Audio Interview, Kathryn Rivers, April 27, 2012

  • EVELYN BAILEY: So, we're here with Katherine Rivers
  • who was one of the original members of Lambda at Kodak.
  • And we really are interested in finding out how all that began.
  • Why did a group of people decide to form Lambda at Kodak?
  • What prompted you to begin a group to form it?
  • And what your experience was in getting that created
  • and in moving it forward to continue.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: OK.
  • I wasn't early, early, on, but what I understand and I'm sure
  • Emily has filled you in that there actually were two groups.
  • Her and Chuck had talked about getting a group going and then
  • David and Dan and, I think, Gary was another,
  • they were sort of talking about getting a group growing.
  • At what Kodak already had in place, was,
  • they had a African-American network, which
  • was Network Nurser, they had a women's network, Women's Forum,
  • they had a rather recently formed Native American network.
  • So they were in the network business.
  • And so, well, let's have a gay network, right?
  • And so there were a couple small conversations going on.
  • And David Kosel will fill you in,
  • because he actually got hooked up
  • with one of the executives that kind of got the dialogue going.
  • And once that dialogue happened, see,
  • I didn't know anything about this.
  • I'm sitting in my office and I'm sharing a cubicle wall
  • with the IT guy for the department
  • and people were in and out of his office all day long.
  • So I'm just over there doing work and somebody comes in,
  • storming in, just, "You're not going
  • to believe this I just found out that Kodak
  • is going to have a gay group and they won't even
  • have a veterans group."
  • And I thought, well, this is pretty
  • interesting, let me go see if I can check it out.
  • So I did.
  • And then I met Emily and David Kosel
  • and Dan and Chuck and Gary.
  • And so, they had a steering group going.
  • They had just kind of pulled together.
  • They had found each other because
  • EVELYN BAILEY: They should never have (unintelligible) her.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: this executive kind
  • to helped get the dialogue going.
  • Then all of a sudden, these two groups that
  • didn't know each other got connected
  • because she facilitated this.
  • She was in the executive development area, by the way.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Who was this?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I believe her name is Sue Connelly.
  • And David can fill you in quite a bit with her.
  • And she's another one that I think it would be good to,
  • maybe, get her on record.
  • But you'd need to get her permission to do that,
  • if somebody knew how to get in touch with her
  • because she's gone too.
  • A lot of people who were instrumental in the network
  • don't work at the company.
  • One of the vice presidents is deceased at this point.
  • So, you know, it wouldn't be as easy
  • as it would be a while back.
  • Anyhow, the group had a steering committee.
  • And the company said, well, we need
  • to have bylaws and a mission statement and just
  • some basic things.
  • I remember those two things I worked on.
  • And you know, we'll help you.
  • And what was interesting, though,
  • was it became clear that some of the vice presidents
  • had some discretionary money and they
  • would support some of the networks in different ways,
  • of course.
  • And they liked that.
  • They gave scholarship money that the Native Americans
  • could use for their projects and stuff like this.
  • Well, we didn't have anything.
  • And I mean nothing.
  • So Emily helped bankroll the first event, which
  • was bringing Deb Price to town.
  • And we
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Who was Deb Price?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Deb Price was a columnist,
  • and she worked for the Washington Post, I believe.
  • And she had a weekly column on gay stuff,
  • just whatever was in the news or she wanted to talk about.
  • Kind of like an editorial columnist.
  • So we brought her to town, basically to raise
  • some money for the network.
  • This is a great story, by the way.
  • I don't know, KEVIN INDOVINO, you've
  • probably heard this story.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I either heard it or, actually, I was there.
  • I was there for one of the Deb Price events,
  • but I don't know if it was the first one.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, here's the fall-out
  • that happened afterwards.
  • So we brought her to town and she actually
  • spoke at a church downtown and people bought tickets.
  • And we actually did get some money
  • to have the network have some operating money.
  • And since Deb Price was a columnist in the DNC.
  • The DNC was very interested in her coming to town,
  • and called Emily up in her office and talked about, well,
  • you know, what's Kodak doing with Deb Price?
  • And so Emily talked about having a fundraiser.
  • The next day in the newspaper, it
  • talks about Kodak having a fundraiser.
  • And I got to tell you, there are people
  • in corporate communications Kodak
  • is a company that makes money, it's not
  • supposed to have fundraisers.
  • And there are people having their coffee in the morning who
  • work in the communication department going,
  • what the hell's going on?
  • So, the you know what hit the fan.
  • And by the end of the day, some people
  • had figured out who talked to who and what happened.
  • And we immediately got training on how to talk to the press.
  • We also got money, and there was an organization
  • developed under HR to say, all right, how
  • are the networks treated?
  • Can we be a little bit more equitable
  • with different kinds of sponsorships and funding
  • for the networks?
  • So even though it started out bad, it turned out really good.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Why did this group come together?
  • I mean, just because you've got an African-American network
  • and a woman's network, why did you want to form a gay network?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, I can't speak for everyone,
  • but for me, personally, Kodak was changing as a company.
  • When I first started working there, I was in my early 20s.
  • It was a very conservative company, and practices
  • and you could just tell.
  • I mean, they had a history of you
  • know, their hiring history was somewhat difficult.
  • Their equal opportunity, they hadn't done a great job
  • with being fair with hiring people.
  • And so, Kodak was growing and changing.
  • And I was thinking there was potential to make
  • the workplace more comfortable, and people feel, you know,
  • like you belong there.
  • Because I remember going to some of the benefits meetings
  • and saying, oh, we take care of our employees
  • and their families.
  • And I'm thinking, well, not exactly, but, you know.
  • So they envisioned themselves as a very caring, nurturing, kind
  • of paternalistic company.
  • OK.
  • And the other thing I found out, after I heard about
  • that there's going to be a gay group over the wall,
  • was, I went and I checked the company's policies,
  • and in there was sexual orientation.
  • There was a clause about, we do not discriminate.
  • It had been in there for quite a while.
  • And I went, wow, I don't know how that happened.
  • So I'm thinking, all right, well, supposedly I'm protected.
  • The company has been clear with their policies
  • and I think there's room for the company to expand, you know,
  • on their path.
  • And so that's why I got involved.
  • Now, other people got involved because they wanted benefits.
  • You know, they'd say, well, you've
  • got to talk to upper management.
  • You have to demand these things.
  • And that was a line we couldn't cross,
  • because we're not a union and we don't negotiate
  • collective bargaining rights.
  • This network is voluntary and it was educational
  • and we were there to support other workers.
  • And we did do some of that.
  • I remember workers calling.
  • There was a woman who worked in a machine shop
  • and she just got treated really roughly.
  • And you know, we tried to help with talking to her supervision
  • to say, maybe there's better ways
  • to handle some of these issues.
  • So we played roles there but, we weren't
  • an official organization within the company
  • and we couldn't act like one.
  • It's extracurricular.
  • All the networks had to, really, behave that way.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Did you find opposition?
