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Marge Kirchner and Pat Landry oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Jessica Merrick.
Tampa, Fla. :
b University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 transcript (12 p.)
LGBT oral history project
Interviewee names are pseudonyms, used by request of the interviewer.
Interview conducted March 6, 2009.
This is a transcript of an oral history interview with two lesbians who live in a gay/lesbian retirement community in Florida, the first such community in the United States. Most of the interview focuses on life in the community: relationships with neighbors, social activities, etc.
Social life and customs.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
LGBT oral history project.
y CLICK HERE TO ACCESS DIGITAL TRANCRIPT
COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 2009, University of South Florida. All rights, reserved This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrig hted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fo wler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.
! LGBT Oral History Proj ect Oral History Program Florida Studies Center University of South Florida, Tampa Library Digital Object Identifier: L34 00005 In terviewees: Marge Kirchner (MK), Pat Landry (PL) Interview er : Jessica Merrick (JM) Interview date: March 6, 2009 Interview location: Undisclosed Transcribed by: Jessica Merrick Transcription date: March 18, 2009 Audit Edit by: Arlen Bensen Audit Edit date: April 27 28 2009 Interview Change s by: Christine Toth Interview Change s date: May 20, 2009 Final Edit by: Mary Beth Isaacson Final Edit date: July 29, 2009 [Transcriber's note: The following changes have been made at the request of the Interviewer: pseudonyms are used throughout the Interview, the use of ellipses indicates that material has been removed, names of persons not directly connected with the Interview have been replaced with pseudonyms, some identifying geographical details have been removed.] [Note: There is no formal start to this interview.] Marge Kirchner : When we said that Pat and I really w eren' t together. It was kind of in the should we, should we not stage. And it was suggested that maybe I become involved in a group called New Century Singers, which is a group of singers that it's made up of friends and members of the gay and le sbian community, GLBT community. It was an organization that when it started it started in my church. It was my minister's partner who started it. She had an exte nsive musical background, very, very gifted woman. W e gave a hundred dollars to the cause. T hey asked several people for a hundred dollars to get them started, t o buy music. Anyway, they asked me to become involved because they knew I was really lonely. So I became involved in it and eventually it became a big deal and I became president of its b oard. We had a lot of outreach that way because I would have to find venues for us to perform in. I mean, I'll never forge t when we performed in that Catholic church, that huge Catholic church and just talking to the minister th e priest excuse me and everybody there was sayi ng, "This is who we are and this is what we present." At the time they were only really doing spiritual kind of music, bu t they have branched out and now do they do a lot of music from around the world, really, from different cultures but spiritual stuff They have Afri can stuff. They have Asian stuff. They have
! # Pat Landry : Latin. MK: Latin cultures from the Israeli culture just all kinds of things. I can remember at one of those meetings in the beginning, () the direct or a rtistic d irector, said, Ah, s omeday we'll sing in Carnegie Hall." And they did about two years ago. So that was another way to see more of the community. Again, it was a teaching thing. When I went on the b oard of the Par ish Resource Center the Par ish Resource Center is a place near us on Long Island. T here are four or five of them in the country, not a big big deal. But t hey provide consultants who work with people who are in churches where they need direction. How can we have a Bible school class where we can what's the best way we can get across this message? What can we do for Vacation Bible School for little kids? What can we do to bring more people to church? How can we get people to contribute more? All of this kind of stuff. And these consul tants really work with people to help them to get the best information that they could have. And they also give lots and lots of workshops and this and that I became somewhat involved and eventually went on their b oard. I was the only lesbian on their board, the only gay person. And as a matter of fact, I never let it not be known. From the beginning, this was it. So here I was in this religious capacity. Jessica Merrick : That's fantastic. Y ou infiltrated! MK : (laughs) Yeah Yeah. And I just, you kn ow but this is who I am. It really a nd then (laughs) they also we got involved with their thrift shop. They ha ve a thrift shop to help them wi th their financing cause they really ha ve a difficult time with financing and buying things and so forth They pay rent of a dollar a year because the building that they're in was the original Congregational church of a very lar ge Congregational church. JM: And they still have money problems? That's a huge (inaudible) there. MK: Well over a hundred years old T his building that they rent, and rented to them JM : A dollar. MK: A dollar a year. JM: How could they have money problems after that ? MK: Buying supplies, paying the bills for heat and electricity and paying their workers. JM: Okay.
