The Lesbian Underground; Lesbe Friends
This is a brand of Sojourner welcoming you to let's be friends let's be friends is a new program on KPFA produced by the Lesbian Task Force of the San Francisco commission on the status of women. Let's Be Friends can be heard the second and fourth Mondays of the month at noon. Today's program is with Pat Bond Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. We will be discussing the lesbian underground or an other would what it was like to be a lesbian before the feminist and gay liberation movement. I would like to give you a brief description of the three women that I will be talking to. Pat Bon is a comedienne and she was in the film The world is out and has been performing across the country in several different nightclubs since her appearance in the film. Phyllis Lyon is Commissioner for the Human Rights Commission for the city and county of San Francisco. She is also on the staff of the Institute for the Advance Study of Human Sexuality and has coauthored several books including lesbian women with our third guest Del Martin in addition to being a writer. Dell is Commissioner for the San Francisco commission on the status of women. Welcome ladies.
With a real bride general question what was it like before they begin to describe it.
He just said the key word growing if Yeah I know you're not the same broad anymore you get stuff that's I'm sure but I don't.
Pat it was a joke I just I always need this woman does not want to friend of his Has he just had twin babies right. How marvelous she said you had a woman a little boy.
Was this used to be you think of when do you start using the term girl and woman I know in that movie.
Let's Pat you in the service and you talk a lot about that in the film not a lot but that you gave a lot of insight to a lot of different people about your experience in the service.
Could you talk a little bit about that I was a bomber you know first of all a lot of women I think are a lot of young people want to get away from. How do you do it. You haven't got any money at that age you want to get away from home. Of course I'd fall in love with a woman who is not crazy about me something to do is join a foreign legion to forget. Before and I wasn't open to women so I went into the Women's Army Corps which was total error.
It was 90 percent gain and once I got in there and in that era we were very obvious and women dressed like men in any way. So they were there they were being recruited just like men. Men's haircuts in stripes suits the whole bit. And I took a scene like that. And once they got us in they said my God started a witch hunt the like of which you've never seen. What no time frame is this.
Nineteen forty three forty four in Tokyo thank you.
Well I have no experience with the service and I don't know you know what I hear I was lucky.
But I just like to say that you know the day that I they said I grew up with nobody talked about sexuality let alone homosexuality so that most of us went through that period where we you know I am the only one yelling misfit. And when we found we didn't even have a word for it we didn't know what the word about the word homosexual. Lesbian or anything like that. Finally I guess I somebody had pointed me in the direction of the book well of loneliness and that sort of spelled it out for me and then I go to the library and what a wife I just thought I'd forgotten about those perverts and the one people I certainly couldn't identify with it.
Where did you grow up. I grew up in San Francisco. What was San Francisco like at that time.
Well I read in the 40s I remember there were there with a bar called was really a tourist trap. They used to let us in for free because we were part of the attraction.
They had that female impersonators you know I mean male impersonators excuse me. Yeah and then you were part of the other night it was they had it.
You know a fee to get in and so on but for the tourists and we are part of the show now is about the only way we had of me anybody would be to go to a bar and then we did find some other bars later and found that they were being constantly raided.
You never knew in the paddy where I was going to show up to officers come in and load you all in and the charges were absurd like something like visiting a house of ill repute. And when we formed the daughters of the leaders back in 1955 and began to look at attorneys and would tell us what the law really did to help with like these cases.
Phyllis When did you discover that you were a lesbian.
I think that today actually when I met Dell she said these things I don't know that we we were working together in Seattle and. One night she and another woman and I were out having a few drinks and someone in there however the subject came up I'm not really sure but it did and she said well she was a lesbian which was fairly fascinating I think to both of us because I'm not sure that prior to that time I was even aware that lesbians existed. I mean talk about being sheltered from the realities of the world. So then we were really good friends for about three years before we finally got together again. You know when I look back on it I know you know that I was gay all the time but I didn't know that. I always liked women a lot better than me and they were much more fun to do things with and we don't party ever told me I had an option. And so but I was I was going to say something in relation to what Dell said about the 50s which was that when we came down here from Seattle in 1953 we didn't know any good women down here and so we were hunting everywhere and you just could not meet. I mean you look at women who look like the stereotype and you wonder in wonder but you know outside of going up to them. I remember working with a woman who dressed in pants and a jacket and short hair.
