Audio Interview, Tim Mains, January 20, 2012

  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • So let's start out briefly.
  • Are you a Rochester native?
  • TIM MAINS: No, no.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, so where--
  • TIM MAINS: Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Actually back then I think we called it India-no-place
  • or the neon cornfield.
  • One of four kids, and my dad was an attorney.
  • And my mom was a stay-at-home mom who never--
  • I don't know if she even finished high school.
  • She was a secretary and met my dad in the service.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: We might move this closer to him.
  • TIM MAINS: My dad was very liberal.
  • I mean very-- he ran for office twice, so my politics part.
  • My dad discovered that if he took a blond haired smiling
  • ten-year-old with him to hand out literature,
  • more people would open the door.
  • So my job would be to walk door to door with my dad
  • and keep the literature in a newspaper
  • to keep it dry if it rained.
  • And I'd go out with him, and we'd hand out key cards.
  • He ran for district attorney once,
  • and he ran for a judgeship once.
  • He never won either time.
  • In fact, when he ran for district attorney,
  • his opponent labeled him a hemophiliac liberal,
  • a badge which he is quite proud-- he came home and said,
  • "Do you know what my opponent called me?"
  • Almost like he was bragging.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow, what party?
  • TIM MAINS: Democrat.
  • He was Democrat.
  • And back then at least in Indiana even
  • though it was mostly a Republican state,
  • there were enough Democrats that--
  • I mean there were two Democratic senators.
  • Birch Bayh and Vance Hartke were both Democrats.
  • Vance Hartke was a staunch anti-war senator.
  • Birch Bayh authored the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • And so I mean I grew up--
  • I remember in high school my father actually ripping me--
  • coming up and taking me off the bus
  • that was going to Washington for the March
  • on Washington in 1964.
  • Like no, you're not doing that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • TIM MAINS: Because he didn't think I'd be safe.
  • I grew up-- my mother is from the South.
  • So I didn't know or understand all the stuff that
  • was going on there, but we would go
  • to visit my mom's family in the summertime.
  • And I would say, "Why are there signs?
  • Why are these signs here--
  • white and colored?"
  • My father would simply say, "We don't know about that here.
  • This is mom's home, and we don't talk about that."
  • So no one ever explained it to me.
  • I didn't know what was going on.
  • And I got beat up once because I had
  • made some comment about the--
  • I think we were at the movie theater,
  • and I saw a bunch of people disappearing
  • in this door in the side of the building.
  • And I'm like, we're waiting in this big long line,
  • but these other kids are like coming up
  • to the side of the window and then disappearing at this door.
  • Where are they going?
  • Like, they're going to sit in the balcony.
  • I'm like, oh.
  • What are we doing waiting here?
  • The balcony, that sounded really cool to me.
  • Let's go sit in the balcony.
  • And my cousin grabbed me by the shoulder,
  • and spun me, and said, "Asshole, that's where the niggers sit."
  • And I didn't notice that everybody happened to be black
  • going because I just saw kids.
  • All I said was, "So," and I got the shit kicked out of me.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • TIM MAINS: I mean so badly that my dad sent me
  • home on the train and decided that I
  • wouldn't be going on summer trips to South Carolina
  • anymore.
  • So I think that I'm guessing--
  • we never talked about it because I never
  • talked with hardly anything with my dad.
  • But my belief is that that episode bothered him.
  • He didn't think I was able to manage myself
  • and wasn't about to let me going on some Civil Rights march.
  • Now my father was actually appointed to the Civil Rights
  • Commission in Indianapolis when they
  • formed one, which I think was around that same time,
  • '64, '65, maybe '66.
  • When Indianapolis formed the Civil Rights Commission,
  • he was appointed to it.
  • He served on it.
  • So I just grew up in this household
  • with a anti-war, liberal leaning political dad who
  • thought that politics was a very high form of public service.
  • And that was just in my--
  • I worked on Bobby Kennedy's campaign in college.
  • I helped coordinate his for school campus tour.
  • In fact was invited to be part of the advanced team
  • in California, which if I had accepted,
  • I would have been in the Ambassador Hotel.
  • But I knew if I accepted, that meant
  • I would have had to drop all my classes that quarter
  • of college, and knew my father would kill me.
  • So I said, I can't.
  • No, I can't do that.
  • And then when Bobby Kennedy was killed, I was devastated.
  • I didn't think I'd ever do anything in politics again.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Where was college?
  • TIM MAINS: Ball State University.
  • Actually, I started college at Indiana University
  • because I wanted to be a music teacher.
  • I really was a nerd, and I was incredibly naive.
  • I mean my father was right to be worried because there were
  • things I didn't know, and so I just kind of blundered ahead
  • with stuff.
  • I went to school to be a music major,
  • but I was a percussionist, so I could not read a note of music
  • in either clef, nor could I play the piano.
  • Two skills that I'd learned were pretty essential to someone who
  • might want to major in music.
  • And Indiana University is one of the top music
  • schools in the country.
  • So I go down there this eager beaver.
  • I was admitted to this program called Foundations for College,
  • so I was basically--
  • it was a competitive program for advanced kids
  • that they brought in on the summer
  • before your freshman year.
  • And what they were really doing was grooming future leaders
  • at the college, so I mean we took
  • advanced placement English, a couple of other courses.
  • And then on Wednesday nights we would have dinner
  • at the president's house.
  • We would meet the deans of the different schools.
  • We would meet all the student members of the student board
  • that ran the student union.
  • And so they were kind of like introducing us
  • to all these things, and people, and aspects of the college.
  • I was rushed for fraternities then,
  • but my music gig was not going well.
  • I went to my piano audition, and they told me
  • they didn't have a piano class on my level,
  • but they'd put me in the slowest one they had.
  • I took a theory test.
  • And later I would learn in college
  • that it was normal when you take a test to post
  • the scores on little sheets of paper
  • and that the scores would be organized by your student
  • number, so it's kind of a code.
  • So it'd be in chronological order by student number.
  • When I took the theory test, the scores
  • were posted in chronological order
  • by score with your name next to it vertically.
  • So if you were at the top, you literally
  • had to be boosted on the shoulders of your friends
  • to see your score.
  • And if you were like me, fourth from the bottom,
  • you were on your hands and knees to look at your score.
  • I mean I later figured out that this was
  • like an intentional kind of--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Kind of.
  • TIM MAINS: --process.
  • So I took remedial theory, showed up for my piano class,
  • and found out that everybody else was reading music
  • and playing with both hands.
  • Dropped that.
  • Took a dance class in it's place.
  • Managed to pass remedial theory.
  • Managed to pass my voice audition,
  • which I showed up to without an accompanist.
  • Who knew?
  • Like where is your accompanist?
  • I'm supposed to bring an accompanist.
  • OK, didn't know.
  • Didn't have anything prepared.
  • The only thing I'd ever auditioned for
  • were school plays.
  • So in there you went, and someone played--
  • you played a number from the show, and you sang that number.
  • And that's all I'd ever auditioned for.
  • I didn't understand the big--
  • and I actually passed my vocal--
  • actually, my drill instructor from my remedial theory class
  • was in the room.
  • Looked out and saw the panicked look on my face,
  • came out and rescued me, told me she would be my accompanist.
  • Took me to the music library.
  • Asked me what I'd sung in solo and ensemble contests
  • for the last couple years.
  • Found some of that music.
  • So I auditioned on two of those pieces
  • and "God Bless America," which I did a cappella.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • TIM MAINS: But it wasn't going well.
  • I was beginning to think I couldn't pursue my dream.
  • Up with People came to the college and sang on the campus.
