Making Gay History — A Preview
The Making Gay History podcast mines Eric Marcus’s decades-old audio archive of rare interviews to create intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history. Here’s a taste of what’s to come in Season One.
Eric Marcus: Tape one, side one. Interview with Wendell Sayers, Saturday, January 14, 1989. Interview with Jeanne Manford and Morty Manford on Saturday, May 13, 1989. Interview with Chuck Rowland, Tuesday, August 22, 1989. Interviewer is Eric Marcus, location is the home of Dr. Hooker in Los Angeles, California.
Hi, Eric Marcus here. In the late 1980s, I recorded a hundred interviews for a book I was writing about the LGBTQ civil rights movement, which we called the gay rights movement back in those days. I’ve had these cassette tapes sitting in storage for 30 years and a few months ago I had a listen. And suddenly, I was back with all these people again—at their dining room tables, in their living rooms, sitting across from them and hearing about their lives.
These people counted on me to tell their stories, which I did in print. In my book. But that wasn’t enough. These stories want to be told again. And the people I interviewed, most of whom are no longer living, wanted to tell their stories in their own voices. So, that’s why we’re launching this first season of the Making Gay History podcast, so we can bring these queer stories back to life.
Over the next ten weeks, you’ll be hearing from ten amazing people, like Edythe Eyde, who wrote an essay in 1947, for her magazine. She called it “Vice Versa, America’s Gayest Magazine.” And she wrote this essay in which she predicted a gay utopia.
Edythe Eyde: I never thought of it as being bold at the time. I was just sort of fantasizing. But it all has come to pass.
Eric: You’ll also hear from Chuck Rowland. He was a one-time Communist who co-founded the Mattachine Society in 1950. It was one of the first gay rights organizations.
Chuck Rowland: Unlike so many people I know, so many people had guilt feelings. I never had any fuckin’ guilt feelings. I mean, at ten I fell in love with my… for the first time, with this beautiful boy. This was no puppy love affair. I would have killed or died for that boy.
Eric: Wendell Sayers was one of my favorites, but I call lots of the people I spoke with—in fact, almost all of them—my favorites. Everytime I hear his voice it breaks my heart.
Wendell Sayers: I grew up in a very segregated society. If anything went wrong in the town, it was always I who did it. That’s a lot of pressure. Gradually, I discovered that I was different and, uh, I thought I was the only one in the world.
Eric: And trans icon, Sylvia Rivera, who found herself outside the Stonewall Inn on the night of June 28, 1969.
Sylvia Rivera: Actually, it was the first time that I had even been to friggin’ Stonewall. I don’t know if it was the customers or it was the police. It just [snaps fingers], everything clicked. But, oh, it was so beautiful. I just, like, wow, we’re doing it. We’re doing it. We’re… we’re fucking their nerves.
Eric: Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or anywhere you get your podcasts. You can find all our episodes on MakingGayHistory.com.
Music Credit: “Divider” by Chris Zabriskie. Click here for license.