! $ MK: It's just all kinds of stuff. Anyway, so they have the thrift shop. And Pat and I decided, "Well let's go to the thrift shop. Let's see what's around." Well these people had just a bunch o f junk all over the place. Remember that? And we went in and Pat started building shelves and all of this kind of stuff so that they could put their things on. We got then I got involved with a B oy S cout troop and a couple of Boy S couts were doing their Eagle Scout p roject. We got them to do built ins. I mean (laughs) it became a major thing. And it was never "T his is Marge Kirchner." [It was ] "Marge and Pat, " Marge and Pat, " Marge and Pat." So if we do anything w e feel very strongly that we educate, and that 's what we want to do. JM: That's fantastic that you do that. MK: Yep. JM: I think it definitely makes a difference I think it's about changing one person's mind at a time. PL : Yes, I really think that. Even though movements are important, sometimes movements can be turn offs too, d epending on how they approach a situation. JM: Right. Right. MK: I have a cousin, ( ) a nd she was born about a year and a month after me. And we were close as kids but then we just really went separate ways. I'd see her at funerals and things. I very, very rarely saw her although her mother that's my mother's youngest sister is a very dear aunt She means a lot to me and also to Pat. And as a result of spending a lot of time with her mom and helping her out financially and so forth, we got to know [my cousin] again. Last year, we actually had a cousins' weekend where ( ) and [my cousin] came to our home. And [my cousin] really comes from a pretty straight background. I could see her father sitting there talking about the "spic s" and the "yanks you know and all of that kind h e was unbearable And T hose niggers live around the corner." Oh God, it was horrific! And that's what she gre w up with. And then she married. Her first marriage, that guy was just as bad as her father. I don't really know about ( ) I think ( ) was more accepting, but whatever. And then he died last year. But anyway, she has completely turned around. JM: Really? MK: Yeah. Hasn't she? PL: Oh, yeah.
! % PL: Well look at Aunt ( ) MK: Oh, Aunt ( ) please! Every time I call she's in a nursing home now "So how 's Pat? How's Pat?" So every once in a while Pat calls her. She s going to go up there PL: And then her older uncle Uncle ( ) MK: Oh, my Uncle (). PL: W hen we got married, Marge wrote in the local news paper on Long Island is Newsday And back almost every year, it gets a major award for, like, the country cause it's an excellent newspaper. Marge decided to write into Newsday and send them a picture because they have a married uh, thing comes out once a year where they have once a year MK: It comes out once a week. PL: where they show all newlyweds. Well we were on the newlywed page! (laughs) MK: And then my uncle sees it and he calls and he says, "Marge, congratulations!" ( both laugh ) PL: He sends us a copy of the article, and ( all laugh ) MK: Yeah. A nd he was just ninety years old and I have not seen them in years and years. And we went to the party, the big family party. Everybody was very accepting, loving, caring and S o thrilled to have you here." PL: Cause s ometimes it's certainly not the MK: And these are people who (inaudible) know. PL: older generations who don't accept it. Sometimes it's the younger generations who don't accept it. Sometimes again, as we've found for ourselves as you get older you get more accepting of things instead of the opposite. MK: Yeah. I would definitely agree. PL: Since we've taken up half of your day (laughs) MK: Yeah, right, right. JM: Well now I just thought of another question I wanted to ask! (laughs) Is that okay? PL: Sure.
! & JM: I was wondering about words which words you like to use to describe yourselves. Cause t here are so ma ny words and this might be a generational thing, but nowadays people will be using the word "queer" as a positive thing and there's all different kinds of terms that people try to pick up and re a ppropriate sometimes I was wondering what words you usually use when you talk about yourselves? PL: If I'm talking about myself, I say I' m a lesbian. Marge is my spouse, and JM: Do you say "wife" now that you're married? PL: No, cause we don't us e "wife MK: No. A nd as a matter of fact PL: People have a hard time with that. MK: Even when we were getting married remember the minister asked, "What terms would you like dur ing the service? What would you like?" We decided on spouse. We felt that that was a good one. PL: People have a very hard time with the wife and wife thing. Again, I think that's another way of educating people. MK: And I don't like it either. It's too, um heterosexual for me. JM: Really? Does it make you think MK : Yeah. Although we do buy cards that say To my wife." (laughs) PL: It was a big thing when we start ed doing that. (laughs) So I use lesbian ," and Marge is my spouse. I think it was very interesting, e specially with the insurance thing N ow you're doi ng all of these medical forms and they ask if you're married and now we put yes. MK: Yes. PL: You know? Your partner name spouse and it's Marge. And I find like, I talk to people on the phone sometimes who are ca lling me about insurance things, cause I got so many medical stuff. And I say, "My spouse, Marge, she ." And they're "Al l right!" People have gotten to be amazingly accepting of this whole thing. MK: It's so PL: Just it's
! MK: I mean, what we have seen when you think about it. All right, w e're in our sixties. We're separated in age by seventeen days. (l aughs) JM: Wow! MK: But w hen you consider that we graduated high school in 1960, so we consider really, the end of the sixties [19 60s ] the seventies [ 19 70s ] the eighties [19 80s ] really like our time. And the difference is just astounding in everything. PL: M m hm MK: Even credit cards. Well you know, yeah She's also on the account. Why? Because she's my spouse. You know t hat kind of thing. Even ( ) in New York for heaven's sakes, he'd rather talk to you than me because I'm such a stickler about how much he charges. That's the guy who takes care of the property. (laughs) PL: And I say, "Marge, for the work he's doing this is a good you know, he 's all right. (laughs) JM: What about yo u? What words do you usually ? MK: Um you know it's kind of hard to say because I'm not usually in that situation, although I do see PL: Yeah we're not. MK: Because we're so out PL: But when you use a word MK: Then I use "lesbian." For years I wouldn't use it because it had such a horrible connotative value. And I can remember when I was a little girl, probably seven or eight years old and my dad and I were taking a walk. We were around the corner and there was a woman standing out on her front stoop. And I said to my father, "Who is that?" And he says, "Oh you don't w ant to go near them." And I said "What do you mean?" And he says, "Well the women that live in that house are just differen t." I never knew what that I've never even told you that. PL: No, never. MK: Just flipp ed into my mind! And so that was one thing that was way, way back there.
