Jeffrey Escoffier (born 1942), Interviewed November 3, 1993

by Marc Stein. Copyright © Marc Stein 2021. All rights reserved.


I interviewed Jeffrey Escoffier at his home in New York City in November 1993. I had known about Escoffier’s involvement with the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay History Project in the 1970s; his editorship of the journal Socialist Review in the 1980s; and his leadership roles with Outlook magazine in the 1980s and early 1990s and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in New York in the early 1990s. I believe it was historian of sexuality James Green, whose work focuses on Brazil, who told me about Escoffier’s Philadelphia years and encouraged me to interview him. Escoffier, currently living in New York City, provided me with the following biographical information in 2021:


Date of Birth: 9 October 1942

Place of Birth: Baltimore, Maryland

Place of Mother's Baltimore, Maryland

Mother's Occupation: Housewife

Place of Father's Birth: New Orleans, Louisiana (Stepfather, Den Hague, Netherlands)

Father's Occupation: Father – Lt. Col. National Guard; Stepfather – Clerical Worker

Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian

Religious Background: Protestant

Class Background: Working Class


Residential History

1942-43: Baltimore, Maryland

1943-49: New York City, New York

1950-52: Madison, New Jersey

1953: Hilversum & Baarn, Netherlands

1954-70: New York City, New York

1970-77: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

            Pine Street near the University of Pennsylvania

            Market Street near the University of Pennsylvania

  1. 36th St. in Powelton Village
  2. 33rd St. in Powelton Village


Marc Stein Interview with Jeffrey Escoffier, 3 November 1993


Transcribed by Marc Stein.


MS: This is Marc Stein and I'm interviewing Jeff Escoffier on November 3, 1993, in his apartment in New York. And we just went over that you were born on October 9, 1942.


JE: Right.


MS: I was just hoping that maybe you could say something about the kind of family that you grew up in, where you grew up, and those sorts of things.


JE: O.K. I grew up in and around New York City. We moved a lot. My family was kind of working class, WASP working class, but there was a kind of intellectual aspiration in it that made us seem a little bohemian or something. But we were economically living in working class neighborhoods, so culturally we were a little different. I spent most of my time growing up either in Manhattan and then, from junior high on, Staten Island. And emotionally in my family there was a whole drama, of which I wasn't completely aware, involving my father's incest with my sisters. And so that was a big drama of my high school years and my homosexuality sort of emerged in that context.


MS: It was a big drama, and is that when you were finding out about it?


JE: At the time I didn't find out about it, but I knew something was going on. My parents were fighting and they were fighting over my sister and my sister's boyfriends and so there was a lot of melodrama. And it was in this context that I had my first sexual experiences with my sister's boyfriend. So the whole emotional tangle of the family was very confusing.


MS: You had one sister?


JE: I had two sisters.


MS: Two sisters.


JE: At the time. One much younger, years later, with my mother’s later husband.


MS: I see. And it was the younger sister?


JE: Yes.


MS: So she had a boyfriend and what age was this when you...?


JE: I was sixteen and he was fifteen. And I'm sure he eventually ended up gay. And I'm not exactly sure why these things happened the way they did, but there were obviously a lot of emotional undercurrents. And I don't know whether it was competition or envy or what about sex and love in my family. But I would say that those years were pretty formative years and dominated my high school years.


MS: You said you're sure that he ended up being gay. Why do you say that?


JE: Well I mean I saw him years later and I heard through people in the neighborhood that he was living with some t.v. host, the host of a t.v. show, and ended up actually committing suicide at some point.


MS: Is that right?


JE: Yeah.


MS: Did the family find out about you and your sister's boyfriend?


JE: Not until years later.


MS: And was this a regular thing or was it a one-time thing?


JE: This is the embarrassing part of all this. It happened twice with my sister's first two boyfriends, who were also my first two boyfriends. And the reason I guess I see it as important, and I've actually written a piece about it that was supposed to be in Outlook, but we decided we couldn't publish it because the previous thing we published on incest had been controversial. And my remark in it had been the most controversial remark, which was that I said I would rather have been sexually molested than forced to play Little League. And that was to point up what I thought, that families are abusive in lots of different ways. And I kind of said it without really thinking about what I was really meaning. And after the criticism and all the cancellations of subscriptions and things, I at some point was thinking, “Well why did I say that?” And it suddenly hit me that I was actually jealous of my sister and jealous of her being at the center of the family drama over love, or sex I guess. And so I wrote a piece about this.


MS: I see. Wow, that must have taken some courage, I must say.


JE: Which then the editors of Outlook didn't want to publish because they said, “Well this can't be the only other piece we publish on incest.” So eventually I'm sure it will be published somewhere.


MS: So you're saying this happened once each time with each of her and your first boyfriends.


JE: Yeah, yeah.


MS: And other people have told me stories of sisters' boyfriends not having sex with sisters, being sexually frustrated, and then their brother's available.


JE: Uhhuh, uhhuh [assent].


MS: Was it that sort of thing?


JE: No. Well I think in the first case my sister and her boyfriend, my boyfriend, didn't sleep with each other. But in the second case they did. I mean I'm sure the fact was that he was a more real bisexual person in that regard. And the second guy, it was all his initiative. So in both cases this was something I hadn't expected to happen. And it wasn't like I even realized what my own interest in it was at the time.


MS: So you hadn't had experiences when you were younger that made you identify in any way with gay people?


JE: I had begun to. I mean this was also 1950-something. I had always had fantasies about men from a very early age that I can remember. I don't know when it was that I got the vocabulary. But Richie, who was the first guy, and I, were involved. It was I think between my sophomore and junior year and so it was around that time, it was literally around that time, that I read Giovanni's Room, or soon after that, which was very important and was for me the defining thing. And I had begun to be aware. And Walt Whitman also. Somehow I found out about Walt Whitman and Hart Crane. It was all around this period. And this period, the way I can identify it even, is that before I started sleeping with Richie, I was kind of like a science nerd. I had done science fair projects and each time I had won some kind of prize in high school. And once I started sleeping with Richie, once I started having sex, gay sex, I stopped doing science totally and got very interested in literature, fiction, and stuff like that. So I see it as like I knew somewhat how I had to explore it and that was the way to explore it. And I think those were the only things while I was in high school that I was involved in. And I was quite aware by the end that I was gay and was interested in guys and was fantasizing and sort of scheming at that point. And when I went to college, I went to St. John's College in Annapolis. In my first year there I told this guy that I was gay and I ended up being involved with him for over six years. And it was a typically bizarre 1950s closeted relationship in which he always insisted he wasn't gay, and isn't. I mean I still know him and he's never been involved with another man.


MS: You say '50s, though this must have been the '60s.


JE: That was '60, '60 to '64. You're right, but it was still culturally the '50s.


MS: I know what that's like. My parents got married in 1960, but they had a '50s marriage.


JE: Right. Right. So at that point, on my summer vacations I would go to Washington Square and cruise and get picked up. And I started expanding my sexual experiences, sleeping with other people.


MS: Well can you take me briefly up to when you moved to Philadelphia? You went to college.


JE: Up to Philadelphia? Sure. O.K. I went to college and in 1964 I graduated and moved to New York and went to Columbia, got a masters in African Studies and International Affairs at the School of International Affairs at Columbia. Then started doing economics. But then in 1968, during the revolution, I quit and I worked for a year for the New York Medical College, working on a history of mental health care in New York State. But I then decided to go back to graduate school, went back to Penn in economic history.


MS: And since this I know will come to be important in what we talk about in the '70's, I want to ask you about the revolution. I take it, then, that you were a leftist before you became a gay activist. Is that right?


JE: Well I was an armchair leftist. When I was in the School of International Affairs, which was a very conservative environment, it was the period when a lot of people were trying to decide their attitude towards the Vietnam War. And I would say I was somewhere in the middle. My family has no political--I mean they were kind of liberal Roosevelt Democrats, I guess. But there was no interest in politics, no activism of any kind. And I was interested, but I had no real social experience. And at Columbia, where I had a friend who was a leftist and she was kind of important in that way, she was an opponent of the war in Vietnam and was really the first person I remember using to argue with about it. At the same time, most of the other people in the school were on the other side of it. And one of my teachers was Roger Hilsman, who was Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs in the Kennedy era. He was basically in favor of the war in Vietnam, although he thought it was being done [inaudible]. So at Columbia, it was interesting, because there was a Student Homophile Union at the same time. I used to always look to see if the guy was cute, but I would walk not at all close to the table.


MS: So you were aware of their presence.


JE: Oh totally.


MS: But you were by no means a member.


JE: Right. I mean I knew I was gay, or as I used to think of it, I knew I was queer, but I don't know. I think basically in general I'm a very timid person and I think I was then particularly. And then once the demonstrations started in '68 and all, I mean I was totally on side and totally caught up in it at that point, but I wasn't one of the people who occupied the building. And a lot of this had to do with the fact that I never felt that I could socially belong. And this was really a very strong sense of my homosexuality intruding on my comfort in those situations. And seeing the guys, these incredibly macho guys [inaudible]. And also by that time I had a small circle of friends of which I was really the only political person. But even that wasn't very political by those standards. So when Stonewall happened, which I read about in the Village Voice in the famous article, to me that was one of the most incredibly exciting things. And it really changed everything for me. Because it did put together the kind of radicalism that I had seen on campus and directed toward the war and civil rights things with gay issues. And at that point I decided to come out to everybody and I started that. And that was also the same time when I decided to go back to school at Penn. And part of that whole decision of moving to Philadelphia was that once I moved to Philadelphia, I would not be in the closet at all. And that's sort of what I did. And so when I got to Philadelphia, my arrival was in the fall and I can't remember the exact year, although I suspect it was the fall of '70. I can't figure out how to find out.


MS: What was the time of year? Well I wondered if this would help--I have some dates in Philly of things that you might remember. Let's see. Well the Black Panther convention at Temple was held in September of 1970.


JE: That was before me. Well I think it was just before me. What I remember is the Free, I don't know what the paper was called.


MS: The Plain Dealer or the Free Press?


JE: I don't remember, but I remember that paper had something about the convention.


MS: Right around when you were moving?


JE: Mmhmm [assent]. What else? Anything else?


