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Playlist: OutLoud

Compiled By: StoryCorps

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StoryCorps: Michelle Kreifels and Patrick Kreifels

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:11

Patrick Kreifels and his older sister, Michelle, discuss how their differences have brought them together.

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Michelle Kreifels was born with an intellectual disability. She grew up on a farm in rural Nebraska, the fifth of seven children--and her family treated her the same as everyone else.

Her youngest brother, Patrick, brought Michelle to StoryCorps to talk about their relationship.

StoryCorps: Walter Naegle and Ericka Naegle

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:33

Walter Naegle tells his niece, Ericka, about the unconventional decision that he and his partner, Bayard Rustin, made to protect their union.

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On the heels of a historic Supreme Court ruling that upholds the right of LGBTQ people to marry, we look to the late 1970s--a time where this week’s ruling on marriage equality was unimaginable.

Back then, the iconic civil rights leader Bayard Rustin and his partner, Walter Naegle, a man decades his junior, fell in love. They were together for many years.

As Bayard was getting older, they decided to formalize their relationship in the only way that was possible for gay people at the time--Rustin adopted Walter Naegle.

Here, Walter tells his niece, Ericka, what it was like to fall in love with Bayard, and the unconventional decision they made to protect their union.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Angela Stowe and Glenda Elliott

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:56

Glenda Elliott, 75, tells her friend Angela Stowe about the love of her life, and what it was like to love another woman long before the gay rights movement.

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Glenda Elliott grew up in Mayfield, Georgia during the 1940s. Long before the Stonewall Riots launched the modern gay right movement she met the love of her life — another woman, named Lauree.

When Glenda sat down with her friend, Angela Stowe, she told the story of this life-long love that never had the chance to blossom.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Jeff Dupre and David Phillips

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:38

Jeff Dupre remembers his friend Air Force Tech. Sgt. Leonard Matlovich who appeared on a 1975 cover of Time with the headline, “I Am a Homosexual.”

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In September 1975, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Leonard Matlovich was featured on the cover of Time magazine under the headline, “I Am a Homosexual.” It was the first time an openly gay man appeared on the cover of a national news magazine.

In March of that year, Matlovich—who served three tours in Vietnam and received both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart—delivered a letter to his commanding officer stating that he was gay and that he intended to continue his military career (click here to view a copy of the letter).

Leonard Matlovitch was challenging the military ban on gay service members.

Soon after the issue of Time hit newsstands, Matlovich was discharged from the Air Force for his admission. For the next five years, the decorated veteran fought his dismissal in Federal court and was eventually reinstated. While he never returned to active duty, he did receive a monetary settlement from the military that included back pay.

Tech. Sgt. Leonard Matlovich died on June 22, 1988.

Jeff Dupre knew Leonard Matlovich in the 1970s. He came to StoryCorps with his husband, David Phillips, to record Jeff’s memories of the man who started the legal battle for military acceptance of LGBTQ people.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Claudia Anton and Diana Keough

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:24

Sisters from Wisconsin recount what it was like to find out both of their parents had AIDS, and to lose them both to the disease in the early 1990s.

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Roger and Christine Bessey had been married for 27 years and were the parents of six children when he learned he had AIDS. According to his family, Roger had been living a double life for decades.

Christine was then diagnosed with AIDS and soon after left her husband.

Roger died in 1990 and Christine died in 1994.

Two of their daughters, Claudia Anton and Diana Keough, came to StoryCorps to remember what it was like to lose both parents to AIDS.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Zeek Taylor and Dick Titus

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:35

Together since 1971, Dick Titus and Zeek Taylor came to StoryCorps to discuss the lengths they went to while keeping their relationship secret.

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Dick Titus and Zeek Taylor met in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1971. Zeek was openly gay having already come out to his friends and family, but Dick was still in the closet with the added burden of having his family living close by.
 
In order for the two of them to be together, they decided to leave Memphis and move to Fayetteville, Arkansas, a city that would put some distance between Dick and his family, and where he knew he could find work as an electrician. But when they got there, Dick was convinced that he would have to continue to remain closeted after encountering homophobia on job sites, leading him to believe that he would lose work if anyone discovered that he was gay.
 
