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Transcript of interview with Ron Lawrence by Dennis McBride, June, July and August 1997


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Ron Lawrence is one of the busiest people in the gay community, so I want him to know how much I appreciate his reserving time for me so that I could complete this oral history interview. The importance of his work toward the well-being of the gay community in Las Vegas cannot be measured, and much of what he's accomplished and otherwise made possible will live long after he leaves us. With Ron's consent to this interview, our knowledge of Nevada's gay history is greatly enriched and our record preserved.

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[Transcript of interview with Ron Lawrence by Dennis McBride, June 22, July 11, August 8, August 22, 1997]. Ron Lawrence oral history interview, 1997 June 22, 1997 July 11, and 1997 August 08. OH-01070. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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1 Hq LIS 2 L0 3S I i^7 An Oral History Interview with Ran Lawrence 1997 =& 3 ^ 77 6 7 75 University of Nevada, Las Vegas Janies R. Dickinson Library Special Collections Department 4505 South Maryland Parkway Las Vegas, NV 89154 LAS VEGAS GAY ARCHIVES ORAL HISTORY PROJECT 7 Use Agreement We, / (yClUX^^f,________ and CL v< v o fMc \~3r<cA_________, hereby give to the Las Vegas Gay Archives Oral History Project for scholarly and educational use by the public, the following tape-recorded interview recorded on Q> 11 7-n <6 ^ uvq___________, as an unrestricted gift. This agreement grants the University of Nevada, Las Vegas legal title and all literary property rights to this interview including copyright. However, it is understood that we or our heirs are freely allowed to use the information in this recording. //-&> A Date Narrator's signature Narrator's address t< -7 • • ( Date ^ '7Vc Interviewer's signature Ur •A lr.U-o-^> v ( ^ ^ j\j V/V: Interviewer's address Accented for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas by 1? Hjbad of Special Collections James R. Dickinson Library \ so A Date l Acknowledgments Ron Lawrence is one of the busiest people in the gay community, so I want him to know how much I appreciate his reserving time for me so that I could complete this oral history interview. The importance of his work toward the well-being of the gay community in Las Vegas cannot be measured, and much of what he's accomplished and otherwise made possible will live long after he leaves us. With Ron's consent to this interview, our knowledge of Nevada's gay history is greatly enriched and our record preserved. * * * ii r: Ron Lawrence and Dan Hinkley, ca. 1S>S>5 [photo courtesy of Ron Lawrence] Las Vegas Goy Archives Oral History Project Interview with Ron Lawrence conducted by Dennis McBride June 22, July 11, August 8 and 22, 1997 This is Dennis McBride and Ron Lawrence in Ron's office at the Community Counseling Center at 1120 Almond Tree Lane, Suite 207. It's Sunday, June 22, 1997. I’ve known Ron for about 18 years, longer, probably, than a lot of people in this town, and I count him as one of my most important friends. We’re going to talk about himself, about his work, about the gay community in Las Vegas and anything else that comes to mind. We’ve got quite a lot of ground to cover. So first, today, Ron, if you could tell me when you were born and where you were born. I was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania May 23, 1944 in the Columbia Hospital. Was it a religious hospital ? No. No, it wasn't. Well, yes, maybe it was. It was founded by the Presbyterian Church, and it also had on its premises a home for senior citizens. A Presbyterian home, so I'm presuming it was Presbyterian hospital. Tell me about your family: brothers and sisters, mother and father. I have one brother, one sister, my parents are still living. What's everyone's name? My mother, Mary Anne [Kryzosiak]; my father, Walter; my brother, Kenneth; my sister, Bonita. Are you the youngest, oldest? Oldest. Oldest child. Tell me about your educational background before you came to Las Vegas. I graduated from Turtle Creek High School, whereupon I began taking classes at a place called Western Pennsylvania Technical Institute. I got what would be the equivalent of an Associate's Degree in mechanical design. Considering what you do now, it seems unusual that you'd have a technical interest, even, or background. It's unusual, and like many, many young people, I did what people thought I should do. And basically my family insisted that with my intelligence and my ability to create things, that I should be a designer. So I went and became a designer. A designer of what? Mechanical things. Machinery. I worked on, oh.... For instance, one of my last jobs in the place where I worked was to redesign all the bearings in the Westinghouse generators in Hoover Dam. I worked for Westinghouse. Those generators were built in 1937 and they had a very old bearing style in there and so I updated them to the latest style of bearing. It was very easy to do, you know, because I had lots of prototypes to go from. That was one of the last jobs I did for Westinghouse. And how ironic that I would end up living in the [Hoover Dam] area. How happy were you doing that kind of work? Not very happy at all. I really enjoyed the work. It was very creative, and I really, really enjoyed working on