Interviewer:

 Mason Funk

Camera:

 Kate Kunath

Date:

 April 24, 2016

Location:

 Triangle Square, Los Angeles, CA

Lee LeFaive Marquardt was born in 1942 in Jackson, Michigan. During World War II, Lee’s parents worked in factories to support their seven children. Afterwards, they opened Beacon Sandwich Shop, where Lee was put to work washing dishes and peeling potatoes. In 1960, she graduated with honors from Jackson High School and moved to Cincinnati, where she found work as a bookkeeper and bought her first car, a black 1961 Corvair Monza with red interior.

After a few years of independence, Lee got homesick and moved back to Jackson. Working at a savings and loan, she met her husband, got married, and the couple soon had three kids. Lee’s life seemed pretty set. Then, in 1988, her son Chuck came home from college at Michigan State and told his parents he was gay. It was all Lee needed to reveal that she was lesbian. With no kids left at home, Lee left her husband and moved to East Lansing, got involved with the local PFLAG chapter, and basically rebooted her life.

Finding work after decades at home wasn’t easy, but eventually Lee got a job with Lesbian Connection, a mostly user-generated magazine started in 1974 by the Michigan lesbian-feminist collective Ambitious Amazons. But Lee was adventuresome and anxious to earn more money, so she and another divorcee teamed up, moved to Travelers Rest, South Carolina, and set up their own trucking company delivering auto parts all over America.

Six years later, Lee’s trucking partner retired, and Lee made her way west to be near Chuck. After a spell in Visalia, California, Lee finally came to rest in Los Angeles where she lives today at Triangle Square, one of America’s first affordable housing complexes for LGBTQ seniors. Chuck and his husband John live just a couple of miles away, which Lee loves – but she also loves getting out and having new adventures on her own, and going on social media to rail against the White House’s current occupant.

Lee was a delight to interview, and it was also a delight to welcome her, along with Chuck and John, at OUTWORDS’ first official fundraiser in November 2017. Lee’s story is a rags-to-riches story, not about money, but about integrity and self-understanding. As the English novelist George Eliot said, “It's never too late to be who you might have been.”

Lee LeFaive Marquardt was born in 1942 in Jackson, Michigan. During World War II, Lee’s parents worked in factories to support their seven children. Afterwards, they opened Beacon Sandwich Shop, where Lee was put to work washing dishes and peeling potatoes. In 1960, she graduated with honors from Jackson High School and moved to Cincinnati, where she found work as a bookkeeper and bought her first car, a black 1961 Corvair Monza with red interior.

After a few years of independence, Lee got homesick and moved back to Jackson. Working at a savings and loan, she met her husband, got married, and the couple soon had three kids. Lee’s life seemed pretty set. Then, in 1988, her son Chuck came home from college at Michigan State and told his parents he was gay. It was all Lee needed to reveal that she was lesbian. With no kids left at home, Lee left her husband and moved to East Lansing, got involved with the local PFLAG chapter, and basically rebooted her life.

Finding work after decades at home wasn’t easy, but eventually Lee got a job with Lesbian Connection, a mostly user-generated magazine started in 1974 by the Michigan lesbian-feminist collective Ambitious Amazons. But Lee was adventuresome and anxious to earn more money, so she and another divorcee teamed up, moved to Travelers Rest, South Carolina, and set up their own trucking company delivering auto parts all over America.

Six years later, Lee’s trucking partner retired, and Lee made her way west to be near Chuck. After a spell in Visalia, California, Lee finally came to rest in Los Angeles where she lives today at Triangle Square, one of America’s first affordable housing complexes for LGBTQ seniors. Chuck and his husband John live just a couple of miles away, which Lee loves – but she also loves getting out and having new adventures on her own, and going on social media to rail against the White House’s current occupant.

Lee was a delight to interview, and it was also a delight to welcome her, along with Chuck and John, at OUTWORDS’ first official fundraiser in November 2017. Lee’s story is a rags-to-riches story, not about money, but about integrity and self-understanding. As the English novelist George Eliot said, “It's never too late to be who you might have been.”