  • Like, after the Deb price thing and the
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yes?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: hullaballoo, was that the first it wasn't
  • the first educational event?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No.
  • That was prior to any event we held within the company.
  • That this was external.
  • So yes, it was before.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So how did you gain such credibility?
  • Such a status whereby you were valued and listened to?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, it took a while.
  • I would say, initially, there was a lot of pushback,
  • especially when this hit the paper.
  • And there were employees that wrote some pretty nasty stuff
  • to HR people.
  • And stupid stuff, I mean.
  • Stuff that they could probably get fired for,
  • for talking the way they did, because all this stuff
  • is on their email that they just sent to somebody.
  • So there was a lot of I don't know a lot,
  • but there was enough.
  • As one of the HR people said, it was
  • kind of like a barometric reading of how the company was.
  • And the fact that there was such a strong negative response
  • probably from a few people, but it was pretty strong
  • was an indicator that we need to do something.
  • So again, something good comes out
  • of something that didn't sound too good, initially.
  • We needed to kind of get our own group together first
  • before we had any big events.
  • And the other networks had done, Women's Forum had
  • done what they called an educational event,
  • and, you know, brought in a guest speaker, nationally,
  • and maybe 400 people were there.
  • And so they'd already done the big splashy thing,
  • but we were still growing.
  • And we needed to, sort of, get the membership kind
  • of cleaned up in, the sense that, this
  • is what the network is, this is what we're for.
  • If you're here because you want to demand benefits,
  • we can't do that for you, so maybe you
  • need to take your energies elsewhere.
  • So we had to go through this.
  • We had to talk about what we're about
  • and, what's the value of the network for employees?
  • And for employees who weren't going to be out.
  • And can employees who aren't out be part of our network?
  • You know, we had a lot of discussions around this.
  • Could they be on the board?
  • Well, eventually we said yes.
  • But after a while that issue did, somewhat fade away.
  • But nonetheless, these were things
  • we just had to talk through.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO INDOVINO: So, I just want to jump back.
  • From your understanding, what was
  • what is, still the core mission of Lambda at Kodak?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, my gosh.
  • You're gonna ask this?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Let's see.
  • It's really about equity, professional advancement,
  • independent of sexual orientation or gender
  • expression.
  • And that was another one we fought for,
  • to get your gender expression in there,
  • so that people could be who they are and they could grow
  • their careers, and it wasn't a detriment,
  • they didn't have to worry.
  • And a lot of nice things about people
  • learning how you know, it's not just being out, you know?
  • For example, people in management positions
  • or any type of supervisory position,
  • they're often, kind of, judged around who
  • they are on a personal level.
  • And if you're a mystery and nobody knows who you are,
  • you could be not considered for one of those positions.
  • So in my answer to the question, I maybe
  • got a little off base, here.
  • But those were the issues, and we
  • tried to craft a mission statement to support that.
  • Excuse me.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It's all right.
  • Sit.
  • Sit.
  • Sit.
  • Sit.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Pie, sit.
  • Pie, sit.
  • Sit.
  • Good, lie down.
  • Does she know, lie down?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Or just down.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Down.
  • Down.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS Well, if you can, ignore her.
  • She just loves both of you, I can tell.
  • I don't know what's going on here.
  • Off.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Down, off.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: You're being recorded for posterity, here,
  • so stop it.
  • All right, I'm going to get her over here.
  • You're going to stay with me.
  • OK.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But some of the things
  • that you talked about, just even within the mission statement
  • equity in the workplace, professional advancement
  • and all that that stuff is borderline union.
  • How did you keep the balance, as far as, OK, we're
  • not asking for benefits, but we're asking for some?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It was all about education,
  • and that's what our educational events were about.
  • So they weren't mandatory.
  • Most of the time, about half of the people who showed up
  • were from management or HR.
  • But what we were trying to do is educate
  • on the issues for LGBT employees and how
  • the workplace could be better.
  • But we didn't have a list of demands, we didn't say,
  • this is what you have to do.
  • We had no bargaining.
  • There wasn't any bargaining going on here.
  • So I think that that was the difference.
  • And you could get into a gray area,
  • but you didn't want to keep pushing it that way.
  • So it was important to not, you know,
  • get demanding, so our banner was education.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Did you have meetings for the group?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: For the network?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yes.
  • We had monthly meetings for all the members.
  • We also had a steering committee meeting that would meet.
  • And again, that steering committee
  • was trying to grow the network.
  • And then, at some point, we had elections.
  • President, President-elect, and Secretary, Treasurer, you
  • know, things I forget.
  • Then a network person who was in charge of communications.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And that covered everyone at Kodak?
  • Like from top down?
  • Because there were two very different groups.
  • I mean, there was the manufacturing side of Kodak,
  • and then there was the management or the
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Professional side.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Professional side.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: And there was pay differences, and class
  • differences, and all of that within those groups.
  • Definitely.
  • In fact, in Kodak lingo, there were
  • cell one, which were the hourly manufacturing,
  • and then there's cell two, with the professional, management,
  • engineers, scientists.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Did you find both groups
  • open to becoming involved in the network, in Lambda at Kodak?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: We were heavy on the professional side.
  • Yeah.
  • Maybe 10% were non-professional, or hourly manufacturing.
  • So sometimes it would be, well, what's in it for me?
  • And, I'm never going to be out at work.
  • So I do think the safety in the work environment,
  • it was less in the manufacturing areas.
  • Now, we had a machinist who was a Vietnam veteran
  • and he was out and I'll tell you,
  • nobody was going to mess with him.
  • Nice guy, but if you get my face, you'll be sorry.
  • So some of that's just personal, you know, their personalities.
  • But on the whole, it was more professional people
  • who were out.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Was there a lot of fear in coming out?
  • In being out among the professional staff?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I'd say, over time, it was less.
  • Now what part of it was, that the educational events,
  • we really, especially the first ones, we worked hard on those
  • and we got a good reputation.
  • In fact, people said they'd rather
  • go to some of our events.
  • We put on skits, we brought national speakers,
  • I mean, we did a nice job and actually put on a nice show.
  • But it was an educational event.
  • And we also, one of the things is, don't get preachy.
  • We are just offering information and we'll
  • do it in as entertaining and, you know, interesting way as we
  • can.
  • And that's it.
  • So, after about the third year of doing this,
  • we had a good enough reputation that other people
  • started showing up.
  • They feel a little more comfortable, it was good.
  • OK.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Did the initial meetings with Lambda
  • and the initial development of Lambda,
  • did that start under Kay Whitmore?
  • Or was George Fisher already?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: That started under Kay Whitmore.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: And did you notice any difference
  • in the change of command?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Oh, yeah.
  • Night and day.
  • And to Kay Whitmore's credit and David
  • could speak better to this than I can, but he
  • did approve of the network, said OK, we'll have one.
  • And he took quite a bit of heat.
  • The company would have, maybe two or three times a year,
  • a town hall meeting.