And I threw out the word gay to her in every imaginable way I could never picked up on it and I'd come up and I think Damn I'm just sure she is.
But but but it you know we were so happy when somebody suggested we should get involved with starting this new group that town which turned out to be noticeable leaders because we figured we'd finally meet some more or less you know.
How did do you become into existence and what did you do in terms of providing an alternate social structure for lesbians.
Well it started out as a very secret social club and we were meeting at each other's homes. And having parties at home where it was safe as compared to the gay bars and then we began to have a lot of discussion about you know how do we cope with this anti gay world. And we began then to publish the latter would start out as a newsletter and start putting up public discussion meetings. But there was no way that we could let the public know about these meetings for the papers were picking up on anything like that so we just put the word out into the network and we had a great find Yeah. What happened then of course you have a gay audience there as the public. But that was helpful to those people who were both so afraid they could pose to the public and we could be giving them information that would be helpful to them.
Pat did you ever lose a job because you were gay.
Yeah. What happened was of course we don't talk a lot about his game and it's been struggling anyway. But there's internal gay problems like gay women can get mad at you if you say gay men. I no longer wish to be your lover or whatever and they will do darling little things like that. And they had a woman and I had been with them called up and told my boss and she also told my parents. We have been discussing these things but now I think that we defeated six is important start beginning to talk.
I don't know if you guys agree. No I think that we can talk now about the internal problems of gay. And it's I guess any minority group. We we can't get our anger out so we tend to pick on each other and are have and I think that's one of the things daughter's abilities did was to begin to let us have a support group. Sure and that had no info yet said You don't treat each other so badly to say hey I care that you're in trouble because that before then it was every person for themselves. Build your own sinful world and try to you know high highly in it because nobody's going to really help you you're on your own toots.
You have a lot of gay friends I did I came here about 1947 I guess and I went to a paper doll at all the bars and I know a lot a lot a lot of people. But close friends who are supportive who cared about you. Maybe one or two of these so it was rare no matter what you were up to.
So I think that's why does all his help so much the beginning organization sent. Let's try to be kind which is trying to figure out how we can help.
It also was an avenue for people to meet each other who were not is outgoing as you pass. Yeah because I know Dell and I went to the bars tonight and we sat there and we watched all these different groups and wish somehow we could get involved with them. That really felt much more like tourist because we were too shy to go over and say Hi there you know what's going on.
Our openness somebody when we didn't dance in bars and then you're right I always do for the telomeres and asked the bartender to send her a drink and turn your back deliberately.
Remember the bartender will tell you how she received not the bartender because women weren't bartenders but the waitress would tell you how the person had received your drink and then you might move next to them and begin to hurt a little.
I was neat then because we learned a lot and women I think of for a forgotten a lost art..
Did I say I didn't answer me when I used to be IBS and the eye contact and the whole trip was neat because you were terrified as you had to be cool like most of us were which is because it is deadly to be a family is it's deadly to be AAs wife trapped it was the same kind of trap.
Right sad to say I'm waiting for somebody you know that long to tell you that everybody's got to be blessed because the witches and had to work you know which was the. Real i look so bad that they would hire or send them a supported your was you were stupid you quickly became a book.
PHIL AND DON'T YOU KNOW WHICH ONE OF YOU want answers this question but the two of you been together for like 26 years his almost 20 almost 26 years and of your own. That's really wonderful. I want him. They're all part of that.
Yeah well can you give me give everyone who is listening and just a little bit of some of the things said Well I'm one of the things that has struck me in my own Nation ships with with women is that a lot of a large part of our problem centers around the fact that we have no roles.
No no models of any kind to follow us so we have this thing that we're trying to build with nothing to follow.
And and how did you manage to do it over 26 years.
Well first of all when we started out we were into this role playing too and so far as Dale had as Pat said I mean she came out of a marriage she wasn't about to be FM right she would refuse and by the time I met her she was a boy which left me no option but to be a family matter.