MS: Well there was a Philadelphia Free Press spread on GLF [Gay Liberation Front] on July 27, 1970. Let's see. In early '71 there was the eruption of conflict over the People's Fund funding of GLF and HAL [Homophile Action League]. Merle Miller's piece in the magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, “What It Means to be a Homosexual,” also in February of '71.


JE: Yeah. When was the first Super Sunday?


MS: I may not have that right here. There was the demonstration at Carl McIntire's church in New Jersey.


JE: Yeah, when was that?


MS: That was in March '71. G.A.A. [Gay Activists Alliance] was then founded in the summer of '71.


JE: Was that publicly or was that private?


MS: I don't know. These are old notes of mine where I have this chronology. And then in October of '71, the HAL dance at St. Mary's.


JE: Well then maybe it wasn't ‘til '71 that I moved there.


MS: Well it may come up later when I ask you about your first memories of Philadelphia.


JE: Well I could see. I mean I could look through my university stuff, but anyway, yeah, maybe we can reconstruct it.


MS: Yeah. So you went to Philadelphia to go to graduate school in economics.


JE: Right.


MS: And where did you move when you moved?


JE: I lived on Pine. I don't know. It was West Philadelphia on Pine where all the trolleys come out from underground. Isn’t that South Pine? So anyway I lived there for a couple years.


MS: I see. And you started school in the fall. And what were the first gay involvements that you had once you were in Philadelphia? Do you recall?


JE: Well it seemed like almost immediately, I remember looking around for things. And I think I went to this HAL dance at St. Mary's and at some point the GAA was meeting at the Christian Association.


MS: Is that the first meeting that you went to that you recall?


JE: Yes, I think it was the first.


MS: And do you remember anything about the meeting or the first couple of meetings?


JE: Well I don't remember too much. It was a very small group. They were still hashing out the constitution. And as that went on I remember the group got smaller and smaller. And my sense was that at some point, like around December, is when the person who had been president quit and then I became president. But I know it was around the constitution, that type of stuff.


MS: Do you know who the first was? You were the second president then?


JE: I was really the second president.


MS: Do you know who the first one was?


JE: It was a guy named Tim Woodbury.


MS: Tim Woodbury? And so when you first were meeting your sense was that the group had just started?


JE: They had been meeting privately over the summer.


MS: I see.


JE: And those people, I think, were Tim Woodbury, who had moved from New York and been active in GAA in New York and whose lover had a plant store or something in Philadelphia. And he didn't stay long. I think George Bodamer was involved in that group. I think Harry Eberlin was involved in that group.


MS: Well I have a phone list from HAL that I found. HAL's chair was Paul Long at that point.


JE: Right.


MS: And vice chair was Rick Kirk. And you're listed as the chair of GAA.


JE: When was this?


MS: It's not dated.


JE: Oh.


MS: Though the names, I thought, might help you on who was involved.


JE: Right. Well see that was very early when I was there.


MS: The GAA liaison was Harry Langhorne.


JE: Yeah.


MS: And then the Radicalesbians contact person was Susan Wurst?


JE: Yeah, that's right.


MS: But I guess most of the names here are HAL names.


JE: Yeah, and that was right at the beginning of things, because HAL really didn't last very much longer after GAA started.


MS: So those people then started meeting more publicly, you said?


JE: Yes, at the Christian Association.


MS: And how many people started coming once they opened up the meetings?


JE: They got bigger and bigger. There were at least a hundred. I remember counting. And it was during when I was president that we moved from the Christian Association down to...


MS: Horizon House?


JE: ...Horizon House. And that increased the number of people who attended. And we built in social time and that increased the number of people, too.


MS: So it was a hundred while you were still at the Christian Association?


JE: I think so. I think so. Definitely by the time we were at Horizon House it was like 125 weekly. And I remember that at one point I was involved in this conference called the Men Event that was leftist men and gay men working together and they were astonished at the number of people who would come to the gay meetings. “Get over it.”


MS: That was during the year that you were president of GAA?


JE: I think the Men Event was after that.


MS: O.K. Maybe if we can stay on that year, because you may know more about GAA than anyone else for that year.


JE: Maybe. And Harry's memory's not too good, if I remember correctly.


MS: Who were the other people leading GAA that year? Do you remember?


JE: Harry was one of the people. Matthew Grande was the delegate at large or something. Harry was vice president; wasn’t that what Harry was?


MS: Harry Langhorne, you mean?


JE: Yeah, Harry Langhorne. I think Tommi came in very soon in there, but I don't think he was actually there at the very beginning. But definitely that year was when he became involved. George Bodamer. Well it looks like he was the Political Committee person.


MS: Was there a Social Committee?


JE: There was a Social Committee.


MS: I think it was later that there was a Third World Committee.


JE: There was a Third World Committee. There was a hotline.


MS: So the Third World Committee already was in existence when you were the chair, as far as you remember?


JE: Yeah. Probably not from the very beginning, but I remember it. I mean it may be. I think it did; I remember. Was that Sag?


MS: Right.


JE: Yeah.


MS: And what was Mark Segal's relationship to these goings on?


JE: Oh Mark Segal.


MS: Was he part of GAA?


JE: He was never really part of GAA. He was always sort of on his own. And he would come to GAA meetings and of course everyone felt very strongly about him. And the other people who would be in and pushing people around all the time were Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin, who has now changed her name.


MS: Right.


JE: I was going to say: why can't she use Kay Tobin, ‘cause now we don't know who that is.


MS: Right. Right. So they would be coming to GAA meetings?


JE: They would come to GAA meetings. They always had a very definite agenda.


MS: But the Gay Raiders were active at this point, right?


JE: It seems to me the Gay Raiders were a little later, but I don't remember exactly how long I was president.


MS: O.K.


JE: I think I was president from something around January or December of whatever year after I got there to about maybe a little more than a year later. And I think we can date the end by that article in Philadelphia Magazine. Because I think that came out...


MS: I'm pretty sure that was May '74.


JE: No.


MS: You're talking about the Townley article that has photos of Tom Wilson Weinberg and the other owners of Giovanni's Room and photos of Henri David?


JE: I don't know.


MS: O.K.


JE: See if I read it I would know. But there was this article. This is so infuriating. You must have this trouble all the time with people, don't you? Or are people better about it?


MS: No, it varies. People remember different kinds of things. Oh, you were asking before about Super Sunday. I have a note about Super Sunday in October '72, Mark Segal accosting Sargent Shriver in October of '72.


JE: Is that the first one?


MS: I'm not sure.


JE: Well I don't remember. When did The Alternative start? Do you know that?


MS: Yeah. December '72.


JE: O.K. It was in that previous year that I ceased to be president.


MS: O.K. I have a feeling it was December '71 to December '72, approximately there.


JE: I think that's approximately right. I think it was about a year.


MS: So we were talking about that year and most people you mentioned being the official leadership were white men.


JE: Yes.


MS: Is that accurate? But you did mention that Barbara and Kay were coming to meetings.


JE: Right.


MS: And you did mention that you think that there was a Third World Committee that early.


JE: Yes. Sag was at those early meetings, from the very beginning.


MS: So what was the make-up of the meetings? What, if you had to guess, would be the ratio?


JE: Well it changed from the Christian Association to the Horizon House. Once we moved to Horizon House, we had many more street hustlers, drag, Black. I mean we used to distinguish between the middle class members and the street people. I don't know who I had this

discussion with, but trying to sort out the dynamics that were going on and how the street people would put in a lot of the energy in the group but that it tended to be the more middle class people, and I guess I grouped myself and Harry Langhorne and those people, who would be keeping the machine oiled and going.


MS: Right.


JE: At the Christian Association, though, it was mostly people really from Penn, with a few extras.


MS: And if you had to guess the ratio of men to women?


JE: Oh, it was like ninety, ninety-five percent.


MS: And then at Horizon House? Men to women?


JE: It shifted. The number of women I don't think was ever huge. It was never more than twenty percent. I mean this is very vague.


MS: Right. I understand that. And the women, were as many of the women students and young?


JE: No. Well there was also a group called Radicalesbians. I remember there was this meeting that I think Barbara Gittings organized of all the people of HAL and GAA at I think the Christian Association. I was there. I remember. I'll never forget it because it was where I referred to women as girls and all the Radicalesbians stormed out.


MS: Oh no! We have to date that.


JE: Well I’m sure that was very early.


MS: Was it when you were meeting at the Christian Association still?


JE: I guess so. But it wasn’t a GAA meeting. It was some kind of meeting of groups. I was a complete neophyte.


MS: And this was your first encounter with organized feminism?


JE: Absolutely.


MS: What did you know about the Radicalesbians group or what did you learn about the Radicalesbians group?


JE: Well I mean I quickly learned that I had to find out more, because I think that was a very effective lesson for me. There was a group of women on campus organizing a women's studies program which now exists. Cynthia Secor, people like that. And I was friendly with a lot of them. So it was really through those women, some of whom were lesbian, some of whom were bisexual, that I had my most intense involvements with feminism. But it was when I arrived and this whole incident must have been very, very early on when I was at GAA, because I remember being traumatized by it and realizing I had to find out about this.


MS: And so what was the aftermath? Did you make amends?


JE: I'm sure I did. I don't remember what happened after. And Radicalesbians as a group wasn't too interested in interacting with men, and I remember there was always a lot of separatism in Philadelphia. And Barbara and Kay always had problems with lesbians because they were always interested in working with mixed groups. So there was always Barbara trying to work out her ideological position and would hate terms like male chauvinist and patriarchal and would always talk about male-centered versus female-centered and stuff like that. She tried to have an alternative vocabulary, I think, so what she was doing could be seen a little more sympathetically by other women. So in that first year, what if I just actually tried to remember some of the key things?


MS: Yeah, yeah, that was the next thing I was going to ask.


JE: O.K. I'm not sure what order it's in, so god, this is so hard. I'm amazed. A big event, and I remember it as early in the year, was some kind of, I thought it was Super Sunday, which I don't remember being in the fall, but it was always in the fall. So maybe it was actually before I became president. I think that's what it was. That Super Sunday, I thought it was the first Super Sunday, was one of the big things in which there was a kissing booth. And it was like the first time that GAA was out there doing stuff. And it's amazing when you think about it. It was 1970 and how Philadelphia was really never very sympathetic.


