Making Gay History | LGBTQ Oral Histories from the Archive

By Eric Marcus

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 Jun 21, 2020

 Jun 27, 2019
Amazing history from Eric Marcus, a national treasure.

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 Jul 7, 2018


Intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history brought to you from rare archival interviews.

Episode Date
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 13: Larah Helayne & Jean O’Leary
When high schooler Larah Helayne heard MGH’s episode with Jean O’Leary, it changed the course of her life. Plans to become a nun gave way for a new role as an LGBTQ trailblazer. In this season finale, we celebrate the history-makers who came before and those who follow in their footsteps. Visit the webpages for our Season Two episodes with Jean O'Leary—part 1 and part 2—for background information, archival photos, and other resources.
Jun 18, 2020
Introducing Those Who Were There: Voices from the Holocaust — Leon Bass
MGH is Eric Marcus’s first love. But he also co-produces Those Who Were There. Have a listen to this episode featuring Leon Bass. He faced racism growing up in 1930s Philadelphia, in the Army during WWII, and discovered its ultimate endpoint at a German concentration camp. Subscribe to Those Who Were There: Voices from the Holocaust wherever you get your podcasts, or visit 
Jun 14, 2020
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 12: Bayard Rustin
Making Gay History stands with the countless Americans protesting systemic racism and the deaths of black and brown people at the hands of the police. And we draw inspiration from civil rights heroes like Bayard Rustin, an out and proud black gay man who dedicated his life to fighting injustice. Visit our Season Four episode webpage for background information, archival photos, and other resources.
Jun 07, 2020
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 11: Larry Kramer
June 25, 1935 - May 27, 2020. In the early ’80s, author and playwright Larry Kramer was one of the first people to sound the alarm about AIDS. He became one of the loudest voices in the fight against the epidemic, calling an indifferent world to account. Visit our Season Three episode webpage for background information, archival photos, and other resources.
May 29, 2020
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 10: Perry Watkins
When Perry Watkins was drafted in 1968, he assumed the Army would reject him for being gay. They didn’t. When they got rid of him after 15 years of service, he fought back. As we face the systemic inequalities Covid-19 has once again laid bare, an enraging tale of prejudice, triumph, and tragedy. Visit our Season Three episode webpage for background information, archival photos, and other resources.
May 23, 2020
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 9: Joyce Hunter
In 1939 Joyce Hunter was born into a world so hostile it’s a wonder she wasn’t crushed. Instead, the challenges and brutality she faced proved to be the launchpad for an expansive life of pioneering activism and accomplishment. A guiding light in tough times. Visit our Season Two episode webpage for background information, archival photos, and other resources.
May 16, 2020
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 8: Morris Foote
In late 1955, the police of Boise, Idaho, started a sweeping investigation into an alleged “homosexual underground.” Fearing arrest, Morris Foote fled town, not to return till 20 years later. A story of Pride from the U.S. heartland to remind us that what unites us transcends red/blue state divides. Visit our Season Two episode webpage for background information, archival photos, and other resources.
May 09, 2020
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 7: Ellen DeGeneres
Today, Ellen DeGeneres needs no introduction. But as she explained in a 2001 MGH interview, her very public 1997 coming out took a dramatic professional and personal toll. When life goes off the rails, there’s no knowing what the future holds. We’re challenged to push ahead to fight for better days. Visit our Season Three episode webpage for background information, archival photos, and other resources.
May 02, 2020
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 6: Kay Lahusen's Gay Table
When did you make gay history? Join host Eric Marcus, pioneering photojournalist Kay Lahusen, and a group of LGBTQ history-making elders for their monthly retirement community dinner. Happy memories from the recent pre-pandemic past. To see photos from the dinner, visit the webpage of our original Season Three bonus episode. To hear our two episodes featuring Kay Lahusen and her partner, Barbara Gittings, go here and here.
Apr 25, 2020
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 5: Vito Russo
Vito Russo’s legacy—as a film historian, activist, and co-founder of GLAAD and ACT UP—is hard to overstate. In this 1988 interview, legacy was also very much on Vito’s mind: it was the height of the AIDS epidemic, which had claimed Vito’s boyfriend, and now Vito was sick, too. As we remember the people lost to the current pandemic, listen to Vito reflect on what it means to leave something behind. Visit our Season One episode webpage for background information, archival photos, and other resources.
Apr 18, 2020
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 4: Shirley Willer
“I’ve spent a large percent of my life being angry.” That was Shirley Willer, reflecting on the death of a close friend and fellow nurse who in 1947 received fatally inadequate hospital care because he was gay. Shirley channeled her anger into activism in the early homophile movement—let’s listen to her story as we face the challenge of what to do with our own anger during this pandemic that has upended our lives.  Visit our Season Two episode webpage for background information, archival photos, and other resources.
Apr 11, 2020
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 3: Wendell Sayers
Wendell Sayers understood isolation. Born in western Kansas in 1904, Wendell was the first black lawyer to work for Colorado’s attorney general; living openly as a gay man wasn’t an option. When he attended meetings of the Mattachine Society in the 1950s, his race set him apart. Yet Wendell created a world for himself where he found purpose and meaning. Visit our Season One episode webpage for background information, archival photos, and other resources.
Apr 04, 2020
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 2: Edythe Eyde
Musical uplift for anxious times. When Eric Marcus interviewed lesbian publishing pioneer Edythe Eyde in 1989, she treated him to a concert for one on her front porch singing her gay songs from the '50s and ‘60s. You can’t not smile. Visit the webpage of our Season One episode featuring Edythe Eyde for background information, archival photos, and other resources.
