Audio Interview, Tom Petrillo and Bill Reamy, March 15, 2012

  • BILL REAMY: Well you had said that homosexuality was listed
  • as a personality disorder in the DSM-III,
  • but it was actually listed as a personality disorder
  • in the DSM-II--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Two.
  • BILL REAMY: --before that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • BILL REAMY: By the time the DSM-III
  • came around, homosexuality had been de-medicalized,
  • and so homosexuality was no longer a diagnosis.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • BILL REAMY: This occurred in 1973.
  • But in its place, there was a diagnosis
  • of egodystonic homosexuality, which is just--
  • TOM PETRILLO: Translation please.
  • BILL REAMY: Which is--
  • Egodystonic-- Ego dash dystonic D-Y-S-T-O-N-I-C.
  • Egodystonic means you don't like it.
  • It means it doesn't clash with who you think you are.
  • So egodystonic homosexuality meant that you were gay,
  • but you were uncomfortable with it.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • BILL REAMY: I remember early on when
  • I was working at a particular center, a counselor diagnosing
  • someone as having egodystonic homosexuality.
  • I talked with the guy, and there was nothing egodystonic
  • about it, and I said that.
  • He may be gay, but it's not egodystonic.
  • He's very, very comfortable with it.
  • I can tell you a little bit of the--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Can I just back up for a second?
  • BILL REAMY: Oh, sure.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Were you a psychologist, psychiatrist?
  • BILL REAMY: I am a psychiatrist.
  • I graduated from medical school in 1972.
  • I did an internship in Richmond, Virginia
  • at the medical college of Virginia, from '72 until '73.
  • I originally thought I was going to be
  • a surgeon like my big brother, but then I did my psychiatry
  • rotation and I got hooked.
  • And then I came up to the frozen north here
  • in '73 to do my residency at Strong,
  • and I thought I was going to go back down south again,
  • but I stayed.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK good.
  • BILL REAMY: So it was right around the time I came up here
  • that homosexuality was removed as a diagnosis.
  • By the way, egodystonic homosexuality
  • is no longer a diagnosis.
  • By the time DSM-III-R came around, which I have a copy of,
  • I threw out my DSM-III, it was egodystonic homosexuality
  • was under other sexual disorders.
  • not otherwise specified.
  • It was under sexual disorders.
  • So one examination of that is being gay,
  • but not being comfortable with it.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • BILL REAMY: No one even thinks about that
  • anymore except the diehards.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • Do you do recall, by any chance, when
  • you were first a resident at Strong, much talk
  • about this disorder?
  • I mean--
  • BILL REAMY: I was thinking about that,
  • and I would say that my times as a resident I
  • saw less in the way of discrimination
  • as just kind of neglect.
  • Just not really talking about it at all.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • BILL REAMY: I can tell you an experience
  • I had in coming to Rochester and my residency.
  • When I was in Richmond, Virginia,
  • I had a dysfunctional relationship,
  • as they say these days.
  • And the guy was pretty angry at me.
  • And I had been accepted for my residency up here,
  • and he called up here and he claimed that a patient of mine
  • had committed suicide-- that I caused a patient of mine
  • to commit suicide.
  • As a matter of fact, I did have a gay patient down in Richmond
  • who committed suicide.
  • And I was pretty upset about it.
  • And he told them that I was gay.
  • So they asked me to come up here, and I talked with them,
  • and I said, "No I didn't cause anyone to commit suicide,
  • but I am gay."
  • And they said, "That's great, come join us
  • for your residency, but just don't
  • talk about it because there are people here
  • who wouldn't understand."
  • So that's how I started out.
  • The message was, don't talk about things.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • OK.
  • BILL REAMY: By the way, the chairman
  • of the Department of Psychiatry in Richmond
  • said, "If for some reason, things don't work out,
  • you're perfectly welcome down here."
  • He was very, very supportive of me.
  • When I was a resident, I remember
  • one of the patients I had was a female to male transsexual.
  • And I guess I handled it pretty well,
  • and actually we presented this person--
  • no did we?
  • We might have presented the person at Grand Prouds.
  • I think so.
  • | don't know everyone else seemed
  • to be kind of thrown by this, as if this
  • was a big stressful thing.
  • And I remember my supervisor just
  • thinking it was so great that I was able to handle it.
  • Now I was always a very shy person
  • and I wasn't great for presenting and all like that.
  • I guess I came through it pretty well.
  • Oh, go ahead.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: In our kind of research in this,
  • we have, in the very early days of the Alliance,
  • the Alliance actually began at the University
  • of Rochester with the Gay Liberation Front, in 1970.
  • BILL REAMY: That's right.
  • Uh-huh.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The question that arises in my own mind
  • is, we have looked--
  • and this is in reference to legal matters as well--
  • John Noble, whom I think you know,
  • put us on to the Bertillon Files down in the city archives.
  • The Bertillon Files are the police records
  • from 1930 to 1960.
  • One of the members of our committee, Todd Gustavson,
  • is an attorney.
  • And he has shared with us that he
  • has a friend who was arrested in a gay bar for loitering.
  • TOM PETRILLO: When we get to talking to me,
  • I can tell you plenty of stories like that--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • TOM PETRILLO: --from the early sixties.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Prior, we also have looked at WE.
  • Do you know WE is?
  • WE was the police record sheet.
  • It was like a local National Enquirer.
  • And it was sold at--
  • TOM PETRILLO: I'd forgotten that, yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --downtown at the bookstore, the main--
  • TOM PETRILLO: Like the--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: World News.
  • TOM PETRILLO: World News.
  • World Wide News.
  • BILL REAMY: World Wide News.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: World Wide News.
  • And there is some reference in the early sixties
  • to homosexuals becoming involved in criminal behavior.
  • Wife, two lesbians getting upset,
  • and the police having to come, and so forth.
  • But in the Bertillon Files, we never
  • saw anything in terms of homosexual behavior
  • being a cause for arrest.
  • And it brought to my mind, did the police
  • pick up people, and bring them say to Strong,
  • to the psychiatric unit there?
  • Thinking, well this is a mental disorder,
  • and should we bring them to the hospital versus arrest them?
  • BILL REAMY: I never saw anything of that,
  • either when I was working on the psychiatric floor,
  • or when I was doing the midnight shift
  • in the psychiatric emergency department.
  • I did not see anything like that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Then there were many mentions
  • of arrests for loitering.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Yes, that was the key thing.
  • I don't want to interrupt your train of thought.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • Go ahead.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I graduated from law school
  • in '65, and the first two years I
  • was working for the city of Rochester
  • in its law department.
  • And one of the things we did at that time,
  • it doesn't sound-- it didn't make sense then,
  • it didn't make sense now, thinking back.
  • We actually, even thought we were
  • the civil branch of the law department,
  • we gave training to some of the police recruits.
  • And I had the distinction of being
  • asked to do a couple of those classes.
  • And I very, very clearly remember
  • that, it was a two-day session.
  • And at the end of lunchtime on the first day,
  • we all just sat around, and there's
  • all these guys ready to go out the in the street
  • now, ready to go out in the street.
  • They were all talking about this raid
  • that had occurred here in one of the bars in the city,
  • and that there had been a lot of people picked up for loitering.
  • And they were having a great time, I wish I had been there.
  • I wish we had been on that one.
  • That would have been great.
