Audio Interview, Larry Fine, February 9, 2013

  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: This is Bruce Woolley representing
  • the Shoulders To Stand On Committee of the Gay Alliance
  • of the Genessee Valley.
  • It's February 9, 2013, and I'm in Palm Springs.
  • And I'm visiting with Larry Fine,
  • who was one of the founders of the Gay Liberation
  • Front on the River Campus more than forty years ago.
  • Larry.
  • LARRY FINE: OK.
  • Why don't I begin by just saying a little bit about how
  • I grew up and then how I got to Rochester.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Absolutely.
  • LARRY FINE: I grew up on Long Island.
  • I was born in 1950, and I grew up in an upper middle class
  • Jewish household.
  • And I had very strong interests in music and in science.
  • I played the piano.
  • I was the piano accompanist for the choir from sixth grade on,
  • but I didn't really see a place for myself in music.
  • But I wanted to continue my music studies at some point.
  • And I developed a very strong interest in meteorology,
  • whether it's instruments on the roof
  • and all that kind of stuff.
  • And my plan-- to the extent you can have a plan when you're
  • in high school-- was that I would
  • get a bachelor's in physics and then an advanced degree
  • of some kind in meteorology.
  • I was a straight-A student, an honor student and all that,
  • and I took what they call--
  • I don't know if they still have it today, but at that time
  • they had something called early decision.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yep, absolutely.
  • LARRY FINE: And it was determined somehow--
  • I don't remember anymore how this was determined--
  • but that University of Rochester was a perfect school for me.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Perfect-- all the background at the time,
  • that's the kind of student--
  • LARRY FINE: That's right.
  • And I remember going up there for an interview in the fall
  • of 1967, I believe it would be.
  • I think I probably went up there with my father.
  • And I was interviewed by someone, an admissions officer,
  • who I got along well with.
  • He was interested in my interest in meteorology.
  • He had actually served in the Navy,
  • I think, and had been involved in some way with meteorology
  • in the Navy actually.
  • And, anyway, we got along well, and I was granted
  • the early decision option.
  • So I accepted that.
  • I think it was probably around December or January.
  • And that took care of my college decision.
  • Of course, Rochester had the Eastman School of Music
  • and my plan was to take piano lessons there,
  • which I did for a while.
  • Although I was no good at it at all compared to the others.
  • I excelled in music in my own little milieu in high school.
  • But once I got into the college setting,
  • I was definitely at the bottom of the heap
  • and really didn't do much with it there.
  • That was one of the series of disappointments
  • I had about myself and my future at Rochester
  • and where my life plans, my well-laid plans from age
  • seventeen, kind of disappeared.
  • Do you want me to do something with the dog?
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: No.
  • LARRY FINE: Because he's going to be
  • trying to get our attention.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: No, Gershwin is fine. (unintelligible).
  • LARRY FINE: OK.
  • Don't let him destroy your thing there.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: No, I've got copies of that.
  • LARRY FINE: So, let's see.
  • The summer before I went to Rochester
  • I took some summer courses at Cornell.
  • I think I took a summer course in Russian at Cornell--
  • neither here nor there, but it was just my first taste
  • of college life and being away.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: And being away from home.
  • LARRY FINE: Being away from home.
  • Yeah.
  • So at Rochester, I was a lonely kid.
  • I didn't fit in anywhere.
  • I wasn't the top guy in music anymore.
  • In high school, I had had a group of friends interested
  • in classical music, and we had a little club and all that.
  • In Rochester, I was just a lonely kid, a freshman
  • trying to figure things out.
  • And although I knew I was gay, I didn't
  • know that there were other people like me.
  • Or I had only some distant idea there were
  • some kind of misfits like me.
  • But I had no idea there was any kind of community.
  • I didn't even know the word "gay."
  • I had never told anybody.
  • And in fact, in high school, I had dated women just
  • a little bit, but just enough to get by socially.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yes.
  • LARRY FINE: There was never any physical involvement,
  • no nothing.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah.
  • I think that's also typical of the time period.
  • LARRY FINE: But interestingly, there
  • was one woman, who was a couple of years older than me
  • in high school, who I fell in love with.
  • It wasn't a sexual thing, but I fell in love with her.
  • In fact, when I look back at my life,
  • I see that I've probably been in love with women as often
  • as with men, but there is just nothing sexual with the women.
  • There's no desire to do anything like that.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Just really, really nice people
  • to whom you related very deeply.
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah, very deeply.
  • Yes.
  • And this one woman, Sue, we had a very close friendship.
  • And we're actually still friends today,
  • although we've gone up and down with that.
  • And she's happily married, but is a good friend
  • and a good supporter.
  • But I was in love with her, and that gave my parents
  • some hope that--
  • because I think-- my mother tells me that many years
  • earlier, when I was about ten or eleven,
  • she had sent me to a shrink--
  • and I recall that--
  • to a psychiatrist, because I was having some problems.
  • I don't know exactly what problems she saw me as having.
  • I was a lonely kid.
  • I wasn't playing with other kids.
  • And he, on some basis--
  • I don't know what--
  • had told her that he thought that I would end up being gay.
  • And I don't know how he saw that,
  • but neither am I surprised or offended that a professional
  • might be able to tell that.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yes, well it was clinically an illness
  • at the time, before '74.
  • LARRY FINE: Right.
  • But he saw something in my behavior,
  • or what I talked about or didn't talk about,
  • or whatever that led him to believe,
  • based on his experience, that I might turn out to be gay.
  • So when I fell in love with this girl,
  • and she didn't want to be--
  • I wanted to be physical with her, but not sexual.
  • And I didn't really--
  • I wanted to hold her close.
  • She didn't want to do that with me.
  • She was a couple years older.
  • She was very pretty.
  • She had boyfriends her own age.
  • And she didn't want to do that with me.
  • I felt spurned, and I was devastated.
  • And I told my parents.
  • I had to tell somebody.
  • And I think they were secretly relieved,
  • even though they didn't like that I was in pain about her.
  • That eventually blew over.
  • But anyway, I went to college.
  • I just felt lost socially.
  • And my freshman year, which was '68-'69, was somewhat
  • of a bleak year for me.
  • And I also had difficulty in physics.
  • I found that I wasn't able to do very well in physics and math.
  • Even though I loved the concepts,
  • I was not able to solve the problems.
  • And I think looking back on that, I think some of it
  • was an inherent problem with my being able to do that,
  • and some of it was just that because of my social problems
  • and my feeling lonely that I was unable to concentrate and have
  • confidence in myself in doing what I loved.
  • And it affected everything else that I did.
  • So by the end of my freshman year,
  • the handwriting was on the wall that I
  • was going to have to change majors from physics
  • into something else.
  • And the summer after my freshman year,
  • I believe it was that summer--
  • I don't remember exactly, but I think it was that summer.
  • I took a summer course at the U of R, an Introduction
  • to Psychology course, because I thought
  • I might want to change majors in to psychology.
  • And I wanted to take a summer course
  • because I didn't want to mess up my requirements
  • and so on by taking that during the rest of the year.
  • There's a reason I'm talking about all this, by the way.
  • It's not idle chatter.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Oh, no, it gets it.
  • And it all sounds, really--
  • because I was there at the same time period,
  • and I can assure you the U of R, especially at that time--
  • It was an unhappy time in the country.
  • And the U of R was not, and still really
  • isn't, a warm and fuzzy place.
