Stonewall OutLoud – StoryCorps
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Helping The Dogs Of Chernobyl

When the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, exploded in 1986, dozens died, and hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from a 1,000 square mile radius. 

But people’s pets were impacted as well. Dogs, cats, and other domestic animals were killed or abandoned, and for more than 30 years those that survived have continued to reproduce in this radioactive forest. 

Stephen Quandt, an animal welfare worker in New York City, came to StoryCorps to talk about a humanitarian trip he took to Ukraine in 2019, and how the work he does ties back to his childhood.

Top Photo: Stephen Quandt at the Clean Futures Fund clinic in Slavutych, Ukraine—a city built for those evacuated after the nuclear power plant disaster—in June of 2019. Photo courtesy of Stephen Quandt.
Middle Photo: One of an estimated 250 stray dogs living in the forests of Chernobyl, Ukraine. Photo courtesy of Stephen Quandt.
Bottom Photo: Pripyat Amusement Park in Pripyat, Ukraine. Photo by Stephen Quandt.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

Originally aired July 28, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

This Couple is Fighting for Equality and Safety For Two Spirit People On Tribal Land

Felipa DeLeon Mousseau Grew up in Manderson on the Pine Ridge Reservation. When she was young she knew a few gay people, including her cousin, and while they were accepted in the community they were not always respected.

Felipa Deleon Mousseau and Monique “Muffie” Mousseau in 2022 at a Two Spirit gathering at Flat Head Lake, Montana. Courtesy of the participants.

When she was in her 30’s Felipa went for out for a night with coworkers to a dimly lit, crowded bar in Rapid City, South Dakota. This is where she first saw Monique “Muffie” Mousseau. Muffie had also grown up on the reservation, but 16 miles from Felipa in a small town called Porcupine.

The hands of Felipa Deleon Mousseau and Monique “Muffie” Mousseau at their StoryCorps interview in Rapid City, South Dakota on January 31, 2023. By Savannah Winchester for StoryCorps.

A fast and intense love sprung up between them. And it took them on a journey that neither of them could have anticipated. They came to StoryCorps to talk about that night and what came next.

 

Top Photo: Felipa Deleon Mousseau and Monique “Muffie” Mousseau at their StoryCorps interview in Rapid City, South Dakota on January 31, 2023. By Savannah Winchester for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

This recording was made possible by a partnership with Uniting Resilience.

Originally aired May 5, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Navy Yeoman Reflects on Joining the Military During Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

In 1993, the US government passed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. It forced LGBTQ military service members to hide their sexual orientation or risk expulsion.

Navy Yeoman Jacob Tate, who’s gay, joined the military in 2010 when the policy was still in effect. Ultimately, DADT, as it’s commonly known, ended in September 2011. 

As part of the Military Voices Initiative, Jacob came to StoryCorps with his husband, Carson Pursifull, to talk about what that experience was like, and answer Carson’s burning questions about what he actually does for the Navy.

Carson Pursifull and Jacob Tate at The Liriodendron Mansion in Bel Air, MD in April 2021. Photo by Sarandon Smith (Courtesy of the participants).

 

Top Photo: Jacob Tate and Carson Pursifull at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in December 2021. Photo by Sarandon Smith (Courtesy of the participants).

 

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired April 29, 2023, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. 

‘Honey, You Got A Terrific Nose;’ Two Siblings Reflect On Their Father’s Legacy

David Hedison grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, as the son of Armenian immigrants. In 2005 he recorded a conversation with his youngest daughter, Serena, at the flagship StoryCorps booth at Grand Central Terminal.  There, he spoke candidly for the first time about how he got cosmetic surgery — a nose job — as a young man in order to achieve his dream of becoming an actor.  He went on to have a prolific career as a television, film, and stage actor. Most notably, he starred in the American sci-fi television series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea from the 1960s and was cast in two James Bond movies (Live and Let Die, 1973 and License to Kill, 1989).
David Hedison in London, 2019. Courtesy of Alex Hedison.
He died in 2019 at the age of 92. Recently his daughters, Serena and Alex, came back to StoryCorps to reflect on the secret he shared, and the legacy he left behind.
Alex Hedison and Serena Hedison at their StoryCorps interview in Los Angeles on January 24, 2023. By Garden of Sound studio for StoryCorps.
 
Top Photo: Alex, David and Serena Hedison in Malibu, CA, circa 1975. Courtesy of Alex Hedison.
This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Originally aired Feb. 10, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

With your support, StoryCorps is able to record more stories that help lift up underrepresented voices, bridge political and social divides, and preserve personal histories for the future.

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Two Bartenders Remember the Highs and Lows of Working at Brooklyn’s Historic Starlite Lounge

Sometimes a bar is more than just a business, it’s a part of history. These bars are places where cultures flourish, and often become a second home to devoted customers and a treasured landmark that neighbors proudly claim. For many years that was the Starlite Lounge in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which was one of the first Black-owned gay bars in the city.

“It was the most welcoming place in the world,” Albert Johnson remembers.

Closing night at the Starlite Lounge in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in summer 2010. Courtesy of Donna Cuthbert.

Albert tended bar at the Starlite for nine years, and in 2010 he came to StoryCorps with fellow bartender Donna Cuthbert to talk about their time working there; the nights of dancing, the beloved jukebox and the eccentric regulars—some of whom refused to go home.

