Audio Interview, Elizabeth Bell, February 7, 2012

  • EVELYN BAILEY: We're going to record this for posterity.
  • LIZ BELL: Sure.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Liz Bell was in the original group at the Gay
  • Liberation Front.
  • She also was one of the women behind Women Against
  • Violence Against Women?
  • LIZ BELL: No.
  • That was Nancy Rosen.
  • I was out of town.
  • I had left by that time.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • LIZ BELL: I was in the early stages of it.
  • But then it happened when I moved to Philly.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • So you never stood there and threw paint on--
  • LIZ BELL: Nope.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --the black velvet signs
  • on Monroe? (laughs)
  • LIZ BELL: No, no no.
  • I was in contact with Nancy and Sylvia and all those guys.
  • And I heard the stories.
  • (phone ringing)
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, god.
  • LIZ BELL: But I was not (unintelligible) in fact--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: All right.
  • You continue.
  • I have to take this.
  • LIZ BELL: That's part of the Philadelphia story
  • that I left here--
  • I'm not so good at dates--
  • but I left here.
  • I went to Philadelphia.
  • And at the University of Pennsylvania,
  • they were having a women's only dance.
  • And I had gotten this really nice three-piece suit
  • from Goodwill-- a little vest.
  • Brown tweed.
  • And I went into the dance.
  • But at the door, I got stopped.
  • And they said, oh, I'm sorry.
  • This is a women's only affair.
  • And I lifted my front and I said, oh, I'm sorry.
  • (laughter)
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Oh my god.
  • LIZ BELL: It was times.
  • But if you're looking for articles,
  • they would be, like, early '70s.
  • And there's one about--
  • I was hanging out with my friends.
  • They were going to take me to James's--
  • no, not James's.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Jim's.
  • LIZ BELL: The baths.
  • No, we used to call it James's.
  • We used to go dancing at James's every Monday
  • night when it was empty.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I'm not even sure I know where James's was.
  • LIZ BELL: James's is Jim's.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Was Jim's.
  • OK.
  • LIZ BELL: But we always used to dress it up.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So you'd come up with James.
  • LIZ BELL: James's.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK. (laughs)
  • LIZ BELL: But they were going to take me to the baths.
  • It was before the AIDS thing.
  • And I was just really envious of how men could have,
  • let's get together for a date.
  • Let's go for a movie, let's go for dinner, let's have sex,
  • let's have da, da, da, da, da, da.
  • And I had this thing I wrote called "The Appetite Theory."
  • And it was about, why can't lesbians do that?
  • Why can't we just get together, have sex, and not have to get--
  • I was non-monogamous.
  • I was exploring non-monogamy.
  • And it was hard.
  • I mean, it was hard.
  • But anyway, so there's articles about that, as I remember.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Let's go back to GLF.
  • Were you part of the original founding group?
  • Or did you--
  • LIZ BELL: The original founding group was Karen, and RJ,
  • and then the third person, I'm not
  • sure she wants her name mentioned.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, the people I know are Patti--
  • LIZ BELL: Oh, they weren't--
  • that was the second gen.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: They weren't the--
  • that was second generation.
  • OK.
  • LIZ BELL: First--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Let's see.
  • There was Karen.
  • There was RJ.
  • There was Whitey LeBlanc, I think, right?
  • LIZ BELL: No, he's second generation too.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: He's second generation.
  • LIZ BELL: I was that generation.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • LIZ BELL: There was a drag queen that has transitioned
  • from male to female--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • LIZ BELL: --and has disappeared.
  • I would love to find her.
  • But there was a third person that was a drag queen.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Sure.
  • Sure.
  • So you were part of the original founding group, then.
  • LIZ BELL: Yes.
  • Well, the original founding was those three.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • LIZ BELL: RJ Alcala and this other person.
  • And then we all came on board and met at the U of R.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • LIZ BELL: And my partner was Marge David.
  • And we were kind of iconic.
  • And I graduated and she became head of the GLF on campus.
  • And I was there for that first dance.
  • And it was men and women working together-- well,
  • before that, even, the other piece that I wanted
  • to throw into the mix, if it hasn't been thrown in,
  • is imagining the world without the existence of the word
  • lesbian.
  • Without the existence of the word gay.
  • I came out, fell in love with a woman,
  • before I ever heard the word.
  • My father had asked me in high school, was I a lesbian.
  • And I had never heard the word.
  • And I knew from the tone of voice that it was bad.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Mm-hm.
  • LIZ BELL: And that was the only--
  • but I wasn't sure if he said thespian.
  • I wasn't sure what he said.
  • I just knew that I'd better say no.
  • So the silence was the shoulders that we were standing on.
  • And at the same time that I fell in love with Marge--
  • and I didn't know what the feelings were.
  • I had never felt them before.
  • I was dating men.
  • But I was more friends with men, you know?
  • I didn't have any idea--
  • none of us did.
  • I asked Marge if I could talk freely about her.
  • So, somebody on campus had asked Marge and I--
  • I mean, we were just tight.
  • But it was more than friendship.
  • And somebody who worked on campus was going out of town,
  • had a house, and said, would you like to house-sit?
  • And so we went over and house-sat,
  • and made dinner, played, did our usual thing.
  • But instead of having her in one room and me
  • in the other room in the dorms, all of a sudden,
  • there was this double bed.
  • And it was like, oh my god.
  • And it was like going to the movies.
  • And then the movie ended.
  • And the couple came back.
  • And we went back to campus.
  • And all of a sudden it was real world.
  • You know?
  • And that was when I learned the word lesbian.
  • So, I wanted to throw that in there.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Roughly, was that late '60s?
  • Early '70s?
  • LIZ BELL: It would have been--
  • when did GLF start?
  • '71?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: '71, '72, somewhere around there.
  • LIZ BELL: Something like that.
  • And it would have been--
  • oh, it would have been my junior year.
  • It would have been 1970.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • LIZ BELL: I was her RA.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • And then-- yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What were you studying?
  • LIZ BELL: I wanted to be a doctor.
  • But in those days, girls couldn't be doctors.
  • Or at least not in my neighborhood.
  • So I was in nursing.
  • But that same year, I decided I didn't want to be a nurse.
  • I wanted to be a doctor.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Mm-hm.
  • LIZ BELL: So I became an English major.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • LIZ BELL: (unintelligible) went to college for.
  • And then the other piece was--
  • oh.
  • So then there was also a guy named--
  • have you heard about Marshall?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah--
  • LIZ BELL: Marshall Goldman?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: No, I think Evelyn has maybe mentioned
  • his name, but--
  • LIZ BELL: He's no longer alive.
  • But his name needs to be lifted up.
  • He was one of the moving forces on the U of R campus.
  • Karen, and RJ were more Eastman.
  • And the other person--
  • the tranny-- well, what would we call--
  • we'll call her the drag queen.
