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     Connecting youth with LGBTQ history — a conversation with gay elder
    Christoper Z. Hobson
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and there are obvious reasons why a lgbt q history and culture aren't taught in schools and it goes all the way from an approach by the school boards and boy do you faculty groups of disappointing to emphasize what's held in common between people we don't like to talk about the divisions and of course their misconceiving of sexuality as the division this is about casting public radio's lgbt q youth program where you don't have to be queer to be here are passing is a production of media for the public that a listener supported independent producer based in new york online ad out casting mia dot org hi i'm sure it's on this edition about casting we talk with chris hopson an english professor at the state university of new york old westbury on long island christians again elder his mother a woman writer or
izzy hobson row consenting adults a novel based loosely on her experience with this coming out and her own growth is she gradually accepted his gay identity during this interview chris talks about caster travis about what it was like to be gay teenager in the nineteen fifties surviving psychotherapy joining the movement to becoming an activist his mother's book consenting adult and passing down gay history hi chris oh travis tell us about your early life was like you when you realized you were gay and one was that's our real is as geared to belle ph roof fourteen i had already had my first sexual experience with a guard corps with anybody else and i kind of the picture together for myself over the following month's realize you know this is what i'm interested in and on
was very disturbed by it as people wore end that period the period we're talking about now is roughly the mid nineteen fifties to be all sexual was saw at best to be subject to a medical condition that was very disturbing and at worst of course it was to be in the center and hellfire club so i didn't have a religious upbringing or that kind of background so i didn't experience that kind of thing once you realized your identity what was the coming out process for you when did that start that happen sometime later you initial thing that i wanted to do was to get cured and i was already seeing any psychotherapist of some kind didn't deal with this stuff but i used her to persuade my mom to send me to a real psychotherapist and that was not terrible
but certainly didn't result in any change and during that period of still high school it came out to a few friends sometimes before sex and sometimes been a substitution for sex but not in general i didn't come out in general until old on stonewall itself and that was years later i was twenty seven hours well what'd you want to go to psychotherapy initially i imagined that we use psycho therapy psychoanalysis so it could be called normal as we said then i had a couple of psychotherapists over the years one in new york one in boston when i was there for college and these were not looking back on them negative experiences but i certainly didn't accomplish any change in what was and at a certain point i said to myself this is what i
am provisionally and i wasn't going to say this is what i am permanently god for the moment there does seem to be any sense of all in trying to make a change so there i was i was in my boat i was going after roth and on people going as best i could you're a fascinating essay called surviving psychotherapy which was originally published in the early nineteen seventies can you tell me about it what i tried to do was to describe my experiences in psychotherapy and i think to describe them in kind of the non hostile way that i've just talked about it to you on patrol the same to see the limits in the psychotherapeutic approach to being gay and i told him about the thirteen lasts like a therapist an incident that occurred when i had a very brief affair with a woman you know every game and had to do that then just do proven or you know who we were and on those
nice enough on it but he said well i see something has come out right so he was giving me very clear choose as to the direction that i should go on and i discussed but with him over the next couple sessions that i'd had no regrets about that experience but that i didn't think it was really the direction formally and he was a little bit resistant to that and so ultimately we parted ways friendly enough but that was part of the essay and then i tried to suggest the sense that the movement itself had a therapeutic effect not that people went into it for therapy they went into work for struggle but the impulse to be publicly active and struggle also affects one's self image and one's sense of self worth so that people become more self acceptance through the act of simply doing that
and i closed off with a quote from leon trotsky about one of his old associates who had been in psychoanalysis for many years and trotsky said the revolution he'll be awful much better than many years of psychoanalysis so that was my closing line and basically that's the lesson that i was trying to drive home that essay a specific moments from your life as an activist that stick out you know just say you know life as an activist and was kind of a pattern you went to your organization meetings you went to your demonstrations you wrote in your articles you put them together or you went to a larger mark driscoll by other people and i did a lot of that over the space of twenty five years something like that in the gay movement certainly one of the things that stands out to me is the first gay pride march organized in detroit in i think nineteen
seventy two we did parade that ended up in palmer park at the north end of the city which is a bit of a gay hangout and drew attention from the news media there were television cameras that rolled around i do remember that they've picked out this guy in a lab rat dragging a full down the full beard and of course i asked him first are you willing to be interviewed he said yes so question came on don't tell us your name and where you work and in this deep bass voice you said my name is charles johnson and i work in fords so working class gay man in detroit war or prouder and assertive in a period when the gay movement was largely student dazed and often looked down on working people or had its own class assumptions that working people were either homophobic or tightly in the closet or whatever i