Time Speakers Transcript Text
Lee Marquardt: Take my glasses off, too.
Mason Funk: [inaudible 00:00:02]. Marquardt seal of approval. Marquardt.
Lee Marquardt: Yes.
Mason Funk: Marquardt.
Lee Marquardt: Yes. Yeah, just like a-
Mason Funk: Like a quart-
Lee Marquardt: Quart of milk.
Mason Funk: Quart of milk. Yeah. Marquardt.
Lee Marquardt: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Lee Marquardt: One that's been damaged.
Mason Funk: Oh, I don't know about that.
Lee Marquardt: Mar.
Mason Funk: Oh, I see. Mar. The Marquardt. Okay. I thought you were saying that you were damaged at some point. I was going to say I don't think so.
Lee Marquardt: [00:00:30] I haven't been damaged.
Mason Funk: All right. So we're ready to go?
Kate Kunath: Speed.
Mason Funk: Okay. So, do me a favor, start off by telling me your first and last names and spell them out please.
Lee Marquardt: Okay, my name is Lee Marquardt. That's L-E-E, Marquardt is M-A-R-Q-U-A-R-D-T.
Mason Funk: You've spelled that a number of times in your life, haven't you.
Lee Marquardt: Quite a few.
Mason Funk: [00:01:00] Tell me when and where you were born. Please give me your full birth date and where you were born.
Lee Marquardt: Okay, I was born in Jackson, Michigan on January 27th, 1942.
Mason Funk: Okie dokie.
Lee Marquardt: Makes me 75.
Mason Funk: 75. Good for you. Tell me a little bit about your family that you were born into.
Lee Marquardt: [00:01:30] Well I was born in a family, let me see, this wasduring the war. Actually about a month after the war started. We're talking about the big war, World War II. My folks had six children before they had me and three more after. Those three didn't survive but they were born. We lived out in the country. We had about 40 acres and both of my parents were doing war work. My father was a grinder, he worked at a shop and my mother worked for, I think it was Sparton Electronic. They were all necessary things. We just fended for ourselves in the home while that was going on.
It was a great life. I really enjoyed it. We were poor, actually, but I didn't know what to. Everybody was in the same boat, so it was a pretty good childhood.
Mason Funk: What would you say your parents were, what were their, you say, kind of their values. What was important to your parents.
Lee Marquardt: [00:03:00] Well, family of course. The family would have been important. What was happening in the country was important, I mean politics was right at the top of the crate up there, you know, at that point in time, and providing. Providing for us, taking care of us. That would be it I guess.
We would have, we would have family in, you know, that was our entertainment as far as that went. Played cards and I'm sure they had a few drinks. They didn't have any way to go out and be entertained with all of us kids and stuff.
Mason Funk: No babysitters for seven children.
Lee Marquardt: [00:04:00] Uh, no. No, I don't think I ever remember having a babysitter. My brothers and sisters were so much older, some of them, that I even thought one of my sisters was my mother because she was so much older than me, because my mother was missing so much of the time working, and my father too. That was a revelation when I got older. It was kind of strange in that way but it was still a good relationship all the way around.
Mason Funk: Were your parents religious?
Lee Marquardt: Quite.
Mason Funk: [00:04:30] Talk about that, and refer to them as your parents please. My parents.
Lee Marquardt: [00:05:00] Oh, okay. My parents were Catholic and we were all brought up Catholic. They were very adamant about going to church every Sunday. She would start a meal on the stove, you know, something real slow and by the time we get back from church our meal would be ready, our dinner.
Those are long drawn out affairs at church sometimes. That's about all there is to say about that. Yeah.
Mason Funk: [00:05:30] Growing up how broad or small where your horizons, I guess. What were your ambitions?
Lee Marquardt: Oh, God. When I was in sixth grade I was determined to be a WAVE because I had many people in our family who were Navy.
Mason Funk: What's a WAVE?
Lee Marquardt: Huh?
Mason Funk: What's a WAVE?
Lee Marquardt: Oh, it's a female Navy person. I wanted to be a WAVE just like the WACs] were ... Excuse me for this.
Mason Funk: [00:06:00] Sorry.
Lee Marquardt: [00:06:30] Not used to talking a lot. I found out by the time I got into the twelfth grade that I passed all the exams. There's a 200 question exam, I went to Chicago to do that. I passed that, I only missed two questions. Then they did the physical exam and it was discovered I had a heart murmur, so they wouldn't take me. I was crushed by that. I mean, that was what I was striving for my whole life, at least at that point in time. It worked out okay because I met my husband and we produced three just absolutely wonderful children. Who I wouldn't have had the opportunity to know had it gone some other way. As far as being gay, there was nobody that I ever knew that was gay. Then I found out my son was gay.
When he just went into college he came home one day and he told his father and I that he was gay and I was totally flabbergasted. He always had a girl on his arm. One grade or another, he went to all three proms in high school. But I think the girls knew he was gay and they felt safe with him. I didn't talk to him for about three days. He went back to college and I called him up I said, "Chuck," I says, "I know you think I'm mad at you but I'm not." I says, "I'm gay and I'm mad at myself." Because I never told anybody that I was and I could have saved him so much anguish had I known, because here he thought that we wouldn't love him anymore. Of course that was just the opposite. He put me in contact with PFLAG and they helped me with my divorce and finding a job and moving to Lansing.
That's where my life as a gay person started. What a relief that was because I had been living a lie for so long that it was like I had just been reborn. Literally, been reborn. That's all I can say about that.
Mason Funk: That's rich stuff. That's rich. That's rich.
Lee Marquardt: [00:09:30] Yep. It is rich stuff.
Mason Funk: Fill in a little bit of the blanks for me.
Lee Marquardt: Sure. If I can.
Mason Funk: When had you first begun to feel that you were attracted to women.
Lee Marquardt: Oh heck! When I was four years old. You want to know the first time?
Mason Funk: Tell me about it.
Lee Marquardt: [00:10:00] Evidently, when I was a child I had rheumatic fever but nobody knew it. I was constantly fainting. At that time I went to a little one room schoolhouse for kindergarten. It was just maybe a quarter of a mile down the road from us, but it was an old country road. You know, old country one room schoolhouse and there was this teacher by the name of Mrs. Murray. I had passed out one day, this is a silly story, but when I woke up I woke up in her arms and she was one of these women that showed her breasts. She was a big heavy woman and it was the first time I'd ever been held by anybody that I knew of, because there just wasn't a lot of affection shown what I was younger. And, okay I was enjoying that. I really liked that and I always knew from that point on that I was different.
All of the things I had ever heard about gay people was that they were wicked and evil. I didn't feel wicked and evil so they couldn't have been talking about me, right? Anyway.
Speaker 4: [inaudible 00:11:18].
Mason Funk: [inaudible 00:11:18] talking.
Lee Marquardt: [00:11:30] You can ask them to move on.
Mason Funk: I think they're coming in here. I'm going to tell them it's okay. Hello. We fixed the problem, we're okay.
Speaker 4: Okay.
Mason Funk: [inaudible 00:11:41].
Speaker 5: You can use this mic?
Mason Funk: Yeah, it's all good.
Speaker 5: [inaudible 00:11:44].
Mason Funk: Thank you so much.
Speaker 4: No problem.
Mason Funk: Thanks for coming. Thank you. We're good right, I mean it's not [inaudible 00:11:52].
Speaker 6: Yeah, it's good.