  • So, yeah.
  • LARRY FINE: Well, during my freshman year I was lonely.
  • I should mention there were a couple of women
  • who had an interest in me, and I was
  • very lackluster about showing any interest in them.
  • I knew it wasn't going to go anywhere
  • I didn't want to mislead them and get myself
  • into a tight spot.
  • And I didn't know what to do.
  • It's too bad because some of them
  • were very nice people who could have been my friends, at least,
  • and my allies.
  • I mean there's so many opportunities for friendship
  • I really didn't seize because of my confusion.
  • And there was, by the way, as you mentioned,
  • a lot of political turmoil going on over the Vietnam War
  • at the time.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Absolutely.
  • LARRY FINE: And I was not a very political person.
  • I would classify myself as liberal.
  • I grew up in a very liberal household.
  • But the liberality that my household
  • was involved in mostly had to do with things about civil rights.
  • Say my father all his life worked
  • for a Jewish civil rights organization called
  • the American Jewish Committee.
  • And in our town, and in our milieu, the civil rights--
  • throughout the sixties, the mid-sixties, civil rights
  • was a very big issue.
  • And a number of us had gotten together,
  • families had gotten together to further that cause and so on.
  • The Vietnam War was more confusing,
  • I think, even to liberals, about what to do about it.
  • Looking back, I don't think I had any understanding
  • or knowledge of it to really take
  • a stance one way or the other in any reasoned way.
  • But because I classified myself as a liberal,
  • and that's who the people I ran with were,
  • I was, quote unquote, "against the war."
  • Not out of any real knowledge of history and the war
  • or the reasons for or against it,
  • but just as a matter of self-definition, I'd say.
  • And I think that's true of a lot of people
  • at that time, and even today, that people define themselves
  • politically on the basis of who they see themselves
  • as rather than on a serious examination of the issues.
  • So, the summer of 1969, when I took this course in psychology.
  • I believe that's when it was.
  • I may be confusing dates and courses here,
  • but my recollection is that that--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: It would be after freshman year.
  • LARRY FINE: Yes, but such as when
  • I took this course, whether it was in the fall
  • or whether it was in the summer.
  • But my recollection is that this course
  • was taught by a man named Jay Efran, Dr. Efran.
  • He was a short man with shockingly red hair, who
  • was very funny and one of the most popular lecturers,
  • professors, on campus.
  • This course-- this particular course, the Psych 101 course,
  • I think it was, or some other course that he taught that I
  • took--
  • I can't remember, again, which it was--
  • was a very popular course.
  • Let me just think whether it was that course or a different one
  • that he taught.
  • I don't remember exactly.
  • Anyway, as often happens in these courses
  • that people take around their freshman and sophomore year,
  • students are asked to be guinea pigs in experiments,
  • psych experiments.
  • I think there's a standing joke about college sophomores
  • being--
  • psych experiments tell you all about college sophomores
  • and about nobody else.
  • But there was a call for volunteers
  • for some kind of an experiment, and I volunteered.
  • I don't remember what we were told about it.
  • But it turned out to be some kind of experimentation
  • about counseling methods.
  • And as part of this experiment, students
  • would receive one-on-one counseling with Dr. Efran,
  • with a graduate student in the room as well.
  • And we were never told what these methods were
  • or what the experiment was about.
  • But during the fall of my sophomore year,
  • I attended these once-a-week counseling sessions
  • with Jay Efran.
  • And I talked about my loneliness.
  • I did not talk about my sexuality at first.
  • But I got a lot out of these sessions.
  • And I know that one of the things Dr.
  • Efran was working on around that time--
  • and whether it was part of this experiment or not,
  • I don't know--
  • but it had to do with crying and helping people cry
  • in order to loosen themselves up inside.
  • And I became very good at crying.
  • I could just walk in there and cry.
  • I wish I could do that today.
  • I can't anymore.
  • But I became very good, almost too good, at crying.
  • At some point in the fall, the experiment ended.
  • But I was never told when it ended.
  • All I knew was that the graduate student was no longer there.
  • And there finally came a point when I asked,
  • how long does this experiment go on?
  • And Efran said, oh the experiment ended a while ago,
  • but I kept you on in the counseling
  • because I could see you were getting a lot out of it.
  • So just out of the goodness of his heart he was doing this.
  • There finally came a point where he asked me about sex.
  • And today such a point would probably come much closer
  • to the beginning of the counseling session than it--
  • but back then--
  • and I think he also sensed my reticence to talk about it.
  • At one point he asked about it.
  • And I remember saying, I don't want to talk about it.
  • So of course that's a red flag right there that he knows
  • he needs to talk about it.
  • So he finally did ask me again, and at some point
  • I got up the guts to tell him that I
  • thought I was homosexual.
  • I didn't know the word "gay."
  • I didn't know anything about that.
  • And this was the first time I'd ever told anybody.
  • This was in the fall of 1969.
  • And by the way, I knew nothing about Stonewall,
  • which had just occurred during the summer of '69.
  • I hadn't heard about it, knew nothing about it.
  • Maybe it was on the news, but I hadn't seen it.
  • So when I told him, I remember him
  • asking me to repeat it, to say it several times,
  • because it was so hard for me to get it out the first time.
  • And then he told me that it was OK to be homosexual,
  • which blew my mind.
  • I kind of looked at him, I think, like he was crazy.
  • So over the next several sessions we worked on that--
  • on my talking about it, my being told it was OK,
  • and things like that.
  • I don't remember any more of the details of what
  • he might have told me or not told me about other people,
  • or I don't think he said anything
  • about the gay movement.
  • But I really am not sure.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Because what gay movement?
  • He wouldn't have--
  • LARRY FINE: He might-- he probably would not have--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: You lucked out.
  • I mean, this highly informed mentor (unintelligible)--
  • LARRY FINE: Let me tell you--
  • I lucked out big time.
  • Big time.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah.
  • LARRY FINE: Jay Efran had an enormous effect--
  • a positive effect on my life for which I still think
  • of him with gratitude today.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Absolutely.
  • LARRY FINE: But it went further than that.
  • At some point, as the fall, the winter and so on wore on,
  • he realized that what I really needed next
  • was to meet other gay people.
  • And he knew one or two students who were gay.
  • And he told me that he wanted to line up a meeting between me
  • and some other gay students.
  • And he said, "Please don't tell anybody that I'm doing this."
  • He said, "This is not really allowed
  • under my professional ethics, but it's
  • exactly what you need."
  • Which was amazing that he would do that.
  • Of course now I can tell it forty years later.
  • He wouldn't mind, I'm sure.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Nobody would, thank goodness.
  • This is just the best time.
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah.
  • So he first arranged a meeting between me
  • and a student who really wasn't that positive about being gay
  • and was kind of cloaking it in bisexuality and all that.
  • And I remember meeting him, and I came away,
  • I think, a little disappointed in some way or feeling
  • like this didn't do much for me.
  • It was--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: It was very confusing.
  • If you're confused and he's confused, it just--
  • LARRY FINE: But also the guy wasn't all that likable.
  • That was part of it.
  • He wasn't someone I really want to be friends with.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: It happens.
  • LARRY FINE: So then he lined me up with somebody else.
  • This was toward the end of April, in 1970.
  • This guy was a senior.
  • I was a sophomore.
  • This guy was about to graduate.
  • He was a very handsome guy, very interesting guy,
  • very involved in theater.