  • That would have been super.
  • Now, have to understand at that time, being gay,
  • I had no idea, that was not even--
  • it didn't even occur to me, not on any conscious level, anyway.
  • But I did say to them, I said, "Well,
  • what's so funny about that?
  • I mean they weren't doing any harm, were they?"
  • And they said, "Yeah, but they're all perverts."
  • I mean that was the term.
  • If they use that once, they use it a hundred times.
  • "They're all perverts.
  • We got to get them off the streets."
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: This was in the late sixties, did you say?
  • TOM PETRILLO: '66 to '67.
  • Something like that.
  • Probably '67, early '67, something
  • like that, when a group of police recruits
  • were finishing up their training.
  • And I always thought about that, when later you
  • hear about the police running in gay people loitering.
  • And I'm thinking to myself, way back even
  • when they they were recruits, they had this in mind
  • that this was OK.
  • This was great to do.
  • And it was acceptable at that time.
  • Now, I don't remember what bar it was, or anything like that,
  • but I do remember that very distinctly.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • TOM PETRILLO: And then of course, two years later, I
  • went into private practice, and I was telling Bill
  • this this morning.
  • One of my very first clients was someone,
  • a young man who had worked for the city of Rochester.
  • That's how I met him in one of the city departments.
  • And he came to see me.
  • And he said, "I had been to my mother and father's lawyers,
  • one of the big law firms in town--"
  • I won't name the law firm "--one of the big law firms in town,
  • to do a will."
  • And he said, "They spent more time
  • telling me how I should go somewhere
  • to cure myself, and not embarrassing
  • my parents, than they did spending
  • telling me what I was thinking about and putting in my will."
  • He said, "Would you do a will for me?"
  • And I said, "Sure, I don't have any problems."
  • And worked with him, a very nice person, and worked with him.
  • And that really began my doing work for gay clients.
  • He told someone.
  • That was in '67, probably '67, no that
  • would have to be in '68, because I
  • had gone into private practice.
  • And over the years, I had developed
  • a lot of gay gay patients.
  • That was even before I was even, my life, was even on the radar.
  • That came in '78.
  • By the time I retired in '95, it was about 70 percent
  • gay clients.
  • BILL REAMY: If I can just latch into what you're saying,
  • I think it's also known that gay people, for a long while,
  • have not had equal access to mental health services, just
  • because they were afraid of discrimination,
  • or just couldn't find someone they were comfortable talking
  • to--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Well your comment about the comment
  • that the head of psychiatry made to you
  • when you came to Rochester.
  • "Just don't talk about it."
  • The silence that encased the gay community,
  • I think I would like you to talk a little bit
  • about the difficulties that that presented in people's lives.
  • And not revealing any one person, or particular client,
  • but to talk about the environment in the sixties,
  • and in the seventies, medically profession-wise,
  • and also just in general.
  • BILL REAMY: As someone trying to learn psychiatry,
  • I really had no one to discuss this with,
  • or to go to for guidance.
  • I really felt awkward dealing with gay patients
  • myself, because I didn't know how I was supposed to act,
  • or how much I was supposed to disclose.
  • Actually, my feeling of isolation
  • led me to, when I was back down in Washington DC,
  • to call up Frank Kameny.
  • Are you familiar with the name?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • BILL REAMY: It was probably '76.
  • I was feeling very alone, and I actually said, "Could I
  • come over and talk?"
  • And I said, "I've been trying to get a support group going
  • for psychiatrists, and I'm not able to do that.
  • Do you know of any group?"
  • And he put me in contact with--
  • told me about a group that was getting
  • started through the American Psychiatric Association.
  • So I went to my first meeting was in Toronto in 1977.
  • There had actually been people would get together informally
  • at bars prior to that, they referred to it as the Gay PA.
  • But this was a group that the next year
  • became formalized as what is now known as the Association of Gay
  • and Lesbian Psychiatrists.
  • And I've been--
  • TOM PETRILLO: You were one of the charter members,
  • if I recall?
  • BILL REAMY: I'm a charter member.
  • TOM PETRILLO: You were treated as one of the charter members.
  • BILL REAMY: Kind of marginalized now because I'm old,
  • but I've been a member since then.
  • Go ahead.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Clarify something for me.
  • When you were seeking out some sort
  • of support group for psychiatrists,
  • did you mean for gay psychiatrists or psychiatrists
  • in general?
  • BILL REAMY: Gay psychiatrists.
  • As a gay psychiatrist, I had no guidance.
  • I did not--
  • I felt very much alone-- and I did not know how to--
  • TOM PETRILLO: No colleagues to discuss things with.
  • BILL REAMY: Yeah no colleagues, to discuss things with.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I'm sure there were
  • some other gay psychiatrists around but--
  • BILL REAMY: Never got anything going in Rochester.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I know.
  • You had difficulty with that, I had
  • difficulty trying to get the gay lawyers together way back then.
  • It was impossible.
  • BILL REAMY: I mean, the other gay psychiatrists in Rochester
  • don't belong to the AGLP either.
  • TOM PETRILLO: It's still a--
  • BILL REAMY: Yeah.
  • Frank Kameny was one of the people who was instrumental,
  • by the way, in getting the APA to change the diagnosis.
  • I don't know how much you know of the history,
  • but here's something I printed off
  • about how he helped disrupt the APA meeting in San
  • Francisco in 1971.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: How do you spell his last name?
  • Do you know?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Kameny?
  • K-A-M-E-N-Y.
  • TOM PETRILLO: OK.
  • So who was he, for my benefit?
  • BILL REAMY: OK, Frank Kameny--
  • TOM PETRILLO: (unintelligible)
  • BILL REAMY: --was an astronomer, a PhD astronomer,
  • who was employed by the federal government,
  • and then he was fired by the civil service administration
  • for being gay.
  • He finally got an apology fifty-two or fifty-three years
  • later.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Um-hm.
  • BILL REAMY: He founded the Washington Mattachine Society.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • BILL REAMY: He worked with Barbara Gittings.
  • I met both of them.
  • The AGLP gave them awards.
  • I finally got a chance to thank Dr. Kameny.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And the Mattachine Society, you see,
  • was identified as a communist group.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I heard that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Which really made J. Edgar Hoover's job
  • a little more overwhelming because they were so many.
  • I mean, every city, after Stonewall, within two years,
  • four hundred Gay Liberation Front groups
  • came into existence.
  • Many of them offshoots of the Mattachine Society groups
  • within those communities, because that group
  • had as a major plank, equality and justice for all.
  • And they were not discriminatory in terms of whether it
  • was gay, Hispanic, black.
  • It didn't matter.
  • So the seeds of liberation were really
  • fermenting in the Mattachine Society long before Stonewall.
  • BILL REAMY: Right, right.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And once that happened,
  • gay men and women latched onto that as an already existing
  • group, and then branched off.
  • So it was--
  • BILL REAMY: When the Mattachine Society picketed,
  • they did it in suits and ties, and dresses.
  • Women wore dresses.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • BILL REAMY: You know it was very appropriate back then.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Because the Buffalo Niagara Frontier
  • Mattachine Society, Cornell University
  • were the speakers in October of 1970,
  • at the University of Rochester, that began the Gay Liberation
  • Front in Rochester.
  • And Bob Osborn, who was a physicist,
  • it's interesting because Kameny was a scientist.
