rights group in the United States. Following the resignations of the original leadership in 1953, Call became president of the Society.[6] Call frequently appeared on local television programs in the 1950s, one of the few openly gay men who spoke about gay issues, and appeared both in The Rejected, the first-ever television documentary on homosexuality,[7] and "CBS Reports: The Homosexuals", the first network broadcast on the subject.

In 1955 Call co-founded Pan Graphic Press, which printed The Mattachine Review, The Ladder and other homophile publications. He also founded Dorian Book Service, a gay and lesbian literature clearinghouse.[8] With the liberalization of obscenity laws beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Call began marketing gay erotica through the Adonis Bookstore, the first gay adult shop in San Francisco. He later expanded the business to include peep shows, eventually opening the Circle J club as a venue for screening pornographic films and hosting "circle jerk" parties. Call also began filming pornographic "loops" of men masturbating on a gold couch in his office. These Gold Couch Capers became collector's items.[9]

Hal Call died in San Francisco on December 18, 2000, at the age of 83.[2]


  1. ^ Bullough, p. 151
  2. ^ a b "Transitions". The Advocate. 2001-01-30. p. 18. 
  3. ^ Bullough, p. 152
  4. ^ Marcus, Eric (1992). Making history : the struggle for gay and lesbian equal rights. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-016708-4. 
  5. ^ Bullough, p. 154
  6. ^ Loughery, pp. 228–29
  7. ^ Castañeda, et al., p. 259
  8. ^ Bullough, p. 155
  9. ^ Szymanski, Zak (2005-11-24). "Historic Circle J club closing". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved 2010-08-10. 


  • Bullough, Vern L. (2002). Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. Routledge. ISBN 1-56023-193-9.
  • Castañeda, Laura, and Campbell, Shannon B. (2005). News and Sexuality: Media Portraits of Diversity. SAGE. ISBN 1-4129-0999-6.
  • Loughery, John (1998). The Other Side of Silence – Men's Lives and Gay Identities: A Twentieth-Century History. New York, Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-3896-5.

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