Mar 28, 2020
Revisiting the Archive: Episode 1: Frank Kameny
In 1957, Frank Kameny was fired from his job at the U.S. Army Map Service for being gay. He went on to fight the federal government for 14 years and never lost his resolve. And he won! Inspiration for us all in these challenging times. Visit our Season One episode webpage for background information, archival photos, and other resources.
Mar 21, 2020
Bonus: From the Vault: Sylvia Rivera & Marsha P. Johnson, 1970
In 1970, a young radio reporter recorded an interview with Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and other members of the newly formed Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries—STAR. Nearly 50 years later, MGH unearthed their remarkable conversation in a basement archive.  Episode Notes: Find out more about Sylvia Rivera in our two-part 1989 interview with her here and here. For more Marsha P. Johnson, listen to this MGH episode, which features a 1989 interview with her and her then-roommate, fellow activist Randy Wicker. Marsha and Sylvia were also featured in the second and third episodes of our Stonewall 50 season. For a deeper dive into the lives and activism of Sylvia and Marsha, check out the resources listed on the webpages of each of the episodes linked above.
Dec 27, 2019
Season 6: Episode 5: Damien Martin
Damien Martin grew up in foster care and on the streets of Philadelphia, so he knew all too well about the needs of vulnerable youth. In 1979, when he and his partner, Dr. Emery Hetrick, heard about a 15-year-old gay kid thrown out of a shelter after being gang-raped, they decided to take action. Episode Notes: Learn more about Damien Martin in his 1991 New York Times obituary here. Damien’s oral history can be found in Eric Marcus’s book Making Gay History. Read the 1987 obituary of Dr. Emery Hetrick, Damien’s partner in life and work, here. Damien and Emery are buried together in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery; their gravestone reads, “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” Their relationship was also featured in Making Gay History’s “Love is Love” bonus episode.  Eric first encountered Damien and Emery in the 1984 New York Times article “Homosexual Couples Find a Quiet Pride.” Read it here. You can watch two interviews with Damien on the Gay Cable Network online. The first, which aired April 14, 1991, is part of a segment on LGBTQ youth and begins at about the 5:00 mark here. The second aired August 15, 1991, the same day Damien passed away from AIDS-related complications. It begins at the 48:11 mark here.  In the episode, Damien talks about his involvement with the New York chapter of Dignity, a Catholic LGBTQ organization. Dignity was founded in 1969; learn about its history here. The records of the organization’s New York chapter are kept at the LGBT Center Archives in New York City. In 1979, Damien and Emery founded the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth (IPLGY), later renamed the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI). Read more about the organization’s history here, and about the services they provide here.  IPLGY’s name offered a rebuttal to the so-called Save Our Children campaign of the late 1970s, which was led by Florida Citrus Commission spokesperson and one-time pop singer and beauty queen Anita Bryant. Learn more about Bryant and her hateful anti-LGBTQ campaign here and here. Boycotts and protests were organized by outraged LGBTQ groups across the country. IPLGY opened its first office in 1983. In 1984, it established the Harvey Milk High School in partnership with the New York City Department of Education to provide LGBTQ youth with access to a public education in a safe environment.  Damien and Emery’s organizational efforts and research on LGBTQ youth provided a common language and citable resources to help professionals advocate for LGBTQ youth in schools. For some of Damien’s academic publications, see “The Perennial Canaanites: The Sin of Homosexuality”; “The Minority Question”; and a short excerpt of “Learning to Hide: The Socialization of the Gay Adolescent.”  Joyce Hunter (whom Damien mentions in the episode when he talks about the Latinx kid who was surprised to learn that there were old gay people) was one of IPLGY’s first employees and a co-founder of the Harvey Milk High School. Joyce was featured in her own Making Gay History episode here. In 1986, Damien and Joyce testified to Congress on behalf of LGBTQ youth; you can read their statement here. HMI publishes material geared toward LGBTQ teens, including the comic book Tales of the Closet by Ivan Velez, Jr. The first issue was dedicated to Damien and Emery; you can read it here. The second issue included a message from Damien to LGBTQ youth. The organization that Damien and Emery founded continues to grow. Learn about HMI New Jersey here. Damien and Emery’s cat, Radclyffe Hall, was named after the author of the lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness. Hall’s papers are currently being digitized by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dec 19, 2019
Season 6: Episode 4: Nancy Walker
In 1976 Nancy Walker joined the Gay Community News, an influential Boston-based weekly paper. She was in her 40s, an outspoken New Yorker, and a moderate pragmatist. Not surprisingly, Nancy and the younger, more radical GCN staff often locked horns... Episode Notes: Read more about Nancy Walker’s contributions to the LGBTQ civil rights movement in Eric Marcus’s book, Making Gay History. You can read some of Nancy’s prose and poetry in this memorial book, compiled after her death in 1996. Also, listen to our Love Is Love episode, in which Nancy talks about Penny, the love of her life.  The Community Homophile Association of Toronto (CHAT) was Nancy’s first activist home. Learn more about CHAT in this video. Listen to the oral histories of CHAT founding members Elgin Blair and George Hislop, and member Pat Murphy, kept by the ArQuives, Canada’s LGBTQ2+ archive.  While a member of CHAT, Nancy began writing for the Body Politic. You can read an article she wrote about coming out here. Nancy started working for Boston’s Gay Community News (GNC) in 1976. Read more about this important newspaper, which ceased publication in 1992, here and in Amy Hoffman’s memoir, An Army of Ex-Lovers: My Life at the Gay Community News. Watch this interview with GCN co-founder David Peterson. You can check out the paper’s very first issues and many others from the first few years online. The GCN archives are kept at the Northeastern University Archives. In 1982, arsonists set fire to the GCN offices (reported on in the feminist and gay press at the time). You can listen to audio interviews with GCN journalists directly after the incident here. In the episode, Nancy mentions Charley Shively and his infamous bible burning at the 1977 gay pride rally in Boston; read the speech Charley delivered here. You can learn more about Charley here and here, or read an issue of his publication, Fag Rag, online here. Physical copies of Fag Rag’s full run can be found here and at many LGBTQ archives.  In 1979, Nancy attended the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Learn more about it here, listen to audio from the march here and here, read the program of events, and see it in pictures here.