  • She worked at a beauty salon.
  • No, then she was a he.
  • He worked at a beauty salon.
  • Do you know this person?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The transvestite?
  • No.
  • LIZ BELL: OK.
  • I'm leaving her unnamed.
  • She's transitioned.
  • And she's no longer part of the community.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • LIZ BELL: But I think it's important
  • that we recognize that the original founding parents,
  • in my book, they were Karen, RJ, and this tranny.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And this--
  • LIZ BELL: Hm?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And this--
  • who's the third person?
  • LIZ BELL: It was a person I'm leaving unnamed.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • What about Bob Osborne?
  • LIZ BELL: He kind of came right after.
  • I mean, Karen and RJ and this other person--
  • you'd have to talk to them.
  • They were the seed.
  • And then right on top of that was Bob Osborne, and Patti,
  • and John Grace, and myself, and Marge, and Marshall.
  • I mean, there was just this flood.
  • But it was the three of them that kind of--
  • and in my mind, it's important that the drag queen
  • be mentioned.
  • Because for years--
  • I remember going to a march on Washington.
  • And it was a big issue whether drag queens and transvestites
  • had a right to be part of it.
  • They were an embarrassment.
  • You know?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • LIZ BELL: And so they were boycotted.
  • And I just, for that reason, if no else,
  • I think it's important that we recognize
  • that a very seminal root--
  • seminal?
  • Maybe that's-- or should I say, a germinal--
  • part of the seed was that link of the community.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So, this was before the actual formation
  • of the GLF.
  • LIZ BELL: Yes.
  • Yes.
  • Yes.
  • This was the idea phase.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • OK.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • So before there was officially--
  • LIZ BELL: A GLF.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: A GLF.
  • Yeah.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • And this person was working at a hair salon
  • on Monroe Ave. I went in and I said--
  • you know, that was the years that hair was important--
  • and I went in, and I said, I want a short haircut.
  • And he goes, oh, short hair cut.
  • And gave me a short haircut, very stylish.
  • And I said, no.
  • I want it short.
  • Oh!
  • Short.
  • And this was a gay man--
  • well, no, no.
  • I'm not sure how he'd describe himself then.
  • A drag queen, in a straight salon,
  • that was just camping it up.
  • You know?
  • And it was very, very bold.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Mm-hm.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So, what were the early conversations like,
  • when you guys were getting together and talking
  • about forming this group, or whatever?
  • What were the objectives, and what were the conversations?
  • LIZ BELL: Well, the original conversations
  • were, like, over at Eastman, with RJ, and Karen,
  • and this other person.
  • We'll just call her B. BJ--
  • well, anyway, you can call her whatever you want.
  • That's up to Karen and RJ to tell you about.
  • I was-- Marshall Goldman was the on-campus person.
  • And he was the person that was kind
  • of making things happen there.
  • And Marge and myself.
  • But he was the moving--
  • I remember the first meeting that they
  • held on the U of R campus.
  • Marge and I were too scared to go in.
  • And Marshall was there.
  • And Marshall was talking about, his big heartache
  • was he lived in the men's dorm.
  • I think he would have been a freshman or a sophomore.
  • And he was the one that told the gay jokes.
  • He used to say, I told the gay jokes,
  • because then everybody would know that I wasn't gay.
  • So there was that kind of stuff.
  • It was always coming out.
  • Coming out to your parents, coming out on the hall.
  • There was always stories about coming out to yourself.
  • Men had more stories about, sissy and being beat up.
  • The women, the stories were more about,
  • nobody could play baseball anymore.
  • It was just recollecting about high school.
  • Hadn't gotten political yet.
  • It was more a support group.
  • And there were people from the community that came in,
  • met at Todd Union.
  • And they had a joy, a camp, that for me was very healing.
  • Because the place that we were coming out of was fear.
  • The place that we were coming out of
  • was never having heard the words.
  • And they showed us the places.
  • It was the VISTA volunteer who introduced us to the Riverview.
  • She and her friend, who I think was a grad student
  • at that point, Rosanne Leipzig--
  • and I can't remember the VISTA volunteer's name--
  • they took us down to the Riverview.
  • And there was a whole contingent, a whole table
  • of lesbians from RIT/NTID.
  • And so that whole concept of this,
  • there we were, lesbians, in this--
  • well, with one drag queen whose name I can't remember--
  • Charl-- Ch-- anyway--
  • who we couldn't talk to.
  • Because none of us knew sign.
  • That was before the days that that was political.
  • And we would dance together.
  • And we would write notes to each other.
  • But there was a large group of NTID students.
  • So we talked about that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Before the actual formation,
  • what precipitated the conversation?
  • In other words, what precipitated Marshall Goldman
  • being interested or wanting to move
  • in the establishment of some group,
  • whether it be support group--
  • what were the precipitating factors for RJ and Karen?
  • I mean, what was present or not present
  • that they thought needed to be addressed,
  • or needed to be dealt with, or needed to be--
  • LIZ BELL: That would be their story.
  • For me, as I was telling--
  • I fell in love before I knew the words.
  • I fell in love with Marge David.
  • And I had no idea what--
  • I had never heard the word lesbian, gay.
  • I barely heard the word homosexual.
  • It was falling in love, finding this relationship, that
  • was profound.
  • And serendipitously, at the same time, I heard the language.
  • And the language was said in a proud way,
  • in an identifying way, in a "come join us" way.
  • I was born again.
  • Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • So you didn't go to the first meeting.
  • LIZ BELL: No.
  • Well, I went.
  • But I stayed outside.
  • We walked.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Did you hear any of the speakers?
  • Or was that the meeting where Cornell and the machine
  • society--
  • LIZ BELL: Oh, no, no, no.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --people came?
  • LIZ BELL: Oh, no, no, no, no.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: This wasn't a gathering of 100.
  • LIZ BELL: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
  • This was way before that.
  • This was Todd Union.
  • This was tiny.
  • This was, somehow Marshall got wind of it.
  • And he called a meeting.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Do you remember year?
  • Date?
  • LIZ BELL: It would have been the fall of--
  • wait a minute-- the fall of my junior year.
  • I graduated in '71.
  • '70-- oh, I would have been '69, then.
  • The fall of '69.
  • Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: October.
  • LIZ BELL: Is that right?
  • Couldn't have been that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: October 3.
  • No.
  • It wasn't.
  • The fall of '69.
  • You're right.
  • LIZ BELL: I'd have to ask Marge.
  • She's better at that stuff than I.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: That was before.
  • October 3, 1970, was when the group formally got together.
  • LIZ BELL: This was before the name.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • So, even a year before the official formation
  • of this group--
  • LIZ BELL: Yes.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: --things were going on.
  • LIZ BELL: Oh, yes.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah?
  • LIZ BELL: Oh, yes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And it would have been three,
  • four months after Stonewall.
  • Did you know Stonewall?
