Title Slate: OUT-A-Town Meeting. Rec; 6/23/90. Dir: Andrew Wilk Prod: T. Harris
Funding by Announcer, KQED Members San Francisco and Members of Thirteen WNET in New York
Pan out from top of New York Empire State Building all lit up at night to view of City.
Peaceful Gay Pride parade in San Francisco 1990, people holding American flags posters, banners and walking peacefully down the street. Narration by host from sister station in San Francisco, Ginger Casey.
Graphics and show opener - OUT New York San Francisco
Quick wide shot of studio, Host Robert Lipsyte seated with guests at a semi circle panel facing viewers (unseen)
Host Robert Lipsyte sitting in front of four TV screens which display logos for OUT New York San Francisco A Town Meeting. He welcomes viewers and announces this special broadcast for tonight's program.
Lipsyte explains the format for tonight's program - an electronic town meeting between Channel 13 studio in New York and sister channel in San Francisco (KQED Channel 9).
Wide shot Lipsyte with half moon shaped panel and audience facing the panel.
Wide shot sister station in San Francisco, KQED, four guests seated on chairs facing audience.
Lipsyte in front of 4 TV screens further explains tonight's program exploring the issues and questions facing the Gay community in the '90's.
In a split screen Lipsyte introduces his co-host in San Francisco, Ginger Casey .
Host Ginger Casey in SFO and wide shot of her audience, she talks further about tonight's topic, the redefining the traditional American family, the political and personal act of coming out and the drive toward liberation, acceptance , and political power.
Back with Lipsyte he announces the topics of three documentaries to be shown on the program dealing with the change in concept of family, the lesbian experience in suburbia and black men confronting homophobia and racism.
Cutaway to preview clips from the three documentaries with titles of the docs overlay each preview: "We Are Family" , "Out in Suburbia", and "Tongues Untied".
Host from San Francisco, Ginger Casey, talking about the Lesbian and Gay Pride Parades taking place tomorrow in NY and SFO and their beginnings inspired by the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. She cuts to a clip from the riots.
B&W photo still of gay and lesbian protestors standing behind police barricades holding signs, policemen lined up ready for action.
Newspaper headlines overlay the photo still, "3 Cops Hurt..." 4 Policemen Hurt..." "Gay Power Comes to Sheridan Square" "Hostile Crowd Dispersed Near Sheridan Square"
Clip of demonstrators holding various signs. Man holding gigantic sign in red "Stop Aids Now" and others following including large sign of Ronald Reagan's face with "Aidsgate"
Clips of openly gay elected officials late '70's, Harvey Milk and Harry Britt
Names of some of the hundreds of organizations serving the Gay and Lesbian communities scroll over the Gay and Lesbian Parade.
Demonstrators walking peacefully holding signs
Several newspaper articles and handouts having to do with the Human Rights Campaign Fund overlay demonstrators holding signs.
Silhouettes of gay men & lesbian women couples embracing with giant red "x" marks going through each. Also in huge letters overlay the split screen "Gay Bashing"
Photo still two men, one white one black, embracing
Clip of Sen. Jessie Helms, (R) North Carolina speaking from the Senate Floor about the openly gay artist who isn't an artist he's a "jerk".
Giant white letters filling the screen "AIDS"
Police in helmets standing ready over group of activists lying on the ground holding hand made gravestones reading, "Killed by the System", "RIP Killed by the F.D.A", "AZT Wasn't Enough"
Close up on faux 'headstone' KILLED BY THE SYSTEM
Back with Lipsyte in the studio. He continues speaking about tonight's topic and refers to the International Scientific AIDS Conference in San Francisco being upstaged by social and political protests.
Demonstrators, gay men and women, holding signs and large skeleton dummy, walking peacefully down the street in San Francisco. Ginger Casey narrates demonstrators are protesting an immigaration policy against those infected with AIDS.
Small yellow banner on building AIDS is a Global Crisis!
Tilt down on huge group of demonstrators holding American flags, large banners and signs and walking down the street in San Francisco
Bags with IV fluids being processed
Nurse giving IV to male patient sitting in chair.
Gay couple holding hands crossing street in San Francisco, Miz Brown's Country Kitchen on corner.
Wide shot teenagers filing out of front doors of High School, walking down steps
Lesbian and gays in a parade, all dressed in white and dancing down the street
Demonstrators walking down street holding huge banner "Stop Attacks on Lesbians & Gay Men Carry a Whistle"
Host Robert Lipsyte in the studio speaking about politics being used as liberation rather than AIDS. He introduces his panel of guests in New York: Gabriel Rotello, Editor-in-Chief Outweek, a Lesbian and Gay magazine; Dr. Marjorie Hill, Director Mayor Dinkins' Office of Lesbian and Gay Affairs; Anne Northrup, Activist with Act Up; Tom Stoddard, Executive Director Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Host in SanFrancisco, Ginger Casey, introduces and welcomes her panel of guests: Jackie Goldsby, Editor Outlook Magazine; Cleve Jones, Activist and Founder of the Aids Quilt; Carole Migden, Activist and member of SFO Democratic Party.