  • TOM PETRILLO: (unintelligible)
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Osborn was a scientist.
  • And these people seemed to have the energy
  • to bring people together and create an organization.
  • BILL REAMY: He was kind of an irascible, prickly sort
  • of person.
  • He didn't show many warm fuzzies,
  • but he probably had a warm heart underneath.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Interesting.
  • When you arrived here in Rochester,
  • outside of your professional life,
  • what were you finding in the community,
  • as far as the gay community goes?
  • Did you find it--
  • did you find it easy to find?
  • BILL REAMY: Well that's it.
  • How did you find the gay community?
  • No I didn't find it easy to find.
  • In a sense, I thought Rochester was
  • almost a little more conservative than Richmond,
  • Virginia was, if you can believe that.
  • And the only way to really find it
  • was eventually finding out where the gay bars were,
  • but I was a little scared to go to them even.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: On a professional level
  • or a personal level?
  • BILL REAMY: Well, I was pretty shy back then.
  • On a personal level.
  • Yeah.
  • I'm not sure how I eventually met a few people, but I did.
  • And then once you meet some people, you meet others.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: May I ask where you and Tom met?
  • TOM PETRILLO: We met just about thirty-four years ago,
  • something like that.
  • Here in Rochester.
  • A friend of yours introduced us, I think.
  • BILL REAMY: A friend introduced us.
  • Yeah.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Yeah, we've been together thirty-four years,
  • I think we got married last July.
  • Oh, October first we got married.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Congratulations.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Thank you.
  • BILL REAMY: Yeah, just to tell you
  • how much things have changed, on Wednesdays I consult now
  • to AIDS Care, and when I let them know
  • I was getting married, I got congratulations
  • from everyone, and a big card that everyone signed.
  • You know, it's just the opposite of the way things
  • were when I came to Rochester.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Uh-huh.
  • In your practice, dealing with clients,
  • did you have a sense there was more and more serious
  • problems earlier than later?
  • I mean, I guess what I'm trying to get
  • at is, has the environment changed so that people are more
  • comfortable being who they are, and being gay today,
  • than they were forty years ago?
  • BILL REAMY: To some extent.
  • I mean there are still people who
  • were pretty closeted, pretty private.
  • Maybe not as much as there were way back then.
  • It's a little hard to tell, because I
  • know that there were patients who sought me out.
  • I didn't advertise myself as being gay,
  • but there was word of mouth.
  • As I used to say, it's not public knowledge,
  • but it's common knowledge.
  • So people sought me out, and they were
  • comfortable talking with me.
  • But I don't have the sense these days that--
  • I just closed down my private practice,
  • I just retired as of March first,
  • so I was trying to get my patients into other therapists.
  • I did not see that any of my gay patients
  • were adamant that they had to have a gay psychiatrist,
  • or a gay therapist.
  • So yeah, I guess the answer is yes.
  • There's a lot more comfort, now.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Um-hm.
  • Um-hm.
  • Yeah.
  • BILL REAMY: I guess there is a lot more understanding
  • that straight people could be supportive now.
  • You know we bandied around the term, internalized homophobia,
  • but it is true that there is a lot of self-hate going on.
  • And because of that, people just couldn't assume that--
  • you were kind of caught in a bind.
  • You couldn't assume that a straight person would
  • be able to understand you or treat you with respect
  • because you hated yourself.
  • On the other hand, if you went to a gay therapist,
  • you didn't think that they were particularly good because they
  • gay and of course gay isn't very good.
  • I think some of that went on.
  • I also think that people ended up going to a bad therapist
  • just so they could be going to a gay therapist.
  • There was a time when anyone could call themselves
  • a psychotherapist.
  • You didn't necessarily have to have
  • any credentials about that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, I remember coming out in the 1980s,
  • late eighties, seemed like everybody was in therapy.
  • It seemed like to me that was the thing to do.
  • I never did, but maybe I should have, but I don't know.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Well I went into therapy,
  • but not because I was gay.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But to his point,
  • it seemed like everybody was also
  • going to the same therapist.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, yes.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: And I wouldn't want
  • to go to that guy if he knew everyone else, you know?
  • BILL REAMY: Yes there was one psychiatrist
  • who has lots and lots of gay patients.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And a couple of women--
  • BILL REAMY: Including me.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --who did also.
  • BILL REAMY: Pardon?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And a couple of women,
  • who were not psychiatrist, but therapists,
  • who had a very large clientele of gay clients.
  • Horace Lethbridge.
  • BILL REAMY: Oh I knew Horace.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Sure I knew Horace.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: In the Wellesley Center.
  • At the time, was I think, a godsend for many people.
  • BILL REAMY: He was a kind person.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • Perhaps you can speak just a little about the difference
  • in being able to find gay resources today,
  • say versus when you were first here in Rochester.
  • What has made the difference in terms
  • of accessing some of the, not only medical services,
  • but it seems every time you turn around,
  • there's another group that comes into existence to meet
  • a need within the community.
  • There was the gay men's chorus.
  • There was sisters, an African-American group.
  • There were women's groups.
  • And people knew about those, but only
  • if they were able to make connections,
  • I think, with either people who were a part of those groups,
  • or people in the community whom they knew.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I think that applies to all resources.
  • I mean back then, I can't speak to the medical,
  • he can only speak to that.
  • But back then, there wasn't a Gay Alliance.
  • There wasn't a Gay Alliance.
  • There weren't too many private groups either up there.
  • I'm sure there weren't any gay lawyers association.
  • We tried, but it never worked.
  • I mean, but I think now you've got established organizations.
  • Anybody comes to Rochester, if they are gay,
  • probably the first thing they do is pick up a copy somewhere,
  • in a bar somewhere, or in a restaurant somewhere.
  • You know, the newspaper, The Closet.
  • BILL REAMY: Oh, that's right.
  • Yeah.
  • It's everywhere.
  • You can get--
  • TOM PETRILLO: That was never the case.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: With a directory of all the resources.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Right, right.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • TOM PETRILLO: And you can even call the library now
  • and get a list of resources for gay people.
  • And there was a lot of national publications
  • that can even focus you into certain places
  • here within the city.
  • So I think that applied to everything, everything.
  • All resources that gays and lesbians needed.
  • (unintelligible).
  • BILL REAMY: I think in terms of finding medical resources it's
  • still word of mouth.
  • And hit and miss, the way it always has been.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Let me ask you this, Tom,
  • we're not trying to ignore you because we're going to get you.
  • BILL REAMY: No, I want to hear his stories.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But, when we got hit with the AIDS pandemic,
  • BILL REAMY: Yes.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Aside from the biological needs
  • of dealing with that health crisis, that
  • also perpetuated a greater need for psychological care.
  • Did it put your profession more at the forefront?
  • Of, OK there's medical treatment that's needed for these people,
  • but also, did it come to light also
  • that there's a lot of mental health
  • issues for the gay community?
  • TOM PETRILLO: I know that the sense
  • of loss among a lot of gay people was intense.
  • I think I saw this more with people I knew in other cities
  • like Philadelphia, New York rather than in Rochester.
  • But the loss and kind of trauma that some people had at
  • losing so many people who are close to them.
  • I don't remember seeing that as much here in Rochester.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But there was the AIDS crisis,
  • you know, again there was the whole medical and death
  • side that we really need to deal with,
  • but it also perpetuated things politically
  • for the gay community.