In order to protect Dick (pictured on the right), they decided to buy two homes—one to live in together and another to use as a dummy house for Dick in case any of his fellow workers wanted to come by at the end of the day. They also established a code in case they ran into any of the people Dick worked with while they were out together. Dick’s colleagues called him “Oscar,” so when they were in public and heard someone use the name, Zeek (pictured on the left) would pretend that they did not know each other.
 
Today, Dick is out to his friends and family. They came to StoryCorps to recall their journey from owners of multiple homes for 13 years, to married owners of a single home together in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Scott Goodling and Andy Goodling

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:13

Andy Goodling tells to his father, Scott, about his boyfriend who passed away almost two years ago, and why he kept their relationship a secret.

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Six years ago, Andy Goodling was in college when he met his boyfriend, Bryan. They began dating, but since neither of them had come out as openly gay, they both went to great lengths to hide their relationship from their friends and family.

About two years ago, they secretly took a vacation together to Florida. While there they decided the time was right to begin telling their families about their sexuality and their relationship. Just days after their trip together ended, Bryan was hospitalized with a sudden illness and died shortly after.

Devastated, Andy decided it was time to start coming out to his loved ones so that he could openly mourn the loss of the man he loved.

At StoryCorps, Andy talked to his father, Scott, about his relationship with Bryan, and why he chose to keep it hidden for so long.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Carole Smiley with Seth and Octavius Smiley-Humphries

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:23

Seth Smiley and Octavius Humphries had their first date on Christmas Eve. They discuss that and other memorable holiday events they have shared.

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Hoping to meet someone special, in 2010 Seth Smiley decided to give online dating a try. Soon after posting his profile, Octavius Humphries reached out to him and they began an email correspondence.

Despite their age difference—Seth is 19 years older than Octavius—they immediately hit it off, bonding over their shared search for “commitment, consistency, and (a) connection.”

Eventually they met in person, going on their first date on Christmas Eve. Unsure of Octavius’ plans for the holiday, Seth invited him to dinner the next night at his family’s Atlanta home. Octavius, who was still grieving the deaths of his parents, had, unbeknownst to Seth, planned on spending the holiday alone. Instead, he reluctantly accepted Seth’s invitation.

At StoryCorps, Octavius (above left) and Seth (above right), along with Seth’s mother, Carole Smiley, sat down to remember their first Christmas together, as well as a more recent memorable holiday event.

StoryCorps: Chris López and Gabe López

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:25

Gabe López, assigned female at birth, always felt like he was a boy. He came to StoryCorps with his mom to talk about growing up transgender.

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Chris López always knew there was something different about her youngest child Gabe. Assigned female at birth, Gabe always felt like he was a boy.

Gabe was always more comfortable in clothes traditionally worn by little boys (cargo pants and superhero shirts), but often switched back and forth between those and outfits often worn by little girls. Just after his seventh birthday, he convinced his parents to let him cut off his long hair and get a Mohawk—a haircut he had been wanting for years. This is also about the time that Gabe started dressing only as a boy and answering exclusively to “he” and not “she.”

At first, Chris was concerned that Gabe, being so young, might change his mind. She was scared of how people would treat him as he transitioned. But after seeing how Gabe responded to the changes in his hair and clothing, she felt confident that he had made the right decision.

Last summer, their family attended a camp for transgender, gender creative, and gender non-conforming youth in Tucson, Arizona. There, Gabe met similar kids and made three new best friends—Luke, Cooper, and Brock (who among other things taught Gabe how to pee standing up).

Gabe, who will soon be nine years old, has been attending the same school since kindergarten, and this past August when he started third grade, for the first time, he began having others refer to him by his preferred gender pronouns—”he” and “him.”

Gabe and his mother (pictured in the player above) recently came to the StoryCorps MobileBooth to talk about what it’s been like for him to be transgender, and his fears about the future.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Reverend Troy Perry

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:08

On June 24, 1973, an intentionally set fire tore through a New Orleans gay bar killing 32. Rev. Troy Perry came to StoryCorps to recall the aftermath.

Perrynpr2_small On June 24, 1973, a fire tore through the Upstairs Lounge, a gay bar in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Thirty-two people were killed in the blaze and many more injured. To this day, it remains the deadliest fire in New Orleans history and until the killings on June 12 at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, this act of arson was believed to be the largest single mass killing of gay people in U.S. history.