Wide shot from back of studio, Casey seated with panel of guests on chairs facing audience.
INTERVIEWS WITH GUEST PANEL (SAN FRANCISCO):
Ginger Casey 7:39
I imagine we should open our program by discussing what agenda the gay community has as it moves into the 90s Cleve, perhaps you could start?
Cleve Jones 7:48
Well, I think the most important thing in the 90s is going to be reclaiming the political agenda that that predates the AIDS epidemic during most of the 80s. Most of us have had to concentrate all of our energies and resources on the epidemic because of the lack of government response. In the 90s. I think we're going to have to go back to the issues that came before that family issues, the question of violence, and also in particular dealing with the issues of youth in our own community, and the divisions of racism and sexism within our own community.
Ginger Casey 8:18
Jackie Goldsby 8:19
I would agree with Cleve on the point about racism, it seems to me that as we move into the 90s, that the agenda has to change. And it seems to me that that including race is very critical to even expanding the definition of family that we're trying to put forward into account for the presence of lesbians and gays of color, as an affirmative presence that we have thoughts, ideas and a political agenda and a sense about politics to offer as well.
Ginger Casey 8:48
Carol Migden 8:49
we have to expand the agenda. We still have a lot of work to do on AIDS, we'll continue to do that. That's increasingly important. We've made some inroads but let us not forget that age is also going to dominate in the 90s as well. We have to get back to issues of discrimination and get legislative protections. On the Job side in the workplace. Our relationships have to be validated. We got to pass domestic partnerships. We have people in our audience with sprite T shirts, they're enthusiastic. I think it's important that we get back on track with things that are positive that are life affirming. And also be mindful that we have a lot of still a burden ahead with regard to AIDS.
Ginger Casey 9:22
Let's check with New York and see if the agenda there will be any different Bob.
wide shot of Host Robert Lipsyte in New York studio seated at half moon table with panel of his guests.
INTERVIEWS WITH GUEST PANEL (NEW YORK)
Robert Lipsyte 9:27
Thank you, ginger,
Robert Lipsyte 9:28
Dr. Marjorie Hill, let's start with you. You're in City Hall in New York. What is your thoughts about the agenda for the night
Marjorie Hill 9:33
Well one of the primary concerns for this administration and for many lesbians and gays in the city is the issue of increasing violence against lesbians and gays? Many of us know that nationwide, violence against our community has risen 122% And that's just not acceptable. The second issue is that our community has a real task to make sure that our representation is diverse and inclusive of People of Color of women and also of individuals with disabilities. So I think that dealing with the issues around violence, domestic partnership, as well as making sure that our representatives are truly as inclusive as possible on the issues that the Dinkins administration and many of the activists in New York are concerned about
Robert Lipsyte 10:19
Thank you. Gabriel Rotello
Gabriel Rotello 10:20
I agree with what everyone has said so far, one thing I would add would be trying to create a sort of spiritual climate within the gay movement that encourages people to come out of the closet, I don't think that we're going to see a lot more progress than we've seen in the last 20 years, unless a lot more gay and lesbian people come out of the closet. In order to do that a lot of social, a lot of the social agenda has to be moved forward. But within the gay and lesbian community itself, we have to sort of create spiritual models for gay and lesbian people that encourage people that are in the closet to come out. And I think that we're beginning to see us doing that right now.
Robert Lipsyte 10:53
Tom Stoddard 10:54
Gabriel just made a very important point. Change has to be along two tracks. One is the law, where we work toward absolute equality for lesbians and gay men, as well as for all Americans. But the most important aspect really is hearts and minds of Americans, reaching them and making them understand that lesbians and gay men are people entitled to full and fair treatment on a social level, as well as illegal level and coming out is really the only way to ultimately accomplish that by making gay people visible to the rest of the world.
Robert Lipsyte 11:23
Ann Northrop 11:25
I certainly wouldn't argue with anything that's been said. So far. I agree with all of it. I think we have a long way to go, just fundamentally in getting ourselves exactly accepted as human beings in the first place. And I think the violence that's visited upon us, as Dr. Hill mentioned, is completely out of control. And I think that the heterosexual community has to put us on their agenda to and I think that it is wrong to think that we are a monolithic community, we are many communities, we have many agendas, and many priorities that are different among us. And I just want everyone to know that there are there is not one agenda. There are many
Robert Lipsyte 12:06
do you feel, Ann, that you said this is a problem for the heterosexual community
Ann Northrop 12:11
You bet it is?
Robert Lipsyte 12:12
What what must the heterosexual community do?
Ann Northrop 12:15
The heterosexual community must stop assuming that everyone in this world is heterosexual and must stop assuming that there is something wrong with homosexuality, and must
Ann Northrop 12:30
and the heterosexual community, if it is to survive itself must stop killing those who are different from it. The heterosexual community for its own peace of mind and survival as a species must include everybody of every sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, ability, whatever across the board,
Robert Lipsyte 12:53
Marjorie, of everybody at this table, you are closest to the precincts of power towards the power of the heterosexual community. Do you see gay people having the clout to make those kinds of force those kinds of changes?