  • In fact, he was a star in a play around that time
  • that the U of R theater company was giving.
  • And he had been to San Francisco and knew
  • all about the gay movement.
  • He also knew what was in Rochester as well.
  • But he knew about the gay movement and all that.
  • And I remember I met with him on April 28, 1970.
  • It was one of the most important days of my life.
  • And we sat and talked for a long time.
  • And he told me all about the gay movement,
  • about Stonewall, about San Francisco, and all of that.
  • And it was unbelievable.
  • Unbelievable.
  • And everything kind of took off from there.
  • That's what I needed.
  • So my plan was that that summer I
  • was going to go to San Francisco, the summer of 1970,
  • and find out for myself what was going on.
  • And the early part of the summer,
  • however, I stayed in Rochester and took another summer course.
  • I don't even remember now what the course was.
  • But at some point during the summer,
  • I met a man in Todd Union and ended up
  • going home and having sex with him.
  • And that was the first sex that I had.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: This was somebody from off campus, or--
  • LARRY FINE: No.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Not a student?
  • Or grad student?
  • LARRY FINE: Well, I don't remember anymore
  • why he was there.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Maybe he was there cruising.
  • LARRY FINE: Maybe, but I don't remember.
  • And it turns out it wasn't an especially good experience.
  • He wasn't a very nice guy.
  • He was also conflicted about his own homosexuality.
  • And it was not a particularly loving sort of thing at all.
  • It didn't do anything for me.
  • Looking back now, I'm surprised I even had the gumption
  • to approach him.
  • And I'm not sure why I approached him or how--
  • why I thought he might be gay even.
  • I don't remember.
  • But it just seems unlike me.
  • Even unlike me today.
  • Let's see.
  • Oh, I remember now.
  • I wasn't there that summer to take a course.
  • I don't think I was taking a course.
  • I was working at the library during the summer.
  • That was when the new library was opening.
  • And I was on a crew that was transferring
  • all the books from a storage facility south of town.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Into the new--
  • LARRY FINE: Into the new library.
  • And I was the one who put all the books into the reference
  • area.
  • And I don't know if you ever knew a guy named
  • Bradley, Brad Smith?
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Absolutely.
  • He was the reference librarian.
  • LARRY FINE: He was the reference librarian.
  • I got to know him a bit because of my being
  • the person to put all the books in his shelves.
  • I had also the previous year--
  • or maybe it was the following year, I can't remember--
  • during the year I had a job, a part-time job,
  • working in the reserve reading room.
  • So I was there until mid August doing this work.
  • It was just grunt work.
  • But it was enjoyable grunt work, I have to say.
  • I remember my partner in this book thing
  • was an art major or art history major,
  • whose either first or last name was Carter.
  • I can't remember-- very nice guy, cute guy.
  • So I was there until August.
  • I'm trying to remember the timeline now.
  • But what I did thereafter--
  • Let me backtrack a little bit.
  • After this mind-blowing thing happened to me in April with
  • this guy, whose name was Jeff, by the way.
  • And I know his last name, but I'm not sure--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: We don't need to publicize that.
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah, well I found out later
  • that he became a psychologist in Los Angeles.
  • But I really had no contact with him
  • again after a little bit in April and May.
  • He graduated.
  • And we actually made a tentative plan to meet on the West Coast
  • when I was going to come out and do that,
  • but to him I think I was just a kid.
  • And not a particularly attractive
  • kid either, to be honest.
  • And he had no interest in me.
  • And it ended up that I tried to find him
  • when I went out to the West Coast
  • but reached a dead end as far as the contact
  • information he had given me, and I never saw him again.
  • Too bad because he was really a major effect
  • on my life through his--
  • just being who he was.
  • So I knew I needed to go out to San Francisco.
  • I really didn't know where I was going to go,
  • how I was going to find anything.
  • However, in May, before the summer, after I had met him--
  • In May, knowing what I knew then about gay liberation
  • and knowing that I wanted to start a gay group at the U of R
  • eventually, I put a two-line ad in the Campus Times
  • anonymously, in May, that said--
  • this is before the group started.
  • This was in May of '70.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: '70.
  • LARRY FINE: May of '70.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: OK.
  • Because we can go and look.
  • LARRY FINE: You can look if you want.
  • I put a two-line ad, a classified ad,
  • in the Campus Times that said something like,
  • "Take heart brothers, gay lib is coming."
  • That's all it said.
  • Just out of my enthusiasm, I did that.
  • And you go look.
  • You'll find it.
  • I assume it was in May because by June I think--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: School was over, yes.
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah.
  • And a few people saw that, I found out later, but didn't
  • know what to make of it.
  • There was no phone number or no contact info, nothing.
  • And I remember doing it anonymously,
  • putting the ad and my fifty cents in an envelope
  • and dropping it in at nighttime in the Campus Times' mail slot.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Nobody should know.
  • LARRY FINE: That's right.
  • Nobody should know who wrote it or anything.
  • But I checked, and it was there.
  • Anyway, in the summer, after this stint with the library,
  • I put a pack on my back and hitchhiked from Rochester
  • to San Francisco.
  • Now, back then, hitchhiking was--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: That was what kids did.
  • LARRY FINE: That's right.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Kids did that--
  • LARRY FINE: But again, you have to understand
  • that I was a shy, timid kid.
  • I'm a mixture of things.
  • I mean like we all are.
  • There's a lot of me that's very shy, socially very
  • shy and timid about a lot of things.
  • And yet there are times when I do
  • things that blow people's mind, and blow my own mind,
  • with the courage that it took to do that.
  • My life is full of those kinds of things, where I--
  • and people have mentioned that.
  • They've said to me, "You know, you're so bold about this,
  • and yet you're so timid about that."
  • They can't quite put the two together.
  • And I really am that way.
  • So I hitchhiked.
  • I got some book about hitchhiking or something,
  • I remember, about tips about things and whatnot.
  • And I think I may have used the Whole Earth
  • Catalog to get some supplies of one sort or other
  • that they recommended for hitchhiking.
  • You remember the Whole Earth Catalog, I'm sure.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Oh, yes.
  • LARRY FINE: And I remember putting my thumb out
  • on one of the major boulevards in Rochester
  • that led to the freeway, or whatever,
  • and hitchhiking all the way across country.
  • And I met up with some other people here
  • and there, fellow hitchhikers.
  • And once I slept by the side of an interstate highway
  • in St. Louis or something.
  • I don't remember anymore, but various things--
  • I somehow managed through it all.
  • One of the--
  • By the way, is this OK?
  • Is this showing everything to be OK.
  • Is there anything that's--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: As far as I know, yeah.
  • Looks good to me.
  • LARRY FINE: I just wondered if any of those lights
  • meant low battery or anything like that.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: No.
  • LARRY FINE: OK.
  • So one of the important things that
  • happened to me on that trip was going
  • through the middle of the country, which I had never
  • seen before.
  • The fields of wheat and grain of some kind or other
  • in Kansas and Nebraska--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Goes on forever.
  • LARRY FINE: That's right.
  • But I had never seen that, and I loved it.
  • And I wanted to return, and I eventually
  • did, which I can mention later.
  • But that was fascinating to me.
  • And I've always been fascinated by parts of the country that
  • seem to be very sparsely populated, which
  • is what brought me to the desert many years later.
  • Although Palm Springs is not sparsely populated,
  • but I've always sought out places
  • on the map that looked empty.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: And certainly this
  • is less crazy in terms of busy than, say, Florida
  • at this time.