Mason Funk: [00:12:00] So, back up a little bit so we can have this part without interruption. What had you always heard about gay people, you said wicked.
Lee Marquardt: I always read that they were wicked and they were evil.
Mason Funk: Sorry, just do me a favor and say gay people.
Lee Marquardt: [00:12:30] Gay people. I'd heard that gay people were wicked and that they did terrible things and they were child molesters. Well, of course I wasn't any of those things. So, obviously I thought at the time that they couldn't have been talking about me and I couldn't have been one of them. That was the only thing that I knew until I got older and just decided that I had to go ahead and get married like everybody else and have my children and things like that.
Actually, I was quite intrigued by the man I married. I don't know we had any great love but I was very intrigued. I was already in my middle 20s so all of my friends that I grew up with already had started their families so I lost touch with them. The interest wasn't there. But this fellow was a college instructor. When he started asking me out he was very very formal. He'd been coming into the bank for some time, he said to me, "Well, you know, I think we've been ... I know you well enough that I can ask you out for a date." I says, "Well, I think probably that's all right." That's the type of relation it was but there was never any great love there. Just a respect for each other. It worked out okay for him, too. We're friends now. For a while we weren't but we’re friends. He went on to somebody who could give him what he needed more than I could. That worked out all right. Worked out good for the kids to cause so we're all friends.
Mason Funk: My husbands mom is also gay.
Lee Marquardt: Yeah.
Mason Funk: And she and her ex-husband have become friends.
Lee Marquardt: Yeah.
Mason Funk: [00:14:30] At the [inaudible 00:14:21] as well.
Lee Marquardt: [00:15:00] There's so many ... When I finally went over to Lansing when I first came out half the woman I met over there were my age and they had come out late in life. I guess it was just my particular generation, and small town, that that happened. The people I meet around here, oh yeah, they've known all their lives, you know, so it was just a different atmosphere.
Mason Funk: That's fascinating. The part for me and I think for certainly younger people, it's hard to wrap our minds around, is this idea that you heard these horrible things about gay people, and you knew you weren't those things and therefore as far as you were concerned that meant you couldn't be gay.
Lee Marquardt: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Can you just help us to understand a bit more, if you can.
Lee Marquardt: [00:15:30] I don't know ... I just knew that I was not happy with the way my life was going at that time, as far as relationships were concerned. You know what I did, I went around with blinders on. I just absolutely went around with blinders on. I didn't develop relationships with other women to protect myself and to protect what I felt had to be done. That was a fallacy, it should not have happened that way but it did. We're making up for it.
Mason Funk: Well, I'm happy to hear that. Tell me now a bit more about your son. Give me the time, like what dates, roughly when, like what year this would have been.
Lee Marquardt: 1988.
Mason Funk: Okay so tell me that story basically starting with in 1988.
Lee Marquardt: Well-
Mason Funk: [00:16:30] And set the scene for me. Tell me where you were in your life, you were married, you had three kids. Just set the scene for me and then tell me that story.
Lee Marquardt: [00:17:00] Well, in 1988 I was just discovering what it was like not to have children at home anymore. All of my children were at or in college. He had just went off, he was the youngest and he had just went off to Michigan State University. He came home on a weekend, and this would have been in August, I think, or no, September of 1988 and said, "Mom, dad, I have something to tell you," and he says, "You know how I come home and I'm telling you about this Denise that I’ve been dating, well her name isn't Denise, it's Dennis." I said, "Oh, okay."
He went on to tell us and things just got kind of silent for a while and I just told him I loved him, you know. I don't remember what Vic did. I think he just went to the other room. That was where I waited for about three days and I gave him a call. You want me to tell this whole thing all over again?
Mason Funk: [00:18:00] Yeah.
Lee Marquardt: [00:18:30] Well, I went ahead and told him that I knew that he thought I was mad at him but I wasn't mad at him at all. I wanted to tell him that I was mad at myself for not having divulged that I was gay, too. By the way I used the word gay because I like it better than lesbian. Because it just has a warmer feeling for me. I explained to him how I felt and how I wished that I had known he was gay because I could have given him the moral support that he needed. Because he didn't have it from me or Vic, because we just didn't know. Gal on the arm all the time.
He understood that. That's when he got me involved with PFLAG and they helped me through the procedure of getting my divorce and starting a new life over again.
Mason Funk: Was he the first person you ever told you were gay?
Lee Marquardt: Yes.
Mason Funk: Tell me about that.
Lee Marquardt: Well, I just did.
Mason Funk: [00:19:30] I mean, part of why I ask you to repeat things is because I want to have you telling, not my voice but in your words. Just for you to confirm.
Lee Marquardt: [00:20:00] Chuck was the first person that I ever told I was gay. The tears were flowing, I'll tell you. I was such a relief to tell anybody, but to tell him under those circumstances, I wished it could have been a little different. But hey, you know, better late than never.
Our relationship has gotten a lot stronger, too. Well, we had a strong relationship, anyway, before but this was another dimension.
Mason Funk: Tell me more about what happened next. You mentioned that you got involved with PFLAG but what happened in terms of your husband. When did you tell him?
Lee Marquardt: [00:20:30] I told him, well, he kind of turned his back on Chuck but that's changed. I probably, had he acted any other way, I may have just kept quiet but I could not take the fact that he would turn his back on his son. So I told him the very next month that I wanted a divorce right then and there. Then I started going to PFLAG and they helped me. Told me how to go about getting the divorce and what to do and stuff like that. And they helped me get a room over there in Lansing so I would be completely out of the out of the house, which I was grateful for.
You know when I told my daughters you know what they said? "Oh, mom. We always knew you were." I said, "You did? How did you know?" Well, I was always a bit of a tomboy, that's what we called girls that liked to climbed trees, ride horses, and you know. That's what I did. Played cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, things like that. We didn't equate it with being gay, we just ... It was a tomboy. That's what I was.
Mason Funk: But your daughters said that they had-
Lee Marquardt: Yeah, yeah. They said they always knew. I said, "Oh cripes."
Mason Funk: Tell us, because I've never heard of PFLAG playing this particular role. I know what PFLAG is but imagine you're telling the story to someone who doesn't know what PFLAG is. Tell us what PFLAG is or was.
Lee Marquardt: One minute, can you hold that for a minute.
Mason Funk: Sure.
Lee Marquardt: [00:22:30] I want to blow my nose.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Lee Marquardt: It's runny. That wouldn’t be very nice for the cameras, would it. PFLAG.
Mason Funk: [00:23:00] Yeah, what was PFLAG.
Lee Marquardt: [00:23:30] Parents, friends, lesbians, and gays. That's friends, parents, lesbians, gays, you know. Well, there was a whole group of people that met over there in Lansing every week. I didn't go that often, but I'd go over there and they would bring these young boys, especially, come in that had been disowned by their families. Literally thrown out of the house. Young kids. PFLAG helped these young people find a place to live, helped them with their schooling, and just gave them a support system.