Dec 05, 2019
Season 6: Episode 3: Barbara Smith
For nearly half a century, Barbara Smith has been speaking truth to power—as a woman against misogyny, as an African American against racism, as a lesbian against homophobia, and as a black lesbian against those in the gay rights movement who sideline the concerns of LGBTQ people of color.  Episode Notes: Get better acquainted with Barbara Smith by watching this short video. For an in-depth look at her life and work, read Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith, edited by Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks. Listen to Barbara talk about coming out here, and check out her oral history, which is kept at Smith College.  For more on Barbara’s broad and intersectional social justice agenda, read this Autostraddle interview and watch this lecture. Read about her frustrations with the mainstream LGBTQ civil rights movement in the Nation and the New York Times. Watch her in conversation with young black feminist leaders here. For a list of books she’s written and edited, go here.  In 1974, Barbara co-founded the Combahee River Collective. She was one of the primary authors of its statement, a powerful articulation of lesbian-inclusive black feminist politics.  In 1977, Barbara published “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism,” the groundbreaking essay that prompted her invitation to speak at Howard University the following year. Learn more about Frances Cress Welsing, the psychiatrist who responded to Barbara’s speech by declaring homosexuality “the death of the race,” here. In 1980, Barbara and her friend Audre Lorde co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the first national publishing company run by and for women of color; Barbara describes the founding of the press in this essay. Kitchen Table published dozens of works, including Barbara’s own Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology. You can read it here and hear Barbara talk about it here.  To learn more about Audre Lorde, watch this short video, listen to this interview about her experiences as a young black lesbian in 1950s New York City, or read her poetry. For more audio recordings of Audre, visit the Lesbian Herstory Archives website.  At the top of the episode, Barbara describes a photo of her and her sister at the 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Read more about the march here and listen to the speech Audre Lorde gave to the many thousands who assembled for the march’s rally. Hear more audio from the march here and here, and read the program of events.
Nov 21, 2019
Season 6: Episode 2: Vernon E. "Copy" Berg III
In 1975, long before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Navy asked, and Officer Copy Berg told: “Yes, I am gay.” When Copy chose to challenge the military’s ban on homosexuals, the Pentagon fought back with all guns blazing.  Episode Notes: To learn more about Copy Berg, read his 1999 New York Times obituary here. The Times first reported on Copy’s case in this March 1976 article. The less-than-honorable discharge Copy received from the military after his administrative hearing was upgraded to honorable in 1977. The following year, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the Pentagon could not discharge homosexuals from the military without offering specific reasons in addition to their homosexuality; read Copy’s appeal here and the judge’s decision here. (Thousands of additional documents pertaining to Copy’s case can be found among his records in the Manuscripts and Archives Division of The New York Public Library.) While Copy’s case was unfolding, President Jimmy Carter’s Administration had been putting pressure on the Pentagon to change its policy against homosexuals. Midge Costanza, a top aide to President Carter, was instrumental in the effort; for more on Midge, listen to our episode with her then-partner Jean O’Leary here. In 1981, the Department of Defense reaffirmed its ban on gay men and women serving in the military, but it amended its policy to state that those forced out solely for reasons of homosexuality would receive an honorable discharge. The change applied retroactively as well so that any person who had been discharged for homosexuality could apply to have their discharge upgraded. Read Copy’s reflections on the qualified victory in this 1981 Philadelphia Gay News interview. Lawrence Gibson, Copy’s civilian boyfriend during his time in Italy, chronicled Copy’s case in Get Off My Ship: Ensign Berg vs. the U.S. Navy (illustrations by Copy). In 1979, Lawrence and Copy were interviewed together by Enlisted Times and WBAI (interview starts at 5:02). In the episode, Copy references Senator Joseph McCarthy’s persecution of homosexuals, a time known as the Lavender Scare (concurrent to the better known Red Scare). For a short history of the era, read this National Archives article. For a more complete account, read David K. Johnson’s The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government, which was recently made into a documentary.  The episode also mentions Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich and his lawsuit challenging the military’s ban on homosexuals. Read more about Leonard here and here.  For more information on LGBTQ folk in the military, start here. For a more in-depth look, check out Allen Bérubé’s Coming Out under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II (which was also made into a documentary film) or Randy Shilts’s Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military. The Library of Congress has a few oral histories with LGBTQ veterans here. After his career in the Navy ended, Copy became an artist. His later work was deeply influenced by his HIV diagnosis; see some of his art here. 
Nov 07, 2019
Season 6: Episode 1: Ruth Simpson