MS: Well why don't you describe was Super Sunday was?


JE: It was like an urban county fair and there were rides, there were booths, there were people selling things and displays of urban culture of all kinds, different communities.


MS: And do you remember the reaction to the kiss a queer booth? Is that what you said?


JE: Yeah. I don't think we used kiss a queer, but it was something. And for everyone in GAA who was involved in it, it was a very exciting, exhilarating thing. And it provoked a lot of surprise and disgust on the part of people seeing it and walking by. And of course only gay people went in to be kissed.


MS: Were you among those being kissed or kissing?


JE: No I wasn't. I mean I was still too, too shy for that. I had just joined. I think it was like right after the first meeting or something. But I remember that kind of gave an emotional fix on Philadelphia gay activism and so on. And another high point, well I think it was very important to move from the Christian Association to the Horizon House, because it always had a kind of campus feel about it until we moved downtown. And with the move downtown, I remember one of the things that happened also, and I have no idea whether this was a legitimate perception or not, but my sense was that at some point--I think we met on Mondays--everyone started going to the Allegro afterwards. And I think it contributed to a revival for a period of the Allegro, which I think was sort of moribund at that point. And so then Monday night was always a busy night and it was an interesting phenomenon to have gay activists, all of us, go to a bar afterwards.


MS: Right.


JE: And so it had kind of an economic infusion into bar life, and bar life became a little more in touch with the gay activist thing and stuff like that. Another big issue, I think it was in this year, was the demonstration against the Steps. I'm thinking it was later actually. I can't remember the date, but I remember that as a big thing, because they were carding Blacks and effeminate men.


MS: And you participated in that?


JE: Yeah, I was definitely involved in planning stuff. And another big event was the sit-in at some t.v. station with HAL people, with Byrna Aronson? Is she still around?


MS: She's in Boston. I haven't been able to get her to respond to my letters.


JE: She was a HAL person. That's actually how I remember her.


MS: Right.


JE: And I remember some t.v. person made some kind of disparaging remark and so we organized a sit-in in the lobby. And in one of my major political lessons, Byrna and I had gotten past a guard and into the stairwell, so they were totally terrified. And they met with us in the office. And I kind of let Byrna, who I saw as much more experienced than myself, take the lead in negotiation. But it was a clear sense in which I saw that whatever advantage you have disappear as Byrna talked. In other words, you can talk too much in a situation, like when you're trying to negotiate a retraction of the state or an apology or something like that. Whatever little power we had for a moment with the sit-in and then being inside the building, to me it was one of those things where sometimes you just have to insist and shut up.


MS: Do you remember what the resolution was of that situation?


JE: It was nothing.


MS: I have a note of a sit-in at WPVI TV. Mark Segal and Sag had been forced to leave a televised dance show in Atlantic City and then it says a 116 member GAA backed plan by Mark Segal to invade the studio. And he interrupted The Larry Kane Show.


JE: No that was not it.


MS: No? O.K.


JE: What year was that?


MS: That was '72.


JE: I remember that, but that wasn't this time. At least I don't think it was. I guess Mark was at some point a chair of the Political Committee, wasn't he?


MS: Mhmm [assent].


JE: That's what it was. And the Gay Raiders was later then.


MS: I have dates I can pull out later on on the Gay Raiders and that might trigger some of this, too.


JE: Yeah.


MS: I want to talk a little more about relations between the women and the men in GAA. I have a tape of a forum that was once held to discuss sexism within GAA.


JE: Really?


MS: I suspect it was later. There's a name written on the tape that says Joy.


JE: Joy?


MS: Tommi thought it might have been Joe. But whoever it was, it was basically one woman talking to a lot of GAA men about sexism within GAA.


JE: You don't know who any of the people are?


MS: No. If I brought the tape to you maybe you'd recognize the voices.


JE: We certainly could try.


MS: But you don't recall this discussion?


JE: No.


MS: What do you recall about how the gay men and the lesbians related in GAA?


JE: Well I mean there was a sense in which I felt, and I think the guys who were also on the Executive Committee all felt, that it was very important for women and men. But there were also ways in which we still, none of us, were very familiar with issues in the lesbian community or various lesbian feminist kinds of dynamics or thinking or anything like that. And so we constantly tried to recruit women. And it was often the case, I think, that the women we recruited--I mean we worked with people like Byrna, with Barbara and Kay, but in terms of women from within our organization, they tended to be working class and they tended to be not previously political. And my sense was that there was always a sense of frustration. Those women eventually, as they became politically aware, would become more frustrated. I think lots of efforts were made on the part of the men, but I don't think they were very successful and I don't think that the men were always very well attuned. I think right after me the president of GAA was a woman.


MS: Was it Cathy McPeek?


JE: Yeah, that's who it was.


MS: Was that her name? So she was the next GAA president?


JE: Yeah.


MS: And had she been involved for a while?


JE: Well she and her lover started coming and they were like the most social, they were the most present women. And they were kind of like our hope for bringing in more women. And I think it never really quite happened. And then when she became president, she and some guy Michael had an affair which outraged everybody.


MS: A gay guy?


JE: Yeah. Another person in the founding group, I just remembered, was Richard Rohrbach, and he lives in Baltimore now. And he might actually have records and stuff. But he was one of the founding people.


MS: O.K. Was Cathy of Barbara and Byma's generation or was she younger?


JE: I think she was younger. I mean I must say at the time, in those days, I never had a sense of age, except for people that seemed really old. They were probably only like thirty five. She was younger than them. I mean she certainly, both she and her lover, who I think broke up while they were in GAA, were working class. And then there was this weird couple, Greg and something, who were both bisexual.


MS: Greg and another man?


JE: No. Greg and a woman.


MS: A woman.


JE: His wife. Used to come to GAA and they were both bisexual. And Greg, what was his name? I forget. That's all I remember, but his wife's name I can't remember.


MS: So their relationship, and Cathy and the man who she had the affair with…


JE: Michael.


MS: Michael, O.K.


JE: But he was an officer, too.


MS: What was the nature of the controversy? Do you remember what was said, why people were upset?


JE: People said, “Well you know this is a gay organization. What are they doing?” It was just the usual kind of thing about what does it mean that the president of GAA is having an affair with the secretary of GAA?


MS: So people felt that they were not gay if they were doing this?


JE: Right, right.


MS: Because some people talk about the early '70's moment as being one where there was more of a vision of polymorphous perversity than a minority gay identity.


JE: I think it wasn't as fixed into the minority identity mode. It's definitely true, because we had this husband and wife, several actually but they were the most persistent, who would come regularly. And we thought they were so weird, but we accepted it because this was the '70's and these things were like that. And there wasn't as much of one way or the other. I mean certainly lots of people felt that bisexuality wasn't real. But a lot of people felt it was, people who were more open-minded, but there was also a lot of stuff. I mean the way in which political definitions were really reinforced in that period were terms like gay­identified, straight-identified. I think Kiyoshi actually used to say things like this, that a lot of the people in GAA were not gay­identified. They were straight-identified homosexuals or whatever.


MS: And what did he mean by that?


JE: Well what I always took it to mean is that they were people who during the day passed and did their work and wore suits and ties and were what we call assimilationists now. And that gay-identified was some kind of spiritual gay sensibility that was operating and they took a stand on not just sexual issues but also multicultural issues.


MS: Well you brought up Kiyoshi so maybe we can talk a little bit about Kiyoshi and GLF. GLF was still in the picture?


JE: Well when I arrived my memory was that GLF had been active up until very recently. Kiyoshi still had a presence and he pretty much faded from the scene, I think, during the first year that GAA was really active. I don't remember. He would occasionally come to meetings. He was kind of like a gadfly. And he would be very critical about the race composition of GAA.


MS: Which was about what, then? Do you remember? If you had to guess?


JE: I usually say like the women, it was like ninety-five percent white. It was mostly white. I mean it changed when we moved downtown, but probably not huge--sort of ninety percent, ninety-five to ninety or something like that.


MS: O.K. So Kiyoshi was, you were saying, occasionally coming to meetings. But GLF, maybe I could just ask you this: what's your understanding of the GLF that Kiyoshi was part of and/or the GLF that Tommi Avicolli was part of?


JE: O.K., I don't know who else was involved with GLF in Philadelphia. Kiyoshi was the main person. But I remember that once GAA was meeting publicly and all, there was a whole group of people who came from Temple. Tommi was one, and Matthew Grande, and there was a bunch. I don't remember their names any longer. But it seemed to me like the other interesting thing about GAA was the class stuff. Because I would say that it had a very large working class South Philadelphia contingent. And that group at Temple was called GLF, too, at least initially. I think it changed its name at some point.


MS: It was basically the student group at Temple? Was that it?


JE: Right. That's how I understood it.


MS: And that was at the same time as GAA? Is that right?


JE: Yeah, yeah. And it may have started before GAA started.


MS: I see.


JE: My sense was that it was simultaneous, because there was a dance at Temple that I went to the very first weekend I arrived.


MS: Is that right?


JE: 'Cause I remember going with my boyfriend at the time and we didn’t last that long after that. I remember it because the police who were outside the dance called us faggots when we went in.


MS: Was that the big first dance at Temple?


JE: That's my memory.


MS: 'Cause I certainly can find a date for that someplace.


JE: So Temple had stuff going on. And I think there was some kind of merging of Temple and Penn through GAA. And I would say that the two campuses were the major kind of feeding sources. The source of most of the membership initially came from those two places.


MS: From Temple and Penn. And yet you were saying also that there was an opening to street gays.


JE: Yeah, but that really blossomed only after we moved to Horizon.


MS: I see.


JE: And we also started giving dances downtown. We rented some ballet studio. I don't know even know where it was anymore, but it was downtown. And it was right near that Dewey's where the drag queens used to hang out. And that appealed to the bar population, street kids, and stuff like that. And that dance was also one of the big events because it was the first dance that was not given on a campus. So we did that several times, too. And that was a lot Richard Rohrbach. He was the person who designed all the early GAA stuff and he was an architect.


MS: I see. Maybe we should shift from here and talk some about The Gay Alternative.


JE: O.K.