Marjorie Hill 13:06
I think that lesbians and gays, particularly in New York City, are increasingly visible in city government. My appointment is one example of that. There are a number of leading gays and lesbians in in the Dinkins administration. I also think that in terms of our collective voices, that the administration and city politicians who caught the gay and lesbian community are very much aware so that I think that we are approaching a point where we are becoming more visible. That's not to say that we can all relax that there's a lot of work to be done. And on the note about the heterosexual community, one of the things that really needs to happen is that the education has to begin with our children, that our children have to learn about different types of cultures, different types of lifestyles, and that has to happen in kindergarten, second grade elementary school, that people form their opinions and values very early on. And the Board of Education has a real responsibility in that regard.
Robert Lipsyte 14:10
Thank you. The people in San Francisco seem to be closer to the precincts of power. Ginger, let's let's go back to you.
Wide shot of studio from behind audience.
Split screen with Robert Lipsyte and Ginger Casey
INTERVIEW FROM SFO PANEL:
Cleve Jones 14:29
in San Francisco today, after two decades of a very visible lesbian and gay community, we still have a terrible problem with violence in the streets. Just recently, we've had a number of pretty ugly examples of it, and also the kinds of homophobia that is inadvertently expressed by some of the politicians in our town during the the controversy with the school board, for example, over project 10. It still very much
Ginger Casey 14:55
Why don't you explain that briefly for a New York audience.
Cleve Jones 14:58
We have a proposal here in San Fransisco to create a program for young lesbians and gay men in the school system modeled after project 10 in Los Angeles, that is basically a counseling and referral center. And it really brought out a lot of the homophobes out of out of the woodwork. But I was really struck by their arguments against it. It's so clear that they just don't understand what we're about. And what I try and hold on to is a sense that these are not necessarily my enemies. But these are potential allies that have yet to understand the common sense of what we're saying.
Ginger Casey 15:32
Right, and very well put there. Carol?
Carol Migden 15:35
I mean, I think we were all struck by that when we were lobbying for the project 10, which, again, is is an in service program for kids that are lesbian or gay, and we feel we're gay city, it should have just been handily supported and easily affirmed. And yet there were great pockets of problems and neighbors and citizens. And that came out to protest against it, which was deeply distressing. One has to remember that we are we will continue to be an unpopular minority. We're different. What we're trying to do is stand up and affirm ourselves and take our rights and seize power and be understood and demand a place at the table. But that shouldn't necessarily be predicated upon a change of attitude per se alone, and think that deep seated resistance to gayness is going to change immediately. I mean, that's an attitudinal thing that takes generations, we have to continue to work and struggle and prove that we're part of the community that we have a positive contribution to make, but realize that we're going to continue to meet with great resistance
Ginger Casey 16:32
Jackie, do the positive things that the community has achieved, do they become overshadowed by the helms is of the world?
Jackie Goldsby 16:41
They do. I mean, in so much that the voice of Helms, he has access to power, he has access to CNN to put his line out there. But I think it raises the issue for discussion and becomes a part of discourse, which is really critical. So that is on it's on the lips of everyone in America, if if we can speak rhetorically for a minute, I think what concerns me about the issue of the NEA is that when it focus specifically on Maple Thorpe's pictures that the whole issue of race got subverted or suppressed in that discussion, and that it's very critical as we talk about connecting with the heterosexual community coming out that there's a way in which we allow for people of color to come out as well, and so that the issues of sexuality and identity and race get articulated on the table too, because when I think of the whole concept of outing for example, I have my issues with it. But on the other hand, I want to have black people come out black lesbians and gays to come out because so often homosexuality is seen as a white thing. And it becomes very critical for those of us who are out to stand up and say, I have chosen this because of who I am. And it is a part of my blackness. It is a part of my culture, how I express it,
Ginger Casey 17:52
but that was your choice. The whole concept of outing some people argue is taking away someone's choice and declaring their sexual right.
Jackie Goldsby 17:59
I have my problems with it. And I, on some level, I think that outing enforces the same lack of choice that the general social conditions that make us stay in the closet. It's structurally similar to me, so that I have my objections to outing as a political strategy to to deal with the issue of political visibility or invisibility.
Ginger Casey 18:22
We'll talk some more about this a little later on. Let's check back with New York now, Bob?
Split screen Lipsyte and Casey speaking to each other about "outing"
INTERVIEW FROM NY PANEL:
Robert Lipsyte 18:29
that naturally brings us to Gabriel Rotello went out week magazine.
Gabriel Rotello 18:34
Robert Lipsyte 18:35
so natural, natural link we've we've talked about, you've talked about the need for gays to step forward to be role models. And everybody seems to be agreed that that's necessary. And yet the controversy exists about there's
Gabriel Rotello 18:52
there's also a need, I think for the for the practice of journalism to stop suppressing the idea that there are powerful gays and lesbians throughout society. That's something that journalism has been doing for a long, long time. And outing to me anyway, I know a lot of people have different ideas of what it's about. To me, it simply refers to an ending of the practice of suppressing the truth about the number of gay people that and lesbians that permeate our society.