There’s a war on out there. That was Ruth Simpson’s Stonewall takeaway—and she was ready to fight. But when Ruth pushed the NY chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis to be more political, the FBI and the police took note. Episode Notes: Learn more about Ruth Simpson by reading her obituary in the Los Angeles Times and watching this interview, which was recorded for the Lesbian Herstory Archives’ Daughters of Bilitis Video Project (Ruth is interviewed with her partner, Ellen Povill).  Ruth joined the New York chapter of DOB in the late 1960s and soon volunteered to serve as its education and program director. She was later elected president and served in that capacity from 1969 to 1971. To learn more about DOB, read Marcia M. Gallo’s Different Daughters—A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Movement and be sure to listen to our episode with DOB co-founders Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Ruth first heard about the New York chapter of DOB in a radio interview with its then-president, Martha Shelley, who was featured in her own MGH episode here. During her tenure as president of New York’s DOB chapter, Ruth found herself the target of harassment by the New York City police. In the episode, Ruth recounts a confrontation with police officers when they entered the space where DOB was holding its meeting—a space lent to them by the Corduroy Club men’s discussion group—without a warrant. The incident was reported on at the time by Gay Flames, a publication of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Like many other LGBTQ organizations at the time, DOB was also subject to surveillance by the FBI. You can read declassified FBI files on DOB going all the way back to the 1950s here and here. As DOB president, Ruth soon moved her chapter’s headquarters to a new space in Soho where they could have meetings and hold dances. Ruth, DOB, and the new loft were profiled by the New York Times in a long 1971 piece titled “The Disciples of Sappho, Updated.”   In the early 1970s, Ruth was involved in many street protests, including the 1971 Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) “zap” against Fidelifacts, which she discusses in the episode. In a bizarre moment of serendipity, the demonstration appears in the opening sequence of the film Shaft (you can view it here, starting at 2:20). In addition to LGBTQ zaps, Ruth also participated in feminist protests. In 1972, she was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest during a WARN (Women Against Richard Nixon) demonstration.  Ruth was featured in Kay Tobin Lahusen’s 1972 book The Gay Crusaders, a collection of interviews with gay liberation leaders. The audio of her original interview is kept at the Wilcox Archive in Philadelphia and the New York Public Library. To learn more about Kay Tobin Lahusen, check out our two episodes (and accompanying notes) with her and her partner Barbara Gittings here and here. In 1976, Ruth moved to Woodstock, New York, and published From the Closet to the Courts: The Lesbian Transition, a detailed memoir of her time in the gay rights movement.
Oct 24, 2019
Season 6: Preview
Making Gay History mines Eric Marcus’s 30-year-old audio archive of rare interviews to create intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to LGBTQ history. In this preview, we offer a taste of what’s to come in season six, featuring the compelling voices of Ruth Simpson, Copy Berg, Barbara Smith, Nancy Walker, and Damien Martin.
Oct 24, 2019
Bonus: Stonewall 50 Minisode: Craig Rodwell
This was the moment Craig Rodwell had been waiting for. He’d been bumping up against the limits of how far the Mattachine Society was willing to challenge the status quo. And when the Stonewall uprising blew things wide open, Craig grabbed the reins and never looked back.
Jun 28, 2019
Bonus: Stonewall 50 Minisode: Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen
Stonewall turned the page on the homophile movement. Pre-Stonewall activists like Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen were dinosaurs in the eyes of some of the gay liberationists, and they found themselves fighting  for a place in the new chapter of LGBTQ history that unfolded after the riots. 
Jun 28, 2019
Bonus: Stonewall 50 Minisode: Morty Manford
Nineteen-year-old Columbia University student Morty Manford thought it was just another night at the Stonewall Inn, but then the police swept in and the raid was on.  Morty shared his memories of that night with Eric Marcus in this archival interview from 1989.  
Jun 28, 2019
Bonus: Stonewall 50 Minisode: Marsha P. Johnson & Randy Wicker
A rebroadcast of Eric’s 1989 interview with Marsha P. Johnson and Randy Wicker. Hear conflicting perspectives on Stonewall from this pair of unlikely roommates. Marsha co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries after Stonewall; Randy had led the way in the earlier homophile movement.
Jun 28, 2019
Stonewall 50: Episode 4: Live from Stonewall
What made Stonewall different? How can we carry the lessons of the uprising with us today? Eric is joined by one archivist   and four activists to answer those questions in an intergenerational conversation recorded live at the Stonewall Inn on May 23, 2019.
Jun 27, 2019
Stonewall 50: Episode 3: "Say it Loud! Gay and Proud!"
Like so many other acts of queer resistance, the riots in Greenwich Village in late June and early July 1969 could have become a footnote in history. But the protests and organizing that followed the Stonewall Uprising turned the page. A new chapter had begun in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights. With exclusive archival audio from the year after Stonewall, we'll explore how queer anger found a voice with “Gay Power” and how joy propelled the first pride marches. Out of the closet and into the streets!
Jun 20, 2019
Stonewall 50: Episode 2: ”Everything Clicked… And The Riot Was On”
At 1:20 a.m. on June 28, 1969, the New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, an unlicensed gay club in New York’s Greenwich Village. I wasn’t there.  Of these two facts I feel certain.  The first one, because the police report from that night states the time that the police entered the Stonewall Inn.  And the second, because I was ten years old at the time and didn’t see Greenwich Village for the first time until I’d graduated from Hillcrest High School in Queens, New York, in June 1976. (I’m shocked now by what an incurious teenager I was back then.)
But there’s plenty about the raid on the Stonewall Inn and the subsequent uprising that’s less certain and often the focus of disagreements and heated debate.  I like to think that the story of Stonewall is big enough for all the recollections and memories and inevitable myths that have taken shape in the five decades since Stonewall became a key turning point in the history of the LGBTQ civil rights movement and the birthplace of the “gay liberation” phase of the fight for equality.
So in this second episode of our special Stonewall 50 season, we’re bringing you multiple voices—and multiple and often conflicting memories—from people who were inside and outside the Stonewall Inn a half-century ago.  Voices drawn from my three-decade-old archive and from other archival audio unearthed by Making Gay History’s team of archive rats—including some tape dating back to the first year after the raid.  
Have a listen and decide which memories ring true for you.