  • LIZ BELL: I hadn't heard Stonewall.
  • But I went to the first march.
  • RJ, Marge, and I drove down in a little VW.
  • And we were coming back.
  • And we were so tired.
  • And we said, OK, let's drive.
  • We'll each drive for an hour.
  • And we'll each drive for fifteen minutes.
  • And I remember Marge-- and there was this dance studio,
  • a ballet studio.
  • And there were all these ballet guys hanging out the window.
  • I mean, it was unbelievable.
  • So it would have been before that.
  • I hadn't met RJ yet.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • LIZ BELL: I think the only people-- well,
  • there was Hope Schreiber.
  • But I haven't--
  • Marge, I left a call, I said, is it OK if I use your name?
  • Hope Schreiber was-- that would have been the year after,
  • though.
  • She was on the hall my senior year.
  • So that would have been '70, '71.
  • Marge was '69, '70.
  • Marge and Marshall were '69, '70.
  • Marlene Gordon, she was in the '70, '71.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So, talk to me about Marshall Goldman.
  • LIZ BELL: Oh, man.
  • He made a movie of us, of Marge and I. I mean, that was--
  • somebody making a movie of you and your girlfriend?
  • And he was just honest, and inspirational, and bold.
  • And this was the guy--
  • I'm not sure if you were here then--
  • that used to tell--
  • his confession was, I told the gay jokes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • He had a vision.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Where's this movie now?
  • LIZ BELL: I don't know.
  • I would love to see it.
  • I remember I was in a tree.
  • I would love to see it.
  • Oh, oh, oh.
  • I would love to see that.
  • And the other thing I wanted to mention
  • was, has anybody talked to you about the-- we
  • were on television?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Mm-hm.
  • LIZ BELL: Who was it?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I think it was the morning show with you,
  • and Karen, and RJ.
  • I don't think Marshall was involved.
  • LIZ BELL: No, he disappeared.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But you--
  • LIZ BELL: Was Johnny there?
  • Have you talked to John Grace yet?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: John who?
  • LIZ BELL: Grace.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • LIZ BELL: Oh, John Grace and Nelson Baldo.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Nelson--
  • LIZ BELL: Baldo.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: B-A-L?
  • LIZ BELL: D-O, I think.
  • We always knew them as Johnny and Nellie.
  • They used to own the bar on--
  • I never went to it.
  • It was after this.
  • This was long after.
  • But there was a bar--
  • what was it called?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: What street?
  • LIZ BELL: I'm thinking Park Ave. I could find that out.
  • But at this point in time, Nelson was working for--
  • he was a clothing distributor.
  • And this was after Karen--
  • Karen started the speaking engagement.
  • So I don't know what year that was.
  • And then she handed it over to me.
  • And Johnny-- John Grace--
  • and myself, and RJ, and Marge, we
  • were doing speaking engagements every day.
  • I mean, we were just galloping.
  • And that was part of the television thing.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Do you remember what channel?
  • LIZ BELL: No.
  • Marge would.
  • She has a good memory.
  • Have you met-- talked to Marge yet?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Not yet.
  • LIZ BELL: OK.
  • She has a good memory.
  • Ask her that.
  • She's good for dates.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Where did Marshall Goldman come from?
  • LIZ BELL: The basement of Gilbert.
  • (laughter)
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Rochester?
  • Boston?
  • New York?
  • LIZ BELL: I don't know.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: He was Jewish, correct?
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • My guess would be New York.
  • But--
  • LIZ BELL: I don't know.
  • I don't know.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: --that's my stereotype.
  • LIZ BELL: That would be in the U of R stuff.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • And so, talk about the speaking engagements.
  • What speaking engagement beside the television thing stands out
  • in your mind as--
  • LIZ BELL: Oh, man.
  • You'd go in.
  • And there were churches, synagogues, colleges.
  • The high school that Tim--
  • was the first time of a high school.
  • It was sort of like that took it to a new level.
  • Because you were talking to a different generation.
  • I remember sometimes you'd be talking.
  • And there'd be a heckler.
  • And they'd start throwing out the bad words.
  • And (snarling) Tea Partyish.
  • (snarling) And it finally got to the point that we welcomed it.
  • And we used to just sit back.
  • Because they were making the case for us.
  • We didn't have to say anymore that we were being persecuted,
  • that we were getting beat up, that we
  • were doing this, this, this.
  • This person would stand up, and just hate
  • would come erupting from their mouths.
  • And you'd just look around the audience.
  • And everybody got it.
  • And that was transitional.
  • Before that, they would stand up and we had
  • to work through our own stuff.
  • And the hecklers would stand up.
  • And at first it was scary.
  • And then it was silencing.
  • And then it was, one heckler would start another heckler.
  • But it finally got to the stage that we
  • were kind of hoping for a heckler in the audience.
  • Because we had said our thing so many times.
  • And for some people, it was--
  • the profundity of the high school one
  • was the honesty of the questions.
  • You know, they were before the stage of putting them
  • in polite language.
  • They were, what do you do in bed?
  • You know, just real issues that were from their hearts.
  • In the churches, you got some of the biblical stuff.
  • In the synagogues, you got some of the biblical stuff.
  • And we learned not to even argue that.
  • Because that never went anywhere.
  • It was more, we learned to recognize
  • that if the biblical stuff was an issue for somebody, then
  • that means that that somebody knew somebody.
  • And so we learned to focus on the person that they knew
  • and the pain that that person that they knew was in.
  • And then the biblical stuff kind of backed off.
  • And for some people, it was the first time
  • that they had ever said the words,
  • they had ever heard the words.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And the words were?
  • LIZ BELL: Well, first the word was gay.
  • And lesbian didn't get spoken.
  • There were two women that came from Boston, Reggie and Vicki,
  • I think.
  • And this was when feminism was starting.
  • I was living on Cypress Street with Tim-o and Marge.
  • Marge had graduated, so it must have been, like, '73, '74.
  • And consciousness-raising groups.
  • And up until that time, the men and the women, we were all one.
  • And we all knew each other.
  • If you were out to a certain stage, you all knew each other.
  • And you all put up with each other's stuff.
  • And then these two women from Boston came.
  • And they raised our consciousness
  • that the word lesbian was not in gay liberation.
  • And so the women started meeting together.
  • And it was taken--
  • we started meeting together just to say the word lesbian.
  • But I never learned this until there was a meeting, movie
  • with--
  • Come in.
  • SUZY: Knock, knock.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Hi.
  • SUZY: Hi, ma'am.
  • I'm Suzy (unintelligible) from the (unintelligible)
  • Brothers office.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You want me to move my car.
  • SUZY: I've come down to tell you that-- you know,
  • we put the sign up for people not to park
  • in front of the dumpster.
  • And unfortunately, it's not seeming to be working.
  • So I've come down to let you know
  • that if your car isn't moved in ten minutes,
  • we're going to tow it.
