Rank #1: 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
Rank #2: 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
Rank #3: 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
Rank #4: 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
Rank #5: 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
Rank #6: 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
Rank #7: 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: http://makinggayhistory.com/podcast/bonus-episode-love-is-love/
First aired February 14th 2017.
Feb 14 2018
Rank #8: Season 1: Episode 3: Edythe Eyde a.k.a. 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
Rank #9: 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
Rank #10: Season 1: Episode 10: Vito Russo
Dec 15 2016
Rank #11: 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 www.makinggayhistory.com
Nov 23 2017
Rank #12: 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.
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.
Dec 28 2017
Rank #13: 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
Rank #14: 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
Rank #15: 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
Rank #16: 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
Rank #17: 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
Rank #18: 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
Rank #19: 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
Rank #20: 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.”
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.
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