was active in disarmament struggles when i was in college i was active in the student movement of the time students for a democratic society in the later nineteen sixties i was then active in a couple of small revolutionary socialist organizations that lasted up until about nineteen eighty nine nineteen ninety something around then the way i got into the gay movement in the first place was that an organization calling itself the gay liberation front was formed on the university of chicago campus i thought it would be a good thing to investigate and possibly joined on the other hand i was already very known quantity on the university of chicago campus from earlier general activism so i was quite aware that once i went i would be sort of tighten what if i don't like it so i
told us to my friend who was also a nasty has and he's said although no real thing going on now and he did and on came back with a favorable report so i went to the next meeting he's the people that i was working with politically they knew that i was gay i mean i made that plain to them we had a little organization that in those days communicated through notes that were sent to the central office mimeograph been sent around to various locals and ten cities and i wrote something called i think a report on the gay liberation movement which ended with my saying i intend to be active in this movement so you know anybody could draw their conclusions and only i was active to a considerable degree in gay politics over the next ten years say a little bit later i moved to detroit
and worked with a wonderful wonderful good alternative paper that existed there called the detroit game liberate or was there a need for a gay neighborhood there were and you know certain districts in san francisco the village in new york and probably you know some more years in most larger cities function that way because you needed some place where you can walk around on the street and just be sort of ordinarily gay friendly with your boyfriend not anything that was really demonstrative but just walking around being openly gay man not immediately faced negativity people i knew about those areas and of course straight men went down to them to do some gay bashing i can remember in high school one of the tough boys in the school saying to your friend of hers so let's go down to the village and be dopes and queers knows quite open not necessarily that he
did it but he can talk about or that any of this change after stonewall you know i don't think the atmosphere oman her straight folks changed for one column and oddly and off i think one of the things that really he changed the perception of gay people or the aids epidemic the men broke out and i have a very very clear memory myself of reading the tiny item in the new york times that had a headline something like a hundred and forty one good on that game and they didn't say that hundred and forty one homosexuals diagnosed with a rare cancer when that begin many of us war are terribly afraid that there was going to be a horrible backlash there was going to be a major repression there was a funeral of a man while
some of her very little record and what people began to discover that there was someone in their own family that was dying of a horrible disease or somebody in a family that they knew very well ordered some distant relative and in an on the way that nobody would have predicted at the time i think it humanized homosexuals for the majority of people they lived along the really weird third is you know something that that hurricane destroyed so many people have a side effect of back effect that was decent this is our casting public radio's lgbt q youth program produced by media for the public good in new york and my outcast in media dot org on this edition podcast a travis is talking with chris hopson an english professor and gay elder
many young people today reject labels like gay lesbian man woman yet activists fought for these labels to be okay for data be ok what do you think the gay activists of the sixties and the seventies even earlier who fought so hard for the right to be gay and to be proud of it think of younger generations today that are rejecting these labels and identities oh there are so many parallels here aren't there what do older black folks who fought in the movement think about our young black kids who don't like to use racial labels so more thing i'm not sure that the issue has any solution people to find they are gender realities in whatever ways they do we're in an era in which at least in academic circle also query is totally fashionable and queer as perhaps as positive and negative sides the positive side certainly is the understanding that
gender labels or social constructs gender label labels were invented by society and placed people in categories that are not necessarily real categories and yet on the other hand it's also true that if gender labels are malleable over many different societies and even within our own societies identity is not necessarily a bad thing for individuals as it people grow up and discover rather than deciding who they are and i think that's still true of pretty much everybody today they may discover that they are gender everything or they may discover that their gender or something and if they discover that their gender something they got a deal with that and one has to recognize one's own on shows and on we'll essence when you deny that that's when you get into the
life of refusing denial and neurosis and fear and everything else when you recognize what is truly yourself whatever years then on the way forward so i'm not sure that there's a necessary war between the older identity politics and the newer gender fluid or queer or politics or will people on both saw it's my present it that way that attitude seems much more open minded than i've heard from people of different generations whitehorse that it is i have i've heard people my parents age who have this very closed idea despite trying to be open for the idea of days ok lesbian is ok but the idea of gender being fluid is on fathomable or just doesn't sit right with them which always strikes me as