I'm my head and I was really a 50 birds.
Most of us were you know I was an actor when we started living together you know we were still kind of into that and I'm thinking well now wait a minute when Mother always kind of got daddy's breakfast every day of her life right. So I did that twice maybe and I found out that it's no good that is going to get into this and I guess that without really talking about it a great deal.
We just kind of fell out of those roles because they didn't fit didn't fit for us at all.
So there whereas we may have appeared to be butch unfair to the to our peer group which is still fairly my dear to some of that or you know to the outside world what we were doing was just sharing everything because neither one of us like to do the housework or the laundry or ironing or any of those kinds of things.
We didn't mind cooking. Really.
And we just kind of failing to have a method of doing these things that whoever does what best or whoever can't stand it right at the moment as I like to go back to what you said about rolls though.
Yeah. That's one of our problems in our society is is that the whole sex role stereotyping that you must live up to certain roles and that you know I think it's great that you don't have such a model that you're not tied to live up to that. And early on in the day to day and they were having those public discussion meetings we had a psychotherapist that was saying what are you doing try to imitate heterosexuals. I mean you know you have to find your own relationship.
Well who do you imitate dogs I mean you know he was the only other people what I think Sabrina was saying I don't know how do we know what the others are saying but I think and I find two pretty scary being out there and I smote in the middle of the city. When you begin a real relationship what he did were two I would say sex and feel the love affair. I never got into that a love affair. And you don't know this person. How do you say. Who you are and it takes a long time it takes a lot of work and for a long time your acting you always acting as though as we all are. But that's hard at least with the bitching fam days I knew it my mother and father did and I could easily imitate that.
It made me feel secure and strangely enough the women I know had to begin been together the longest and played those rules and very often the fem partner was new again. She met one woman that you did that and she found that she loved and one case when that woman died after 30 years the woman married a man a year later. It was that kind of role playing it did used to hold women together because they knew what they were up to and knew what the expectations. Yeah yeah this is what you do this is what I do.
It was bad in a lot of ways but in some ways it was not as scary as it was secure. Here we are two women what are we going to do do what women do compete with each other.
I think that we have developed a sense of self that. Sure it isn't as artificial as that's my role right. Well yes it's hard but.
That's that's I think if you explore them you develop a sense of self in both partners enter that help.
He's got to you got to do is get him for just a few minutes because you're getting into some really good things and I want to introduce a tape that was produced by Carla to Noah who's also point out this afternoon and is interviewing several other women who were talking about their own experiences and their own life as lesbians before the beginning of the women's movement.
You see I was three would say from the time I was 14 and you know it was until I was in the Tour and it was. Nothing to just kind of taken for granted. You're a lesbian. In the 20 straight lesbians that the straights have no feeling of feeling of the Russian the community and how did you find out what a lesbian was with a woman who was quite a bit older than I and plagiary think it was called which was in New York City. She explained to me then that's what we were from then that was in the 20s is the most important difference from being a lesbian and being one now with the women's movement gay liberation movement. Well now it really is a I mean I know about 20 to 25 good friends and we tend to be together. It's just like a kid. And I think it's much more certainly the I lived for eight. President on the forehead. There was no feeling at all in fact two of the doctors best known doctors and people straight people proud to go to the party he says. It's different today there's a closer feeling and I like it.
Nineteen fifty five to six left. It was realized there was no community it was with one person. It was I didn't know it. How did you feel. Because in my high school Pictionary there was the word lesbian. And I put up a lot. You see you must mean something to look at. OK what was that. I knew I would have an experience with a woman I knew there was a name for her. You know I heard I had heard the term heard the term and so I looked it up.
Told about Pfaff on the Isle of Lesbos and the origin of the word lesbian lesbian.
And. That was the only identity I had. Been a dirty bomb. Tell me that.
Women on Market Street and sisterhood solution women in bathrooms at movie theaters. So I want a lot of movies.
When did you begin to live other lives Manson for community.
Or how did you know from from the from that one novel about that.
I knew about nor speak in my late teens I know that dismissed but.
It scared me. When I went in there scared because everybody was big and more Americanized and it was scary and there.