Robert Lipsyte 19:18
Let's try to make the link Tom, maybe you can help us make the link between people coming out and the advancement of the political process in which there are rights for gay people.
Shot of NY studio from behind panel looking at audience
CONTINUING PANEL INTERVIEW NY PANEL
Tom Stoddard 19:29
The truth is that only a tiny fraction of gay people are out in any real sense. And because of that, most Americans I think, who are not lesbian or gay still think they don't know any gay people. And so I would make a personal appeal to every lesbian and gay man to make a step forward over this weekend this weekend in particular and to understand that political progress is tied to personal advancement, that the personal is the political. Gabriel by the way is absolutely right that this journalistic double standard on this. And I don't disagree with him about that at all. All of the newspapers and and television stations talk regularly about the social lives of heterosexual stars, but don't talk about gay stores at all. It's a double standard. It's unacceptable and it has to be changed.
Robert Lipsyte 20:18
Ann do you think that gay political progress is linked to people coming forward?
Ann Northrop 20:21
Oh, undoubtedly, it's the bottom line. And I want to suggest that if people are not comfortable coming out in their personal lives and at work, whatever that the one step they can take to come out. The one that's crucially important at this point is that they come out to their political representatives that they write their senators and congressmen and state representatives and local because George Bush declared war on us this week by being at Jesse Helms fundraiser Wednesday on the opening day. And we can no longer afford to be invisible to our representatives, George Bush is either blackmailed into going to Jesse Helms fundraiser, or fully supports that. And either way, he declared war on us this week, and we must stop hiding, we have to stand up for our rights, because we cannot count on the President of the United States to support us as human beings.
Robert Lipsyte 21:13
Marjorie Hill, do you think that politicians will respond to that?
Marjorie Hill 21:16
I think so that politicians are bright individuals, and that for the most part, and that they really are, and that they will respond to a visible constituency
Robert Lipsyte 21:28
well they want to be reelected
Marjorie Hill 21:29
Absolutely. And that there is power in numbers. I think that around Tom's appeal that individuals come out, I also think that our community has a responsibility to embrace and welcome individuals, where they are and that our communities, our community centers, our organizations, our lesbian and gay institutions should encourage those who have not traditionally supported or attended those events to come and to attend, that our community is not always safe for all of the lesbians and gays that are there. We've bee
Robert Lipsyte 22:04
We've been led to believe in New York that San Francisco is more sophisticated in just these kinds of processes. Ginger, I wonder if, if anybody on your panel would like to address that?
Host Lipsyte turns to GInger in SFO
PANEL INTERVIEW - SAN FRANCISCO
Ginger Casey 22:16
Of course, they always say that in Oakland, people go to work. And in San Francisco, they go to breakfast. So I suppose in that sense. But Carol, you have some strong feelings about outing?
Carol Migden 22:28
Yeah, I suppose I think everybody does. And clearly it's an issue that's percolating. I think it's appropriate sometimes when when it's an act of self defense, give us an example. Well, it is a time of war. I mean, that was articulately just stated by the act of representative in New York, that clearly it is a time of war and war has been declared upon us. And it has been for a decade and boys are dying. And and and there's really no relief in sight. So if there are individuals in position of power and authority who do harm to us, then it is mad, it's an appropriate measure, to Altham, if that will somehow help or eradicate it, or stamp it out and end it.
Ginger Casey 23:07
Well, who determines what the harm is, is that
Carol Migden 23:11
Well, there's some individuals whether it's J. Edgar Hoover, or a congressperson, or people that are in power, just as what stated political people, of course, are critical, they have to be impacted, they have to be made to understand Understand that they'll be consequences to actions and if their personal choices that one chooses to live class, you know, to live a closet life hurts the gay movement politically. And psychologically, that's saying that means you cavalierly toss people out of the closet. But if people are doing harm to us, then I think it is an appropriate action.
Ginger Casey 23:41
You know, you think of a scenario in which say, somebody in Congress is gay, and they're keeping it very quiet. There's a bill coming up, that is dealing with gay issues, but it is attached, say to a highway bill that they're not in favor of, will they be threatened to be outed, if they do not vote the party line in a situation like this? Will they be seen as enemies?
Carol Migden 24:03
I mean then they should take the rider off the bill. To do that. I mean, there are measures that can be done or the issue would be that if somebody is gay and is voting in a way that contradicts the best interest of the community, and we can amass some political power by exposing that and that's just an option that has to be considered, just can't back away from it and say, it's never appropriate in any circumstance, because it is a time of war, which dictates unusual ground rules.
Ginger Casey 24:27
Cleave but is it something that could be exploited?
Cleve Jones 24:29
Well, it's been exploited for a very long time by heterosexuals. You know, I came out when I was a teenager, and I've always been really impatient with people that stayed in the closet. I think it's really stupid. It's a waste of their lives. But I think that even in 1990, we have to recognize that risks remain. I know a great many lesbian women who lost their children when they were either exposed or chose to came out of the come out of the closet. I know of men and women who have lost their jobs. I myself have experienced violence on the street because of being out there. So I think we have to acknowledge that the risks are real, that they still exist. And I don't feel that anyone has the right to rip anyone out of the closet unless clearly they are hiding and exploiting homophobia to advance their career. I know of I worked in the California legislature for many years I know of homosexuals in the California legislature. And I'm not going to say their names because they would not be reelected and they vote right. And so that is, to me the litmus test, if one of those people turns around and begins to exploit homophobia, and to hurt our people, then I would have no qualms whatsoever about ripping them out of the closet and exposing them as a hypocrite.
