tv Open Phones with Lillian Faderman CSPAN March 27, 2017 6:00am-6:31am EDT
in the mountain and pacific time zones. lillian faderman, why does the struggle -- at least in your book -- begin in the 1950s? >> guest: well, i could have begun even earlier, of course, but the 1950s marked the time when gay people started to organize. incidentally, we were all called gay at that time, not lgbtq, but gay was sort of the umbrella term, the underground term for all of us. so the first ongoing organization that formed started in 1950s, and that would be -- [inaudible] society and it was very
difficult to get people to join that organization. so i talk about the persecutions in the 1950s and why an organization was necessary. you know, in the '50s all of the churches, gay people were sinners. and to psychiatrists, all gay people were mentally ill. and to the police, all gay people were criminals. and to the federal government, if you had a job that had anything to do with government and slowly facilitiered down even to teachers -- filtered down even to teachers and social workers, all gay people were subversives and morally corrupt and shouldn't be employed by the government. and so the 1950s was a very rife period, and that's why i start there. >> host: but there were gay people before 1950s, right? [laughter] >> guest: i think people called themselves gay as early as the late 19th century.
but there were people that we would today tribe as homosexual -- describe as homosexual or transgender or bisexual who wouldn't have used that word for themselves in earlier eras. but, obviously, what's been called homosexuality is a diversity within human capabilities, ask we've always existed -- and we've always existed. >> host: you write in your book that the american military has been hunting for homosexuals since 1919. >> guest: yes. the first major witch hunt of homosexuals occurred at a naval base in 1919 when franklin delano roosevelt was the assistant secretary of the navy. but what i found so interesting in my research is that whenever there was a war going on, the
regulations against homosexuals serving were not entirely eradicated, but i think that examiners sort of turned a blind eye to the tact that one was -- to the fact that one was homosexual. and as soon as wars were over, peak periods of witch hunting of homosexual military people began. this was true, for instance, during world war ii. there were many homosexuals serving in the military. examine ors actually looked for people who claimed they were homosexual and weren't and had claimed they were homosexual as a way of getting out of service. [laughter] but those who truly were homosexual were able to serve, and many of them did serve. right after the war when fewer military personnel was needed, then the terrible witch hunts began of homosexuals in the
military. >> host: well, let's hear there our callers who were watching the panel, and let's start with cheryl who's calling in from bakersfield be, california. cheryl, you're on booktv with author lillian failedderman. >> guest: hi, cheryl. >> caller: hi. it just breaks my hearts for these kids. i didn't know i had a daughter until she was this her mid 20s. it's so hard for them because they're so worried that people aren't going to love them. sorry. [laughter] it just makes me so emotional because it's so hard for them. >> guest: your daughter is lesbian, you say? >> caller: she's transgender. she's fully transitioned -- >> guest: oh, transgender, yes. >> caller: we're not conservatives, we're not republicans, and she was still so afraid even knowing how open we were. and i just can't imagine what some of these kids go through. it's so hard. >> host: thank you, cheryl. >> guest: yes. thank you, cheryl. >> host: the next phase --
>> guest: yes. i think that the transition, the transgender issue has become the big issue now in the struggle for lgbtq civil rights. and i know it's difficult, but the fact is that your daughter has allies now. i think that not only people within the lgbt community, but people outside are understanding more and more about gender diversity as well as sexual diversity. and i think what's important is that she find a support group, you find a support group with her, and there are support groups. i'm very optimistic about the future. i think that it must be very difficult to be agreemented initially with that -- greeted initially with that information, but i think there are many, many
allies out there. >> host: why is the q for queer added to the lgbt? >> guest: you know, it's now lgbtq, q for questioning, i for intersex, etc., it goes on and on. was we want to be inclusive. when i came out in the 1950s, we were all gay whether we were l or g or b or t or q, whatever. we were all called gay in the underground. but with i think there's more sensitivity now to the fact that we're not all alike, that there are transgender people, for instance, who are not homosexual, and we need to recognize and honor that. i think we recognize that bisexual people are very much a part of our movement and our
allies in our movement, and that needs to be honored as well. i call my book, though, the gay revolution because there wasn't enough room on the cover to have the lgbtqiqaapp revolution. [laughter] so twrks ay is -- gay is a term that was an umbrella underground term that was used for all of us, as i say, through much of the 20th century. >> host: ann is in missouri. hi, ann. >> caller: hi. thank you for taking my question. my question may be controversial. the bible is my guide for how i must live this life. romans 1 discusses homosexuality and other relationships. how do you look at the bible and its teachings? thank you. >> guest: you know, the bible is a very lengthy, rich and often contradictory week. the bible say -- book. the bible says that you should