  • And so, they had the huge auditorium,
  • building twenty-eight on Ridge Road, there, and filled it up.
  • And the CEO, and the COO, and CFO
  • would all sit there on stools and they'd
  • do a Q&A. First of all, they'd do a presentation update,
  • then the Q&A. And there were quite a few people that
  • got up during Kay Whitmore's time
  • and told them they just thought this was wrong and you know.
  • So I know that.
  • Other feedback he probably got in other ways, too.
  • But anyways, he stood firm and said,
  • no we will have this network.
  • Then George Fisher comes to town.
  • Now, we still have a steering committee.
  • So the network is still trying to figure out who we are,
  • what our principles are, the membership,
  • and what are we doing for members?
  • What are we doing for the company?
  • So George Fisher shows up and it was
  • like the parting of the seas.
  • He brought a strong sense of people development
  • from Motorola.
  • And it was clear, you know, when you talked at meetings,
  • With first speakings to the employees
  • at large, first talks.
  • And then, coincidentally, we were just
  • saying, we need to have one of these flashy, big,
  • events like the other networks are having.
  • So we're going to call it the educational event,
  • and we were working with the assistant
  • to the CEO at the time, his name was Dave Swift.
  • And so, we had started talking to him,
  • George Fisher was on board, and yeah, I'll
  • help you however we can.
  • What do we need to do?
  • And he knew there were certain people
  • in the company, Vice-presidents, that didn't
  • think this was a good idea.
  • But here's somebody working right next to the CEO
  • and this is the grooming position,
  • somebody gets in there for a year or two
  • and they do all kinds of stuff so he was very helpful
  • and we got this thing going.
  • And it was clear that oh, and we had set a date.
  • Here, this is important.
  • For the first one, our very first event,
  • and it turns out that George Fisher had to be out of town
  • on company business and he couldn't be there.
  • And we all decided we better not have
  • this without George Fisher because he was very supportive,
  • and if he wasn't there that would be a signal.
  • So what happened, at the very first event
  • and we didn't have a lot of money to rent a big hall,
  • so we rented a room at the Burgundy Basin,
  • so, what we could afford.
  • And brought in a good speaker, Elizabeth Birch,
  • and she didn't even charge a fee.
  • She was just very happy to come and do it.
  • And we're all there, and lined up at the bar
  • are all the managers.
  • (laughs)
  • And the rest of us are over here, talking.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: They need a drink to deal with this.
  • (laughter)
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: There was a lot of drinking
  • going on in that room.
  • (laughs)
  • So they're over there, and we're all worrying about,
  • got everything ready, and, who's going to do our program,
  • we're all set to go.
  • We did some vignettes, it was a lot of fun.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Was George Fisher there?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, George Fisher
  • showed up before the event but, kind of right at the time,
  • you know, maybe ten, fifteen minutes ahead of time.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But he wasn't out of town?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No, it got rescheduled, sorry.
  • We decided it was so important we had to reschedule.
  • So we were going to have it in November,
  • I think we ended up in the spring March, April, something.
  • So anyways, he walks in, Ann Fisher, his wife walks in.
  • And I'll tell you, if you wanted a role
  • model of how to work a room and how to treat people well,
  • those two did it.
  • And he walked around and he shook people's hands.
  • And Ann Fisher separately walked around and shook people's hands
  • and talked.
  • And she came up to me and she said,
  • and we have this dimension of diversity in our family.
  • I said, wow.
  • And everybody's watching.
  • And that's the power of when somebody like that kind of
  • knows how to behave and set the tone for everyone else.
  • That was really amazing.
  • So, yeah, George Fisher is key, was key, being the CEO.
  • And he was very strong and supportive of everyone,
  • by the way.
  • But he didn't say, you know, the African-Americans
  • and the Women's Network and whatever, or the others.
  • You know, he would make sure he mentioned everyone.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So, what happened at that first event?
  • Or, that first educational night with Cindy Birch?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: One of the key things
  • that happened Elizabeth Birch.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Elizabeth Birch.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: One of the things that happened afterwards
  • and I do believe the event was well
  • received-- we did some skits and they were kind of funny.
  • And people, by the end of the evening, everybody,
  • the whole room had just chilled out.
  • Everybody looked relaxed and it was really nice.
  • And then George Fisher said to Mike Morley who
  • was Vice President of HR he's the one who's
  • deceased right now, or, no longer with us he
  • said, why don't we revisit the benefits issue?
  • Nobody asked George, that night, to do that.
  • In fact, we were all really nobody
  • was going to ask him anything like that.
  • But he volunteered and he asked his Vice President of HR.
  • And one thing that I found out later again,
  • these are things that just, kind of behind the scenes
  • and you don't always know but the person who
  • was the logical choice to work on the benefits package
  • and update it, was not going to like doing it.
  • It was just understood that if you asked him,
  • he wasn't going to have his heart in it.
  • He didn't want it to happen.
  • So what the Vice President did, is,
  • he asked someone else who wasn't an obvious choice.
  • He says, I want you to take on this project.
  • And you investigate the costs.
  • And you investigate, you know, compare
  • it to what other companies have done and we'll make a decision.
  • So these are kind of big things and you don't always
  • know they're happening.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Eventually, domestic partnership benefits
  • got passed at Kodak, right?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It did.
  • It was a policy decision.
  • And so, and at that point, I don't know
  • if there was a lot of pushback.
  • But when that year's package came out, usually, in the fall,
  • like around October or November, here's
  • your options for your benefits and health.
  • And by the way, domestic partner.
  • And if you have a domestic partner,
  • you'll need to make a phone call.
  • Because first of all, you needed to sign a document.
  • And some of the things had to be done manually,
  • they couldn't be done automated.
  • But nonetheless, it was all out there.
  • And I don't recall hearing much pushback after that.
  • I think anybody who had had a hard time either
  • had vented their feelings or left, or whatever.
  • But it seemed like that kind of was a turning point, that there
  • wasn't a lot of pushback.
  • I mean, there were still things that happened.
  • And crude things get said here and there and all that, but.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What's your most memorable experience
  • in your entire history with the Lambda network?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well I would say the first event.
  • I say, there was such a case corporate nerves around that.
  • And getting through that and having it go well,
  • that really just set the tone for everything else.
  • So that's my favorite, favorite memory.
  • Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Jump forward to the 21st century, Lambda
  • Network now.
  • Again, what is it's core mission now?
  • I mean, is it still the same mission
  • as it was when it first started?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, I don't think they've changed.
  • I haven't heard any specifics around.
  • And I did stay involved for about two,
  • three years after I left.
  • But at this point, I feel like I'm not connected enough
  • to the company to be valuable either way,
  • for their time or my time.
  • So it's much smaller.
  • There are no big events.
  • I don't think any of the networks do that anymore.
  • I mean, everyone's focus is very different now.
  • You know, it's just keeping your job, it's
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Survival.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: what shape is the company in?