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah.
  • But I've also spent lots of time in remote parts of Utah,
  • and New Mexico, and other places.
  • So I hitchhiked across country.
  • And I actually was fortunate to get
  • one ride all the way from Denver to San Francisco,
  • so that helped me a lot through that part.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: That helped.
  • You bet.
  • LARRY FINE: And in San Francisco,
  • I had a place to stay in San Francisco
  • that I had arranged ahead of time.
  • One of the women who worked with me at the library
  • had a friend in San Francisco and arranged
  • for me to be able to stay there for a few nights
  • until I found something.
  • Just to show my naivete--
  • I mean I was very naive, and I really didn't know who was gay
  • and who wasn't--
  • Settle down, Gershwin.
  • Settle down.
  • Leave us alone.
  • OK?
  • You want to come up here?
  • Want to come up here?
  • He doesn't know what he wants.
  • Come.
  • Up.
  • I stayed at the home of these two men, who were apparently
  • gay men.
  • And I didn't know it the whole time I was there.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Nobody knew.
  • There was no way that you would have.
  • LARRY FINE: Well, I think they were probably partners.
  • But here's the thing.
  • I stayed at their house, and on their kitchen-- on their living
  • room table was a copy of a Time magazine issue
  • that talked about the Mattachine Society,
  • about the gay movement, everything.
  • It just happened to be--
  • Now I don't know whether it just came out that week
  • or whether it was from a few years ago and it had--
  • But it was on there.
  • And it was just by luck that I read that,
  • and it told me where to go and what to do.
  • Now, they may have planted it there for people to see.
  • Maybe they sensed I was gay, and they put it out there.
  • I have no idea.
  • They also had a party while I was there.
  • And I remember talking to one of the guys at the party who
  • didn't know anything about me and at one point confiding
  • in him that I was gay and why I was there.
  • And I seem to recall that he had some--
  • he may have had some sexual interest in me,
  • and maybe I'd put him off or whatever.
  • But I was somehow surprised at that.
  • For all I know, the party may have been full of gay men.
  • But I was completely oblivious to the fact
  • that this was a gay household.
  • I thought it was just somebody who
  • was giving me a place to stay.
  • I mean it blows my mind now that I could have been so naive.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: But that's--
  • I would have been the same way.
  • LARRY FINE: Well, maybe.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: it's just that it's so different today,
  • when kids can look-- they see on TV constantly--
  • LARRY FINE: I know, gay characters and everything else.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: --in the news.
  • Or they can go online and stuff.
  • It was just this big, who knew?
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah.
  • Back then it was so different.
  • And anyone listening to this interview
  • can get a sense of what it was like back then.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Absolutely.
  • LARRY FINE: So I realize I haven't even
  • gotten to the U of R really, to the GLF.
  • This is all leading up to it, but for whatever it's worth--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: But it sets the time tone.
  • This was our reality.
  • LARRY FINE: Right.
  • So if I had not discovered this Time magazine article,
  • I don't think I would have known where to go or what to do.
  • But this magazine told the address of the Mattachine
  • Society, for one thing, which was still in existence then.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yes, very much so.
  • LARRY FINE: It mentioned, I think,
  • about the gay liberation movement
  • but didn't give any kind of address or contact information.
  • Anyway, as soon as I could after reading this,
  • I went to the Mattachine Society office.
  • And there were a couple of older men there.
  • Now remember, I was twenty.
  • And older means anything above twenty, twenty-five.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: If they were real old,
  • they might have been forty, forty-five or something.
  • LARRY FINE: I have no idea what age they were.
  • So I talked a little bit to one man there,
  • told him what I was looking for, and he
  • was kind enough to tell me where some gay lib
  • people were hanging out.
  • They were in some warehouse somewhere.
  • And I don't remember where it was, but some warehouse that
  • was not too far away and that you had to, I don't know,
  • say a certain thing or knock a certain way in order to get in.
  • I mean that blows my mind now to think about that, but--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah, but everything
  • was all very underground, very sub rosa, hush-hush.
  • LARRY FINE: It was, yeah.
  • So I went to that, and I did the knock or the secret word
  • or whatever.
  • And they let me in.
  • And the people there, I think they were mostly around my age
  • or something like that.
  • And I remember talking to some of them
  • and then going up on the roof, I think, where there were
  • some others and having a little sort of sexual tryst with one
  • person.
  • And then at some point, leaving there,
  • I don't remember whether I had more contact with them
  • or if they simply told me other things that I--
  • other places to go.
  • But I went to Berkeley at one point.
  • And Telegraph Avenue was full of panhandlers.
  • I remember every three steps.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Everything, Hare Krishna people, and--
  • LARRY FINE: Everything.
  • So in Berkeley, there was somebody who actually had
  • a crash pad for people like me.
  • Because in those days, there were
  • a lot of people who were travelers and seekers,
  • and there were lots of places which were crash pads, which
  • just means temporary places to stay,
  • who took in people and for nothing,
  • or maybe for a contribution if you were fortunate enough
  • to be able to make it.
  • I think he was a professor, as I recall, at the University
  • of California Hayward.
  • I have a vague recollection.
  • I think he was one of the better known names from the San
  • Francisco gay liberation movement.
  • But I don't remember his name anymore.
  • And I stayed there a bit.
  • And again, each place I stayed, people there
  • told me about other places.
  • And at one point I went to a coffeehouse
  • that was called Five Squared Four
  • Squared because it was 2516 something street or avenue.
  • It might have been Telegraph, I don't know.
  • But it was called the Five Squared Four Squared
  • Coffeehouse.
  • And I guess it was either a gay coffeehouse where
  • they had some evening or day that was a gay day
  • or something like that.
  • And while I was there I met a man
  • named Michael who was only about seventeen or eighteen years
  • old.
  • He was kind of a spaced out hippy, acid freak,
  • or something, who had been booted out of his high school
  • for being a little too spaced out.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: A little too much, even for then, yeah.
  • LARRY FINE: And his parents lived in some suburb
  • of San Francisco.
  • And I remember going there to his parents' house with him.
  • His parents were away.
  • I never met his parents, I don't think.
  • So I ended up having a little relationship with Michael.
  • It was really not much more than a sexual relationship
  • that dragged on for a long time because we really
  • had nothing in common.
  • I was a very kind of rational, upper middle class kid,
  • and he was just a spaced out freak with long hair.
  • And we really didn't have much to talk about,
  • but I was attracted to him and he to me.
  • And he ended up coming back to Rochester with me,
  • believe it or not.
  • But before that happened, while I was in San Francisco
  • I got sick.
  • I became very feverish.
  • And as it turned out, I had come down
  • with mono from one of my contacts
  • there in San Francisco.
  • And we got a ride all the way back to New York State,
  • all the way back to Rochester, in a van
  • with some other people.
  • But I was ill the whole time.
  • And so I came back with that illness,
  • and eventually it passed.
  • But just to go back a little bit further,
  • just to return to my sophomore year for a moment.
  • During my sophomore year--
  • during your sophomore year, at that time,
  • you had to make some plans for where you were
  • going to live your junior year.
  • And I got together with one or two people I knew
  • and some people they knew, and we formed a suite
  • to live in Anderson Tower--
  • Anderson or Wilder Tower.
  • And I don't know if people still do that today, or if that's--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Oh, absolutely.
  • That's still done.