! ( Then, we lived next door w hen we lived in Brooklyn [New York] we lived next door to ( ) w ho was such a wonderful woman, a nd her son ( ) And [her son] never ma rried. There's a picture of [her son] was older than my mother and he was holding her when she was an infant and all of this stuff When we were I guess I was in sixth grade or so, I guess [the neighbor] had died and [her son] had friends coming in and out. Well one time there was a little fire in the yard and my father tried to get whoever was in the house. And there was nobody there and he put out the fire m y father was a volunt eer fireman. And he went in the back and here's all these women's dresses and everything (laughs) And I can remember him talking about it! So, I know that that was in my mind also, that t here were gays around me, and my father never talked badly about it. I don't know why he did about those women w hat bothe red him about t hem Maybe because it was women. PL: Because it was women. MK: Maybe, yeah. I don't know u nfortunately. JM: Do you think people have a hard t ime accepting women's sexuality? MK: I think. One of the regrets of my life is that I never came out to my parents. I wasn't really sure who I was back then. You know? In the couple of years that my dad lived after my mother died, I certainly knew this was where I want to be. And he certa inly was a part of my partner's we were all together all the time. But I never said anything. I'm sure he knew, but I just never was able to get it out of my mouth. And I really regret that terribly, b ecause we were extremely close and I always felt like, "H ow could I not be this honest with him, this person who knows me so well?" So yes, I would use lesbian. I use spouse. I don't like the word wife. Again, I don't like this heterosexual concept that JM: Do you think wife is sort of like, an exclusive ly heterosexual term? MK: Yeah, I do. JM: Because w ife" also denotes "husband which is a hierarchy situation isn't it? MK: M m hm. Yeah. JM: Makes sense. PL: Also, one thing (laughs) I'm thinking of being in the little going back and for th to the airport one time and that driver who said something about the two of us, and Marge said, "We're partners." And he said, "What business are you in?" ( all laugh )
! ) JM: What kind of cowboys are you? PL: So Marge said, "No we're not in a business t ogether. We're partners ." And he's, like, thick. T his guy was absolutely thick! JM: He'd never heard of it Wow. PL: So finally we said, "We're in a relationship together." (laughs) And this was last year or something. MK: It was a couple of years ago. PL: So we don't use "partners." MK: We don't use the word "partner." PL: And it's funny because my brother, who's very accepting of this and we used to he was always jealous of my girlfriends. ( all laugh ) In fact, that's how I came out to him because he was coming on to one of my girlfriends. JM: Oh, jeez. (laughs) PL: And I said, "We've going to go for a walk, ( ) ." He's six years younger than me. And we're on the beach walking and I say, "You know [a certain girl] ?" He says, Yeah! She' s really hot!" I said, "Well, s he's mine." ( all laugh ) He says, "Oh that's cool." But he ha s a business partner. They're in a sign bu siness. [His business partner] is very straight. He's accepting, certainly, accepting of all this, but came from a v ery Italian, straight, macho thing () is my brother is one of people see him and they think he's gay. He's not swishy at all, but he's just he's very sensitive. He's very emotive. MK: Cries all the time. PL: Talks to women all the time, knows all about women's issues, hysterectomies and menopause and all this stuff But he's so secure with himself guys kid they call the guys in his motorcycle group they call him MK: Gwendolyn! PL: Gwendolyn! (laughs) But he is just the most secure straight guy I've ever met and everybody falls in love with him. But, a nyway him and his business partner, ( ) are