  • It perpetuated things socially for the gay community.
  • From again, the psychological profession,
  • did you see an influx of people seeking mental health
  • treatment?
  • Did it bring mental health care up
  • to a higher level of visibility for the gay community?
  • BILL REAMY: Not here, not here.
  • Maybe in some other cities, but I didn't really see that here.
  • On the other hand, I probably only
  • had a couple of patients who were HIV-positive
  • back then anyway.
  • Maybe if you went into the history of places
  • like AIDS Rochester they might be
  • able to tell you a different story.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • Yes, from my earlier comment of late eighties, early nineties,
  • where it seemed like everybody I knew was in therapy somewhere,
  • how did that come about?
  • How did it become almost a trend in the gay community,
  • that if you weren't in therapy you were almost an oddball?
  • BILL REAMY: No kidding?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • TOM PETRILLO: That's news to me.
  • I never saw that either.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The mere fact that AIDS
  • was identified as the--
  • TOM PETRILLO: Gay disease yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --gay plague, and that terminology again,
  • put on individuals who take that into themselves.
  • Certainly internalized homophobia,
  • but also self-hatred to the point of suicide.
  • BILL REAMY: You deserved it because you were a drug user,
  • or because you were gay.
  • You weren't like one of those innocent victims
  • that they talked about in the newspapers.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I also think that families
  • began to put more pressure on their gay sons and daughters.
  • I don't think back then, I don't know if they really accepted.
  • Not too many people really were that accepting.
  • There were some, of course, but a lot, you know,
  • that was just not an acceptable thing for your child
  • to be gay or lesbian, and you try to hide it,
  • and all this other thing.
  • But I have a recollection of having people tell me,
  • at least, not mental health.
  • People tell me that when AIDS became the thing you talked
  • about constantly, some parents that had family members that
  • had been OK with our strange brother or cousin, now
  • were pushing much stronger to get into therapy,
  • to straighten yourself out, otherwise you will die.
  • I see much more pressure.
  • I remember that.
  • I remember clients telling me that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Well and there also arose
  • communities that could cure.
  • Especially religious communities proclaimed that you could
  • you could get cleaned, and change
  • because you needed to pray or you
  • needed to go through these rituals
  • to exorcise the demons of gayness.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I think that was always there.
  • I think that was the first gay person ever came out
  • to a family member, I think there was always that.
  • If they tried to tap into the gay person,
  • or the family tried to tap into religious sources,
  • there was always that.
  • I do honestly believe, though, that when the AIDS crisis came
  • on, the religious groups on this side
  • suddenly got really revved up.
  • This is something, wow, we can step into this.
  • We can show how great we can be to cure these poor souls.
  • I really think that just revved them up.
  • And then families in turn began to take on that same--
  • well I guess my religious experience tells me
  • that I guess my son or daughter can be cured.
  • Now, push him hard when you do it.
  • I don't doubt that that was the case.
  • BILL REAMY: The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists
  • actually put out a movie, a DVD, called Abomination,
  • about the former gay movement.
  • About the attempts to convert gay people and the harm
  • that it's done.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So the medical profession,
  • had certainly the overriding mandate to heal, to care for,
  • to help individuals actualize themselves.
  • But then there was this wall outside of the medical
  • profession, the societal pressures,
  • and the legal legalities that said, no you cannot do that.
  • The sodomy laws weren't repealed until 1975, '76.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Close to '80.
  • Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Close to '80.
  • So--
  • TOM PETRILLO: But in all fairness,
  • the last several years before the repeal,
  • they weren't being enforced.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • TOM PETRILLO: They could, if you got
  • a nasty soul who wanted to enforce them,
  • a cop or something, he could.
  • But they were usually, in those last few years,
  • people would get picked up in parks and things
  • like that, and a lot of the cases,
  • depending on who was in the district attorney's
  • office at the time.
  • A lot depended on that.
  • As to whether or not they just got, OK go your way,
  • don't (unintelligible), or they'd actually
  • take them to court.
  • And the courts, of course, in this-- well
  • I don't want to take away from your discussion
  • of the medical thing.
  • BILL REAMY: No, no.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: No, this is actually--
  • TOM PETRILLO: Courts have been very, very slow
  • to accept homosexual behavior as something other
  • than something they ought to look at very carefully to be
  • sure it's not going to interfere with something
  • that they're doing.
  • There was a situation, we had a young lawyer,
  • this is in probably the early to mid-eighties when I was
  • in court one morning, and there had been a lawyer that--
  • the word around was he was gay.
  • Somehow it got to the judge, apparently,
  • because this is one of those--
  • If you know the legal system, it was in the morning,
  • they call the cases, you walk in,
  • and there's all the lawyers, all the cases for the day
  • are there.
  • So there's probably thirty, fourty lawyers in the room.
  • And this guy was maybe a minute late, at most.
  • And they called his case.
  • He was a minute late.
  • And they came in, and they said, don't want me to name him.
  • He said, from the bench the judge is, "Oh Mr. so-and-so,
  • you're late.
  • Out with the boys again last night?"
  • And everybody just broke up laughing,
  • and it was pretty clear.
  • He eventually had to leave town, and moved to a different place
  • in New York state.
  • It was that kind of thing.
  • I remember having a case in the, try to get my time frames,
  • it's a little hard but, again in the mid-eighties maybe,
  • in Surrogate Court, where someone
  • had dared to leave their partner a very
  • sizable part of their estate because their family had
  • totally excluded them.
  • Judge set that aside.
  • He said by the very nature of the relationship,
  • it's undue influence.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • TOM PETRILLO: There were a lot of cases like.
  • You didn't hear about them, because in Surrogate Court,
  • it's not a court that is open publicly.
  • But the lawyers who were there sure that that was going on.
  • There were cases like that.
  • And of course, you know--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So even if this guy left, in his will he left--
  • TOM PETRILLO: Yeah.
  • That's right.
  • So you can set aside a will in New York
  • if there's undue influence and judge it
  • by very nature of the relationship, it's
  • undue influence.
  • That's it.
  • It made no sense, of course, but he
  • was able to do that and get away with it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Wow.
  • TOM PETRILLO: So I'm sure there was
  • a lot of pressure on lawyers who were certainly
  • anyone who was openly gay, that was the wrong thing
  • to be in the legal profession at that time.
  • I was not openly gay.
  • I didn't even come out of the closet till '78
  • And I wasn't openly gay with the legal profession.
  • I was within my law firm.
  • That was easy enough.
  • No problems there.
  • BILL REAMY: Poor guy, I caught you just after you came out.
  • You never had a chance to sow you wild oats.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I know.
  • How do you know I didn't?
  • But, that was a very difficult time period for anybody
  • who was a gay lawyer, or a client, who for some reason
  • you had to disclose the person was gay.
  • Certainly as custody cases came along.
  • Oh Lord, I mean it was replete with cases where people were
  • denied custody, or were, it wasn't so much denied custody,
  • I saw a few of those.
  • But it was mostly restricted custody.
  • They didn't trust them.
  • You might abuse your child.
  • You're gay, pedophile, abuse your child,
  • so it was only custody with somebody else present.
  • That sort of thing.
  • And I myself handled, oh I hate to say it, three
  • or four or five, at least, cases where a partner died,
  • and the family excluded that person from attending
  • the wake, the funeral.