hydroelectric generators. My job, when I quit there, I was responsible for a 12-man design team in electrical and mechanical design. I supervised them, I coordinated between them and the manufacturing floor. I was responsible for the coordination and the assembly and the working parts of these generators from top to bottom. From the top of the generator [down to] the place where they hit the turbine. You said you did what people wanted you to do. Right. But not, obviously, what you wanted to do. What was it that you wanted? I would have probably gotten into the social sciences at that point. However, I worked in engineering [field] for 22 years. I loved my work when I worked for Westinghouse. The work was wonderful because you were connected with the rivers. I did visit several of the dam sites in the country and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I worked with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, I worked with our sales department. The work was great. The atmosphere was ... horrible. The social atmosphere that I worked in was extremely homophobic. Extremely homophobic and mean. And what it demanded [wa]s that everybody conform. It was an atmosphere of conformity. When I started working for Westinghouse in 1965, these were the days when men went to work ... . I mean, if you wore a colored shirt, you were considered off-beat. And so all the men went to work with white shirts, dark ties, and dark slacks. And it was like a uniform. I was one of the first people in my department that wore bell bottom pants, and I was Was he the subject of talk in the family? Ridicule. He was the subject of ridicule in the family. I can remember my grandfather referring to im as a stupid queer. And, of course, I didn't know what that meant. Sometimes [Ed and my grandfather] would argue with each other and not speak to each other for months. I would see my uncle walking by himself and I always used to feel really sorry for him. Sometimes when my parents would see him walking when we were riding in the car as kids they would pick him up and he would talk to us and we would drop 'im off at home. So that's basically where it was. So he was one. And he was a really nice man. He also had a lover that came and lived with him for awhile when I was a child, but I didn't understand what was going on. You were younger than 14? Yes. Through my grade school years. Of course, as a Polish family, he evidently had found this other Polish man who was gay, who spoke Polish, and they lived together for awhile, and he [the lover] was actually delightful. I mean, he was very, very nice. Something happened, and he left. I don't know what it was. As a child, seeing that relationship between your uncle and his lover, what kind of ttame did you put to it? None. I didn't understand even what was going on. All I knew was that they lived together. That’s all I knew. And that people talked about it, but it was hush, hush, hushl I could never figure out what they were talking about. By the time you were 14, then, was your uncle still living? [I] can’t remember. I would have to say I think he was, but that was real close to the time that he died. And he died of cancer of the spleen. So you didn't have a chance by the time [you knew] you were gay to speak with him. Oh, no. I wish. I wish I would have had that opportunity. He was dead by that time. By the time I was in my 20s and was coming out, he was gone. You had other [gay relatives]? Yes. My mother's first cousin, his name was also Ed [Symeroski]. Named after my uncle, I suppose. He was gay. He was a more refined gay man. He stuck to himself, kept his own apartment. I never saw him with another man. He was very much loved in the family. He had lots of hobbies, like photography, and he loved to travel. He went to Europe a great deal. He would always be very kind when he saw us as children. I'm sure he suspected that I was gay, also. But we never had an opportunity to communicate about it. And, of course, by the time I was older and out, then he was gone. And he would have been somebody that would have been real nice to sit down and talk to about that stuff. He was my mom’s first cousin. / find that interesting, that you'd have two gay relatives and one ivotild be the subject of a lot of opprobrium and the other would not. He was more refined. My uncle, the older [Ed], he would make a fool out of himself chasing after men, where [my cousin] Ed was very discreet. [My cousin] Ed was a very nice man. He also kept the ties alive between the family in Pennsylvania and the family in Europe. I mean, he would write to them, he would go and see them, so he was a very important figure to the family. He kept alive the interrelating between the families that were very geographically distant from each other. And when my cousin came [to the United States] to visit from Poland he was her host. He kept her, took her everywhere, did everything with her, then he in turn went to see them. So he kept the relationships alive and he was seen as a very important person in the family. It was never talked about, that he was gay. But my uncle [Ed] was talked about because he did foolish things. How did you know that your refined uncle was gay? It's never been told to me, ever. Except one of my aunts recently disclosed to me that he was gay, and that possibly another one of the cousins was gay. Although he'd gotten married in later life, it appeared that he was gay, too. My grandfather's brother ..., of