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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Patricia Long, November 14, 1996. Interview G-0215. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Activities in the gay and lesbian liberation movement

Long talks about her involvement in the gay and lesbian liberation movement outside of her work with Pullen Baptist Church. Long describes her participation in marches and various demonstrations, stressing the "ordinary" nature of the majority of other participants and her own style of activism. She concludes by explaining that the role of Pullen in this rights issue was in line with other controversial stances they had taken over the years in regards to such issues as race and the Vietnam War.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Patricia Long, November 14, 1996. Interview G-0215. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Have you been a gay rights activist outside of the church?
Yeah. I've been to various demonstrations, I've testified before Raleigh City Council and the State Legislature, I've written letters to the editor and done some phone banking and stuff I think it's important for those of us who have the luxury of being out to make good use of that. It's real easy for folks to assume all the stereotypes about being gay if the only people they recognize as gay is the extreme, the rebellious against society, the folks that are going topless to a march, or in leather, or whatever, that people will pick up right away as being gay. Most of us are just so ordinary. You know? We go to work every morning, we rake our yard, we take out the garbage, we pay our taxes, we go to the movies; we're just very boring. There's nothing remarkable about this household except that both of us happen to be female. But we work on our relationship the same way husbands and wives do; in fact, there was a Wednesday night class offered at church on couples' relationships. And we were accepted as part of that. There were five gay couples and probably twelve straight couples and after everybody just sort of figured out, "Well, yeah…we're all working on the same stuff." And that was one of the little blessings, one of the little serendipities, if you will, of being at Pullen in the aftermath of this decision, that something like that could happen. That two gay men could dedicate their adopted son, along with all the other babies. Just things like that that are pretty amazing. I'm not sure I stayed on your question there.
Yeah, you did. How would you describe your style of activism?
I am definitely not an in-your-face, angry, give it to me now or else activist. I am a "this is right, and these are people who deserve it, and it's time we spoke up" kind of activist. And as I said, I mean, the first thing I say—the political stuff is important. the recognition of our households as units of society is important. And being able to see your partner in the emergency room without getting somebody else's permission is important. But the central piece is letting people know that God loves them as they are. And that's got to be a piece of whatever it is I'm doing.
Do you think that the whole experience at Pullen, the education process, the decision to have the gay unions, has changed the tone of the church on other controversial issues?
Not really, because Pullen had a long history of taking controversial stands on issues. You know, as Elmer Johnson, who is Vice Chair of the Deacons, and all ()—somebody asked him if this was a watershed and he said, "No, this comes rather naturally to Pullen." We've almost gotten kicked out by the Baptists several times before. We elected women deacons in 1924. We were part of the Civil Rights movement. We made an explicit—we made it explicit shortly after Edwin McNeill Poteat died, that is something that he had been working for some time, that members of all races are welcome as members at Pullen. We made a decision not to require that Christians who were joining Pullen from other denominations be re-baptized by immersion if they had not been baptized by immersion. That was scandalous. I mean, that almost got us kicked out. Bill Finlator had lots of things to say about the Vietnam War, and that caused some dissension within the congregation as well as from outside. There were some people who left over that. So this is a hot button right now, it would have been even hotter any time before now, but it's one of a string of things.