Jun 13, 2019
Stonewall 50: Episode 1: Prelude to a Riot

Conflict has context. In this first episode of Making Gay History’s Stonewall 50 season, we hear stories from the pre-Stonewall struggle for LGBTQ rights. We travel back in time to hear voices from the turbulent 1960s and take you to the tinderbox that was Greenwich Village on the eve of an uprising. 

If you’d like a primer on Stonewall, here is a handy factsheet that Making Gay History co-produced. The final page has more resources if you’d like to dig a bit deeper.
To find out more about some of the people featured in this episode and the times in which they lived, check out the following Making Gay History episodes and the accompanying episode notes: Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen (part 1 and part 2), Randy Wicker and Marsha P. Johnson, Ernestine Eckstein, and Sylvia Rivera (part 1 and part 2).  Craig Rodwell will be featured more extensively in upcoming episodes, but he also makes an appearance in our episode about Dick Leitsch, with whom Craig Rodwell was in a relationship during their early days at Mattachine.
Many of our previous episodes include interviews with LGBTQ trailblazers who became active in the movement pre-Stonewall.  To learn more about the founders of some of the early U.S. homophile organizations, have a listen to our episodes with Harry Hay, founder of the Mattachine Society; Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, co-founders of the Daughters of Bilitis; and Dorr Legg, Martin Block, and Jim Kepner, who spearheaded ONE.

Jun 06, 2019
Stonewall 50: Preview
Coming Soon:  A special season of Making Gay History to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Hear the voices of the rioters, and of the activists who turned a riot into Gay Liberation—a new and expansive phase in the LGBTQ rights movement.
May 23, 2019
Season 4: Episode 11: Martha Shelley
Brooklyn-born Martha Shelley was a rebel. She didn’t like being told what to do, wear, or say. She hated the lesbian bars, and after joining the Daughters of Bilitis she strained against the self-imposed limits of the homophile movement. Coming of age in the 1960s, she was ready for revolution.

Learn more about Martha Shelley in this interview for the website “Stonewall: Riot, Rebellion, Activism, and Identity” (the audio file is embedded at the bottom of the transcript page).  Martha’s oral history is included in Eric Marcus’s book Making History.
In this episode, Martha mentions how the FBI monitored DOB's activities.  To see samples of their investigative work, check out the declassified files collected on this webpage.
Martha Shelley was one of the participants in the July 4th Annual Reminders, picket lines organized by homophile organizations from 1965 to 1969 at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.  You can see footage of the 1968 Annual Reminder in “The Second Largest Minority,” a short documentary by Lilli Vincenz, here.

Martha Shelley has written fiction and poetry, and her short stories, essays, and poems have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Sisterhood Is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women's Liberation Movement, edited by Robin Morgan.  You can hear Martha discuss her novel The Throne in the Heart of the Sea on Portland radio station KBOO here.
Feb 21, 2019
Season 4: Episode 10: Dick Leitsch
Read about Dick Leitsch’s life in his New York Times obituary and check out our special “In Memoriam” episode about him here.
Dick Leitsch donated his personal papers to the New York Public Library (NYPL) archives. Read the New Yorker article on Leitsch and the NYPL, and explore the Mattachine Society of New York archives available at the NYPL.
In the episode, Dick Leitsch talks about the picket he participated in across from the United Nations.  To learn more about that protest, check out the website of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project here.
The June 1966 issue of the Daughters of Bilitis magazine The Ladder, which featured Ernestine Eckstein on the cover, reported on the issue of police entrapment in New York City. You can read the article, which contains a reference to Dick Leitsch, here on pages 12 and 13. 