never wear wool and cotton at the same time. the bible says that you shouldn't mix milk and dairy, ask most christians ignore that part of the bible. i think there are all sorts of ways to understand romans that you quote as well as leviticus, but it seems to me that what the new testament is certainly about is love, and that should be the primary part of the bible that people who call themselves christian pay attention to. >> host: lillian faderman, what was it like to come out in the 1950s? [laughter] >> guest: you know, it was a very difficult time. it was probably the worst time in the 20th century to come out as a gay person. there was absolutely no support in society. now we have many allies, many straight people who understand
that we're human beings just like everyone else and who understand that we're american citizens and deserve the rights of first class citizenship. that was certainly not the case in the 1950s. i think most of us felt that we had to be secretive, or we would be in trouble. when i was a freshman at ucla in 1958, all of us had to take a battery of tests in which we were asked various questions. and scattered among those questions was a question in all sorts of variations like are you attracted to someone of the same sex? have you ever kissed anyone of the same sex. those of us who were gay realized that we had to say no to those questions and, of course, i said no to those questions. i discovered when i was doing research for my book on girls and twilight lovers that the
dean of students at ucla had written a 1954 article saying that it was the responsibility of deans of students to ferret out homosexual students and either make them convert to he is prosexuality or -- heterosexuality or expel them lest they intext other students on -- infect other students on campus. so there was that kind of witch hunting in the 1950s when i was a young person. >> host: next call for our guest comes from right here in tucson. hi, donald. go right ahead. >> caller: i would like to state an opinion and have you comment on it. i don't think the gay rights movement would have gotten to where it is today without the liberation movement in our society in general. women started talking about having orgasms, we started talking about bisexuality, etc.
would you comment, please? >> host: thank you, sir. >> guest: i think that's an excellent point, thank you. it wasn't only the sexual liberation movement though that made the gay liberation movement possible. the gay liberation movement was born at the end of the 1960s. it was a decade of various minority groupses fighting for their rights -- groups fighting for their rights and other groups questioning authority that gave blind decisions. the 1960s was the period of the black movement, for instance, where african-americans fought for their rights in a variety of way. it was the rise of the feminist movement which is part of the sexual liberation movement, as you point out. it was also the era of the anti-vietnam war movement where hundreds of thousands of people
knew that they could congregate to question the government's policy for having gotten us into a pointless war. and so at the very end of the 1960s, on june 28th, 1969, at the stonewall inn, young gay people decided that they had to fight back. and that began a very militant gay liberation movement that has since become much more complex and diverse. it's become a mainstream movement now. but it wouldn't have been possible without, as you say, the sexual liberation movement, the black liberation movement, the anti-vietnam movement and other movements as well. >> host: next call comes from roger in east lake, ohio. hi, roger. >> guest: hi, roger. >> caller: i'm surprised i got through this quick. the thing that bothers me about this whole transgender watt room thing is it seems -- bathroom thing is it seems to have
started at least on one side by people in washington who kind of decided without knowing what the heck's going on. it seems to be one side is rather subjective. there was a kid i heard about on the news, i think his name was bobby, who wanted the right to dress as a girl when he thought he was a girl. so bobby doesn't though what he is, but his principal has to know what he is, and his employer has to know what he is. shouldn't there be some kind of law or a court case in which it is decided objectively what the standards are and what the things are rather than letting bobby decide if there's even a crime at all? >> host: lillian faderman. >> guest: well, you know, i
think that the transgender issue has really exploded because it's such a melodramatic issue. transgender people have been using bathrooms of their choice for decades now. but i think that the right has glommed onto that issue in order to discredit lgbtq people. but think for a minute about what it would be like for a woman to have a very masculine person who was born female but identifies as male and for his whole life has identified as male come into your bathroom. that's going to bother you. [laughter] it would be much better for a trans man to use the men's room than to use the women's room.