MS: How did that get off the ground?


JE: That got off the ground. See this is one of my little theories, and I think Philadelphia really illustrates it and partly I put this in economic terms because that’s my training--it seems to me that what an organization like GAA does is provide what in economics we call a public good. It provides a good that everyone can enjoy without being excluded. It doesn't automatically exclude. But public goods: no one wants to pay for them. And to some extent, people pay for a

public good like GAA through participating in its membership, donating money, which of course is very little, to anything it does. And eventually, in order to keep providing those services, people start finding a way to market them. And that's how the gay ghetto starts. And it's very interesting that I think a lot of GAA in Philadelphia had spin-offs, things that ended up being somewhat privatized, or even if they were done by non-profits, they kind of produced more privatized goods that were paid for by fee or by service. And so I think Giovanni's Room, for instance, came out of initial efforts to have some kind of information committee that was part of GAA. I mean Bernie Boyle and Tom and Dan Sherbo.


MS: Right.


JE: And there was a hotline, which I think evolved into Eromin Center. And then there was the newsletter committee, which evolved into The Alternative. And so a lot of those committees had spin-off things that became separate. And you see the same thing happen with ACT UP nowadays, where like the Housing Committee becomes Housing Works, which is a separate organization. Or Treatment Issues becomes a separate organization. And so I think that dynamic was going on through this. And so The Alternative was a magazine that grew out of a newsletter that I guess had been done very erratically.


MS: You don't mean The Weekly Gayzette?


JE: No.


MS: That was later.


JE: That was after.


MS: Yeah.


JE: But there had been some one-sheet thing. I don't even know what it was called, or maybe there was a desire for one. I don't know. And my memory was that it was Dan Sherbo and myself and I think Steve [inaudible] who started it. Dan Sherbo I think is in Washington. I think that's true. I actually could probably give him a call and find out. But I saw his name in a cartoon taken from the Washington Post on deconstruction. So I saw Dan Sherbo and thought, “Hmmm.”


MS: As the cartoonist?


JE: Yes. In the Washington Post. So anyway, Dan Sherbo and I started it.


MS: And what was the idea? What was it going to attempt to do? It was obviously more than just for activists.


JE: Right. Well it's interesting because I feel like with The Alternative as with Outlook, in both cases I tried to realize the same thing.


MS: That's interesting.


JE: I mean I guess we wanted to have a kind of Philadelphia political cultural magazine. And Body Politic and Fag Rag and Gay Sunshine and The Liberator were the models that we had. And yet we decided to try to do a magazine-like format rather than the news tabloid format. I mean you've seen it, so you know how ridiculous the first issue is, and yet with a very pretty little cover, which you know was Oz, some utopian vision already right in the first issue. I guess we wanted to be Philadelphia-focused. And it evolved. And certainly it was under Joe [inaudible] that it really blossomed.


MS: Well maybe if we could start with some of the first issues, 'cause as I mentioned before I have some notes on some of your articles.


JE: O.K. O.K.


MS: And I'm curious about a lot of them. I guess in the very first issue you had an article--this was December 1972--called “Styles of Gay Liberation in Philadelphia, 1960-72.” And your article talks about homosexuals being defined by the heterosexual majority. You say, "Philadelphia is not, like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, or L.A, one of the gay meccas to which many women and men move." You say, "Philadelphia does not have a large gay community, so the Gay Liberation movement here draws from a smaller gay population than the gay meccas." You say, "Many gay activists” in Philly “have not been native Philadelphians” because of the problem of other people being able to find out in Philly. And then you say, "Nevertheless, in the early days of the homophile movement during the early sixties many native Philadelphia women were active in the first and second Mattachine Societies and the Janus Society." You say something about how Philadelphia is very centralized, so the short distance between the gay ghetto and the business district may have kept other people from joining the movement. And then you talk about Philadelphia being known as a private city, which maybe also kept people from becoming activists. And then you trace the history of the Janus Society, Clark Polak, the Homosexual Law Reform Society.


JE: Oh god. I didn't know. I don't know any of this now.


MS: Well some of it, I'm afraid, you didn't get exactly right.


JE: I'm sure that's true.


MS: But you were pretty close. And then you talk about what you call the second phase of gay liberation in Philly starting in 1967 with the founding of the Philadelphia chapter of DOB, which you know from my article I'm also going to be arguing is a different phase in the movement. And then you talk about starting with the development of HAL and HAL holding the city's first gay dance. And then after Stonewall, you say, "During the second stage of gay liberation, the ‘Private City’ seemed to place some obstacles in the way of the movement…. In Philadelphia, for reasons stated earlier, coming out is more difficult than in other, more developed gay communities." What does that bring up for you? I mean does it still strike you as being accurate about the problems Philadelphia faced in getting an activist movement off the ground?


JE: I mean some of that I'd completely forgotten, and that's interesting, too, because I would say it's probably true in all places that in gay movements, the early initiative and energy came from people who were migrants to the place and not natives. It's probably true. I'm sure it's true in San Francisco. It’s probably true in New York.


MS: Well in a sense Barbara Gittings, being a Philadelphian, but being the founder of the DOB here [in New York] is a case of that.


JE: Right. So I'm not sure that's unique to Philadelphia at all. I remember it always striking us, though, how this probably had something to do with the fact that this was based in the colleges. I think that was part of it. And I think a lot of that still rings true in some sense. Again, I just feel like I haven't lived in Philadelphia for thirteen years, fourteen years, so I no longer have a sense of whether that was accurate or not.


MS: Well let me ask you this about that. I guess I'm interested in how historic memory was working in the early '70's. Your piece, I'm sure, was the first effort to identify among younger people what had gone on before. And yet outside of your piece there seems to have been no record of an awareness on the part of the new generation of activists that much had gone on before. Now you were saying that Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen were certainly around and that Byrna was around, but what do you remember about how much people were aware of things having gone on before?


JE: Well I think partly because of Barbara Gittings and Kay's visibility we were aware. I think they contributed the most to that. I don't even know where I learned that. I haven't the faintest idea where I would have learned that. There were people like Harry Eberlin who had been active before. Harry Eberlin and the HAL people had all been active in this earlier phase. So I guess in that sense we were constantly made aware that something had existed before Stonewall. And I have no idea how I even ever heard about the Janus Society.


MS: I guess it might have been through Barbara.


JE: I doubt it.


MS: Really?


JE: I don't think Barbara ever talked about history, not that I remember. Barbara always was very pragmatic and never seemed interested in those kind of issues. At least I don't remember.


MS: Well maybe I'll ask this then. In addition to this sense of history, did people also feel like they were doing something entirely new in certain ways?


JE: Yeah. I think they did. And the thing is: I'm even surprised about that article that I wrote it, because my memory of my historical consciousness is much less than that. Partly this is just well now I'm fifty-one. I often remember our reaction to anyone who seemed over--I don't know what--forty who would come to our meetings. I remember one guy come and he said he was a homo. And we were deeply, deeply insulted. And other older people came and we just were not very nice to them. And we just rejected them. And in that sense I feel like I was no different than anyone in terms of being so caught up in the present that I couldn't see older people as actually having histories, of having a different cultural experience.


MS: Right.


JE: They seemed so alien that I had a hard time with it.


MS: Well that's interesting to me in the context of a whole series of movements on the left in the '60's experiencing generational conflict or generational gaps. And yet in the gay community there's not the same sort of parent-child basis for that conflict.


JE: Right, right.


MS: But was it basically the same thing that was going on in the women's movement, not recognizing forbearers? Or in the civil rights movement, the generational break.


JE: Well, it seemed to be similar.


MS: The counterculture.


JE: I mean even Barbara, there was always a lot of ambivalence around Barbara. And Barbara was very impatient with anything that she saw as the cultural uniqueness of ourselves as we saw it. I mean Barbara was always very anti­left, was always irritated at certain varieties of feminism. She was really an older pragmatic liberal. And so she just was impatient with any of the cultural radicalism that we all felt was very important. And that differentiated her. I mean I didn't even know how much older she was. How old is she? Do you know?


MS: I think she was born in '29.


JE: Oh really? I wouldn't have been surprised if she was like five years older than me or something. But I think that the attitude towards Barbara was always very ambivalent. And she always came with a very articulated agenda and so sometimes the group would have a hard time resisting that. And then also at the same time they would resent it. There was a lot of resentment.


MS: And then aside from Barbara and Kay, was it common to see people like the man you just mentioned who called himself a homo as terribly closeted, terribly self-hating?


JE: Yeah. I mean we just were totally intolerant of any of those things. I think we were. So that's why it's surprising to me that I even knew that much history.


MS: Oh, right.


JE: I mean I've always been interested in history, so it's not a big surprise that I might be. And I was already very much influenced by ideas of cultural radicalism. I mean at the same time I think I was reading Gramsci and I was reading Lenin. And I remember reading “What is To Be Done?” and what Lenin called “spontaneous consciousness” was exactly what the gay community was developing at the time. And that it had to go beyond that. It had to become a larger kind of consciousness that took into account things like class and race and gender and stuff like that. And that we had to break out of the spontaneous gay consciousness. And so that's why—is one of the articles called "Cultural Revolution"? Or is that "Styles of Cultural"?


MS: "Styles of Gay Liberation."


JE: Oh I don't know, but I thought there was something on cultural revolution.


MS: Well maybe we'll find that, too. Maybe I should ask you about this next article. This is the second issue of The Gay Alternative, early '73. There's two pieces. One is written by Eric Hansen and one by you. It's called "The Making of Gay Politics: A Debate." And you wrote a piece called "Coming Out: Making a Cultural Revolution."


JE: Oh, oh, that's right, that's it.


MS: And his piece was called "Notes on Making Successful Gay Politics." And his was very pragmatic.


JE: He was a friend of Barbara's, although he was under my age.


MS: You start off saying, "Why is it so difficult for American homosexuals to recognize that our road to personal and social liberation may not come near to being solved by insuring civil rights? This new identity which we must build can only be protected and sustained by new social and cultural institutions. A gay politics is something much harder than changing laws. It is changing minds, changing ourselves, and keeping them changed." You talk about needing to smash the closet. You talk about needing consciousness raising, the need to end passing.


JE: It kind of makes me feel totally dreary to hear that.