  • And Up with People performers stayed
  • in fraternity and sorority houses,
  • so I had an Up with People person bunking in my room
  • at the fraternity that my brother belonged to
  • and had rushed me to join--
  • Kappa Delta Rho.
  • And I just saw Up with People as my escape from I
  • don't know what I'm doing here.
  • This isn't working.
  • I also, while I was there that fall semester,
  • was invited to a fraternity brother's apartment
  • and basically date raped at the--
  • but I was so drunk I--
  • like did that really happen or I don't--
  • so I was having major questions about who am I, and what am I,
  • and what is all this about.
  • So I joined Up with People and dropped out of college
  • and said, "OK, I'll escape."
  • And then I found out that Up with People
  • was really not what it looked like on stage.
  • My father was very upset.
  • By this point, he was working as the chief attorney
  • for the Veterans Administration, the regional office
  • in Indianapolis.
  • So he used his contacts and presented me
  • with an executive summary of the FBI report
  • on the organization that ran Up with People, which
  • was named Moral Re-Armament.
  • He was like, "What are you doing?"
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I'm being the renegade.
  • TIM MAINS: So I'm like, well, I'm
  • singing about justice, and equality,
  • and our all getting along, and patriotism.
  • But Moral Re-Armament actually was
  • kind of this cultish group that wanted
  • you to talk a certain way and think a certain way.
  • And in my journal--
  • yet, you were supposed to a guidance book,
  • which is when God talks to you.
  • And since God-- I'd never--
  • I kept waiting.
  • So when God wasn't saying anything,
  • I just decided to write down my thoughts.
  • So I really basically kept a diary,
  • which I had never done before in my life
  • because part of the drill was you were all supposed
  • to keep this guidance book to write down
  • the inspirational things, the messages that you heard
  • from God that would help guide your life.
  • And I eventually remember writing that this--
  • I thought this was must be what communism
  • was like because everyone was expected to think the same way
  • and be the same way.
  • And despite what we were singing about on stage,
  • there wasn't a whole lot of tolerance
  • for differences in this group.
  • I also developed an enormous crush on one of the guys
  • in the show, and so not that we ever acted or did anything
  • about that, but found myself questioning more deeply who
  • I am and what I am sexually.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • So where did Up with People bring you?
  • TIM MAINS: Well, I stayed with Up
  • with People for only about half of the year.
  • And we were about to go to South America, and the people in MRA,
  • in Moral Re-Armament, believed that when you were on stage
  • you were exuding Moral Re-Armament
  • and that this message would penetrate people.
  • So when you went to bill it in people's homes,
  • you were supposed to talk to them
  • about some of the principles, and some of the ideals,
  • and stuff.
  • And I really wasn't getting into that so much.
  • But when we were in the states, I could really sing the show
  • and believe in the show.
  • And I really believed in the messages, and all the songs,
  • and enjoyed the performance, and was learning a lot,
  • and traveling in a way that I've never done before.
  • But we were going to go to South America
  • and take the show to South America.
  • And I felt like, OK, well, now I'm
  • learning the show in Spanish, and now it's really
  • just going to be about MRA.
  • And I can't do that.
  • So I told them that this wasn't working for me,
  • and I was going to be leaving and going to New York.
  • And they said, "No, you're not.
  • If you're leaving us, you're going home,
  • and if you're leaving us, you're not
  • interacting with anybody else in the cast from now
  • until you leave."
  • And so I was basically sequestered
  • in a motel room in Miami, Florida
  • until they could get a standby ticket for me
  • to go back to Indianapolis, which took four days where I
  • was kind of under house arrest.
  • That's what I wrote in my journal.
  • And then went back to Indiana.
  • So now I had failed at college, and I
  • had failed at Up with People.
  • I mean how can you be a failure at
  • Up with People for God's sakes?
  • So I decided I really do want to be a music teacher,
  • and Ball State specializes in teachers.
  • And IU, boy, they looked down their nose at music educators.
  • They were a performance school.
  • So I thought, well, maybe the problem
  • was the kind of music school I went to.
  • Maybe if I went to a teaching school,
  • they'd understand that I need to learn these things so I
  • can be a music teacher.
  • So I also by that point was frankly scared to death
  • to go back to the fraternity house,
  • face the fraternity brother that I'd had the little thing with.
  • The girl that I was dating--
  • a woman at the time--
  • and I discovered that she had hooked up with somebody else
  • and was having sex with him.
  • And that the reason that she broke up with me
  • and wanted to go with him is because I
  • wouldn't have sex with her, but he would have sex with her.
  • And I'm like, OK, well, nothing was working there.
  • So there was lots of good reasons to transfer.
  • The interpersonal relationship I had with the world then--
  • who am I question, the it's not working in this school
  • and not wanting to go back to the fraternity,
  • so I transferred to Ball State.
  • And once again discovered that if you can't read music
  • and you can't play the piano, you really
  • can't be a music teacher.
  • And maybe if I wanted to drop out of school and study
  • piano for three, four years, five years,
  • I could learn how to read music, and learn
  • how to play the piano, and then I could try it again.
  • I'm like, OK.
  • So in the meantime, I had taken this dance class.
  • Oh, oh, I guess I forgot to tell you that.
  • Between the summer and the fall, I had been admitted on--
  • I don't know.
  • I don't know what they called it.
  • It was basically a conditional admittance to the music school,
  • meaning we'll let you in because you passed the voice audition.
  • You passed your major instrument.
  • But before you can begin your junior year,
  • you have to take the piano audition and the theory test
  • again.
  • And if you don't pass it, you're not in.
  • And everyone was telling me you will not
  • learn how to play piano well enough in two years
  • to pass that piano audition.
  • So although I was technically a music major on paper,
  • I had decided in that fall semester I'd better start
  • looking for other options.
  • And so because I took this modern dance
  • class in the summer that I really love, and it was great.
  • And I had a great time in it, and I did really well,
  • and I got great pats on the back from the professor.
  • Thought, well, maybe I could be a dance teacher.
  • So I explored that and talked to my dance professor,
  • and she told me what I had to take.
  • And she said, however, if you're going
  • to wind up doing that, we really should figure that out sometime
  • in this freshman year.
  • And you can't just take regular phys ed class.
  • You have to take PE for majors.
  • So in PE for majors, there are all of these football players,
  • and basketball players, and soccer players.
  • And they were all taller, bigger,
  • and then there was the little twink me, the dancer.
  • And I'm like, that wasn't working out either.
  • But I did like the dance part.
  • So at Ball State, I decided, well,
  • what I'm going to do is I'm-- because it was on the quarter
  • system kind of like RIT used to be.
  • So I just decided I'm just going to explore,
  • and I'm going to take things until I find what works.
  • So I took sociology, and I took journalism, and I took dance,
  • and I took all these things, just kind of experimented.
  • And I kind of fell into sociology,
  • which I liked the most because I had a horrible crush
  • on the professor.
  • One of the students from my high school,
  • who was a year younger than I was, was at Ball State
  • and was a music major.
  • And he was the one who basically told me
  • you would just have to drop out of school and do this.
  • And he was gay and knew who he was.
  • And so we wound up having a thing.
  • And then I was confused about well am I gay or am I not gay.
  • So basically the whole coming out thing for me
  • began happening during college.
  • I didn't like the idea.
  • I ran away from it like many people did at that time.
  • I mean I was socialized that you don't do that.
  • My father's attitude was that gays
  • were people who had sex in the bathrooms at the bus station,
  • and that the judges in Indianapolis
  • wouldn't send them to jail.
  • That they would give them a one-way ticket to Cincinnati.
  • So you try and ship them out.
  • So that was my father's perception
  • of what gay people were.
