Albany, New York “Change comes about in many, many ways. And they all interlock and work with each other. It’s like somebody has to break the eggs and somebody has to make the omelettes. And some change you do from the inside. Some you do from the outside. And then there’s the nuances of how inside is inside. But one thing that you always have to be careful about when you’re making changes, I think, from the inside is to make sure that that person that you’re working with has enough information, enough support, enough conviction themselves, because you’ve convinced them and given them all the arguments, that they can then take it to the next step. Because if they’re convinced that they don’t know how they’re going to articulate this beyond here, then nothing is going to happen.”⠀ ⠀ The “inside” person Jean O’Leary is referring to here, in her 1989 interview with Eric, is Midge Costanza, Special Assistant to President Carter (and Jean’s then partner in life), who facilitated the historic first White House meeting between President Carter’s staff and leaders from the gay and lesbian rights movement, in 1977. #makinggayhistory⠀ ⠀ Image: Jean O’Leary (left) and Midge Costanza (right) at the New York State Women’s Meeting, Albany, New York, July 8-10, 1977. Credit: ©Jo Freeman, www.jofreeman.com.⠀
bostonlgbtqhistoryThe History Project
queerserialMattachine: A Queer Serial
Reed Erickson was a name Eric had heard, in passing, during conversations with California-based LGBTQ activists as part of his late 1980s interviews for the first edition of his book “Making Gay History: The Half Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights.” ⠀ ⠀ Flash forward to 2018 and as our podcast team began to prepare season 4, Reed Erickson emerged from our research as a central figure in the 1960s gay and trans rights movement. Reed Erickson, a trans man, was the money behind ONE Inc., the organization that published ONE magazine. With Reed’s very generous support, ONE Inc. became a pioneering organization, doing things like offering classes in homophile studies—queer studies long before there was queer studies. Learn more about Reed’s remarkable life in season 4, episode 6 (link in bio). #makinggayhistory⠀ ⠀ Image: Reed Erickson (center) with girlfriend Daisy Harriman (left) and Michele, 1963. Credit: Photo courtesy of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries.⠀
Yep, that’s Oprah. ⠀ ⠀ On the stage of her talk show, in 1988, journalist Greg Brock officially came out to his family. He was already out in San Fransisco, where he lived and worked: “Everybody in the world knows I’m gay if they want to know it. I’m very open about it.” But this “world” didn’t extend, yet, to Greg’s family back in Crystal Springs, Mississippi. For the first ever National Coming Out Day, on October 11, 1988, Oprah patched Greg’s mom into the studio by phone, and in front of a live studio audience -- and all of America -- Greg, his mother, and Oprah shared a life-changing conversation. Listen to Greg describe the full experience via link in bio. #makinggayhistory⠀ ⠀ Image: Oprah Winfrey and Greg Brock, Chicago, Illinois, October 11, 1988. Credit: Courtesy Greg Brock.⠀
Nobody wants to disappoint their mother, and Perry Watkins was no exception. From the day in 1968 that Perry was drafted into the U.S. Army until his dishonorable discharge in 1983, he never once hid who he was: a gay man. “I thought, if I go into the military, I’m not going to hide the fact that I’m gay. I know myself well enough to know that. So when I get thrown out, mom will be angry if I lie. That was why I checked the box [on the military intake forms inquiring whether he was homosexual].”⠀ ⠀ Perry was honest and authentic, always, about being gay. For his entire military career, he endured homophobia and racism alike. Perry appealed for discharge multiple times -- reminding military officials of their own regulation, that homosexuals were not permitted to serve -- and was continually refused. Until one day, the U.S. Army decided, as Perry told Eric, that “we’re gonna change the rules of the game.” Listen to Perry tell his story via link in bio. #makinggayhistory⠀ ⠀ Image: Sgt. Perry Watkins near his home in Tacoma, Washington, 1983. Credit: ©Steve Stewart for “Positive Image: A Portrait of Gay America,” published by William Morrow & Company,1985.