MS: Why?


JE: I still say things like that all the time.


MS: So why does it make you feel dreary?


JE: I just feel like, “Oh my God. I've been saying the same things for almost twenty-something years.”


MS: Well, do you remember, this is in early '73, who were you arguing against? Was it Barbara Gittings?


JE: I think it was Barbara Gittings then. I mean she was really very focused on a civil rights model of gay politics. And Eric, I think, was very sympathetic to that.


MS: And where do you trace the influences leading to this cultural revolution?


JE: Well I'm sure it was exactly this Gramsci and Lenin stuff, because those were things I was really preoccupied with.


MS: That's what you were reading.


JE: Yeah.


MS: Now that's interesting. I'm gonna’ throw out some other ideas about what might have been influencing you, because it's interesting to me that you didn't mention them. You didn't see it coming from gay culture and you didn't see it coming from feminism and the personal is political.


JE: Well undoubtedly they would have reinforced that. I mean certainly the personal is political was an idea that always resonated with me. And I remember one of the first study groups I was in while I was in GAA--we read Shulamith Firestone and Juliet Mitchell and stuff like that. So those would have reinforced it, but I mean Gramsci, for instance, was always really, really important to me. I suspect that that's most influential, because Lenin, other than that one book which I just thought I could just translate it into gay politics and I would understand gay politics. And it also probably suggests the whole business of coming from outside. Like in “What is To Be Done?” he talks about how the working class is organized by intellectuals who come from outside of the class.


MS: Right.


JE: So that's how I saw Philadelphia to some degree. And I think some of that is just being struck by parallels with working class organizing, socialist organizing, and gay organizing. And also I was interested in the whole problems of spontaneous consciousness, which is what Gramsci was also looking at. Because I mean one continually encountered a gay consciousness that was sort of anti-authority in some ways and pro-gay, but it was always limited by how it articulated its politics. So I would think for myself that those would have been my more direct inspirations.


MS: Direct influences.


JE: What was the other thing besides feminism you said?


MS: I might have been vague, but gay culture.


JE: Oh, the gay culture itself.


MS: Because I think there are people who emerged out of the protected sphere of the gay ghetto, the places where the quote unquote gay sensibility already was well entrenched, that also looked on legal rights strategies as being limited.


JE: Yeah. Actually the book that really set me on this whole road, that also is why I turned to Gramsci, was a book called The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual by Harold Cruise. And I read that when I still lived in New York. And I remember it must have been right around the time of Stonewall, 'cause I was still working at New York Medical College. And that book was a history of Black intellectuals and it was a critique of the Communist Party's emphasis on civil rights and argued in fact for a kind of cultural politics. And when I read that at the time that I read it, this is before I was even in any way attached to gay politics, I thought this is the same. And I guess it must have been enough around Stonewall so that it began to hit me that this was like that. And it's a book I love very deeply and it's the reason that after that I discovered Gramsci. And Gramsci seemed to me to address the issue raised by that book for me. I mean that was an issue all throughout the '60s, in the sense that there was the counterculture and then there was the politicals and how those things came together. And the Black Power movement vis-a-vis the previous civil rights movement. All those things were issues constantly being raised. So I was reading The Crisis of Negro Intellectuals and it was addressing the emergence of Black Power. And so it was an interesting book in that regard. So I would say that in a way, really even more than Gramsci or Lenin, that it's the Harold Cruise book that really is the main reason why I talked about cultural revolution then and why I was interested in that. Or even the styles of gay liberation. I mean it was that stuff. And I learned. Because of that book. I constantly was

looking for gay culture. I don't know if this is a good memory or not, but my sense of it was that it was so underdeveloped and we were so unaware of whatever even had been there previously that I knew we had to look for it, but I don't think I knew what it was.


MS: Were you finding gay culture in Philadelphia at that time?


JE: No. But some of this comes back to me, because it's precisely why I was interested in starting The Gay Alternative. It's also why we did a gay film festival at the Christian Association, which I think was one of the very first gay film festivals anywhere. And I remember I loved the cover of the little program, because it had a fist coming out with like a roll of film in it. And we showed Leather Boys and I think we had The Well, the French movie. It wasn't called The Well of Loneliness, but it was something like that. So that's why I did those things, because I saw those as either articulating or developing or bringing together the cultural thing. And I guess I saw those as very important political things.


MS: But you wouldn't have found it, say, going to a bar in Philly or going to a drag show?


JE:  Well.


MS: Or you weren't then?


JE: I wasn't. Yeah. I mean Richard Rohrbach took me on a tour of the bars and showed me all that stuff. And I liked all that. But I have never been much of a bar person myself. And so the only time in my life I've gone to bars regularly was when I moved to Philadelphia. And I don't think I saw any drag in Philadelphia whatsoever. There was Richard, what's his name? Harlow. And there was that movie The Queen. And I felt very positive about those things. Like when Esther Newton’s book came out on female impersonators, I loved that, but you also saw me argue a position I no longer agree with at all against camp…


MS: Right.


JE: that article in The Alternative. So yeah, I think I looked for it in high-brow culture and I didn't look for it in everyday gay culture.


MS: That's interesting. Well maybe we should move to this next article. This was also '73. It was called "Why Body Politics: An Introduction to this Issue."


JE: That's right.


MS: And you start off by saying, "Bodies are made, not born. They are built out of the innumerable conversations and physical encounters that we have since childhood with our parents, with doctors, with our lovers, and with our friends." You say, "Until recently among gay women, butch and femme roles were well-developed. Most of these limitations are eventually overcome, but they at first create needless shame and build and require a difficult struggle to overcome. The worst part of it all is that we carry this heterosexual ideology within ourselves and use it to limit our enjoyment of our bodies in an open gay sexuality. Body politics is a long, hard struggle of ridding ourselves of the false consciousness of our bodies as given to us by a heterosexual society."


JE: What about it?


MS: What do you remember were your thoughts and feelings at the time?


JE: I mean this shows in some sense I think the growing impact of feminist thinking on me, because I think I was reading more feminist stuff that talked about these kind of things. I remember a book called Vaginal Politics. And there was The Female Eunuch. And I don't know. All those kind of things began, and so some of that comes out of that.


MS: You say here that "the heterosexual world along with its male- dominated pattern of sexual roles is unconsciously carried over to the gay world."


JE: So I think that's where that's coming from, and that was also the issue in which I think the editorial collective of The Alternative became really legitimately half female and half male. I don't think it had been before that. And so some of that, I think, came out of the interest in us trying to do something like that together. And it has a picture of the three kind of hefty women on the back.


MS: The women named in that very issue on the collective were Pat Hill, Rachel Rubin, and then I don't know if this is a woman or not, Curly Hummingbird?


JE: That's a woman.


MS: Along with a group of seven or eight men.


JE: Oh really?


MS: You say on the cover says something like "The Alternative is a non-profit gay magazine put together by a bunch of us who are desperately trying to be non-racist, non-sexist, and all together far out."


JE: That’s cute!


MS: So how did the women get involved?


JE: Pat Hill and Rachel Rubin, I guess, were the people. It's interesting; they later went off and formed another magazine called Wicce in that period of the '70s when separatism really emerged. And as much as they liked working with The Alternative, too, they just felt like they couldn't address their community by working with men.


MS: So there wasn't real conflict between the women and men within The Gay Alternative?


JE: Not in The Alternative.


MS: It was more of a proactive decision to start Wicce?


JE: Yeah.


MS: Yeah?


JE: So that's funny, 'cause I thought there were more of them. I mean I'm trying to remember who else they were.


MS: I don't know. Well two issues later, the staff lists Pat Hill, Rachel Rubin and this time Isabel Mandelbaum. And then seven or eight men.


JE: Yeah. Well Pat Hill and Rachel Rubin were important. I'm not sure how we met them. She at one point owned Giovanni's Room.


MS: Pat Hill. Yeah. I'm gonna’ interview her and talk to her about Giovanni's.


JE: She still lives in Philadelphia?


MS: Yeah.


JE: Oh wow.


MS: She had a big case about discrimination in the Recreation Department.


JE: Oh yes. That's where she worked.


MS: O.K. Toward the end of '73, you write your article called "Breaking Camp," which I think is a great title.


JE: Very clever.


MS: And you say you find it hard to write about camp after almost two years in the gay liberation movement. What was so hard to write about camp?


JE: I don't remember.


MS: But you were saying before that you disagree with what you had argued.


JE: Well I guess why it was hard is just that I never had any real contact with camp. And I don't feel like I have the temperamental talents to really be campy or appreciate camp. I mean I can appreciate it as a kind of spectator, but I can't really be a participant in camp. And so I guess I think I was writing from that somewhat outside position.


MS: Was it a position, though, that maybe was more characteristic of your generation?


JE: I think it was something like that. I mean there was an article somewhere in The Alternative about Miss Thing. And I remember in the meetings someone would get up to attack a position and they would say, "Who does she think she is”? And Cathy McPeek would be furious because, she says, “how come whenever you attack a position you use a female?” So that stuff was going on. And to tell you the truth, there were queens and everything like that, but I wasn't in contact with very much campy culture. And I didn't know older gay men.


MS: So Tommi Avicolli Mecca wasn't bringing that into GAA?


JE: Well he thought he was. And Tommi, he was smart. He openly identified as effeminate. But he was also, like all of us, real serious. And the kind of real irony and ambiguity of camp was not something that we were real comfortable with, I don't think. And I think that we were kind of just being little moralistic twerps at this point about this.


MS: But it also seems like it was a response to feminist concerns.


JE: Yes, I guess that's true. It was. That's true. I mean even the body essay is a little too dogmatic about butch/femme. And it seems to me again I just didn't see it. None of us did. I mean we were really being heavy-handed about it.


MS: Were people working hard at being feminist?


JE: Oh yeah, I think so.


MS: Among the men?


JE: I mean I don't know whether we really actually succeeded, but I think certainly we were all reading feminism. We were all in little study groups and we were all reading these things.


MS: These were gay men’s study groups?


JE: Yes.


MS: Or mixed?


JE: They were always men's study groups, as far as I know.


MS: They grew out of GAA or The Gay Alternative or both?


JE: Mhmmm [assent].


