Audio Interview, Bob Day, March 30, 2012

  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Evelyn has explained most of this to you.
  • This whole history and documentary project
  • is being done in different phases.
  • One phase was the digitization of The Empty Closet,
  • which is done.
  • One phase is the oral histories that Evelyn is doing.
  • That's what she's going to record you
  • on this little digital recorder here while we talk.
  • And then eventually the film documentary phase,
  • which is what I'm helping her work on.
  • So this is also my chance to get to know you and know
  • what your story is so that eventually when
  • we go to start filming and such, I might say to you,
  • oh, Bob, we really need to do an on-camera interview with you.
  • But we won't be starting cold.
  • I'll know exactly what I will want to ask of you on camera.
  • BOB DAY: OK.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And as I mentioned in my email,
  • we're not looking for names of people or things like that.
  • But we are--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Unless you want to share.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Unless you want to share.
  • We are interested in places, because a lot--
  • we've got a lot of places that people have mentioned
  • to us that were in existence, like the Mango Bar
  • and the Mango Hotel or something--
  • BOB DAY: Manger.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Manger.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Mangan.
  • Well, anyway.
  • And so we need to have some verification from other people
  • that these places did, in fact, exist
  • and that they were catered to gay men and so forth.
  • So the whatever your mind can pull out in terms of places
  • and locations and bar owners and things like that or whatever is
  • what we're--
  • BOB DAY: Try and reference, though.
  • There's one that I'd forgotten completely
  • and I just can remember going there.
  • But well, where do we start?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Are we recording yet?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • Well, let's just first start about your--
  • we won't talk about places yet.
  • Talk to me when you first came to terms
  • with your sexual identity.
  • And talk to me about that time period.
  • Was that here in Rochester?
  • BOB DAY: No.
  • I think really children already know what their feelings are
  • and what they're attracted to and things like that.
  • So I always knew as a child.
  • And different-- and I don't know if I was effeminate or not,
  • but I was delicate, to put it that way.
  • I didn't like to play baseball.
  • I was frightened of baseball and stuff.
  • And of course, I was always the last one chosen on the team.
  • And so you go through childhood.
  • And then where do you get your sex education?
  • My parents didn't set us down and tell a whole lot of stuff.
  • You'll eventually find out about the birds and bees on your own.
  • And this is the way they were coming up in the--
  • I was born in 1934, so the early '40s.
  • But the older children, my older brother, he
  • started getting these books about sexology.
  • I guess that was the name of it--
  • Sexology-- that had all the stuff.
  • I didn't identify it when I saw the word homosexual
  • and stuff like that.
  • Then I started reading what happens and what was--
  • I guess it was about Kinsey's time
  • when he was coming up with some of his things and what not.
  • And sometimes they were talking about it's
  • a phase that people go through, some boys when
  • they're going through.
  • And then they monkey around and circle jerks
  • or whatever you want to call it.
  • Then they find girls and then they move on.
  • So I waited for the stage to move, but I never moved on,
  • and things like that.
  • Then you start hearing about these strange people and queer
  • people and started identifying with that and stuff like that.
  • And then I was sort of active in high school.
  • And--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Was that here in Rochester?
  • BOB DAY: No.
  • It was in Bloomfield.
  • When I came to Rochester, the ones
  • in the life, or the gay ones, would say,
  • well, you can take the girl out of the country,
  • but you can't take the country out of the girl.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: This is Bloomfield, New York, right?
  • BOB DAY: Yes.
  • Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • BOB DAY: And so, you know, where'd you get your education?
  • Out behind the barn?
  • (Laughs) out behind the barn type of thing.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • That's true.
  • BOB DAY: Like that.
  • And so I was sort of secret and closeted.
  • And I wouldn't say on the down low,
  • but you could call it on the down low.
  • And then when I got to Rochester and went
  • to school, that's when the closeted part started really
  • getting in 'cause I didn't want classmates knowing and whatnot.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Roughly what year are were talking?
  • BOB DAY: We're talking 1952.
  • Yeah.
  • Evelyn, you probably can help me with this too,
  • because there was such a thing as in schools, parentis--
  • proprietor or something, or the school, the college
  • could be in lieu of your parent.
  • And they could discipline you like your parent would do.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • BOB DAY: I don't know what the terminology.
  • I guess it's not--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: It's not parental rights.
  • But they take over some form of guardianship
  • where they can get health care for you if it's emergency.
  • And they could.
  • Today, all of that's done by medical card
  • and all of that stuff, which they didn't have back then.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • But they also thought if you were gay or something
  • too, try to discipline you and tell your parents and da da da
  • da da and try to correct it and all that other type of stuff.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: This was in college?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • The college-- since they had that parental type
  • of right type of thing.
  • And so you didn't want the college
  • to know that you're gay type of thing, too.
  • And you sort of kept that hidden.
  • And so being at RIT, it was, what, downtown.
  • And the kids I was in school with would go to Dimey Day
  • bars down on the corner of Washington and Main
  • Street or D'Apriles Grill up on Fitzhugh Street, which
  • is all torn down and the garage is there and stuff like that.
  • And then I was staying with relatives
  • over on Morton Street, I didn't have to take the bus.
  • But after I get through partying and drinking with those guys,
  • I'd go down Main Street and I'd look up and down.
  • And if I didn't recognize anybody or anybody
  • didn't recognize me, I'd shoot down Front Street.
  • And that was it.
  • And but then the other part, the (unintelligible) the separation
  • of my life was that part with the classmates down
  • on Front Street, or I'd go over in the ghetto--
  • it wasn't quite a ghetto, but over on
  • Clarissa Street where Pythodd Hall was.
  • And so the people over there, I'd present one way
  • and present another here and present another in this.
  • And then I had some friends--
  • there's Herald.
  • He grew up in Geneseo.
  • And he went away to the service.
  • And he was back.
  • And he became Bill Johnson's private secretary.
  • And then another friend was Bill Bracey, who was older than I--
  • the two of us.
  • And he had some real wild stories
  • about back in the '40s and things when he came out.
  • I wish he was still alive, 'cause he passed away in '80.
  • So that was that.
  • And so the two bars that I remember was on Front Street
  • with Ma Martin and Pa Martin and Martha's.
  • And then further down was Ottoman's Bar with Peggy--
  • Peggy whatever her name was.
  • I should remember, if I ever knew.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Ottoman?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah, that was her husband.
  • And then he passed away.
  • And it became the Bizarre Lounge.
  • She moved over on State Street and went there.
  • I wish I could remember her last name.
  • So--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Were these bars-- some of these bars,
  • were they strictly gay bars?
  • Or were they mixed and it just happened
  • to be the gay people mixed in?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • From my recollection, Ma Martins was sort of a mixed.
  • And I always said what hung out there
  • was whores, cut throats and thieves, and gay people
  • and stuff like that.
  • It was down, you know.
  • But mostly at night, during the evening hours, in Mart--
  • this is how the story came to me,
  • that Martha's was next door.
  • Oh I can see that old dusty balloon over the bar, now.
  • And one night Ma Martins got so full that some of the guys
  • went next door considering it was empty.