  • And I didn't know anything think about gay people.
  • And my friend actually suggested that I read some books
  • and got me some books from the library
  • because I was too embarrassed to go and check them out myself.
  • In the meantime, I'm having an academic life.
  • And I'm having a political life.
  • I ran for student senate.
  • Was-- served on student senate.
  • Quickly decided that the dorms were a little too intimidating,
  • so I moved off campus.
  • So I became a representative from off campus housing.
  • And in my junior year, ran for student body president.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • You were coming up in the world.
  • TIM MAINS: So I'm doing all this stuff,
  • and we had kind of settled into the sociology.
  • But Bernard Murphy, who was the sociology professor
  • that I just thought was to die for, his girlfriend was
  • Marcia--
  • god, what was her last name?
  • Anyway, she taught world history.
  • So I took all the world history from her
  • that I could or somebody else, and I wound up
  • majoring in sociology and world history really based
  • on my attraction to one of the professors
  • and that the other got me closer to him.
  • I mean sublimated you know--
  • how's that for a queer?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: And yet you were questioning.
  • TIM MAINS: Eventually I--
  • during the campaign for--
  • in fact, my vice president, the person
  • that was on my ticket for vice president of the student body,
  • was Jerry Williams, who today lives in Rochester.
  • Jerry and his wife, Cheryl Williams, live in Rochester.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • TIM MAINS: And he succeeded me as student body president.
  • In those days, most often what happened
  • was the Greek organization kind of ran everything,
  • so if you were from a fraternity or sorority
  • and you ran for student body president well
  • you had the whole Greek system pitching for you,
  • I ran as an independent.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Always.
  • TIM MAINS: So it was an uphill battle and kind
  • of like my election to city council, it was a--
  • not as narrow, but it was by a few hundred.
  • I think 300 vote margin that we won.
  • But it was very exciting.
  • We did some very innovative things in student government,
  • but now I'm a junior.
  • Vietnam War is in full swing.
  • My dear friend Mary Munchell was head of the Vietnam War
  • Moratorium Committee.
  • Some other friends-- there were a group of right wing students
  • would had formed an organization called Project Faith.
  • We're going to have faith in the president.
  • We're going to have faith in President Nixon.
  • And so they would pass out all these things
  • about Project Faith, and we would
  • dub them Project Blind Faith.
  • So I got kind of caught up in helping Mary
  • with her founding of the Vietnam War Moratorium Committee.
  • I mean I did stuff with them.
  • In fact, Mary and I, the day that Bobby Kennedy came
  • to speak on our campus because I'd helped
  • arranged all the stuff, we sat with him in the restaurant.
  • The night that he spoke was the same day
  • that Dr. Martin Luther King had been murdered.
  • And he had gotten the news, and so he wasn't going
  • to stay in the hotel remote.
  • They were going to drive him back to Indianapolis,
  • and he was going to give a major address the next day.
  • And Bobby Kennedy was so cute.
  • I was just like--
  • (laughter).
  • And Mary kept saying, "Close your mouth, close your mouth."
  • (Laughter)
  • And he had a piece of peach pie, which he hardly
  • touched and talked about what is going on in the world.
  • I mean it was just, it was--
  • he was kind of in his own little space and reflective.
  • He'd given a knockout speech in the gym
  • to a standing room only crowd and was thanking us
  • for our work.
  • And we got our little special Secret Service pins
  • that allowed us to be near him and spent maybe an hour talking
  • to him in the restaurant.
  • And he left, and then onto Indianapolis
  • to give the speech.
  • And I never saw him again.
  • But in the course of--
  • there was just a lot of turmoil then.
  • So I was doing student government
  • and there was the stuff against the war.
  • And I'd read enough books to know
  • all the things I was supposed to do,
  • so I was starting to experiment.
  • But I was still having horrible angst and guilt.
  • And so in the midst of my year as student body president,
  • I tried to kill myself and went to the campus clinic
  • psychologist people.
  • And they said, "You really need an intensive--
  • you need to be hospitalized."
  • In retrospect, I don't think that--
  • I think they overreacted.
  • Now as an adult in looking back on that time,
  • I understand, oh shit, it's the student body president.
  • If he offs himself on our watch, we're going to be in trouble.
  • Let's get him out of our hands.
  • But again, being naive and saying,
  • well, if he says that's what I should do,
  • then I guess that's what I should do.
  • So I tell my parents who are like freaked out.
  • I have a press conference and tell the campus community that
  • I'm--
  • not why.
  • I didn't tell them I tried to kill myself.
  • I didn't tell them I thought I was gay.
  • I just said, I'm having a really hard time.
  • Lots of people have hard times.
  • I'm going to take the recommendation that I received
  • to spend on a voluntary period of time
  • in a mental hospital in Indianapolis.
  • And while I'm gone, Jerry is going to run the show.
  • And I want you to know--
  • and I'm choosing to tell you that because there
  • are a whole lot of other people like me
  • who struggle with things, and you should know that.
  • So I left and went into a mental hospital in Indianapolis,
  • which was horrific.
  • And I quickly figured out what I had
  • to do to get myself out of there because I didn't belong there.
  • I didn't.
  • But back then no one knew what to do with us.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • TIM MAINS: It was 1960--
  • I don't know-- '68 or '69.
  • And so I quickly realized that this wasn't working,
  • and it was finally in the hospital where I'm like,
  • there is nothing wrong with me, where I finally
  • could come to that conclusion.
  • And more because I had to figure something out
  • because it was awful.
  • I mean there were people who were crazy in this place.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And you knew you weren't.
  • TIM MAINS: And they were dangerous.
  • And they were living in the room with me.
  • And the staff was brutal.
  • I mean brutal.
  • So luckily I am a fast learner, and I figured out
  • what I needed to do and what I needed
  • to say to get my little body checked out, so I did.
  • My father during this period--
  • the doctor in the hospital told him
  • that it was probably his fault. So it was great.
  • He already thought that.
  • Now he has an authority figure that he respects telling him
  • it's true.
  • Like oh great.
  • So dad-- you can't tell your mother it will destroy her.
  • My mother-- you can't tell your father he'll
  • have a heart attack.
  • So I came to terms with it, and my parents never did.
  • Never did.
  • They couldn't-- I mean because they felt it was their fault,
  • and no amount of my saying, "No, it's not.
  • No, it really isn't."
  • And it's OK.
  • And so I got more and more OK with it
  • in this accelerated way to get myself some freedom.
  • And that's what happened.
  • And I went back to college, finished the year.
  • The following year Jerry was going to be president.
  • He offered me a position in his cabinet.
  • I knew that Jerry was very quiet, and very methodical,
  • and very purposeful.
  • And I knew that if I stayed in student government,
  • I would overshadow him.
  • And so I thanked him for the offer, and said,
  • "What you really need is you need
  • me to be out of your hair."
  • So I didn't run for my seat--
  • because I would have had to have run again
  • to continue on to be in the student senate,
  • to be an officer within the student senate.
  • Because he could have appointed me to any place in his cabinet.
  • And I decided to do something totally different
  • and remembered a journalism class that I'd enjoyed taking,
  • so I signed up to work on the Ball State Daily News, which
  • is how I got my training that I would later
  • use on The Empty Closet.
  • So I went to work on the Ball State Daily News,
  • and I started as just a reporter.
  • And they liked my writing, and so right away I was--
  • in the summer, I was made an associate news editor.
  • So I was helping the editor in chief on the news section,
  • and then in the coming year I was made communicative arts
  • editor.
  • Although I didn't think I was so obvious,
  • it must have been really obvious to them,
  • so I got to do on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays was--
  • the two center pages for the paper
  • were the feature section of the paper.