Now Chuck, he was already in college, he had his system, he developed his group support system. But for people like me, who had never even knowingly talked to another gay person, although I probably had just didn't know it.
As a matter of fact, you know getting off of that, I had a girlfriend in high school. We were best of friends and she was getting married, so obviously she couldn't have been gay, right? She wanted to take one last fling and she says, "I want to go cross country." So we took a camping trip and went all the way across the country. We went to Yellowstone in the tetons, and fished on the Snake River. This one campground that we stayed at was called Huckleberry Hot Springs and it was rough camping. Just a tent and cots. It was freezing cold. It was like down in the 20s. You don't want to ever be on a cot when it's that cold. Better off on the ground.
Anyway, I was freezing, shivering, and Carol come up to me as she says, "We'll sleep together." Because she says, "We can keep each other warm that way." And my heart was pounding like crazy because I was madly in love with her but I never told her. I didn't want to run our friendship.
After I got divorced I went and found her. I didn't know where she was because we had lost contact with her family, my family and living in different cities. Well, I went to where she lived, I found out where she lived. I knocked at her door and I says, "Carol," I says, "I just want to tell you something," I said, "I have been in love with you since I was a teenager," I says, "I just want you to know it." I says, "You can throw me out of your house but I just wanted to get that off my chest." She says, "Well, Lee." She says, "I'm gay, too."
She was divorced by that time. She had a young son. Not young by that time, he was 20. I told her what was happening with me and she says, "Well," she says, "Why don't we date for six months and see where it goes from there."
Well, we did but our lives had changed so much that what I felt for her, I still felt for but not the same way. So I had to find somebody else at that point. But we were honest with each other and said, "No, we don't think it's going to work." But we've always been friends. Best of friends.
Mason Funk: That's an amazing story. That's amazing.
Lee Marquardt: Yeah, I almost forgot to tell about that.
Mason Funk: I'm glad.
Lee Marquardt: Yeah, well, you know, one thing leads to another.
Mason Funk: Yeah, for sure. Where does she live now?
Lee Marquardt: I think she still lives in Lansing.
Mason Funk: [00:27:30] Yeah.
Lee Marquardt: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Thank God for PFLAG, they kind of helped you get set up in Lansing.
Lee Marquardt: [00:28:00] Oh, yeah. And helped me get a lawyer and figure out where to go from there. You know, the first job I had is I worked for the... publishing. Shoot. Give me just a half a second here. LC Publishing Company. That's the lesbian connection and it's a national magazine, goes all over the whole world. I got to a job with them and I worked on production. We put together these newsletters and they went all over the country and they went out in plain brown envelopes so that people who lived in these small communities wanted to keep in touch with the rest of the gay community but they didn't want their neighbors knowing. It never went out just in the pamphlet form. It went in a brown manila envelope so that they could keep their privacy.
You know, when I was living in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, my goodness. If they had known I was gay they would have literally, and said so about a lot of other people, if they had known I was gay they'd take me and hung me. That's the truth. You kept quiet in certain areas of the country and that's why these women had to take and be anonymous, you know.
Mason Funk: Wow. Tell me, did you eventually have some longer term relationships?
Lee Marquardt: No, I never did.
Mason Funk: Uh-huh.
Lee Marquardt: I think that ... Friendships, yes. Relationships, no, because I think my libido just was not that strong. Friendships I enjoy. I enjoy people. As far as sex is concerned it doesn't interest me anymore. And that's just the way it is.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Lee Marquardt: That's okay with me. I'm happy. It would have been that way whether I was gay or not gay, you know.
Mason Funk: How about once you kind of ... I'm still fascinated with this. This must have been, you said, ‘88 was when your son came out to you.
Lee Marquardt: Yes.
Mason Funk: And soon thereafter you moved to Lansing-
Lee Marquardt: Yes.
Mason Funk: And started your life over. Was it scary?
Lee Marquardt: [00:31:00] Extremely scary. My heart was in my throat half the time but I just tried not to show it. Just bowled ahead, did what I had to do, you know. I'll tell you, going out on the road by yourself that's scary. Because once my driving partner retired she went her way, I went mine, and I sold my truck and got a cargo van. Then you are driving cross country by yourself all the time and when you go into the truck stops to eat and stuff like that you're by yourself. I did that for about a year. I started getting a little afraid because, by this time, I was in my late 50s and I didn't feel safe out there anymore. That's when I decided to come to be with family and got my job with Cigna and stuff so.
Mason Funk: Real quick, how did you get from Visalia to here, to Los Angeles.
Lee Marquardt: [00:32:00] My sons lived here. Oh, I should tell you, my son is married. His husband is just the most wonderful man you'd ever wanna meet. To have a son-in-law that great is, I mean, I'm blessed. I'm doubly blessed with the children I have and the son-in-law. I was there just last night. They own Red Real Estate Group. They're under the Keller Williams umbrella. They're doing very well for themselves. But they treat me like a queen, like I was royalty. I have to bring them down a little bit once in a while. It's just me. They're just great people and they treat everybody that way, they treat everybody. They have friends who are from their 20s into their 80s and 90s and they have them all for dinner parties and things like that. They're both great cooks and they love entertaining. They've introduced me to fine eating, which I had never experienced before, so that's funny.
Mason Funk: [00:33:30] That's great having them. For them it must be great having you close by.
Lee Marquardt: [00:34:00] That's why I came here. They came up in November of 2013. I was up here visiting them and they took me out to lunch and they says, "Mom, how would you like to live here?" I says, "Oh, I'd love it." "Well," he says, "We know about a place." They knew the people that actually were on the board that developed this place, of course I didn't know any of this stuff. Just ignorant of the whole thing. "We have a place where we might be able to get you in." I said, "Oh, great." Then they told me what it was and they said it could be two years. Well, I'll you. In March, I got a letter saying that I had been accepted. I had just made out the paperwork and that I had been accepted. At that point in time started putting things in gear to move here in July. That was quick. Normally there's a really ... People are on that list for years and years but just the sequence of things, it went okay for me. That was great.
Now, and you know they said now? They said, "Now we don't have to travel three hours and worry about you if anything goes wrong and we can actually visit you on a day to day basis if we want to." Which was a real ... That was really different from what our relationship with them before, because it was an event to visit each other before because of my job, their jobs, the different places we lived.
