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In this episode, I’m catching up with Michael, who I talked to during my Intersections project. If you haven’t heard it yet, you can listen to that conversation in the From the Vault episode that was posted a couple weeks ago. Michael is a gay man who was married to a straight woman. They’re no longer married but still have a great family relationship. We had a great conversation about his journey of discovery as a gay man, gay culture versus being gay, the fascinating LGBTQ cultural history of Oklahoma City, and more.
This is the dissertation on Oklahoma City we talked about: Emergence and Evolution of the Gay and Bisexual Male Subculture in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1889–2005
I also wanted to share what Michael shared with me in a follow-up email:
I attached the dissertation that started my interest in local gay history. I suspect that young historians in other small cities have dome similar but it is not like there is a good resource collecting all of them. And if there isn’t maybe it is a jumping-off point for one of your listeners to dig for histories in their own city. One thing I didn’t mention was that with this dissertation i worked up a tour of OKC and have taken a few friends on a good two-mile walk around downtown looking at where places used to be, and telling stories, some of which I admit to embellishing.
I think we all spend our lives thinking we are so unique, then we get older and realize that over the last ten or so thousand years that there have been others just like us but with vastly different societal pressures. When I read the stories in that paper, or in some of the other resources I have collected, I can picture some dude trying to navigate his feelings, his wants, his desires, and thinking he was some kind of weirdo. For me it is a great feeling to know that there are other weirdos out there, during all times, just stumbling around and doing their best. In the end, we are crazy naked monkeys who have the fortune (or misfortune) to be self-aware. Just crazy naked self-aware monkeys on a chaotic rock hurtling through space trying to make sense of the nonsensical.