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Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest Oral Histories Series
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Oral history interview with Frodo Okulam

Frodo talks about her life as a lesbian, in the late 1960s onward. She discusses her gender identity as a child, dealing with her sexuality as a teen, how she got her name and what the Lord of the Rings meant to her, starting the Portland Chapter of the Tolkien Society of America, and her spirituality as a Wiccan and member of the MCC (Metropolitan Community Church).

Okulam, Frodo

Oral history interview with Holly Hart, by Winter Drews and James Loos

Holly Hart is the owner of Old Wives Tales restaurant on East Burnside in Portland. She was born in Chicago in 1947 and grew up there before moving to Portland to attend Reed College in 1964, where she was highly active in protests against the Vietnamese War. Her identity as a lesbian became apparent around this time, and following graduation at Reed, she entered a period of intensive gay rights activism. Suffering burnout, she regressed from these activities before returning to them upon attending the law school at the University of California Berkeley from 1972 to 1975. Some time around 1978, Hart was on a panel commissioned by Oregon Governor Bob Straub to compile a report for the "Task Force on Sexual Preference". Upon the failure of the Mt. Moving Café, which Hart frequented during its brief run, she started Old Wives Tales, with an emphasis on multi-ethnic vegetarian cuisine.

Hart, Holly

Oral history interview with Norm Costa

Norm Costa has lived in the Portland metro area since 1958. He transitioned from an engineering career to running his own beauty salon in Lake Oswego for several years during the 1960's. More recently, Costa has worked for decades as a gay rights activist, mostly working with local health departments on HIV prevention efforts. This interview describes many aspects of the gay experience in Portland over the course of those years, including his experience with politics and activism, personal experiences, gay-oriented clubs and businesses over the years, and the spread of the HIV virus in the early 1980's.

Costa, Norm

Oral history interview with April Lewis, by Tyler Brewington and Heaven Hartford

In this interview, Lewis, shares some fascinating information about her family, her background in diversity training, her involvement with Portland’s lesbian softball league, and her experience of living through the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Now over twenty-five years sober, April speaks candidly about her identity as a recovering person, twelve-step programs, addiction and abuse within LGBT communities, and the importance of addiction recovery communities.

Lewis, April D.

Oral history interview with Roey Thorpe, by Roxanne Michelle Holtman

Thorpe discusses her tenure as Director of Basic Rights Oregon (2001-2006) and her subsequent role on staff at Planned Parenthood in Portland. Thorpe also discusses her youth in Columbia, SC, her coming-out process during the early 1980s, and the significant positions she has held in organizations dedicated to LGBT rights, non-profit community childcare, and at Empire State Pride Agenda (NY).

Thorpe, Rochella, 1962-

Oral history interview with Linda Rae Besant, by Emma Bagley and Emily Kahnert

Besant discusses her involvement in the earliest incarnation of the vocal group The Dyketones; coming out in her early thirties (to herself & to her family); her commitment to Women In the Wilderness (aka Keep Listening); her life with her partner, Marcia; and the community at the Mountain Moving Cafe in the 1980s.

Besant, Linda

Oral history interview with Maria Council, by Gary Knapp and A. Krummenacker

Maria Council is co-founder/President of Peacock After Dark. Council discusses her introduction to drag; her drag influences including "drag mother" Patty O'Dora and Lady Elaine Peacock; her reputation as Northwest's First Lesbian Drag Queen and subsequently as the first biologically female Empress of the Rose Court; her experiences in workplaces that required different levels of closeting and self-censorship; and her involvement with the local Portland church community.

Council, Maria

Oral history interview with Ed Segel, by Pablo Guzman and Greg Nicosia

Segel, a history professor at Reed College, discusses his knowledge of some of the local Portland non-profit organizations including Basic Rights Oregon (BRO), Love Makes A Family, Right to Pride, and Portland Town Council. Segel also discusses his experience of the AIDS epidemic, and his seeing a therapist during the early 1970s in order to come to terms with his homosexuality.

Segel, Edward B.

Oral history interview with Reverend Susan Leo, by Jae Ann Atwood and Genevieve Blaettler

Leo speaks of her experiences as an out lesbian pastor in the United Church of Christ; her experiences in Nicaragua during the 1980s that led to her decision to attend a Presbyterian seminary; homophobia within the church; and social justice & activism. She also addresses the difficulty her mother had in accepting Leo's lesbianism.

Leo, Susan, 1951-

Oral history interview with Charles F. Hinkle, by Nichant Mehra, Nathan Guynn and Michael Pratt

This interview is the 2nd of two separate interviews conducted in 2009. Hinkle focuses on the No On 9 campaign and his efforts in defeating Ballot Measure 9. Also discussed is the Oregon Citizens Alliance and its leaders, Lon Mabon and Scott Lively (whom Hinkle debated in a well-known Town Council broadcast.)

Hinkle, Charles F.

Oral history interview with Patty Wolff, by David McCormack and Carla Moller

Patty Wolff relates stories and anecdotes about the life of Wolff's partner of many years, Maxine L'Ecuyer, and about the lives of lesbians during the first half of the 20th century. Wolff's partner, Maxine L'Ecuyer (b. 1923), was a French-Canadian, left by her parents to be raised in a Catholic orphanage in Kansas. After moving to California on her own at age 14, L'Ecuyer worked as a movie projectionist for the Marines during WWII, after which she joined a Catholic convent, believing her sexuality to be an abomination. Denied the right to take her final vows, L'Ecuyer attended graduate school at the University of Washington, and was briefly institutionalized (as a result of her sexuality being revealed and compromising her professional career as a professor). L'Ecuyer retired to Portland in her late 50s, at which time she at last found a means of realizing her same-sex attractions to other women. L'Ecuyer met Patty Wolff circa 1992, at a rally on Pioneer Square in opposition of Ballot Measure 9.

Wolff, Patty

Oral history interview with Renee LaChance, by Brontë Olson and Nicole Estey

This is interview of Renee LaChance was conducted by Brontё Olson and Nicole Estey for the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest as part of their senior capstone at Portland State University. LaChance worked with the queer newspaper The Cascade Voice, first selling advertising and writing and later as the editor for a period of time before founding Just Out newspaper with Jay Brown in 1983. The interview covers her involvement in the Gay Pride Festival, AIDS and ACT-UP, and Ballot Measures 9 and 13, as well as her experiences with running Just Out, her decision to sell, and her feelings about the path of the paper after its purchase by Marty Davis in 1998. It finishes with words of wisdom offered by LaChance for both the gay community and the general public on life and changing the future.

LaChance, Renee

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