  • OK?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • SUZY: And this is where it will be towed to.
  • And my card information is on the back.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • SUZY: And that is from the owners
  • of the parking lot, ma'am.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Thank you.
  • LIZ BELL: Thank you.
  • Towed with warning.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I'll be back.
  • LIZ BELL: Shall we wait?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • So let's just kind of get into that, about--
  • LIZ BELL: The split with the men?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: --this raising of this consciousness with
  • the lesbians--
  • LIZ BELL: Oh.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: --movement.
  • And talk to me a little bit--
  • these two women from Boston, what were they telling you?
  • LIZ BELL: They brought--
  • in the beginning, there was fear.
  • There was hiding.
  • Then there were the words, and the Marshall.
  • And there was the people coming in from the community.
  • And there was pride.
  • And there was laughter.
  • And there was dancing.
  • And there was opening up.
  • And then the women from Boston came.
  • And suddenly there was anger.
  • And I guess, perhaps, they were tapping into our hurt.
  • An angry woman was an anomaly.
  • And they were angry that the word lesbian was not
  • spoken as much as the word gay.
  • So we started getting together.
  • And Holly Near and the women singers were starting.
  • So that whole thing of, we were lesbians, that word
  • was cooking.
  • I stayed friends with the ones that I was close with.
  • But I didn't find out until there
  • was some kind of a movie at ImageOut.
  • And I was asked to have a panel.
  • It was a historical movie.
  • And I was asked to get a panel together.
  • And there was a guy named John Adams that I called.
  • And I said, would you like to be on the panel?
  • Because he was part of that original group.
  • And he said, Liz Bell.
  • Oh my goodness.
  • I thought you hated me.
  • And I said, what?
  • And he gave me the perspective from the men's side,
  • of, I guess they saw the anger.
  • And they saw the women disappear from GLF.
  • And they were hurt.
  • And that's my mea culpa.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So, I'm trying to get a sense of this,
  • particularly these two women coming from Boston
  • and kind of stirring up some of the feminist anger there.
  • Do you think that was all part of--
  • because at the same time there was this women's rights
  • movement, women's liberation was very much
  • coming about at that time?
  • LIZ BELL: Yes.
  • And to my knowledge, they were the intersection
  • from Rochester.
  • And in a similar way that gays and lesbians,
  • when we started having our marches,
  • the transgender folks were excluded.
  • So, too, when the women started having our dances and whatever,
  • we excluded the men.
  • And the reasons were good, to find out yourself,
  • and if there's one man sitting in the room,
  • then the conversation is all changed, yadda, yadda, yadda.
  • And there's value to that.
  • But if that hadn't happened, or if it had happened differently,
  • there would not be a men's chorus that has lots of money
  • and a Rochester Women's Community
  • Chorus that has no money.
  • In those days, we all worked together.
  • We all pitched in.
  • We all gave what we got.
  • And now, it's just these two worlds
  • that are friendly and tolerating of each other.
  • But the disparity is just clear.
  • And, I don't know why the women don't support ImageOut.
  • I mean, I've gotten way off-topic.
  • You can stop me.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • This is a whole other discussion.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because we've been
  • asking those same questions.
  • LIZ BELL: But I think it has roots.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You can see it throughout the whole gay
  • and lesbian community.
  • LIZ BELL: Mm-hm.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: If it's a male group,
  • there's a lot of support.
  • But the women's group, they struggle.
  • LIZ BELL: And that's why I'm hoping that--
  • for me, that's my personal goal for Shoulders to Stand On,
  • is the image that once upon a time--
  • we couldn't have done it alone.
  • The women couldn't have done it, and the men
  • couldn't have done it.
  • The men needed the women.
  • The women needed the men.
  • And we both needed the tranny.
  • And the community.
  • It was just--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So, there's a split.
  • Women kind of went off on their own.
  • Guys kind of went off on their own.
  • What were you finding within that women's group
  • that you weren't getting when you guys were all together?
  • LIZ BELL: I still call myself a fag in drag.
  • I missed the men.
  • I was-- anger.
  • I was learning about political correctness.
  • I don't have a whole lot of tolerance
  • for political correctness.
  • I was a dancer.
  • When I finished U of R, I got a job in Strong.
  • And it was the hurricane that wiped out Corning.
  • That was my two-week vacation for a year.
  • And I said, there's got to be more to life than this.
  • And I ended up studying dance.
  • And I went to Brockport and was dancing.
  • And I felt judged by the women's community for dancing.
  • Because dancing was politically incorrect.
  • Because it was too body.
  • I remember those early circles.
  • A Thanksgiving dinner where you burned the turkey
  • was a success.
  • Years later-- I'm a pastor.
  • I was ordained.
  • And I had a church in Pennsylvania.
  • And at the same time that I had a church--
  • and, you know, I didn't quite fit in there--
  • and I sang in Anacrusis, which was the first lesbian
  • choir, feminist choir.
  • I felt more acceptance from the church
  • than I did from some of the politically correct women
  • in the feminist choir.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So it wasn't a lesbian choir,
  • it was a feminist choir.
  • LIZ BELL: Lesbian feminist.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Lesbian feminist.
  • OK.
  • LIZ BELL: Lesbian feminists.
  • Lesbian feminists-- the feminists were very embracing.
  • The lesbian feminists, the politically correct lesbian
  • feminists to me were as the Tea Party is to Republicans.
  • You know, it was right and wrong.
  • I remember we had a picnic.
  • This was just before WAVAW--
  • Women Against Violence Against Women.
  • And we had a picnic at, I think it was Plunkett's house.
  • And they were all there.
  • I mean, we were all there.
  • We were buds.
  • And I decided to bring a politically incorrect meal.
  • It was a picnic.
  • So I got hot dogs and hot dog rolls and yellow mustard.
  • And I arranged them very artistically on the plate.
  • And this was tofu, and--
  • and I brought it.
  • And nobody got the joke.
  • I mean, they were all insulted.
  • And it was like, I just--
  • I missed the humor.
  • So what I got when we split was no humor.
  • The sense of humor was just--
  • it was cynical.
  • You got cynicism, but you didn't get good,
  • laughing humor in my book.
  • Things were either right or wrong.
  • I remember having a huge discussion with Sylvia
  • about Crisco, and the political incorrectness of Crisco.
  • I mean, it was like-- (Indovino laughs)
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • LIZ BELL: I know.
  • I know.
  • I know.
  • And in the same way that I had never
  • fit in as a lesbian before GLF, all of a sudden,
  • I felt like I didn't fit in again.
  • Because I danced.
  • And then I became a pastor.
  • And then I liked to cook.
  • And so it became this same kind of rigidity
  • that we had broken away from.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Were there any positive aspects to the split?
  • Because--
  • LIZ BELL: The music.
  • I remember when we had Snake Sisters.