! really good they're very close friends. They'd be going out and [his business partner] does all the what can I say? the procuring jobs for them, clients fo r them signs and that And my brother does all the manual labor in regard to that MK: Big signs, like hospital signs, stuff like that. PL: O r s igns for like, he does the signs similar to the one out there that you see that says [ the community's name ], sandblasting signs and that So a nyway [my brother's business partner] started introducing them as, M y partner, ( ) ." And finally and a couple of times people would look at them funny and [my brother] finally had to say () you can't use that term anymore because you have to say business partner if you really want them to know wh at you 're at!" ( all laugh ) JM: That's funny. Well there you go about breaking stereotypes huh? p ause in recording PL: said a little earlier that i t's not just the aging thing. It's really the being gay and lesbian. There are a lot of people here who are very closeted et cetera but there are a lot that aren't. So it's not a matter of fact that we only interact with ourselves. Many people here and I'll be one of the m as the (inaudible) are doing things outside the community. Like Josephine [Carter] does so much with the guide dog group and Rebecca [Heart] does a lot of stuff with the church and s o does up front MK: Allison. PL: Allison. People are involved in di fferent levels with the community at large. So we're not just this isolated group that only interacts with each other. Each of us are doing something outside besides But it's just so nice to be able to be here. A nd the comfort is the family feeling as I said before. You know there's always some one to count on. MK: We lost all of our friends when we decided to be a couple b ecause I had been in this relationship for a very long time. Pat had been in her relationship for thirteen years. It was a big strug gle. JM: You left your old relationships to be together? PL: Ye ah MK: Yes. And that was it. So until we moved here, really it's a testament to our relationship W e had no friends. We knew people and I certainly knew people because of my organization a nd stuff, but as far as PL: We'd go out to places. I was still working and going someplace else for my employment, a nd Marge had a lot of groups she was involved in. B ut that's different than close friends.
! "+ MK: So until we came down here we didn't real ly have that PL: An d actually, t he interesting thing is that part of being down here has reco nnected us with some people up n orth that had kind of taken a hike when we first got together. There's a couple that ha ve been together for fifty two years MK: Next week, fifty two years. PL: And they rent down here in [ nearby location ] every year for two months. We connected with them I guess, a couple MK: Maybe two years ago. PL: R econnected with them and then, through them, reconnected with some ot her people up n orth that we had known e arlier. So, it's interesting that w e have made some connections here that have brought us c loser to some of the people up n orth. But it's still very different. It's very different having friends that are three hours a way, two hours away, even an hour away. Yo u just don't easily you don't drop in on your neighbor, or say, "Well, let's go to breakfast this morning or "L et's have a card game." When you're all living in the same area, it's much easier to do that, even t hough schedules can be wild and getting people all together at a time can be difficult But it just makes it so much easier. MK: What's so bizarre is that we lost all these people in quotes And yet we've been able to maintain relationships with our former partners. It took a while Well, it took you a little less than me. It took a long time for [ my former partner] and I but we're very close friends. She moved down to Florida. She lives at [ another community ] and we visit ove r there. I don't know if they're c oming here for Easter this year, but it's a yearly thing. So, that has been nice. PL: So it's a great place to be. JM: Gosh I think you covered all my questions without me even trying to ask them. (MK laughs) One thing I wa s going to ask about that we sort of touched on but I was wondering about how () and her husband, the s traight couple had moved in right next door, and or as a part of your building, right? So, I know that in Florida laws are you can't have, like, an exclusively y ou can't move in" policy for straight people. PL: I think it's federal. I think it's a fe deral law isn't it? JM: Okay. MK: I think pretty much. JM: So
! "" PL: But Florida's very conservative as you know (laughs) JM: But at any rate, you can't officially say "Gay and l esbian people only." So, w hat do you think the community does to preserve at least its majority, or the you know, t here's not five straight couples moving in as opposed to one and that sort of thing? And h ow do you think people generally feel about it who live here ? MK: There was a straight couple that lived up front. But they boug ht the house because their son wa s gay. JM: Okay. So, they bought it so that he'd be able to meet people? MK: Yeah but he re ally didn't hang out very much or whatever, and eventually they left. We had no clue as to how this happened and began to realize that the realtor here () I