MS: Both?


JE: Mhmmm [assent].


MS: I'm just going through quickly because some of the other articles seemed less striking to me. I have just the titles of some of them. An interview you did with Jonathan Katz. An article you did on sports. Let's see. And then there's this very interesting dialogue that several of you had, a piece edited by Dan Sherbo, called "The Concept of a Gay Community: A Taped Discussion of the Gay Alternative Collective." It was done in 1974. And the introduction talks about a tendency among gay liberation people to assume an attitude of us and them regarding gay liberationists, us, and gay people who are not into the movement, them. Is that something you recall?


JE: Oh sure.


MS: Yeah?


JE: Sure. I mean it's something I still think exists, because even in San Francisco I would occasionally be at some dinner party and somebody would start complaining about them, meaning gay activists. And they would say, “Well I don’t really feel like I belong to the community because I'm not like the activists.” So it seems to me that that's the other side of the same thing. And I remember it was very, very frustrating. It was just like we were working our butts off and trying to do things. And no one was really--I mean it felt like just a very small group of people who responded. And I remember really feeling completely discouraged and deciding I was just gonna’ quit gay politics and not do anything more. This was the period, I guess, just before I left Philadelphia. And suddenly, once the whole Anita Bryant thing hit, I suddenly realized that we actually were not as much of a failure as I thought we were, that in fact there wouldn't have been that kind of thing going on in the movement nationally had some kind of....


MS: Right. Right.


JE: But I remember being incredibly discouraged. I mean it was just like there I was out at eleven o'clock pasting fliers on the poles, and then the dance would be over and it would be me and three other people having to clean up the whole place at like two in the morning or something like that. And that was just wearing. And I just felt like there wasn't a whole lot of response.


MS: I'm going to read a couple more things that you say in this piece. At one point you talk about there's a lot of value to separatism, but a problem that you see is that everyone is more complicated and has more possibilities than can be met within the gay community.


JE: Oh my God, I can't believe I said that.


MS: “The reason I have more and more straight friends is that I have interests that aren’t merely gay liberation interests.”


JE: It's bizarre. Well it's exactly what I would write now. I mean I'm writing an article that’s a critique of identity politics. It's precisely that. That's one of the points. And my next book is going to be on that.


MS: So I just wanted to continue on this article "The Concept of a Gay Community," this discussion among the Gay Alternative collective members. The other thing that you said--you made a comparison with the gay community and the Black community. And you write, "Among Blacks the community functions as a place where you grow up, you grow into, and for good or bad you share the fate of that people and you share it together. Whereas for gay people, as Chuck pointed out, because they're raised within straight society, to have a ghetto-type community only will make it more difficult for those people, those isolated gays who have been in straight society, top." And then Chuck interrupted you so you never finished that thought. But it sounds like you were arguing there against ghettoization and against separation.


JE: Yeah.


MS: Is that in line with the dominant tendency in gay activism at the time?


JE: Well see this is where I was beginning to form this theory which I mentioned earlier, of how the gay ghetto is constructed, which I really saw as an economic process, but not one in the traditional Marxist sense. In fact, the political process was the process that really establishes the gay ghetto. But it seemed to me that one of the differences between the post-Stonewall and the pre-Stonewall gay movement was that the post-Stonewall movement, because of that decisive coming out, and coming out is the basic--I mean this is very economistic I guess--public good, is this information about oneself and about all these other homosexuals, and that that itself is what establishes the publicness of the gay community. And the gay ghettoes come from that when there's no way for organizations to economically sustain themselves simply on the basis of coming out. Nor is there any way for privatized commodities to be marketed on the basis of that alone. So what happens is that businesses grow up, non-profit organizations grow up, political organizations grow up, to pursue more narrowly defined public goods that can be funded in some way.


MS: Well that, I believe, raises the question of the pre-Stonewall gay ghetto. It was more of an underground economy.


JE: Right.


MS: So I guess maybe what you're describing is more of a public economy.


JE: I think that’s right. Yeah, I guess it's almost a semantic thing to use it one way or the other, but that's exactly right. And I'm going do this conference at CLAGS on the economy of lesbian and gay communities where I want to explore this transition over time. Because I do think that in the pre-Stonewall gay community, the primary businesses were bars and mail-order businesses. And in some sense I would even go nowadays to argue that cruising is the basic activity that generates any of the other economic activities, because in fact cruising in parks and tea rooms and so on has high costs which are minimized by using bars and high-priced services. And this is stuff I'm thinking about now.


MS: You wanted to go back to something. I want to make sure not to leave that.


JE: Oh yeah. O.K. I guess this relates to the development of lesbian and gay studies, because I guess what I wanted to say: I think I'm kind of a nerd when it comes to this side of things. I mean I feel like a lot of my thinking was always stimulated by my intellectual interests in this regard. And I was trained as an economist. And I remember how hard it was to write, how I never could figure out how economics really affects this, partly because I had this Marxist commitment. And I was frustrated. None of the obvious ways of thinking economically about the gay community ever seemed very productive. And so I was constantly trying to find ways to do it. And this whole interest in the dynamic between public goods and private goods, the place that that has in the constitution of the gay ghetto. Then I did write a piece for Homosexual Counseling Journal on economic discrimination. It was the first theoretical piece anyone's done on that. And Jim Woods in his Corporate Closet cites it and basically has a very similar approach, which he had just developed on his own and then either came across my article or I told him about it or something. But to some degree [inaudible] in some cases I can pinpoint the intellectual influence on me. A lot of it was sociological thinking. And it was sociology like Irving Goffman was a huge influence on all of this, and George Simmel's essay "The Web of Group Affiliations” was a very important essay for me in how to think about, sociologically, our relationships to [inaudible]. And I don't think I was so unique. I know I wasn't the only person using their politics to think intellectually about these things. And I think most of this stuff compared to thinking nowadays seems pretty limited and underdeveloped. But I think a lot of thinking about the kinds of issues and concepts which are now thought primarily in terms of--or often, not exclusively of course--lesbian and gay studies were also thought in these places. And for me, my being interested in The Gay Alternative, and then we went every year to the Gay Academic Union conferences, which were the period’s equivalent to today’s lesbian and gay studies conferences. And we saw our relationship to that process. And so there's also a forgotten period of lesbian and gay studies that's showed up in very few books, very few journals. I mean who knows what happens if you read the dozens and dozens of paper given at those conferences?


MS: When was the first one? Do you remember?


JE: I know when it was. You could actually find it in my Outlook article. I mentioned the date then.


MS: John D’Emilio, I think, writes about it.


JE: Right. And he writes about it, and I somewhere have--I'll lend to you and you can make a copy--a little pamphlet that was addresses from the first Gay Academic Union conference. And it was after that it got to be more like academic conferences. That wasn't like a gay studies conference. It was something a little more political. But those were much more like academic conferences in the years after that. And it got to be quite large. And then that eventually broke down over this separatism issue.


MS: Is that right?


JE: Yeah.


MS: Now that would have been late '70's, right?


JE: Like '76 or something. So some of what was whatever form of lesbian and gay studies existed at the time, the venues I found, were these. I think I was always a little more intellectual than other people, but that's [inaudible]. But I think a lot of these kind of issues weren't thought about before. And again, I just don't know. I mean it's work like yours that constructs a chance to evaluate that and [inaudible].


MS: Maybe we should touch a little bit on the end, the demise, of The Gay Alternative.


JE: O.K.


MS: And I showed you this letter that I found that you wrote.


JE: Yeah.


MS: Resigning. I don't know if you got a chance to look at it.


JE: I didn't get to go all the way through. I’ll just take a look.


MS: It was written in March and I think the year is cut off unfortunately.


JE: You're right.


MS: I'll have to check back the original to see the year.


JE: Find the little number tag.


MS: I thought it was '75 or '76.


JE: I think that's right. I would suggest it was '76, 'cause I left in '77. And Dumont Howard, who was one of the people on the collective, had moved, I think, in '76. And it happened while he was away.


MS: Well apparently you had some conflict with Joe Paredin's style of leadership.


JE: Right.


MS: He had taken over the primary responsibility?


JE: Right. Yes. I mean I was never really the primary editor. It was originally Dan Sherbo and then it was Joe. And Joe McGlone was very important also. He did all the mail and stuff. I mean I guess I remember it being mostly over the Mitzl piece.


MS: What was the controversy about that?


JE: I guess John Mitzl didn't want it edited or cut. And Joe kind of agreed with that and I guess I thought it should be. And we had this discussion, and I don't even remember the article. But I remember there being things that bothered me about it and that's why a group of us insisted on the roundtable to go along with it. Is that what happened?


MS: I'm not remembering myself.


JE: Yeah.


MS: But he went ahead and didn't take the agreement?


JE: I guess, I guess.


MS: Aside from that specific issue, do you think there were larger political ideological conflicts that were creating problems at The Gay Alternative? Or was it really a disagreement over leadership style?


JE: I think a lot of it was that. And it's funny, because this all presents me as much more hostile than I've ever really felt towards Joe. So that's what surprises me about it.


MS: I often find I’m trying to find political motivations for these personal conflicts and sometimes they're just personal conflicts.


JE: Well there was a political thing. And I think it's captured in the Mitzl roundtable.


MS: O.K. I'll have to go back to that.


JE: Although I can't even remember what it would be.


MS: I have one Mitzl piece called "Tales of the Sticky Fingers of Miss Tracy Brazey."


JE: Wasn't there a piece called "The Gay Sensibility"?


MS: That sounds very familiar.


JE: It was very long. Must have been in one of the last issues.


MS: Yeah, I might just not have notes on it here.


JE: Yeah, Joe wanted to do things like have it typeset [inaudible]. Is this Joe’s letter here?


MS: I think so, yeah.


JE: And it was a little cliquey [inaudible]. Oh this is Dumont's letter.


MS: Yeah, it sounds like there were two friendship groups.


JE: Yes, I mean that was a lot of it. And my friend Dumont liked sharp breaks and very melodramatic. I mean his letter shows that.


MS: And then Joe resigned and then that was quickly the end of The Gay Alternative?