  • So you formed a suite.
  • LARRY FINE: We formed a suite.
  • There were five of us, perhaps.
  • I can't remember the exact number, five people.
  • And of course I was not out at that time.
  • They didn't know anything about my being gay.
  • So I was supposed to--
  • There were several singles in the suite and a double.
  • And I think I was supposed to share
  • the double with another guy who didn't show up,
  • or something like that, or he didn't come back to school.
  • I don't remember now what happened there.
  • But I ended up having the double all
  • to myself, which was great because I had Michael with me
  • that whole time.
  • Eventually I had to tell my suitemates, who
  • was this Michael who was there?
  • What's he all about?
  • And I came out to them all and said what it was--
  • who he was.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah.
  • Were they cool?
  • LARRY FINE: They were very cool about it, very cool.
  • They were really wonderful people.
  • I wish I could go back and thank them today.
  • They were very, very good about it.
  • There was one guy named Hal, who was pre med
  • and eventually went on to be a doctor.
  • And I think he may have even been at Strong for some time,
  • Strong Memorial Hospital.
  • And he was-- later on he became the head of the sex education
  • committee.
  • And he was a good ally for me in terms of U of R work.
  • There was Ron, who I spoke to you about earlier.
  • And all these guys were straight,
  • but he was fascinated, I think, by the whole gay thing.
  • He had a girlfriend he was very tight with and all that,
  • but he was fascinated by all this.
  • And he was--
  • We palled around some, and he was very, very good to me
  • and very nice.
  • Although, I remember once, he was approached by another man
  • and came running back all distressed to talk
  • to me about it, all flustered.
  • And I helped to calm him down.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: It's not catching.
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah, right.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: What do you do?
  • You just politely and firmly say, "No.
  • Not interested.
  • Thank you."
  • LARRY FINE: Right.
  • And then I think that was a guy named George.
  • I don't remember much about him.
  • But all these people were very nice people,
  • and they took it in good stride and were very nice about it.
  • So Michael stayed until December, and--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: And so when--
  • was he still there when you initiated some of the meetings?
  • LARRY FINE: Yes.
  • And by the way, I didn't really initiate it.
  • We'll get to that in a moment.
  • I don't want to take credit for something that's not due me.
  • But that whole semester I was--
  • well, at the beginning of the semester, I was quite ill.
  • And then the fever wore off, but I was still--
  • with mono you're tired.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah, you're tired.
  • You're dragged out, yes.
  • LARRY FINE: Right.
  • I was tired a lot.
  • But then the next semester, the spring semester, I
  • was no longer tired.
  • But one of the things that happened, because of my illness
  • I took a reduced course load of only two courses instead
  • of four, which as soon as I felt better
  • gave me time to do a lot of other things.
  • So I'll get to that in a moment.
  • But in October, or maybe the end of September,
  • a notice appeared.
  • And I don't know if it was in the Campus Times,
  • or on a bulletin board in Todd, or where it was I saw it,
  • but a notice appeared about this first meeting of the Gay
  • Liberation Front.
  • Now, as you know, the term Gay Liberation Front
  • came from, I think, the Vietnamese Liberation
  • Front and then Women's Liberation Front.
  • It was part of all that leftist stuff
  • that was going on at the time.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah, everything was a Liberation Front.
  • LARRY FINE: That's right, yeah.
  • And I didn't know the people who were
  • putting this thing together.
  • Bob Osborn was the principle person.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: But he was a graduate student.
  • LARRY FINE: He was a graduate student for astrophysics.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: And not in your department
  • as a psych major, so--
  • LARRY FINE: That's right.
  • I didn't know him.
  • And I guess I was perhaps surprised
  • that there were other people doing this at Rochester.
  • I thought I was going to start it at some point
  • when I got better.
  • So I went to the first meeting.
  • It was in-- at that time Todd was the student union.
  • And there was a room there, a large meeting room.
  • I forget the name of it now.
  • And he had reserved that room.
  • And it was Bob, and there were one or two other people
  • who were starting it with him.
  • But they were off-campus people.
  • One of them was a man named Buren Lawson.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yes, we know Buren.
  • LARRY FINE: Right.
  • Buren was a transsexual, I think, or something?
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: I'll tell you later
  • what all happened with him.
  • LARRY FINE: OK.
  • I don't remember exactly what he was, but he was--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: He was a mad thing.
  • LARRY FINE: He was a swishy character, who--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: You betcha.
  • Big, big guy, yes.
  • LARRY FINE: He was big, yes.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Swishy with it.
  • LARRY FINE: That's right.
  • And I didn't really relate to him.
  • Whereas Bob Osborn was anything but swishy.
  • He was--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: --a regular guy-- very, very bright.
  • LARRY FINE: --a regular guy-- very ramrod straight, I'd say.
  • You could almost picture there was a pole up his backbone.
  • And very rational, as you'd expect someone in astrophysics
  • to be, very scientific and so on.
  • Bob had been involved, apparently,
  • in the Civil Rights Movement earlier on in the sixties.
  • He might have gone down south on marches or whatever,
  • and that's where he came out of.
  • And all his speeches and talks related the gay movement
  • to the black movement.
  • And it was a little too preachy for me, but that was his style.
  • And I think he also had with him at the first meeting
  • someone from the Cornell group that had started in 1969.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Cornell was a hotbed of activism upstate.
  • LARRY FINE: Right.
  • Now remember I had been to Cornell the summer
  • before my freshman year.
  • And I remember that SDS was starting then.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Oh, yes, absolutely.
  • And SDS was very active through this time period
  • on the River Campus, particularly the history
  • and English departments.
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah, right.
  • So at this meeting, Bob laid out the rationale
  • for the whole thing, a little bit of the history of what
  • had gone on elsewhere.
  • For the next several meetings-- he
  • had agendas for the next several meetings
  • of what the topics were going to be about in the rest of October
  • and November.
  • I think one meeting every week, or month, or something,
  • I don't remember now.
  • And of course I got involved as soon as I can.
  • But I was not well, and so I have limited energy.
  • So I wasn't as involved as I might have
  • been for the first month or so.
  • Eventually as I got better, I got more involved.
  • And my friend Michael, as soon as it
  • started to get cold in Rochester,
  • he got his mother to send him a plane ticket back home.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Out of here, yes.
  • LARRY FINE: And he left the first week in December.
  • And we weren't really getting along that well by that time.
  • But we had nothing in common.
  • He was very critical of me for not being
  • laid back enough basically.
  • You know I was I was a pretty uptight kid.
  • Still am.
  • But anyway, he left and that was the last
  • I ever saw or heard of him.
  • Again, somebody who I would have liked to have found out what
  • happened to him at least, even though there was really
  • no basis for a continuing friendship.
  • So I don't remember exactly when I
  • started to really get involved, but I
  • suspect it was about November.
  • Because I knew certain things happened in December
  • that I was very involved with, and I
  • think I must have started being involved in November.
  • But probably not--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: By that time you were probably
  • feeling a lot better, and--
  • LARRY FINE: Right.
  • I was feeling a lot better.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: (unintelligible).
  • LARRY FINE: So at some point along there--
  • I think it was in November or December,
  • somewhere around there--
  • Bob Osborn went away to Texas for a few weeks.
  • He then came back and then a few months later
  • went away permanently, or permanently at least
  • for that year.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: For an extended year.
  • LARRY FINE: Right.