don't know if you've met him. JM: I haven't. MK: Okay. H e would do anything for a sale. (la ughs) PL: Even though he would tell [peo ple this was a gay community] and a ll of our brochures like when you go up to the sales MK: Office. PL: office, they give you a brochure that does say that it's a gay and lesbian community. And ( ) would mention it, but never made a big deal o ut of it. But [he] didn't sell this house, the other realtor did. JM: Oh, I didn't know that. PL: Yeah ( ) didn' t sell this house. B ut MK: They were aware but it didn't bother them. I think that for them, the things that we glean ed over the period of time and he's wonderful. He helps out everybody. He's really good. She is somebody you see less of simply because she works and when she comes home she's exhausted He's a (), and she i s a teacher mentor f or kids that are pre school that have all kinds of difficulties. So she trave ls from school to school. S he gets home she's wasted, but very friendly V ery, very They come to parties. They gave a barbeque a couple of years ago. But when I found out I was absolutely livid. (laughs) JM: I think it makes sense, since you move here with the expectation that
! "# PL: They can go anywhere the straight people. MK: That's what I'm talking about. PL: That's our point. They can go anywhere. We can't. They can go anywhere and make community. We have to really work at making community. So I think we've gotten on [the realtor] 's back a lot. Whenever I see anybody looking around, I always let them know, if they look like a straight couple or anything else, and ma ke it clear that this is a very involved community. This is not just someplace you live So if you want to be here, you need to be part of the community and this is a gay community. JM: Have you ever had an y adverse reaction s when you said that to somebody? PL: Um, no. Not really. I think now obviously in the past year or so there's people haven't been looking for homes. (laughs) So everything has slowed down. But I think we're really on [the realtor] more and more to just express that point. You can't keep them out if they really want to move in but you know MK: But you don't have to make it attractive. PL: M m hm. JM: Okay. So I take it there was no policy where they asked anybody first, "How do you feel about these people moving in?" They just said MK: Well he supposedly always said that he would ask them but I'm not so sure he did. He might have said, "This is a gay and l esbian community." And he might have said, "How do you feel about living here, knowing that?" But I don't think it ever went any further because one of the statements that I made at a meeting wasn't, "How d id they feel?" How about us ? JM: Exactly. MK: H ow do we feel? JM: That's what I wonder, really. They wouldn't have moved here unless they were comfortable, but MK: Mm hm. Yeah. And the fact that [there] are so many people who are they 're all out in this community. They're not out when they leave. And how do they feel about it? So, that was a big issue for me. I don't think that you know, in retrospect, they're wonderful neighbors. So, it's not like "You'd better move out" kind of thing. I don't feel that way at all. JM: Do you think it shifted the dynamic though, when they moved in?
! "$ PL: Not really. Too many of us, you know. MK: Not only that but that was the last building. PL: Yeah. Well, no MK : Did they have the other building? Oh, ye ah PL: The other building wa s do ne about the same time. MK: Yeah. Where () and () are. PL: And then () and () live there. MK: But that's where the office was then, and the office went down there. But w e were the last occupied building. JM: So they were sort of at the end, anyway. MK: Yeah. JM: Okay. MK: And there's such a big space between us and across the way. Yes, I don't think it changed the community at all. PL: I think if another straight couple moved in then MK: Yeah, then PL: then we may be up in arms. Uh huh. And now I feel like this bigot ( PL and MK laugh ) JM: That's all right. I think it's reasonable to feel that way. PL: who's in a commun ity and a black person moves in. "Oh my God. You gotta move out!" You know? But it's just it' s different. JM: But you're right. Y ou have been marginalized in certain ways that they're not. This, for you, is an experience that they don't need to infringe on, in a way So I definitely think you're reasonable in feeling that way PL: As I said, the y've been very friendly and everybody's n o one has shunned them in any way. Quite the opposite I think They've been friend ly, we've been friendly. I just wish they were gay. ( a ll laugh ) And who knows?