  • And then we'll see.
  • Nobody, you know, we'll see how it goes.
  • So I really can't say if there's any push back, if,
  • because people are stressed, if there is more problems.
  • Now, I know you are going to talk
  • to Dan Sapper I think he'd be a good person
  • to ask that question of.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Definitely.
  • You had a question?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: During this whole experience,
  • were you at all afraid of ramifications, personally?
  • Or did you experience any negativity,
  • or co-workers coming up to you saying,
  • what the hell are you doing?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No.
  • Nothing overt.
  • In fact, I mean, you never know if, somehow somebody may
  • make a decision against you.
  • But they won't tell you if they got
  • an issue with your orientation.
  • But a lot of people were positive.
  • I did a couple of things.
  • One is, I went and I talked to my immediate supervisor.
  • No, he wasn't my immediate supervisor.
  • Yes he was.
  • Well, I changed a couple times, we had these reorganizations,
  • so, sometimes you weren't sure who you were working for.
  • But anyways, at the time I don't think I was,
  • but I knew he was good friends with the department head, which
  • was his boss.
  • And I said Bill, I said, you know, this is who I am.
  • And I'm going to do some things with the network, Lambda
  • Network, and I'm going to talk to the division director.
  • Because I don't want them being blindsided.
  • So, if someone comes stumbling in their office,
  • at least they're prepared.
  • (growling)
  • Yes?
  • Hi, there.
  • OK, well, I'll give you a little more room.
  • So I had lunch with
  • (barking)
  • Bill and told them what was going on.
  • And I said, I'm going to go talk to Dave,
  • just so he knows, you know, that I'm
  • going to be doing these things and I'll have some visibility,
  • just so you know.
  • And as far as I can tell, they were both appreciative
  • of those conversations and I never heard anything else.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So, at Kodak, it sounds like you were never
  • really afraid to be out or to be identified with this group.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: But let me say something.
  • And no, I wasn't.
  • But there was already some support and some structure
  • in place to fall back on.
  • And that's important.
  • So it wasn't like, out of the blue
  • I decided to go in and talk to the Vice President of Human
  • Relations and say, you know, this company really
  • needs some help in this area.
  • You know, I mean, I didn't do that by myself,
  • so that's important.
  • And there were also, again, protections
  • in the company policy that they had a nondiscrimination
  • clause and sexual orientation was in there.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And so?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: So was I afraid?
  • No, I wasn't.
  • But I'd also say I had the comfort
  • of having some of these protections in place
  • before I got involved.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Do you have any sense of how the manufacturing
  • piece of Kodak felt?
  • I know, at one point, Donna Redwing
  • do you remember Donna Redwing?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: The names familiar.
  • No, I'm not sure I can place.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Paul Brew
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I know, oh, I know Paul.
  • Yes, I know Paul pretty well.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: put together a program for the shop,
  • or for the manufacturing piece.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So, my impression is
  • that, on the professional side there
  • was there was much more tolerance, or openness,
  • to working with and being associated with LGBT people.
  • And on the shop floor, for whatever
  • reasons, whether it was LGBT or other personal reasons,
  • there was more difficulty in, kind of,
  • having people who were LGBT feel more comfortable
  • in their work environment.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yes.
  • And I went to some of Paul's presentations.
  • He did a very good job, very different environment.
  • And I would say, you know now, I worked
  • in technical, the engineering, the research and development
  • areas and it's almost like work is
  • your life for almost everybody.
  • There isn't a lot of discussion on a personal level.
  • Although I did some projects with some marketing people
  • and they're all about personal stuff. (laughs)
  • So those are two different environments.
  • So I'd have to say, I can't really speak to them all.
  • But to the manufacturing I can, because I did work on projects
  • where I would be in manufacturing
  • environments for a while.
  • And there is a lot of who's doing what kinds of things
  • going on.
  • And I'm not sure why that is.
  • I'm sure other people could speak to it better, especially
  • HR people.
  • Because maybe, because of job opportunities
  • or whatever other perks might be part of the job, that,
  • depending upon who you are or who you associate with
  • may be it just may work differently.
  • And I got the sense it did.
  • But so, the company did really try to work on that,
  • and Paul could speak to that well.
  • And it escapes me, the program name,
  • but they had a program specifically for those work
  • environments.
  • Particularly shift workers that would work different hours.
  • And you know, when you're working during the day behavior
  • is different than the middle of the night,
  • behavior is different.
  • So they were really trying to address this.
  • But again, Paul will be the best person
  • to talk to about those specifics.
  • But I could see it.
  • I just can't speak to it very well.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: That's going to be my follow up question, which
  • I think you just answered.
  • Did Lambda Network at Kodak, did you
  • find that you had to make some special initiatives
  • to reach out to the manufacturing floors?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well again, we got to be careful who we are
  • and what we can do within the company.
  • But we would get phone calls and e-mails
  • from people in those environments
  • and they would ask for help, or, you know, I'm having trouble.
  • So what we would usually do is meet with them and then say,
  • are you open to talking to your boss or a shift supervisor
  • about it?
  • And if they weren't, we really couldn't do anything.
  • But if they were, we'd try to get invited to a meeting
  • and share some ideas.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So, Lambda at Kodak, sounds like,
  • also became like a hotline.
  • Or a
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It was that hotline, that's for sure.
  • And it wasn't because we were promoting it, it just happened.
  • Yeah.
  • And it wasn't like the phone was ringing off the hook,
  • but I can probably think of a half a dozen incidences where
  • people were really feeling like they were stuck
  • and they needed help.
  • And a lot of times it would be, well, this
  • is really something you should be talking about with your HR
  • person.
  • But if you'd like me or somebody else
  • to come along to the meeting, we will.
  • But again, that's
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And you were free to do that?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Most of the time it was received.
  • But again, you know, if the HR person said no, you know, this
  • is an employee in this department
  • and you don't work here, you know, I mean,
  • they could say that.
  • But I would say, on the whole, most people
  • tried to help and do the right thing when there was
  • a situation going on like that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So if you were to sum it all up, basically,
  • what do you think is the greatest impact
  • that Lambda had at Kodak?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I think it helped I think, for a while,
  • it helped with new hires coming out of college.
  • I think that might have been now, this is just my idea,
  • but I remember talking to this particular Vice President,
  • some HR people and you'd get people coming, or even
  • people transferring, and they'd look at the company
  • and they'd say, oh, you have domestic partnership benefits.
  • Well that's good.
  • All right.
  • And to them, that was a signal that the company
  • was more progressive.
  • I think that was, maybe, one of these
  • under appreciated benefits of what we did.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: And on the same token again,
  • kind of sum this up if you can on a more personal level,
  • what do you think your greatest contribution in Lambda was?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Getting the words on the paper right.
  • (both laugh)
  • If we're going to write something up,
  • whether it's a mission statement or talk about what we're doing,
  • get it right.
  • Don't just scribble something off and toss it out
  • and everybody will understand.