Anyway, it worked out pretty darn good. I love it, too. I sold my car and I've learned, here I was already in my 70s, and I learned how to use public transportation. Had never done that before. Now I can take the bus just about anywhere, and the subway, and use Uber when the need arises and I do a lot of walking around here. There's something going on here all the time. I don't know what they've told you but boy we have all sorts of events here. Well, you guys.
There's the village. We go over to the village. There's events going on there all the time. They have, like, a summer concert series. They have movies over there. We have movies here. We have what's called the Redline Tour. We sign up and then they take us for a tour on the Redline. Places we haven't been to before, downtown, go for a little walk. See what it's all about. There's museums, the aquarium on the pacific, the Getty. We've been to all those places. They've got a great program here.
Mason Funk: [00:37:00] It's quite a change from living in Jackson, Michigan. I'm sure you never could have imagined [inaudible 00:37:00] .
Lee Marquardt: [00:37:30] I couldn't have, well, we never can imagine what's going to happen in our lives anyway. It's been an adventure. Every day is an adventure, here. Of course, every time you get up it's an adventure. But, yeah. It's been an adventure. I think of it as that. I think every part of my life has been a new adventure and each part has been so different. It's just been a great life.
Mason Funk: In terms of so-called activism, you mentioned the part of your questionnaire you filled out you said you don't really consider yourself or you haven't really been an activist.
Lee Marquardt: Yes. I did consider myself an activist.
Mason Funk: [00:38:00] Tell me about that.
Lee Marquardt: [00:38:30] But only in ... I can't do the marches because of physical problems, but I use social media, I talk to people, I attend meetings. I mean, I've been to city hall several times now and have participated in the groups that were there waiting for pro ... When they were trying to get permission to do the building for the village, the brand new senior and youth housing. There was some people trying to put a stop to that and we showed up in force to show our support and it went through, of course. Things like that. And signing stuff, gosh. I must have signed hundreds, hundreds of petitions for both political and for the gay community.
I'll tell you one of the things that upsetting me right now is Chechnya thing with the President of Chechnya and I'm not seeing any big human cry about that. I'd like to. That's genocide. There's something should be done about that.
When I was still in Michigan I used to go to the all the gay pride marches there and I'd go to the ones in Detroit, too. That was an eye opener.
Mason Funk: Tell me about that.
Lee Marquardt: [00:40:00] It was just a laugh because they really went all out. You would have all of these men dressed like women and I didn't know they weren’t women. They were beautiful. Ah, shoot. Like I said, it was an eye opener. Another learning experience because I wasn't big into the bar scenes or anything like that so it was a whole new culture. It, actually, was culture shock is what it was, but it wasn't objectionable, it was just different. Yeah, been a lot of experiences, a lot of adventures.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Lee Marquardt: So.
Mason Funk: What do you think is, when you look back, say, 50, 60 years, to the attitudes to the way gay people were described, you know, as sick, as perverts.
Lee Marquardt: [00:41:00] Well I-
Mason Funk: What do you think is the biggest ... How do you think this change has come about. We've gone from such a horrible status in society to a relatively decent one.
Lee Marquardt: [00:41:30] I think making it all public, that's what did it. When I was growing up gay people were put into institutions and given shock treatments and deprogrammed. As a matter of fact as late as the time I came out, I was warned about two of my sisters who were planning on having me over to have lunch in Jackson. I was going to go, too. One of the daughters of one of them said, one my nieces said, "Aunt Lee don't go, they're planning on deprogramming you. They're going to, like, kidnap you, and they're going to take you somewhere." I guess they just come at you and come at you and come at you till they supposedly wear you down. They never would have worn me down. I've lived with this my whole life. I found out it's better to be honest.
We went and canceled that get together and I've seen them a few times. I have a lot of family turn their back on me, but I had a lot of family that didn't so it balanced out. The ones that were giving me a rough time were put in place.
One of my sisters was here in Visalia visiting and she was ... My brother and sister-in-law, who I lived with for a couple of months before I got my own place and a job, they were behind me 100% but they were Californians. She was sitting there at the table and she was talking about the gay people and how they were all pedophiles and things like that. My sister-in-law, her name was Carol, said, "Well, Yvonne," she says, "Do you think Carol ever abused her children?" Yvonne says, "Well of course not," "Do you think she was a good wife and a good mother?" Yvonne says, "Well of course she was." "And what do you think about Chuck? Do you think he's a child molester?" She says, "Well, no. Of course, not." Carol says, "Well why would you be spreading stuff like this when you know it's not true?" These were Gospel Hall-ers, you know. Anyway. It was something she got involved in when she was a teenager. This is the type of thing that's going on even today. This whispering among each other about them. And them with us.
If they know you individually they like you just fine. When I was growing up, like I said, there was this putting them in institutions. There was talk of stringing them up, meaning gay people, only they called them queers when I was growing up. That's why I like the word gay.
It was just a horrible atmosphere. Then Stonewall came along and not just Stonewall but other things happened too, but it got out in the news. The gay people just said, "We're not going to take it anymore. We're as good as anybody else, we're Americans, we've got a constitution, too. It's our constitution. What the heck is this all about, anyway. It's got to stop. Period."
Then people started going to Supreme Court and getting things overturned that way, which is iffy right now. The wonderful thing about marriage for gay people, isn't that great. I know so many gay people, just the last few years, says, "Well, we didn't need it anyway." Yeah. But the minute it was okay, boy did they run out there and get those marriage certificates. That's what my sons did. You don't realize till you can have it how much it means. Because when you're saying it doesn't make any difference you're lying to yourself. You don't always know you're lying yourself but you are because it changes just like that when you know you can't. You know that.
Mason Funk: That's wonderful. That's wonderful.
Lee Marquardt: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Kate I want to give you a chance to ask any questions you may have.
Kate Kunath: I guess I'd like to know a little bit more about what it's like to live here and your community that you have.
Lee Marquardt: Excuse me. Well.
Mason Funk: Do you mean specifically Triangle Square?
Kate Kunath: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Or Los Angeles in general? Triangle Square?
Kate Kunath: [00:47:00] Triangle Square.
Mason Funk: What's it like, what's Triangle Square and say Triangle Square and tell us what it is and what it's like for you here.
Lee Marquardt: [00:47:30] So. Triangle Square. I have never lived with other people before, other than family so this was a really new experience for me. You have to learn that all of these people have different personalities and opinions on life, just as much as if you were out there. But they become a family. You learn who you can get along with and who you can't. You try not to, you learn not to gossip, because it can come back to bite you, right? It's a learning, but they have so many good things for us. We have a daily lunch menu, and for just a small donation anybody can eat. As a matter of fact, even if you can't afford it you can eat, but the donation helps.