  • And on Monday, Wednesday and Friday,
  • they focused on the arts.
  • They focused on theater, film, whatever.
  • So I learned about how to do layout,
  • and how to justify print, and about fonts, and just
  • tons of stuff about printing that I never would have known.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: It was your music background, you know.
  • TIM MAINS: Oh, must've been.
  • So I finally finished-- oh.
  • In the summer between my junior and senior year,
  • I was supposed to work in a summer school in East St.
  • Louis.
  • That didn't work out so well either.
  • So every time I'd go into an urban environment or every time
  • I went to a racially mixed environment,
  • I didn't fair well.
  • So I got jumped in a gang initiation on my first day
  • there.
  • I mean I hadn't even been fully moved into the apartment.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • TIM MAINS: And the principal of the school
  • said, "I don't want him here.
  • He's not-- he's going to be--" I was the only white person
  • working in the summer school.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh wow.
  • TIM MAINS: If you know anything about East St. Louis, it's--
  • I would later learn--
  • I didn't know.
  • I just thought, oh, it's an urban--
  • that's really pretty raw.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: It's bad.
  • Very bad.
  • TIM MAINS: So because of that, I was
  • supposed to student teach in Gary, Indiana.
  • They wouldn't let me student teach in Gary, Indiana.
  • The college, again, was nervous about--
  • great, we can't have this kid that
  • has this high of profile going to Gary, Indiana
  • and getting stabbed, or killed, or beaten up, or whatever.
  • So they would not approve this.
  • I had made all the arrangements.
  • I'd gone and visited.
  • I'd picked the school.
  • I had a sponsor teacher.
  • I had a sponsor school.
  • No, nixed.
  • So I had to student teach at a small rural high school
  • near Muncie in Albany, Indiana, and did my student teaching
  • there.
  • Finished in the winter quarter.
  • And while I was basically all done
  • and was going to take some kind of graduate courses
  • in the spring quarter, people from Greece Central Schools
  • were on campus recruiting.
  • Now Ball State is like one of the top teacher training
  • institutes in the country.
  • So for people who were big recruiters, that
  • was a frequent--
  • 80% of the graduates in Ball State University
  • go into teaching.
  • Of course probably 30% of them are nuns.
  • But at any rate, a recruiter was on campus.
  • They happened to have a vacancy in their district,
  • and it was teaching world history.
  • And I had a teaching major in world history.
  • I had a teaching major in sociology.
  • It was perfect.
  • It was a chance to get away from India-no-place, escape,
  • and it looked really attractive.
  • And it was Rochester, which I thought was a city.
  • Because in Greece, the address was Rochester.
  • So I took this job, and put everything I owned into my car,
  • and drove out to Rochester, New York at the beginning of March
  • after the third or fourth major blizzard of the season.
  • Discovered that the schools had been closed
  • on Thursday and Friday, and probably
  • would not open again on Monday.
  • When I drove down Ridge Road, the snow
  • was piled so high it was up to the speed limit signs.
  • It was like driving through a tunnel
  • that someone had scraped the top off of.
  • I'm like, oh my god, what have I done?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What year was this?
  • TIM MAINS: 1971.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: '71, OK.
  • TIM MAINS: So I should also tell you that in my senior year--
  • because Mary Munchell-- the Vietnam War Moratorium
  • Committee kind of disbanded.
  • But all of us peaceniks and all of us
  • people who had decided that we just
  • love tweaking the people in the Panhellenic council.
  • And in the--
  • I can't remember what they called the Greek council
  • for the men.
  • So we decided we were going to form a campus organization.
  • And we were going to form something
  • that had both men and women in it because all of us
  • also were little budding feminists.
  • And so we wanted to have a Greek organization that
  • had men and women.
  • So it was going to be a fraternity and a sorority.
  • We were going to call it a Serenity.
  • And the Greek letters were going to be rho, alpha, chi.
  • So if you know the Greek letters, that's Pax.
  • So we formed this, and we filed for simultaneous membership
  • in the Greek Council and the Panhellenic council.
  • Forced them to give us a mailbox in the Student Activities
  • Center.
  • We had officers.
  • We got pins made, and we'd have Serenity meetings.
  • It was just a hoot, something that we have lots of fun doing.
  • So I came here from a anti-war feminist background,
  • found myself in Greece, Greece.
  • Greece.
  • OK, not exactly the city.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But close.
  • TIM MAINS: I lived on Lake Avenue.
  • I had got an apartment on Lake Avenue,
  • and had a pretty rough beginning because I took over
  • for someone who had resigned so he
  • could install swimming pools.
  • And I discovered hit kids, and never told his non-regent kids
  • he was leaving.
  • And his regents kids loved him because he would always
  • tell them what was going to be on the test,
  • and then they got mister innovative
  • me, who comes from this university that's
  • taught me how to teach using the inquiry method.
  • And I walk into a profession and a department
  • where most people who taught social studies
  • thought that social studies was memorizing facts and people.
  • So it's you have to know about people, and dates, and wars.
  • And I thought, no, it's about making sense of the world
  • and learning what you know about sociology,
  • and political science, and economics, and history
  • so that you can be a good productive citizen.
  • So I would ask them essay questions
  • that didn't have one right answer, and that they had--
  • they hadn't written essays before.
  • So the regent's kids hated me because I didn't give it
  • to them cut and dry.
  • The non-regents kids hated me basically
  • because they hated him.
  • And they never got a chance to take it out on him, so they
  • were taking it out on me.
  • So at the end of my first three months in March, April, May,
  • June, I'm like I just had this fabulous student teaching
  • experience where everyone loved me
  • and everything had gone so swimmingly,
  • and then I came in taking over a job mid-year.
  • I later learned that it's very difficult for anyone
  • to ever step into a school and take over a job from somebody
  • else in the middle of the year, but I
  • didn't know that because I'm so stupid and naive.
  • And naivete is a real theme in my life.
  • And my department chair congratulated me for surviving
  • and assured me that my next year would be better.
  • So the next year I spent one full year
  • teaching world history or was that the year that I got
  • moved--
  • no, I think the next year I got moved to American history.
  • Like I got hired here because I have a background in world
  • history, but he wanted to shake up the American history team.
  • And I was obviously doing lots of good-- the kinds of things
  • that you were supposed to be doing,
  • but not enough people were.
  • So we taught American history, and we discovered that year
  • that if you--
  • the Board of Regents used to have a ruling
  • that you couldn't sit for a regents
  • unless you had so much seat time.
  • So they took away the seat time rule
  • and said, "No, it's when you're ready."
  • So I'm like, hey, if we get all of our people
  • to take the regents in January and they pass it,
  • then we can teach whatever we want.
  • Like we can teach electives.
  • And the district says that they would
  • like to do a pilot of selective elective.
  • Well, let's give them their pilot.
  • So all of us--
  • the other two members of my eleventh grade social studies
  • team were just about as crazy as I was,
  • and they agreed that we could do that.
  • And so we pumped people as close as we could to getting through
  • and almost 90%--
  • 89% of our kids--
  • some got nervous and chickened out at the last minute.
  • But we agreed that in the electives that we offered,
  • we could offer the normal American studies units
  • in the third and fourth quarter, but we
  • could offer other things too.
  • So since so many people passed, that
  • meant we had lots of options that we could create.
  • So to get back at all my people who were so hung up on history
  • and wanting me to talk about the past,
  • I would just say I would teach the future, which was basically
  • a social problems class.
  • But we would explore all the contemporary issues of the day.
  • So we would explore overpopulation.
  • We get people from ZPG to come and talk to us,
  • and we would talk about ecology we called it then
  • and what were we doing to the environment.
