Making Gay History – LGBTQ Oral Histories from the Archive

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Intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history brought to you from rare archival interviews.

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Being HIV+ was a virtual death sentence. So why get tested? But by 1988 there is a promising, if toxic, drug shown to extend life. Eric and Barry schedule their first test just as Eric starts work on his oral…

“You’re doing too many stories on AIDS.” The word had come down from on high at CBS This Morning. Eric didn’t want anyone to think he was biased, but as the only out gay person on the production staff, he…

“I hope you both die of AIDS,” the young man in the pickup truck yells at Eric and Barry as they wait for the light to change while on a run in Central Park. By 1985, the AIDS crisis has…

A straight drug addict. A gay waiter on a ventilator. Eric is confronted with the reality of AIDS when he volunteers for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Decades later, he speaks with his client’s widow, for whom AIDS is a…

Even as the epidemic spreads, a rousing AIDS fundraiser at the circus, a new boyfriend, and journalism school combine to bring joy, a sense of community, and purpose into Eric’s life.Visit our episode webpage for background information, archival photos, and…

“Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals,” said the New York Times headline on July 3, 1981. It was the first time Eric Marcus read about what came to be known as AIDS. Nothing for me to worry about, he decided,…

AIDS first made national news 40 years ago. MGH host Eric Marcus was 22 at the time, a gay kid in search of love and a career in New York City. In this six-part audio memoir, Eric explores his memories…

In memoriam: Kay Lahusen, January 5, 1930 - May 26, 2021. Kay was a monumental figure in the LGBTQ civil rights movement. From the earliest homophile protests to gay liberation and beyond, she never stopped fighting for equality—with Barbara Gittings,…

Olivia Records cofounder Meg Christian helped ignite the women’s music movement of the 1970s with lesbian classics like “Ode to a Gym Teacher.” Meet Meg, in song and conversation, in our final episode drawn from the Studs Terkel Radio Archive. Visit…

When Leonard Matlovich was thrown out of the Air Force for being gay, he sued for reinstatement. It was 1975 and it was the first case of its kind. Hear the LGBTQ rights pioneer—and startlingly frank one-time racist—in conversation with…

Sparks flew when radical lesbian feminist Jill Johnston sat down for an interview with Studs Terkel in 1973. Jill had just published a controversial manifesto called “Lesbian Nation,” which advocated that women break with men entirely. It was provocative stuff—even…

A half-century ago, Studs Terkel interviewed three members of the homophile group Mattachine Midwest: the organization’s president, a student activist, and lesbian pulp author Valerie Taylor. Join them for a wide-ranging and laugh-filled conversation about gay liberation both personal and…

From a young age, Quentin Crisp was determined to be himself—makeup, painted nails, dramatically dyed hair, and all—even if it consigned him to a life of poverty and isolation. Hear the author, raconteur, and provocateur in a 1970 conversation with…

Canadian female impersonator John Falk Tomkinson appeared around the globe under the stage name Les-Lee for over three decades. In 1967 Studs Terkel interviewed the performer to talk about his art and upbringing, and his experiences of being “different.”  Visit our…

In 1959 Lorraine Hansberry became the first Black woman to have a play produced on Broadway. Soon after “A Raisin in the Sun” made history, the 28-year-old writer and activist talked to Studs Terkel about racial and gender inequity and…

Author Christopher Isherwood left England for Germany in 1929. His stories about his years there inspired the musical “Cabaret,” which shaped the image of decadent interwar Berlin in the popular imagination. But as he told Studs Terkel in this 1977…

Making Gay History is back! Join us as we mine the Studs Terkel Radio Archive in Chicago for stories from our proud LGBTQ past to bring you eight intimate conversations conducted between 1959 and 1981 by the legendary oral historian.…

When high schooler Larah Helayne heard MGH’s episode with Jean O’Leary, it changed the course of her life. Plans to become a nun gave way for a new role as an LGBTQ trailblazer. In this season finale, we celebrate the…

MGH is Eric Marcus’s first love. But he also co-produces Those Who Were There. Have a listen to this episode featuring Leon Bass. He faced racism growing up in 1930s Philadelphia, in the Army during WWII, and discovered its ultimate…

Making Gay History stands with the countless Americans protesting systemic racism and the deaths of black and brown people at the hands of the police. And we draw inspiration from civil rights heroes like Bayard Rustin, an out and proud…

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