and i think the reverse is also true for a trans woman to go into a male bathroom would certainly be disturbing to many men. it would be much better for her to use the women's bathroom. so it seems to he that this is an issue that has been blown way out of proportion, and it's an issue that the radical right has glommed onto because they are finding ways to oppose the entire lgbt movement. >> host: lillian faderman, are we in a sense post-gay in this country? >> guest: i don't think we're post-gay at present are because it seems to me all of this discrimination is being revisited in the last couple of months. i would have said a few months ago that, yes, maybe we are post-gay. maybe people can simply choose
what they want to do without putting a label on their behavior, but i fear that the last couple of months has thrown the entire progress into question. and so i don't think we're -- if we call ourselves post-gay, it means we can lay down our arms. we can stop fighting. and i don't think we can stop fighting. >> host: all right. when we last left your personal life, you were taking tests at ucla. do you remember when you first became an activistsome. >> guest: i think i became an activist through the women's movement. i became, first, a feminist, and then i realized that as a gay person, i really needed to pay attention to the rights of lesbians that were being denied by the women's movement. so i would say i became an activist in the late 1960s.
>> host: karen is in seattle. hi, karen. karen? >> guest: i can't hear karen. >> host: karen, we're going to have to move on. i i apologize, we cannot hear you. so let's talk to vicki, and vicki is in sandusky, ohio. you're on with author lillian faderman. please go ahead. >> caller: yes, ms. faderman. i just want to say thank you for the work that you do. i'm from sandusky, ohio, i hail from the town mr. obergefell is from, and i'm just really so proud that the book that he wrote, "love wins," because that's what it's going to take in this country. there's such a systemic problem with regards to discrimination for not just the lgbt community, but race, religion, and i really think that needs to be addressed. someone had mentioned bible scripture.
the bible i live and read teaches love, it teaches forgiveness, understanding, compassion, and most of all the fact that we are not to judge. there's a big difference between righteous judgment and self-righteous judgment, and i'm just so happy that you do this. i personally have not attended church since after 9/11 when i heard from the pulpit that our country was attacked due to all the gays in this country. and be i found that to be so appalling with family members who are or gay sitting right in the i pews. in the pews. and i just, i don't know the answers. it's not something you're going to make somebody to stop being. i just, i would hope for support and open minds, open hearts, and that's really all i have to say. not a question, but just a comment. >> guest: thank you so much for that, yes. thank you, vicki. i think allies like you are so
important to the movement. i understand that more than 65% of america now approves of same-sex marriage. 63% of america thinks that people should be able to go to the bathroom of their choice, their gender identification. those numbers come there allies like you, so thank you very much for that. >> host: carter, idaho falls, idaho. good afternoon to you. please go ahead. >> caller: good afternoon. i personally think that mrs. faderman is doing the country a disservice by raising this kind of thing. the gay movement started calling itself gay around 1970. she finally did confirm that to somebody here a couple of calls back. before that they were called homos, and i think today -- >> guest: we were called gay --
>> host: we'll let him finish, lillian. go ahead, carter. >> caller: we have males, we have females, and we have home sexuals. and if people would just shut up about their gender and live their lives, we'd all be way ahead. but this woman's writing a book, and you don't write a book for altruistic reasons, you write a book for money. and that's all i have to say to her. good afternoon. >> host: carter? carter, do you know any gay people? >> guest: i think we lost carter. >> host: i think we lost carter. of lillian faderman, your turn. >> guest: actually, the underground terms for homosexuals, the term we used to describe ourselves since the late 19th century, early 20th century, was gay. gay became a term that was used after the stonewall riots in 1969. but i think the question to you,
carter, is really a wonderful one. and that is, if you knew gay people, if you knew lgbtq people personally, you would realize how diverse we are. the term homosexual applies to some of us, but there are trans people, for instance, and bisexual people who are within our movement and gender-fluid people who are within our movement. i think you do a disservice to humanity by trying to put everyone into one little basket. there are men, there are women and there are homosexuals, and that's not the way human beings work. >> host: donna, bronx, new york. hi, donna. you're on the air. >> caller: hi. hi, lillian. i'm sad to say that i did not read your book yet, but i definitely am going to pick it up. i'm a lesbian, i'm in hi 50s. i -- in my 50s. i came out when i was 16 years old, in the middle '70s.