It was really scary I didn't feel at all like this one girl this time would be in the 20s so that it was a time when there were practically no books I read the world only knows but that's the only book Kerberos never had contact with and it would be running about Greenwich Village.
Credit for looking for it because that is the process and if it was just before I went in the Army my friend told me that she says are you going in the army so you should know about this.
And she pursued to tell me about life. And about the women that she knew that was gay and I even tried to read the book so I tried to read.
Well of Loneliness and I am a woman and all those other weird books and I couldn't get information there.
I suppose I was growing up I may have heard the term two or three times. Was that shrouded in secrecy I remember once in the family car a neighbor. Was being talked about and someone said Muggs is a lesbian and someone else said. Recollections of the religious who was telling me.
You know. A little bit about. What the bar scene that was.
Yeah I was the only alternative available. The people that went out people that were gay with other people publicly. But they were like. There were a lot of forced down a lot of heavy drinking a lot of. Music and me having fun tension.
A lot of cruising gave birth to me like when I came back from the service it was a place where everybody went to get together in meet each other and it was really important you know because we didn't have any other places like now. There was a lot of places for lesbians to go to meet each other and things like that. But then the bars was the only place that we had to go. I went there in order to meet other those beings after you know like we talk next and stuff like that. The bus was a real important place.
I could never read to the gay bars that I did try to go into I could never go in there and feel comfortable with because for one thing you either had to be really really good or really really feminine. I didn't belong to either category you know. So I still felt lonely and I still feel slighted and I didn't feel comfortable coming out because of that. The loneliness was incredible just the isolation the loneliness to this day that I think. Is really responsible for a lot of my need to be alone you know just not being used to being with with people I mean a lot of times I'll be at a woman's dance right now and I'll just have to stop and look around me and just in. Just I'm always so grateful you know to the woman's movement I mean I look at it. I have friends who are 16 and 17 coming out now to you know. And I just think they are so lucky to have had us to do this for them or and I wish I had had people do it for me. But I you know I'm just. I'm just thrilled. About the way things are now and I'm thrilled about the Briggs initiative because I think it brought so much more power to us.
Corking your brother thing you're good through discussion a very. There was no caring for each other.
Thank goodness a lot of. People. Women really divided their places and their identities.
The women that didn't were considered switching to. Any of the not. Terribly strong or not. Music they were the most together people back.
There were just older and have got it.
There was no sense of caring for each other nobody knew we had anything to do with was beings before coming to San Francisco everybody I knew who had close relationships. Had never had a previous experience I think the word.
By then we knew but it had such terrible stigma attached to it. That we didn't want to identify with anything that was that horrible.
And then oftentimes I would have friends who were gay we never talked about it. We never sat down and have had real. Good sessions about what we had. So we just didn't talk about it. Because you just never knew where you were was going to come from. I never got that. Friends of mine and I never really harassed. But some of the damage done when you're a child and you look around and you are so different it takes a long time.
To know each other. You just didn't know each other to be walking down the street you'd pass you might eye contact and I worked in bars so I'd never say hi to somebody said to me it was nice but it was too because you go places and people would see you there like a nice restaurant straight rest and I might be there with another woman or my parents. Woman locks and I know she would could not make any contact with me whatsoever.
Separately don't look suspicious but together we might I think when people don't know who their friends are and who their enemies are that they're subject to a lot of evil same ills and bad feelings and terrible social positions beyond their control and their wants are ours. Thanks clarifies. Then you have a much better idea of who else is your friends and allies are and who they are not and can proceed to and from known facts and not always be walking on ice which is what it's like to be underground.
Yeah I lost I lost a job selling and second opinions when I was real poor. I was looking at he said 28. You're not married. That's a step from looking at you one might think you're a lesbian. I said that's a very good possibility. Oh that's not a possibility that's a very good probability. And he got a stare. I can't have you working with the women in my office now as I said I'm housebroken. I've been around women before and he just really couldn't deal with it. We discussed a little bit why he rode a Harley Davidson I survive on the steps for various to explain to me how much he loves when I explain to him how much I love women I talk to.