course, they were born of the same mother. And then the first cousin was born of one of my grandfather’s sisters, so therein lies the genealogy that there's been a gay man in every generation. Of course, I'm the one in the present generation. Looking back from the perspective of all these years since you've been out, do you see any particular character traits or patterns you may have inherited in your gay life from these gay relatives? I can tell you that I look like them. I resemble both of them. Their pictures are hanging on my wall in my office. I have their physical characteristics. This is on my mother's side of the family and my mother's genealogy. It's actually my mother's father. These two men ... . One is my [maternal] grandfather's brother—my mom s father—and the other is my grandfather's nephew, born of my grandfather's sister. Both on the maternal side. Maternal, right. Actually, both with my maternal grandfather. They're very closely linked. What about your father's side of the family? My father's side of the family? I know absolutely nothing. But there's also gay people on my maternal grandmother's side. Oh, yes. My grandmother's brother, Joseph, had a gay son by the name of Ray. The family is now convinced that he died of AIDS. He died in the late [19]70s. He was a very refined man. The family always looked at him with admiration because of his travels. He always went on cruises and went to the Bahamas and stuff like that, you know. Exotic vacations, and everybody envied him for it. He was a furniture salesman and he managed furniture stores all of his life. That’s what he did. And he changed his name and was a Jewish convert. He changed his name to Fields. His name was Raymond Fields. He did that because evidently someone that he had had as a lover in his life was Jewish, and they must have been together a long time. Was he gone before you knew him? No, he died ... . It had to be 78. And see, we didn't have knowledge of the AIDS virus at that time. But the complications that he died with very much mimic AIDS. He died in 78.1 came to Vegas in 79. It may be 79 that he died. It was real close to the time I left for Vegas. It might have been the same year. It might have been 79. And the whole family is convinced now that he died of AIDS. But a lovely, lovely, refined, beautiful man. Very tall. Very fair. And very fashionable. Very, very sweet man. And I'm so sorry that I didn't have the opportunity to know him, because when he died he was already living away from the family. He was managing a furniture store in Ohio. So he was born of my maternal grandmother's brother. And then my maternal grandmother's other brother, Warren, has two gay sons, and they would be my mother's cousins, my mother's first cousins. One is Tommy and one is Eddie. Another Ed. Yeah, another Ed! But they’re both gay. Two gay siblings in the same family. Two straight siblings, two gay siblings in the same family. A lovely family. My grandmother's brother owned a large farm and he was a meat distributor and he and his wife were lovely people. He's dead, but his wife's still living. Beautiful, beautiful people. Two straight siblings, two gay. That's the extent of it. I know nothing on my father's side of the family. Any gay xoomen ? Yes! And, you know, this has never been told to me, but I also believe that both of my uncle Joe's children were gay, because Ray had a sister by the name of Rita. She lives in Buffalo, New York. She has never married. And I saw her picture, and if this isn't a gay woman, I don’t know who is! So I'm convinced that they had two homosexual children, and that's all their kids. And at some point I would like to see [Rita]. A digression, because I want to bring this in. You lost relatives in the Holocaust. Yes. My family owned a steel mill in a town in Poland, and it’s spelled G-O-R-L- I-C-E, and it’s pronounced Gorlitsa. Basically, it was a forging mill. What they did is they made the large steel forging, the big chunks of steel that people would manufacture other things from. And it was my grandfather's sister and husband that owned that particular industry. The way this happened—it happened in a very unusual way. Although they had all immigrated from Poland to the United States, what happened is that when my grandfather's sister married this man, he inherited this steel mill and they emigrated from the United States back to Poland. It had to be [in the] '20s. They went back over there and had five children and ran this industry. It was a very, very successful industry. They were very wealthy, people that were very much looked up to in their community. They were very philanthropic. They lived in a huge mansion and had a lot of farm lands. Their primary crops, in addition to having the factory, they did raise fruit trees and cabbages. That was what they did on the farm. And when it came time for the Second World War, they were very emphatically anti-Nazi. And by this time their children were in their teens, so that would be right. That would be the '20s they emigrated. They were very anti-Nazi, so what they did in their community is, they developed the underground. They used their factory and their house to harbor people that were running from the Nazis. What the Germans did, they came in and they wanted to take the factory, so they shot my uncle in cold blood in front of his family. The man that owned the steel mill. They took my cousin, who was his daughter, into a concentration camp because she was known