Knights of the Clock

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The Cloistered Order of Conclaved Knights of Sophisticracy,[1] more commonly known as the Knights of the Clock, was an interracial homophile social club based in Los Angeles, California. The Knights were founded by Merton Bird, an African-American man, and W. Dorr Legg, his white lover. Sources differ as to the founding date of the organization, variously citing it as 1949,[2] 1950,[3] and 1951.[4] Regardless of the exact date, the Knights was one of the earliest gay organizations in the United States, with only the Society for Human Rights (established 1924),[5] the Veterans Benevolent Association (established 1945)[6] and possibly the Mattachine Society (established 1950)[7] pre-dating it.

The Knights were primarily a social club, including people of both sexes and family members of couples.[2] They also tried to address social problems that affected interracial couples, including employment counseling[8] and locating integrated housing for same-sex couples.[1] To that end, the Knights discussed the possibility of establishing communes throughout its existence, although no such communes were ever established.[2]

Although social functions routinely attracted as many as 200 participants,[2] at its core the Knights always remained a numerically small group and eventually disbanded in the mid-1950s. Several Knights, including Bird and Legg, went on to join ONE, Inc., another early homophile organization.[9] Sociologist Laud Humphreys cited the Knights as an example of the ability of people of different races to cross racial barriers through commonality of sexual identification.[10]


  1. ^ a b Faderman and Timmons, p. 112
  2. ^ a b c d Humphreys, p. 51
  3. ^ Sagarin, p. 77
  4. ^ Sears, p. 119
  5. ^ Hogan and Hudson, p. 244
  6. ^ Archer, p. 110
  7. ^ Hogan and Hudson, pp. 382–3
  8. ^ White, p. 30
  9. ^ Faderman and Timmons, p. 116
  10. ^ Humphreys, p. 85


  • Archer, Bert (2004). The End of Gay: And the Death of Heterosexuality. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56025-611-7.
  • Faderman, Lillian and Stuart Timmons (2006). Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-02288-X.
  • Hogan, Steve and Lee Hudson (1998). Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia. New York, Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-3629-6.
  • Humphreys, Laud (1972). Out of the Closets; The Sociology of Homosexual Liberation. Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Prentice-Hall, ISBN 978-0-13-645317-8.
  • Sagarin, Edward (1975). Structure and Ideology in an Association of Deviants. Ayer Publishing. ISBN 0-405-07402-6.
  • Sears, James Thomas (2006). Behind the Mask of the Mattachine: The Hal Call Chronicles and the Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation. Psychology Press. ISBN 1-56023-187-4.
  • White, C. Todd (2009). Pre-Gay L.A.: A Social History of the Movement for Homosexual Rights. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-07641-9.