weird sue do you think members of older generations have something to learn from younger generations you know if it's if not you would be him in some kind of intellectual stagnation that lasted for the last forty years of your life wouldn't you and i suppose the younger generations have something to learn from the older generations as well but the world goes on experience goes on and so as a natural process i think the older people learn more from the younger people when the other way around the movement has lost something in its own development over the years and it's gained some things one of the things that it's obviously gained is the right to marriage and eyes celebrate that you have this general you lost the idea that we began with of being part of a movement a larger general movement who was going
to us transform society as a whole but that isn't simply a result of the evolution of the gay movement of the evolution of every other movement as well we move from an era which i think is difficult for people to date to imagine where during the decade of the nineteen sixties more or less people lived we had daily reality that everything in the country was up for grabs the country was changing the country was changing day by day it seemed limitless and the sense of the social reality is not something fed is tight and given and will always be the same that existed at that time and doesn't exist merely that extent today what have you noticed about oh sweetie students through the years at the college that i teach at people or still less open about being lgbt q and they are about other things hours is a completely multicultural
campos we have large portions of african american students ethnic mostly italians from long island hispanic students increasingly numbers of middle eastern students muslim students this that the other lgbt q students are aware of that they can get harassed is usually small petty ways somebody calling out something somebody tossing a bottle cap at them that kind of thing and doesn't necessarily ruin your life but it's also annoying and infuriating to deal with and you prefer not to provoke it so you don't necessarily walk around being terribly open about who you are on the other hand we've had a few things like a drag show that was attended by i would say three hundred undergraduates
and was enormously successful it wasn't great drag the men couldn't walk like when women did much better but it was a drag show and the audience was ninety percent straight and they loved it and there've been public rallies of this kind and another car and an a walk through campus on you know whatever occasion when our lots of lgbt q students lots of supporting students lbj teaching faculty and straight supporting faculty so you know that's all a little bit better than it would have been a few decades ago chris you're the famous thomas' actual son from the famous an essential book consenting adult but it isn't about you it's about your mother what was that experience like
there were some painful aspects to battlefront my mother was originally quite horrified to find that i was gay she referred to it at one point as the most terrible tragedy of my life meaning her life and i thought to myself well you know what about my life and at a certain point i told her thinking and this was always quite difficult for us to talk about my own sexuality in general partly because she was a little bit worried about it and she wanted to know when she wasn't in the safest she wanted to know what i did and stuff like that which i wasn't willing to talk about it all and then a certain point i told her that i was no active again organization and she took her signal it was falling for her to write about her and so she did fictionalize in my life in some ways lightly and in some ways radically aside from the
mother's centered ness of them from other centered less of it i have to say is in selma since of affecting social change which was her motivation in writing the book was a good choice first off you know enough to base the book on the life of the sun and secondly she wanted to affect parents like herself and she wanted to put a tool in the hands of young lesbians and gay men to speak to their parents and i know from experience that worked that way for many many many many many young gay men and women and particularly because of war in the balkans mail so with all of that said aside from the focus on the hair was elation of the mother the other thing that bothered me so what is that the child has turned into a bit of a brainless idea and i don't
think of myself as brian the city i find that old reuters very often have a difficult time i'm imagining the way teenagers speak and act speak particularly they assume a limited vocabulary teenagers do not have a limited vocabulary you can hear any word that an adult users within a given educational background of the family and therefore so complicated even if if their forts or sometimes chaotic confused like everybody's thoughts so when you write dialogue for a teenage character that makes him sound like a dick and jane book it's not really good so those were some of my reactions and why we fought over the spoke quite a lot ultimately accepted that she just had to write it that was what she was going to do and
ultimately we sort of made peace with each other about it we make peace on the basis of putting our differences to the side rather than really resulting them do i believe it's very important for lgbt q history to be in schools since the history of lgbt people can't be passed down like a family history because most people don't have a relative that can't be no you know if we can imagine some decades ahead when every family has a noble lgbt q person interviews completely open about that then it is passed down you don't have to hide who uncle freddy is uncle freddy is completely open about who is and then uncle freddy talks to his nephew about what was like when he was young veteran surfer but admittedly it's not that way in most families in most parts of the united states and certainly not in many other
countries today so yeah i think it's terribly important in school than that i think that you know for obvious reasons why lgbt q history and culture aren't taught in schools and it goes all the way from them an approach for the school boards and boy the faculty groups that are designing curricula to emphasize what's held in common between people we don't want to talk about divisions and of course you're misconceiving homosexuality as a division va kids in the classroom may be ahead of them on that and it's also a matter of homophobia among the teachers the reality is that particularly among teenagers everybody has something that is away from the norm i