  • I remember the first one I had was a couple that had been
  • together for forty-two years.
  • I only remember that because it was just
  • indelibly marked in my mind.
  • These people had been together forty-two years, two women.
  • And the one who survived was not allowed to attend the funeral.
  • So I got in a little bit of trouble myself
  • because they came to me and said, "Can we fight it?"
  • I said, "We can go to court and fight it,
  • but by time we get it into court everything,
  • you can be long buried."
  • I said, "Here's what you do.
  • You put a death notice in the newspaper,
  • hold your own service."
  • I told a lot of people that.
  • And they had to do that.
  • Now, of course, the laws changed, thank god.
  • We don't have to worry about that.
  • But that was a problem for a lot of people.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you remember about what time
  • over the past half century when the laws began to change?
  • When the courts are finally starting to recognize,
  • well you know what these people were together
  • for forty-two years, there are some rights to deal with here?
  • TOM PETRILLO: To a great extent it
  • depended on what courts you were in, and the age of the judge.
  • As younger people begin to take positions in the judiciary--
  • remember back then, when I started in '65,
  • you didn't even run for a judgeship
  • till you were sixty yourself.
  • Thirty and forty-year-old people did not
  • run for judgeships, or at least not very often.
  • But the older judges hung on to these old ideas
  • for a very long time.
  • As you begin to get younger judges
  • in there, different generations, you
  • began to see the relaxation.
  • I mean they didn't look for a reason.
  • If there was a reason they would use it,
  • but they did not look for a reason, like it was initially.
  • When I started in practice, I mean,
  • you know, it was suicide to say you were a gay lawyer.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: What was the very first case
  • that you took on that was an issue of gay rights?
  • TOM PETRILLO: The funeral.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The funeral.
  • TOM PETRILLO: That was the very first case.
  • I hadn't been in private practice more than three,
  • four years.
  • And the person came in and was excluded.
  • This wasn't the couple that was together forty-two years,
  • because that one just stayed in my mind, because that was--
  • Anybody with common sense ought to say, "OK, they've
  • been together forty-two years, I don't care what they are,
  • but they ought to keep them together."
  • And I had a case like that in which I argued with a family.
  • And I remember I wasn't out.
  • I wasn't even thinking--
  • this is kind of a transition for me, as we go along,
  • I'm thinking of my own history here.
  • (unintelligible) I knew people, in the sense
  • that I couldn't find anything wrong with gay people
  • at the time.
  • It didn't make sense to me.
  • So at that time there had been a few, mostly
  • in New York City, a few, as you say, a few marches,
  • a few groups getting together.
  • And I remember saying to the funeral director,
  • I said, "You have a choice.
  • You can either let her in to see her partner,"
  • I knew I could never convince the family.
  • I said, "or we could have people picket your--"
  • I don't even know whether they could get people together
  • to do that back then, but I threatened that.
  • And so he let her at least come in, when the family had gone,
  • and spend some time.
  • And she hid in the back of the church.
  • Disguised herself, and was there for the service.
  • But I mean that was not uncommon.
  • And very early, I began to realize as a lawyer
  • that you had to develop, in legal documents,
  • you to think every single legal decision
  • you made for a gay person had to be thought in terms of,
  • how can they attack this?
  • How can I put something in there, in this document,
  • to keep that from happening, or to minimizing it happening?
  • I remember for a number of years,
  • if you went to a lawyer who knew what the heck
  • he was talking about, your will would not
  • look like your neighbor's will.
  • Let me tell you something.
  • You would have all kinds of protective clauses in there
  • to try to protect the person.
  • You don't even need that anymore now, really.
  • I retired in '95, and I was still putting a lot of them
  • in there, just because it made sense to do it.
  • You never know what you're going to face,
  • but a lot of them really still weren't necessary.
  • The whole atmosphere had changed a lot.
  • But employment problems were common.
  • I mean very, very common.
  • Someone would come in.
  • Someone found out I was gay.
  • Now they're mistreating me.
  • People being fired, and you couldn't do anything.
  • New York was an at-will state.
  • You could not do anything about that.
  • All you could do is try to cajole
  • the supervisor, or something, into recognizing
  • this person had done a good job.
  • And we want to fire this person.
  • And most cases, I lost.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Can you define for me what is at-will?
  • TOM PETRILLO: You can fire for any reason,
  • as long as it's not discriminatory.
  • And at that time, that was not one of the protected classes,
  • being gay.
  • I mean, they couldn't fire if you were a black.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because it was a protected class.
  • TOM PETRILLO: It was a protected class.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • TOM PETRILLO: But being gay or lesbian
  • was not protected class.
  • And so at-will means you--
  • BILL REAMY: You once referred a client to me
  • who was HIV-positive, and who was traumatized because he
  • needed some surgery, and the surgeon
  • refused to do the surgery when he found out
  • he was HIV-positive.
  • TOM PETRILLO: This was right after the AIDS
  • crisis had become common knowledge,
  • the discussion, everything.
  • And of course, the medical profession,
  • you can make (unintelligible), but this
  • was the medical profession, a lot of people
  • became very frightened to handle clients
  • if they thought there was even the possibility
  • that they may have AIDS.
  • And he had a very serious illness that required surgery,
  • and the surgeon wouldn't operate on him.
  • He finally found somebody, but--
  • that the case you're talking about?
  • That one there?
  • BILL REAMY: Well I don't know if it was a real serious problem.
  • But you kind of litigated it, and all
  • he really wanted was an apology from the surgeon.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Right.
  • Right.
  • BILL REAMY: I have the sense that probably there
  • was more discrimination in other medical specialties
  • than there was in psychiatry.
  • I mean, I heard people telling me
  • about being chewed out their primary care physicians.
  • I remember hearing once about a gynecologist who was thrown out
  • of the practice he was in because the word got around
  • that he was gay, and women patients
  • were afraid that he was going to spread AIDS to them.
  • So there was a lot of discrimination around.
  • I think, but I just was fortunate not to be--
  • TOM PETRILLO: Your specialty wasn't as bad.
  • BILL REAMY: Yeah, yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, just by the nature of your specialty,
  • I mean you can't be discriminative, in theory.
  • BILL REAMY: Yeah, but I still had
  • to teach people that there were certain things you
  • didn't say to patients.
  • You didn't ask a man, "Do you have a girlfriend?"
  • You say, "Do you have a romantic interest?"
  • I mean just there was the assumption of hetrosexuality,
  • and that, by its very nature, kept people from talking.
  • I've also joked with Tom, or remarked to Tom
  • that Stonewall really seems to be
  • a dividing line in terms of people's concepts
  • of themselves.
  • Whether you grew up before Stonewall, or you
  • grew up after Stonewall.
  • People who grew up with Stonewall,
  • and don't really remember the bad old days
  • seem to have a better opinion of themselves.
  • And don't have the guilt and the biting.
  • TOM PETRILLO: But also they're sometimes
  • very impatient with other GLBT people who,
  • for one reason or another, don't really want to come out fully
  • to the public.
  • BILL REAMY: Right.
  • Right.
  • TOM PETRILLO: They can become very, very impatient
  • with that, because they really don't know what that person had
  • gone through growing up, in a totally different atmosphere.