  • So the street is sort of empty.
  • And old Dick, who was sort of a big time--
  • I won't call him a gangster.
  • I don't know.
  • But Dick Gruttadauria or something like that--
  • some other parts.
  • You're shaking your head.
  • You probably concur on that story.
  • But anyhow, he come in the next day to check to receipts
  • and said, "Where'd all this money come from?"
  • She said, "All those gay people came over here last night
  • from next door."
  • And so that became very gay friendly right away
  • with the suits.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And that was Dick's 43.
  • BOB DAY: Well, it wasn't 43 then.
  • It was just Dick's then.
  • Then it moved to 43 Stone Street, Union Street,
  • or wherever they went.
  • But that was-- they had two of them,
  • 'cause they moved up to where (Unintelligible) was
  • or something before they went to Stone Street.
  • And so there's sort of class consciousness about it,
  • I think, a little bit.
  • The ones that were at Martin were street wise,
  • sort of down and out.
  • I wouldn't call them down and out.
  • I hate to generalize.
  • But there are people in there named like China Clipper
  • and all these other things.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Less desirable?
  • BOB DAY: (Laughs) Well, they were there.
  • Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • And more hardcore.
  • I'd say heavy drinkers and hustlers
  • and all that type of stuff.
  • And over at Martha's Bar, it was the (unintelligible) ones,
  • the Pat Boone show, saddle oxfords
  • and bow ties and blazers and other things like that.
  • And then down at Peggy's Ottoman on the other side,
  • I don't know.
  • They probably-- what do I want to call them?
  • A mixture of heterosexual and homosexual, but kinky hetero
  • type of thing so to speak too.
  • So that was it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What was your favorite?
  • Did you have one?
  • Not favorite, maybe just a regular--
  • BOB DAY: I think I preferred Martins, Ma Martin.
  • Sophie Martin was a little lady in what Bill always says,
  • wait until New Year's Eve.
  • And she'd always have this beaded dress
  • on and these old dirty diamonds all over
  • like they'd never been-- in a big mansion on East Avenue.
  • And I think they had a bar before that on Main Street,
  • some sort of--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But she--
  • BOB DAY: --box type of thing.
  • Yeah.
  • And her husband was a whiskey runner way back in--
  • so just getting into prohibition.
  • Boy, I didn't think I--
  • do I overlap prohibition?
  • No--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, this would be after.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • Just a little bit after.
  • Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, in the '50s,
  • it would be about thirty years after.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • OK.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Twenty, no twenty-five--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Twenty, twenty-five years.
  • BOB DAY: The roaring '20s, yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: '20s, yeah.
  • BOB DAY: And so--
  • oh yeah, before I hit the streets, that would be that.
  • But that was over in the mid '20s
  • and I was born in the mid '30s.
  • So just ten years from that stuff.
  • And it was all--
  • and (unintelligible) I guess whatever it was,
  • and then the whiskey went in.
  • But I liked that bar, because now I'm
  • getting into my psychological makeup.
  • When-- what is it--
  • internalized homophobia and internalized racism and stuff
  • like that, to build myself up, it was like, well,
  • I'll go down where I can feel superior to some
  • of these other people, because I was a little Joe college
  • boy, something like that, and what have you.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well that was my next question.
  • I wanted to get into your experience in the 1950s.
  • Not only were you a man of color,
  • but you were a gay man of color.
  • What was that experience like for you?
  • And, like you said, you mentioned kind
  • of living a double life, but--
  • BOB DAY: It was terrible.
  • I had a whole lot of resentment which
  • I internalized that turned to anger and sort of self
  • destructed.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But, now was it resentment
  • because of your sexuality?
  • Or resentment of your skin color?
  • BOB DAY: Everything.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It was everything?
  • BOB DAY: It was society, the United States in general.
  • And there's oppression, because it was in the '60s.
  • And this is after I'd gotten out of the service
  • and came back and the riots in Rochester and stuff like that.
  • And that sort of turned things around and got people
  • thinking a little bit.
  • But there was that stuff.
  • My first significant other was a white fellow.
  • And I had these very romantic ideas too.
  • And so he was an officer and a gentleman.
  • And he worked at General Dynamics as an engineer.
  • And so I was going to volunteer for the service and come back,
  • and we were going to live together.
  • But it never panned out or anything like that.
  • But I met him--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I don't want to rush over this.
  • OK, you've got a white significant other.
  • Caucasian.
  • When you guys walked into one of these bars together,
  • did you get a lot of looks?
  • Did you get any comments?
  • BOB DAY: No because when we went out to a gay spot,
  • we went there.
  • There was some-- it's sort of blurred
  • and I can't separate the sequence.
  • But we'd gone to Canada one time and it
  • was okay in Toronto and stuff.
  • But one time we were in Montreal.
  • And we were dancing or something and got some racist things,
  • because I guess the riots were going on in Birmingham.
  • And some of those French-Canadians
  • who don't like English speakers anyhow
  • said, "Why don't you all go back to Birmingham?"
  • So I was getting that stuff.
  • And in the city, when we got ready to get an apartment,
  • he had one.
  • And when he said he's going to have a black roommate,
  • well he won't have him here and this and that.
  • And he was up on Park Avenue.
  • It amazes me today when I see how many people
  • are renting apartments.
  • But, so he couldn't have one there.
  • And so we went looking for an apartment.
  • And there always-- when we'd show up there,
  • they would say the apartment's taken.
  • Well, they said that because it was
  • two men that wanted an apartment together
  • and it's only a one bedroom or he's saying it because of this.
  • But except we found one on South Avenue and Comfort Street
  • near Francisco's grocery store, mom and pop grocery store.
  • And she was taking information.
  • You both work?
  • Where do you work?
  • General Dynamics and I was working
  • at St. John Fisher at the time.
  • And--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You were working where?
  • BOB DAY: St. John Fisher.
  • I was in food service there.
  • And she said, "Oh, you're feeding the priest?"
  • I think that's sort of when we got the apartment
  • or something like that.
  • And--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes, if you were feeding the priest,
  • you absolutely had to be blessed by God.
  • (Laughter)
  • BOB DAY: Yes.
  • But that was the beginning of the end of the--
  • yeah.
  • And there was a time--
  • he was in the service, and he had
  • duty in Ohio, Columbus, or at Wright-Patterson
  • Air Base, Dayton, which is close by.
  • And so I was in service and I was at Fort Bragg.
  • And he came down to visit me.
  • And I asked the sergeant where is the black motel?
  • Because he could be accepted to black motels,
  • but I couldn't darken the door of the white one.
  • So we spent there.
  • And then we went back to Columbus where he was.
  • And then he was going to bring me back home.
  • And so we got to Columbus.
  • And he'd been going to a gay bar in Columbus all the time.
  • And it was sort of secretive thing.
  • And so when he knocked on the door
  • and they looked out and saw me, "Oh, this is a private club."
  • And he'd been going there for months.
  • And it got private real fast.
  • So this is one of the things that was going on.
  • Then we got to Warren, Ohio, his hometown.
  • And we were in this bar.
  • He said, "This is a bar and sort of some timey--
  • some action around there."