Unlike in Orlando where there has been an outpouring of support for the victims, following the Upstairs Lounge fire, there was overwhelming silence from politicians, religious leaders, and the local community. And while police conducted an investigation, no one was ever arrested for the murders.

After hearing about the tragedy, Rev. Troy Perry (pictured at left with his partner Phillip “Buddy” De Blieck in June 1970, at the first LGBT Pride Parade in Los Angeles), founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, a national Christian denomination dedicated to serving gays and lesbians, flew from his home in California to New Orleans to provide support.

Offering comfort and assistance to the victims in hospitals, Rev. Perry recalls speaking with one badly burned man who told him that the school he taught at had fired him after learning that he was present at the Upstairs Lounge. That man died the next day.

Not wanting to return home until he held a service, Rev. Perry remembers the difficult time he had finding a church willing to act as a host. Eventually, the St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in the French Quarter opened its doors and mourners came to fill it. When the service ended, cameras outside confronted attendees and Rev. Perry offered them a way out the back. But in a show of strength, pride, and courage, “Nobody left by the backdoor. And that’s the legacy. We never ran away.”

The initial reaction to the fire is something that New Orleans has had to come to terms with in the ensuing years. In 1998, a plaque was placed on the spot where the Upstairs Lounge once stood to mark 25 years since the fire, and in a Time Magazine piece on the 40th anniversary of the blaze, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans apologized for its silence.

Rev. Perry came to StoryCorps to recall what he saw upon his arrival in New Orleans.

Originally aired June 24, 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Photo of Phillip “Buddy” De Blieck and Rev. Troy Perry courtesy of Rev. Troy Perry.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Joel Tucker and Gordon Blake

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:34

In this special StoryCorps production, Joel Tucker and his friend Gordon Blake share Joel’s experiences following an anti-LGBTQ incident from 2000.

Tucker3_small UPDATE: Joel and Gordon’s story aired June 26, 2016 on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

The shooting at the Orlando, Florida, nightclub Pulse on June 12, that left 49 dead and 53 wounded, while unprecedented in scale, is certainly not the first time a killer has chosen to target the LGBTQ community. Anti-LGBTQ violence has a long history in the United States, and in this special StoryCorps production (excerpted from our latest podcast, StoryCorps 473: Upstairs, Backstreet, Pulse), we look back at another high-profile incident.

On September 22, 2000, 53-year-old Ronald Gay entered the Backstreet Café, a gay-friendly bar in Roanoke, Virginia. According to police accounts, Gay had set out that evening in search of gay people to kill, and after seeing two men inside the Backstreet Café embrace, he pulled out a 9mm gun and began firing. Gay ended up killing Danny Overstreet and wounding six others.

One of those shot was Danny’s friend Joel Tucker who was there with his partner and friends drinking beer and playing pool. At the time, Joel was not out as a gay man and recalls in a StoryCorps interview that he regrets telling a newspaper reporter that he was at the café at the time with his girlfriend. While initially not realizing what was going on, Joel remembers seeing fire come out of the gun, and when it dawned on him that there was a man shooting at people, he screamed for everybody to get down. “It was just like seven shots, seven people. Then he just walked out the door.”

Joel (above left) came to StoryCorps with his long-time friend Gordon Blake (above right) in Hollywood, Florida, days after the Orlando massacre to share some of the emotions that flooded back to him after learning about the killings at Pulse. Gordon, who was supposed to meet up with Joel and their friends at the Backstreet Café that evening in 2000 but did not make it, joins with Joel in offering advice to the survivors:

“You have got to be strong. Don’t let something like this ruin your life because it could’ve ruined mine…This was one person who hated and I have seen hundreds of people who love. And I think love wins.”
This story is excerpted from a special StoryCorps podcast featuring another previously unheard piece from a witness to the devastation that followed the June 24, 1973, fire at the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Until the killings at Pulse, this blaze, which took 32 lives, was believed to be the largest single mass killing of gay people in U.S. history.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Drew Cortez and Danny Cortez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:35

Pastor Danny Cortez and his son, Drew, recall the sermon Danny gave to his church congregation after Drew told his father that he was gay.

