Making Gay History - Record Repertoire
The Making Gay History podcast delves into Eric Marcus’s decades old audio archive of rare interviews — conducted for his award-winning oral history of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement — to create intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history.
The podcasts give you the opportunity to listen to peoples stories in their voices, stories that without Eric Marcus's archive of tape cassettes, might be lost forever. From historical LGBT+ moments in small towns to piecing together the night of the Stonewall riots, hearing the voices of the people who made history, it's like you were standing there right along with them as the glass shattered and "everything clicked".
But it's not all fight. There are also stories of first loves and first dances, of miraculous parents who would go to the ends of the earth for their children to not have to hide in the shadows and loves that survived the pressure of feeling like the world was against them, relationships that would go on to last them a lifetime.
The series is available on Spotify or you can listen directly on their website for free. On the website you will find not just the podcast but also the transcripts on the episodes with pictures of the people you're listening to from archives all over America, to little helpful details like the floor plans on the Stonewall Inn and reports from the New York City Police Department.
I will share with you my three favourite episodes but I encourage you to listen to them all.
Season 3: Episode 4 – J.J Belanger
"J.J. Belanger lived a big life. But if we remember him at all, it’s only because of two images from a photo booth photo taken in 1953. Yet J.J. had a big life that extended from the skies over Europe during World War II and the offices of the legendary Dr. Alfred Kinsey to trans rights activism before transgender rights were on anybody’s radar."
What stuck out to me from this episode was J.J's father and his unusual luck to have such an intelligent and understanding family.
JJ: My father, uh, said he was aware of it for quite some time, as a doctor himself, and he proceeded to… I still crack up when I think about it, because he caught Archie and I, we were high school lovers, in the living room when he came home from Montreal. And Daddy walked from the pantry to the kitchen dining room, and in those old days we had old butler’s pantries in those old homes, especially in Canada, and he walked through with his brandy and his cigar in one hand, and here we were doing our thing in front of the fireplace without a thing on, and Daddy just looked at us and says, “Hi, Fellas, see you in the morning at breakfast,” which, you know, that was my daddy.
Season 5: Stonewall 50 – Episode 2 – “Everything Clicked… And the Riot Was On”
In this episode and the whole season, Eric takes us through the events on the night of the riot at the Stonewall Inn on it's 50th anniversary. In this particular episode they have edited multiple interviews together in a way that creates a seamless story that will have you on the edge of your seat. They combined the story with the roaring of the fire and the crowd to their sudden unnerving silence at the heavy footsteps of Tactical Police Force, "armed to the teeth".
Bonus Episode — Love is Love
"The four love stories we present in this special Valentine’s Day bonus episode come from people who took high profile roles in the LGBT civil rights movement in the 1960s and ‘70s. On most days we celebrate their their contributions to the movement. In this episode we get a peek into their hearts with stories of cautious love, the loss of a love, love sickness, and first love."
My favourite of the four love stories is Morty Manford, who tells of a certain night in the summer of 1968, where a beautiful boy asked him to the dance at the Old Vic.
Reading Recommendations & Content Considerations
Eric Marcus November 1958