Hiring in the 60s it was still unpopular to come out and I was still very much afraid all the way into the 70s I was working at Channel 5 in San Francisco we were doing. We did a program on homosexuality and I still did not come out. And I think it was real. I was really so much into that. Place of hiding. To protect myself. Which you know Larry I really understood was it. Was not protecting myself and was certainly not helping anyone else. And when I really saw that there was no choice in the matter anymore there was no doubt in my mind. I mean I told everybody. Nobody got past my my office or my desk without hearing that I was a lesbian which got to be absurd you know. You know but. Once the doors opened it was open and there was no way I could go back when I wanted to go back. But it was really going through the steps of fear breaking out of that fear. Because I knew made to feel crazy.
And you think there's something really wrong with you it takes a real long time to heal that I became tough I became a transvestite I thought that's what toughness was like. And I became a member and I put on my jacket at least my hair and once dampened down. I didn't plan on quitting. You know I didn't plan on stopping stopping. That I'll become my became. Anybody but man if you ever get beat up.
Yeah I never got fired but friends of mine and I never got really harassed and it would have been people from your past which you try to do is make yourself invincible. It was always there always there. You know nurses had a lot of the paranoia had to be valid because you could be fired for no reason except the same thing it's like people yelling Dykes at you on the street tonight.
I am not I am not I am I just killed something you would be yelled at compared to the 50s in the early 60s. We've come a long way and it's important I think it makes life a little bit easier you know and I think that's really important and I think a lot of women have really worked hard to gay people and women have worked hard to educate people about being gay and I think it's significant.
Thank you Carlos for that.
Back in just a couple of things incredible to me is incredible and I sent it myself many a time. Being a lesbian is the. The loneliness the isolation that came up time and time again throughout the interview. It's something that still very much a part of the coming out process.
It's just it's really overwhelming and I think you look at 18 and 19 and 20 year olds and even 14 15 year old women who are beginning to get in touch with their sexuality and whatever it is but it definitely in terms of being a lesbian identifying with that and I think it's that they're real lucky they are to go through a lot of the stuff a friend of mine's son or woman and this is going son is 17 and I've watched him since he was 10 it was no question when he was 10 and his mother parents I was not but anyway the other day someone ripped off and she'd sort of wander out of the laundry room and he went to her door he said you happened by mistake to my sheets and she said I you know that's the faggot and he said that's true but we were discussing sheets you know there are a 17 I think there's just that Helen doll that's a kind of groundwork that was done to allow those kids as what we wanted to happen and it's happening. I just think that's so great.
I guess again our Pat Bond Phyllis Lyon and all of our Dell Martin and we're talking about who has been underground.
Is there anyone thing that you want to add to our Have you some of your own reactions to the tape.
Well it's one thing I think we didn't discuss and that was that there was a lot of lesbian novel for came out in the movies. They were paperbacks and they were pretty atrocious. You know the thanks kind of wolf and they the formula in order to be published was that you had to have a tragic ending. The heroine committed suicide or she lost her lover to a man or she turned straight. So you had to have went to one of those kinds of ending of never to be published.
So they would think well you know we were doing badly out of you know lesbian books recently and if you stop and think about it it's been in the seven years ago there was nothing you know there were some novels that weren't too bad and they with the loveliness and so on but nothing. And starting in 72 with Savile was a drag on a woman and lesbian woman. Now there's this whole long list of books which is really exciting. Yeah but that's just been in like six years at this point.
We opened up the phone lines for listeners. You're on the air.
I want to direct this question to Pat. Oh I'm quite happy here. I share our Yeah.
Would you talk about. I'm not a bisexual woman or make a comment about it but I'll take my character off here.
Okey doke. Well from what a bisexual woman I was never given a chance to be bisexual Corps which is a little jury and fortune in some ways because there's a whole spectrum now that we know we come in a whole rainbow spectrum that extreme home especially when in the extreme intersection on the other end and the in-between has been totally ignored a lot. I have a friend who is totally bisexual. She has a lover and she has a husband and she loves both of them which seems to me terribly complex it is it is not easy. You know I mean she's got the kids the husband the lover and somehow she's juggling all this they work so the husband knows the lover knows but never the twain shall meet. But more and more women are beginning to say hey I do find men attractive when I was a kid if you were a lesbian and you were in the gay community and a man walked by that you found even remotely attractive you said so you got drummed out of the car it was all over. So you had to pretend that never in your wildest dreams did you find any man including Cary Grant even remotely.