Ginger Casey 25:47
Let's go back to New York
Robert Lipsyte 25:51
to our panelists in San Francisco and in New York, thanks very much.
Audience in San Francisco applauding.
Back with Host Lipsyte in New York studio, he thanks panelists in New York and SanFrancisco. Lipsyte introduces the first documentary film, We Are Family, about the fight for legislation that will protect alternative families and in the process they are redefining the traditional family structure.
WGBH bright yellow logo
Funding for the film by announcer. Charitable orgs mentioned and cpb Corporation for public broadcasting logo.
First of three documentary films with narration, "We Are Family" about gay men and lesbians becoming foster parents, the redefining of the traditional family structure, alternate families, and the potential implications on the children, and inside look at a family.
Documentary title: We Are Family, Narrated by Susan Stamberg overlay scene from the documentary of kids hugging their gay father.
Film fades out another story begins, about a lesbian couple in Boston who adopted a young, black, deaf boy in 1980. Their everyday life is depicted in the film along with the obstacles they've faced.
Film fades to black.
Another segment within the documentary begins. Another "alternative" family is highlighted. Two gay men in New Hampshire foster a young boy and their life is depicted and the controversies and issues they face when a New Hampshire State Legislature, Mildred Englund, calls for a ban on Gay Foster parents.
Documentary ends. Credits roll over scenes from the segments.
Funding by announcer. cpb logo - Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Back with Ginger Casey in SanFrancisco sister station introduces new panel seated on chairs, Roberta Achtenberg, Center for Lesbian Rights; Lea Militello, Gay Parent; Dimetri Belser, Gay Parent with his two children and baby.
Cut over to Host Robert Lipsyte in New York. He introduces and welcomes new panel of guests, Mariana Romo-Carmona, Public Education Coordinator and Lesbian Mother; Wayne Steinman, Co-Chairperson Center Kids, Adoptive Parent; Gabrielle Low, daughter of lesbian mother.
Photo still, cute little girl
Wide shot of half moon shaped panel overlooking studio audience.
INTERVIEW NEW YORK PANEL
Mariana Romo-Carmona 1:26:33
Yes I think that lesbian and gay families have a wonderful opportunity to begin to question and challenge the notion of traditional family because I think that there is no traditional family anymore. Anyway, I think that lesbians and gays have had children have been parents have been part of families forever. And I think that what's happening now is that we're the first generation of openly gay parents. And so for us it's has become a political issue has become a way to try to, to be able to be happy with our children to be able to have the kind of family life the kind of family joys that other people have
Robert Lipsyte 1:27:14
Yeah so probably Wayne, I'm probably wrong to ask a proud new father. But in terms of the the new family, the alternative family, the extension of the family, it's more than parents and children one would think,
Wayne Steinman 1:27:28
Well it's clearly more than parents and children, I would, I don't see our parenting as recapitulating or in any way mimicking heterosexual society, lesbians and gay men have the unique situation we where we choose to become parents, we don't have the pressures of traditional heterosexual relationships, forcing married people to have children. This is something that we have chosen to do. My partner and I chose to have a child because we wanted it we have a warm and loving home and we wanted to share that home. I think that the the way society views lesbians and gay men who are parenting, you know, it unfortunately, lends itself to certain types of criticisms, which are totally unfounded where you know, where they interject our sexual orientation, where that is such a minor portion of our day to day raising of our children. I think we need to look at it in a much broader spectrum.
Robert Lipsyte 1:28:27
Yeah, well, let's look at it from a special point of view. Gabrielle, what's your take on this?
Gabrielle Lowe 1:28:34
What's my take on?
Robert Lipsyte 1:28:35
Are you heterosexual?
Gabrielle Lowe 1:28:36
Yes. But I don't really think that's an issue. I think that it's more important to talk about what it's like growing up with gay parents as opposed to straight parents or whatever. I mean, I don't think that's really, that has anything to do with it. My mother was very honest with me always. And I think it was really important. She was proud of what she was. She is proud of what she is. She's the strongest person I ever met. And I it was always to me, it was always something that was interesting. That was set her apart a little bit, but it was never something that I worried about.
Robert Lipsyte 1:29:16
Ginger, I wonder what your panelists particularly the the nursing father has to say?
Split screen Robert Lipsyte and Ginger Casey
In San Francisco with Ginger. Wide shot of studio shot from behind audience.
