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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Cecil W. Wooten, July 16, 2001. Interview K-0849. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Describing the Southeastern Gay Conferences

Wooten discusses the Southeastern Gay Conferences he participated in during the mid-1980s, focusing in particular on one held in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As elsewhere in the interview, Wooten again emphasizes that the community was largely tolerant of homosexuality. In addition, he describes the purposes of the conferences, focusing on the social purposes they served and briefly describing the kinds of workshops held.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Cecil W. Wooten, July 16, 2001. Interview K-0849. 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:
How about theߞgosh what is it calledߞthe gay conferences, the Southeastern Gay Conferences. Did you participate in those?
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
Yes, I did. There was one here.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Yes, they initially started here. Dan Leonard and other people put them together. I remember Dan doing it becauseߞ
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
In fact, I had three or four guys from Atlanta staying with me. In one, because we basically put up people, really nice guys, and in fact, you asked me about the atmosphere, I don't remember when that I was, I guess it must have been back in 85ߞ
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Yeah, it was the mid 80s
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
I remember that there were these three gay guys from Atlanta staying with me, and the first night, there was a married couple who lived next to me. They were good friends of mine, and the three of us went out to Dips to dinner, and I asked these guys to go out with us, and this married couple, I mean there was no question of us being gay, I mean it was just natural as anything and we went out to DIPS, and it was pretty clear, there were four guys and one woman, and nobody looked and you know, some of us were fairly flamboyant and you know nobody looked. I remember these guys said afterwards, "This is amazing, it seems, it just seems so natural to be around here. It doesn't seem to bother people, people don't seem to notice. This is like being in the gay ghetto in Atlanta" I don't know if it was or not, but they were surprised.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
There is not a lot of animosity around. So what were the conferences like, what did they have in them? Were they sort of like little meetingsߞ
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
There were workshops about coming out, and there were workshops about coming out, and workshops about dealing with state legislatures.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
So, activism, socializing.
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
Yeah, yeah, I think that there was a dance one night. And there were workshops on campus. I don't remember, I remember going to a dinner. I think that there was a dance, there was kind of a picnic on the lawn in front of South Building, and I went to a couple of workshops. But, by 1985 I had gone to so many workshopsߞ [Laughter]