JE: That's it. And I guess we had just gotten some money from the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines, which we hadn’t completely spent. And a lot of the differences, I think, grew up over how to spend that money. And I think we had enough money to typeset one issue. And then Joe thought that if we did that, that would really boost us into another realm in our circulation. And I guess my memory is that I didn't agree with that and I thought that we should use it to make other kinds of improvements that weren't all focused on one thing. I don’t know if that’s true or not.


MS: I want to make sure before the tape runs out that I ask you about this other publication I found that you were responsible for. And I've forgotten the name, but it was about gays in the economy.


JE: Oh yes, Gay People in the Labor Force.


MS: Yes, exactly. And what was that?


JE: Well, that was part of my attempt to, and there was only one issue of that.


MS: O.K. I've wondered, so I won't look any further.


JE: Right. I guess at some point I was so sick; I was going to do something just by myself. So that's what I did. And it was partly because I wanted to stimulate, which is still something that's never happened and I still would be interested in doing it obviously if I'm going to do this CLAGS thing, but I wanted to stimulate thinking about economic issues. And this comes out again originally within my Marxism. And so I used to think that the gay movement was kind of more oriented towards the consumption side of life. And that the productive side, production side, was under-dealt with. And that the start of that was to start dealing with workplace issues. And so that was that newsletter. And I haven't even the faintest idea what's in it right now.


MS: But you produced it by yourself?


JE: Yes.


MS: And there wasn't an organization behind it or anything like that?


JE: No.


MS: I think I found it in San Francisco. I took notes on it as well. I'm also asking everybody what they did around the Bicentennial.


JE: Well the Bicentennial was virtually one of the last things I did. Wasn't that like '77?


MS: Well, '76.


JE: '76. Oh right, of course. All I remember was marching. That's all I remember.


MS: In a gay contingent?


JE: Yes, a gay contingent.


MS: Against the celebration or as part of the celebration?


JE: No, it was in the thing against the celebration. Wasn't there a big march against the celebration?


MS: Well there apparently were a lot of things going on.


JE: Oh really?


MS: Some people have talked to me about marching and then it turns out they were part of the main celebration.


JE: Oh. There was an anti-bicentennial march, right?


MS: Right.


JE: That's what I was in. And I think it was spearheaded by a lot of solidarity group. 'Cause I remember that the march started off with a chant of “the people united will never be defeated.”

That's how it started. And people came from all over the East Coast, up and down the East Coast.


MS: So it was a large leftist multi-issue counter-demonstration.


JE: Right, right.


MS: And were gay people a big part of it? Was there a big gay contingent as far as you remember?


JE: I think there was. I wasn't at all involved in any kind of organizing connected with that.\


MS: Right. And were you received O.K.? Was there police trouble?


JE: We all thought there was. I remember people were warned not to wear contact lenses because there might be tear gas. But in fact I don't think anything happened.


MS: O.K.


JE: You know another thing--this goes way back to the beginning and I meant to say this and forgot. Another big turning point in that year that I was president of the Gay Activists Alliance was in fact we did organize the first gay march in Philadelphia.


MS: Oh right. O.K.


JE: And it was down Walnut Street, past Rittenhouse Square. And I remember that being one of the most exhilarating things I've ever done, and it was for most people in it. And precisely because Philadelphia was this city in which it was private, but it was also small. And so you're marching in a march down past Rittenhouse Square, it's not like New York where you can even remain relatively anonymous marching down Fifth Avenue.


MS: Right.


JE: And so that was very exhilarating. And it seemed to me that the march just never really took off. I mean I guess subsequent years we marched out to near the Art Museum.


MS: Now if my information is correct, I think the first march was in '72. And I think it started at Rittenhouse Square and then marched down to Independence Mall, where there was an open-air dance? Does that sound right?


JE: Yes, that's right.


MS: And Barbara Gittings and Jerry Curtis, I think, were listed as speakers?


JE: Oh, Jerry Curtis.


MS: Does that sound right?


JE: Yeah.


MS: And I think Arleen Olshen maybe talked to me about being on an organizing committee for it.


JE: That's possible. I don't remember her. I mean I remember her, but I don't remember her being involved in that.


MS: I might be remembering that wrong. The Advocate reported that ten thousand people marched.


JE: Yeah, it was huge. It was the biggest one, I think. I don't think they were ever that big after that.


MS: At least not for the next few years.


JE: Yeah.


MS: Right. So that sounds about right to you?


JE: Yeah.


MS: 'Cause I wondered if that was a spectators estimate, because some people have said to me it couldn't have been. It was more like 500 or 1000.


JE: No. I don't know if it was ten thousand. I mean I have no idea. All I remember it was the biggest. And that we never could do it again. And it was incredibly exciting. It was incredibly exciting.


MS: We haven't talked much about GAA after the year that you were president.


JE: Yeah. Well I remained. I continued to go for at least another year. And to some extent The Alternative had some kind of relationship to GAA. I'm trying to remember, like the Steps thing in particular, might have been actually after I left GAA.


MS: I think that's right, yeah.


JE: But to some degree, the focus of my activities went outside. 'Cause the other thing I was very interested in doing was gay Marxist stuff. And there were a whole series of gay Marxist study groups.


MS: Involving about how many people in Philly?


JE: Oh, twenty-five to thirty people.


MS: All men?


JE: Yes. I mean at that point that was the separatist period.


MS: Yeah, why don't you tell me a little bit about that, from '71 to '76? Where were the tendencies shifting?


JE: Yeah, I mean that was my interest and so there was a constant stream of little groups formed. And I guess one group was one of the most immediate that grew out of GAA. I'm trying to remember who exactly was in it. Bill Mullin, me, Matthew Grande, [inaudible] was in it part of the time, Bernie Boyle.


MS: And you would meet weekly? Monthly?


JE: We would meet, I think, every two weeks.


MS: With readings?


JE: With readings and we had gotten hold of the early gay Marxist writings from England, free Gay Left pamphlets and things. They would turn up. Some boyfriend came into town and brought all this stuff and we read it. I don't remember what it was [inaudible]. Some early version of that group had a pamphlet on the Marxist-Leninist approach to the gay question. And then there were critiques to that, and to some extent my writing that piece in The Alternative on Oscar Wilde comes out of that experience. But there continued to be groups and shifting. I think Jim Green was in it for a long time. He now lives in L.A.


MS: Right. I know Jim.


JE: Oh, you know Jim. Right.


MS: Right.


JE: Oh, right. That's how I met you.


MS: That's right. And this continued on, then?


JE: Yeah, right up through when I left. I remember the last time I put up a poster for a gay Marxist group and only one person came. This was like in 1976 or early ’77. And actually this person is still a good friend of mine. And it turns out that we had both had an affair with this ex-boyfriend of mine who lived in New York. It's just a small world.


MS: Well I do want to spend some time talking about how you see relations between lesbians and gay men evolving over the time that you were in Philadelphia. You've talked a few times about separatism developing more strongly while you were in Philadelphia.


JE: Uhhuh [assent].


MS: What's your overall sense of what changed between '72 and '77?


JE: Well I mean for me on the Penn campus, the Women's Studies Program and the development of that--most of my lesbian friends connected with that in some way. And it was precisely this period when the discussions were first coming up about being a political lesbian. So there was that whole phenomena. And the lesbian community was pretty divided about that. And there were even some discussions at this point, I remember, about older gay women, like the pre-feminist lesbian and post-feminist lesbian, terms like old gay and new gay. And in GAA there were always a handful of women, but it wasn't very large. And The Alternative seemed to be more successful. And whenever we did things, we always tried to do things for both women and men. And I organized Jonathan Katz coming down to Philadelphia and doing the play Coming Out at the Christian Association. You know a really important person in some ways, and I don't know if he'll remember any of this, was a guy named Joel Warren, who was the director of Christian Association at the time. And it was basically him who who set up the Gay Counselling Service in the Christian Association, brought in gay administrative interns, and also provided free office space to the founding group of the Women's Studies Program. He was the person who developed this big film program that was a big money maker for the Christian Association. He was a very forceful domineering person who people would also resent. And he was one of those examples of a person who did a lot of good, even though his attitudes were not that refined. I feel like a lot of my relationships to women, to lesbians, were kind of more personal than it was political.


MS: What do you mean by that? Because it was not in the political groups?


JE: It wasn't in political contexts. And partly, once the separation occurred, and that whole separatism and the whole political lesbian issue also deeply affected the left in Philadelphia. And that's why, at one point, it was coming out of my gay Marxists groups, that I connected up with a group of straight men, leftists, people who were The Alternative's printer. I believe it was called [inaudible]. No.


MS: I'm not sure.


JE: There was a leftist printer which printed The Alternative. And it was through them that a group of people, and I don't remember their names--I remember Rick Finklestein and Jeff Gold and some other people--that we worked together to do the Men Event. I don't know if you've ever seen anything from that.


MS: I have, yeah.


JE: Yeah. That was actually an incredible event. And I don’t know when it was. Must have in ’74.


MS: I don’t remember.


JE: And it was moving and peculiar because it was this weird moment. And it was the moment when gay men and straight men were both, in some sense, trying to recover from the trauma of separatism and the impacts that that had had in the movements that they were involved in. And you couldn't tell who was straight and who was gay at it. And so it had this very strange and ambiguous experience of being attracted to people you didn't know whether they were gay or not. And then straight men kind of responding incredibly emotionally and huggy. And it was a very exciting but very unique and strange event. And it was one of those attempts to try to build a connection between the gay left and the straight left. And I remember one of the straight men, a guy named Tom whose last name I can't quite remember, developed a whole theory that socialism's emphasis on the workplace and the male roles rooted in the workplace was a kind of male answer or male version of feminism. So people were trying to think about those kind of things and the conference was one way to try to explore those commonalities among men.


MS: You've talked a few times about when the separation took place. And it sounds like you almost have in mind a moment.


JE: Well I can remember. I mean for me I can tell you the moments. One was when the women in The Alternative decided to start Wicce. But things had been already going on. Another was the beginning of the Gay Academic Union, when John Stoltenberg or somebody like that had given a paper. And at some point I remember men just walking out of some panel that I hadn't been attending enraged because the women were critical and angry and it just had produced this big blow up.


MS: This wasn't the Stoltenberg paper, though?