for her anti-Nazi activities in the community. She was an elementary school teacher by that time, and she was also a seamstress. So they took her into her first concentration camp, Bergen-Belsen. From there she went to Auschwitz, and from there she went to Buchenwald. The only way I can describe it is that she was used as a human slave. Her husband, then, she met in one of the concentration camps. I think it was Auschwitz. And they were married as soon as they were liberated from Buchenwald together. He was a Polish citizen working in Germany. The Nazis had evidently not met their quota for the day of people that were supposed to go to concentration camps, so they simply went to his office and unloaded the whole office into a dump truck and took everybody away. And he had nothing to do with anything, as far as any kind of activities. He was totally innocent. She was more active, you know, in her anti-Nazi [activities]. 10 What happened to her mother and other family! Her mother and other siblings stayed behind, lived in the house, ran the orchards and farm lands and the factory became a German munitions factory. And then at the end of the Second World War when the Russians took over and created the Iron Curtain it became a plastics factory. But the factory was never returned to the family. They were allowed to keep the house and they were allowed to keep a certain amount of the farm lands. What they had to do to keep the house was divide it into apartments because of the housing rules that the Russians had. So they divided it into four apartments and the entire family still lives there. It's a very, very big house. They still have it. Everybody lives there with their kids and everything. My other cousin, her name is Steffa. She was very active in the anti-communist movement, and once the Iron Curtain was put into place, she had this lover. And they decided that they were going to leave, you know, to get married. They wanted to be out into the free world, so they both tried to escape the border one night. He escaped, she got caught. She was sent to a Siberian labor camp for five years, upon which time she was returned to the family blind. Blind from malnutrition. And as soon as she started eating again and stuff like that, her vision came back. And at that point I met her. It was in the '50s, because then the Russians didn't want her anymore. They said, "We don’t essentially give a shit where you go." So then she could come over to the United States and visit and she was just a very lovely woman. She was a nursing instructor in Warsaw. Is she still living! Yes! Old, but still living. / wanted to ask you about the concept of coming out. We think about coming out today as a documented process. But at the time you came out, would you have used that term, "coming out"! No. What would you [have said]? I don't know. I think I would say I acknowledged the fact that I was gay. To yourself? Um, hm. To anybody else? Absolutely. I was already dating other men and I thought my family was going to get suspicious. So I told them. They were not happy. At all. Of course, my mother kept it as a deep, dark secret and wouldn't tell anybody. By that time I was already preparing to meet who was my first lover, who you know, who was Ernie [Egyed]. I was already seeing him. Do you remember the first time you told your parents? Yes. I think I discussed it with my mother on the phone. We were talking. I was in my apartment. You were on your own by then? I was on my own. She said something about, "Well, if that's the way it is, that's the way it is and there's nothing we can do about it." I think that they knew all along, and I don't think they were happy about it at all. How did your father take it? When did you tell him? He did not take it well at all. He was extremely angry. And now he's just the opposite. He could care less. But he was extremely angry. Do you think that that [change in his attitude] reflects his ozvn personal growth or society's? 12 Oh, I’d have to say his own. This man is not in touch with society! [laughs] Was your family religious? I would have to say, if there's a place that falls in the middle, that's where they were. They weren't terribly dogmatic and rigid, yet they weren't completely backed away from it. It was like an act that we went through, to be connected with the Catholic Church, to cover your ass. In other words, we weren't fanatic like a lot of our family members are—they're fanatic Catholics, just into total fanaticism. Yet once in awhile we showed up, and what we were told—especially by [my] grandmothers—that that was what we were supposed to do. We're supposed to show up. And I detest the Catholic Church. We're going to get to thatl [laughs] Do you remember a specific moment, or even a specific period of time that you began to realize that you didn't like women, that you liked men? I was in junior high school. And it was real apparent to me that other people were being attracted to girls and there were a couple of specific boys in the school that I was very, very attracted to. And I knew there was a difference. They were just really nice young men. Dark hair, thin and athletic, friendly and always smiling, and I just felt a physical and emotional attraction to these boys. Did you try to express it? No. I kept it all to myself. I knew not to do it. Did you have any kind of an indizndual or anything that you could look to outside yourself that you understood was gay? Absolutely no one. I hadn't