Many people come to StoryCorps with a loved one to talk about the things that matter most in their lives. But for many LGBTQ seniors, finding someone to even have that conversation with can be tough.
So in this episode of the StoryCorps podcast, we visit the John C. Anderson Apartments, an affordable housing complex for seniors in downtown Philadelphia’s “gayborhood.” We’ll get to know eight residents who all led very different lives but ultimately ended up here to live out their golden years together.
We’ll start by hearing from one of the first people to move in, Elizabeth Coffey Williams. She sat down with her niece Jenn Coffey, as well as her gardening buddy, best friend, and neighbor Frank Potopa.
In the building’s lobby, there’s a large black and white photograph framed on the wall. It shows people marching outside of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, holding signs with slogans demanding equal rights.
This protest—which went on to become a yearly event called the Annual Reminder—happened in 1965. It was one of the first organized demonstrations for gay rights in the country.
One of the protesters is named John James and he’s now 78 years old. He sat down for StoryCorps to remember being part of that historical protest.
Another fixture in the building’s lobby is Roosevelt “Rosy” Adams, who often holds court in the seating area there. In his StoryCorps interview, he reflects on growing up in Philadelphia and falling in love with his neighbor.
But even with an established community, it can still be hard to make new friends. Two of John C Anderson’s newest residents, Katherine Allen and PC Wilson, took their StoryCorps interview as an opportunity to get to know each other better.
Finally, we’ll hear from Mary Groce and Susan Atlas, who live across the hall from Katherine Allen. They met and fell in love years ago, and moved into the John C Anderson building when they had nowhere else to go.
Top photo: Artwork by Michael Caines.
Middle Photo: Elizabeth Coffey Williams with her niece, Jennifer Coffey, at their StoryCorps interview. Also Elizabeth with her friend and gardening buddy Frank Potopa at the John C Anderson apartments in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By Jud Esty-Kendall.
Middle Photo: John James at the John C Anderson apartments in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the historical photo of the Annual Reminder protest, he’s on the left side wearing a black suit. By Jud Esty-Kendall.
Middle Photo: Roosevelt “Rosy” Adams at StoryCorps in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2019. By Jud Esty-Kendall.
Middle Photo: PC Wilson and Katherine Allen, who recorded in Katherine’s apartment in 2019. By Jud Esty-Kendall.
Bottom Photo: Mary Groce and Susan Atlas at their StoryCorps interview in 2019. By Jud Esty-Kendall.
Released on July 23, 2019.