  • I think he went away permanently in February or March,
  • but I don't remember exactly.
  • But I think maybe in November or December
  • he went away for a while.
  • I could be off a little about those months, I'm not sure.
  • But I started to get very involved.
  • And one of the most important events of that time
  • was that we put on a dance in December.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Of 1970?
  • LARRY FINE: Of 1970.
  • We put it on in conjunction with the U of R Women's Liberation
  • Group.
  • It was a joint venture.
  • Although I think we did most of the work,
  • and really I did most of the work.
  • We also somewhere around that time
  • got an office in Todd, in Todd Union.
  • I don't remember exactly what month we got the office.
  • It was on the second floor.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Upstairs on the second floor.
  • Yes it was.
  • Who helped you?
  • How did you approach the administration?
  • How was that able to come about?
  • LARRY FINE: I don't remember exactly how we got--
  • or who got-- the room, whether Bob made those arrangements
  • or whether I did.
  • But I just want to say a little more about my role
  • and why my role came to be what it was.
  • This was a River Campus organization.
  • So even though there were people involved
  • from Eastman and off-campus and everything,
  • the students on the River Campus had to make the connections
  • and had to make the arrangements.
  • And there were only a few of us who were out enough to do that.
  • It was basically Marshall Goldman, Patti Evans,
  • and myself.
  • And then there was Bob Osborn, but he was in and out
  • of town and things like that.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: And busy as a grad student,
  • working on finishing his dissertation.
  • LARRY FINE: That's right.
  • And of the three of us who were undergrads and so on,
  • I was the one who had the most, you might say,
  • administrative sensibility.
  • I'm a great administrator.
  • I'm good at-- some things I'm good at.
  • Some things I'm not good at.
  • I'm not very good at socializing,
  • and I was kind of afraid of public speaking
  • and a variety of things like that.
  • But I'm really good at writing, and organizing,
  • and administrative kinds of things, organizing projects.
  • And I also had more time because I was on a reduced course load.
  • So I just want to be careful not to set myself up
  • as some big icon or leader.
  • I was well suited to the task that needed to be done.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: The job was there.
  • Somebody had to do it.
  • You did it.
  • LARRY FINE: Right.
  • And I enjoyed doing these things.
  • And I was good at it.
  • And people respected me, and I was
  • able to take somewhat of a de facto leadership position
  • when Bob started to draw back.
  • But there were other people who did lots of good things,
  • and I don't want to diminish anybody else's role in this.
  • Obviously I remember my own role best
  • because we usually remember what we
  • do more than what others did.
  • But looking through the old issues of the Empty Closet,
  • for example, I noticed that I completely
  • had forgotten that there was a speaker's bureau
  • that went out and spoke at other colleges and so on.
  • I really didn't do much with that.
  • I spoke at a couple of psychology classes
  • at the U of R, including one that I was in.
  • And--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: That took guts to--
  • LARRY FINE: Maybe, but--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: --stand up.
  • LARRY FINE: By that time--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: You felt, yeah--
  • LARRY FINE: By that time I was feeling
  • pretty good about things.
  • This was in the fall sometime, I think, or the winter.
  • But there were other people, including Karen Hagberg, and RJ
  • Alcala, and a woman named Sue Minor, and some other people
  • who did a lot of speaking in other places
  • that I either didn't want to do or I think
  • I had some fear of public speaking, to be honest,
  • and I still do.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: A lot of people do.
  • Public speaking is not for everybody.
  • LARRY FINE: The funny thing is that I write really well.
  • And I can write things that are very bold
  • and are really out there, but speaking
  • before a group is more difficult.
  • I do it occasionally, but not very often in my current job.
  • So during that time we were organizing the office.
  • I actually at one point put together
  • an organizational chart for the organization when I started
  • to be doing a lot of things.
  • I developed kind of an office routine, an office schedule
  • of what would go on there.
  • I organized the files and all those kinds
  • of administrative things that I was good at.
  • And at some point around then, maybe December or so,
  • we started to put out the Empty Closet.
  • I think the first issue may have been December or January.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: December.
  • LARRY FINE: Was it December?
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: December '70.
  • LARRY FINE: Now I remember Bob helped out with that.
  • He was around then.
  • He had a friend in downtown Rochester
  • who he knew from other leftist activities--
  • I think someone who was not gay, but I'm not sure--
  • who had a mimeograph machine or ran a printing
  • press or something.
  • And we would type these things out on stencils.
  • You remember stencils?
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yes.
  • It was a very, very old technology.
  • LARRY FINE: That's right.
  • We'd have to type it out on stencils,
  • and bring the stencils to him, and he would print these on--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Crank it all out.
  • LARRY FINE: Crank it.
  • And then we'd bring all the sheets of paper
  • back and collate them, and fold them, and staple them
  • in the center and all that to produce these Empty Closets.
  • Just going back, I wanted to get back to the dance
  • that we did with the Women's Liberation Group.
  • I have some stories to tell about that.
  • I think it was a snowy evening.
  • It was around--
  • I'm going to say the date that comes back
  • to me is around the sixth of December,
  • but I don't know exactly.
  • You can look that up easily enough.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Snow in Rochester in December?
  • How could that ever be?
  • LARRY FINE: And this was a very joyous occasion.
  • For most of us this was the first time
  • that we ever got to dance with people of the same gender.
  • And that's kind of what it was about.
  • The dance was very well attended.
  • I forget how many people were there,
  • but I think it was probably over one hundred.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Now was this--
  • LARRY FINE: It was at--
  • I think it was held in like the women's dining
  • hall in what was known as the Frederick Douglass Building.
  • Was that the Frederick Douglas Building?
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: FDC, that was--
  • No, that was the dining hall.
  • That wasn't women's dining hall.
  • That was up in the back of Susan B Anthony.
  • The MDC, the Men's Dining Center,
  • had a big lounge on the back on the main level.
  • LARRY FINE: Maybe it was the MDC.
  • You know, I don't remember.
  • But again, this can be looked up.
  • But it was in--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: We had-- over the next couple of years,
  • sometimes the dancers were there, sometimes they were in--
  • LARRY FINE: In the MDC?
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yes.
  • In the MDC, this big lounge that was suitable, and then
  • was all for--
  • LARRY FINE: I remember you come in the front door
  • and immediately to the right, there was a big--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yes, exactly.
  • LARRY FINE: Was that the MDC?
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah.
  • The GLF used that for dances over the next couple,
  • three years.
  • LARRY FINE: So this was our first dance.
  • And there were a lot of people there.
  • And it was a very joyous occasion,
  • and everybody had a ball.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Was it mixed?
  • LARRY FINE: It was mixed men and women, gay and straight.
  • And it was advertised to the whole campus,
  • and of course some people came to see and whatever--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: --to look at the freaks.
  • LARRY FINE: To look--
  • Whatever, but in general--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: But mostly not.
  • LARRY FINE: No, mostly not.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: People came to have a good time.
  • LARRY FINE: We had a great time.
  • Now, I want to tell a story connected
  • with that I've never told anybody, at least
  • not in many, many years.
  • I might have said something to someone at that time.
  • But there was a rather disturbing incident
  • that happened, and I don't understand now
  • why I never followed up on it.
  • It's just something I don't understand.
  • But in the weeks preceding the dance--
  • Well, one thing that was fairly common with this gay movement
  • that was going on is that there were a number of us
  • who were very out.