even at that time put it together about my family. I didn't even understand that this was very close to me. But there were no role models. But [even] at that very young age there was a deduction that I made in my mind. And that deduction was something like this: "If I feel like this, then there must be other people that feel like this, so I'm just gonna bide my time and wait and someday I'll meet them." So I didn't feel that I was in a very safe place at all. And, of course—I'm reading Signorile's book right now, which is excellent, Life Outside, and he talks about the term fairiesfi And so I used to hear people talking that in the city there were all kinds of fairies that hang out. And I even thought to myself—and this is the part of me that was extremely healthy as a kid—"Well, if that's the way it is, that's the way it is. And despite the fact that they are not liked or held in any kind of esteem, I want to know them and I want to be where they are." So I knew that I'd have to wait, and I just kind of kept that in my head. And I guess I had faith that time would pass and that I would get my answers. And so when did you begin to get your answers? It was after I finished my time in Western Pennsylvania Technical Institute. I started then going to the University of Pittsburgh. I immediately started taking classes in social sciences because I knew that's what I liked. And so I got half of my psychology degree at the University of Pittsburgh and I was just starting to buzz through it. I just loved it. I enjoyed my classes. At that point it was in the 70s, the early 70s, so I joined the gay students' group. This was post-Stonewall,2 you know, so groups were popping up all over the country. So I did two things. I joined the gay students group at the University of Pittsburgh, which was absolutely wonderful; and because I came from a Catholic background, I joined the group called Dignity,3 which in a very heavily Catholic city such as Pittsburgh was extremely viable and active. And warm. It was a really good group. I enjoyed it. When did you first go on what you would call a date with a man? I would have what I would call casual meetings. We had a place near the campus at the University of Pittsburgh [that] was called the University Grill. It was a gay bar. I was underage. I was like 20, and I would go into that bar and order myself a beer. I mean, that wasn't uncommon in those days, for underage people to go into bars. And I would get to know some men and I would do meetings with 'em. I’d say, Til be here Saturday night. Will you?" And then we would just sit and talk and drink. It was very, very nice. That’s also the bar where I met Ernie. He was brought in by a friend of mine. What happened to that bar was ... . All the bars in those days, the gay bars, in Pittsburgh, were either funded by or had to pay protection to the Mob. And somebody at the University Grill pissed off someone big in the community. It was about two months after I met Ernie in that bar and we had started to see each other that the bar was blown up in the middle of the night. Literally, totally blown up. And everybody knew that it was put-up job. There was nobody in [the bar] though? No. It was empty. It was a gas explosion, and the entire bar ended up in cinders. Do you remember Stonewall, the time of Stonewall, June of '691 No, I don't remember it when it happened. I very, very, very vaguely remember hearing something on the news about homosexuals rioting in Greenwich Village, and it just seemed like such a remote thing to me. I remember thinking to myself, "Good. Good." I think the significance of Stonewall was lost at the time. At the time, right. But it was on the news, it was on national news, and it was good. When was the first time that you had sex with a man1 There was a young man in high school. I was a senior and he was a junior. We had a drafting class that we took and he sat right next to me and his name was John. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. He was attractive, he was blond, he was thin, he was just a very, very cute young man and we became friends. And at one particular point he asked me to go and stay over at his house, and 1 did. And we had a sexual encounter. Actually, he seduced and approached me. He was the aggressive one. He was way more aggressive than me. I enjoyed it and it was very congruent with who I was and I knew that it was right for me. He became very, very scared. As the oldest child in his family he was very controlled by his mother. He ended up going away from home, but getting married [to a woman]. But he is gay. This man is gay, and he's married. Has children and everything. We still communicate. We've been friends for 30 years. A little bit more about the gay community in Pittsburgh. First, tell me your definition of community. You mean gay community or community? Are they different? They are different. But I look at gay communities as places where the subculture seems to appear in concentration. That’s one way to look at it, in a physical, geographic way. But I also think of it as the expanse that includes everybody in the subculture, almost synonymous with the subculture, as being the wider community of people that share the same subculture and interest. What constitutes a given subculture? Similar attitudes and desires and attractions and lifestyles. And how do these manifest? By people gathering together with similar interests and creating activities, traditions, customs, that are