Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Project


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Citizens to Retain Fair Employment (CRFE)

Probably no local gay organization was so firmly linked in the public eye with one individual than the Dorian Group was with gay downtown businessman Charlie Brydon. A successor to the Dorian Society, an earlier homophile organization,
Dorian Group mixed social gatherings with unobtrusive networking with political and civic leaders. Brydon had opened his insurance agency in 1974, and was able to draw Dorian’s core membership from gay, downtown and mostly male business owners.

In 1975 Brydon supported Mayor Wes Uhlman in a recall campaign and, for the first time, showed that an organizer within the gay community could raise significant money for a candidate. That positioned him for the key role he was to play in the Initiative 13 campaign.

In order to keep the Dorian Group’s educational and social activities separate from the campaign, the group spun off Citizens to Retain Fair Employment to raise funds and, when the time came, to promote the opposition position in the Seattle media. CRFE’s endorsers included prominent figures from the religious, civic, and non-profit realms.

While the 1960s-era Dorian Society had to operate in a climate of caution -- its members used pseudonyms to protect their careers -- the Dorian Group and CRFE emerged in a decade when the gay community was already visible. An outspoken gay and lesbian liberation movement had taken to the streets. Many members of the latter did not appreciate what they viewed as back door politicking and sought to make their own voices heard. Brydon became the most visible focus of their mistrust and criticism, accusing him of being a limelight seeker. Brydon earnestly insisted otherwise.

Working through established channels, CRFE made the right to privacy the theme of their campaign. It was an issue identified by contracted consultants which, if played right, could awaken the voters’ misgivings over government intrusion.

CRFE’s entrepreneurial membership raised a large war chest, enabling it to sponsor TV and radio ads. Notable among these was a television spot showing a family at dinner. As the camera slowly backs away, the viewer becomes aware that they are under surveillance. There was also an ominous print media graphic designed by Walt Crowley showing an eye peering from a keyhole.

A principal thrust of CRFE’s approach was to demonstrate, in press conferences and other public events, that mainstream civic leaders were on board with the Seattle live-and-let-live lifestyle. And many of them celebrated with CRFE’s supporters at the victory party in the Eagles Auditorium.

In this section Charles Brydon elaborates on political style and strategy. Randy Henson recalls the campaign as a coming out experience. And Roger Winters digs into the nitty-gritty of campaigning, and the contrasts between CRFE and Seattle Committee Against Thirteen.

CRFE victory celebration

Citizens to Retain Fair Employment -- Contents

Oral Histories:

Charles Brydon

Randy Henson

Roger Winters

Documents and Images:

Keyhole ad

[other documents, to come]

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