! "% JM: Okay. If this place didn't exist, where do you think you might be living instead? PL: New York. (laughs) MK: Right. JM: Just one house instead of two. PL: Yeah. Absolutely. MK: Yeah, there's PL: Cause as I said, we didn't buy a house, we bought a community. And it happens to be a lovely home and a great place to live for all different reasons even just the area et cetera But we bought it for the community then And it'd still be a home I'm wondering how we'd ever get a community. (laughs) MK: Probably. JM: So Florida 's sold on you a litt le bit now huh ? MK: Yeah although this will never be my only home. PL: She hates the heat. I would move down here tomorrow. MK: I really can't tolerate it I mean. By the time M ay come s, I know I'm going to be, "Oh, God. When are we going home?" You know, that kind of thing. PL: And she loves our home in New York. The home we live in, Marge owns. Her and () lived in it and she bo ught it from [that person ]. MK: No. I bought it from us. (inaudible) PL: Yeah. You bought it from us. The dog owned it (MK laughs) So it's been Marge's home for many, many years. MK: Thirty something years. PL: She really loves it up there. I mean, I love it, too. It's a lovely place and a lovely home but MK: Wonderful property. We've got w hen I retired, as a gift Pat had a koi pond put in, in the back yard. So when you look out our sliders you just see this big pond and all these gardens. PL: Waterfalls
! "& MK: It's a five I guess it's now a six level waterfall. It's just beautiful PL: There's lovely plantings, and MK: And another thing is that in New York it does get to be horribly, horribly hot but it doesn't last. You might have a week of that horrible heat and humidity but then you'll have a reprieve for a while. JM: But New York has that horrible, horrible cold that does last. ( l aughs) MK: Right. And we have been we're very, very lucky and we're very blessed. There's just no two ways about it. Financially, we're blessed A s far as our relationship, we're blessed We're blessed with the people in o ur families that we do have and the friends that we have here. But beyond that we have a cleaning woman in New York a nd I hire her in the winter. And two days a week, she comes into our house and makes sure that water gets run and the toilets get flushe d and PL: If it's freezing up, or MK: Yeah. The guy who takes care of our property in the during spring and summer and fall PL: The summer, you know, mowing and MK: I contract with him to plow the snow and all of that stuff. So, the house never lo oks like it's empty. And then down here, we have Josephine and Beatrice to flush and run the water and stuff. PL: Everybody who live s here has a house buddy, where whoever it is it doesn't have to be the person who lives next to you, but someone who has the keys to your home, and if you go anywhere, they're always the one who can check up on the house and make sure it's okay or if you want mail brought in or whatever it might be (inaudible) MK: Yeah. If there's s ome people that when they service the air conditioners and stuff like that, they just let 'e m in, and that's that. That was something we felt with Jo sephine and Beatrice immediately, 'c ause we weren't here for a very lo ng time. PL: And then, also, the other thing that happens here for us, people who go back and forth is someone in the community will pick you up at the airport. Someone in the community will drop you back off. There's always someone to that's going to b e helping you one way or another. MK: We have one car that stays down here and we have two cars in New York. And I really have had a difficult time with having only one car because I'm very
! "' PL: Cause this is a place you don't just walk to things, too You have to ride. MK: Right. An d I'm very independent. I want go out to lunch by myself, a nd I want to do this and I want to do that. So this year I had my car shipped down. I'll have it shipped back when we go back in June. And it's great. We love it! It's something that we'll continue to do. We considered just buying another car and then we thought, "Well, it'll be kind of stupid to own four cars (laughs) K ind of, like, a little e mbarrassing. ( a ll laugh). JM: Well, these guys [pets] need cars (all laugh) O ne car per family member. That's pretty much all I have. Is there anything I haven't asked or mentioned that you want to talk about? MK: What do you hope that this study will bring about? JM: I hope that it brings conversation to the needs of people who are ready to retire gay and lesbian people who are retiring. And I feel like there's such a need for places like this and, that if atten tion and especially positive attention and I don't hope to skew the story, but a lot of people just naturally, it seems, have positive things to say. And so my expectation is that what I end up saying will also reflect th at positivity, and then bring hopef ully, you know, people will see that this isn't just a place to live. This is a place like you said it's about community. You didn't just buy a house, you bought a community, and that this is extremely important A nd it's, I think, a place I don't know I think just the short time I've spent here and the few people I've talked to, I feel like it's done being here, it's done really good things for people and enabled people to live in ways that they otherwise can't. And I just think that's so incredibly impor tant. So I think attention needs to be drawn to it, and PL: Well, I think it's great that you, as a young person, are interested in looking into this now and realizing how important it is. MK: How did you come across us? JM: Through the web, actually The same way you did. MK: That horrible old website. PL: The web MK: T hank God it's changing. PL: Look at it soon, because it's going to be a good website. (laughs) JM: ()