  • So we went in there.
  • And I come back and he was agitated--
  • I had to go to the restroom.
  • I come back, and he was agitated.
  • "Finish that, get up, and we go.
  • Let's go.
  • Let's go."
  • And I said, "What?
  • I'm having fun sitting here looking at these hillbillies
  • from West Virginia."
  • They looked just as--
  • And then, anyhow, he says real stern, "Let's go."
  • I'd never seen him do it like that.
  • And we went out.
  • And I heard the woman say, "Break up the glasses."
  • And I could hear the glass, what I was drinking out of,
  • crash against the wall.
  • And I said, "What's going on?"
  • And they said, "Well, they didn't know what you were.
  • They asked if you were--
  • what you were.
  • And I told them that you are negro."
  • I guess that's what we were at the time.
  • They couldn't tell if you were Mexican or whatever
  • at that time.
  • But I was young and pretty.
  • So they didn't know what I was, but when you said negro,
  • they knew that's the way they should act.
  • That was the type of thing that went on.
  • So that was what it was like in the service about that time.
  • But then the riots came and things
  • started changing and civil rights
  • and all that other stuff.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So in this time period,
  • either here in Rochester or in Ohio, in the service,
  • were you feeling more oppression because of your skin color
  • than you were being identified as a gay man?
  • BOB DAY: I--
  • OK.
  • Your friend Lee.
  • Do you remember Lee and her--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Lee Andrews?
  • BOB DAY: Evelyn and I--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • BOB DAY: We have a little history of our own going on.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I remember Lee.
  • BOB DAY: Didn't I have some good friends?
  • Lee and Michael--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Well, you--
  • BOB DAY: Evelyn's going to tell me,
  • "Don't you bring any more of your friends around me
  • anymore."
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You never lacked for variety and uniqueness.
  • BOB DAY: But anyhow, Lee told me one time
  • and somebody asked a friend of her's, what do you have--
  • like your question.
  • What was more problematic, being black or gay?
  • And she said, "Well, I never had to tell my mother I was black."
  • And this is it.
  • It's harder to tell, because you can cover up
  • the gayness so much that you don't feel the discrimination.
  • It's more internalized.
  • You know, I don't want to wiggle down the street.
  • And I don't want to do, "Hey, Mary,"
  • and all that other stuff.
  • So you carry yourself different.
  • And other people, they don't know.
  • And they'll tell-- at work if you're
  • in the closet or something, you can
  • listen to a whole lot of gay jokes and stuff like that.
  • You don't hear too many racist jokes when you're around,
  • unless you stepped somebody over or something like that.
  • So I'd say it's more problematic with the racial part.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • I was going to say today it would not be kosher for either.
  • But being black you can't hide, unless you go into a bakery
  • and become covered in flour and--
  • but being gay is not something that's outwardly observant.
  • BOB DAY: And that's your real-- what do you say-- fem, or what?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • BOB DAY: Or what's Carson--
  • Carl-- I have some bias towards that.
  • When I'm watching Good Morning America,
  • I know you probably wouldn't, but he comes on.
  • And I can't stand him.
  • He's so, da na na na.
  • I said, get a backbone type of--
  • and he was here, I guess, where--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Who is this?
  • BOB DAY: Carson whatever his name is.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Oh, Carson Daly?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • Something for the gay guy, the straight guy or something
  • like that.
  • And so when I see those fun things--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You mentioned in the interview
  • that you were talking with Bruce Woolley at one point.
  • You seem to remember a bar called the Rustic?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • This is one that I don't remember it,
  • but my friend Bill remembered it.
  • And he was talking about drag shows that were there.
  • And people would come from Buffalo.
  • And they'd all get busted and had
  • to be running down the street and breaking their heels and--
  • high heels and stuff like that, which
  • brings to mind another thing like Martins
  • down there on Front Street.
  • Every time there was an election year,
  • the police were going to get tough on crime and faggots
  • and clean up the city.
  • They'd come in there and start arresting people.
  • And it was like--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: For what?
  • BOB DAY: Like Stonewall--
  • pre-Stonewall.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, raids.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah, raids type of thing.
  • Now, we haven't had a raid on a gay bar here
  • in the city since--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • Not in a long time.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Were you at a bar when it was raided?
  • BOB DAY: No.
  • But when the police come in and all that other stuff,
  • it's you sort of managed the behavior.
  • And you'd get that tension.
  • And they'd look around like they smelled shit or something.
  • And they weren't our friends.
  • And we didn't have a liaison or any of those other things
  • then that we fought for.
  • So you felt very intimidated, type of thing.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Go back a ways, Bob, to the service.
  • When you were at Fort Bragg or when you enlisted,
  • and it wasn't voluntary.
  • You had--
  • BOB DAY: It was.
  • It was.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, it--
  • BOB DAY: But there was like an eight-year obligation
  • type of thing.
  • It was before the draft came up.
  • But with the draft, you don't know when you're going to go.
  • But I wanted to synchronize with Richard's when he
  • was going for his active duty--
  • his active duty.
  • And then he'd get out in so many years, because he was
  • ROTC or something like that.
  • So I wanted to coincide that when
  • we'd be out of the service, not have
  • that obligation all at once.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And so were you and this friend friends
  • before you entered the service?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
  • That's one of the reasons why I volunteered
  • to go so I could get back.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And at Fort Bragg--
  • that's where you were deployed?
  • That's where you were sent?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah, for basic training.
  • Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And did you ever go overseas?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
  • I went to Germany, Stuttgart.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: How was that?
  • I mean--
  • BOB DAY: Oh, it was a ball.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --were you out?
  • BOB DAY: (Laughing) It's a bunch of flaming faggots.
  • It was.
  • First of all, I went to a line outfit that was--
  • an artillery outfit that was out there in the field.
  • And then they came request because of my culinary skills
  • and knowledge and stuff.
  • The commanding officer said, "There's
  • a job at the general's mess at Seventh Army
  • headquarters in Stuttgart.
  • Would you like to go down there and apply for that?"
  • And so I got a transfer.
  • Well, I got to Seventh Army headquarters,
  • and the Seventh Army symphony band was there.
  • That's some of the first-- (laughs) and Seventh Avenue
  • road show with all the theatrical ones
  • there, and then the Ann Southern ones, the favorite secretaries
  • that were all up in the different offices and what not.
  • And there was a gay bar in Stuttgart, the (unintelligible)
  • and all that stuff.
  • And so we just running down there all the time
  • and what not.
  • So that was a good gay time.
  • But gay friends and we'd go off to Zurich for weekends, Zurich,
  • Switzerland, and take vacations down to Cannes
  • on the French Riviera.
  • So that was it.
  • And this is humorous because Seventh Army,
  • their patch was a triangle and it was purple.
  • And there's seven steps to heaven and seven steps to hell.
  • So it was purple and gold and red.
  • So you came into base, and there was this big flower
  • bed with all these different pansies in here.
  • And so they had a big purge (laughter)
  • from all of these faggots out there.
  • They had the commanding general call the guard.
  • He said, "And that pansy bed has got to go too."