  • And I was the dessert maker.
  • I was with Carol Hayes then.
  • And Carol and I were dessert makers.
  • And it was a whole bunch of women
  • coming together and making the place,
  • and painting it, and making it happen.
  • And Holly Near came and ordered food,
  • and I bumped into her fanny.
  • There was real community, and made things happen.
  • And it was happy times.
  • But it was sort of like, I like hot food,
  • but I don't really like black pepper.
  • You know, it's like too much black pepper.
  • You have to have it kind of--
  • so it was happy times with a little bit too much pepper.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • LIZ BELL: For my taste.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And that was Karen Galvin.
  • No.
  • Christine.
  • LIZ BELL: Christine Galvin.
  • Yeah.
  • Oh, well, see that also--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Snake Sisters.
  • LIZ BELL: Christine-- there was a class thing.
  • And we weren't talking about class.
  • And Christine was of a different class in my memory.
  • You could run this by Karen-- or Nancy Rosen.
  • But the thing finally broke up.
  • Because Christine put the money out.
  • And everybody else put the work out.
  • And is work equal to putting the money out?
  • You know, who owns the business?
  • Those who put out the work?
  • So that became a political discussion.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Listening to you, I
  • think I'm more like a gay man.
  • LIZ BELL: You're a fag in drag, too!
  • Exactly.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Because what seemed to have happened was,
  • all of a sudden, the differences became the points
  • at which the connections broke.
  • LIZ BELL: Yes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So, if you were a lesbian and a feminist,
  • or a separatist and a lesbian, or a separatist and a feminist,
  • there were all of these categories that
  • set up the definition of acceptable and non-acceptable.
  • And then there was there was the issue of class.
  • I don't hear gay men talking about class.
  • I don't hear gay men talking about the legalities
  • of definition between what's a fag, what's a drag queen.
  • I mean, I don't hear that.
  • It was very, very prevalent in the women's community.
  • There were all of these distinctions.
  • LIZ BELL: Badges.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Pardon me?
  • LIZ BELL: Badges.
  • Like Girl Scout badges.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • No, I'm there this way.
  • So, in the beginning, the GLF formed before feminism.
  • LIZ BELL: We formed before-- yes.
  • We formed before there was any language.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And once feminism came into the picture
  • as a not only social, but political entity, then
  • the women--
  • because they were more oppressed than men,
  • and are even today more oppressed than men--
  • began to gravitate toward the liberation of themselves
  • versus the liberation of being gay or lesbian.
  • It was women's lib that was the--
  • LIZ BELL: Driving force.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --driving force--
  • LIZ BELL: And they kind of--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --in the women's movement.
  • LIZ BELL: But I wouldn't say more oppressed.
  • That causes-- two things.
  • More oppressed works if your ethic is money.
  • If success is defined by money, then yes,
  • women are more oppressed.
  • And unfortunately, we live in a culture that defines success
  • by money, therefore.
  • Because I have such a pain, an ache,
  • over the political correctness, "more oppressed"
  • becomes that language that was precipitated out of the break.
  • And so I would say differently oppressed.
  • And I would also say that one of the reasons that--
  • when feminism entered the picture that language
  • became so important--
  • and this hearkens back to-- do you know Susan Thistlethwaite?
  • She's a theologian out of Chicago.
  • And I think I learned this concept from her.
  • But women, we were bodies without heads, you know?
  • Before feminism.
  • We were just bodies.
  • The black velvet body.
  • The high-heeled body.
  • Therefore, for us, breaking out of the closet
  • was adding a head.
  • Oh, I know where it came from.
  • Somebody asked the question of Susan Thistlethwaite
  • of, why is there such a break between the gay/lesbian
  • community and the people of color community, specifically
  • the black community, African-American community?
  • And her response was that African-Americans were bodies.
  • And so liberation meant getting a head.
  • And so, too, for women, we were bodies.
  • And our liberation meant getting a head, which
  • was all the language, which was all the political correctness,
  • which was all the talking about things ad nauseam.
  • Which was why dancing was so politically incorrect.
  • Because it was going back to being a body.
  • Now, dancing is acceptable.
  • But in those days, no good lesbian would dance.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Now they're all lusting over those dancers.
  • (laughter)
  • LIZ BELL: You would dance at the Riverview.
  • But you wouldn't become a dancer.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • Interesting.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: When did you leave Rochester?
  • LIZ BELL: Well, let me--
  • keep you focused, if you will, on that.
  • Because that's also part of the history.
  • I mentioned I wrote this article on appetite theory.
  • It was the baths.
  • I wanted a baths, a women's baths, or a gay baths.
  • I was so jealous of the men that they had the baths.
  • Johnny and Nellie were going to take me to the baths.
  • I mean, we had it all worked out, how I could get in.
  • I wanted that kind of freedom, with women, among women.
  • And I now have the language of, broken people do broken things.
  • Marge and I were together.
  • We were tight.
  • We were very tight.
  • But I hadn't explored.
  • She was my one love, my only love.
  • And I didn't-- the men that I would hang around with could go
  • and would have friends, and they would have sex,
  • and they would explore.
  • And the women, we paired off.
  • I think we were the only pair at that point in time,
  • except for--
  • well, we paired off.
  • And I was curious.
  • And so I was having--
  • I had-- I'll call it an affair.
  • Marge knew about it.
  • And then I moved out.
  • And then I moved back in.
  • And then I fell in love over here.
  • And a large part of that was healing.
  • You know, just the healing of having had boyfriends,
  • or having had girlfriends who had boyfriends.
  • I mean, it was just a lot of healing in all those.
  • So I was going down the road of dance,
  • which came out of an affair, and which came out
  • of a speaking engagement.
  • I had a speaking engagement and somebody called me
  • from the audience and said, I want to get to know you.
  • And nobody had ever said that to me.
  • So that was an affair.
  • And and she was with a man.
  • And she was wondering if she was lesbian.
  • So they took a month apart and she got a room
  • and experimented.
  • And at the end of the month, I went to her house,
  • and she was gone.
  • And so I went into dance.
  • And I followed dance to Philadelphia.
  • And I got in a company.
  • And so I went there.
  • So that trajectory took me out of Rochester.
  • When is a hard question.
  • Marge is good at when.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: '76?
  • '77?
  • LIZ BELL: Oh.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: '80?
  • LIZ BELL: No, no.
  • '78, I walked across the country.
  • I danced, I think, for either two or three years.
  • So it would have been '74 or '75.
  • I'll say '74, give or take a year.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • And in '78?
  • LIZ BELL: Oh, '78, I walked across the country.
  • I danced with a company.
  • And, same thing, curiosity.
  • At that point in time, dance was something
  • you did for rich people.
  • And so rich people paid the money.
  • And then rich people got to decide the choreography.
  • And they just had too much power.
  • Dance was just how life should be.
  • And so I had always wanted to do a walk.
