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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Joseph A. Herzenberg, November 1, 2000. Interview K-0196. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The Southeastern Gay and Lesbian Conference

Herzenberg remembers the Southeastern Gay and Lesbian Conference, a gathering that took place regularly in the 1980s. The gathering had "every purpose under the sun," from social networking, to romance, to worship, to activism. The Conference is one example of how gay southerners formed a community in the 1980s.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Joseph A. Herzenberg, November 1, 2000. Interview K-0196. 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

So, you, the first one you, the first Southeastern Gay and Lesbian Conference that you attended was roughly in the 1980s, was it, did people just meet in general—how long did it last?
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
A weekend usually, you know it would begin on a Friday night, or maybe even a Thursday and go until Sunday Morning, a Sunday afternoon.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Did a lot of faculty come in?
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
No.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Was it mainly just students and activists?
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
No it's mainly student activists and some people were older, like me. Even though I was still a graduate student, I suppose—
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
It is easy to be old in this town. [Laughter] I am already feeling old at 26. So, I mean, did they just discuss strategies for activism?
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
Oh, they discussed everything under the sun.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Did they have little groups that split up?
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
Yeah, they would have big speakers who would speak to the whole gathering, they would have whole workshops, there would be meals, there would be religious services, it almost always ended with some sort of vaguely Protestant, ecumenical service, when I was in Chapel Hill. I never—did I ever—I did go to Raleigh, it was at [NC] State one year.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Oh
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
But, when it was held here, usually there was a vaguely protestant religious service was held in the Forest Theater, you know, on a Sunday morning.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
The vaguely protestant. [Laughter] Okay, well great, so it was a really good way for—I mean you see these kind of events happening in the Mattachine Society for instance when it was formed, did things similar in terms of this—
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
Yes
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
I think they did something—an Atlantic Conference I think it was called, NACHO or something like that. [Laughter] and they all met and exchanged those ideas. It is interesting, because I didn't know exactly what the purpose of this was.
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
Well.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Whether it was just social, or was if it was activist oriented, they had a lot of different things?
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
Yeah, I think that it had every purpose under the sun. You know, some people just went to pick up somebody.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Right, just to meet people.
JOSEPH A. HERZENBERG:
Other people went because they wanted to over throw the existing society. I mean, really [Laughter] and everything in between.