  • And they said many recall--
  • somebody had written on the shit house wall, many were called
  • and many went.
  • So that was-- they said, that pansy bed's got to go, too.
  • So there was stuff that was going on in the service
  • and stuff like that.
  • And it's taken us all these years, all of this
  • until now, to don't ask and don't tell.
  • And this was about '55, '56, '57, around into there.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But you never felt discriminated against
  • or oppressed--
  • BOB DAY: No, not in the service, because--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: In the service.
  • BOB DAY: --the color line was--
  • yeah.
  • And even in North Carolina, I was in Fort Bragg,
  • the white sergeant.
  • They'd have black master sergeant.
  • Hey, Sergeant.
  • You went along, but if you step off that base,
  • it was another thing.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Story in North Carolina.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Not so in Europe.
  • BOB DAY: No.
  • No, it was not so in Europe at all.
  • No.
  • And as a matter of fact, there was
  • five of us that were African American
  • and we all hung together.
  • And this one friend, she was a secretary, but a musician,
  • played the piano.
  • And she had an old Packard car, great big old Packard.
  • And we'd all pile into this Packard car and get going.
  • Sputnik went up and then we named the car Sputnik.
  • So that will tell you the timeframe when we were out.
  • And when we'd get to the gay bar,
  • they were sort of fascinated with the black soldiers.
  • It was sort of a different type of thing.
  • And I remember seeing in Stuttgart, there goes my--
  • black entertainer with a big ponytail.
  • She went to Paris and she danced with the bananas and all
  • that other stuff.
  • No?
  • You don't remember her?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, I know who you're talking about.
  • BOB DAY: Josephine Baker.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Josephine Bacon?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because she kinda got ousted from America,
  • so she went to Paris.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • But then her last song, she sang--
  • and I could hear it in her voice now she was singing,
  • "I'll be coming home.
  • Wait for me."
  • And I could hear that longing that she'd like
  • to come back home to America.
  • But it still wasn't--
  • and that was in the late '50s and stuff like that.
  • But I do remember that.
  • But it was that how she was welcomed in Europe and in Paris
  • and things like that.
  • You could feel that difference there.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So how did you do then when you
  • had to come back to Rochester?
  • BOB DAY: Oh, Rochester when I got back
  • here was sort of a depression like we're in now.
  • And I'd gotten back from Germany where things were building up,
  • and comrades were getting little Volkswagens.
  • You could feel prosperity in the air.
  • But when you came back here, it was sort of depressed
  • and things like that.
  • Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What year did you come back?
  • BOB DAY: '59, yeah, just before '60.
  • Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So did you find it a changed city then?
  • Particularly in regards to the gay community,
  • did you find it changed?
  • BOB DAY: Well see, I was in a relationship, so I didn't--
  • I wasn't in the whatchamacallit.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You weren't out and about.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • But there was sort of a little line down through there.
  • You don't get invited to the parties
  • afterwards and things like that.
  • You sort of feel left out.
  • You could meet socially and things would be social.
  • But you take that to that intimate level sometimes,
  • socially intimate, like when you get together for parties.
  • Maybe I wasn't gregarious enough or something,
  • or maybe I was so internal--
  • frightened, fear, and stuff like that.
  • So I didn't push out with a big personality type of thing.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So socially you did things, went to the bars
  • and went out and got to know people.
  • But you then weren't included in people's inner circles.
  • Yet, out there at the bar or out there wherever--
  • BOB DAY: And this is the thing too.
  • Then you have to start talking about sexual encounters, too,
  • and how that stuff plays out, too.
  • And you probably heard about people
  • who would go with black people and they'd be dinge queens.
  • Or if they liked Chinese people, they'd
  • be rice queens or something.
  • And so there was that sort of thing going on, too.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Had Front Street changed?
  • Or was there no more Front Street?
  • BOB DAY: Oh, Front Street changed with urban renewal.
  • And I can't remember when that went, because Main Street used
  • to have stores all across there, and they tore those down
  • and made the bridge and stuff.
  • And Front Street went down with it, too,
  • and then all of a sudden the buildings and the hotels
  • and all that.
  • And I can't remember when that exactly happened.
  • But I know Ma and Pa Martin there, they'd passed away.
  • They were elderly.
  • And that's when Dick's Tavern moved up to Stone Street--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Stone Street.
  • BOB DAY: --and what not like that.
  • So exactly when that happened, I don't know.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And that's when it became Dick's 43--
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --because it was 43 Stone Street.
  • BOB DAY: Stone Street.
  • Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • BOB DAY: And then they went to South Avenue,
  • and she got murdered over there.
  • But that's another thing, too.
  • One time she had her little friends around there,
  • the little white boys-- excuse me.
  • (Laughter) Could do all their little deals.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You know what, they would've passed right
  • by me unless you-- until you--
  • (Laughter)
  • --said something about it.
  • BOB DAY: Excuse-- but it was a dance bar and stuff.
  • And they'd be doing this little fish thing
  • and holding each other close and wiggling and stuff.
  • And Bill and I were-- and this friend
  • of mine that knew the Rustic owner.
  • And his mother used to have these old rent parties
  • and stuff to raise money for the rent
  • and stuff and (unintelligible) and the old blues and all that.
  • And so we were in Martha's when this song came on.
  • And he come up, "Let's dance!"
  • And he got me out there on the floor.
  • And he was doing this old nasty boogie, old buck dance.
  • And he had Martha, "Stop that dancing!"
  • And so she singled us out because our dance style
  • wasn't the same as the cute little slim, hip white boys.
  • "Stop that dancing!
  • Have you no shame?"
  • EVELYN BAILEY: She said that?
  • BOB DAY: She said that.
  • When I heard she died, I grinned.
  • Oh.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • BOB DAY: But she did--
  • (interposing voices)
  • BOB DAY: --she tried to abuse the gay guys, too.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well let me ask you that,
  • because you're not the first person
  • to tell us that Martha really wasn't a very nice person.
  • BOB DAY: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So why did they patronize her bar?
  • BOB DAY: Because it was the only game in town,
  • the only show in town, that type of thing.
  • That's it.
  • My second lover was older than I by fifteen years.
  • And he was Jewish.
  • And I'm not saying he was tight, but he was cool with his money.
  • So I wanted to go to Martha's and everything.
  • So we went in and we ordered some Manhattans.
  • And she charged some astronomical price,
  • like $1.75 or something like that.
  • And he was out and done.
  • And so I took the two Martini glasses.
  • And she raised them.
  • "You come back with my glasses."
  • When I went back the next time, she's mad at me
  • and she probably won't let me back
  • in there again or something.
  • So he mailed them back.
  • And he says, "Well the price of those drinks,
  • I thought that included the glass, too."
  • But then too-- this could go in here.
  • It's sort of-- well, I'm getting out of date,
  • when I got back from service, the first romance broke up.
  • And Richard had gone to New York and met some other black fellow
  • and what not.
  • And let's say I was drinking heavily.
  • And Bill and Harold and I--
  • my mother told my father to let me have the car
  • 'cause I was moping around the house.
  • And we went drinking.
  • And I don't know, we were at the Treadway Inn and stuff.