That's at least one meal every day some of these people get that couldn't normally afford it. There's all the activities. The location, the location. You heard the expression location, location, location? Okay we've got it. Two minutes going just around the block, the Montalban Theater. I don't know whether they're going to do it this year, but every year since I moved in here in the summertime, the managers there have let this community attend their programs, their movies, their stage shows. Then ArcLight Theater is just down that way. We have eating establishments all around us. We have a brand new one just down the road calledTao. It's high end dieting. We wouldn't be able to afford it but it's nice to have it there. We have a Walgreens, that's the flagship Walgreens. It has everything in it. I mean you can go there and eat, you can buy groceries there if you want to, and it's a drugstore. Trader Joes, two minutes, one block away. Let me see. We have a library here, we have a workout room, a media room, which is where we're at right now. There's another room. We have laundries on every single floor, so you know it's six days a week, there's all that time. There's only about 26 apartments on each floor. Take that back. Don't quote me on that. There's 104 total. Yeah, it's about 26 on each floor, there's four floors.
That gives everybody ample time to do their wash and get those things done. We have a pool, which a lot of people like to take advantage of in the hot weather, that's heated. A patio area where we've had many parties, and a barbecue. Sometimes people just come out and just sit on the patio and visit with each other in the summertime. It's kind of nice.
We have it at both ends of the building, I don't know if you've seen the whole ... Have you seen both ends of it? So there's a big patio both ends, so if you want even privacy but you still want to sit outside you can find some place where you can sit and there's greenery. You can see green. That's why I like having my apartment because I have a patio apartment and I could look out on the pool and there's flowers and plant life. Having that little bit of green can make a big difference in your psyche.
Mason Funk: That's great.
Lee Marquardt: Yeah.
Mason Funk: [00:52:00] Sounds like an awesome place to be for you.
Lee Marquardt: It is an awesome place.
Mason Funk: You've got such a good attitude that the things that are, you just, obviously, figured out how to make it work for you.
Lee Marquardt: [00:52:30] Yeah. I don't like to just stay inside because you can go backwards doing that so I like to get out and do things. I'm thinking about joining that LA Fitness, down here. It's right where the ArcLight is. It's a sports place. I'm thinking about joining that because I belong to Kaiser and a lot of the people here belong to Kaiser and Kaiser will let us join up for free. I should have taken advantage of it for this. I've had a little problem with one of my feet but I used to walk two miles every day. Now I think I need some other type of exercise so I'm going to see if I can get in there and do that.
I love to go shopping, window shopping mind you. I love just going in ... Bed, Bath, and Beyond is a mere minute away if I go the back away. That's my feel good store. I go in there, I probably know more where things are than the people that actually work there. I've actually helped some people out when they were looking for things. That's fun, that's just fun.
Mason Funk: I'm taking you next time I go. I can never find anything there.
Lee Marquardt: Oh, I can find it for you. That store.
Mason Funk: Right, right, right.
Lee Marquardt: I don't know any other.
Mason Funk: Well, great. We sort of have to wrap up because we're going to ... I just have a couple of final questions.
Lee Marquardt: Sure.
Kate Kunath: I have another question.
Mason Funk: Okay, go for it.
Kate Kunath: If that's okay.
Mason Funk: [00:54:00] Yeah.
Kate Kunath: I want to know if you were out at work and also when you were truck driving, was there like a truck driving-
Lee Marquardt: [00:54:30] Absolutely not. My life wouldn't have been worth a plugged nickel because of the areas I was working in. I was working for the auto industry, well, not the auto industry. A lot of the places that used our services, like, I worked for Roberts Express, Panther, those are all ... That's the word I was looking for, expediting. I was an expediter. Means if they wanted something yesterday, they needed it today, they wanted it yesterday, and we'd go cross country. I've literally done non stop from New York to Vancouver British Columbia. But the people you were dealing with you did not tell them that. Especially because we had to go to these truck stops by ourselves and we were sleeping in our trucks by ourselves. The atmosphere, at that time, our lives would have been in danger, period.
Kate Kunath: When was it? What are the years?
Lee Marquardt: The years?
Kate Kunath: Yeah.
Mason Funk: [00:55:30] Yeah.
Lee Marquardt: Between 1994 and 2001. 7 years is how long I was in it.
Mason Funk: That was a place where you just did not.
Lee Marquardt: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Make that public.
Lee Marquardt: Yeah. When I was working for LC Publishing, of course I was out there but I was also in a community that accepted ... I mean, we had our community, gay people, you know. It's like it is here. But when in certain areas we kept mum.
Mason Funk: [00:56:00] How about, for example, when you worked for Cigna, was that a place where it was safe to be out?
Lee Marquardt: I was out to a couple of people.
Mason Funk: Uh-huh.
Lee Marquardt: To my boss and to a couple of employees. That was still, that's California, there was no problem. Where I lived I was not out. But I didn't know any gay people, either. I mean I did not know one gay person in the 13 years I lived there. I never met one gay person.
Mason Funk: [00:56:30] In Visalia.
Lee Marquardt: [00:57:00] But since then, you're going to love this. My friend, Pat Poth, was in the senior housing where I lived, we had separate little bungalows, and I used to do this walk, it was a third of a mile walk around our community. I just start talking with her one day and we've become very good friends. I never told her I was gay, but she never told me her son was gay. The reason I didn't is Visalia is a very Republican town. Since I moved, Pat's son Brian Poth, he's an actor from Los Angeles here, but he grew up there, he started a brand new LGBTQ center in Visalia, California last year. The first time they opened their doors they had, like, 200 people show up. Since then, now, they need to get a bigger place and they're becoming prominent in the Visalia community.
There's people, there’s gay people coming out of the woodwork I swear. It was that close mindedness in those small towns that kept everybody quiet. It's important for there to be a visual ... What do I want to say. Something visual for people to see in relationship to the gay community. Not just big places like Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, it has to be into the small towns, too. There's a lot more gay people out there. I'm thinking the population is much greater than people even thought.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Lee Marquardt: [00:59:00] Yeah.
Mason Funk: That's really interesting. As you said, they're there.
Lee Marquardt: Yeah.
Mason Funk: They just don't have safe place to come out and-
Lee Marquardt: No. Because of the radicalness of the people that are against you. I mean, they really do firmly believe that you should be eradicated. Much like this Chechnya guy, that President of Chechnya. That's gotta change.
Mason Funk: Fantastic.
Lee Marquardt: [00:59:30] Yeah.
Mason Funk: Thank you so much. We can cut. I'm going to take you now with my camera, my still camera.