! "( MK: One of the things you mention ed the dogs T hese are our children. We don't have kids. These are our kids. You know when I talk to my cousin she'll always say, "How are the girls?" You know? My nephew [will say] "How are the girls?" ( l aughs) It's just they're just accepted because they are a part of our lives a very, ve ry important part of our lives. PL: It's interesting because when you see usually when you see straight couples they're talking about their kids all the time. And as you know, animals are so important to gay couples because the majority don't have their own k ids. But even now who wa s that big star who just lost his dog? MK: Oh, t he guy who was in that wrestling movie 1 ? PL: Yeah. MK: I don't remember. PL: It was on the Academy Awards That dog was like his child. And there are a number of straight couples, especially those who don't have kids, who feel the same way. But you find it more in gay and lesbian communities, I think. And t his i s such an animal friendly place besides JM: Absolutely. Everybody's got dogs It's amazing. I think that's how I lucked out meeting people was I just sort of got out of my car and started walking around and PL: Ev erybody's walking their dogs. (l aughs) JM: p eople are walking their dogs. (l aughs) I said, "Hey! Can I talk to you?" Worked out really well. MK: So that's what you did? Y ou just came in one day ? JM: Yeah. Yeah. I wa s really I was sort of nervous to do that because I didn't know if people would just shut the door in my face "We don't want to talk to you!" I don't know. It would've been fine and I would have done something else. But I think that's why it m ay be also the letter I sent out M aybe it was confusing, because it was meant to be and maybe I should have reworded it but it was just meant to sound like, "This is your choice, this is yo ur I'm here to do this, if you want me to." MK: Right. JM: But if anybody's unhappy with it, I'd rather just not do it. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !,-.-//012!34!5067-8!,49/7-:!;<4!=3>//-?!01!3<-!#++)!@4A0-! !"#$%'()#& B
! ") MK : Who did you talk to first? I mean, when you came in here, did you come to meet w ell you didn't meet () so did you JM: I cal led MK: just see somebody on the street? JM: I went to I came back here to the leasing place and I grabbed a flyer and I called the number for cause [the realtor] was in the office and [he] said, "Oh, I don't want anything to do with that. Go talk to Beatrice. I didn't know who Beatrice was (PL and MK laugh) I didn't know where she lived or anything. PL: (laughs) MK: Good old ( ) PL: Good old (), yeah. JM: I don't want to get anybody in trouble, here. MK: No, no, no. PL: That's okay. You can't tell us anything about () we don't know. ( l aughs) MK: Plus Pat is on the board of [one of the community's organizations]. JM: And o h, actually, before I called him I maybe it was I forget I don't know which point it was but I wanted oh, maybe I gosh, I don't know. Cause somehow I knew which place was () 's. I must've asked somebody, "Hey! Do you know where ( ) lives?" Maybe I knew that he was the person but I didn't know I must've called ( inaudible). But, um so he said, "Oh, yeah, by that red car." So, I went down there and he wasn't there but I had my car parked there. So I was just kind of had gotten into my car and then I saw this car pull in. And it was ( ) 's or () and () 's car out there? MK: Yeah. We really don't know. PL: Yeah. JM: And so I mean, I was such a weir do B asically, I just waved at em and they waved back So, I kind of walked up to em (JM & MK laugh) as they were pulling in their garage and I said "Hey! Can I talk to you?" From there, they talked to me for a little bit, and he said, "You know, y ou should go talk to Juliana a nd Katherine, our neighbors. And I went and talked to them. And that's pretty much how it went. I ended up just after that, there were a couple more people with dogs that I ended up talking to W hat happened was then I was around here and I saw ( ) that must've been
! "* when I called (), because I had my car parked there. And ( ) saw me. So he started saying, "Hey! You looking fo r a house?" I think he was disappointed when I said no but he said, "Oh, okay." So, I talked to him about what I wanted to do He said, "Well, let me introduce you to some people while he was walking his dog. And so, he introduced me to the couple on th e corner. I don't know their names. MK: () and () ? JM: I think it's this one, this couple. MK: Oh, ( ) and ( ) PL: Oh, ( ) and ( ) JM: So, I met them, and then MK: ( ) ? Which ( ) ? JM: He had three dogs, three l ittle dogs, I think. I forget it wasn't ( ) who's with ( ) It's a different ( ) MK: Oh. ( ) and PL: And ( ) ? MK: ( ) and ( ) ? JM: I didn't meet (), but I think it would be. MK: Oh, okay. JM: And so yeah, so he introduced me to them and he was walking back up and he said, "Oh and by the way, that's Beatrice 's house. That's who [the realtor] told you to talk to. And I said, "Oh, okay." And he goes, "Well, go on in there." And I was, like (MK & PL laugh) "I don't want to knock on the door. What if she And he goes, "No. Just go. They're really nice." So, I did that, and I talked to Josephine Beatrice wasn't home. So, I asked her MK: Oh, Josephine 's great. JM: Yeah. So, I asked for her email. So, I started emailing Josephine and Josephine didn't email back. (laughs) So a couple of weeks ag o, I thought, "Well, here we go again." So I came down. I just knocked on their door again and I said, "Hey! Maybe you didn't get my emails. Maybe I'm just bugging you, but I thought I'd ask one more time." And they were so nice. They s aid, "Yeah. We'll give you an interview right now." They invited me to their party and that's how I met all these people. So, I just got really lucky.