  • And then we were going down Main Street into Martha's at the 43.
  • And I hit a car and dented it and had this little accident
  • type of thing.
  • But that time when I wasn't driving and was healing up
  • over this breakup and all like that,
  • I'd gone to a concert at the Eastman Theatre.
  • And across the street was the old town and country
  • thing, which was sort of--
  • you probably have heard of this.
  • Now that was really pissing on--
  • excuse my French.
  • But that was a group with Holly Ward and Ted Holland back
  • and Shoemaker and his lover and all like that.
  • So it was all quiet underneath the table.
  • So I met this Melton in there.
  • And then we started.
  • And that was about eighteen years.
  • Was it monogamous and high fidelity?
  • No.
  • But it was a lasting thing that went on.
  • And so--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So how many relationships have you had?
  • BOB DAY: Two.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Two.
  • OK.
  • BOB DAY: And a half.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: We're not going to the half.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: We've all had the half.
  • BOB DAY: That was it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Put enough halves together
  • to make a couple wholes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And all in Rochester?
  • I mean--
  • BOB DAY: No.
  • The half was out of Rochester.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, yes.
  • But--
  • BOB DAY: It was a little Swiss one
  • I had on the side when I there.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But when you came back from the service,
  • you lived in Rochester?
  • BOB DAY: No.
  • Oh, yeah.
  • When I came back, I lived in Rochester.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You lived in--
  • BOB DAY: And then after that-
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --Rochester.
  • And you worked in Rochester.
  • BOB DAY: Yes.
  • And then when we broke up, I left the apartment
  • and moved back to Bloomfield.
  • And I've lived there ever since.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Just generally talk to me about the 1960s.
  • You come back.
  • I mean, what was going on?
  • What were you finding--
  • BOB DAY: I probably wasn't there.
  • I-- let me see.
  • It is so hard for me to remember exactly.
  • The '60s--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: There was the riots in 1964.
  • Were you around for them?
  • Do you remember-- I mean, obviously you heard about it,
  • but--
  • BOB DAY: I remember that, too.
  • And there was no drinking in Rochester.
  • I think one of the things, my first memories, was--
  • not memories, but one of the memories
  • was coming in on a Saturday at RIT
  • down on Broad Street and Plymouth.
  • And there's a Navy program.
  • There's about eighteen sailors that were there
  • to study photography.
  • And I had a cook that would come in and cook
  • for them on the weekends.
  • But I was worried about her and the city was on lockdown.
  • And when I drove in, I felt so frightened driving
  • into Pittsford and stuff like that,
  • because the tension was in the air.
  • When I hit the Clarissa Street Bridge, which is now the Ford
  • Street Bridge, there's armed soldiers
  • with real live ammunition and everything else all drawn.
  • And I said I hadn't seen all that even when
  • I was in Germany in the army.
  • It was more of a war zone here in the city.
  • Then I remember the bars were all closed.
  • And I was a heavy drinker then.
  • And so the first bar across the county line going into--
  • and I met a friend, Dale, who's a gay fellow
  • that when I was in high school, we didn't like gym.
  • And we both were in gym classes.
  • And the coach says, well, you can supervise the younger
  • group.
  • And so Dale and I sat up there on the playground
  • and picked daisies or something like that.
  • So I met him and went on.
  • So that was part of that rioting type of stuff.
  • My relationship with Milton was sort of cultured,
  • and we were sort of close together.
  • And he was very anti-social, because I
  • think he felt the Jewish separation a little bit more
  • than some others.
  • And so one summer we were going to Stratford on Avon.
  • We always liked to go up there in Toronto.
  • And then I said, "Well, I always wanted
  • to go to Mackinac Island in Michigan."
  • So we started out and the riots were going.
  • And we got as far as Flint.
  • And we could hear of all the different cities in Michigan
  • going up in smoke.
  • And so I said, "We better go back home, back in--"
  • So I can remember coming down Hamtramck Avenue or something
  • through Detroit to get to the Windsor Bridge.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Oh, good lord.
  • BOB DAY: And I had this Mustang convertible with the top down.
  • And we're driving-- a white and a black man.
  • They had their guns drawn.
  • And you could feel the heat from the buildings
  • that had burned that was retained heat in there.
  • You could feel that come across.
  • And of course, I was so frightened, I just, like this.
  • I went and put the top up.
  • And then we went through the tunnel and then to Windsor
  • and it just--
  • you could almost feel the difference.
  • It was that same difference when I
  • came from Pittsburgh coming into Rochester and stuff like that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I can tell you, going from Detroit into Windsor
  • today, it's still the same.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • So there was that thing.
  • Milton was fifteen years older than I, but I don't think we--
  • or maybe I was oblivious to the stares and stuff like that.
  • We'd go to restaurants and we'd go swimming over there
  • at the Y. Where am I?
  • (Unintelligible) would.
  • And then we'd go do to a club or restaurant, or 25 Club
  • or something--
  • 25, I guess it was.
  • And the waiter said, "Wow are you fellas today?
  • How are you guys today?"
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The Clinton Ave.?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah, it was just a restaurant type--
  • across from Sibley's and stuff like that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Let me ask you about the RIT dormitory
  • on West Main and Plymouth.
  • There was a dormitory there?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah, it was an old Hotel Rochester.
  • But I didn't live in it.
  • That was after I'd graduated.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But I heard rumors
  • that that was a pickup place.
  • BOB DAY: It may well have been.
  • I don't know.
  • Eric (unintelligible) can tell stuff
  • around down through there too a little bit, I think.
  • He's a great resource.
  • I wish I could think of that one's name.
  • It's gone from me now.
  • But they lived down there on Plymouth Avenue
  • and made a clean sweep all around too.
  • But I don't know.
  • I guess I didn't want too much known about who was going on
  • and what was going on like that.
  • I wasn't that far out.
  • And then too, I always worried about being arrested and name
  • in the paper and all that other type of stuff.
  • So that inhibited a whole lot.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So whether they were gay or straight,
  • when you were arrested, your name
  • was printed in the newspaper?
  • BOB DAY: Very likely, yeah.
  • I tell that when I go to Just Us Guys
  • and meet over there in that Sears building
  • where the Rochester health care-- what is it?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: AIDS Care.
  • BOB DAY: AIDS Care, yeah, and stuff.
  • And I laugh.
  • I says, I can remember that there
  • used to be a publication, a WE paper in Rochester--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • BOB DAY: And they had one headline in there, Queers
  • at Sears.
  • And where they arrested some people in the dressing rooms
  • and stuff like that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I've seen some of those.
  • BOB DAY: The exposes and stuff?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The WE.
  • Yes.
  • BOB DAY: It was supposed to be a big expose thing.
  • Yeah.
  • So that was the '60s.
  • It was mostly Milton and summer vacations and things like that.
  • So there wasn't all that much running around.
  • But then how did I get to know the Bachelor Forum so much?
  • I know Vicki Russo and Burl Smith,
  • and Burl and I used to work for the same food service company.
  • And she was an Indian lady and wild.
  • And I know she came out to John Fisher College
  • to help me one Sunday afternoon.