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Danny Cortez was the founder and pastor of the New Heart Community Southern Baptist Church in La Mirada, California, in 2014 when his 16-year-old son, Drew, told him that he was gay. Up until that time, Danny’s church would either recommend celibacy or reparative therapy--a widely discredited form of treatment that identifies homosexuality as a mental disorder with the goal of converting people to heterosexuality--to congregants who identified themselves as gay or lesbian.

Even before Drew’s coming out, Danny had slowly begun to reevaluate his views on homosexuality and whether he was doing more harm than good. When his neighbor invited him to visit the HIV clinic where he worked, Danny was introduced to a community of people he had not previously known much about. This began, for him, a gradual change of heart.

Years later, as he was driving Drew to school, “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis came on the radio. Danny liked it a lot but didn’t understand that it was a celebration of LGBT love. Drew, encouraged by his father’s affection for the song, then revealed to him that he was gay.

Realizing that they could no longer keep this secret from those they love, Drew posted a video online, and a week later, Danny delivered a sermon to his congregation about his changing views on homosexuality. As a result of the sermon, the Southern Baptist Convention cut ties with Danny’s church and his congregation split leading he and other members to form a separate LGBT inclusive, non-denominational church.

Danny and Drew came to StoryCorps to remember the sermon that changed their lives.

Originally aired on August 28, 2016 on NPR’s Weekend Edition

StoryCorps OutLoud: Leslye Huff and Mary Ostendorf

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:14

When they met in 1983, Leslye was open about her sexuality while Mary kept hers private. With a family Thanksgiving approaching, that all changed.

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Leslye Huff (left) and her partner, Mary Ostendorf (right), met in 1983. Leslye was open about her feelings for Mary and wasn’t shy about publicly showing her affection--even on their first date. Mary felt less comfortable with public displays of affection and had not told many people in her life about her sexuality, including her family.

When Mary introduced Leslye to her mother, Agnes, they did not immediately reveal to her the nature of their relationship, but during that meeting Leslye felt a connection with Agnes. “I liked her. She was short like me, and pretty vivacious. She and I sat and talked and I thought the makings of a pretty good friendship was beginning.”

Later that year, days before they gathered for Thanksgiving, Leslye picked up the phone and told Agnes the truth about her relationship with Mary.

At StoryCorps, Mary and Leslye discuss what happened after the phone call and how their relationship with Agnes changed in the years that followed.

Originally aired November 27, 2016, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

StoryCorps: Darrow Brown and Juan Calvo

From StoryCorps | 02:52

Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology.

In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents.

Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

Calvonpr_small Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology. In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents. Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

StoryCorps: Emily Addison

From StoryCorps | 03:54

On June 12, 2016 a lone gunman killed 49 people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.Among those killed was Deonka Drayton. She was 32.

Deonka left behind a young son and her co-parent, Emily Addison. At StoryCorps, Emily sat down to remember her.

There were hundreds of people at Pulse the night of the shooting, and some were able to escape in time.

Addison3_small On June 12, 2016 a lone gunman killed 49 people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.Among those killed was Deonka Drayton. She was 32. Deonka left behind a young son and her co-parent, Emily Addison. At StoryCorps, Emily sat down to remember her. There were hundreds of people at Pulse the night of the shooting, and some were able to escape in time.

StoryCorps: Christopher Harris

From StoryCorps | 05:45

StoryCorps Legacy gives people with serious illnesses the chance to share their stories.

At Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Christopher Harris recorded his memories from the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

In the early 80s, his marriage fell apart after he came out as gay. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. At the time, there was only one drug approved to treat the disease, and a diagnosis often meant a death sentence.

With StoryCorps, Harris remembered how he came to work with the Atlanta Buyers Club, which distributed medications from the black market to people with HIV before the drugs had been approved by the FDA.

Harrissquare_small StoryCorps Legacy gives people with serious illnesses the chance to share their stories. At Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Christopher Harris recorded his memories from the early days of the AIDS epidemic. In the early 80s, his marriage fell apart after he came out as gay. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. At the time, there was only one drug approved to treat the disease, and a diagnosis often meant a death sentence. With StoryCorps, Harris remembered how he came to work with the Atlanta Buyers Club, which distributed medications from the black market to people with HIV before the drugs had been approved by the FDA.