  • BILL REAMY: Also that there still
  • is quite a bit of discrimination and hiding
  • in the Hispanic and--
  • TOM PETRILLO: Black communities.
  • BILL REAMY: --the black communities.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The Patients Bill of Rights
  • came into existence in the late eighties, early nineties?
  • TOM PETRILLO: I don't remember (unintelligible)
  • when it came into effect.
  • I never really--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But even today, in certain hospitals
  • and certain clinics, you will hear
  • the story of not being able to visit
  • a partner because the family is in opposition to that.
  • That story is less heard today.
  • But during the AIDS crisis, that was a major, major problem
  • for couples who were hospitalized.
  • TOM PETRILLO: That brings back a recollection of a case in--
  • timing is, let me think.
  • It would have to have been about '84,
  • '85, when there was a young fellow,
  • he was probably in his thirties, was in the hospital.
  • Not with AIDS, it was something very serious.
  • But the fear was all there, did he really have AIDS?
  • Maybe he really has AIDS.
  • His parents were convinced he had AIDS.
  • He did not.
  • It was totally different.
  • And anyway, he is a partner of a few years-- wasn't long-term,
  • but a few years--
  • wanted to visit him.
  • And the family instructed everybody
  • in the hospital this was not to happen.
  • But the interesting thing was, I happened
  • to know, by just a chance, that the surgeon--
  • or the hospital surgeon, not private, necessarily--
  • had a gay son, and was pretty much OK with that.
  • So I called the surgeon, and I said,
  • "I know you're not at the hospital
  • to see this patient on a regular daily basis as the surgeon,
  • but you do come in and check on him."
  • I said, "Do you really think it's fair, what they're doing?"
  • I said, "Can't you do something about it?"
  • And he did.
  • He somehow, I don't know what he said,
  • I don't know how he did it.
  • But he was able to go visit.
  • He couldn't visit when the family was there,
  • but that's OK.
  • He didn't want to visit when the rest of the family was there,
  • but he could go and visit his friend.
  • I just got a lot of cases.
  • Remember Tony Green?
  • BILL REAMY: Um-hm.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Tony and I are--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • TOM PETRILLO: --He's an old buddy of mine.
  • You know and he knew everybody and everything in town.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: All married.
  • TOM PETRILLO: He would call me constantly.
  • My friend had a problem with something.
  • The bartenders knew everything.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, he was--
  • TOM PETRILLO: Great guy.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --a great guy.
  • Yes.
  • Did you attend his roast?
  • TOM PETRILLO: Yeah, the only thing
  • that was sad about his life is they--
  • BILL REAMY: The funeral.
  • TOM PETRILLO: --screwed him over on his funeral.
  • Some people decided to turn this into a big event
  • for themselves, and not for him.
  • We had to cancel the (unintelligible) funeral.
  • That big Episcopal service.
  • Tony Green--
  • BILL REAMY He wanted a simple service.
  • TOM PETRILLO: He wanted a simple service.
  • He said, "I don't want people who said--"
  • He'd gotten very, very thin.
  • He had AIDS.
  • He died of AIDS.
  • He got very, very thin.
  • He says, "I can't sit very long on the seat,
  • a lot of my friends can't sit very long.
  • I don't want a long--
  • I want an in and out."
  • Well, they turned it into this huge elaborate--
  • well, that's another issue.
  • I was so angry about that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I think I met him probably
  • no more than maybe four or five months before he died.
  • TOM PETRILLO: The last years, he suffered.
  • And you know, this is what happens, I guess,
  • when you don't have family, or a very close partner.
  • He had a lot of friends.
  • But they were friends in the bar.
  • He was a bartender.
  • And he was--
  • I won't say he was abandoned by a lot of his friends,
  • but they certainly did not come around to visit him at all.
  • And I remember Paula Sylvester.
  • Do you remember her from AIDS Care?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • TOM PETRILLO: She and I spent a lot of time
  • going over to visit him and feeding him.
  • We were about the only two people
  • that saw the need for it.
  • We weren't there as much as we should have, either.
  • But, you know, we saw the need for it.
  • And it's one of those things people
  • just never able to realize what he needed.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No, and that was a time
  • when the women's community really
  • bridged the gap, because I would bring meals to people.
  • Claire would bring meals to people.
  • We would visit people.
  • And the lesbians became the caretakers of the gay men.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I hadn't realized that.
  • BILL REAMY: Oh yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And that that brought together those two
  • factions, because separatism and feminism
  • were the antithesis of befriending a gay man or a man
  • at all.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Certainly back then,
  • there was this wall between the gay community and lesbian
  • community.
  • Once communities begin to develop,
  • then you could define them as communities.
  • There were always groups of people,
  • but there was always that barrier between.
  • I mean, even now, in some places,
  • there is a barrier between them.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: There is.
  • BILL REAMY: Oh, I made up my mind a long time ago
  • that because the lesbian community was so supportive
  • during the AIDS crisis, that I sure
  • was going to support breast cancer research.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • And HPA, Tony Green--
  • TOM PETRILLO: Oh, yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --was the face of HPA.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Oh, that's where I met him.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: For many, many years--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: One of his last dining for a dollar events.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --and Jim Black.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I was part of the HPA.
  • I was one of the officers.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • BILL REAMY: We (unintelligible) few dinners.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I handled the finances for them.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: That created more issues
  • because every everyone's eating habits came into play.
  • We had a dinner, Claire and I had a dinner once,
  • where we served fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • But not a few.
  • Huge plates.
  • And people get into, I have to clean my plate.
  • I can't leave any food on the plate, and I'm thinking,
  • oh god.
  • TOM PETRILLO: HPA was a great thing,
  • because it scooped in a lot of straight people.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Oh yeah.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I mean at that time
  • it was the biggest thing you could do.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It was a safe way for them to get involved.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Yes it was.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • TOM PETRILLO: It was a safe way, and it coughed up
  • dollars, which is good too.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • TOM PETRILLO: But I also think, I
  • don't know to what extent that really happened.
  • But I also sensed that when people went downtown
  • that night, and partied with a lot of gay people,
  • that some of their, some of the stigmatism of gay people,
  • you know, being these strange people who run around
  • with strange clothes.
  • And looking and acting strange, I think some of that
  • fell away for some people.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well it became it became
  • part of the entertainment.
  • Part of it was like, oh I want to go down
  • and see the outrageous drag queens
  • and see what they're doing.
  • TOM PETRILLO: But also, in addition to that,
  • I think they also--
  • you're right, they did want to do that too.
  • There are some who probably wanted only to do that.
  • But there were other people who socialized,
  • maybe for the first time, with a group of gay people.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • BILL REAMY: But don't you think it was strange
  • that there was this huge gathering, the biggest
  • fundraiser outside of New York City, and for a while
  • it got scarcely any press.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I know.
  • BILL REAMY: No one knew that it was going on.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because after a while it became old news.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Well Bill's talking about the beginning.
  • BILL REAMY: At the beginning.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, yeah because they
  • didn't understand it.
  • TOM PETRILLO: That's right.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: They didn't understand what it was.
  • But once it became the event that,
  • if you were anybody in Rochester,
  • and you were not somehow connected,
  • or just planning on attending this event,
  • then you felt left out.
  • I mean it became one of those events,
  • that if you were anybody Rochester
  • you needed to be part of that event.