So Green I'd like to add that there is the bisexuals are now organizing here we have a bi sexual offender did everything go.
Yeah it's that right now it's the only one of its kind and it was fun.
Co-founded by Harriet Levy and Maggie Rubenstein you know it's the other name again that's really good. I didn't I cut you off before when you were talking about the bibliography.
No no not really I was I was through this just at that time. I hadn't really thought about what a short span of time up until just recently what a short span of time it had been since we had gotten meaningful kinds of books from lesbian really which helps a lot in terms of the alienation you know in the loneliness and not knowing it.
One thing I know that helps me with his knowing that I'm not the only one right here. Right. Having I came out in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley and you know there is there was my lover in Sacramento and myself and that we were you know we were yet as far as I knew and that was a real scary.
But when we started publishing the latter back in 1970 not in that. 56 in stand out for his copies like one hundred eighty five copies out into the wilderness. The response that we got so over and over and over again was from women saying I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one.
And that's changed a lot because one lesbian woman came out then and 972 the responses we got then were well I know that I'm a lesbian but where do I meet anybody else.
And that's a still a difficult I think for women in small towns in Pennsylvania and in the Middle East. Yeah and we have a couple more calls.
You're on the air. Yes. You're on the air.
I know my name is Wendy and I wanted to go on forever. I'm going to go now but I'm going to go under county at one point when I heard that I was gay. I don't want them to know that I read their book. But you know what I meant and remember add it up here and that was her night. Why from myself that I can't and I want to thank them very much sharing that with me and helping me you know find out who I was and continue on with a good healthy life.
Well thank you. Thank you for calling also you know if you've been welcome here good luck to all of you thank you thank you. Do you have another cause you're on the air.
Yes I wonder if you can give some advice to those of us who are sort of you know in and out of the closet or open and close the door periodically. How do you come out.
Do you just sort of you know brandish a sign or do you wait until somebody asks you Are you were to take my answer off the air. Thank you for calling. Thank you.
Who wants to start. No I think they're yelling a number of different ways you say I don't have to take an ad out in the paper or go on television or something like that. Let's just begin telling people is it seems the most logical way come at people you trust people you're close to peace or friends you know parents and then you get work and.
I do first person I came out to is miraculously enough librarian. Most of my life has been been spent in libraries and love them. I have been hiding them since I was six years old and in a college humor and known as librarian over any 10 years and we're pretty friendly and not privately socially. I see her all the time and when I was working a group she said she said to me Pat Morita how this work and why Gertrude Stein and I looked at her and I said because I'm gay and I felt like a puppy that barks and she went Why did you tell me that I don't know I had to.
And ever since then we've been so close because of that. Well it is a very intimate thing.
Well for Phyllis and me coming out with a have an evolutionary pride and in the early days to do you know being we were all using the food and it was.
The Banshee way we became we were more open and we invited we each told to talk to people that we worked with.
I don't know the more you come out the more you are free to just list the whole bird on his shoulder and he can tell you have reading it is to be.
I was talking to a young woman He's a school teacher the other day who had just come out to four of her colleagues and she was saying you know that it was in fact exactly like having this incredible weight lifted off your shoulders. She felt so marvelous that she had decided to you know take a leave of absence from teaching and go back and get a master's degree.
Just yeah you know your whole life just suddenly opening up.
Would you have another call. You're on the air.
OK I have a question. I don't I don't know what I thought of it. So I thought that many people were committed to a mental institution and I hadn't really been clear about a lot. California now I'm wondering if I could answer for me whether or not parents can commit you to that single reason alone.
Well I don't know how many were committed but it was more of that they would raise their children up to the nearest shrink.
Well there were there were people committed in the film but there they were both committed there.