  • But then there were a number of other people
  • from the community who wanted to help in some way
  • or be associated, but were very much in the closet, older
  • people in particular.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Oh, yes.
  • LARRY FINE: For example, there was
  • one man who contacted me who was-- he
  • didn't want to tell me what he did for a living.
  • He was in his late thirties.
  • But he befriended me, and we went out occasionally
  • for drives in his car to talk about things.
  • He eventually told me what he did.
  • He was a Methodist minister and rather high up in the Methodist
  • Church.
  • And we became good friends for quite some time.
  • We later lost contact, although I
  • believe he's still good friends with somebody else
  • who was around at that time who I am occasionally
  • in touch with.
  • But there were a number of people
  • in the community who were in the background
  • and could not come out but who still
  • wanted to aid us in some way or be associated in some way.
  • And I was a kind of a focal point because I was very out
  • and my name was around.
  • One of the people was a man named Earl who told me he--
  • and I think it's probably true, although I never
  • investigated it--
  • was a police dispatcher for the police department in Rochester.
  • And I remember going to his house at one point.
  • And I would guess he was in his thirties or forties.
  • I don't remember exactly.
  • And he was a very nice guy, and befriended me,
  • and came to the dance.
  • At the end of the dance.
  • It was probably midnight.
  • And there was a lot of cash that was taken in at the dance.
  • People paid to get in, whatever they paid.
  • And I recall it was around three hundred dollars.
  • We were unsure what to do with it.
  • You know, three hundred dollars at that time
  • was a lot of money, a lot more than it is today.
  • And I didn't feel comfortable taking it back to my dorm room.
  • And Earl suggested that he take it to his house
  • and give it to his accountant, and his accountant
  • would write us a check.
  • Well, I let him do that.
  • We never saw the money again, nor Earl.
  • And he kept promising--
  • I'd call him on the phone and he'd say, oh, yeah,
  • my accountant's busy, or he's away, or this or that.
  • And days went into weeks.
  • And I should have reported it to the dean of students,
  • and I never did.
  • And I don't know why I didn't.
  • Perhaps I was embarrassed about having given it to him.
  • I don't know why.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Or just really apprehensive about any
  • of the reaction.
  • LARRY FINE: Perhaps I was apprehensive
  • that they would find fault with what I did.
  • I don't know why.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Well, or the organization as an excuse
  • to terminate or to--
  • LARRY FINE: I don't know why.
  • But, whatever, I regret that now.
  • And I never saw Earl again, and eventually I just gave up.
  • I never told anybody about that.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah.
  • But it's the sort of thing, it's the kind of slippery thing.
  • LARRY FINE: Yes.
  • And Earl had really befriended me a lot,
  • and I had considered him a good friend.
  • And then this, of course, ended that.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah, well that's very disillusioning.
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah, it is.
  • There's still a part of me that would like to go look him up
  • if he's even still alive--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Oh, he'd be a geezer.
  • LARRY FINE: --and demand the money.
  • I remember his last name as well.
  • So that was the dance.
  • And I also have a recollection at one point--
  • and maybe this had to do with getting an office in Todd--
  • but I don't remember.
  • I remember going to speak to the dean of students,
  • or an assistant dean of students,
  • about the organization.
  • Maybe we had to get permission to be an official organization.
  • I don't remember ever having a faculty advisor for this.
  • Perhaps we had to, but I don't remember who it was.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: So there was nobody who interacted with you
  • or assisted?
  • LARRY FINE: No, not--
  • Now it's possible that I approached Jay Efran about it,
  • but I don't--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: I think you would remember his--
  • LARRY FINE: He never had any involvement with it.
  • No, as a matter of fact--
  • well, the year after I left Rochester,
  • Jay left Rochester as well to go to Temple University, where
  • he was there until he retired in Philadelphia.
  • But I don't remember a faculty advisor.
  • There may have been one, but I don't remember who it was.
  • I do remember meeting with the dean of students,
  • or the assistant dean, and having no difficulty with him
  • at all.
  • He was very receptive, very open to what we were doing.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: I'm trying to remember the name of the guy
  • that I knew in the dean's office.
  • Straight guy, but he was very hot.
  • I remember that.
  • God, was he hot.
  • Yeah, and was really very nice, a nice person.
  • LARRY FINE: We didn't have a lot of contact
  • with the administration.
  • And I was surprised how little pushback there was, of any kind
  • from anybody.
  • You might have expected that the administration would push back
  • in some way because of fears of how it would look or whatever,
  • but--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah, it was really very hands off.
  • The kids were treated very much as adults on the River Campus.
  • LARRY FINE: Yes, really so.
  • Matter of fact, there was a point
  • at some point during the year I was actually asked
  • by this dean of students to serve on a committee that
  • was investigating how to deal with the increased
  • amount of vandalism that was happening on campus.
  • There were a number of vending machines in the tunnels that
  • were being broken into.
  • And one thing that you may recall is around that time
  • Rochester, U of R, started to take in minority students who
  • would not normally be able to qualify for admissions
  • because they were underachievers.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah, the State's Higher Education Opportunity
  • Program was founded about that time.
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah, whatever it was called.
  • And U of R was taking in people.
  • I think people would come in during the summer
  • to do some remedial work, and then they
  • would be tutored or monitored in some way during the year.
  • And in conjunction with that, we started
  • to have a lot of vandalism, and there was some drug dealing
  • and other things.
  • And it was-- everybody knew why it was happening.
  • And I'm not trying to say that all the people who came in
  • were doing that.
  • But I'm saying, when you take one,
  • you have the other as well as part of it,
  • and you have to deal with it.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: These are kids from--
  • LARRY FINE: They're from inner city.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Disadvantaged backgrounds, most of them
  • inner city.
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah, that's right.
  • And I'm sure a lot of the kids, most of the kids,
  • were probably great kids.
  • And this may have helped them a great deal.
  • And then there were some who got into trouble
  • and who were bringing to Rochester whatever they
  • left behind in the inner city.
  • So anyway, we were having a lot of problems with vandalism,
  • and a committee of students was brought together
  • to figure out what to do about it.
  • And I was asked to be on that committee.
  • And I won't go into the workings of that committee.
  • I eventually left the committee, but that's another story.
  • But my point was that this dean of students
  • saw me as someone-- he wanted to involve me
  • in the mainstream of the campus as well.
  • And so he obviously was positive about what we were doing,
  • and that was my point.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: That's the message.
  • LARRY FINE: Just trying to remember what
  • I can remember of this time.
  • Now, as I said, Bob Osborn had arranged
  • all these various topics going forward for a couple of months.
  • And then he was in and out of town and so on.
  • And as far as the Empty Closet goes,
  • we were trying to figure out what to call it.
  • I actually had had the name, or someone
  • had had the name Fag Rag, which actually became
  • the name of another publication out of another city-- out
  • of Boston, I think.
  • But that was seen as not being a good name in part
  • because it left out the women and in part
  • because it was kind of derogatory.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah, pejorative certainly.
  • LARRY FINE: Pejorative yeah.
  • So RJ had the idea of the Empty Closet.
  • I think somebody may have said something about a closet.
  • And then he said, how about the Empty Closet?
  • And we took that name on.
  • It was a good name.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: It is.
  • Still is.
  • LARRY FINE: I know, yeah.
  • So, let's see what else to say--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Well, I'm thinking, how long
  • then were you still there?
  • Because you had told me that you were there
  • through the spring and part of the summer of '71
  • and then gone.