INTERVIEW INSERT - PANEL DISCUSSION SAN FRANCISCO
Ginger Casey 1:29:28
what is the current status of law governing gay parenting,
Roberta Achtenberg 1:29:33
well the law governing lesbian and gay families in general is is not to pretty by that. I mean, of course, it is not legal for us to have publicly sanctioned relationships. In any state. We can't marry the people of our choice. And that's one of the reasons why we're struggling to achieve legal recognition as domestic partners for example, many of us are the parents of children. Run from a heterosexual relationship. And in many states, it is still difficult to keep custody of your child if it's known that you are lesbian or gay. As the movie pointed out, the film pointed out, there are many impediments to adopting children if it's known that you are lesbian or gay, even though in only two states, is it explicitly illegal for lesbians or gays to adopt. And finally, there's a tremendous need for loving homes for all the children who need to be fostered. And yet, lesbians and gay men who are qualified to be foster parents often find it very difficult to become licensed foster parents, even though they have a tremendous amount of love and affection and consistency, and material support quite often to give children in need.
Ginger Casey 1:30:53
Dimitri, did you find it easy?
Dimitri Belser 1:30:56
Well, we had an easy time. Once we've located a birth mother, we adopted our first child at birth, and we met his birth mother when she was just two months pregnant. It was easy in that we got a child easily it was difficult in that we were one of the first couples to adopt. And we were very open about it. And we got a lot of not hassles from social services. But we were
Ginger Casey 1:31:18
overly scrutinized perhaps
Dimitri Belser 1:31:19
And the forms weren't set up, right, we had to go to our doctor and prove that we were an infertile couple. Our doctor found that highly amusing, kind of things were
Wide shot of SFO panel. Dimitri Belser, Gay Parent on panel feeding bottle to infant baby he holds in his lap.
Shot of audience laughing.
Dimitri Belser 1:31:33
just absurd and really offensive in a lot of ways. We, you know, one of us had to choose on the forms that, you know, I was the wife and Tom was the husband on all the forms, and it was just, you know, that kind of thing. It just the system wasn't set up at all for him to look at alternative families.
Ginger Casey 1:31:47
What about for you, Lea?
Lea Militello 1:31:49
Um, think for us, it was a little different. In that, we have a choice and, and we chose at that time to have our child, and it's a little different than adoption, you don't run into the same obstacles, you run into some optical obstacles in terms of the choice of making that decision and your donor choice? Is it anonymous or non anonymous?
Ginger Casey 1:32:19
How did you do it?
Lea Militello 1:32:21
We chose the non anonymous donor or correction and anonymous donor, no nervous here.
Ginger Casey 1:32:28
Lea Militello 1:32:31
And, you know, sometimes you take some heat for that even within your own community, there's a lot of a lot of issues around whether that's acceptable or not acceptable. And I think like your your New York, panelists stated, we have a choice. And that's an important thing to remember. And it's everybody's individual choice. And it's every couples individual choice
Ginger Casey 1:32:53
certainly makes you wonder whatever happened to Donna Reed and Ward and June and Wally and B, are they a thing of the past? Let's check with New York?
Split screen with Lipsyte and Casey
INTERVIEW WITH NEW YORK PANEL CONTINUES:
Robert Lipsyte 1:33:03
Well, I think all fathers are the same Wayne Maybe you want to give some advice to Dimitri.
Wayne Steinman 1:33:08
Well, not so much advice. And in fact, it's good to see Dimitri again, and also Roberto, who I haven't seen for a while. But in our case, when we went to adopt our home study, which is a which allowed us and what gave us certification to become pre adoptive parents, we came out like the Ozzy and Harry of gay them. And as he inherited, we were, they saw that we our capacities to parent were very strong. And it's, we're seeing more and more especially with the group that I'm involved with center kids, where more and more of us are just stepping forward openly as lesbians and gay men saying we are capable of parenting and we want to, and we're doing it openly. And we're dealing with the system. And here in New York, they cannot discriminate on the basis solely on the basis of sexual orientation. That's not to say that the social service system doesn't have preconceived stereotypes that inhibits us from adopting and that happens time and time again, I don't like what Roberta was saying before.
Robert Lipsyte 1:34:11
Mariana Romo-Carmona 1:34:12
Well, one thing I think is very important to remember is that not only do gay and lesbian people have the choice to become parents, as any parents would, but also to remember that we have been parents before. I mean, we didn't just all of a sudden get it into our heads that we want it to be parents now that I as a lesbian Mother, I have a 16 year old son, who was taken away from me when he was two years old, which was at the time that I came out as a lesbian. So he has a child from a heterosexual relationship. And I think it's important to to see the way that social services probate courts, the legal system, society in general, sets gay and lesbian parents apart. It makes Everything that we do somehow different and somehow not quite what is necessary to bring up children. I think that one of the most difficult things was that in the, in the remaining years, where I have tried to maintain a relationship with my son a visiting relationship with my son, we cannot very freely go wherever we want, he can come and visit me in New York, he lives in Boston, I can take him just anywhere that we would like to go, I can't. I am prevented from visiting other people. I am prevented from having anything to do with organized gay political activity. These are, you know, very standard legal things that come up in just about any visitation agreement regarding gay parents,
Split screen with panel member Wayne Steinman talking and small baby
Wide shot New York studio from behind panel looking at studio audience.