  • And it was a feast day.
  • And I was getting behind, so she came.
  • And she managed a cafeteria down on Main Street,
  • one of the buildings.
  • So she comes into the kitchen.
  • She has a towel over her shoulder.
  • And she says, "Have towel, will travel."
  • And so we started joking around.
  • And I says, "Well, Burl."
  • I said, "You know, my people used to be slaves
  • and yours are considered wild."
  • And she says, "What's changed?
  • You're still sweating to death and I'm still wild."
  • And then she became bartender at Avenue Pub.
  • And then I guess she came from California.
  • She used to travel back and forth and then down at--
  • what is that--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Tara's?
  • BOB DAY: No.
  • The one on Main Street that--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Anthony's?
  • BOB DAY: Before that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The Red Carpet?
  • BOB DAY: No.
  • Bachelor Forum.
  • I'll get it.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The Bachelor Forum?
  • BOB DAY: It was on Main Street--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, on Main Street.
  • Right.
  • BOB DAY: --down there--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: By Goodman.
  • BOB DAY: In Goodman, yeah.
  • And she worked in there.
  • And--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Was that Burl Smith
  • who was at the Avenue Pub?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And the Bachelor Forum.
  • BOB DAY: I think when Gary first opened--
  • maybe she was working there before Gary even
  • bought it, come to think.
  • It was like a restaurant or something.
  • And then Gary bought it and--
  • my mind is sort of hazy on that.
  • But she did work there for a while.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And then Vicki Russo was at Arnies.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah, yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: That's the Bachelor Forum.
  • BOB DAY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
  • And then there's the Red Carpet.
  • And I don't know.
  • I used to make all those rounds there too, but--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The Rathskeller?
  • BOB DAY: Oh, yeah.
  • Ducky, I met him last summer--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Jim's?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • He was back in town.
  • Yeah.
  • He was the one that barred me out of there.
  • So--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wouldn't let you in his bar, huh?
  • BOB DAY: Character-- behavior unbecoming or something
  • or other.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • BOB DAY: You wouldn't believe I was such a wild man, would you?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I wouldn't.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I'm getting that feeling.
  • As we get into the late '60s and into the '70s,
  • there was some things happening here in Rochester,
  • at the University of Rochester with the Gay Liberation Front
  • coming about.
  • Did you have any sense of that happening?
  • Did you get involved in any of that liberation movement?
  • BOB DAY: I had a sense of it.
  • And here we go again with names.
  • Patty.
  • Patty.
  • That one came fast.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Patty Evans.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • And I knew Patty through a different thing
  • and her involvement with that.
  • And then I think when I first started getting involved,
  • 'cause you were down there at the firehouse down there
  • on Monroe Avenue--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Genessee Co-op.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • And his name was coming to me almost there,
  • because Harlow Russell and the man--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Horace?
  • BOB DAY: Horace.
  • Yes.
  • That's the one that Mike Sullivan was in therapy with.
  • And that, and then Tim Mains when he first started
  • running and making buttons.
  • I never knew how you could make a button to put on like that.
  • So I was getting involved in that.
  • And then Lee Fisher came around.
  • Was that in the '70s or '80s?
  • Are we into the '80s now?
  • Because you--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No, early '70s.
  • BOB DAY: Because he invited me over to your
  • and Claire's house.
  • And that was more involved with the Alliance.
  • But that's moved on from that early part when--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah, that would have been--
  • BOB DAY: --they had it down on Main Street.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --'78, '79 when you were--
  • when I was with Claire, it was 1978, '79, to '86, '87.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • And were you on Carolina Street or some place?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Meigs.
  • Yeah, Meigs.
  • BOB DAY: OK.
  • And so that was getting involved.
  • I don't-- what else?
  • It seemed strange, because things have
  • changed so much in Rochester.
  • And I have gotten more involved maybe
  • in the religious community type of thing,
  • 'cause I worked with Janie Spahr.
  • I was on her That All Might Freely Serve.
  • And Lee was in with the board-like people at Calvary
  • St. Andrews, I recall.
  • But last night, Judy Lee-Haye and I
  • were asked to go to the Covenant Methodist Church,
  • because they want to be a more welcoming and affirming church.
  • And Judy was talking about how it happened at Calvary St.
  • Andrews, and she mentioned Lee Fisher and Kevin-- or Keith.
  • And when they did play, things there,
  • because Keith was a playwright type of thing.
  • And they couldn't find any other venue.
  • And Judy says, "Well, come on in here,"
  • because I can't remember.
  • It's sort of a play--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Was it St. Andrews, you said?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • Calvary St. Andrews.
  • BOB DAY: It was something like The Sacred Heart is Bleeding,
  • but that wasn't it.
  • Keith had written the play.
  • And the language was sort of rough.
  • And the other people, oh, you can't bring this in here,
  • 'cause it's too-- and so they staged it in the church.
  • And Judy pushed the pews back, and away we went.
  • And so that's when I started getting going.
  • And then I can remember in those early days with Lee, you, and--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Claire.
  • BOB DAY: --Claire going out to Logan's to picket
  • Rush Limbaugh who's come to speak
  • to a bunch of republicans.
  • And that could have been in the early '80s, wasn't it?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Mid '80s.
  • BOB DAY: Mid '80s.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Mid to late '80s.
  • Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • BOB DAY: OK.
  • And that's when I started coming out at--
  • well, they knew at work.
  • But it wasn't all that formalized.
  • And so--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Where were you working at this time?
  • BOB DAY: RIT.
  • I worked there forty years.
  • Yeah.
  • It wasn't until Coming Out Day--
  • I remember that Coming Out Day.
  • And they looked at me.
  • I said, "I'm coming out."
  • And they said, "So?"
  • (Laughs) Oh, a great trepidation.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: That was a little disappointing, wasn't it?
  • BOB DAY: It sure was.
  • It sure was.
  • But I can remember we were chanting "Racist, sexist,
  • anti-gay, Rush Limbaugh go away."
  • They were chanting that.
  • And so this guy gets up in my face with a microphone.
  • And I always know if you're in a field of white folks
  • and you're the only black face there,
  • they want to get up there and-- (Laughs)
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Get you.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • And he says, "And why are you here?"
  • And I says, "Well, you heard us chanting.
  • Just pick a couple of them."
  • And so the next manager's meeting we had at work,
  • old (unintelligible) said, "Bob, did I see you on TV?
  • What were you doing?"
  • Taking it to the streets.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Did you get in trouble for that?
  • BOB DAY: No.
  • You know, as a matter of fact, just
  • maybe a few years before I left, I got awfully frustrated
  • 'cause I was with some NTID students.
  • And do you remember that bar that
  • was down there on the millrace down there?
  • What was the name--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Lost and Found?
  • BOB DAY: The Lost and Found, yeah.
  • And so we were down there in some place dancing.
  • And some of the NTID students went, "Oh,
  • we saw you at Metro."
  • And then they started mimicking and doing all this other stuff.
  • And my supervisor came in, and I was hopping mad.
  • I said, "I'm going to slap the snot right out
  • of that gentleman's mouth if he doesn't shut up."
