Making Gay History | LGBTQ Oral Histories from the Archive
Summary: Intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history brought to you from rare archival interviews.
ONE, the first national gay magazine, attracted the attention of the FBI and was at the heart of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case. Dorr Legg, Martin Block, and Jim Kepner were key to ONE’s success. But don’t expect them to agree on its origin story. **For a historical overview of ONE magazine, ONE, Inc., and the history of the ONE Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries go here. The website has other useful LGBTQ educational links as well. *To explore the ONE Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries, go here. In 2010 NPR’s Tell Me More did a short piece on the archives, which you can listen to here. It features the voices of Jim Kepner and Edythe Eyde, the subject of this season one MGH episode.*For a biographical sketch of Dorr Legg from the GLBTQ Archives, go here. Please note that the bio misidentifies Legg’s lover at the time Legg moved to Los Angeles as Merton Bird, who was the founder of an early gay organization called the Knights of the Clock. According to Legg in his original MGH interview, his then lover’s name was Marvin Edwards. A 2010 article from the Gay & Lesbian Review set out to uncover the history of the little-known Knights of the Clock, of which Legg was an early member. The article also provides additional details about Legg’s life.*Check out Homophile Studies in Theory and Practice, edited by Legg, here. *While Dorr Legg, Jim Kepner, and Martin Block may not have been on the same page about ONE magazine’s origin story, they all chose to leave their personal papers to the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries. Dorr Legg’s papers can be found here. Jim Kepner’s papers can be found here. And to see what Martin Block’s papers contain and to read a brief bio of Block, go here.
Investigated by the FBI, blackmailed, but bold enough to keep going, Billye Talmadge was one of the early members of the earliest lesbian rights organization in the U.S., the Daughters of Bilitis. Read a brief biography of Billye Talmadge in this proudqueer.com article by Billye’s friend Suzanne Deakins. A short obituary of Billye appeared in the Bay Area Reporter. Billye Talmadge’s oral history can be found in Eric Marcus’s book Making Gay History.Watch a May 12, 1987 interview with Billye Talmadge from the Lesbian Herstory Archives’ Daughters of Bilitis Video Project.Check out Beyond the Mist, a book of Billye’s musings and poetry here. To learn more about the Daughters of Bilitis, read Marcia M. Gallo’s Different Daughters A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Movementand be sure to listen to our episode with DOB co-founders Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, too. For information about The Ladder, the magazine of the Daughters of Bilitis, read Malinda Lo’s AfterEllen.com article. And take a tour of a GLBT Historical Society exhibit about The Ladder in this video. The episode talks about the risk of arrest for male impersonation faced by women wearing fly-front jeans. In our MGH Shirley Willer episode, Willer, who was the one time president of DOB, talks about how wearing masculine attire made her the target of police brutality.
Read more about Harry Hay in his San Francisco Chronicle obituary. For a more in-depth look at the early days of the Mattachine Society, check out C. Todd White's Pre-Gay L.A.: A Social History of the Movement for Homosexual Rightsand James T. Sears’sBehind the Mask of the Mattachine: The Hal Call Chronicles and the Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation , and listen to our episodes featuring Chuck Rowland, Herb Selwyn, and Hal Call, who wrested control of the Mattachine from Hay, Rowland, and the other original members of the group.In the episode, Hay mentions the “call to the society” that the early Mattachine Society used to gauge the interest of potential new members in joining; you can see the prospectus in its entirety here. And you can listen to an episode from Devlyn Camp’s Mattachine Podcast about “The Call” here.In 1983 Vito Russo (whom you can hear in this MGH episode) interviewed Hay and Barbara Gittings (who was featured, along with her partner Kay Lahusen, in MGH episodes nine and 18) for his Our Time TV program. Here are part one and part two.Hay is featured in the 1984 documentary Before Stonewall, which also includes interviews with Edythe Eyde, Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny, Chuck Rowland, and Dr. Evelyn Hooker.As he says in the episode, Hay had a fondness for the word “fairy” and in 1979 he would go on to co-found the Radical Faeries. Philippe Roques made a documentary short about the movement titled Faerie Tales. The Radical Faeries website has a tribute page to founders Harry Hay and John Burnside.