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah, several things happened.
  • In the course of my work on gay liberation I corresponded--
  • and correspondence was all by mail at that time.
  • There was no email.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yes, it was.
  • LARRY FINE: I corresponded with several other groups,
  • campus groups, or non-campus groups, around the country.
  • There weren't very many.
  • There were a dozen, maybe, at that time.
  • But I corresponded with people of those groups
  • to let them know about what we were doing
  • and to get their newsletters and whatever else.
  • And one of the people I corresponded with
  • was in Denver.
  • Let me just think why I was bringing this up.
  • Well, actually I'm skipping ahead a little too much there.
  • I ended up dropping out of college in April.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Of '71?
  • LARRY FINE: April of '71, yeah.
  • What happened was that with all this GLF work that I was doing
  • an increasing amount of-- it was completely absorbing all
  • my time--
  • I came to the realization that I was
  • getting so much more of an education out of my GLF work
  • than of my coursework.
  • And I was so bored with my coursework.
  • I was taking courses in psychology and sociology,
  • where gays were seen as being deviants and all that.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: And you knew better.
  • LARRY FINE: Yeah, I knew better.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Because you knew them.
  • LARRY FINE: And the real education I
  • was getting in so many areas, not just
  • psychology and sociology, but in history
  • and the law and other things I was examining.
  • I was giving myself an education in all of those areas.
  • And schoolwork was just boring as all get out.
  • And I just felt I could not continue.
  • And so I told my parents I was dropping out.
  • Of course I told them like a week
  • after the cutoff point of where you
  • could get your tuition back.
  • My parents were a little bit irked.
  • They said, "Why couldn't you have done this two weeks ago?"
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: (unintelligible).
  • LARRY FINE: And I also told them simultaneously
  • about my being gay.
  • I had not told them all this time.
  • The whole year basically I had pretended I
  • was busy with other things.
  • And frankly, they thought I was into drugs or something.
  • They could tell that there was something not right about--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: There was something going on.
  • At least this was better than drugs.
  • LARRY FINE: That's right.
  • My mother was very accepting, and that's
  • when she told me about that thing with my psychiatrist
  • from when I was eleven.
  • My father was extremely unhappy.
  • He was just beside himself.
  • He eventually came around.
  • And that's a whole other story, but--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: But that's also not atypical
  • that mothers are better about it initially than fathers.
  • And then after they have a chance to process this,
  • hopefully they do.
  • LARRY FINE: Well, my father was upset,
  • I think, for two reasons.
  • One is he thought it meant a horrible thing for me
  • going forward.
  • He didn't understand that there was--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: That this had really--
  • was a release.
  • It was such a positive uplifing--
  • LARRY FINE: And he didn't at that time
  • see the changes in society that would occur that would
  • make it easier for me.
  • So he was concerned for me.
  • And also I think he was concerned
  • about what the neighbors and the relatives would say.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Well, but also your career.
  • What are you going to do without completing college?
  • You need to (unintelligible)--
  • LARRY FINE: Well, that's true.
  • But besides the college, I'm talking about coming out.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah.
  • LARRY FINE: Anyway--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yes.
  • LARRY FINE: --my father eventually came around,
  • but there were some tense times--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: I'm sure.
  • LARRY FINE: --that went on for a year or two actually.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: I'm sure.
  • LARRY FINE: Despite that, my father was always
  • very cordial and generous.
  • I really have to hand it to him that he was really
  • a wonderful man.
  • I mean he did love me, and he let that be his guide.
  • So I dropped out of college.
  • And I was able to continue staying
  • in the dorms for a while, at least
  • maybe until the end of the year.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: End of the semester, I think.
  • LARRY FINE: At some point around May or so, I think, I
  • left for a couple of weeks. (pause)
  • I just don't recall now whether I left and went on a trip
  • or if that happened later.
  • There was some point at which I went
  • on a trip, an automobile trip in which either I
  • drove or somebody drove me.
  • It wasn't hitchhiking.
  • I think it was that spring, like in May or so.
  • And I stayed with various gay groups
  • that I had corresponded with.
  • One I remember in Illinois, I think Carbondale, Illinois.
  • The University of Illinois had one very early on.
  • Then one in Lincoln, Nebraska, which
  • also had one very early on because of opposition they
  • had had to the group from one of the university regents.
  • And then I went to Denver to meet
  • this guy who I thought maybe I would get to know,
  • and nothing came of that.
  • And then I came back to Rochester.
  • And I forget exactly when that happened, whether it
  • was in May, or July, or what.
  • My intention originally had been to stay in Rochester.
  • And in fact, Bob Osborn helped me
  • to find an apartment to rent in Rochester after I
  • had to leave the dorm.
  • I guess I was able to stay in the dorm
  • until the end of the school year,
  • but that would probably be until about the end of May?
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: End of May.
  • LARRY FINE: So I tentatively put down a deposit on an apartment
  • to Rochester, but I hadn't the faintest idea
  • of what I was going to do--
  • I mean get a job or what?
  • But then, maybe it was after putting down the deposit,
  • I went on this cross-country trip.
  • Again, the sequence of events escapes me.
  • But I was in Rochester for part of the summer.
  • I was in Rochester, I think, until about the middle
  • of August actually.
  • In fact, if you look through the Empty Closets--
  • I was looking through them, and I
  • saw there was mention of me doing this or that in August,
  • in July or August.
  • One thing I did was I think I taped a radio broadcast that
  • was going to be on some show.
  • Yes, I did.
  • And in fact, when I was leaving town in August,
  • I think about the fourteenth or fifteenth of August,
  • I think it was, I listened to the radio broadcast
  • on the way out of town.
  • And I think I was very disappointed, as I recall,
  • because I think they left out some
  • of the most important parts, like how
  • to get in touch with the group.
  • It was a radio interview.
  • That's what it was.
  • But I think the radio station may have left out parts of it.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: They probably were afraid of liability.
  • LARRY FINE: They might have been afraid of liability.
  • They might have consulted with the university
  • and the university might have said--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Said, oh, we don't want people--
  • LARRY FINE: Or something--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: --the wrong type of person finding out, yes.
  • LARRY FINE: Something like that.
  • I don't remember exactly, but I remember
  • being disappointed-- listening to it and being disappointed.
  • Things keep coming to my mind.
  • So just going back a little bit.
  • At some point during the spring, I
  • think it was, I needed to go to the student government
  • to ask for money for the group.
  • And I don't remember whether it was for something very specific
  • or just some general funds for office supplies.
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: Yeah, to run the office, to run the group,
  • to plan--
  • LARRY FINE: And I think I was asking them
  • for several hundred dollars.
  • And I had to meet before the student council
  • or some governing group--
  • BRUCE WOOLLEY: A committee.
  • LARRY FINE: A committee of, I don't know,
  • eight or ten people or so.
  • And I think I went there with, perhaps, Patti Evans.
  • I'm not sure, but it might have been Patti.
  • It might have been Marshall.
  • And to my surprise, there was some opposition.
  • One of the points that was made was, well,
  • a lot of people from off campus go to your meetings.
  • Why should we fund this?
  • And my answer was, well, you fund the Foreign Film
  • Festival, or Foreign Film Society,
  • or whatever it's called, and most
  • of the people who come to that are from off campus.
  • So that satisfied that objection.
  • There were some other objections.
  • But they ended up voting in favor of giving us money,