Lee Marquardt: [00:00:30] I haven't been damaged.
Mason Funk: [00:01:00] Tell me when and where you were born. Please give me your full birth date and where you were born.
Lee Marquardt: [00:01:30] Well I was born in a family, let me see, this wasduring the war. Actually about a month after the war started. We're talking about the big war, World War II. My folks had six children before they had me and three more after. Those three didn't survive but they were born. We lived out in the country. We had about 40 acres and both of my parents were doing war work. My father was a grinder, he worked at a shop and my mother worked for, I think it was Sparton Electronic. They were all necessary things. We just fended for ourselves in the home while that was going on.
Lee Marquardt: [00:03:00] Well, family of course. The family would have been important. What was happening in the country was important, I mean politics was right at the top of the crate up there, you know, at that point in time, and providing. Providing for us, taking care of us. That would be it I guess.
Lee Marquardt: [00:04:00] Uh, no. No, I don't think I ever remember having a babysitter. My brothers and sisters were so much older, some of them, that I even thought one of my sisters was my mother because she was so much older than me, because my mother was missing so much of the time working, and my father too. That was a revelation when I got older. It was kind of strange in that way but it was still a good relationship all the way around.
Mason Funk: [00:04:30] Talk about that, and refer to them as your parents please. My parents.
Lee Marquardt: [00:05:00] Oh, okay. My parents were Catholic and we were all brought up Catholic. They were very adamant about going to church every Sunday. She would start a meal on the stove, you know, something real slow and by the time we get back from church our meal would be ready, our dinner.
Mason Funk: [00:05:30] Growing up how broad or small where your horizons, I guess. What were your ambitions?
Mason Funk: [00:06:00] Sorry.
Lee Marquardt: [00:06:30] Not used to talking a lot. I found out by the time I got into the twelfth grade that I passed all the exams. There's a 200 question exam, I went to Chicago to do that. I passed that, I only missed two questions. Then they did the physical exam and it was discovered I had a heart murmur, so they wouldn't take me. I was crushed by that. I mean, that was what I was striving for my whole life, at least at that point in time. It worked out okay because I met my husband and we produced three just absolutely wonderful children. Who I wouldn't have had the opportunity to know had it gone some other way. As far as being gay, there was nobody that I ever knew that was gay. Then I found out my son was gay.
Lee Marquardt: [00:09:30] Yep. It is rich stuff.
Lee Marquardt: [00:10:00] Evidently, when I was a child I had rheumatic fever but nobody knew it. I was constantly fainting. At that time I went to a little one room schoolhouse for kindergarten. It was just maybe a quarter of a mile down the road from us, but it was an old country road. You know, old country one room schoolhouse and there was this teacher by the name of Mrs. Murray. I had passed out one day, this is a silly story, but when I woke up I woke up in her arms and she was one of these women that showed her breasts. She was a big heavy woman and it was the first time I'd ever been held by anybody that I knew of, because there just wasn't a lot of affection shown what I was younger. And, okay I was enjoying that. I really liked that and I always knew from that point on that I was different.
Lee Marquardt: [00:11:30] You can ask them to move on.
Mason Funk: [00:12:00] So, back up a little bit so we can have this part without interruption. What had you always heard about gay people, you said wicked.
Lee Marquardt: [00:12:30] Gay people. I'd heard that gay people were wicked and that they did terrible things and they were child molesters. Well, of course I wasn't any of those things. So, obviously I thought at the time that they couldn't have been talking about me and I couldn't have been one of them. That was the only thing that I knew until I got older and just decided that I had to go ahead and get married like everybody else and have my children and things like that.
Mason Funk: [00:14:30] At the [inaudible 00:14:21] as well.
Lee Marquardt: [00:15:00] There's so many ... When I finally went over to Lansing when I first came out half the woman I met over there were my age and they had come out late in life. I guess it was just my particular generation, and small town, that that happened. The people I meet around here, oh yeah, they've known all their lives, you know, so it was just a different atmosphere.
Lee Marquardt: [00:15:30] I don't know ... I just knew that I was not happy with the way my life was going at that time, as far as relationships were concerned. You know what I did, I went around with blinders on. I just absolutely went around with blinders on. I didn't develop relationships with other women to protect myself and to protect what I felt had to be done. That was a fallacy, it should not have happened that way but it did. We're making up for it.
Mason Funk: [00:16:30] And set the scene for me. Tell me where you were in your life, you were married, you had three kids. Just set the scene for me and then tell me that story.
Lee Marquardt: [00:17:00] Well, in 1988 I was just discovering what it was like not to have children at home anymore. All of my children were at or in college. He had just went off, he was the youngest and he had just went off to Michigan State University. He came home on a weekend, and this would have been in August, I think, or no, September of 1988 and said, "Mom, dad, I have something to tell you," and he says, "You know how I come home and I'm telling you about this Denise that I’ve been dating, well her name isn't Denise, it's Dennis." I said, "Oh, okay."
Mason Funk: [00:18:00] Yeah.
Lee Marquardt: [00:18:30] Well, I went ahead and told him that I knew that he thought I was mad at him but I wasn't mad at him at all. I wanted to tell him that I was mad at myself for not having divulged that I was gay, too. By the way I used the word gay because I like it better than lesbian. Because it just has a warmer feeling for me. I explained to him how I felt and how I wished that I had known he was gay because I could have given him the moral support that he needed. Because he didn't have it from me or Vic, because we just didn't know. Gal on the arm all the time.
Mason Funk: [00:19:30] I mean, part of why I ask you to repeat things is because I want to have you telling, not my voice but in your words. Just for you to confirm.
Lee Marquardt: [00:20:00] Chuck was the first person that I ever told I was gay. The tears were flowing, I'll tell you. I was such a relief to tell anybody, but to tell him under those circumstances, I wished it could have been a little different. But hey, you know, better late than never.
Lee Marquardt: [00:20:30] I told him, well, he kind of turned his back on Chuck but that's changed. I probably, had he acted any other way, I may have just kept quiet but I could not take the fact that he would turn his back on his son. So I told him the very next month that I wanted a divorce right then and there. Then I started going to PFLAG and they helped me. Told me how to go about getting the divorce and what to do and stuff like that. And they helped me get a room over there in Lansing so I would be completely out of the out of the house, which I was grateful for.
Lee Marquardt: [00:22:30] I want to blow my nose.
Mason Funk: [00:23:00] Yeah, what was PFLAG.
Lee Marquardt: [00:23:30] Parents, friends, lesbians, and gays. That's friends, parents, lesbians, gays, you know. Well, there was a whole group of people that met over there in Lansing every week. I didn't go that often, but I'd go over there and they would bring these young boys, especially, come in that had been disowned by their families. Literally thrown out of the house. Young kids. PFLAG helped these young people find a place to live, helped them with their schooling, and just gave them a support system.