On the occasion of Magnus Hirschfeld’s 150th birthday in May 2018, Eric Marcus traveled to Germany to find out more about this early champion of LGBTQ civil rights. Eric found a story of queer resistance, resilience, and a fascinating mystery involving a suitcase and a mask. From Eric Marcus: When I wrote the original 1992 edition of Making Gay History (which was then called Making History), my oral history book about the LGBTQ civil rights movement, I devoted just one paragraph to Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld’s work in the opening to the first chapter: More than four decades before World War II, the first organization for homosexuals was founded in Germany. The goals of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, as the organization was called, included the abolition of Germany’s anti-gay penal code, the promotion of public education about homosexuality, and the encouragement of homosexuals to take up the struggle for their rights. The rise of the Nazis put an end to the Scientific Humanitarian Committee and the homosexual rights movement in Germany. And that was it. Not even a mention of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld himself or his sexuality institute, which he founded in 1919. Considering that the focus of my book was the gay rights movement in the United States, that’s not so surprising. But given what I’ve come to learn about Dr. Hirschfeld and his pioneering work, as well as his influence on the founding of the movement here in the U.S., I’m sorry I didn’t at least include his name!So as you can hear in this episode of Making Gay History, three decades after I first started conducting interviews for my book, I took a deep dive into the life of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld. That included traveling to Berlin in May 2018 for the huge celebration in honor of the 150th birthday of Magnus Hirschfeld, interviews with Magnus Hirschfeld experts, an interview with a Canadian pack rat/citizen archivist who saved a suitcase full of long-lost Magnus Hirschfeld’s belongings, and a reenactment of Hirschfeld’s 1918 silent film, Different from the Others.As we traced the threads of history back in time, I came to discover that one of the threads of Magnus Hirschfeld’s history came back to the present day and had a direct connection to our Making Gay History family. Here’s the story. Before I left for Berlin, I found out that our photo editor, Michael Green (who also happened to be the original publicist on the Making History book back in 1992) was going to be in Berlin with his partner, Ilan Meyer, too. Ilan was heading to Berlin for a family reunion. It wasn’t until Michael and I were having lunch after our tour of the Schwules Museum and we were waiting for Ilan to join us that I discovered the reunion Ilan was attending was for Magnus Hirschfeld’s family, which had been decimated during the Holocaust and the survivors scattered across the globe. Turns out Ilan, who grew up in Israel, is a cousin of Magnus Hirschfeld.