  • And so he said, "What is he doing?"
  • And I said to him, "They're harassing me."
  • He says, "Well go see Davis.
  • He'll straighten that out."
  • I didn't realize that Davis was closeted himself,
  • a married man.
  • But anyhow, he did.
  • He stopped all that type of stuff.
  • And so my supervisor said, "You don't have to take that."
  • And then maybe a couple of years later or the next year
  • or so, I had to fire a guy.
  • And so I'm doing all this documentation
  • and all this other stuff.
  • And after I let him go, he charged me with reverse racism.
  • So he had..
  • So the human service woman said, "Well
  • nothing is going to happen to you because you're a protected
  • class.
  • First, you're old--" well, she didn't say old, but, "your age.
  • And you're race-- (laughs) And you're not going anywhere."
  • And I said, "I didn't realize I had all this back up."
  • Times have changed, you know.
  • And from when you're the first hired and the last--
  • last hired and the first fired.
  • So times had changed around the forty years.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you remember any rumors, '50s, 60's,
  • of any of the mayors being gay?
  • BOB DAY: Yes.
  • May with his little-- what was the name, Peter May?
  • Yeah.
  • And he was.
  • He was a handsome devil, too.
  • And I guess he donated his car to some benefit program
  • or something and what not.
  • And I think he was sort of picked for higher office too
  • and went on.
  • But yeah, that's right, because, oh--
  • it was a woman that worked for me.
  • I swear.
  • I hate it when my names-- but anyhow,
  • she was a very folk something.
  • She was a Scottish lady.
  • And her brother was on the police force.
  • And he was always talking about Peter May and his pink T's
  • or something like that.
  • They had mentioned of that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Bob, did you ever get involved with gay right
  • marches and that sort of thing?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • As a matter of fact, last Sunday when
  • I said I was with the hoodies and stuff marching
  • and I went to a meeting and I stopped them.
  • I said, "Oh, it felt so good," I said,
  • "because I can remember we had one of the first gay marches
  • from the Liberty pole, or down there up to the Liberty."
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • BOB DAY: And a friend in this group that we all know,
  • Kevin-- and I said, and Kevin was marching along
  • with this big sign.
  • "Hey, Ma, guess what?"
  • And that was one of the earlier ones.
  • And then--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, let me ask you.
  • I don't want to just pass right by this.
  • It probably was the first one, actually.
  • What were you feeling at the time about--
  • BOB DAY: Empowered.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah?
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • There was that thing.
  • And there wasn't all that shame and stuff like that.
  • It was after Stonewall and stuff.
  • The spirit was rising and things like that.
  • And then-- it had to be in the '80s too,
  • because my friend David Bishop, who was a friend of Walter--
  • what was Pollack's name that was the first--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Walter Pollack?
  • BOB DAY: Well, his last name was Pollack.
  • I can't remember his first name.
  • He was editor of the Empty Closet.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • BOB DAY: Thank you, Evelyn.
  • I hope it isn't-- it's not catching, is it?
  • Oh, I can see his face.
  • He taught at RIT.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Richard?
  • (Interposing voices)
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • I know, I know his name, too.
  • I cannot think of his first name.
  • BOB DAY: Because both David and Pollack
  • lived with Whitey LeBlanc over on what street.
  • But anyhow, so David and I had gone to Washington for some
  • of the marches on Washington and when the quilt was first
  • laid out.
  • And I could march it.
  • I'd like to go back and do it again, because--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It was 1992.
  • BOB DAY: --we're shaking our fists at the Supreme
  • Court and everything else.
  • I don't know what--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: 1992.
  • BOB DAY: OK, great.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I was there.
  • BOB DAY: You were there too?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yes.
  • I was--
  • BOB DAY: Were you in your mother's arms?
  • Or were you in the stroller?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I was in the front row
  • of that march with Liza Minnelli on one arm
  • and Patti Austin on the other.
  • BOB DAY: Get out.
  • All right.
  • Now that's a memory.
  • That's a memory.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • BOB DAY: Oh, yeah.
  • In the Reagan White House and all that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Actually it was Bush then.
  • It was Bush Sr.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Bush Sr.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It was just before-- it was October.
  • It was Columbus Day weekend 1992, just before the election
  • that elected Bill Clinton.
  • BOB DAY: OK.
  • Well that must have been the second one.
  • Was there one before then too?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I remember that being the first time
  • that the entire quilt was laid out on the mall.
  • BOB DAY: OK.
  • Well this may have been--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The quilt. Yes.
  • BOB DAY: --the one before it.
  • But it was the one with the quilt.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: There was one--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Was there one before it?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: There was a march in Washington in the '80s.
  • BOB DAY: 'Cause I know it was Reagan,
  • because Reagan wasn't addressing AIDS or anything like the.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: '84, '85.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, that's true.
  • There was a march on Reagan's administration.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But the quilt wasn't there.
  • BOB DAY: No.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • There wasn't the quilt.
  • BOB DAY: That was the second time.
  • But I remember it with the quilt. And--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And it was about AIDS.
  • It was about the lack of funding that was coming down.
  • BOB DAY: The Supreme Court had done something too.
  • I don't know what it was, but we were shaking our fists at them
  • about for justice and things like that.
  • We were saying shame, shame, shame or whatever it was.
  • And David and I had stayed up on Dupont Circle or something.
  • We were walking down Connecticut-- the drive
  • to the thing.
  • And there was just a mess of gay people walking down where the--
  • it could have been the quilt one, too.
  • I don't know, because there was a whole lot--
  • walking towards the mall.
  • And so this little Camaro was going down the street,
  • "Hey, faggots!"
  • And then the light changed.
  • And they were stopped right in the intersection.
  • And all these guys got a hold of that little Camaro.
  • You'd never seen so many scared faces inside there.
  • They were picking it up.
  • They could have flipped it over.
  • And I says, "I bet you next time you holler hey faggots,
  • you're going to look around and see who's--
  • and we'll show you what a faggot can do.
  • Turn you upside down."
  • But those were in the empowering days.
  • That was-- yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Did you ever feel
  • like you were making history?
  • Did you realize you were making history?
  • BOB DAY: Did I realize--
  • I realized that things were changing.
  • And to make change come around-- because with you
  • ladies and stuff like that, you taught me
  • how to find this voice.
  • But it goes way back, Geneva, and I can't remember her name--
  • her last name.
  • But she was at RIT.
  • And she was doing this little seminar
  • once with some black students on the-- it
  • was it HEOP type of program or something, issues on racism
  • and stuff like that.
  • And she said, "The only way we can stop it is
  • don't play into it.
  • If there's an oppressor, you got to have an oppressed.
  • So don't be the oppressed.
  • Stand up."
  • And then I said, "Well that's really it."
  • The only way this game is going to work is if we play into it.
  • And--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: We let it happen.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • And so you saw it with the gay situation.
  • And she saw it with the race one.
  • And so yeah.
  • It was, I think, coming out.
  • But not letting everyone know, I still
  • got putrefaction in there.
  • Do this on one side, not--
  • and this was just recently.