think tolerance is a very important quality i don't want to put it down because what a dawes is to create some space and that's useful important and it's certainly better than intolerance i put has its drawbacks and one of them is that it goes it has to grow back one of them is that it does presuppose difference in which what is perceived as tall orders priests perceived as less acceptable it's just that we should accept and the other difference is that the other problems it has use fat in perceive crises it goes right out the window well it certainly tolerances has some superiority attached to it
it's been a fascinating conversation of the christ thank you so much for joining us it's been equally fascinating for me and i'm very glad to have assault rifles that's it for this edition of out casting public radio's lgbt q youth program where you don't have to be cleared to be here this program has been produced by the outcast in team including youth participants travis alix janie cali adam briana sarah drew dante and meet sherin our executive producer is mark sofas and our assistant producer alex smith says passing is a production of media for the public good a listener supported independent producer based in new york more information about outcast thing is available about casting media dot org you'll find information about the show listen links for all our past episodes in the podcast link out casting is also on social media
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Series
OutCasting
Episode
Connecting youth with LGBTQ history — a conversation with gay elder Christoper Z. Hobson
Producing Organization
Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media
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Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media (Westchester County, New York)
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cpb-aacip-692255c30ec
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Description
A generational gap in the LGBTQ community is leaving many young LGBTQ people in the dark when it comes to the history of the LGBTQ rights movement. As young people strive and often struggle to accept themselves, this lack of knowledge can be extremely harmful, potentially leaving them isolated and more prone to self-destructive behaviors, including suicide. [p] There are several reasons for this gap. Consider how history gets passed down from generation to generation. Mainstream history is formally taught in schools. Family history is passed down through stories told by parents and grandparents. It’s easy and natural, as it should be. [p] But these pathways don’t exist for passing down LGBTQ history and experience. First with rare exceptions, LGBTQ history is erased from public school curricula. (California is an exception.) In many states, ending this exclusion would be politically difficult if not impossible. Second, LGBTQ youth are almost never born into their own tribe; they are usually born into straight families and must strike out on their own to find their own community. LGBTQ elders, if they exist in the family, are often not talked about, and so this pathway also does not exist in many cases. And finally, there can be an unwarranted sense that it's somehow unseemly when LGBTQ adults talk with young LGBTQ people about LGBTQ topics. [p] On this edition of Outcasting, we begin an irregular series connecting LGBTQ youth with elders and providing all listeners with a look into the experiences of people who have participated in the LGBTQ rights movement. On this week’s program, OutCaster Travis returned from college to talk with Christopher Z. Hobson, a professor of English at the State University of New York at Old Westbury, in a conversation recorded in Chris's uptown Manhattan apartment. Chris is also a gay elder and activist. [p] Coming of age in the 1950s — more than a decade before the Stonewall riots — Chris struggled with his sexuality and went through years of psychotherapy before eventually coming to accept himself. In this episode, Chris speaks to the generational divide and teaches us what it was like to be gay throughout his lifetime. He also discusses his life as an activist and his perspectives on how young people today deal with their sexual orientations and gender identities. [p] Chris is a son of the late author Laura Z. Hobson, who wrote the novel Gentleman’s Agreement, subsequently adapted as an Oscar-winning film in the late 1940s. More pertinent here is her 1975 novel Consenting Adult, a powerful book fictionalizing her experience in gradually coming to accept Chris’s sexuality. Consenting Adult was later adapted as a television movie, available on YouTube. [p] Note: California is an exception. Several years ago, State Senator Mark Leno sponsored a bill, later enacted into law, that ended the erasure of the history of LGBTQ and disabled people from public school curricula in California. We spoke with him about the bill in an earlier edition of OutCasting.
Broadcast
2017-03-21
Asset type
Episode
Topics
LGBTQ
Subjects
LGBTQ youth
Rights
Copyright Media for the Public Good. With the exception of third party-owned material that is contained within this program, this content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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Duration
00:29:02.654
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Guest: Marc Sophos
Producing Organization: Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media
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Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media
Identifier: cpb-aacip-28e0732dff5 (Filename)
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Citations
Chicago: “OutCasting; Connecting youth with LGBTQ history — a conversation with gay elder Christoper Z. Hobson ,” 2017-03-21, Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 13, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-692255c30ec.
MLA: “OutCasting; Connecting youth with LGBTQ history — a conversation with gay elder Christoper Z. Hobson .” 2017-03-21. Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 13, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-692255c30ec>.
APA: OutCasting; Connecting youth with LGBTQ history — a conversation with gay elder Christoper Z. Hobson . Boston, MA: Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-692255c30ec