INTERVIEW CONTINUED NEW YORK PANEL
Mariana Romo-Carmona 1:35:50
so that children of gay parents who are in a very difficult situation where the parent doesn't have custody are scrutinized and we don't have the opportunity to live a so called normal life, our our lives together as parents and children have to be taken outside and we have not the support that a heterosexual family would have. For example,
SPLIT SCREEN WITH LIPSYTE AND CASEY - INTERVIEW CONTINUES SFO PANEL:
Robert Lipsyte 1:36:11
I want to Ginger I wonder if anybody in your panel might address is it different in California is different in San Francisco, those kinds of what seemed like oppressive restrictions that Mariana was talking about?
Ginger Casey 1:36:23
Roberta, perhaps you'd like to answer that?
Roberta Achtenberg 1:36:25
Well, those restrictions that are actually quite common across the country, in San Francisco County and Alameda County and surrounding counties, we have been so politically visible for so long, that it's a rare occurrence, if somebody would try to establish the kind of limitation on a visitation agreement that Marianna just described. But that is not a victory that's come easily won. It's because of years of activism and years of fighting for lesbian mothers and gay fathers and the political activism of the entire community, not just the lesbian, gay parenting movement, but the lesbian gay liberation movement in general.
Ginger Casey 1:37:13
I know we have to get to our audience. But just quickly, is it more difficult for gay couples who choose to adopt or have a child than it is say for someone in the suburbs, who is going to get divorced and come out and want to retain custody of their children?
Roberta Achtenberg 1:37:29
Depends on where you're located. In California, for example, as in New York, we have neutral principles of custody law that are supposed to be applied evenly to women and men, whether they're heterosexual, or lesbian or gay. But in any given situation, a judge may be inordinately prejudiced against a lesbian mother or a gay father. And as long as he or she doesn't say the wrong words, could quite easily take custody away from that woman or man on a pretext. And that happens, that could happen even in our county. There would be a tremendous uproar, but it could happen.
Ginger Casey 1:38:05
Let's go now to Jean Harris standing by in the audience. She is a legislative aide in San Francisco, you're concerned about the rights of gay families who choose not to have any children?
Jean Harris 1:38:16
Well, I what I'm really concerned about is the depth of the word family. If the heterosexual community across the United States hears the word family, lesbian and gay relationships, and families are not visible in that definition. I personally think that, that the Donna Reed idea of family does not exist anymore. We do have extended families and diverse families. But our job in San Francisco for the Lesbian Gay community is to make sure that lesbian and gay couples have the choice to register that relationship down at City Hall, and that the voters in this city have a chance to vote on that and that we are acknowledged at in our relationships, as long as we call Family Policy, extended family, diverse families, whatever you go to Fresno, that does not include us. Here in San Francisco, we have a chance. And next week, supervisor Harry Britt is going to place back on the ballot, lesbian and gay registration. And anyone anywhere in the country who is a lesbian and gay person who's in a relationship can come here and register register that relationship, we have got to be visible and that when we're talking about families, we have to have that upfront visibility. I'm a lesbian mother who lost her two children 15 years ago, because I was not visible I was not recognized. And that until we get that visibility until we have the choice and being out of the feminist movement, I'm not sure that the the marital system is that great, but I want to have the choice to register my relationship in an official way, whether people accept it or not, legally, we need that right?
Member of the SFO audience, Jean Harris, Aide to SFO Supervisor, standing and addresses the panel with her concern. She discusses the word family and states its meaning doesn't include lesbian and gays. She discusses with panel that they must make sure that lesbian and gay couples have the choice to register that relationship in city hall and are acknowledged and visible in their relationships.
Pan very enthusiastic audience applauding.
REMAINING DISCUSSION WITH JEAN HARRIS AND SFO PANEL:
Ginger Casey 1:40:09
Last year in San Francisco last year in San Francisco, they attempted to pass a domestic partners ordinance and it was defeated. What makes you think that it has a better chance of getting passed again? And why do you think it was defeated?
Jean Harris 1:40:31
Well, last year, when when it was on the ballot, it was an off year election, not a lot of people turned out to vote, we had an earthquake that shut down our phone banks for 10 days, we only lost by 1600 votes. This time around, we will have the majority of the voters going to the polls, and voting for lesbian gay relationships. It's a first time in the nation last year, that acknowledgement of lesbian and gay relationships were ever on the ballot. And we only lost by 1600 votes, our communities used to losing and losing and losing and losing. But we eventually make steps forward. And we will put it back on the ballot this time. And we'll do it again and again and again, until we win.
Ginger Casey 1:41:19
Tell us whether any kind of similar legislation is being considered in New York.
BACK IN NEW YORK PANEL INTERVIEW CONTINUED THROUGH SPLIT SCREEN WITH SAN FRANCISCO
Robert Lipsyte 1:41:24
Wayne, is this what Jean Harris said have any resonance with you?
Wayne Steinman 1:41:28
Well, it clearly has a great deal of importance to me here in New York, we have an in New York City, we have an executive order, which allows municipal workers to register and it counts for bereavement leave and time off to care for a sick partner, if I'm not mistaken. And there is the legislation is being prepared at the present time, although not introduced in our city council to do precisely what San Francisco is doing right now.