It's if you really want to answer to that question as far as the legislation is concerned there is a youth legal council in San Francisco and they could best answer that question with your cop and have him.
No I don't. OK.
There's also another group called gay rights advocates who might be. Well that's true.
OK. Thank you. Thank you for calling her by.
That brings up a whole lot I have a lot right there of the way people have been punished for being gay and not just the firing of Jaws but to persevere things that have been good done to you know shock therapy Rick went through many treatments or whatever you call those things and what he was committed when she was a baby.
We've known young people whose parents committed them and then they escaped. You know then spent the rest of their life writing from.
Yeah right and then you talk again about the terrible cut off from your family which is another additional means no support total ignoring the family if you outcast kids that have been just meth heroin out of the family all right if that's it no longer do I have a daughter.
You know yeah I'm an only child and I don't see my mother for 25 years and it was never spoken but I knew I shouldn't come to see me.
We called each other we wrote. But by the time we got back together you know she was in their 70s. We no longer knew each other.
It was over.
Just two months and so then you really are out there on your own is a lot.
Most of us were I think in our era you clear out your family nice to really get away from them they would never find you so anxious to protect them in the context of your homosexuality is a mental illness you got anyway from that in the 70s and albeit you know the standard diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association and seems to me been dropped from that category and I hear death sometimes of young people going to being raced off to the nearest shrink by their parents but the psychiatrist saying well I really see nothing wrong with you probably superior right.
So mad certainly ha yeah and it sure is.
Although not every shrink has got that same attitude right.
Right we still have a few Socrates a liar oh yeah.
The number to call is a 4 8 4 4 2 5 The lines are open and we are here to take your questions. Then another thing that going back to talking about some of the feelings because you mentioned briefly earlier in the program Del about Deo B and the fact that it was a CIA group and. And in the film talked about that fact with her friend in the tape rather that she didn't have her and her gay friends never talked about being gay and what it meant. What were some of the feelings that were expressed at that time.
Well I think a lot of what was you know how do we cope. How do we deal with our parents. How do we you know do you have company but how are you going to keep that knowledge from them so that we know you know lizards with all kinds of discussions like that there were discussions about what it meant to be playing these books film roles and the endless discussions about it and could we become people you know as you know we rafted have them we didn't know anything about the terms consciousness raising or even rap group right that time. But that's really what was what we were doing.
Yeah we do have a couple more calls here on the air but I don't think you know the leader called out that she didn't know how to come out people because I think that's a difficult thing to do in terms of just getting the right opening and you know a lot of times I think people are there so. While they don't know how to react or put you in a really awkward position so I think it is good to have a buffer which I think certain political or social problems that especially we have so many of coming up that have been in the newspapers you can get somebody talking on the subject and then you can come out in a context that I think seems to work really well. Plus you can get people to liberalize their mind about if they if you noted to somebody who like you is open to you in the first place like a woman who lived near where I live that he was working hard to defeat Proposition 6 you know like in the grocery store you know talking to somebody and be really friendly and really get them to like her and then she would deny talking to you just in thinking together.
Schoolteacher in the disputed vote against Proposition 6 for me I'd be really grateful.
Yeah that's really wonderful.
Thank you for sharing that with us. Hello you're on the air.
I have my can just say thank you to all of you for helping I'm trying to work on a degree in my opinion three which I think you all made possible with your book which helped me come out in your bibliography which is me taking over the library that I advocate and I thank you for calling up and asking questions and letting me around you know making it a degree in lesbian history you know that's like it would have been in my year like getting a degree in assault and battery.
OK thank you very much.
It really is exciting that test young women are doing history and various kinds of research on our past.
You know lesbians pass because none of us are in their past. We've just been. Yeah you know and we've been very invisible. We're still pretty invisible but we're getting a lot more visible.
It's really exciting also to find out who has been a lesbian gal and has for whatever reasons you know kept it secret or kept it very low key like publishing in d o b or in the yeah you know but it has not said a whole lot to anybody about the fact and there's so many to blow you away when you're public figures you know we're now beginning to come out or people are dead and now you can say OK yeah they were gay like the one that really blew me away was many jacks and I almost had a heart attack never occurred to me.