  • And we'd talk about the revolution in mechanics,
  • and genetics, and things that were possible, and making
  • robots, and clones, and what were
  • the moral implications of that.
  • And we would say the sexual revolution
  • as it was called then.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: There you go.
  • TIM MAINS: So we wrote all these--
  • I mean I wrote a course in criminology.
  • I wrote a race relations course.
  • I did a race relations course called Sunshine.
  • I did a course called Economics by Simulation,
  • and I did a course on the future.
  • So I cooked up four brand new ten-week courses
  • that dealt with exciting things that kids were actually
  • interested in, and learned something from,
  • and got really into.
  • And for the future class, I formed a little band
  • of student advisors because I gave them this menu of here's
  • all the things we could do, but we
  • can't do all this in ten weeks.
  • So you got to pick and choose.
  • So they help pick what the topics were going to be.
  • And they help decide--
  • because I said, so we're going to do a mixture.
  • We're going to do some reading.
  • We're going to invite guest speakers in,
  • and we're going to have people prepare and do
  • discussions and debates.
  • And the sexual revolution-- they specifically--
  • they're the ones who suggested, well,
  • we should invite representatives from women's lib and gay lib.
  • And I'm like, I don't know about that.
  • OK.
  • Now keep in mind I'm arriving on the scene thinking
  • that gay and teacher do not belong in the same sentence,
  • let alone in the same classroom.
  • So I mean my personal resolution about my sexuality was--
  • I mean I came from Indiana, which
  • is at least fifty years behind.
  • The Midwest wasn't where the East Coast was.
  • There was no Stonewall in Chicago.
  • It happened in New York for a reason.
  • So I just presumed that I would have my professional life
  • and then I would have my private life.
  • So I kind of had that boxed in my head
  • and just assumed that that's how I
  • was going to live for the rest of my life.
  • By that point I was very comfortable.
  • I knew who I was, but I was the farthest thing from out
  • you could think of.
  • So I thought, OK, I'll take this to my boss,
  • and then she'll take it to her boss.
  • And he'll say, are you out of your mind?
  • So I took it to my boss-- was the only female administrator
  • in the high schools at that time--
  • Dee Eisenhart.
  • And she's like, oh sure.
  • That sounds like a great idea.
  • I said, well, don't you think you should take it to Paul?
  • I'll handle it.
  • And I don't know if she told him and he didn't get it
  • or if she never quite fully explained it to him or not,
  • but she wrote the letter because she--
  • I called Karen Hagberg, who was the speaker's representative,
  • and said, I'm a high school teacher at Arcadia High School,
  • and we're doing a unit on the sexual revolution.
  • And we would like to have some speakers from the Gay
  • Liberation Front, and if I could,
  • I'd really like to have a man and a woman.
  • I'd like to have both a man and a woman.
  • Well, we can do that, but we have
  • to have a letter of invitation from your school.
  • So I went back to Dorothy and said, "Dee, they
  • need a letter."
  • And she said, "Well, you draft it for me and I'll send it."
  • So I drafted the letter.
  • And it's getting closer to the day, and I'm thinking,
  • you know, this could get out of hand.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • TIM MAINS: I think I'm going to take two of the kids
  • that I had last year who are now seniors, who are eighteen.
  • They're of legal age.
  • They're considered legal adults, and I
  • will have them be the escorts for our speakers.
  • So if anybody ever says that something happened,
  • there will be two witnesses--
  • independent witnesses that will be able to--
  • so thinking that I'm at my conservative best,
  • we proceed with the speakers.
  • Well at the end of the day, I thought
  • I was getting one man and one woman.
  • Because it wasn't as simple as Karen just picks
  • people and sends them, she would talk
  • to the group of people who were doing speaking engagements.
  • They said, "Oh no, we should send couples
  • because that's more representative."
  • So on the day before, I get a call
  • saying there will be four people coming.
  • Well, five people came.
  • So there was two lesbians, Liz Bell and Marge David.
  • And there were two gay men, Danny Scipioni
  • and his boyfriend, whose name I still
  • don't remember-- he was just a pretty blond boy that
  • didn't say a whole lot during the thing--
  • and a single gay man, RJ Alcala.
  • So I was expecting four, but I got five
  • because Danny said, "Well, RJ and I aren't a couple."
  • You need-- we had a male couple.
  • He had, on his own, independently
  • invited his boyfriend.
  • So I greeted them at the front door, introduced them
  • to their escorts.
  • I had five classes that day.
  • The kids knew that they were coming.
  • We'd anticipated this.
  • I thought the kids asked very thoughtful questions.
  • When we went to lunch, we went through the cafeteria line
  • and all of the women behind the counter stopped serving
  • and all kind of lined up and just gawked at them
  • as they went through the line.
  • We went into the faculty lounge, and the woman
  • who was the health teacher was like, "Oh my god, I
  • didn't know this was going on.
  • Oh, could you come and talk to my health class?"
  • I'm like, I didn't plan on that, And of course they
  • were quite willing, and it fit within between the classes
  • that I was teaching.
  • So when we tried to leave the faculty lounge,
  • kids have taken folded cafeteria tables.
  • Cafeteria tables that were extra tables that were
  • folded together and had been up against the wall
  • and rolled them in front of the door to the faculty lounge,
  • creating a barricade.
  • When we opened the door, we have to kind of push our way out
  • to get out.
  • Basically, what had happened was within minutes of the speakers
  • being there, everyone in the school
  • knew that there were queers in the building.
  • So everywhere they walked there'd
  • be like this parade of kids kind of wandering behind them,
  • but it'd be a distance of about five to ten feet.
  • That they'd be looking at them, gawking at them,
  • just fascinated that these people were in their school.
  • And my classroom at the time was on the first floor
  • near the back stairwell by the cafeteria.
  • And as I went to retrieve them from the health class
  • that they had done, the advanced health class,
  • and approached my classroom, I was
  • greeted by the vice principal and two or three members
  • of the Student Leader Corp because
  • the whole back stairwell of the school
  • was jammed with kids, who were all telling them
  • that they were in my class, and they wanted
  • to come and hear the speakers.
  • So I had to stand there and say, that one is, and that--
  • so I had to be able to point out to them who--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Who was.
  • TIM MAINS: --legitimately was so that they
  • could be let through the crowd to come in
  • to hear the speakers.
  • And I'm like, wow.
  • I just was--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Overwhelmed.
  • TIM MAINS: I was quite stunned, but there were no incidents
  • throughout the day.
  • I think I heard them called a name once or twice.
  • It wasn't like-- I mean there was
  • more fascination and curiosity.
  • There were indirect signs of meanness, putting the things
  • in front of the door.
  • But people weren't really mean to them or to me.
  • I know you're probably thinking that someone who
  • could get 300 kids who voluntarily would want
  • to come to their class surely they're
  • going to get an award, right?
  • I was going to get a citation.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: That's going to be my question.
  • After this day is done and over with,
  • what was the administration's reaction, or the community's
  • reaction, parents' reaction?
  • TIM MAINS: The next morning I was called into the principal's
  • office and told that the superintendent was
  • waiting to meet with me.
  • I'd never met with the superintendent.
  • I certainly knew who he was.
  • He gave a presentation on the first day of the school
  • to everybody in the Olympia Auditorium,
  • so they all heard him speak, but I'd never
  • had a private meeting with him.
  • So I came in and he began asking me
  • if I understood the consequences of the event
  • that I had held the day before.
  • So I go into, well, I think kids understand
  • a lot more about human sexuality,
  • and I think they understand a lot more about--
  • he's like, "No, no, no.