! #+ MK: So, who do you have that you're going to interview, or who have you [interviewed] ? Just curious. JM: Yeah, definitely. I interviewed Ernest [Marc] and Max [Dare] a nd I interviewed Evelyn [Bath] ( ) and ( ) said they might but we don't have anything set up s o, I'm waiting to hear back from them. I'm going to be talking with Rock [Wales] and Max [Wa les] on Sunday a nd I talked to Juliana [Sabine] and Katherine [Kline] yesterday. I talked to J osephine [Carter] and Beatrice [Lohman ] that first day. That's all I've got. I'd be happy to talk more people but I'm not sure who to ask or how to PL: Matilda and MK: Matilda and Abigail [Carr] PL: Yeah, I would think that they would JM: Oh. Actually, I did Abigail said she might be interested but Matilda doesn't want to. MK: Really? PL: That surprises me. MK: That's a surprise. Rebecca Heart PL: Yeah. Have you interviewed Rebecca ? JM: Is she the Rebecca who used to be a nun? MK: Yeah. PL: Yes. JM: I don't know if she was I didn't I guess maybe the problem was (phone ring s ) Sorry. At the party, maybe I was a little bit nervous, and I did n't want to be too aggressive if people weren't interes ted. PL : I'll mention it to Rebecca JM: If you want to tell people, I'd be so happy for it. PL : She's living by herself up front She's one of the people that's having a hard time financially, trying to keep e specially with the market and the way things are But she's very active in a lot of things that go on in the community She's a retired nurse.
! #" (MK speaks on the phone in the background) JM: Yeah. I'd love to talk to her. I'd really love t o talk as many people as possible, but it's just a matter of I want it to be comfortable. I want everybody to feel good about it and if people don't, then B ut you know, it might help if you said, "Well I did it and it wasn't too bad (laughs) or whate ver I don't know Whatever you think. PL: I'll mention it to Matilda and Abigail, too cause I think MK: Yeah, and Rebecca definitely. And what about ( ) and ( ) ? PL: Uh I don't think so. JM: I got ( ) 's email and I have it I wrote it ; I have it in my backpack. MK: It might be that you just interview () of the couple, because ( ) work s a lot, but also, () is very private. Extremely. PL: They're both very private, b ut ( ) even more so. ()' s kind of more reclusive in some ways. You know, I think that's the other thing about well, it's something about getting older. But it's also, like, with living in a community, you really get to see when you first meet people, you get an initial impression, like we all do. But after you get to meet people, you find out "Oh, there are things that I really don't like about them, a nd things you do like about them. And I think part of getting older, at least for me, is beginning to accept people for who they really are. This is ( ) won't answer the phone or won't come to the door if she's home because that's just her thing. Well, that's [her] And I like [her], and when we do things together, we really enjoy her. But everybody has and I think, as you get older, people have more qui rks, too. So, it's kind of getting accepting of that kind of thing, too, that's part of community. MK: But also, we should mention this to Allison [Hershey] PL: Yeah. MK: And to ( ) JM: I did meet Allison I hope I'll be able to talk to her. I've got her number. MK: Okay. PL: She'd be a good one. She's been here a long time. She lives by herself. MK: Allison she's the one who has
! ## PL: M.S. [multiple s clerosis] MK: M.S. She walks with a staff and she's a trip. ( l aughs) PL: She's a trip. JM : She was the one that was all decked out, right? PL: Yes. MK: Yeah. JM: Yeah. PL: She is she does more things than everybody else in the community combined, as far as activity goes. So, she can tell you MK: She's had M.S. for thirty nine years. Thirty nine? PL: Mm hm. MK: I think. I mean, it's just astounding. And she's just PL: Doesn't stop her. MK: That 's all? "Yeah, I fell I couldn't get up so I figured well, eventually somebody d knock on the door." ( all laugh) JM: Wow. It's good to have a good attitude like that. PL: Yeah, sure. MK: Yeah, she's really a mazing. I don't know that you would ever get () and () (MK and PL laugh) to agree to an interview () and () t hey're an elderly couple that live in one of the triplexes () was president here and she was the person who fought every single thing that we wanted to do A nd yet, she and I have a good relationship (laughs) B ut I don't know that they would ever they're very private PL: Yeah. I mean, that's private not because you're an outsider, but that's just how they are in general. They're private with us MK: Right. Nobody ever goes in their house except when I bang on the door and say, "I have to talk to you about something. I can't believe you did this." (MK and PL lau gh)
! #$ PL: I would think that any of the non responsive people have nothing to do with you in any way but just they're just people who don't want to talk about themselves. JM: They're quiet. PL: Yeah. MK: Did you meet () and ( ) ? JM: No. end of interview