Cover art for podcast Making Gay History | LGBTQ Oral Histories from the Archive

Making Gay History | LGBTQ Oral Histories from the Archive

67 EpisodesProduced by Eric MarcusWebsite

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

67 Episodes | 2016 - 2019

Season 1: Preview

October 5th, 2016


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 …

Season 1: Episode 1: Sylvia Rivera

October 13th, 2016


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 …

Season 1: Episode 2: Wendell Sayers

October 20th, 2016


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 …

Season 1: Episode 3: Edythe Eyde a.k.a. Lisa Ben

October 27th, 2016


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 …

Season 1: Episode 4: Dr Evelyn Hooker

November 3rd, 2016


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 …

Season 1: Episode 5: Frank Kameny

November 10th, 2016


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 …

Season 1: Episode 6: Jeanne and Morty Manford

November 17th, 2016


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 …

Season 1: Episode 7: Chuck Rowland

November 23rd, 2016


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, …

Season 1: Episode 8: Dear Abby

December 1st, 2016


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 …

Season 1: Episode 9: Barbara Gittings and Kay "Tobin" Lahusen

December 8th, 2016


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 …

Season 1: Episode 10: Vito Russo

December 15th, 2016


The late author and activist Vito Russo is best known for his 1981 landmark book, The Celluloid Closet:  Homosexuality in the Movies, and for …

Bonus: Love is Love

February 14th, 2017


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 …

Season 2: Preview

February 23rd, 2017


Making Gay History is back with more hidden histories mined from Eric Marcus’s 30-year-old audio archive.  Ten new episodes featuring intimate …

Season 2: Episode 1: Marsha P. Johnson and Randy Wicker

March 2nd, 2017


A never before heard interview with Marsha P. Johnson and Randy Wicker - two very different heroes of the early LGBT civil rights movement. Marsha …

Season 2: Episode 2: Shirley Willer

March 9th, 2017


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 …

Season 2: Episode 3: Hal Call

March 16th, 2017


Hal Call never minced words.  The midwestern newspaperman and WWII vet wrested control of the Mattachine Society from its founders and went on to …

Season 2: Episode 4: Jean O'Leary - Part 1

March 23rd, 2017


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, …

Season 2: Episode 5: Jean O'Leary - Part 2

March 26th, 2017


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 …

Season 2: Episode 6: Morris Foote

March 30th, 2017


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 …

Season 2: Episode 7: Herb Selwyn

April 6th, 2017


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 …

Season 2: Episode 8: Gittings and Lahusen

April 13th, 2017


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 …

Season 2: Episode 9: Smith and Donaldson

April 20th, 2017


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 …

Season 2: Episode 10: Joyce Hunter

April 27th, 2017


Joyce’s childhood and adolescence were stolen from her. Determined to keep that from happening to other LGBTQ youth, she survived years in an …

Season 2: Episode 11: Tom Cassidy

May 4th, 2017


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.

Bonus: Rewind: Sylvia Rivera

October 5th, 2017


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 …

Bonus: Edythe Eyde's Gay Gal's Mixtape

October 11th, 2017


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 …

Season 3: Preview

October 19th, 2017


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 …

Season 3: Episode 1: Sylvia Rivera Part 2

October 22nd, 2017


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 …

Season 3: Episode 2: Perry Watkins

October 26th, 2017


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 …

Season 3: Episode 3: Ellen DeGeneres

November 2nd, 2017


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.

Season 3: Episode 4: J.J. Belanger

November 9th, 2017


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, …

Season 3: Episode 5: Deborah Johnson & Zandra Rolón Amato

November 16th, 2017


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 …

Season 3: Episode 6: Larry Kramer

November 23rd, 2017


Until 1981, Larry Kramer was best known for his Academy Award-nominated screenplay for “Women in Love” and Faggots, his controversial novel about New …

Season 3: Episode 7: Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin

November 30th, 2017


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 …

Season 3: Episode 8: Morris Kight

December 7th, 2017


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 …

Season 3: Episode 9: Paulette Goodman

December 14th, 2017


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 …

Season 3: Episode 10: Greg Brock

December 21st, 2017


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 …

Season 3: Episode 11: Morty Manford

December 28th, 2017


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 …

Bonus: Love is Love

February 14th, 2018


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 …

Bonus: Kay Lahusen’s Gay Table

June 21st, 2018


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 …

Farewell Dick Leitsch

June 23rd, 2018


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 …

Season 4: A Message From Our Listeners

October 11th, 2018


Season Four of Making Gay History will feature more never-before-heard archival interviews with trailblazers from LGBTQ history. This season will …

Season 4: Episode 1: Introduction

October 25th, 2018


This season, Making Gay History uncovers voices from the early movement for LGBTQ civil rights.  Eric Marcus introduces trailblazers from as far back …

Season 4: Episode 2: Magnus Hirschfeld

October 25th, 2018


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, …

Season 4: Episode 3: Harry Hay

November 1st, 2018


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 …

Season 4: Episode 4: Billye Talmadge

November 15th, 2018


Investigated by the FBI, blackmailed, but bold enough to keep going, Billye Talmadge was one of the early members of the earliest lesbian rights …

Season 4: Episode 5: Dorr Legg, Martin Block and Jim Kepner of ONE

November 29th, 2018


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 …

Season 4: Episode 6: Stella Rush ("Sten Russell")

December 13th, 2018


Read a biographical overview of Stella Rush by Judith M. Saunders in this chapter from Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in …

Season 4: Episode 7: Reed Erickson

December 27th, 2018


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 …

Season 4: Episode 8: Bayard Rustin

January 10th, 2019


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 …

Season 4: Episode 9: Ernestine Eckstein

January 24th, 2019


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 …

Season 4: Episode 10: Dick Leitsch

February 7th, 2019


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 …

Season 4: Episode 11: Martha Shelley

February 21st, 2019


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 …

Stonewall 50: Preview

May 23rd, 2019


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 …

Stonewall 50: Episode 1: Prelude to a Riot

June 6th, 2019


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 …

Stonewall 50: Episode 2: ”Everything Clicked… And The Riot Was On”

June 13th, 2019


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 …

Stonewall 50: Episode 3: "Say it Loud! Gay and Proud!"

June 20th, 2019


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. …

Stonewall 50: Episode 4: Live from Stonewall

June 27th, 2019


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 …

Bonus: Stonewall 50 Minisode: Marsha P. Johnson & Randy Wicker

June 28th, 2019


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 …

Bonus: Stonewall 50 Minisode: Morty Manford

June 28th, 2019


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 …

Bonus: Stonewall 50 Minisode: Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen

June 28th, 2019


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 …

Bonus: Stonewall 50 Minisode: Craig Rodwell

June 28th, 2019


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 …

Season 6: Preview

October 24th, 2019


Making Gay History mines Eric Marcus’s 30-year-old audio archive of rare interviews to create intimate, personal portraits of both known and …

Season 6: Episode 1: Ruth Simpson

October 24th, 2019


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 …

Season 6: Episode 2: Vernon E. "Copy" Berg III

November 7th, 2019


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 …

Season 6: Episode 3: Barbara Smith

November 21st, 2019


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 …

Season 6: Episode 4: Nancy Walker

December 5th, 2019


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 …

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