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.
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
In 1983, Deborah Johnson and Zandra Rolón Amato went to a Los Angeles restaurant for what was supposed to be a romantic dinner. Instead they wound up in court, and won. Represented by Gloria Allred. their landmark discrimination case has particular resonance today, as a growing number of Americans claim they have a legal right to discriminate against LGBTQ people, most famously in the case of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, which you can read about here.
You may know his face from an iconic 1953 photo booth photo. But there’s a full life’s story behind that photo that includes love, heartbreak, Alfred Kinsey, and fighting for trans rights.
Everybody loves Ellen. But that wasn’t always so. When she came out on screen and in real life the backlash was fierce and her future cast in doubt. In this 2001 interview hear a beloved icon at a crossroads.
Sergeant Perry Watkins played by the rules. The U.S military did not. Drafted in 1968, he was thrown out fifteen years later despite his honesty and stellar record of service. He fought back and won.
Welcome back to Sylvia’s kitchen, for the second part of a never-before-heard interview from 1989. Pull up a chair for a conversation with the Stonewall veteran and trans rights pioneer who reflects on a life of activism while she cooks a pot of chili.
We’re back with more stories from queer history as told by the people who lived it. Drawing on decades-old archival audio tape, you’ll hear intimate, personal interviews with LGBTQ civil rights pioneers.
Already a visionary with her pioneering lesbian 'zine Vice Versa in the 1940s, "Gay Gal" Edythe Eyde broke the mold again when she started singing positive ballads and gay-friendly parodies in LA's gay clubs in the 1950s.
Season 3 arrives Oct 22nd! While you wait, here's another chance to hear trans icon, and Stonewall uprising veteran Sylvia Rivera relive that June 1969 night in vivid detail and describe her struggle for recognition in the movement.