Feb 07, 2019
Season 4: Episode 9: Ernestine Eckstein
See the June 1966 issue of The Ladder with Eckstein on the cover here and read the interview that Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen conducted with her.  Gittings and Lahusen were featured in two MGH episodes here and here.  And Kay was featured in a bonus episode about her monthly “gay” dinner table at the retirement facility where she now lives. 
For information about The Ladder, the magazine published by the Daughters of Bilitis, read Malinda Lo’s article and Marcia Gallo’s account of its history here. Also, take a tour of a GLBT Historical Society exhibit about The Ladder in this video.  
To learn more about the Daughters of Bilitis, read Marcia Gallo’s Different Daughters—A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Movement and be sure to listen to our episode with DOB co-founders Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, too.
Ernestine Eckstein was one of the first participants in the July 4th “Annual Reminders,” picket lines organized by homophile organizations—under the leadership of Frank Kameny—from 1965 to 1969 at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.  You can see a glimpse of Eckstein picketing at 28:50 in “The Homosexuals,” a controversial CBS program from 1967 hosted by “60 Minutes” veteran correspondent Mike Wallace. You can see footage of the 1968 Annual Reminder in “The Second Largest Minority,” a short documentary by Lilli Vincenz, here
Following her involvement with the gay rights movement, Eckstein focused her energies on black feminist issues and became active with BWOPA (Black Women Organized for Political Action).  Read about the organization’s mission and history here.  

Jan 24, 2019
Season 4: Episode 8: Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin was a key, behind-the-scenes leader of the black civil rights movement—a proponent of nonviolent protest, a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the principal organizer of the landmark 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  And he was gay and open about it, which had everything to do with why he remained in the background and is little known today in comparison to other leaders of the civil rights movement.
Read Bayard Rustin’s 1987 New York Times obituary here.  It identifies his partner Walter Naegle as his “administrative assistant and adopted son.”
To read Rustin’s own words, explore Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin here. Rustin’s papers reside at the Library of Congress.
PBS’s award-winning POV documentary Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin can be found here.
For a biography of Rustin, check out John d’Emilio’s Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin here.
Listen to this episode of the State of the Re:Union podcast to learn about Rustin’s indelible contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. PBS’s award-winning POV documentary Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin here
Read Senator Strom Thurmond’s August 13, 1963, denunciation of Rustin in the congressional record here, starting on page 14836. The New York Times reported on Rustin’s rebuttal here.
Rustin’s partner Walter Naegle was featured in a short film by Matt Wolf titled “Bayard and Me.” You can watch it here.
In her interview with Rustin, Peg Byron inquires about Rustin’s recent D.C. visit with Black and White Men Together.  Learn more about the group here.
Watch President Obama honor Bayard Rustin at the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony. Watch Walter Naegle accept the medal here.  Gay astronaut Sally Ride was honored alongside Rustin that same year; find out more about Ride here.
Eric Marcus’s interview with Walter Naegle was conducted at the home he shared with Rustin, which in 2016 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can see the building on the website of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project here.  The webpage has some great photos of Rustin, including one in his apartment with his extensive cane collection. For educator resources related to this episode of Making Gay History, check out the website of our education partner History UnErased here.  
Jan 10, 2019
Season 4: Episode 7: Reed Erickson
For a history of the transgender movement in the U.S., check out Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution by Susan Stryker.
For a biographical overview of Erickson and his contributions to the homophile and transgender movements, check out this article by Aaron Devor and Nicholas Matte. 
To explore some of the Erickson Educational Foundation’s publications and other Reed Erickson materials, visit the University of Victoria Transgender Archives Collection here.
The Milbank mansion and estate figures prominently in the story of ONE and Reed Erickson.  Learn more about the mansion, which was built in 1913 in L.A.’s Country Club Park neighborhood, here and here.
Read about Reed Erickson’s involvement with ONE Incorporated in this article by Aaron Devor and Nicholas Matte.  Listen to our episode on some of the key figures of ONE here.  Read Dr. Harry Benjamin’s New York Times obituary here.  Read his 1966 The Transsexual Phenomenon in its entirety here.
One from the Vaults, a trans history podcast by Morgan M Page, did a special episode on Reed Erickson.  You can hear it here. Learn more about Morgan M Page and her work on her website.
To find out more about AJ Lewis, listen to his testimony from the NYC Trans Oral History Project, a collaboration with the New York Public Library, here.  Listen to other collected voices here.
In 2012 video maker and interdisciplinary artist Chris E. Vargas produced ONE for All... about the tempestuous end of the partnership between Reed Erickson and ONE. The story focuses on the Milbank Estate and on the expansive but unrealized dreams that Erickson had for the future of queer activism.  The video was part of Transactivation: Revealing Queer Histories in the Archive, an event at the ONE Archives. To learn more about Vargas’s work, check out his website. Find out more about his MOTHA (Museum of Trans Hirstory & Art) project here and on the website of the New Museum in New York here.

Dec 27, 2018
Season 4: Episode 6: Stella Rush ("Sten Russell")
Read a biographical overview of Stella Rush by Judith M. Saunders in this chapter from Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context, edited by Vern L. Bullough. In the same book,Rush herself also contributed a chapter on her longtime partner and fellow activist Helen Sandoz (aka Helen Sanders) here.
Watch a May 15, 1987 interview with Stella Rush and Helen Sandoz (off-camera) from the Lesbian Herstory Archives’ Daughters of Bilitis Video Project.
In the late 1980s, Jim Kepner wrote an essay on Stella Rush, Helen Sandoz, and the other women who contributed to ONE, which you can read here. For a historical overview of ONE magazine, ONE Inc., and the ONE Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries, go here.  Be sure to check out our episode on the founders and early contributors to ONE, including Kepner, here.  You can read Rush’s resignation letter from ONE here.
You can read a snippet of Rush’s reporting on the 1960 Daughters of Bilitis convention in San Francisco in The Ladder here. For information about The Ladder, the magazine published by the Daughters of Bilitis, read Malinda Lo’s article. And take a tour of a GLBT Historical Society exhibit about The Ladder in this video
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 Movement and be sure to listen to our episode with DOB co-founders Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, too.