  • Because some people are going to go over it with a fine tooth
  • comb, and they did.
  • So that was one of my let's make sure
  • we think this thing through when we write it down and share it
  • correctly.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Let's talk about life outside of Lambda,
  • beyond Lambda.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Were you born in Rochester?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No.
  • I was born in Troy, New York.
  • I spent five years there and then did
  • most of my childhood growing up at Ovid.
  • Had few years in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • My father got a transfer and then we ended up in Rochester.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Where did you go to college?
  • I mean
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: MCC, RIT, University of Buffalo.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So you were in Rochester by the time you were
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yeah.
  • I ended up yeah, high school.
  • My last year of high school was here.
  • So, yeah.
  • And my family's here.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And did you how did you get to Kodak?
  • I mean, was that your first job, or was that?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Out of, yeah, MCC.
  • I got a two year degree and I got a job
  • as a technician at Kodak and saved money.
  • And when I had enough money saved and got
  • enough extra night school under my belt,
  • I went over to University of buffalo for two years
  • to get an engineering degree.
  • And then I was out looking for a job
  • and actually had an offer from Xerox and Kodak.
  • And so I struggled with the decision,
  • do I want to go back to the same company?
  • Do I start someplace fresh?
  • Maybe it would be good, because you know,
  • I just went back and forth.
  • Anyway, so, I decided to go to Kodak again.
  • So I got rehired.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: That reminds me of one more question.
  • I know you want to get beyond Lambda,
  • but one that came to mind, I never asked.
  • In these initial formations of Lambda Network at Kodak,
  • in pulling together the mission statements, and, you know,
  • bylaws and all that, were there other companies out there
  • that you were looking to as a benchmark?
  • I mean, who were you looking to for examples?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: We did talk to Motorola.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Coincidence that George came from there.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Amazing, isn't it?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yes.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Who is the other one, out west?
  • Wells-Fargo?
  • No.
  • There was a company who kind of got into this, originally.
  • Sort of created this mold for and I
  • can't think of the company.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It wasn't IBM was it?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I'm trying to think of who was the first.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It's like, up in Washington or Oregon,
  • it's one of those states up there.
  • And it's a company that I'm sure we all
  • know the name of the company, it was fairly well known.
  • And what did they?
  • Oh, Lotus?
  • Or was it a software company?
  • It was a software company.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Lotus was a software company.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It was, but I don't think it was Lotus.
  • But it was a
  • EVELYN BAILEY: How about Microsoft?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No.
  • No, it wasn't Microsoft.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Apple?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No.
  • Gosh.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Have to do a little research on that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Me?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because I know at the same time Lambda
  • was developing, there was things going on at Xerox, too.
  • I don't recall, you know, which came first Xerox or Lambda.
  • Or were the two of you really developing together?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I don't know.
  • But Xerox had a different structure and also,
  • different ways of offering benefits.
  • It was more cafeteria style and so they did things differently.
  • Oh, my gosh.
  • I'm stuck on the name of the company.
  • It'll come to me.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, don't worry about it.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It'll come to me driving home or something.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I have another question about the Lambda
  • at Kodak.
  • You said George Fisher came from Motorola
  • and he was interested in the development of the individual,
  • or the something about developing the
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Personal development.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Huh?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It was personal development.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Now, he's a very sharp technical engineer,
  • George Fisher.
  • And I met him a few times.
  • And Motorola had one of the Baldrige Award,
  • which was a quality award, a national quality award.
  • I don't know if it's a big deal these days, but at the time,
  • it was somewhat new and it was a big deal.
  • And I'm very familiar with the structure of that award.
  • And part of it is, is how do you develop employees?
  • So, how do you develop your business?
  • Your operations?
  • How do you measure things?
  • You know, I mean, it goes through a very extensive
  • outline.
  • And one of them is around people and how you handle that.
  • So winning the award, they were probably pretty good at it.
  • And when he came and he spoke about what was important to him
  • at Kodak and he talked about stakeholders,
  • he spoke about employees, so this was part of his language.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And that was different
  • from the previous CEO?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yes.
  • Well, they were just different people.
  • But George Fisher was a really sharp individual
  • and you know, I don't know, I don't
  • want to get into the politics of it, but he came in
  • and he made some critical decisions
  • around where the company was going.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: How long was he CEO?
  • Do you remember?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I think about eight years.
  • He came in, originally, for five.
  • And then I think he stayed two or three more.
  • He still has an office downtown.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: (laughs)
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: He does?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: He does.
  • Name on the door.
  • And I hear, every once in a while he comes in.
  • And I don't know how many other offices he has
  • around the world, so that's it.
  • (laughter)
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: But there's a lot of empty offices
  • down there, so that may not be a big deal.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, they just haven't taken the name
  • off the door yet.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I mean, you know.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, we don't need this office, so who cares?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Anyways.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So, to get back to your personal history,
  • in terms of so you decided to go to work at Kodak were you out?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No, no, no, no.
  • No.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Were you out in college?
  • I mean, when did that, when did your awareness
  • of your own sexual orientation happen?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: All right, well, awareness and out-ness
  • are different things, right?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: And I would say I was aware in high school.
  • And it is one of these things that
  • comes into focus after a while.
  • So I would say, by my senior year it was pretty in focus
  • for me.
  • But I wasn't going to do anything about it.
  • First of all, this is 1969.
  • But you could drink when you were eighteen
  • so I figured, well, after I'm out of high school and I can,
  • I'll go to investigate some things.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And you were here in Rochester.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: And I was here in Rochester.
  • So I did, I went down to some of the gay bars and met people.
  • And I also went to MCC and there was a little clique of us
  • that sort of found each other.
  • And so we'd hang out.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: How?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Just, I don't know, you just do.
  • How?
  • How does this happen?
  • You're sort of over there having a cup of coffee
  • and you see somebody else.
  • Or, I don't know, you know, you just sort of
  • EVELYN BAILEY: My question is motivated by,
  • from the perspective of, in Rochester, were there
  • ways in which a person who was gay
  • could connect with other LGBT people?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, all I knew at the time
  • was the bars that were gay bars at the time.
  • And some of them were run by the mafia.
  • The U of R had a fledgling group which I heard about
  • and I met a good friend there.
  • And so, you know, you sort of find your way after awhile.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Let's talk about bars.
  • What bars were around and what were they like?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, there was one famous one downtown,
  • Dick's 43.
  • And at the time, when I was just turning 18,
  • they were still being raided.
  • And this was police harassment.
  • And they would write down license plate numbers
  • and people in the parking lot and they'd
  • go in and get ID and bring people down.
  • And you know, it was just mean, mean stuff.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Did you witness any of that personally?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I did not witness it personally,
  • I wasn't there.
  • And this was interesting because all of this
  • was sort of a turning point.