This season, Making Gay History uncovers voices from the early movement for LGBTQ civil rights. Eric Marcus introduces trailblazers from as far back as Germany in the late 1800s to the folks who stood up and stepped up for equal rights in the US in the 20th century. Photo information,clockwise from upper left: Martha Shelley at the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, 1969. Credit: Photo by Diana Davies courtesy of Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. Bayard Rustin at a news briefing on the Civil Rights March on Washington in the Statler Hotel, August 27, 1963. Credit: Photo by Warren K. Leffler courtesy of Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsc-01272. Ernestine Eckstein on the cover of The Ladder in June 1966. Credit: Courtesy of Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library . Harry Hay press release still for Clifford Odets' "Til the Day I Die," May 1935. Credit: ONE Archives at the USC Libraries
Season Four of Making Gay History will feature more never-before-heard archival interviews with trailblazers from LGBTQ history. This season will trace some of the earliest moments and movements. These are powerful, life-affirming and life-changing conversations.*Support our show by donating here*That’s according to our listeners - who made this trailer. Episode Transcript:I’m Eric Marcus and this is...MGH listeners: Making Gay History.Eric: I know, I know, it’s been a while. But Season Four of Making Gay History is almost here! And while we’ve been working on it, tens of thousands more of you have found the show. Karen: My name is Karen Havelin.Mary: I’m Mary Rand.Daltin: I’m Daltin.Margaret: Hi, my name is Margaret.Eve: My name is Eve.Patrick: Patrick Keller.Mike: This is Mike Wegner.Sama: Hello, my name is Sama Belomo, I’m from Baltimore, Maryland.Karen: And I’m a 37-year-old writer from Bergen, Norway.Mike: I’m a truck driver in Texas.Mary: I’m an 18-year-old college student from Rochester, New York.Eve: I’m from Heber City, Utah.Daltin: I’m 15 years old.Margaret: I am 54 years old, I live in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, and I identify as a dyke.Eric: You’ve been downloading our first three seasons and hearing first-hand the stories of queer struggle, resistance and resilience that have shaped America. And you’ve been contacting us to tell us how you’ve been affected by the show. And we wanted to share some of what you’ve told us. Mary: After quietly coming out a year ago, I found that tapping into my newfound history as a trans person was the best way to break a feeling of isolation that I’d felt since childhood. I listen to Making Gay History because it tells me that I am not and never was alone.Karen: It reminds me that people have lived their lives and shown courage in the face of terrible times before - that they had love, friends, and lives even if no one was encouraging them.Daltin: As a teenager, I feel kids my age can often forget the importance of the past. Many of these LGBT and ally voices have been buried and forgotten.Margaret: And if it wasn’t for all of them, I would not be a wife, and being Kelly’s wife is everything. We should all know our history.Carson: We can’t move forward without knowing where we’ve been. Making Gay History tells stories from a time when it wasn’t possible or safe to tell the whole truth. What makes this podcast incredible is that they tell stories that might have otherwise gone untold, and that’s powerful.Eric: Thirty years ago, I was lucky enough to meet scores of people from out of our past who have inspired me to do the work I do. And now I’m inspired by all of you because you all are making gay history. Patrick: Making Gay History is the first podcast I listen to when it pops up in my player. And I listen to a ton of podcasts. Not many of them have moved me to tears, though.Sama: I read along with the podcast transcripts, which makes it accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing like me. And sometimes I have to take breaks because it’s so emotionally charged.Rachel: I weep through each episode and always come out the other side feeling more included, more knowledgeable, and more in control of my own sense of history.Mike: Â And it’s just been fantastic and I can’t wait to get more episodes.Eric: Thanks for showing up. Thanks for being you. And thanks for listening. Now go tell everyone you know to subscribe to Making Gay History. And if they don’t know what a podcast is, send them to our website, makinggayhistory.com, where there’s a handy how-to guide for new listeners. We’ll be back soon with Season Four. So long, until next time!Blaine: I think of Morris Kight saying “I never thought that I was inferior, no matter what anyone told me.” So thanks. I hope you have a listen.
May 11, 1935 - June 22nd, 2018. Dick Leitch, Kentucky native, New Yorker at heart, one-time president of the Mattachine Society of New York, was an early gay rights advocate who challenged police entrapment and championed the rights of gay people to get a drink without fear of harassment or prison.
Join us as Making Gay History pulls up a chair at Kay Tobin Lahusen’s monthly gay dinner table. Spend some time with this gang of elders and hear how love, friendship, and activism live on for these trailblazers—even in their retirement community.
Four stories of the moments that changed everything. The right to love and be loved for who we are has always been a driving force in the fight for LGBT civil rights and in this special bonus episode Eric shares love stories from his archive featuring activists who helped change the course of history. Happy Valentines Day! And if V-Day is Me-Day for you, treat yourself to reading about the incredible lovers in this episode here: http://makinggayhistory.com/podcast/bonus-episode-love-is-love/First aired February 14th 2017.
