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

Making Gay History | LGBTQ Oral Histories from the Archive

72 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.

72 Episodes | 2016 - 2020

Season 1: Preview

October 5th, 2016

4:00

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

Season 1: Episode 1: Sylvia Rivera

October 13th, 2016

13:03

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

15:51

You’ve never heard of Wendell Sayers, but once you hear his story, you’ll never forget him. Born in Western Kansas in 1904, Wendell was the first …

Season 1: Episode 3: Edythe Eyde aka Lisa Ben

October 27th, 2016

15:33

In 1947, Hollywood secretary Edythe Eyde, aka Lisa Ben, had the audacity to publish “Vice Versa,” the first ever “magazine” for lesbians. Even more …

Season 1: Episode 4: Dr. Evelyn Hooker

November 3rd, 2016

17:34

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

19:55

Frank Kameny fought for what was right. And he never gave up. Lessons for us all.

Visit our episode webpage for background information, archival photos, and other resources.

Season 1: Episode 6: Jeanne and Morty Manford

November 17th, 2016

18:25

When Jeanne Manford’s gay son was badly beaten at a protest in 1972, she took action and founded an organization for parents of gays known today as PFLAG.

Visit our episode webpage for background information, archival …

Season 1: Episode 7: Chuck Rowland

November 23rd, 2016

18:49

A WWII veteran turns theory into action, co-founding one of the first LGBT rights groups, the Mattachine Society, in 1950—a time when gay people were …

Season 1: Episode 8: Dear Abby

December 1st, 2016

15:14

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

21:07

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 good humor to …

Season 1: Episode 10: Vito Russo

December 15th, 2016

21:42

Vito Russo loved movies, but he looked behind the silver screen and saw how Hollywood was sending a message that LGBTQ people were less-than-human. …

Bonus: Love Is Love

February 14th, 2017

11:55

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

4:29

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

March 2nd, 2017

17:06

Meet Marsha P. Johnson and Randy Wicker—two very different heroes of the early LGBT civil rights movement. Marsha was a Street Transvestite Action …

Season 2: Episode 2: Shirley Willer

March 9th, 2017

18:19

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

21:58

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

18:05

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, she …

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

March 26th, 2017

15:27

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 Day.

Season 2: Episode 6: Morris Foote

March 30th, 2017

17:16

On November 2, 1955, when 30-year-old Morris read on the front page of Boise's newspaper, the Idaho Statesman, that the police were rounding up and …

Season 2: Episode 7: Herb Selwyn

April 6th, 2017

22:02

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: Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen

April 13th, 2017

20:20

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: Evander Smith and Herb Donaldson

April 20th, 2017

22:14

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

22:36

Joyce Hunter’s childhood and adolescence were stolen from her and she was determined to keep that from happening to other LGBTQ youth. She survived …

Season 2: Episode 11: Tom Cassidy

May 4th, 2017

23:21

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.

Visit our episode webpage for background information, …

Bonus: Rewind: Sylvia Rivera

October 5th, 2017

10:58

Season 3 arrives Oct 22! 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 the …

Bonus: Edythe Eyde's Gay Gal's Mixtape

October 11th, 2017

13:23

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

4:12

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 3: Episode 1: Sylvia Rivera — Part 2

October 22nd, 2017

19:04

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

21:42

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 and …

Season 3: Episode 3: Ellen DeGeneres

November 2nd, 2017

26:10

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.

Visit our …

Season 3: Episode 4: J.J. Belanger

November 9th, 2017

22:11

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, Alfred …

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

November 16th, 2017

19:26

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 up …

Season 3: Episode 6: Larry Kramer

November 23rd, 2017

23:40

In 1981 Larry Kramer sounded an alarm almost no one wanted to hear. Gay men were dying from a mysterious disease and the only way to stop its spread was to stop having sex. The outspoken activist went on to co-found …

Season 3: Episode 7: Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin

November 30th, 2017

22:27

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 U.S. DOB seems tame and timid today, but in 1955 it was risky and …

Season 3: Episode 8: Morris Kight

December 7th, 2017

19:58

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

21:44

As a Jewish child growing up in Nazi-occupied Paris, Paulette Goodman knew what it meant to be a despised minority. After the war, her family sought …

Season 3: Episode 10: Greg Brock

December 21st, 2017

18:52

Greg Brock blazed a trail for LGBTQ journalists by being himself at a time when being yourself could sabotage your career or cost you your job. But …

Season 3: Episode 11: Morty Manford

December 28th, 2017

24:40

Morty Manford was one of thousands of young people who joined the fight for gay liberation in the early 1970s. As a member of the Gay Activists …

Bonus: Love Is Love

February 14th, 2018

11:55

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 …

Bonus: Kay Lahusen’s Gay Table

June 21st, 2018

15:21

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 …

Bonus: Farewell Dick Leitsch

June 23rd, 2018

11:51

May 11, 1935 - Jun 22, 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

4:05

Making Gay History is coming back with all new episodes that bring queer history to life through the voices of the people who lived it. Hear the trailer now. 

