Harold "Hal" L. Call was born and reared in depression-era north-central Missouri. Growing up in rural Missouri during the twenties, this son of a Baptist, bible-toting mother learned early the sexual facts of life. His father's indiscriminate sexual affairs resulted in his parents' divorce when Hal was just ten.
The wiry kid who played croquet on a front lawn mowed by sheep and dressed in drag for a school play, also coped with his same-sex feelings at a time when discussion about sexuality of any type was forbidden.
After attending the University of Missouri, Call suspended his studies entering the Army in 1941, becoming an officer just as the United States was entering the Second World War. After serving in the Pacific theatre of the war, Call returned to Missouri to finish his journalism degree and began working for the Kansas City Star's advertising department.
While on a business trip, Call was arrested in Chicago's Lincoln Park on moral charge and, like many gay men of his generation, found his life irreversibly altered even though his case was dismissed.
He moved to San Francisco in 1952 and shortly thereafter became one of the most important, if controversial, figures in the American homophile movement. He took over the Mattachine Society in 1953. January 1955 he helped start the publishing of the Mattachine Review. In 1964 he was instrumental in the founding of the Society for Individual Right (SIR).
Call died at the age of 83 in The City he'd called home since the autumn of 1952. The Mattachine Society, Inc. had been the nation's first long-lasting, well-known, homosexual advocacy group.