  • Anyway, that's a whole other story.
  • Oh, actually, that story is written about in Empty Closet.
  • Because when I came back, Karen asked
  • me to write a story about it.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Who did you walk across the country with?
  • LIZ BELL: Carol Hayes.
  • And my dog, Molly.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So for you, personally,
  • what was the positive result of your involvement with the Gay
  • Liberation Front prior to the formation of the Gay Liberation
  • Front?
  • And how did that free you?
  • LIZ BELL: If the Gay Liberation Front had not happened,
  • I'd be dead.
  • It hurt.
  • I got to a place that-- (pause) it would have
  • been my senior year in college.
  • So that was '70, '71.
  • And I went crazy.
  • I got to the place that I would hear people laughing.
  • And I could hear somebody.
  • I mean, I'd walk through the dining center
  • and I could hear somebody that was being laughed about.
  • Laughter always had a person that was hurting from it.
  • I just--
  • (phone ringing)
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Sorry.
  • LIZ BELL: --got really, really, really, really bleak.
  • And I had this belief that if I just made everybody dislike me,
  • I could kill myself.
  • Because I could just disappear.
  • And Marge wouldn't let go.
  • Hope wouldn't let go--
  • my friend, Hope Schreiber--
  • I mean, my friend Shelley and my mom,
  • people would call on the telephone and I wouldn't talk.
  • GLF just gave me this whole other piece of who I am.
  • If I had not come out as lesbian, and--
  • I mean, I was on a trajectory of marrying the guy,
  • and having the kids, and doing the right thing.
  • I never really was able to pass, you know?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Mm-hm.
  • LIZ BELL: I always tried.
  • But (pause) I never knew how.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • LIZ BELL: And GLF gave me language and identity
  • to know that I could be me.
  • I didn't have to be the trajectory.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Someone else.
  • LIZ BELL: Mm-hm.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Do you think that was also the reason why
  • men and women formed--
  • LIZ BELL: Yes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --this organization?
  • LIZ BELL: Our early meetings were pain.
  • I mean, we would talk about the pain of coming out.
  • We'd all cry.
  • We'd talk about the pain of being kicked out
  • of your family.
  • We'd all cry.
  • Nobody was carrying their pain alone.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So, hope was in moving forward
  • with this group of people.
  • LIZ BELL: Mm-hm.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And freedom became kind of focused
  • on this group of people.
  • LIZ BELL: Absolutely.
  • Absolutely.
  • And going to a speaking engagement, and--
  • you'd look for the hecklers.
  • Or, you didn't have to look for them.
  • They'd announce themselves.
  • But you also-- you knew in that crowd,
  • there were people who were gay or lesbian.
  • You knew it.
  • And so your language--
  • they were not usually ones asking the question.
  • Excuse me.
  • But your language was always--
  • or, my language-- was always comforting.
  • Telling my story in a way that they could resonate.
  • I guess that was my first ministry.
  • That was my first pulpit, was reaching out to them.
  • And then through the back door, you'd get people calling, and--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So, let me ask you another question
  • about, at the time that all of this was happening,
  • did you have a sense about the significance,
  • the importance of what you were doing?
  • LIZ BELL: Mm-hm.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So, you did this for yourselves,
  • to live your life, but there was no sense of--
  • LIZ BELL: There wasn't a sense of--
  • OK.
  • We did it for ourselves, and to live our lives,
  • and for the shoulders that--
  • my belief, and it's why I love the concept of Shoulders
  • to Stand On.
  • My belief is that we're all standing on shoulders,
  • and there's always shoulders standing on--
  • and we're reaching up.
  • And there's others reaching up to us.
  • And GLF was this--
  • I wasn't so much aware of who we were reaching up to.
  • I think that was the feminist piece.
  • You know, that was political power.
  • I was more aware that there were others that had my same pain.
  • And by me becoming me, by me shaving my head
  • and becoming very, very visible, I was reaching out to them.
  • That was the sense of--
  • how did you phrase your question?
  • The significance of what we were doing.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • LIZ BELL: The significance of what we were doing
  • was that nobody should have to go to high school,
  • nobody should have to go to elementary school--
  • it just shouldn't happen, you know?
  • Dogs can be all kinds of dogs, cats can be all kinds of cats,
  • people can be all kinds of people, you know?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Mm-hm.
  • LIZ BELL: That was my significance.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Except that dogs and cats
  • are a lot smarter than people.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • LIZ BELL: I have seahorses.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You have seahorses?
  • LIZ BELL: Oh, no, no.
  • The one even better is, I have clownfish.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • LIZ BELL: Clownfish-- you know, Nemo?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yep.
  • LIZ BELL: Clownfish are born with the ability
  • to be-- every clownfish-- to be either a boy or a girl.
  • And when they pair off, the bigger one is the girl,
  • becomes the girl.
  • And the smaller one is the boy.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Wow.
  • LIZ BELL: And then they have a little thing.
  • And if the bigger one dies, then the little one
  • can either pick up with another bigger one,
  • or can become a girl and fight off a little big one.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Wow.
  • I didn't realize this.
  • I knew this about seahorses, but not about clownfish.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah, no.
  • Clownfish have the ability to be either sex.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I'll never look at a clownfish the same way
  • again.
  • LIZ BELL: Well, you see, I think that was
  • the real message of Nemo.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • There you go.
  • Yeah, that wasn't worked into that story, was it?
  • LIZ BELL: No.
  • Right.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Because I asked Liz about her awareness
  • of what she was doing at the time being so significant, so--
  • I mean, when I look back and I look
  • at this handful of people, what became of that handful
  • of people was a world, whose impact here in Rochester
  • was more than significant.
  • It was catastrophic.
  • I mean, we've gone round and round about this.
  • What is it about Rochester that allows for the diversity,
  • and yet is conservative, yet you have more spiritual groups
  • here, you have Gay Liberation founded for upstate New York
  • here, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass.
  • The area, in and of itself, geographically,
  • was not like New York City, where you
  • had boom, and boom, and boom.
  • But somehow, here in Rochester--
  • LIZ BELL: Years ago, there was somebody
  • that wrote a doctoral thesis about cities on fault lines.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Ah, I seem to remember--
  • LIZ BELL: San Francisco--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: --something about this.
  • Yeah.
  • LIZ BELL: --might have been Madison.
  • I don't remember what the second one was.
  • And Rochester.
  • And there was something about the energy of a fault line
  • that is the answer to your question.
  • (laughter)
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I seem to remember hearing something
  • about that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • LIZ BELL: Years and years ago.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • LIZ BELL: And also, there was a rumor, a story, a--
  • I don't know what it was--
  • going around years ago, that this was not the first time
  • that Rochester was queer-- gay.
  • Rochester had another time, earlier.
  • They used to have these 4th of July or--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Gay '90s?
  • LIZ BELL: I don't know what it was.