That same year the property owner sold the building, and despite efforts by the local community it was last call for the Starlite. But its legacy as a gathering space for the gay Black community lives on in the memories of its former employees and patrons.

Originally aired December 30, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

With your support, StoryCorps is able to record more stories that help lift up underrepresented voices, bridge political and social divides, and preserve personal histories for the future.

Donate

A Couple Determined to Marry: How Jack Baker and Michael McConnell Became Husbands in 1971

In 1966, Michael McConnell and Jack Baker were introduced to one another by a friend at a Halloween barn party in Norman, Oklahoma. They quickly fell in love and decided to get married, despite the fact that it was illegal at the time.  

In the Spring of 1970, they walked into a government center in downtown Minneapolis, dressed in suits and ties, and applied for a marriage license. A few days later, they received a letter saying that their license had been denied. But they didn’t give up. 

Close-up of Jack Baker and Michael McConnell holding hands, featuring their wedding rings, in Minneapolis, Minn., March 2017. By Jhaleh Akhavan for StoryCorps.

They filed an appeal that went up to the United States Supreme Court. And even though their appeal was dismissed, in 1971 they found a way to become husbands. Jack and Michael came to StoryCorps to talk about their relationship, and how they made the law work in their favor. 

Michael McConnell (left) and Jack Baker (right) in their backyard in Minneapolis, Minn., July 2015.

 

Top Photo: Michael McConnell (left) and Jack Baker (right) with their wedding cake, featuring a two-groom topper, in Minneapolis, Minn. on September 3, 1971. By Paul Hagen. 

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired October 14, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Her Aunt Saw Her for Who She Truly Was

In 2018, at the age of 63, Dee Westenhauser came out as a transgender woman. But growing up in El Paso, Texas in the 1950s, she remembers having a hard time fitting in.

At StoryCorps, Dee sat down with her friend, Martha Gonzalez, to remember the one person who made her feel comfortable in her own skin.

Photo: Dee Westenhauser and Martha Gonzalez at StoryCorps in El Paso, TX. By Nicolas Cadena for StoryCorps.

Originally aired April 5, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition. It was rebroadcast on March 11, 2022 on the same program.

How A Shared Language Helped Two Young People Find Their Voice

In 2006, Luis Paulino immigrated to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic. He was a child and didn’t speak any English, so he struggled during his first year in school.

Four years later — then a senior in high school — he’d meet Angel Gonzalez, who reminded him of his younger self. Angel was also a transfer student from the Dominican Republic, and he was facing challenges that Luis could understand.

Angel Gonzalez and Luis Paulino, in New York, after Luis’s high school graduation in 2011. Courtesy of Angel Gonzalez.

They came to StoryCorps to remember that time, and how they got through it together.

Originally aired January 7th, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

The Santa Protest — How One Man’s Firing Became A Fight For AIDS Awareness

In 1989, at the height of the AIDS crisis, Mark Woodley was caring for his dying best friend, while coping with his own HIV status. Although an architect by training, he saw an ad in the Village Voice looking for Macy’s Santas. He applied and got the job. He loved the experience of bringing joy to children, and Macy’s invited him back the following holiday season. 

By 1990, he had started taking the drug AZT, which was the primary treatment for AIDS. When he went in for his physical, he was honest about his medication regimen — AZT in combination with Prozac — and he knew he made a mistake.

Mark waited for Macy’s to respond, but no news came about the job. He was called into an HR meeting and told that they wouldn’t be rehiring him back as Santa. He filed a lawsuit against the department store.

Around the same, Jon Winkleman, a young gay man, was taking his first steps into activism with the coalition group ACT UP — along with their subsidiary group Action Tours, which carried out covert direct actions. He read a blurb in the back of the New York Times about Mark’s lawsuit, and he and the group decided to do something about it.

The Action Tours protest at the Macy’s 34th St Store in NYC on Nov 29, 1991. Photo by Meryl Levin.

After the protest, Mark never returned to Macy’s as Santa, but in the following years, he donned the red suit again at different pediatric AIDS clinics and organizations. 

After losing his job as Macy’s Santa, Mark Woodley welcomed the chance to play the part for children with H.I.V. at the State University Health Science Center in Brooklyn. Dec. 16th 1994, by Michelle V. Agins, for the NY Times.

Mark eventually moved to Amsterdam, where he opened a small import business. Jon stayed in New York until 2015, when moved back home to Rhode Island. He is still an activist. They connected virtually for StoryCorps almost 30 years to the day of the protest. 

Mark Woodley in Amsterdam, and Jon Winkleman in Rhode Island, after their StoryCorps recording on November 22nd, 2021. For StoryCorps.
Top Photo: The Action Tours action at the Macy’s 34th St Store in NYC on Nov 29, 1991. Photo by Meryl Levin.

Originally aired December 10, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Life of Honor

A gay veteran recalls serving in silence.

Joseph Patton

When Joseph Patton joined the Navy in 1955, he had to serve in silence. At the time, the LGBTQ community could not be open while in the military. Despite being the “perfect sailor,” Joseph was kicked out of the Navy under the assumption that he was homosexual. At StoryCorps, Joseph remembers the pride he took in his service and the beauty and joy that love has brought to his life.

Listen to Joseph’s original StoryCorps interview.

Para subtítulos en español, haga click en el ícono de YouTube en la esquina derecha, y escoja “Spanish” bajo la opción de “settings” y “subtitles/CC.