  • TOM PETRILLO: And like all good events after a while
  • it wore off.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • TOM PETRILLO: And that's OK.
  • So that was good.
  • That was OK, because that meant you were very successful.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Well the passion that began
  • was the gay community's passion.
  • Because there were no services, there
  • was no money coming down the pipeline
  • for either medical treatment, or research.
  • And the gay community had people that couldn't pay for AZT,
  • couldn't pay for the drugs.
  • Couldn't go out and buy food to feed themselves.
  • And that's where HPA, I mean that's one of the major things
  • that it did.
  • It took care of the needs, paid rent for people
  • who couldn't work anymore.
  • TOM PETRILLO: And it did one other thing
  • that most people probably don't even think about,
  • but I thought it was important.
  • It took care of your pets.
  • And to a lot of gay people, that was very, very, very important.
  • They were sick and they couldn't afford to pay the dog food.
  • And I remember HPA, we put a lot of money to different people
  • to help that.
  • And to a lot of people just laugh, and say
  • that's not that important.
  • But to a lot of people it was very important,
  • because that's all they had.
  • Relatives had left them, family had left them
  • because they were gay.
  • They had friends sure, but you know friends were there
  • some of the time.
  • But the old pet was there all the time.
  • And that became a far more important part
  • of people's lives than you really think.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I had a friend of mine who passed away,
  • and on his death bed, his last words to us was, "Make sure
  • you take care of my birds."
  • BILL REAMY: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You know, he was more concerned about his two
  • birds than anything else.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I can understand that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I want to get back to a question for you
  • in the profession of psychiatry.
  • I mean when you started, the DMS laws were on the books.
  • So when you had a gay client, how
  • were you treating that client?
  • I mean what were you telling them
  • in regards to what you personally or ethically were
  • doing as a psychiatrist, compared to what was actually
  • on the books?
  • Was this actually telling you how to treat these people?
  • BILL REAMY: Oh no, I ignored it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You ignored it?
  • BILL REAMY: I ignored it.
  • I treated people for depression, and anxiety,
  • and obsessive compulsive disorder, and things like that.
  • No, I never made the diagnosis of homosexuality.
  • I mean, besides the DSM has always been a guideline, not
  • a recipe book.
  • It's just taking on all sorts of meanings these days,
  • and you need it to get insurance reimbursement.
  • Lawyers wave it around, but it's never
  • meant to be a recipe book, something hard and binding.
  • TOM PETRILLO: But in spite of saying that,
  • it sure still was important when the APA made that change.
  • BILL REAMY: Oh, gosh, yes it was.
  • It was a big thing.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But again if I was your gay client
  • and it came to fruition that my depression is
  • out of this sense of self-hatred that I
  • have for my homosexuality.
  • How did you deal with that?
  • I mean dealing with--
  • You said you dealt with depression,
  • but if it's clear that the depression was connected
  • with that person homosexuality, how
  • did you bring those two together to get this person out
  • of their depression?
  • BILL REAMY: Well you'd certainly ask--
  • well first of all, just treating a person's emotions and desires
  • and orientation as legitimate, that's
  • the beginning of healing, just the acceptance.
  • And then getting in deeper and talking about,
  • what a person's early experiences were.
  • How old were you when you came out to yourself?
  • When did you come out-- did you ever come to your family?
  • How did they react to it?
  • When, did you have your first relationship?
  • And you get into that, and then all sorts of feelings come out.
  • You know working over at AIDS care,
  • I still hear horror stories about that.
  • My gosh, I remember--
  • yeah I remember one guy telling me
  • that his father told him that back in Italy we would
  • have thrown you in the river.
  • I think he might have been transsexual.
  • He was certainly fairly effeminate.
  • I remember that.
  • We would have drowned you in the river back in Italy.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Tom, can you talk a little bit about the police
  • arrests or harassment, well I don't want to say harassment,
  • but the police's, police concerns regarding
  • the gay community.
  • You already have said some things,
  • but do you remember any specific instances
  • of when you may have been called to represent someone
  • who was arrested for loitering, or for whatever?
  • TOM PETRILLO: Well certainly anybody who went to a bar
  • back then, in the sixties and early seventies,
  • was very cognizant of the fact that they
  • could be raided at any time.
  • Everybody knew they had to know where the back door was,
  • and how to get out of there as fast as possible.
  • What complicated things a little bit were there
  • were some gay policemen.
  • They would be in the bars, and they would frequently
  • be the ones that give the warning.
  • They had to get out of there fast too, because they
  • could never be identified.
  • It was clear, you couldn't be a gay policeman for really,
  • for a long, long time.
  • But specific cases, I can't think of any other
  • than I know that our client came in once,
  • and I didn't do criminal work, so they might tell me,
  • and I would hook them up with a lawyer in the office that
  • did criminal work.
  • I remember one coming in saying he
  • was beaten very badly because he refused
  • to give a guy a blow job.
  • A cop a blow job.
  • There were a lot of that going on back then.
  • I can't say the whole police force was like that--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • Right.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • TOM PETRILLO: --but there certainly
  • were cases you would hear of, incidents like that.
  • They'd go in, they'd raid a bar, and that's
  • how you got off from being arrested.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And do you recall anything about license plate
  • numbers and that sort of thing?
  • Taking down plate numbers?
  • TOM PETRILLO: Well, there was a progression
  • of how things happened.
  • For a while, they would harass by raiding the bar.
  • OK.
  • Then things became a little better,
  • I guess they were probably told, you
  • got to stop raiding the bars unless you have a good reason.
  • Then they began this thing of they
  • take down all license plate numbers of people that
  • were parked around the bar.
  • Nobody ever really knew for sure what
  • they were going to do with it.
  • And they may have done something with it,
  • but I never heard any massive calling of people, or doing.
  • But the threat was there, you see.
  • The threat was there.
  • My god if I park and they take my number,
  • they'll let my wife know, because I'm not
  • out of the closet to her, or my family, or my employer.
  • And that was almost as effective as harassing people directly
  • in the bar.
  • And people began to park miles away.
  • Not miles, but a long way away from the particular
  • bars that they would have congregated.
  • I'd forgotten it.
  • Yes.
  • I don't think it went on for a long, long time.
  • I think it went on for a period of time.
  • And of course when the AIDS crisis came out,
  • policemen was scared stiff of arresting people,
  • and they used far more force on people
  • because if they subdued them, they
  • didn't have to necessarily come into close contact with them.
  • I know a lot of people were tasered.
  • Well I wouldn't say tasered, but they were made to--
  • OK they were arrested, you were afraid they might spit on you,
  • or breathed on you, so face down in the street,
  • hands behind your back.
  • The cops felt, some of them felt safer that way, you see.
  • And I think there was probably a little more force exerted
  • than might have been if they hadn't been in that situation.
  • Really when the AIDS crisis came,
  • everybody was frightened who had any contact with a gay person.
  • Doctors, you know.
  • I know a particular lawyer in town
  • who refused to take a client who was gay, who had AIDS.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you remember when Urlacher came in?
  • TOM PETRILLO: Um-hm.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What were your opinions?
  • TOM PETRILLO: He was a strange guy.
  • He could be supportive in one breath,
  • and the opposite in the other breath.
  • I never figured him out.
  • I always wondered if he was a closet gay, myself.
  • Did that ever occur to anybody else?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well we interviewed him
  • a couple of weeks ago.