  • I'm asking if you understand the impact
  • that this program is having on our school and our district.:
  • I said, :I bet you're going to tell me," and he did.
  • And he proceeded to suggest to me that I had--
  • that there was a tremendous community outcry,
  • and that his assumption was that most members of the community
  • who expressed concern did not understand this issue perhaps
  • the way I did or my students did.
  • They simply knew that people who were very different--
  • that their kids were allowed to be exposed to people who
  • were very different, and they may not want their children
  • to turn out that way.
  • And because of those feelings, that I
  • may have jeopardized our being able to pass the school
  • budget this year.
  • I may have jeopardized the very elective program that I
  • had been so anxious to promote.
  • In order to earn tenure in this district,
  • you have to perform in a way that
  • supports not just your class, but your school.
  • So following that meeting, I was given at the end of the day
  • by my principal a letter of reprimand
  • from the superintendent.
  • And it included all these things like bad planning, jeopardized
  • the school budget, but the one that I really loved
  • was that I had created a fire hazard because it took a vice
  • principal and two members of the Student Leader Corps
  • to clear a jammed stairwell in the back of the school.
  • And had a fire occurred at that time,
  • there could have been serious injuries.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Of course.
  • TIM MAINS: So I didn't know.
  • And what did I know?
  • I was a second year teacher.
  • So what did I know?
  • So I call my union rep and said, "What's a reprimand?"
  • "Well, we're going to have one of our lawyers
  • come and explain it to you."
  • So long story short--
  • we went through this battle with them about this.
  • And I think what's interesting--
  • Dave-- what was his last name?
  • The superintendent was actually a very progressive guy.
  • In fact, he's one of the people who founded the Aesthetic
  • Institute later.
  • And in retrospect, when I talked to the attorneys,
  • he never questioned the instructional validity
  • of what I did.
  • They never said-- they really were
  • trying to hang their hat on all these potential ramifications,
  • but no one ever suggested that I made
  • a bad instructional decision.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • TIM MAINS: And so the union decided
  • that we were going to fight this battle on the basis
  • that I had received a reprimand from someone who is not
  • my direct supervisor, and that the contract was very clear.
  • I'm not supervised by the superintendent.
  • So he has no right to supervise, to reprimand me,
  • to do anything like that.
  • So there was just back and forth negotiations,
  • and we filed this grievance.
  • And we're going through this stuff.
  • And I thought, well, now it's over,
  • and just I'm completely exposed.
  • And just oh well, it's over.
  • But no, people didn't immediately
  • respond that way because I think people go to great lengths
  • to ignore things that make them feel uncomfortable.
  • So I continued teaching.
  • The budget did pass.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And there was no fire.
  • TIM MAINS: And there was no fire.
  • I would later learn--
  • because I became good friends with Cathy and Jerry Faylen,
  • and Jerry was the police chief at the time.
  • What Jerry told me was that the police department got
  • a whole lot of calls, and that board members
  • got a whole lot of calls.
  • And basically the board members after they got annoyed
  • with too many calls, took their phone off the hook,
  • but not before they called the superintendent and said,
  • "You better deal with this tomorrow."
  • His calls were all about, well, they
  • were kissing at the drinking fountain.
  • They were exposing themselves to people in the bathrooms.
  • And he said, "What we did was take the complaints.
  • We called the school.
  • We were told that there were two students who
  • had been with them at all times," and they were--
  • Cathy Dial and, who's the other girl?
  • Anyway, there were two young women.
  • And he said, "We invited them to the station.
  • We interviewed them in a typical investigatory way.
  • We didn't ask them pointed questions.
  • We asked them what unusual did you see,
  • and the only thing they reported to us is the speakers
  • were barricaded in the faculty room by--"
  • because they didn't come into the faculty room.
  • They had sat outside, and so they saw all of the activity.
  • The only thing that they reported
  • was that the speakers had been harassed
  • by students who tried to barricade them into the faculty
  • lunchroom.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Good for them.
  • TIM MAINS: So he said, we never did anything.
  • And as I would later learn, Jerry and Cathy had a gay son.
  • So he at least was astute enough to imagine
  • that most of these things probably didn't happen.
  • But at the end of the whole negotiation thing,
  • we worked out this weird thing about how my principal is
  • going to evaluate me.
  • And if the evaluation was positive,
  • then the letter of reprimand would
  • be removed from my personnel folder,
  • and I would have to surrender my copy
  • and all copies would be destroyed.
  • And if the evaluation was negative,
  • that it was found that I was not functioning instructionally
  • the way I was supposed to perform,
  • then the reprimand would remain.
  • And at the end of the year, I got a positive recommendation
  • or positive evaluation, and it was found to be--
  • continuing to do very effective--
  • my kids were getting the highest scores
  • of anybody in the school.
  • It's kind of hard to say you're doing a bad job when
  • 89% of the kids passed the regents half
  • way through the school year.
  • But one of the things we had asked for was that--
  • throughout this whole thing on several occasions,
  • there had been references to the many complaints that
  • had been made, and we had asked to see the complaints
  • because we suspected that they weren't valid,
  • but no one would ever articulate them.
  • It wasn't until quite some time later--
  • many years later when Cathy Faylen was on my Teacher Center
  • Board, and I was the Teacher Center director.
  • That I was having dinner with them one night at their house,
  • and I said, "Jerry, can we play a little history game here?
  • Can you tell me about--" he told me
  • how that came down, but no one told us.
  • Just there are all these complaints.
  • So part of the deal that the lawyer from NEA had negotiated
  • was that we would be allowed to see the complaints,
  • and they were all kept at the police department.
  • Some were gathered by the police department.
  • Some were gathered by the district office
  • and sent to the police department.
  • They were all at the police department.
  • So I went to the Greece Police Department.
  • And I had to sign an affidavit that I would not
  • attempt to memorize any of the names of the people
  • on this list, and that if I ever tried
  • to contact any people on this list,
  • that I could be prosecuted.
  • Just all kinds of--
  • I'm looking at the lawyer.
  • This is really like Nazi-esque.
  • He said, "Just sign it," so I signed it.
  • We went in.
  • We sat down.
  • They let us have as much time as we wanted.
  • I think we were there for almost an hour looking at the stuff.
  • And on the whole list, there were some of the things
  • that Jerry told me about.
  • Some of them didn't have complaints.
  • They just had names of people of why are you letting queers
  • into Arcadia High School, and not every complaint
  • had a name to it.
  • But of the names that were on the list, none of them
  • were parents of my students.
  • Zero.
  • And that was profound to me.
  • It was like wow.
  • The people-- and I finally--
  • it took awhile.
  • I didn't come to this like right away,
  • but over time I came to the conclusion
  • that the kids who saw the speakers
  • and asked questions of the speakers, they went home
  • and they reported reality.
  • And the people who didn't get to see the speakers, who
  • were dying to see the speakers, and curious,
  • and anxious to want to get in a room and really
  • find out what this was all about, because they didn't
  • have any reality, they went home and they
  • reported their fantasies.
  • They reported the things they think that we do.
  • That we make out at the drinking--
  • we grope people in the bathrooms.
  • And we-- all this stuff was all because they didn't
  • have any dose of reality.
  • And that for me was the transformational shift
  • from visibility makes a difference.
  • I need to be visible.
  • I should not live my life the way someone might--
  • I should not have ever grown up thinking
  • when I began to think I might be queer
  • that I was only person like this in the world,
  • and surely there were high school teachers,
  • and surely there were other people in my life
  • that I just didn't know about.
  • And I only could grow up with that tortured, awful feeling
  • like there's something wrong with me
  • because everybody else was invisible.