Season 4: Episode 1: Introduction

October 25th, 2018

17:19

Our fourth season is about beginnings. So we’re going to start at the beginning and hear from the activists and visionaries who got the ball rolling …

Season 4: Episode 2: Magnus Hirschfeld

October 25th, 2018

28:06

More than a century ago, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld chose to take a stand for LGBTQ rights, founding a movement, providing a safe space, and seeking justice through science. The Nazis crushed his vision, but not his legacy.

Season 4: Episode 3: Harry Hay

November 1st, 2018

25:17

Harry Hay had a vision, and that vision led to the founding of the first sustained gay rights organization in the United States—the Mattachine Society, in 1950. Mattachine (and Harry’s) first task—establishing a gay …

Season 4: Episode 4: Billye Talmadge

November 15th, 2018

22:59

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

31:42

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

21:40

“I’m a bisexual ki-ki s.o.b butch-femme.” Stella Rush railed against rules and binaries: butch/femme, gay/straight. Fighting for social survival, and …

Season 4: Episode 7: Reed Erickson

December 27th, 2018

28:51

Reed Erickson was a trans man with a big checkbook, a pet leopard, big dreams for a better world for gay people and trans folks—and single-handedly …

Season 4: Episode 8: Bayard Rustin

January 10th, 2019

34:09

Bayard Rustin was a champion of the black civil rights movement—mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. But because he was gay and out, he faced bigotry inside and outside the …

Season 4: Episode 9: Ernestine Eckstein

January 24th, 2019

34:14

Ernestine Eckstein is an iconic figure from the 1960s homophile movement—from photos showing her as the only African American woman at the earliest protests, to her trailblazing cover story in The Ladder. Now we can put …

Season 4: Episode 10: Dick Leitsch

February 7th, 2019

26:25

Dick Leitsch came to New York City in the early 1960s to smoke cigarettes, drink cocktails, and pick up handsome young men. He got his wish and then …

Season 4: Episode 11: Martha Shelley

February 21st, 2019

24:18

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 even after joining the …

Stonewall 50: Preview

May 23rd, 2019

4:11

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

37:52

Conflict has context. In the 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

34:15

The Stonewall uprising began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. Revisit that moment, and the hours and days that followed, with voices from …

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

June 20th, 2019

40:59

Like so many other acts of queer resistance, the 1969 Stonewall riots could have become a footnote in history. But the protests and organizing that …

Stonewall 50: Episode 4: Live from Stonewall

June 27th, 2019

1:04:31

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 at …

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

June 28th, 2019

16:08

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

13:22

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

10:37

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

15:56

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

4:00

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

26:45

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

26:29

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

23:33

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

26:19

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 …

Season 6: Episode 5: Damien Martin

December 19th, 2019

32:46

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 …

Bonus: From the Vault: Sylvia Rivera & Marsha P. Johnson, 1970

December 27th, 2019

22:37

In 1970, a young radio reporter recorded an interview with Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and other members of the newly formed Street …

Revisiting the Archive: Episode 1: Frank Kameny

March 21st, 2020

17:32

In 1957, Frank Kameny was fired from his job at the U.S. Army Map Service for being gay. He went on to fight the federal government for 14 years and …

Revisiting the Archive: Episode 2: Edythe Eyde

March 28th, 2020

17:32

Musical uplift for anxious times. When Eric Marcus interviewed lesbian publishing pioneer Edythe Eyde in 1989, she treated him to a concert for one on her front porch singing her gay songs from the '50s and ‘60s. You …

Revisiting the Archive: Episode 3: Wendell Sayers

April 4th, 2020

20:08

Wendell Sayers understood isolation. Born in western Kansas in 1904, Wendell was the first black lawyer to work for Colorado’s attorney general; …

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