  • BILL REAMY: Oh, Urlacher, he was the police chief.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Yeah.
  • Right.
  • BILL REAMY: I remember that.
  • TOM PETRILLO: But he could do some pretty nasty things too
  • though.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • A lot of times, well when we asked him about a few things,
  • he denied anything like that really happened.
  • But, you know, there's always two sides to the story.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Right.
  • Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But we then interviewed another person
  • after that, maybe Michael Robertson, who
  • was at the meeting that Urlacher came to,
  • to meet with the gay community to address their concerns.
  • And Michael's comment was, "I would
  • have followed him anywhere."
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: The interview with him was the first time
  • I'd ever met him.
  • And I was kind of, I can't really quite figure you out.
  • I mean I don't believe everything you're telling me.
  • A lot of official talk is the feel that I got.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Because we also have interviewed the head
  • of the Retired Police--
  • TOM PETRILLO: That's interesting.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --Association.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Joe Cimino, right?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Joe Cimino.
  • TOM PETRILLO: What did he have to say?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: He was very--
  • TOM PETRILLO: Did he acknowledge that some of these things
  • went on?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: No again, it was the same kind of,
  • this is the official language kind
  • of speak that we got from them.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Yeah they rally around each other
  • to the point where-- well, they still do the that, you know,
  • when it comes to excessive force.
  • It's a club, and frankly, if you had to work in the conditions
  • that they work in every day, you would understand
  • why there's that camaraderie there,
  • and they stick up for themselves.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Did you ever run into any people
  • who might have been arrested by the sheriff in the parks?
  • TOM PETRILLO: But that was in more recent years.
  • Maybe in the late eighties early nineties.
  • Oh yeah, a lot of people like that.
  • And that came down to the same thing as the other cops.
  • It depended who was picking you up.
  • There were guys who I was convinced
  • were closet gays themselves.
  • They volunteered for the park things,
  • so that they could get free sex.
  • And they would frequently threaten people.
  • I'm arresting you, but there is a way out.
  • There was a lot of that.
  • I don't know how extensive it was.
  • I mean, I heard a lot of that, but I was only
  • hearing people who'd had that experience.
  • And in most cases I believe them, but not always,
  • but in most cases I believe them,
  • because they would be able to give you enough information
  • that you know you would think that was the case.
  • That came down to really a question
  • of the district attorney.
  • As we went from the late eighties into the nineties,
  • the district attorney's office became a little bit more
  • knowledgeable about people.
  • They understood why some of that was going on,
  • and a lot of community service was the plead guilty.
  • Not really don't plead guilty, but complete
  • the community service, and we dropped the charges,
  • in anticipation of this.
  • And that still goes on today.
  • But fewer people probably, I suspect fewer people now,
  • are out in the parks because it's much more open to be gay.
  • What you have mostly in the parks,
  • I think, is mostly married men who haven't quite come
  • to deal with it themselves.
  • There's a lot of that, I'm sure.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: That's right.
  • And I have heard that you can make the arrest go away
  • if you pay a thousand dollars.
  • And the number--
  • TOM PETRILLO: That's the way it is now?
  • It could be that way now.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --of gay men who have been arrested
  • in the parks--
  • TOM PETRILLO: Now when they say--
  • Who does the money go to?
  • That's the question.
  • Is it they had to pay their lawyer a thousand dollars,
  • and he got it to go away, or they paid off somebody?
  • That's the real question you need to ask.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: They paid a fine to the Sheriff's department.
  • TOM PETRILLO: OK that's probably some validity to that.
  • Some basis to that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • Can you think of anything else?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: No I've got definitely nothing else.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: This was wonderful.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I hope we've been helpful.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You have been.
  • You have been.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Particularly from two
  • different perspectives.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And also, because you have been in Rochester all
  • your life, you were born here?
  • TOM PETRILLO: I was born outside of Rochester.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I was a farm boy.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And you are a transplant, we know.
  • BILL REAMY: They say you have to be here twenty years before you
  • can be a Rochesterian, so I've been here long enough
  • to be a Rochesterian.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I would love to talk to you more about Mooney
  • and the Chamber of Commerce incident,
  • and the property tax issue with Mayor Ryan and the Gay
  • Alliance.
  • When the city would not--
  • when we were on Atlantic Avenue, they
  • continued to charge us property tax
  • because we were not a properly 50C13 status organization.
  • And Ryan forced the council, Lou Cash, to bring it to court.
  • And I don't know what it was about Ryan.
  • He seemed to say some things that
  • would lead you to believe he was open and supportive
  • of the community.
  • On the other hand, that wasn't the case.
  • TOM PETRILLO: He was like the very strong Catholics.
  • I'm sure he was dealing with that, wrestling with that,
  • you know?
  • I don't know.
  • I've worked with Tom Ryan from time to time.
  • And he's a nice guy, pleasant guy.
  • But I suspect, you know, I do know that he and his wife
  • are very, very strong Catholics.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I suspected that, and more so politics.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You know, who is paying for his re-election
  • campaigns?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Probably.
  • And the fact that the Hispanic and African-American
  • communities, even to this day, have such restrictive,
  • oppressive attitudes and--
  • TOM PETRILLO: I don't know whether that's
  • going to change as the younger generation--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: They've got so many bigger issues right now.
  • Education and poverty.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Well yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You know.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The other thing that I wanted to ask you Bill,
  • I haven't been on line recently to check this out,
  • but there was a point at which there were groups
  • of HIV-positive men advertising, belong to this group,
  • become HIV-positive--
  • BILL REAMY: Oh, no.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --and become a member.
  • BILL REAMY: Oh, no.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I knew that that existed,
  • but I knew that some report of that,
  • but I didn't know if it's real or not.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It was real.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: It is.
  • It was, at least--
  • TOM PETRILLO: It was way back.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --four or five years ago.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Oh just four or five years ago?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • TOM PETRILLO: No then I was never aware of that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Especially with younger people,
  • now that HIV is not--
  • TOM PETRILLO: Manageable.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --the death sentence, immediately,
  • that it was twenty years ago.
  • You can now live with the disease,
  • but there are many young people that who are not--
  • BILL REAMY: And live with the side effects of the drugs
  • you're taking for it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Wow.
  • And go bankrupt because you can't
  • afford all the medication.
  • BILL REAMY: That's right if you don't have ADAP.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But there were many groups on the internet
  • inviting membership.
  • TOM PETRILLO: I did not know that.
  • I remember back when the AIDS crisis was first came out,
  • there were people who said, we're all going
  • to get it anyway, so why worry?
  • BILL REAMY: Kind of sounds like the anorexic support groups
  • that young women have on the internet.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • TOM PETRILLO: But enticing people to belong.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: To belong.
  • TOM PETRILLO: To belong.
  • When you belong by acquiring AIDS.
  • I mean that's just--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I question about how widespread it really was.
  • It may be just a little fringe group
  • that just happened to get a lot of attention at some point.
  • TOM PETRILLO: Well that happens, yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Could have been, but--
  • TOM PETRILLO: I hope it's not.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I bring that up because we
  • have seen more and more suicides and more and more
  • violence against gay young people,
  • and the sense of isolationism that they
  • seem to have, and feel.
  • So unconnected, so not able to reach out,
  • not able to have someone that they can even talk to,
  • that would force the