  • Oh, it was 1991, because last month there's
  • this preacher, Jimmy Creech, who was a Methodist pastor that
  • was defrocked for marrying two lesbian women.
  • And also he'd written a book about What Adam Taught Me.
  • And he had a parishioner that was gay.
  • He was in his fifties.
  • And he said, "I'm not taking it anymore.
  • I'm not taking this abuse from the church anymore."
  • And so Jimmy started investigating what was holding,
  • you know.
  • And he did this Bible study.
  • And he changed his whole philosophy.
  • And he's been a great advocate.
  • And another one was Mel White.
  • And he was here for this talk that they do up in Colgate
  • Rochester Divinity School.
  • It's a personal lecture on gay and lesbian sexuality
  • and women's rights type of thing.
  • And it was sponsored by the three churches, Third Pres
  • and Lake Avenue and Calvary St. Andrews and what not.
  • And so Mel White was there.
  • And Mel was a speechwriter for Jerry Falwell for a long time.
  • And maybe you had some of his writers come through to the Gay
  • Alliance instead.
  • Go around.
  • So Mel was picketing these different conventions
  • of different churches.
  • And so he was in New Orleans and got arrested.
  • And Jimmy Creech was there.
  • And that's why he knows him.
  • He had a picture in his book.
  • He said, "I got arrested with you."
  • And he said--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Howard Pollack.
  • BOB DAY: Howard.
  • I love the way it comes.
  • Did I have the Pollack right?
  • I did.
  • I did.
  • Yeah.
  • Howard Pollack.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And Bob Crystal.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • There we go.
  • Alright.
  • That's scratching back.
  • So those were empowering things, to make changes in the church,
  • because I think the church should be leading
  • and they're not, and things like that.
  • So that type of activity was empowering and saying
  • we're not going to leave this theology and interpretation
  • and things like that.
  • So that's what I did.
  • So anyhow, he's down there getting arrested.
  • And two people in our parish heard
  • me report back to the church.
  • My cousin is working at the lawyer's co-op
  • where the both of them work.
  • And they said, "Oh, your cousin Bob was a (unintelligible).
  • He told us he got arrested."
  • And so my cousin William, "I hear
  • you got arrested in New Orleans."
  • So there it is.
  • But the family knows.
  • But it's just not all out there and stuff like that
  • and let him go, because there's a girl I grew up with.
  • We call ourselves cousins, because my aunt raised her.
  • She was a foster child.
  • But she has two children.
  • And one of them is gay, Bernadette or some--
  • I've never seen him in drag or anything,
  • but he used to be at the Tara's and things like that.
  • And so they know who's in the family and who isn't.
  • But it hasn't been a big issue.
  • And this is another thing about human sexuality.
  • Little Bernie, when he was a baby,
  • he says, "When Mom would bring us over to your house to visit,
  • I always looked for you, because I knew we were the same thing,"
  • because I was sort of flamboyant-- (laughs) I didn't
  • think I was all that much.
  • But he could identify with it real early and stuff like that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • Kids know--
  • BOB DAY: But the--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --more than we do.
  • BOB DAY: But the biggest one was, there was a guy.
  • He passed away.
  • He was a friend of Michael's too.
  • But we were having a party.
  • And we were playing baseball.
  • And he was playing baseball so--
  • I said, "Where'd you learn to play?"
  • He said, "In my neighborhood, you
  • better learn how to run and play baseball
  • or else you'd get beat up."
  • And he was talking about, he didn't
  • know these feelings, what he had, until one day he was sick
  • and he was at home watching TV and Oprah came on.
  • And she had a guy explaining about homosexuality.
  • And he says, "That's me.
  • That's me."
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: God bless Oprah.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • BOB DAY: Yeah.
  • To bring that on, how we self discover
  • and learn that we're not all alone and things like that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Mm-hmm.
  • In your-- do you want to--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: No, actually.
  • You just started the same question
  • I think I was going to start, but--
  • BOB DAY: In my what?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: In your senior years--
  • BOB DAY: Oh, how delicate.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Alright.
  • BOB DAY: I never thought I'd get here, I'll tell you that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: What's changed, Bob, in terms of the community?
  • In terms of being gay?
  • Do you, as a senior citizen, experience any discrimination,
  • not necessarily because you're black,
  • but because your age or both?
  • BOB DAY: I've been blessed.
  • And I say that because I do know age is out there.
  • I know old chicken hawks--
  • I know some of the little young tweets
  • don't want to look back at anybody.
  • I see it done, but I haven't experienced it
  • all that much overtly.
  • First of all, I don't go chasing after,
  • robbing the cradle and stuff like that.
  • But I'm going to put it this way too.
  • I've been in recovery for thirty-two years.
  • And that just started.
  • And I'm not putting the bar people down or anything else.
  • But that's where most gay people met.
  • And I often talk about back in those days,
  • we'd kiss in a shadow.
  • And you didn't want anybody to know and stuff like that.
  • Now we kiss openly and publicly and wherever we are and hug.
  • And so in this recovery program, treated very,
  • very well and the others look for maybe mentoring
  • or something like that.
  • But twice a week I'm invited out with the younger ones
  • to do this, do that, do the other thing.
  • As I said, when we have picnics and things like that.
  • So I'm just amazed at how--
  • I'm gonna say integrated but how well I was accepted and not
  • up in the face about that.
  • And even in the church faith community that I am,
  • the younger ones accept and come along.
  • And there's one young fella--
  • I get uncomfortable sometimes because when
  • they break from Sunday school, he'll
  • come over and sit beside me type of stuff, because of friendship
  • and stuff and not out of fear or anything like that.
  • And so I haven't felt that age thing.
  • And--
  • I guess one thing too, you sort of alluded to tonight too.
  • Some kind of way, I don't look as old as I am.
  • And even medical people--
  • I went to see a physician.
  • I had some health problems.
  • And my regular doctor wasn't in.
  • Another one come in, and she asked my medical history.
  • And she says, "Tell me this isn't so.
  • You're not really this old."
  • Well, yes I am, and things like that.
  • But what else kept me going was working at a college.
  • There's always young ideas and young people coming around
  • and stuff like that.
  • So I haven't fallen into that trap.
  • I always had young ideas and things coming at me.
  • And then the refusal to act old, not to act my age.
  • I want to be mature, but not to be decrepit.
  • The other day I went to have eyes tested.
  • And I walked into the waiting room, and I said, "My god.
  • This looks like God's waiting room."
  • All these gray haired people with glasses
  • and walkers and strollers.
  • And so they say, "Mr. Day."
  • And I jumped up-- duh, duh, duh.
  • Just a flash and biscuits.
  • So there is, some of it's a frame of mind and things
  • like that and being interested in what's current
  • and what have you.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Throughout your years--
  • I'll try to be more delicate than Evelyn was.
  • BOB DAY: No, I invited rough and roll.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Is there any particular moment
  • or particular event or situation or something
  • that you did throughout the years that really sticks out
  • in your mind in saying wow, that was a really exciting event?
  • Or that was a time where I really
  • knew I was making maybe some sort of difference
  • in the community?
  • Or if people were to look back over your legacy,
  • is there any one particular moment that you would really