  • They used to have these huge parties that people would come
  • across the border from Canada.
  • Rochester was like San Francisco is now.
  • And there was some event.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: George Eastman?
  • LIZ BELL: Oh.
  • I don't know.
  • There was some big dra--
  • oh, wait a minute.
  • It's coming back.
  • And there was some place downtown.
  • There was this huge ball.
  • There was something before GLF, years before.
  • I don't know what the time frame was.
  • There was another history.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Hm.
  • LIZ BELL: I don't know if it George Eastman.
  • I don't know.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You're thinking it was something
  • in the 19th century, though.
  • Or maybe early 20th century?
  • LIZ BELL: Something like that, yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I mean, something maybe around the--
  • what is it-- the 1920s?
  • The flapper era?
  • Or--
  • LIZ BELL: I don't know.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • Jeez.
  • I'll have to look into that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Huh.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • Other people would-- but I remember
  • that story went around.
  • And there was some--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Do you remember who told it?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, right.
  • LIZ BELL: We were having a get-together.
  • Has Walt Delaney's name come across?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Walt
  • LIZ BELL: Delaney.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • He passed away, you know.
  • LIZ BELL: Mm-hm.
  • And Whitey had just came back from Hawaii.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • LIZ BELL: And he got the pictures
  • of Walt's master's thesis.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Ah.
  • LIZ BELL: And there's going to be a party of all
  • the people in the pictures.
  • And I'll ask them.
  • I'll ask that group.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Find out about what these pictures are.
  • LIZ BELL: No, I'll ask them about the early story
  • of Rochester being a gay mecca.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • It's the first I'm hearing of it.
  • Wouldn't surprise me.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • There was some place that had a--
  • was it Halloween?
  • I don't remember.
  • I'll have to ask around.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • Because there is definitely some kind of energy,
  • whether it's from a fault line, or whether it's from wherever--
  • LIZ BELL: That's a wild one.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Something in the water.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --that has created the beginning
  • of social movements here in this town, that
  • have spread across the country.
  • And that can't be said of every city.
  • I mean, the Social Gospel Movement.
  • And then you have all of the More Light community,
  • with (unintelligible) You have Walt Szymanski going
  • from Catholic to Episcopal.
  • LIZ BELL: Are you going to interview Walt?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Huh?
  • Yes.
  • LIZ BELL: Oh, tell him I said hello.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I will.
  • LIZ BELL: I remember Walt Szymanski.
  • He was over at the one in the South Wedge.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Calvary.
  • St. Andrew's.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • And I remember looking at him.
  • See, he was part of the group from the community.
  • So he gave us kids images.
  • And I remember looking at him, and thinking, wow, a priest.
  • And I remember, on my ordination,
  • mentioning his name.
  • I haven't heard from him in years.
  • I don't know where--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: He's in Pittsburgh.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah, tell him-- oh, yeah.
  • Walt Szymanski.
  • He had a big impact on me.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And I'm also interviewing Bruce Hanson.
  • LIZ BELL: Bruce Hanson, that's not a name--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Episcopal priest who had St.
  • Luke's/St. Simon's downtown on Fitzhugh Street,
  • where Dignity-Integrity met.
  • LIZ BELL: When would that have been?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: 1975, '76.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah, see, that would have been right after I left.
  • I don't know that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But anyway, those mushrooms of expression
  • somehow keep rippling forward to this generation,
  • to the next generation, to the future generations,
  • where you don't have--
  • anyone who wants to do anything in Rochester
  • and begin any kind of a group in Rochester does it.
  • They don't get told not to.
  • They don't get told to go someplace else.
  • They get embraced by this diverse community.
  • Some of them don't last long.
  • But some of them continue.
  • ACT UP-- when the AIDS crisis hit here, I mean,
  • you had an incredible confluence of
  • medical, social, and political activism that probably created
  • one of the most unique community responses
  • to this crisis that ever happened.
  • LIZ BELL: So why are there still two choruses, choirs?
  • Why didn't that pull people back together again?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Why did what?
  • LIZ BELL: Why didn't the AIDS crisis
  • pull the men and the women back together again?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The women took care of the men.
  • LIZ BELL: I know.
  • But why didn't that heal?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: To some aspects, I
  • think there still is some sort of division there, some sort
  • of sense of, we need to protect our identity, kind of thing.
  • And I hate to say this.
  • But I think it's more on the women's part.
  • LIZ BELL: I think you're right.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because I know--
  • I mean, I've worked with Gay Men's Chorus years ago,
  • and got them to do a special benefit
  • concert for the AIDS garden.
  • And I specifically asked them, I want the women's chorus
  • to join you.
  • And they were all for it.
  • And the women's chorus came in.
  • And they a couple pieces together.
  • They did a couple pieces separate.
  • And there was no animosity whatsoever.
  • But I think there still is that, if we join with the men,
  • we're going to lose our identity.
  • LIZ BELL: Mm-hm.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Well, I also--
  • LIZ BELL: That's, yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You know?
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • We'll be swallowed up.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • It's the Women's Chorus, and then it's the Gay Men's Chorus.
  • I mean, does it become the LGBT Chorus?
  • LGBT Community Chorus?
  • You know, what does it become afterwards?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • I also think that women reject the ways in which men
  • gain power, gain control.
  • They don't want to do it by money.
  • They don't want to do it by becoming the head of something.
  • They want to do it by consensus.
  • Everybody moves, together.
  • We don't have--
  • LIZ BELL: See, there was another place
  • I was politically incorrect.
  • Because I'm of the persuasion that--
  • oh, I've had this argument--
  • that yes, it is abuse of power to take control and run
  • with it.
  • You know, I'm the leader.
  • It is also abuse of power if you are on a ship
  • and the ship is under a storm, and the ship is
  • ready to capsize, if you say, no, we've
  • got to do it by consensus.
  • We've got to decide whether to pull in the sail by consensus.
  • That's also an abuse of power.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • LIZ BELL: And I think, particularly right now,
  • that both are needed.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • I mean, your question that you brought up before,
  • why does the Gay Men's Chorus get
  • so much support, and financial support, (unintelligible)
  • is because they have leadership that's basically
  • focused on getting them money.
  • Where is the women's leadership in that?
  • LIZ BELL: Mm-hm.
  • Mm-hm.
  • Yeah.
  • I got a grant for the Rochester women's community chorus.
  • I got $1,000 for them.
  • And it was the first time they'd ever gotten a grant.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, you know what?
  • Let me tell you, it's not just a women's issue.
  • When I stepped up as the chair of the board of ImageOut--
  • I stepped up and did the organization.
  • They didn't even have a development committee.
  • They didn't have anybody fundraising for them.
  • They were relying on the one New York State
  • grant that they get every year.
  • So my first thing that I implemented
  • what I took control of that board
  • is, we need a development committee.
  • Here are some people I want on it.