  • So I made a personal-- it was a personal, political decision
  • in 1972 or 1973, it was the summer of '72,
  • that I was not going to be invisible.
  • So I still was scared shitless to walk into my first Gay
  • Liberation Front meeting.
  • I mean I drove to--
  • what's the name of the hall?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Todd.
  • TIM MAINS: Todd Union.
  • I went to Todd Union and sat and stood there.
  • And I couldn't go in.
  • I could not go in.
  • Twice-- I went twice.
  • And then the third time I went someone recognized me.
  • And even though I was mortified, at least I had a personal--
  • I think it was Danny.
  • Said, "Oh my god!"
  • I wanted to turn around and run.
  • It's like could you be a little more discreet here?
  • So I started going to the Gay Liberation Front stuff
  • and of course the university wanted
  • to kick all of the townies out because it was a student
  • organization after all.
  • So those of us who moved off campus said, OK, fine.
  • We'll form our own organization, so I
  • became part of helping to write the bylaws for The Gay
  • Alliance.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, but let's step back though.
  • First, it was The Gay Brotherhood, right,
  • when you moved off campus?
  • TIM MAINS: There was the Gay Brotherhood--
  • actually no, it wasn't anything at first.
  • We just met.
  • And actually, no, the women's group was first.
  • There was a women's group that had already formed.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: GROW.
  • TIM MAINS: Yeah, right.
  • That's it.
  • GROW.
  • Gay Revolution of Women.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • TIM MAINS: And they actually had formed spontaneously
  • before anybody was asked to be kicked off.
  • So because there was GROW, then there was The Gay Broth--
  • then, OK, so we kind of like said,
  • alright, we'll form a companion.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So was The Gay Brotherhood formulated
  • while you were still on campus?
  • TIM MAINS: No, no.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, because you were off campus.
  • TIM MAINS: Right, so we got on off campus.
  • And there were actually a few women
  • that were meeting with us, but we're like, OK,
  • so we wanted to form just one organization,
  • but there was this other organization.
  • And so we said, OK, we'll form The Gay Brotherhood, so
  • a complement.
  • Well, some of us in The Gay Brotherhood
  • were basically feminists.
  • My whole sense of gay civil rights
  • was we should have control of our bodies, which
  • was what the whole feminist movements initially was about
  • was we don't belong to anybody.
  • We're in charge of our bodies, and we
  • should be able to decide for ourselves who we
  • are, what we are, how we live.
  • So in a lot of ways, I always felt that the gay rights
  • movement was spawned by the feminist movement,
  • was an offshoot of it in some ways.
  • But I didn't like this whole Gay Brotherhood and GROW.
  • And there were women who were very separatist in GROW,
  • but there were other women who weren't and who
  • felt like we did that there's more power
  • and there's more punch if we've got one thing.
  • So eventually we formed The Gay Alliance
  • as a melding of four organizations--
  • GROW, The Gay Brotherhood, The Rochester Gay Task Force,
  • which was a kind of a political activist group,
  • and The Empty Closet.
  • So back then The Empty Closet was really
  • treated as independent of any organization.
  • It was just-- and my model--
  • when I started working in The Empty Closet,
  • Jay Baker was the editor.
  • We did it in his apartment on Alexander Street.
  • He used to have a Selectric typewriter
  • and put thin spools of paper in and typed stories on it,
  • and know that you have to return when you ran out
  • of room on the paper.
  • And then he would paste these up.
  • And they'd always be different sizes,
  • and the printer would have to shoot it up or shoot it down
  • to make it fit on a tabloid sized paper.
  • And mister neatnik me thought, oh my god, this is awful.
  • So I finally persuaded him to--
  • would you let me-- what if we used layout pages?
  • What if I introduced you to the concept of a grid?
  • So I brought my background and my experience
  • working on the Ball State Daily News,
  • which I did five days a week for a year
  • to play on The Empty Closet and help to move that to a more
  • professional looking paper.
  • Got very caught up with--
  • at that time, there were a number of gay newspapers.
  • Had a brief affair with the cartoonist
  • for The Body Politic, which was Toronto's gay newspaper, which
  • was actually run as a collective.
  • And got really inspired by some great gay journalists
  • in Philadelphia, and San Francisco, and Boston,
  • and tried to push us to be more of a newspaper.
  • But back then there was hardly-- and there's so few of us,
  • and people wouldn't want to publish
  • their names in the paper.
  • They'd publish under a pseudonym or they would publish
  • with just their first name.
  • And if we didn't have things happening,
  • then we would make things happen.
  • We'd go make things happen.
  • It's like, we have to have some news for this month.
  • What can we do?
  • So it was in some ways exciting.
  • I was getting really hippie-esque.
  • My nerdy little horn-rimmed glasses, short cropped hair,
  • student body president started letting his hair grow.
  • So in a couple of years I had really long hair.
  • Walt Delaney was a phenomenal photographer,
  • and Walt lived in Whitey LeBlanc's house.
  • He was a tenant in an apartment in Whitey LeBlanc's house.
  • Whitey was one of the people who helped found The Gay Alliance,
  • and Walt had been a photography student at RIT
  • and just took these incredible beautiful photographs.
  • So I tried to get more quality in the writing,
  • and more quality in the pictures,
  • and more quality in all of this, and yet
  • still keep that edge of we're a movement paper.
  • This is not the D&C.
  • And eventually spent some time--
  • I don't even know when.
  • We all took our turns doing stuff.
  • So people would take their turn being president of The Gay
  • Alliance, and sometimes it would come around
  • and you had to do it again because they're
  • just weren't enough people.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • At this time, I want to get a sense
  • of the social, cultural, political environment of what
  • was going on with the paper and with The Gay
  • Alliance, and the people that you
  • are working with like Whitey, and Jay, and RJ,
  • and all those people.
  • Did you get a sense of the impact you were going
  • to have in this community?
  • Did anything kind of linger in your mind?
  • It's like you know what?
  • We might be able make a difference here.
  • TIM MAINS: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: No.
  • TIM MAINS: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So why do it?
  • What was the main mission of what
  • you thought you were doing?
  • TIM MAINS: It was about visibility.
  • It was about making sure that people knew that there
  • were gay people here.
  • I convinced them, for example, that we
  • should send The Empty Closet to every politician
  • and every member of the clergy that we could get.
  • So we got lists, and I said, "Even
  • if they throw in the fucking trash,
  • from the time that they have to pick up that envelope
  • to throw away, they have been reminded that we're here."
  • And it was all about increasing visibility.
  • It was all about making the statement that we are--
  • what we could do to increase our visibility,
  • and it wasn't about my visibility.
  • In fact, interestingly after I started getting active,
  • and I made a conscious--
  • I sat down with my friends, Donna Cichan,
  • who had been a social studies teacher with me
  • when that whole future class thing happened.
  • I was not allowed to teach the future class again.
  • I was allowed to teach all my other electives,
  • but that class didn't stay in the curriculum.
  • But it used to be that Donna and I were best friends,
  • and she knew I was gay.
  • But we were both single, and we were good friends,
  • and so we'd go to things together.
  • And I had said to her after going to The Alliance,
  • or not The Alliance, the Gay Liberation Front
  • thing throughout that summer and into the following fall
  • and next school year, I said, "We can't do this--
  • I can't do this with you anymore.
  • You can't be my--
  • We can't go to things together because it
  • makes it too easy for people to assume we're a couple.
  • So I mean I love you and you're my good friend,
  • but I need to go to events either by myself
  • or with a male escort."
  • And so that was part of what I thought
  • I was making a statement.