appealing to that community or subculture. In the mid-, late '60s, early '70s, that you were in Pittsburgh, was there, by your definition, a gay community? Yes, there was. It was absolutely wonderful, but it was just beginning to emerge. We had the Metropolitan Community Church,4 we had Dignity. In the 70s we had the university group at the University of Pittsburgh, so there was gay community. But also we had an area of Pittsburgh that was absolutely gorgeous. It was called, and is still called, Shady side. Turn-of-the-century homes, 16 Victorian houses, homes with beautiful lawns and big trees. And, of course, the gay community—members of the gay and lesbian subculture—chose to move into this area and congregate there. So what they did is they bought up a lot of the old homes and renovated them, much like they did in the Haight in San Francisco. [Shadyside] still remains today the heart of the gay community, and a lot of the activities that occur in Pittsburgh do occur in Shadyside. And I need to tell you about my first gay activity that I went to. It was an activity that was held in the Unitarian Church in Pittsburgh in Shadyside. And we’re talking beautiful old buildings, churches with stained glass windows and old wooden Victorian houses, I mean, just absolutely lovely. And it was a ministry expo of New Ways Ministry, which was Sister Jeanine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent. And they came to present spirituality and religion to the gay community and to encourage the gay community to participate. The presentation was called something like Homosexuality and Religion, something like that. So I went to it. I was already a member of Dignity, actually, and the church was packed. Standing room only. It was really, really a nice experience. And it was when I first started to process the idea of what it meant to be a gay person and be spiritual. How did they present religion to people [whom] religion had castigated for centuries? Interesting. This was the first place I ever heard the term sexual orientation. I can remember [Sister Jeanine] distinctly talking about having a taste for chocolate ice cream vs vanilla. You know, having a sexual orientation. And then she talked about how—and she's right about this—how the bible has been misinterpreted and mistranslated. You know, how a lot of the Greek words have been bastardized and the word homosexual has been put in the place of [words that] in Greek would mean, for instance, spineless one. And [she] talked about the fact that Christ said literally nothing about homosexuality, that it was all in the old testament and it was all in the historical context. So I came to really understand an awful lot about religion and how it had really done a lot of harm to gay people. And basically, the other side of her message was, "It's OK to be spiritual. You're included in that." In spite of the annihilation [laughs] of the scriptures and of dogma in the community at large. So it was a really, really great presentation. It doesn’t sound, though, like they itwited these gay people to consider coming back to or continuing in a conventioml religion. They encouraged them to do that, to continue in conventional religion, [but] to also join groups like Dignity and Integrity.5 All those groups were being born at that time. That had to be early 70s, Had you questioned before religion and its attitude toward what you knew you were? No. No, I didn't. But what I did was when I started going to these [social science] classes and started going to Dignity I had all that explained to me and I understood it. You know, about what the shake-out was as far as being gay was concerned. It was a really good experience to belong to these groups. And the Dignity group that we had in Pittsburgh was absolutely marvelous. We had committees, we had a large group of people. We probably had a hundred, hundred fifty people that came to it on and off, [be]cause Pittsburgh is a very Catholic city. And the nice thing about it is that I made wonderful friends. I realize now [that] of all the things I got from that group ... . There were two things. Three things. Guidance in my coming out process, which was excellent. Being able to come out and have some kind of self-esteem as a gay person at a very young age, given the times. Secondly, the friends and the people that I met of similar interest. I still talk to some of them today. It's really beautiful, they were great friends. And third, education about religion and what it meant and didn't mean. So it was really, really a worthwhile group at that time. As part of your involvement with Dignity, were you involved in any community outreach or as an officer? No. I used to just go and help around on the different committees. At that same time I was a member of the gay student group at the University of Pittsburgh. And the first thing they asked me to do—Dignity—was to go as a liaison from them to the student group because we were setting up the steering committee to do the first gay rights demonstration in Pittsburgh [laughs]. It was really interesting. So I sat as a liaison from Dignity on that committee as we were preparing to do this demonstration. Why did they ask you to be the liaison? Just the fact I seemed to blend well with the group and I [had] lots of interest in helping, and I was rather articulate. And I was a student at that time. Tell me about the first gay demonstration in Pittsburgh. Ohhh! There was myself and a woman by the na