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.
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 MG... Read more
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.
Learn more about Damien Martin in his 1991 New York Times obituary here. Damien’s oral history can be found in E... Read more
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...
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 ... Read more
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.
Get better acquainted with Barbara Smith by watching this short video. For an in-depth look at her life and work, read... Read more
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.
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 rec... Read more
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.
Get started by reading Ruth Simpson's 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 intervie... Read more
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.
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.
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 ... Read more
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... Read more
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 resource... Read more
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.