  • But again, people will ignore stuff that--
  • it wasn't until 1975--
  • by this point, I mean I'm completely
  • immersed in The Gay Alliance, and The Empty Closet, and all
  • this other stuff, that I had taken time off from school
  • to work on my master's degree.
  • I had taken a leave of absence for a semester
  • because I had to do an internship.
  • I was getting my master's degree in counseling,
  • and I'd gotten my master's degree in counseling by
  • and large because I was doing so much of it with kids
  • that the counselors in the school
  • confronted me about why do you keep sending kids to us.
  • They have a counselor.
  • They picked you.
  • So if you somehow don't feel confident about that,
  • then go get whatever training you
  • need to do because they obviously
  • come to you for a reason.
  • They're comfortable with you, and then just
  • at the point where they think that you trust them,
  • you shove them off to somebody else.
  • That's not the way counselors treat their clients.
  • So I went to get my degree in counseling,
  • not because I wanted to become a counselor,
  • but because I had been doing so much of it as a teacher.
  • Because kids wanted to come and explore all kinds of stuff,
  • and I would get nervous about that
  • and wanted to send them to the pros.
  • While I was on that leave, there was an event--
  • we were protesting an episode of Marcus Welby.
  • It was about this seventh or eighth grade biology teacher
  • who takes his kids on a field trip
  • and rapes one of his students.
  • Of course, the National Gay Ta-- then it wasn't that NGLTF.
  • It was just NG, National Gay Task or NGTF.
  • And then there was also a media monitoring group pre GLAAD.
  • I don't remember the name of it, but we'd
  • gotten alerted by the media watch group about this
  • and by the NGTF.
  • So we were all over channel 13 about you can't air this.
  • This is defamatory.
  • It's promoting stereotypes.
  • Pedophilia and homosexuality are not one in the same,
  • and this is just promoting really awful stereotypes that--
  • and so there was a whole protest about that.
  • And I was called by the D&C and asked--
  • because at the time I was still on--
  • I don't think I was president.
  • I was just on the board of The Alliance.
  • But I was very active with the Rochester Gay Task Force,
  • the political group.
  • And we were organizing a picket at channel 13.
  • So I get a call from the D&C asking me to comment on it,
  • and I remember thinking only--
  • I never anticipated that I'd be called by the press.
  • We hadn't role played this.
  • And I was just like, oh, the press.
  • What I do with that?
  • And I remember thinking briefly, OK, what
  • could happen if I give a statement to the press?
  • And I'm like, I have no idea.
  • Whatever it is I will deal with it.
  • So I did it.
  • Gave the interview.
  • And I was quoted in the paper--
  • Tim Mains, a member of the board of The Gay Alliance.
  • And I remember thinking at the time
  • because there was a man on the board whose son was gay
  • who was a physician at Kodak.
  • Worked for Kodak, and he was in the clinics,
  • or the medical stuff, the services they provided.
  • And the only reason he was on the board is his son was gay,
  • and he had real passion about wanting to help.
  • And I remember thinking, well, just because I
  • say I'm a member of the board of The Gay
  • Alliance doesn't mean I'm gay.
  • How we fool ourselves.
  • But it's that.
  • It finally was when it was in black and white
  • that people at school then said, oh.
  • And then the treatment at school changed completely.
  • So I had been gone.
  • The kids who I'd had as juniors while I was gone
  • had become seniors and graduated.
  • When I came back from my leave, they put me in ninth grade.
  • I never taught ninth grade.
  • I had great fun doing that too.
  • But I walked into the school, and no one knew me.
  • So I didn't have a direct relationship
  • with any student in the school.
  • So now I come back, and I'm not Mr. Mains
  • that great social studies teacher.
  • I'm a teacher with a label.
  • And the harassment was merciless.
  • I mean I could not walk through the hall.
  • Every public second that I was in the hall it was faggot,
  • faggot constantly.
  • Most of it was behind my back.
  • Most of it was I couldn't see who it was.
  • It was the typical kind of bullying
  • that kids do to each other, but I was a convenient target.
  • I remember coming into class that fall
  • and putting my hand on someone's shoulder.
  • He pulled away.
  • I used to be very touchy with my kids.
  • And everyone pulled away.
  • Eventually, my class, the kids that I had, got over it.
  • It took a few weeks.
  • It wasn't immediate, but they got over it.
  • And eventually we got to learning, and doing
  • social studies, and being a class,
  • and they would let it go.
  • But three quarters of the rest of the school--
  • actually more than that because there were still
  • a lot of freshmen who weren't in my classes
  • who I continued to hear from.
  • I had the air let out of my tires.
  • I would get prank phone calls at home.
  • I got very weary, distressed.
  • I could never have imagined.
  • And Donna, my good friend Donna Cichan,
  • said, "Wow, this is worse than when you first came,"
  • remembering the first three months that I was there
  • in the spring of 1971.
  • And a few of the teachers would try to stand up for me,
  • but not many.
  • So I finally decided that I was not going to be the victim.
  • And so when I could see- so I decided I was going to try
  • and figure out who the primary culprit,
  • who was doing it the most because I knew--
  • I had been teaching long enough by then.
  • There were ring leaders.
  • That there were people who would set the tone,
  • and then other people would copy them,
  • and that my goal was to figure out who those folks were.
  • And I asked other teachers to help.
  • I said, I don't want to hurt them.
  • And I don't want to get them in trouble.
  • I want them to stop.
  • If I ever saw someone--
  • if we were passing in the hall and you were walking by me
  • and said it, I would immediately stop and grab you by the arm.
  • Say, "Excuse me.
  • I have never called you a name in my life.
  • I don't know what makes you think you have the right
  • to do that to me."
  • Let them go and walk on.
  • So I began slowly trying to edge away at it.
  • And as I did that, more of my colleagues began to do that.
  • Alan Cusio was the librarian.
  • And Alan would say to kids, "I don't
  • know what Mr. Mains is, but I do know he is my friend,
  • and I don't appreciate your talking about him that way."
  • So other people would attempt to--
  • so it began to tap down and over time my kids, in my class,
  • eventually got to a point where they would stand up for me,
  • and say, "Leave him alone.
  • He's my teacher and he's a good teacher."
  • And I had decided when they made me a freshmen teacher,
  • to teach freshman social studies.
  • I knew I was coming in to the school
  • and not having an anchor because the last class I'd had
  • was gone.
  • So I had volunteered to be class advisor to that class.
  • And so what happened was, the counselor--
  • in Greece, counselors move with the kids.
  • So the counselor for that class, Joan Mars,
  • I approached and talked her into being my co-advisor
  • because I knew that she would be an anchor
  • to help me work with them.
  • And originally I just thought to work
  • with these new batch of kids.
  • I mean, when I asked her to do it,
  • it was before school had even started.
  • So I didn't know that this crap was
  • going to hit me in the face.
  • And over time as those kids kept growing up
  • and I kept getting new kids, eventually there
  • were enough kids in the school that I did have a relationship
  • with who would stand up for me, that the kind of nastiness
  • at least got tapped down so it was not constant.
  • But I will say it did not go away the entire time I
  • was in the classroom.
  • For the remainder of the time that I
  • was a teacher, it never--
  • it did not evaporate.
  • It was always there at some level.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You were an easy target.
  • TIM MAINS: Yeah.
  • But I, at least understood that it wasn't me.
  • It was them.
  • And I also understood, hey, you set yourself up for this.
  • You said you wanted to be visible.
  • This is part of what comes with visible.
  • So I mean, I came to terms with it-- not right away.
  • I spent nights crying.
  • Sometimes I would-- go, I don't want to go to school today.
  • I do not want to go to school today.
  • I do not want to go to school today.
  • I just, I dreaded it.
  • So I would go through periods of being very weak and very--