Teenaged Morty Manford came of age in the 1960s, at a time when psychiatrists often did more harm than good with young people struggling to come to terms with their sexuality in a world that had nothing nice to say about homosexuals. But once Morty settled his internal civil war, he jumped with both feet into a social justice movement that would change how he saw himself and how the world thought of and treated LGBTQ people.From 1970 until he returned to college at Columbia University in the mid-1970s, Morty’s primary involvement was with the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), where he ultimately became president. He also co-founded, with his mother Jeanne Manford, an organization for parents of gay people that today is known as PFLAG. You can hear Morty and Jeanne tell that story in their Making Gay History Season One episode, which I recommend listening to before listening to this episode. Morty Manford’s papers are housed at the New York Public Library. You can learn more about the collection and read a summary of Morty’s life and contributions to the movement here. CountyHistorian.com also offers an overview of Morty’s life and includes a long list of articles for anyone interested in more detailed background on Morty, his contributions, and the times in which he lived. You can find the entry about Morty here.You can read Morty’s oral history in the 1992 edition of Making Gay History.Morty speaks about both the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA). For a brief summary about the two organizations and their differences, read this article by Linda Rapp from the GLBTQ Archive. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) kept files on the GAA and the organization’s activities.From 1971 to 1974, GAA was headquartered in this firehouse in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. You can read about GAA members storming the offices of Harper’s Magazine in 1970 to protest a recently published a homophobic article here.A pivotal event in Morty’s life was witnessing a 1970 march through Greenwich Village in protest against a police raid of the Snake Pit bar. In his Making Gay History interview Morty states that the raid took place in February 1970. It was in fact March 8, 1970. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project has an entry for the Snake Pit bar on their website, which includes photographs of the raid, a flyer calling for a protest (the one that caught Morty’s attention), and an article published in the New York Times the day after the protest.
Greg Brock blazed a trail for LGBTQ journalists by being himself at a time when doing that could sabotage your career or cost you your job. But Greg didn't just come out on the job, he came out to everyone on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" for the first National Coming Out Day on October 11, 1988. ———In 2012, Greg was awarded the Silver Em by the University of Mississippi. The article provides a great overview of Greg’s career as a journalist.*Read Greg Brock’s oral history in Making Gay History, which includes his account of two gay bashings that contributed to his determination to live his life out of the closet.*The June 1989 “Gay In America” sixteen-day San Francisco Examiner newspaper series that Greg Brock championed along with editor Carol Ness can be found in the collection of the Oakland Museum of California. You can see a closeup of the series’ cover poster here.*To hear about the experiences of journalists who came out on the job when most journalists working in mainstream media were still closeted, have a listen to our episode featuring the late CNN anchor Tom Cassidy. We also recommend a terrific audio documentary about New York Times journalist Jeffrey Schmalz called “Dying Words: The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How It Transformed the New York Times.”
Paulette Goodman’s experience of growing up as a Jewish child in Paris during the Nazi occupation gave her a unique perspective as the parent of a gay child who faced discrimination in the country where Paulette’s family sought refuge. Paulette knew what it meant to be different, to be demonized, and to have your life threatened because of who you were. And she brought all that experience to bear in her work with PFLAG (formerly known as Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).During Paulette’s years heading PFLAG’s Washington, DC, chapter and subsequent tenure as president of the national PFLAG Federation, from 1988 to 1992, she used her powers of persuasion, the media, and her standing as a gray-haired mom to carry the ball forward in the fight for LGBTQ equal rights.To learn more abou Paulette’s role in the movement, have a look at the information, links, photographs, and episode transcript that follow below.———For a quick summary of Paulette Goodman’s work with PFLAG and numerous honors, have a look at her Wikipedia entry.In 1992 Paulette gave a speech on “Why Our Kids Need Civil Rights” to the City Club of Portland, Oregon. Have a listen and you’ll see why Paulette was such an effective advocate..You’ll find Paulette Goodman’s oral history in Making Gay History, the book. For more information about PFLAG national, visit the organization’s website. We also recommend listening to the Making Gay History episode that features PFLAG co-founders Jeanne and Morty Manford. Have a look at this collection of PFLAG buttons and photos from PFLAG covering the period from 1972 to 1992. In 2003, Paulette founded PFLAG Riderwood, the first PFLAG chapter based in a retirement community. Read an article about Paulette and the group here. And watch a short 2014 video in which Paulette talks about the Riderwood chapter.