Like you thought I just about.
Well yeah yeah and this friend of mine said to me yeah she said you know my he was a daddy and I said You're kidding.
That was an old term for Butch to me at any hour. Like there's some we still can't say because we have no right to speak for them. Right. And him for stupid people like that never while Whitman my God you know in high school there we all were memorizing the lovely Gogol days k.
Yeah yeah. And I'm just so proud of that. Yeah it is really exciting. We have another call.
Hello you're on the air. All right I'm a gay male.
All right I've got on and off for about 30 years now and I've been acutely aware of the divide between man and gay women for most of my my life and I'm wondering if I happen to read your last two years reporting a Bryant paper bridge that is bright men and women closer together terms of consciousness I'm going to we're sort of in the same boat. The women the women are feeling about gay man I would like to comment on that.
Thank you for calling.
Well I would say the Proposition 6 brought us back together. Well I'm sort of wondering where that's going to head since we now have quite a problem going on in San Francisco in reference to the succession of it from Harvey Milk and it's become e quite a dog fight. We're just part of it and for the birds and the one who is closest to Harvey who with worked in the thought face was more on top of what's going on in city hall. I understand there are about 30 applicants. Most of them gay men who are really fighting over the job. And picking on the lesbian they're all running against her. I find it again very difficult. For us to get together.
I think you might experience has been in the couple of years not to have all been in gay politics not just involved with the women's movement or the lesbian movement is that there's is a lot of blame put on women for not wanting to work with men and there are a lot of men who do not look at the fact that they are doing exactly what the hatcheries they didn't want to work with it was centuries back that right very recent for women who wanted to work with me.
Right centuries women I think though that if we're going to have a movement we have to be getting. And I grew up with gay men and I like them a lot. I learned finally in my life that there was a point where you had to stop because the closer you got the deeper your friendship.
Sooner or later you found out that you know like that really deeply and you didn't even know that. And it hurt a lot.
But then if you handled it and said OK then that's their problem but I can be friends on this basis but not on this and I miss and enjoy gay men in our bones. We have a lot of fun together and caring and almost a brother sister relationship.
It was sometimes for me at least in that era Moore says we're going to be now anymore. But then you know what I'm finding is that there.
That there are a good number of young gay men and some older ones who really sincerely are working together with women and working on their own sexism and something that you know I think for the vast majority here you know they are only working with us because somehow or other they know that that's expand Yeah yeah it's politically expedient politically correct them seriously because me need it.
Well that's just the problem is we're trying to play in that woman's role of being the nurturing of the one that's moved it over and it's about time that they started to do some of you here have it right.
We're always seem to be the healers and the best you're together.
Well I think all of you are very very much for being here. It's been very enjoyable talking to you on the air here. Again we've been speaking to Phyllis Lyon Pat Bond and Joe Martin and talking about a whole lot of the stereotype about the lesbian underground and what it was like to be a lesbian before the feminist movement got into what it's like now.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
- The Lesbian Underground
- Lesbe Friends
- Contributing Organization
- Pacifica Radio Archives (North Hollywood, California)
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- Sabrina Sojourner hosts a discussion on the lesbian underground, or what it was like to be a lesbian before the feminist and gay liberation movement. Guests include Del Martin, author and Commissioner of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, Phyllis Lyon, Commissioner for the Human Rights Commission in San Francisco, and Pat Bond, comedian. Lesbe Friends was introduced on KPFA in 1978 as a new program produced by the Lesbian Task Force of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. It was broadcast on second and fourth Mondays of the month at noon.
- Talk Show
- Women's rights--United States--History; Lesbians--United States; Gay rights--United States
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Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: 1419_D01 (Pacifica Radio Archives)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: PRA_AAPP_AZ0294_The_Lesbian_Underground (Filename)
Generation: Master: preservation
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- Chicago: “The Lesbian Underground; Lesbe Friends,” Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_28-zp3vt1h719.
- MLA: “The Lesbian Underground; Lesbe Friends.” Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 21, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_28-zp3vt1h719>.
- APA: The Lesbian Underground; Lesbe Friends. Boston, MA: Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_28-zp3vt1h719