Robert Lipsyte 1:41:55
Do you have any questions? So Jean Harris would like to speak
Wayne Steinman 1:41:59
clearly to Jean and Hi Jean That, you know, myself, I was I quickly took a port since I wasn't municipal worker at the time, and registered my relationship of now 18 years. So that if anything would happen, I would have the capacity to, you know, interact, and receive the benefits necessary if anything happened to my partner. But I think another thing that we will have to do. And I think this ties in some of the earlier conversations before the last documentary, which is that by example, we need to stand up and make those decisions by being very visible. For the longest time I had been very visible in the sense that I'm proud of my relationship, and then we'll do nothing to negate it in any way. And hence, no matter what my work environment wasn't I've been a teacher, I've been a banker. I've been in government. Everybody has always known about my relationship now that I have a family they know about my family, just like my co worker will talk about their possible heterosexual family. But we need to stand up and make demands, we have to go by demonstrating and say this is what is due to us, and which must go hand in hand with moving towards the legislative area.
Robert Lipsyte 1:43:13
Gabrielle let me ask you in growing up, do you recall legal social problems. Of course, your mother was an activist and closeted but that were caused by the fact that she wasn't in a so called normal heterosexual relationship.
Gabrielle Lowe 1:43:32
Well, certainly not legal problems because I was lucky that my both my parents were friends and they had joint custody. And we basically got to decide who we wanted to live with and where we wanted to be. As far as social problems, I think most of it I was also lucky growing up in Greenwich Village. There's a much more relaxed attitude. But I don't I think I mean, just basically kids teasing and stuff I chose who I wanted to tell because I knew people wouldn't understand I knew they just wouldn't understand and that there was nothing I can do to make them understand and accept it. And and now I'm even much more of I told everybody I know that I was going to be on this and my mother said it was like coming out i i think that um, that it's important that people know and whether they teased me or not, I let people know when I was a kid.
Robert Lipsyte 1:44:23
What would you tell Sebastian in San Francisco or Wayne's daughter? I mean, what do you have any advice for kids now?
Gabrielle Lowe 1:44:32
If you no respect yourself, love yourself and love your parents because they love you. I mean what you know what can you tell them but if your family is good, too, if you love your family, then don't be ashamed of it.
Robert Lipsyte 1:44:43
That's good advice.
Robert Lipsyte 1:44:52
That's, that's committed by anybody anywhere. Even in San Francisco, ginger. back to you
New York audience applauding
New York studio wide shot from behind audience. Audience and panel are seen
Host Robert Lipsyte and Ginger in split screen.
Ginger and Dimitri Belser holding baby playing with napkin
INTERVIEW SFO Panel (Dimitri Belser)
Ginger Casey 1:45:07
what do you plan to tell him as he grows older? What have you told Elliot?
Dimitri Belser 1:45:11
We, we've been really open about our relationship, not only with our kids, but with everybody else. There's not a time when we're going to tell Elliot that were gay. I mean, he knows and Sebastian knows it's, you know, pretty obvious. Very, very early on, our kids figured out
Ginger Casey 1:45:25
that you're an infertile couple. Exactly.
Dimitri Belser 1:45:28
You know, that, you know, they watch Mike and Carol Brady, and they say, that's not me on television. Who is that? You know, I think that I think one of the things that happens a lot in is that people look at what's missing from our family, you know, we don't have a mother and that's missing, and there's no woman and family and that's missing. And I think that it's important to look at what are our strengths? What are the things that we have in our relationships we have, look at this out here, we have this incredible community, my parents raised our had their children, all alone to people. And that was it. And I have all these people I can call and I have this incredible community. And I think it's a real strength that lesbian gay parents have that is really under acknowledge, I think that my kids are incredibly lucky to be growing up with such a real, you know, community to support them and a lot of real, you know, good, good people around who they can depend on.
Ginger Casey 1:46:16
Thanks Dimitri. And thank you as well to the panel in New York.
Panel discussion ends, audience applause, Ginger Casey thanks both panels. She introduces the next documentary film, "Out in Suburbia". explores lives of 11 lesbians who live in "the heartland" of straight community life, their trials, tribulations and controversies.
Slate for documentary: A video production by Pam Walton
Documentary film, Out in Suburbia. Exploring the lives of several Lesbian women living together, talking about their everyday life experiences, challenges coming out, having children.
Film cuts to Blank
Description: The Eleventh Hour - Show #3400 Title: OUT-A Town Meeting. Part 1 (of 2 part series) Rec: 6/23/90 Guests: Cleve Jones, NAMES Project; Jackie Goldsby, Editor, Outlook Magazine; Carole Migden, Activist; Dr. Marjorie J. Hill, Director, Mayor's Office for the Lesbian and Gay Community; Gabriel Rotello, Editor-in-Chief, Outweek; Tom Stoddard, Exec. Director of Lamb; Ann Northrop, ACT UP, Lesbian Americans. Description: LGBTQ Summit - a Four Hour Special in Two Parts (NT-3401 IS PART 2). Part 1 three documentaries shown "We are Family", "Out in Suburbia" and "Tongues Untied".
Keywords: coming out
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