Morris Kight was a whirling dervish champion of LGBTQ civil rights. He cut his activist teeth in the labor, civil rights, and anti-war movements, and from 1969 on brought all his passion to bear on catapulting himself and L.A.’s gay liberation efforts onto center stage.To learn more about Morris, have a look at the information, links, photographs, and episode transcript that follow below.Mary Ann Cherry, Morris Kight’s biographer, maintains a website about Morris. There is also a Morris Kight Facebook page.The LGBT_History Instagram account offered a concise summary of Morris Kight’s life and contributions on November 19, 2017, what would have been Morris’ 98th birthday .Morris Kight’s papers and photographs are housed at the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries.In his Making Gay History interview, Morris talks about the horrific March 1969 beating death at the hands of Los Angeles police, which galvanized local activists. You can read about the murder here and here.Morris Kight was a co-founder with the Rev. Troy Perry, of the Christopher Street West parade, which was held to mark the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City. Read more about the organization that oversees the annual L.A. Pride Parade and Festival here.The fight over an anti-gay sign at Barney’s Beanery, a Los Angeles restaurant, figured prominently as the first major protest organized by the Los Angeles Gay Liberation Front, which was co-founded by Morris Kight (and was a sister organization of the Gay Liberation Front organization founded in New York City immediately after the Stonewall uprising in June 1969).Morris Kight co-founded the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in 1969. Today the Los Angeles LGBT Center is the world’s largest.In 1975, Morris co-founded the Stonewall Democratic Club..Morris Kight’s house (where he lived before his Making Gay History interview), is listed as an historic site by the Los Angeles Conservancy.Morris played the grumpy poet in Leather Jacket Love Story (1997), a film about a gay aspiring poet in L.A. He’s also the subject of the short film Live on Tape: The Life & Times of Morris Kight, Liberator (1999).Morris Kight died on January 19, 2003. His obituary appeared in the the L.A. Times.
Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were the originals. With six other women, they co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis - the very first lesbian organization in the US. DOB seems tame and timid today, but in 1955 it was risky and radical for a fearful time.Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin’s papers are housed with the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco . Find an overview of the collection here. Watch a trailer for It’s No Secret Anymore: The Times of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. The 2003 film documents both their relationship and their public life.The Gay and Lesbian Review published an article in 2012 about Del, Phyllis, and the history of DOB. The article includes a fun caricature of Del and Phyllis.In this picture book for children, Del and Phyllis point out landmarks they can see from the window of their home in San Francisco. They also talk about the changes they have seen throughout their lives for women and gay people.Here’s a brief overview of the history of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). To learn more about the Daughters of Bilitis, we recommend Marcia Gallo’s book, Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Birth of the Lesbian Rights Movement.
Until 1981, Larry Kramer was best known for his Academy Award-nominated screenplay for “Women in Love” and Faggots, his controversial novel about New York City’s gay subculture in the post-Stonewall 1970s. And then he picked up the New York Times on the morning of July 3 and read about a rare cancer found in forty-one gay men. It was in that moment that Larry Kramer was—to quote gay rights champion Frank Kameny—radicalized. Larry went on to co-found GMHC (originally known as the Gay Men’s Health Crisis) and ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), two of the leading organizations that responded to the AIDS epidemic.To learn more about Larry Kramer’s activism and his career as a writer, have a look at the information, links, photos, and episode transcript at www.makinggayhistory.com