  • I'm, like, turning 18, and the U of R
  • has a group that they're starting,
  • and there's some people and I don't
  • know who they were but I know there was a group of adults,
  • I'm talking forty, fifty-year-old people, who
  • got together and said, we're going
  • to go down and talk to the police department
  • and ask them what they think that they're doing.
  • And why are they doing this?
  • And why don't you consider stopping it.
  • So they started a dialogue, and I don't even
  • know who those folks are.
  • So things were just, kind of, changing.
  • There was a women's bar over on the west side of town,
  • in a kind of a neighborhood.
  • And it was a neighborhood bar in the front,
  • and then they had a room in the back where there was a pool
  • table and, you know, women could sit and drink or dance.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Do you remember the name?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: 212.
  • On Colvin Street.
  • So, some of these places just sort of came about haphazardly.
  • There was a place on Main Street that was
  • run by the mafia, Silver Fox.
  • And there was a place over in Allentown,
  • I think it was called Patsy's, or, I'm not sure.
  • And that was a mafia place, too.
  • And the police would be out in those parking lots
  • because they wanted to shut these guys down.
  • So they were no longer, like, writing down license plate
  • numbers of the patrons, they were just
  • sitting around the parking lot seeing
  • if they could see something that they could go
  • in and (laughs) get the owners.
  • So a lot of things were changing.
  • There was a very nice bar downtown, the Riverview,
  • run by this old Italian grandmother who would just
  • look out after everybody.
  • So I don't know about the churches and how some of that
  • came about, how that evolved.
  • The GAGV evolved, really started,
  • out of the seeds of the U of R. But then, there
  • were two groups, a women's group and a men's group.
  • And then those two groups got together and eventually formed
  • this organization.
  • So a lot was happening.
  • But it takes a while, too.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: The bar scene aside, when did you
  • start becoming more actively involved
  • in the rest of the gay community?
  • Gay activism, gay awareness, you know?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, I attended a few marches
  • in New York City, the Stonewall marches, when I was young.
  • And that was just great.
  • And I was involved with this organization,
  • early on, for a while.
  • Although I get redirected, because I
  • was serious about school and getting a degree,
  • and, you know, life happens.
  • That kind of stuff.
  • One of the things, on a personal level,
  • that's always been important to me,
  • is, I just resented all the losses.
  • Because to me, just, why can't we all just live a full life?
  • The best that fits who we are.
  • And not being out, being closeted, and not being
  • supported I think this is really important.
  • I was just amazed a couple of turning points for me,
  • one is, I have four brothers and one of them got engaged.
  • And all of a sudden, things happening.
  • Oh, we're going to have a shower,
  • we're going to have these folks, her parents, over, us.
  • And all these formal things were just happening.
  • You know what?
  • This is really, kind of, bugging me.
  • (laughter)
  • Now, I'm happy for my brother, but, you know,
  • I'm not getting this kind of support.
  • People don't even know where to begin.
  • The other one was when my father died.
  • He died in '93.
  • And that this is probably, now that I
  • think about it, a motivation for me
  • to get more involved once I knew there
  • was a group forming at Kodak.
  • Because this is about a year and a half ahead of time.
  • But I was in a very serious long term relationship
  • and my father was ill for a few months, seriously ill.
  • And we knew he's was going to die.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Down.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Good.
  • And so, you know, if I needed help
  • or I needed to help my mother, all I had to do was call
  • and say I'm his daughter.
  • And you know, bang, bang, bang, things happen.
  • The obituary in the paper, my partner's name wasn't put in.
  • And I didn't want to put up a big fuss about it,
  • but again, it's like, this is bugging me.
  • Because
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Down.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: we're just.
  • (unintelligible) All right, come on.
  • Again, you know, you feel like you're excluded.
  • You're not really living a full life.
  • And so, that's just been a motivation for me.
  • Because I just think it's important
  • to I don't like the self-selection
  • or feeling like you're in a special group, but anyways,
  • I think I've explained myself.
  • So, it's just living an integrated life
  • and feeling excluded has been a big motivator for me.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Now, I do know that there were some little fun
  • things that you've done.
  • Was it Black Rose Productions?
  • Or, what was the women's production company?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It was Black Rose.
  • I was on the peripheral, that was really Janet's thing.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I just remember seeing your name
  • in the programs.
  • Occasionally.
  • (laughter)
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Because I got drug around to help find,
  • build, sets and stuff that I wouldn't have ordinarily done,
  • but I was helping out.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: That was
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Joan Drufray and Susan what's Susan's last name?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: David.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Susan David.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yep.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, from your point of view
  • the point of view of Rochester's gay community as a whole
  • how have you seen it change over the years?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It's much more holistic.
  • There's a lot more dimensions.
  • I still think this organization, the GAGV, is a keystone.
  • It has a youth group, it has anti-violence,
  • it is the organization that, when
  • the newspapers or the radio stations want answers
  • they call.
  • And it's actually turning into an educational organization
  • to help schools and other organizations.
  • So this organization has grown a lot of dimensions.
  • The fact that there are churches and other social groups,
  • I mean, there's a lot of ways for people to connect that just
  • weren't around before.
  • And do it in a healthy way, in an open way.
  • And hopefully, not a fearful way.
  • So, there's still room to grow.
  • But you know, the fact that one of the big topics
  • right up there, political topics is
  • gay marriage, as people like to call it, or same sex marriage.
  • And it's said, frequently, on news casts and why,
  • and who's for it, and what the issues are that's amazing.
  • We've gotten through the don't ask don't tell
  • and so that's, hopefully, behind us.
  • I don't know, you know, what the struggles
  • are, but at least from a policy point of view.
  • So there's a lot.
  • But now, it gets, to me, a little more
  • difficult. Because when there's a rule that you can't that
  • excludes people and you get rid of that rule, OK,
  • now how do people really live together?
  • And we're learning this on a lot of dimensions.
  • We're learning it in race.
  • So, we're working on it.
  • But we are working on it.
  • I like that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • What would your message to the next generation be?
  • As far as what they need to be looking towards?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: You know, this is something that's
  • been on my mind, just, in a way, as I get older and watch
  • how things change.
  • And what was important to me when
  • I was in my twenties versus somebody now.
  • And I think, to me, it's just, take what you have,
  • what's been put in front of you right now.
  • And they're going to see things I can't see.
  • And go with it, you know?
  • Now it's up to you.
  • You've been given something and figure
  • out how to make it better.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I don't want to push it,
  • because this is, really, kind of an esoteric question.
  • But looking at a historical documentary project and people
  • are going to be looking at this documentary, whatever,
  • you know, years from now, looking back,
  • and they look at Kathryn River's story
  • and what she did for the gay community in Rochester
  • what do you want them to know about who you were
  • and what you did?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Kathryn, this isn't fair.
  • (laughter)
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I don't know.
  • Just that and I can't speak to anything,
  • specifically but hopefully, I added value in places
  • where there were opportunities that were there.
  • I don't think I came with anything terribly original.