  • Go find us money.
  • And that first year, I increased our revenue
  • from grants, and foundations, and community support
  • by over 800 percent, just for the mere fact
  • that we finally had somebody out there asking for money.
  • The first year we ever got money from the city of Rochester
  • was the year I took over and went to the city of Rochester--
  • LIZ BELL: Good for you.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: --and asked them.
  • And that was $15,000.
  • The first year that we ever got money from a state senator
  • was the first year that I went out and I asked Senator Robach.
  • LIZ BELL: Good for you.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Senator Robach, of all people.
  • And we got $25,000.
  • You know, so it does take someone
  • to step up to that leadership role and say, OK, yeah.
  • We can do all this by consensus.
  • But the consensus is that I'm going
  • to go out and find you money.
  • You know, that's what the consensus needs to be.
  • LIZ BELL: Mm-hm.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • And I also think another component of that is women
  • have always been behind the scenes.
  • Who makes things happen in a family?
  • The women.
  • Who takes care of the cleaning?
  • All of the things that are necessary to make
  • a going concern, women do.
  • Their archetypal history is not to be
  • out in front of the charging horse, going down the street,
  • waving a banner.
  • LIZ BELL: Recognizing that picture in a next generation,
  • more perfect world, whatever the language,
  • imagine if the Men's Chorus said, we're getting money.
  • And x percent of it goes to the Women's Chorus.
  • You can take it or leave it.
  • This is what we're good at.
  • Here's your share.
  • Just acknowledging the history.
  • If I can-- what?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I was just going to jump in and add--
  • legally they couldn't do that.
  • LIZ BELL: Why not?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because they're recognized
  • as two separate, nonprofit organizations.
  • LIZ BELL: Well, behind the scenes,
  • they could make some kind of--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: They could do something.
  • Right.
  • LIZ BELL: Well, they could join, so that that could be--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: They could do a joint venture.
  • LIZ BELL: This is my skill.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • LIZ BELL: So this is--
  • you have it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • LIZ BELL: In the same mode of the picture that you're
  • portraying, my partner and I--
  • Tansy-- well, my bride and I--
  • Tansy and I started ImageOutreach.
  • My goal for being on the board was,
  • there are people that can't afford these movies.
  • And we got the power.
  • So we're going to open the door for them.
  • And there were people on the board
  • that were very supportive.
  • And there were people on the board
  • that were very much against it.
  • I would love, in my next political wave,
  • to have tickets to women be more of--
  • a price difference.
  • I don't know how you do it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • LIZ BELL: I don't know how you do it.
  • Because I also know that--
  • well, we're getting way off--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • (interposing voices)
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: --thoughts.
  • But let me tell you from the point you just
  • made, because you and Tansy formatted the ImageOutreach
  • program, it was because of that outreach program
  • that we're able to get all this money that we can get now.
  • Because we can show these people,
  • we're more than just a film festival.
  • We're more than just movies.
  • We're reaching this sector of the population,
  • and we're reaching this sector, this sector, this sector.
  • We're making sure it's accessible to everyone
  • in this community, as opposed to other film festivals
  • out there that didn't have outreach programs.
  • LIZ BELL: Really.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So-- yeah.
  • I mean--
  • LIZ BELL: I never knew that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: We use the Outreach program now
  • as a major fundraiser.
  • LIZ BELL: I never knew that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Proving to these people
  • that we're more than just a film festival.
  • LIZ BELL: Wow.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So, yeah.
  • So, pretty big shoulders to stand on there.
  • LIZ BELL: Well, if there was some way that--
  • I mean, now I pay for babysitters for my mom.
  • And I know there are people that pay
  • for babysitters for their kids.
  • And I would love to see something
  • from Outreach for babysitting.
  • People that have a kid, they can't afford a movie ticket.
  • They're already paying a babysitter.
  • You know, something like that.
  • So if you're still connected, that would be my--
  • anyway.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Well, that--
  • LIZ BELL: And that's this.
  • That's reaching down.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: That's another--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: That's a whole other discussion.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --whole discussion.
  • But what we're trying to do is to be as inclusive
  • as we possibly can, and also to collect oral histories.
  • Because when all is said and done,
  • the people who can teach us the most about the future
  • are the people who can reflect on the past
  • and bring forth the lessons, the teachings.
  • What did you learn?
  • What didn't you learn?
  • LIZ BELL: Have you talked to the guy that used to own Jim's?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • We interviewed him.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Ducky.
  • LIZ BELL: He used to have parties at his house
  • that I went to.
  • I mean, that's how open it was.
  • Men and women went to parties at James's.
  • Jim's.
  • We called it James's.
  • Where's my scar?
  • There's my scar.
  • This is my James's scar.
  • From dancing and hitting the mirrors.
  • That's my James's scar.
  • My tattoo.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I want to get one point way back
  • that we mentioned here.
  • Just because I don't want to lose it here.
  • You know, you touched on the fact--
  • and you're not the first woman to touch upon this fact--
  • that when the women split from the GLF group,
  • that they weren't happy about it, that they--
  • LIZ BELL: Who weren't?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: A couple of-- few of--
  • LIZ BELL: The women or the men?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: The women.
  • The women were not happy.
  • Because much to your point, they missed the men.
  • And they missed that camaraderie.
  • They missed that oneness.
  • At any point in this split among--
  • you know, when the women were together and discussing
  • whatever next steps you were going to take,
  • did it ever come up with the fact
  • that maybe it was a mistake that we split from the men's group?
  • Was there any discussions?
  • LIZ BELL: (pause) There were those of us
  • that remained friends with our men friends
  • and were judged for it.
  • And so those who were judging you,
  • we were not of the "we" that could say we split.
  • I think the even stronger memory for me is penis jokes.
  • I remember women bashing men.
  • And I have this--
  • they call them Ridgeback dog--
  • this little hairline that goes right up the back of my neck,
  • you know, that --
  • And men-bashing jokes were--
  • I don't think I could discuss.
  • I remember getting angry.
  • I remember saying, those are my friends.
  • But the conversation--
  • I never had the wisdom in a calmer moment
  • to bring up the conversation with the women who
  • made the jokes.
  • And part of that was just lack of wisdom.
  • I mean, I don't have the vision, necessarily,
  • of going out there.
  • I just do what I got to do.
  • And I'm more of a scout, prophet,
  • you know, I pull along.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you think a part of it
  • was, on the part of the women that were making the jokes
  • and ostracizing the men, so often,
  • if a group is trying to come out of their oppression,
  • they have to somehow find a way to oppress the oppressors?
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You know, to kind of take back control.
  • LIZ BELL: Take back the night.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Take back the night.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • LIZ BELL: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Mm-hm.
  • Was Patti Evans involved when you were--
  • LIZ BELL: She was she was pre-feminist.
  • Yes, she was involved.
  • But she was before the days of the women from Boston.