Dec 13, 2018
Season 4: Episode 5: Dorr Legg, Martin Block, and Jim Kepner of ONE
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.  

Nov 29, 2018
Season 4: Episode 4: Billye Talmadge
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 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 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.
Nov 15, 2018
Season 4: Episode 3: Harry Hay
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.
Nov 01, 2018
Season 4: Episode 2: Magnus Hirschfeld
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.  

Oct 25, 2018
Season 4: Episode 1: Introduction
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

Oct 25, 2018
Season 4: A Message from Our Listeners
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,, 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.
Oct 11, 2018
Bonus: Farewell Dick Leitsch
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.
Jun 23, 2018
Bonus: Kay Lahusen’s Gay Table
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. 
Jun 21, 2018
Bonus: Love Is Love
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:
First aired February 14th 2017. 

Feb 14, 2018
Season 3: Episode 11: Morty Manford
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. 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.
Dec 28, 2017
Season 3: Episode 10: Greg Brock
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.”

Dec 21, 2017
Season 3: Episode 9: Paulette Goodman
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.   

Dec 14, 2017
Season 3: Episode 8: Morris Kight
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.

Dec 07, 2017
Season 3: Episode 7: Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin
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.
Nov 30, 2017
Season 3: Episode 6: Larry Kramer
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

Nov 23, 2017
Season 3: Episode 5: Deborah Johnson & Zandra Rolón Amato
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

Nov 16, 2017
Season 3: Episode 4: J.J. Belanger
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.
Nov 09, 2017
Season 3: Episode 3: Ellen DeGeneres
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.
Nov 02, 2017
Season 3: Episode 2: Perry Watkins
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.

Oct 26, 2017
Season 3: Episode 1: Sylvia Rivera — Part 2
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. 
Oct 22, 2017
Season 3: Preview
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.
Oct 19, 2017
Bonus: Edythe Eyde's Gay Gal's Mixtape
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. 
Oct 11, 2017
Bonus: Rewind: Sylvia Rivera
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.
Oct 05, 2017
Season 2: Episode 11: Tom Cassidy
CNN business anchor Tom Cassidy kept his “private life” strictly separate from his public life.  Three decades ago he had to.  But then he was diagnosed with AIDS.
May 04, 2017
Season 2: Episode 10: Joyce Hunter
Joyce’s childhood and adolescence were stolen from her. Determined to keep that from happening to other LGBTQ youth, she survived years in an orphanage, suicide attempts, and a brutal anti-gay attack to change the lives of countless of young people. 
Apr 27, 2017
Season 2: Episode 9: Evander Smith and Herb Donaldson
Four years before the 1969 uprising at NYC’s Stonewall Inn, a San Francisco confrontation between the police and that city’s LGBT community proved a turning point. Gay attorneys Herbert Donaldson and Evander Smith were among the night’s heroes.
Apr 20, 2017
Season 2: Episode 8: Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen
When the Stonewall uprising upended the 1960s homophile movement, Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen refused to be put out to pasture.  They brought all their passion, humor, and determination to the gay lib ‘70s and showed the youngsters how it was done.
Apr 13, 2017
Season 2: Episode 7: Herb Selwyn
Herb Selwyn never hesitated to stick his neck out for others. That included gay people at a time when other straight attorneys cashed in on the persecution of homosexuals and gay attorneys were too frightened to represent a despised minority.
Apr 06, 2017
Season 2: Episode 6: Morris Foote
On November 2, 1955, when 30-year-old Morris read on the front page of the newspaper that Boise police were rounding up and arresting gay men, he did the only thing he could think of. He ran. He didn't feel safe setting foot in Boise for the next 20 years.
Mar 30, 2017
Season 2: Episode 5: Jean O'Leary - Part 2
Jean O’Leary had a vision for the national LGBTQ civil rights movement.  On March 26, 1977 she led the first delegation of lesbian and gay activists to the White House.  And in 1988 she co-founded National Coming Out Day. 
Mar 26, 2017
Season 2: Episode 4: Jean O'Leary - Part 1
Jean O’Leary was passionate—about women, nuns, feminism, and equal rights.  She left an indelible mark on the women’s movement and the LGBTQ civil rights movement, but not without causing controversy, too.  After all, she was a troublemaker.  And proud of it.
Mar 23, 2017
Season 2: Episode 3: Hal Call
Hal Call never minced words.  The midwestern newspaperman and WWII vet wrested control of the Mattachine Society from its founders and went on to fight police oppression and champion sexual freedom.  He also made more than a few enemies along the way.
Mar 16, 2017
Season 2: Episode 2: Shirley Willer
Shirley Willer had good reason to be angry—she was beaten by the police and a dear friend was allowed to die. Because they were gay. She channeled that anger into action, traveling the country in the 1960s to launch new chapters of gay rights organizations. 
Mar 09, 2017
Season 2: Episode 1: Marsha P. Johnson and Randy Wicker
A never before heard interview with Marsha P. Johnson and Randy Wicker - two very different heroes of the early LGBT civil rights movement. Marsha was a founder of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.  Randy led the first gay demonstration in 1964 in coat and tie.  
Mar 02, 2017
Season 2: Preview
Making Gay History is back with more hidden histories mined from Eric Marcus’s 30-year-old audio archive.  Ten new episodes featuring intimate, personal interviews with pioneers in the struggle for LGBTQ civil rights—some known and some long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to queer history.
Feb 23, 2017
Bonus: Love Is Love
The right to love and be loved for who we are has always been a driving force in the fight for LGBT civil rights. Eric shares four special love stories from his archive featuring activists who helped change the course of history.
Feb 14, 2017
Season 1: Episode 10: Vito Russo
The late author and activist Vito Russo is best known for his 1981 landmark book, The Celluloid Closet:  Homosexuality in the Movies, and for co-founding both GLAAD (originally known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power).