  • I think I'm a good kind of a systems thinker,
  • to see if the pieces are in place
  • and help move something forward and try
  • to do it with an even hand.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I know you have some questions,
  • but as she keeps talking I just keep
  • coming up with these quick questions (laughs)
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Well, I want to go back and ask you,
  • do you remember the very first bar you went to in Rochester?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, a gay bar?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Gay bar.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: What was it?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It was Dick's 43 on Stone Street
  • and it was infamous.
  • All the high school kids knew about it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Really?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Now, why did you go there?
  • Other than, because all the high school
  • kids knew about it, because from what I've heard about it,
  • it was really more of a men's bar, wasn't it?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It was a men's bar, yeah.
  • Mostly, I mean, 90 percent or better.
  • Yeah, so it was good.
  • But it was a starting point.
  • And they were nice, and I went in, and, you know
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I was going to ask, what was it
  • like that first time?
  • Were you welcomed?
  • Were you looked at as a woman?
  • I mean
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I didn't go on a weekend,
  • so it wasn't real crowded.
  • It was reasonably, maybe half full.
  • But people were nice, and I was approached and said hello,
  • how are you?
  • What's your name?
  • And so it was a nice atmosphere.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Did you feel
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It was a small place.
  • I mean, it's just a bar with a bunch
  • of tables on the other side and a little bit of room to dance
  • and that was it.
  • It wasn't a big place.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Did you feel, like, connected to this place,
  • or?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I was a little nervous.
  • And it took me to go there a few times before I felt relaxed.
  • Yeah.
  • And I didn't stay long the first time, I just had a drink
  • and left.
  • And thought about it and then I came back
  • maybe a few weeks later.
  • And so it took a while.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Was there any bar in Rochester
  • that you would quote unquote identify as your home (laughs)
  • away from home?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Your regular hang out?
  • (laughter)
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, there's two.
  • One was the Riverview, and you could
  • go in there on a weeknight and just have a beer
  • and watch television or talk to some friends.
  • It was a very homey kind of place.
  • And the Jim's Bar, over, was just
  • a big disco with lots of rooms and two bars,
  • and if you wanted to go out dancing or meet people.
  • And it was pretty co-ed.
  • It was probably, maybe, two thirds men
  • to a third women, kind of like that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: This was when Jim's was?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Over on Chestnut Street.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: On Chestnut Street?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yeah, when it really became a big place.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Which is where, I think,
  • Bausch and Lomb is now, right?
  • That area?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No.
  • No, I don't, well, I don't think so.
  • There's a triangle, over, right behind Main Street.
  • About half a block behind Main Street and Chestnut Street,
  • and where Tara's was, around the corner.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, Liberty Pole Way
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Liberty Pole Way
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You know what, I was thinking Court Street,
  • I'm sorry.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: OK.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Chestnut Street.
  • I was thinking Court Street.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: But that was a big place.
  • It had three big rooms, and two bars each side,
  • and sitting and all that.
  • So, big dance place.
  • My sister would drop in.
  • I mean, straight people, sometimes, just dropped in.
  • It was kind of a fun place to hang out.
  • Every once in a while, she'd come in
  • and say, hi, how are you doing?
  • And, you know, do a few dances and then she'd go.
  • So it was, kind of, a more open place I think.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • It was closed by the time I came out.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Oh, bummer.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So I have no idea
  • where this place even where it was, really.
  • (laughter)
  • It originally started up on Court Street,
  • he had a little place up there, first,
  • and then he moved, I think, down there.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It did.
  • It was a small place and then it moved and expanded.
  • The one over on Alexander is probably pretty close to it,
  • although they have their upstairs and downstairs.
  • But that's probably although, Jim's was probably a little bit
  • bigger than that place.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: 140?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yeah.
  • But there was no internet or, you know,
  • matchmaking, outside of showing up in person.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I want to just talk
  • just real quick impressions on some
  • of your favorite gay things to do in Rochester.
  • I mean, one thing I'll throw out is, like, gay pride parades
  • or pride picnics and your thoughts on those?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: No?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I'm not a parade person.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Never did?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: That one
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Picnic?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: doesn't sit well with me, and I'll tell you why.
  • Because it was originally a protest march and I think
  • it's lost that message.
  • St. Patrick's Day Parade was originally protests,
  • and I think that's lost it's message, too.
  • So, I'm not a big parade fan.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But do you remember the first Gay Pride
  • Parade?
  • Did you participate at all?
  • Or were expected at all?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: In Rochester?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: In Rochester.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I participated on a few that,
  • actually, were on Main Street.
  • And I think that's where it belongs.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: (unintelligible)
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: But anyways, a little too safe
  • going down Park Avenue.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: The picnic's fun.
  • I like that, I'm at the picnic fan.
  • (laughter)
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you remember the first picnic?
  • Or was that it was probably a little bit before your time.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I don't know if I went to the first one,
  • but I remember some of the early ones.
  • And it was kind of a home brew sort of thing.
  • You know, Evelyn, you know, probably made more potato salad
  • than you cared to think about and that kind of thing.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But again, those initial, first, picnic
  • environments what was it providing for this community,
  • in your opinion?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Alternatives, and kind of nice ones.
  • You know, it took a while to get it organized
  • and sometimes, probably, things happened
  • that maybe there were underage people
  • or whatever, I don't know.
  • You know, who knows.
  • But as it's gotten it's interesting
  • as you get more official and formalized you have to be
  • careful, you know, and we are.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: An alternative to what?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: To the bars.
  • I really do think that that was hugely important.
  • Because, well, first of all and I
  • know there's a whole scene of pickups in parks and stuff
  • like that, and that's not anything I'm familiar with,
  • on a personal level but the whole point of being
  • in environments in the daylight that didn't have alcohol,
  • that were more wholesome.
  • I think that's all really important.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: How about events like ImageOut?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: ImageOut's great.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Again, why do you
  • think that something like that's important for this community?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, I think it's
  • important both for the gay community
  • and the community at large.
  • Because it's not like it's a secret
  • that there are gay people.
  • It hasn't been a secret for thousands and thousands
  • of years.
  • But how do we fit in this community?
  • And it's a really important way to fit in the community.
  • And the fact that there was a banner on the Expressway
  • last year that's incredible.
  • And why not?
  • It shouldn't be, because there's banners for other festivals.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I got that banner, by the way (laughs).
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Excellent.
  • Excellent.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: The one and only year
  • could get it, because the year after they
  • banned all banners on 490.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Really?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yep.
  • Because the city
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Oh, so it was two years ago?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It was no, it was 2006 or 2007.
  • It was a while ago.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: So why did they ban them all?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because those bridges
  • are owned by New York State Transportation Department
  • and the city was using them illegally.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Oh.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So they told the city no more banners, period.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: But I mean, what's the big deal?
  • And was it because there was an ImageOut banner on there?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: No.
  • No, no, no.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I hope not.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It was all banners.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yeah, well, I know they're all bad banners,
  • but what was the motivation?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But what was your feeling
  • when you drove down 490 and you saw that banner?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It was excellent.
