After a 10-month hiatus, I resume blogging here on an occasional basis.
For World AIDS Day two years ago, Michigan LGBTQ Remember highlighted twelve individuals that MSU alum and ACT UP member Jon Nalley knew from his college days who had died from HIV/AIDS as of 1991, when he recounted their lives in an affidavit to New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.
Last year, for World AIDS Day, retired AIDS Partnership Michigan executive director Barbara Murray shared twelve people from Metro Detroit that she witnessed in their living with and dying from the disease in the course of her career and activism.
I thank Jon and Barb for their sharing and generosity. I now have a stronger sense of what a big ask it was.
Continue reading “Twelve I Knew”
When I was 21 and living in a basement efficiency in Flint, on my own for the first time, I remember tuning in on my clock radio to hear Michael Murray a call-in show called Flint Feedback, broadcast on AM station WTRX.
Murray had helped found Dignity/Flint in 1976 and was one of the few gay people in Flint in the mid-1980s to be so out as to appear on the radio.
Continue reading “On the Radio”
As I rework my dissertation into a book manuscript—cutting sections here, smoothing out passages there, tugging at paragraphs like taffy over there, finding the through line—I have been sneaking out and doing some last-minute oral history interviews. Even though many people have told me to stop, that I need to get the book done.
I can’t quite help it.
Continue reading “Whatever Happened to…?”
I first met Esther Newton at an armory.
The occasion was the opening keynote of the OutWrite ‘92 (or was it OutWrite ‘93?) conference in Boston. She and a companion sat in the row just in front of me and I recognized her name from the name tag.
Continue reading “Esther’s Butch Career”
Yesterday, December 31, 2018, marked the official last day* for Common Language Bookstore in Ann Arbor. In November, owners Keith Orr and Martin Contreras announced they were closing up shop at the end of the year. In mid-December, Between The Lines hosted a farewell party to thank Martin and Keith for their years of devotion, keeping the store open long after most other queer bookstores in the country have gone out of business.
For the first time in more than four decades, Michigan has no LGBTQ bookstore.
Continue reading “LGBTQ Bookstores RIP”
My grandfather loved to tell stories of yesteryear. In conversation, he would often ask “Why should I give a rat’s ass?” as if out of the blue. Although I was never sure if his salty language came from growing up in Michigan’s Thumb or from working in Flint’s factories, I came to understand his storytelling as a significant means of conveying personal values, culture, and history to his grandkids.
Continue reading “Giving a Rat’s Ass about LGBTQ History, 2018 edition”
“These are not numbers, but people I loved and cared about,” Michigan State alum Jon Nalley wrote in a 1991 affidavit, explaining that his ACT UP civil disobedience grew from the loss of twelve college friends to AIDS. Michigan LGBTQ Remember featured these twelve individuals for World AIDS Day last year.
For 2018, the site and this blog commemorate twelve other Michiganders lost to HIV/AIDS, all from Metro Detroit, who are specially remembered by Barbara Murray: Anthony Caputo, Chester Cislo, James Drain, Jeff Kucharsk, Tom Bartley, Jim Proffitt, Doug Pizzala, Tim Warner, Jim Beates, Scott McCready, Robin Ware, and Dan Stoepker.
Continue reading “Barb Remembers”
In late 1991 or early 1992, I took training to be part of the speakers’ bureau for the Lesbian-Gay Male Program Office, now called the Spectrum Center, at the University of Michigan.
It was a rigorous weekend of sharing and self-reflection conducted by Billie Edwards and Jim Toy. The final project for the half dozen or so of us in attendance was to draft, refine, and practice our Coming Out Story, a narrative of how we came to see ourselves as gay or lesbian (bi and trans experiences were not yet fully on the radar). The stories we crafted would serve as the bases for visiting classes. In the early 1990s, in many instances, we remained novelties for straight people.
Continue reading “My Coming Out Story”
For historians of the LGBTQ past, having access to a personal diary is akin to striking gold.
The surviving diaries of Charles Tomlinson Griffes add enriching detail to Gay New York by George Chauncey. Diaries of Anne Lister and Mary Benson were invaluable sources for Intimate Friends by Martha Vicinus. The extensive diary of Carter Bealer proved indispensable to understanding the early gay geography of Washington, DC in A Queer Capital by Genny Beemyn.
Continue reading “LGBTQ Diaries”
In 1990, two years after the first National Coming Out Day, I came out for the first time in print. I was terrified.
The venue was a small publication called briX, published by the Greater Flint Arts Council. As “a collection of art and ideas,” briX included poetry, short fiction, essays, and the brilliant one-panel cartoons of local artist Patrick Hardin.
Continue reading “Censored Art, Censored Lives”