Dec 15, 2016
Season 1: Episode 9: Barbara Gittings and Kay "Tobin" Lahusen
A dynamic duo, self-described gay rights fanatics and life partners Barbara Gittings and Kay “Tobin” Lahusen helped supercharge the nascent movement in the 1960s and brought their creativity, passion, determination, and good humor to the Gay Liberation 1970s, leaving behind an inspiring legacy of dramatic change.
Dec 08, 2016
Season 1: Episode 8: Dear Abby
A generation ago, tens of millions of people turned to  “Dear Abby” in her daily  newspaper column for advice.  Long before others did, and at considerable risk, she used her platform and celebrity in support of gay people and their equal rights.
Dec 01, 2016
Season 1: Episode 7: Chuck Rowland
A WWII veteran who co-founded one of the first LGBT rights groups, the Mattachine Society, in 1950—a time when gay people were considered sick, sinful, criminal, and a threat to national security. Dr Evelyn Hooker described Chuck as “a natural organizer”. 
Nov 23, 2016
Season 1: Episode 6: Jeanne and Morty Manford
A mother's love turns her into a quiet revolutionary. When Jeanne Manford’s son Morty (himself a leader in the movement) was badly beaten at a protest in 1972, she took action and founded an organization for parents of gays known today as PFLAG.
Nov 17, 2016
Season 1: Episode 5: Frank Kameny
Frank Kameny lived a long and extraordinary life.  He was fired from his federal government job in 1957 because he was gay.  He didn’t just go home and pull the covers over his head.  He fought a successful eighteen-year-battle with the government to change the law so the same thing didn’t happen to other gay people.  

Nov 10, 2016
Season 1: Episode 4: Dr. Evelyn Hooker
In 1945 Dr. Evelyn Hooker’s gay friend Sam From urged her to do a study challenging the commonly held belief that homosexuals were by nature mentally ill.  It was work that would ultimately strip the “sickness” label from millions of gay men and women and change the course of history.   
Nov 03, 2016
Season 1: Episode 3: Edythe Eyde aka Lisa Ben
Edythe Eyde moved to Los Angeles in 1945 and by 1947 was working as a secretary at RKO Pictures where she used her office typewriter as a printing press to publish her landmark “magazine” for lesbians, “Vice Versa.”  In the 1950s, when Edythe started writing for the The Ladder, the Daughters of Bilitis magazine (DOB was an organization for lesbians founded in 1955), she took the pen name “Lisa Ben” (an anagram for “lesbian”).  Her first choice for a pen name had been “Ima Spinster,” but that idea was shot down by the magazine’s editors.  Edythe told Eric Marcus, “I thought that was funny and they didn't.  I don't know whether they thought it was too undignified or what, but they objected strongly.  If I had been as sure of myself then as I am these days I would have said, ‘Alright, take it or leave it.’  But I wasn't.  So I invented the name Lisa Ben.”

Oct 27, 2016
Season 1: Episode 2: Wendell Sayers
We don’t know much about Wendell Sayers beyond what he shared in his original 1989 interview for the Making Gay History book and the little we found in our research.  He was born in Western Kansas on April 29, 1904, and died on March 27, 1998.  He was, as he notes in the interview, the first black attorney to be hired to work in the Colorado State Attorney General’s office.  Wendell’s specialty was in real estate.  In the late 1950’s he attended several meetings of the Denver chapter of the Mattachine Society, an early gay rights organization, and briefly attended the Mattachine Society’s sixth annual national convention, which was held in Denver in September 1959.  

Oct 20, 2016
Season 1: Episode 1: Sylvia Rivera
A never before heard conversation with trans icon, self-described “drag queen,” and Stonewall uprising veteran Sylvia Rivera. Sylvia relives that June 1969 night in vivid detail and describes her struggle for recognition in the movement.

Sylvia would have loved knowing that in the years since her death in 2002 she’s become an icon—a symbol of LGBTQ people fighting back against police repression and fighting for respect and equal rights.  But she’d also want you to know that she was a human being, born Ray Rivera in the Bronx in 1951.  Eleven years later the self-described effeminate child found himself homeless and hustling on 42nd Street to scratch out enough money to get by.  Sylvia was all of seventeen when she crossed paths with history at the Stonewall Inn on the night of June 28, 1969.  She died at 51, having struggled with addiction and homelessness for much of her life, even as she continued to fight for trans rights and LGBTQ equality.
Oct 13, 2016
Season 1: Preview
Coming up in the first season of Making Gay History - personal stories mined from Eric Marcus's rare audio archive of interviews with LGBTQ champions, heroes, and witnesses to history.
Music: "Divider" by Chris ZabriskieLicense:
Oct 05, 2016