it was the first group that i i remember going to was called the lesbian feminist liberation on 13th street down in greenwich village. >> guest: yes. >> caller: i don't know if you knew a woman by the name of betty santoro, she was a big, big activist and rallied in washington. anyway, i'm calling because i have wronged to this group -- belonged to this group up in white plains, it's an lgbtq group, and the landlord decided after nine years to sell the place. and so the rent was $1,000 a month, ask we were doing -- we had facilitators that ran groups of people that needed, coming out groups, support groups. we had drumming circles, we had dances, fundraisers, and now we're finding it very, very hard to find a place to just rent or just go half with someone on to try and continue this with, for
the lesbian community, and i was wondering if you could recommend any places that hay -- that may do that. >> guest: i'm not a new yorker, i'm from california, but i, i think you have a sympathetic mayor and a sympathetic city council, and i would appeal to them. i would tell that story to them and, hopefully, yet some hope -- help from them. >> host: lillian faderman, during the campaign -- or after the election, donald trump said that he was the first president to come in supporting gay rights, gay marriage, etc. >> guest: yes, except that his support has been very weak. he chose a vice president who was the governor of indiana who was extremely opposed to lgbt rights. he chose an attorney general, jeff sessions, who has been opposed to -- [inaudible]
he chose as the head of housing and urban development someone who compared us to people who practice bestiality. and so regardless of what donald trump may think personally, he has chosen people who are enemies of equality for lgbt people. >> host: let's hear from gypsy in elk horn city, kentucky. good afternoon, gypsy, you're on booktv. >> caller: good afternoon, peter. and good afternoon, lillian faderman. i'm loathe to say i haven't read your book, i'm sorry, but i expect i will. i'm calling about a little piece of history in atlanta, georgia. in 1976, tall, -- fall, until te
fall of ooh 78, my lover and i were caretakers for the atlanta feminist alliance. alpha house. i think it was founded by margo george, best i can remember. do you have any current information about that alliance? >> guest: i'm afraid -- >> host: we'll get an answer in just a second. gypsy, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to elk horn city, kentucky? >> caller: well, i grew up -- i was born in west virginia, wyoming county, near the now-famous oceana from which the documentary oceana was filmed. ..
>> i've fumbled my way through life; 1960, gosh, i'm just going along about myself. oh, my. >> my point was, you live in a rural area and you're identified as a lesbian. what has that life been like for you? >> well, i'm out to the people who know me, but i don't know very many people in this area. i didn't grow up here.
i just grew up a county away in southwest virginia. >> thank you for your time and for your story. lillian faderman. >> i ton know about the feminist groups you talk about but i spoke a couple of times at a woman's book store in atlantay i heard recently the book store is still going. so, i think you should try to contact them, and i bet they'll be able to tell you about what happened to that group. >> what's another resource for somebody like gypsy in elk horne -- elk horn city. >> there are so many resources online wonderful books out about lgbt people. i think all one needs to do is google gay or lesbian or lgbtq and the particular area and you'll fine dozens of thing.