JE: The Stoltenberg paper had a similar effect. I wasn't at that either. I mean typically I was either sitting at a table selling the magazine or talking to somebody in the halls. But you might talk to somebody who was more involved in GAA to get a sense of that.


MS: What are the other moments?


JE: Those were the two main moments that I remember. And I remember it just being a topic of conversation all the time. And it must have been like '75, '76.


MS: What about Susan Saxe?


JE: That was after that. It was part of that, but that was really after that. At least I think it was. When was that?


MS: Now I've forgotten.


JE: Yeah.


MS: I had been thinking it was '74, but maybe it was '75 or '76.


JE: Oh. It was definitely part of it. It wasn't the precipitating thing.


MS: Right.


JE: It wasn't the precipitating thing. It was already part of that whole issue. And I think the way that GAA never could retain its female membership, the way that it was always a question of being able to work in groups that had a lot of women. I mean all that. I mean in a way separatism was there from the beginning and it was never really overcome. And the causes of it became more articulate and sharply defined, but I would say the initial causes were male misogyny and sexism. But eventually it became a politically articulated thing on the part of the women. So the separatism became more consciously articulated and the political theory grew up to partly justify it and explain it. And certainly women-identified-women suggested the political theory was there all along. But I think that the impatience with and the difficulties of men dealing with women just was a major issue. And it just structured how we worked. The movement with women involved, even if it still has some of the same problems, is very different in feel than that period.


MS: And you pinpointed male sexism. What role do you think that the different conditions of gay male and lesbian life played, different issues and concerns that the two groups had and/or the specific condition of men circulating sexually with men, women circulating sexually with women. Did that play a role in keeping these two communities apart?


JE: Well I think the last thing definitely did. Let's come back to that, because I was going to actually just raise a question about what your strategy is in this. I don't think men knew anything about lesbians. I don't think I knew very much about lesbians. So some of it was just that. And maybe the lesbians knew about men or maybe didn't. I have no idea. So there was that. I would be hard pressed to figure out what are the different conditions that were relevant at the time. Certainly a lot of the thinking about separatism was that it was a necessary stage and that it was a stage to build up within this culture. And the whole idea of a political lesbian was in some sense suited to create a place for women who weren't lesbian in their sexual desires to adopt a kind of separatist role. I mean you had Ti Grace Atkinson and all these people who I don't think were lesbians but basically decided to stop sleeping with men. And I guess my own reaction to it, a problem I always had with it, was that both gay men and straight women always had this problem that they were basically pig lovers. And I always felt that given that our erotic lives centered on these male chauvinist pigs, the simple notion of men as the enemy and men as something that you stop dealing with didn't ever feel like it was an option for men.


MS: Right.


JE: So for gay men, how do you deal with that? What is the relationship between your sexual desires and your political development? And so there was always that. And I always felt that was a problem. And always my sense of the limits of separatism focused, at least from the male side, on that. That doesn't address any of these other issues. And I felt the same was true for straight women, although I think straight women felt much more torn about the separatism thing. And then men are what’s the word? Limited creatures. And I mean that's a real problem. It's still a problem. There are a lot of problems with men. So when I just taught at U.C. Davis in the Women's Studies Department, the history and theory of sexuality, I had forty-four women and one man. And it was enjoyable because all the women liked to talk about men. That's interesting, because I guess the whole interest in the Men Event and to some extent my sports article and so on comes out of trying to think politically about the problem of men. So I think it forced me in that direction.


MS: You said there was a question you wanted to come back to?


JE: O.K. What I want to come back to, which you haven't asked at all, I mean it seems to me like essential to all this stuff, are all the sexual relationships.


MS: Right.


JE: That basically either lead you into these situations or structure these things.


MS: Well tell me what you think, where you see those relationships fitting into all of this.


JE: Well I mean it's interesting, because at one level I went to GAA for the social thing. And I felt like a lot of people started off their involvement in the gay community by thinking they were just going to cruise and to socialize at a GAA meeting. And then of course virtually all of my boyfriends, sexual partners, came out of GAA during those years that I was involved in it. And for me, one of my little erotic techniques was having a project or starting something with somebody I'm involved with or attracted to or whatever. That was a very key thing. And this whole Alternative break-up thing, I think, was circles of friends and people who have slept together.


MS: And people who hadn't?


JE: Yeah. I mean that's very crude and I don't think that explains everything, but it was definitely one thing. And it's just like when Cathy McPeek slept with this guy Michael. The sexual stuff is constantly shaping and restructuring political alliances and reinforcing them and all these things. And I think it's so hard because, of course, we've all slept with a lot of people. But it seems to me like it's somehow part of the story.


MS: And how does it fit into, since you brought it up here, lesbian/gay conflict or alliance building?


JE: I don’t know.


MS: That suggests to me that if sexual relationships were kind of the glue that held together political alliances, that would create certain problems for cultivating political relationships between lesbians and gay men.


JE: Oh, I think that's part of the problem. I mean I think that's one of the reasons why it's always been difficult. It's still difficult. And I think that this recent period of male/female cooperation, which I think is much more advanced than any earlier period, partly has to do with the sex debates, to do with, to some extent, a new generation of lesbians being interested in having the same kind of sexual freedom that men have. I don't know if that's the total thing.


MS: Well I have a theory that links that as well to gay men looking to lesbian representations to build safe sex.


JE: Mhmmm. Mhmmm.


MS: And build models of safe sex.


JE: No, I think that's right. So I do think that that's a problem. And there was this period in ACT UP here people gossiped a lot about all the fucking going on between the lesbians and gay men. And it seems to me that that's a positive thing in a way, because it probably had to do with being able to work together better than in the past.


MS: Were there dangers and risks associated, too?


JE: Well sure, of course there are. Of course there are. I mean the thing about sex is that its social role is never uniformly positive or negative. It's like this mess. Because I just think you could probably do very interesting sociograms if you took the gay movement and you took who slept with whom. I think you'd probably find patterns, though it would be very hard to do.


MS: Do you think that's the same or different from the way straight political organizations and especially straight organizations on the left work? And the reason I asked that is if you look, for example, at sex-separate leftist groups, you could create a model that goes on about the homosocial bonds between men being built around the exchange of women and precluding sexual bonds and that sort of thing. So do you think that gay groups work differently in that way or do you think in this period that maybe leftist groups were working precisely this way, with a lot of men and women sleeping together.


JE: My sense is that was true of the leftist groups of this time. There was a lot of sleeping around. But I know from the period of Socialist Review, that wasn't true for them, at least on the West Coast at that time. They all had sort of settled down and one year I just remember going to like dozens of marriages.


MS: So do you think it was distinctive in any way for gay groups at the time? Was it just an extreme version of what was going on in leftist groups?


JE: Oh. Well that may be. I don't know. I don't feel like I know enough. That's an interesting idea. I mean in a way that's still part of the whole '60-'70s ethos. Sexual freedom and everything.

That's interesting.


MS: Well maybe we should finish this up. Are there things that you want to sum up, just as you've been spending the last couple of hours thinking about a few years in Philadelphia?


JE: Well it's funny, because I don't know. It feels like we haven't really done very much history. Have I really told you anything? Let me just ask you. I mean the shift that you asked a lot about is this separatism shift. I don't remember what form it took within GAA. I don't think I was active in GAA at that time. The way it was in the Gay Academic Union and The Alternative was my way of remembering. And then also just personal relations with women, which I didn't feel was affected by that. And the Men Event, I think, was also linked to that. But I mean are there other controversies, other issues or trends that were happening at that point. 'Cause I feel like we've done very little historical detail. And part of that's just like what do I remember?


MS: Right.


JE: From more than fifteen years ago?


MS: I wonder if we should end the tape or if you think that this is going to elicit more memories of yours.


JE: Oh I don't know. O.K. we can end the tape. But I just asked you that because if there was something that you wanted to know more about, some historical event or process, then maybe I could.


MS: Right. Well partly this just reflects that I haven't done all the homework that I might have done.


JE: So you’re just starting to work on this period?


MS: Yeah, exactly. I'm not as up on the '70s as I am on the '50s and '60s in terms of the critical marking dates. Partly I think things get really complicated in the '70's. So the formation of Radicalesbians, I think, in the early '70's and the stuff going on at Penn, that's one phase, that's one marking event. But then it seems like there's successive waves of these separations.


JE: Right. That’s right.


MS: And I don't think there was a single moment.


JE: Yeah, that's probably right.


MS: And so I am curious about what people remember as the moment. Radicalesbians, it's been very hard for me to get a fix on that organization, because in many ways it didn't function like other organizations.


JE: I don't think it lasted very long.


MS: Well some people talk about it in that sense.


JE: Oh really?


MS: And other people talk about it in the sense that it lasted throughout this period and that all the CR groups were radical lesbian groups. But I think in a lot of ways it was more diffuse. It was built around collective houses. It was built around CR groups. But there weren't meetings, monthly meetings or weekly meetings. At least I don't think so. So partly it's not just that I haven't done my homework; it's that I think it is more diffuse.


JE: Well it was a very exciting time to live in Philadelphia, because it was this conservative city that was being hit by feminism and gay liberation. And I remember at the end of my seven years there just feeling like it had gotten much less interesting, because the really exciting part had been when the '60s still had kind of an influence in the early years. Through Kent State and all that stuff going on.


MS: Right.


JE: And so there was a kind of a left and everything, so it was very exciting. But then by '77, a lot of that seemed to have died down.


MS: And what do you think happened? Why did it die down? Was it repression? Was it internal dynamics within the movement? Was it this the turn to culture from politics that people have talked about?


JE: Oh, I would say it was partly just the excitement had passed, the dynamics, lots of things were going on, but less [inaudible]. I mean the whole shift from politics to culture is interesting.  I mean that's an interesting way to describe the shift in that period.


MS: I'm just thinking of Alice Echols’s argument.


JE: Yeah.


MS: I think that's one of her argument.


JE: Yeah. But see I think her argument actually fits very well with my kind of public good to private good argument. Because she also talks about this, particularly in that one piece. I think this is less in the book than it is in that Social Text article, where she talks about the businesses.


MS: Right. Women's music events and cultural events.


MS: Any final thoughts?


JE: I think that's it.


MS: O.K. Thank you.


JE: You're welcome.