  • Good, I said.
  • About time.
  • It's about time.
  • Because, sure, the movies are very
  • beneficial for the gay audiences,
  • but there are straight people who go to these movies
  • and they get a benefit, too.
  • So, you know, we're just moving along in the right direction.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Did you you went to the Stonewall March in
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: New York City.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Do you remember the year?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: First of all it was 70.
  • And I'm not sure if I went to the next year,
  • but I think I went to three of them within the early 70s
  • and then that was enough.
  • (laughter)
  • Again, I'm not a parade person.
  • And once they turn into a big show, that's not my scene.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Now the parade's take six hours later,
  • and you're still watching the parade out in New York (laughs)
  • EVELYN BAILEY: When Stonewall happened, what did you think?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, when it happened,
  • I was still in high school and I don't
  • think I was even aware that it happened.
  • I had to get educated the following year.
  • But I was familiar enough with the fact
  • that the Rochester police department would harass bars
  • here.
  • And that's exactly what they were doing in New York City.
  • Sure, it's not right.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: That's quite an adventure,
  • just getting out of high school and going down
  • to New York for a pride protest.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: It was.
  • We were nineteen years old and were just down there
  • and we were fine, so we thought.
  • We had made up stories about where we were going.
  • I forget who had what story for what,
  • but there was four of us in the car.
  • And we drove down and, I don't know a little bit of the hippie
  • days, in a way, you know.
  • It was like, you could stay at people's apartments,
  • and there was this big dance in a warehouse someplace.
  • I don't know how all these things happened.
  • Probably have to get all kinds of licenses and fees
  • and everything, today.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: A great time.
  • Exciting time.
  • When you look back over the span of forty, fifty, years,
  • do you have a sense of a single event that happened that began
  • to turn the tide on gay rights?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I don't know.
  • I mean, in Rochester?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I would say, I can't think of anything,
  • politically.
  • I mean, you know, our last mayor, Duffy,
  • was very supportive.
  • I don't recall anything specific.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But it was Mayor Johnson
  • that passed domestic partnership benefits for the city,
  • though, wasn't it?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Could be, but I'm not sure.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • (laughter)
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: That was good, although we
  • weren't in the forefront.
  • I mean, other cities had done it,
  • so it was good Rochester did it.
  • That was great.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Do you have any sense of the impact
  • that Eastman Kodak had on moving the agenda of equality?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I think it did and I
  • don't know how to quantify it.
  • I think Kodak was pretty progressive.
  • We were looked at as a role model for a lot of companies.
  • I'd go to conferences and people would talk about it,
  • and ask questions, and want to know what we did.
  • So we weren't the first, but maybe it
  • was, like, within the 10 first major corporations
  • that took a strong stand.
  • I don't know.
  • I'd have to do some research on that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: No, you were one of first.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Really?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I mean, you weren't the first,
  • but I think you were definitely somewhere in the first top ten.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Well, the top ten for sure.
  • Yeah.
  • Where we are, I don't know.
  • It would be nice to, maybe, do a little research and figure out.
  • And figure out who that first company was, because they
  • got a lot of press.
  • I've got to do little I'll have to figure that one out.
  • I'll let you know.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I know who you're talking about.
  • It's at the tip of my tongue and I can't remember who it was.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: And you'd recognize the name.
  • Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, that company in
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Out west.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Out west.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Northwest someplace.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Out and Equal.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And the Finger Lakes Workplace
  • Alliance, right?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: That was formed, oh, maybe seven or eight
  • years, nine years ago.
  • And then it became an Out an Equal affiliate.
  • Were you involved in the Workplace Alliance?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No.
  • No.
  • I've attended some of the events and I think, you know what?
  • I feel like I don't need to.
  • And if they're up and running and healthy,
  • let other people have those experiences.
  • I think it's real important.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Were you initially involved
  • in some of the earlier business forums?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No.
  • But I'd go.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, because I remember seeing you there,
  • but I didn't remember if you were actively
  • involved on their planning committee or board.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No.
  • No.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: What about Hattie's?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Hattie's?
  • Oh, what, at Strathallan?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Strathallan
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Again, I know who
  • really got that thing going.
  • But no, I wasn't part of that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Why did that begin?
  • I mean, I came in five, six, years after it started,
  • I think.
  • I don't even know when it started.
  • Do you remember?
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No, I don't.
  • No, I don't.
  • But I know who got it going.
  • It's one of these things, and it's interesting,
  • you could almost get anything going this way.
  • But this woman got a group of friends
  • and they had those friends, specifically, get some more,
  • and say, look, we're just going to come in and socialize.
  • And talk to the manager and said,
  • we'd like to make this kind of a regular thing,
  • I think it was monthly.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah, it was.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: And once it gets going, it spreads.
  • And here's the problem, is, sort of, the original thinking,
  • it got out of hand.
  • And it's almost like and I've thought about this,
  • and maybe somebody can crack the code
  • but it's almost like there's pent up need
  • and it gets too big.
  • And it's like, now wait a minute, what happened?
  • Maybe if we sort of slice and dice this,
  • this group would be good.
  • And maybe there's a couple other groups that need some outlets.
  • I don't know.
  • Something happens, it's strange.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I think it's just the flavor of the moment
  • and people tend to get bored of it after a while.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: No, actually, this one got shut down.
  • It was too much.
  • The behavior, I mean, across the board,
  • was kind of out of what that business establishment wanted.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Especially an ad agency.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: As regular clientele.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Because it began as a professional group.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I guess.
  • And I don't even know if it was that formal.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • But I remember going, and the women who were there,
  • many of them, were in heels and dresses,
  • pantsuits probably more pantsuits
  • than dresses at that era.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So you fit right in.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Pardon me?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You fit right in.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: Yes, you did.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I did.
  • I was surprised I fit in, but I did.
  • (laughter)
  • And it was business people, business women.
  • Some, I think, had their own business.
  • But many of them were from Kodak, or Xerox, or B&L
  • And it just came together, and it was a monthly thing.
  • And some women stayed on for dinner and some women left.
  • And then, as it grew, a group of women
  • began to come who were not in the same business framework.
  • And then they were asked, the group was asked, to leave.
  • And there was an attempt to start it elsewhere,
  • out in Pittsford I think.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: East Rochester?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Possibly.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: OK.
  • Anyways.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But it was a great, great, event Friday
  • afternoon, you know.
  • And other attempts to do something like that
  • have not been very successful.
  • And I don't know why.
  • KATHRYN RIVERS: I don't either.
  • I've got to crack this code.
  • I mean, the Strathallan has been very supportive.
  • I mean, certainly, this organization
  • has had many events there.
  • So they're great.
  • But it just wasn't the lounge, restaurant, atmosphere
  • it was more like a bar atmosphere, it was turned into.
  • And they just said, this isn't what we're about.
  • So it wasn't discrimination.
  • There