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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Bill Hull, June 21, 2001. Interview K-0844. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The civil rights movement fed the gay rights movement

Hull and McGinnis outline how the civil rights movement provided a background for the gay rights movement.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Bill Hull, June 21, 2001. Interview K-0844. 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

CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Hmm, I have always found that interesting. I mean, I think that the civil rights movement, or any movement for civil rights is a very good cause. It is interesting that so many gay people were involved in, at least, in the Chapel Hill scenario.
BILL HULL:
Yeah, they were involved in it, but yet, in my looking back and looking at it, since I first read your original paper and all that, I don't think that gay people felt oppressed. It was a subculture that we were very content to be in, it was almost like a secret society. The civil rights movement was a blatant disregard for human's rights because of a person's color. Gay people could easily hide if they were so inclined, in their own self. A gay person could walk down the street and walk freely, a black person in that period of time was just an object of scorn, ridicule, disrespect, bigotry, all of that. So, I think that even in our own way of knowing that we were different, people that I knew aligned ourselves with this cause because it was too obvious. Too horrible to ignore. That is how I got involved with it—
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
So, it was more—the discrimination towards African Americans was more extreme than gays went through?
BILL HULL:
Right, right, there is always discrimination, but, a black person cannot escape that, they are obvious. A gay person at that period of time could hide in their own way.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
So even if they may have been stereotypically effeminate or something of that nature.
BILL HULL:
Oh, no they were just sissies, they were not niggers, you know, that was the horrible thing, you know, that people were just completely classified and denigrated by the color of their skin.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
So, gays really had a niche within society, or white gays at least?
BILL HULL:
I think so. I didn't—I wasn't involved in it because I was a gay person so much as I was a human being and couldn't live with people being harmed and discriminated against.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
I kind of had a theory about that. I kind of wanted to run it by you. I always thought that maybe, perhaps, a lot of gay people were really involved in the civil rights movement because they themselves experienced some degree of discrimination and knew what it was to be discriminated against.
BILL HULL:
Sure.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
So, they were empathetic and felt that was important.
BILL HULL:
We were empathetic because we could hide, a black person can't hide. You know, they are there.