Mason Funk: [00:27:30] Yeah.
Lee Marquardt: [00:28:00] Oh, yeah. And helped me get a lawyer and figure out where to go from there. You know, the first job I had is I worked for the... publishing. Shoot. Give me just a half a second here. LC Publishing Company. That's the lesbian connection and it's a national magazine, goes all over the whole world. I got to a job with them and I worked on production. We put together these newsletters and they went all over the country and they went out in plain brown envelopes so that people who lived in these small communities wanted to keep in touch with the rest of the gay community but they didn't want their neighbors knowing. It never went out just in the pamphlet form. It went in a brown manila envelope so that they could keep their privacy.
Lee Marquardt: [00:31:00] Extremely scary. My heart was in my throat half the time but I just tried not to show it. Just bowled ahead, did what I had to do, you know. I'll tell you, going out on the road by yourself that's scary. Because once my driving partner retired she went her way, I went mine, and I sold my truck and got a cargo van. Then you are driving cross country by yourself all the time and when you go into the truck stops to eat and stuff like that you're by yourself. I did that for about a year. I started getting a little afraid because, by this time, I was in my late 50s and I didn't feel safe out there anymore. That's when I decided to come to be with family and got my job with Cigna and stuff so.
Lee Marquardt: [00:32:00] My sons lived here. Oh, I should tell you, my son is married. His husband is just the most wonderful man you'd ever wanna meet. To have a son-in-law that great is, I mean, I'm blessed. I'm doubly blessed with the children I have and the son-in-law. I was there just last night. They own Red Real Estate Group. They're under the Keller Williams umbrella. They're doing very well for themselves. But they treat me like a queen, like I was royalty. I have to bring them down a little bit once in a while. It's just me. They're just great people and they treat everybody that way, they treat everybody. They have friends who are from their 20s into their 80s and 90s and they have them all for dinner parties and things like that. They're both great cooks and they love entertaining. They've introduced me to fine eating, which I had never experienced before, so that's funny.
Mason Funk: [00:33:30] That's great having them. For them it must be great having you close by.
Lee Marquardt: [00:34:00] That's why I came here. They came up in November of 2013. I was up here visiting them and they took me out to lunch and they says, "Mom, how would you like to live here?" I says, "Oh, I'd love it." "Well," he says, "We know about a place." They knew the people that actually were on the board that developed this place, of course I didn't know any of this stuff. Just ignorant of the whole thing. "We have a place where we might be able to get you in." I said, "Oh, great." Then they told me what it was and they said it could be two years. Well, I'll you. In March, I got a letter saying that I had been accepted. I had just made out the paperwork and that I had been accepted. At that point in time started putting things in gear to move here in July. That was quick. Normally there's a really ... People are on that list for years and years but just the sequence of things, it went okay for me. That was great.
Mason Funk: [00:37:00] It's quite a change from living in Jackson, Michigan. I'm sure you never could have imagined [inaudible 00:37:00] .
Lee Marquardt: [00:37:30] I couldn't have, well, we never can imagine what's going to happen in our lives anyway. It's been an adventure. Every day is an adventure, here. Of course, every time you get up it's an adventure. But, yeah. It's been an adventure. I think of it as that. I think every part of my life has been a new adventure and each part has been so different. It's just been a great life.
Mason Funk: [00:38:00] Tell me about that.
Lee Marquardt: [00:38:30] But only in ... I can't do the marches because of physical problems, but I use social media, I talk to people, I attend meetings. I mean, I've been to city hall several times now and have participated in the groups that were there waiting for pro ... When they were trying to get permission to do the building for the village, the brand new senior and youth housing. There was some people trying to put a stop to that and we showed up in force to show our support and it went through, of course. Things like that. And signing stuff, gosh. I must have signed hundreds, hundreds of petitions for both political and for the gay community.
Lee Marquardt: [00:40:00] It was just a laugh because they really went all out. You would have all of these men dressed like women and I didn't know they weren’t women. They were beautiful. Ah, shoot. Like I said, it was an eye opener. Another learning experience because I wasn't big into the bar scenes or anything like that so it was a whole new culture. It, actually, was culture shock is what it was, but it wasn't objectionable, it was just different. Yeah, been a lot of experiences, a lot of adventures.
Lee Marquardt: [00:41:00] Well I-
Lee Marquardt: [00:41:30] I think making it all public, that's what did it. When I was growing up gay people were put into institutions and given shock treatments and deprogrammed. As a matter of fact as late as the time I came out, I was warned about two of my sisters who were planning on having me over to have lunch in Jackson. I was going to go, too. One of the daughters of one of them said, one my nieces said, "Aunt Lee don't go, they're planning on deprogramming you. They're going to, like, kidnap you, and they're going to take you somewhere." I guess they just come at you and come at you and come at you till they supposedly wear you down. They never would have worn me down. I've lived with this my whole life. I found out it's better to be honest.
Kate Kunath: [00:47:00] Triangle Square.
Lee Marquardt: [00:47:30] So. Triangle Square. I have never lived with other people before, other than family so this was a really new experience for me. You have to learn that all of these people have different personalities and opinions on life, just as much as if you were out there. But they become a family. You learn who you can get along with and who you can't. You try not to, you learn not to gossip, because it can come back to bite you, right? It's a learning, but they have so many good things for us. We have a daily lunch menu, and for just a small donation anybody can eat. As a matter of fact, even if you can't afford it you can eat, but the donation helps.
Mason Funk: [00:52:00] Sounds like an awesome place to be for you.
Lee Marquardt: [00:52:30] Yeah. I don't like to just stay inside because you can go backwards doing that so I like to get out and do things. I'm thinking about joining that LA Fitness, down here. It's right where the ArcLight is. It's a sports place. I'm thinking about joining that because I belong to Kaiser and a lot of the people here belong to Kaiser and Kaiser will let us join up for free. I should have taken advantage of it for this. I've had a little problem with one of my feet but I used to walk two miles every day. Now I think I need some other type of exercise so I'm going to see if I can get in there and do that.
Mason Funk: [00:54:00] Yeah.
Lee Marquardt: [00:54:30] Absolutely not. My life wouldn't have been worth a plugged nickel because of the areas I was working in. I was working for the auto industry, well, not the auto industry. A lot of the places that used our services, like, I worked for Roberts Express, Panther, those are all ... That's the word I was looking for, expediting. I was an expediter. Means if they wanted something yesterday, they needed it today, they wanted it yesterday, and we'd go cross country. I've literally done non stop from New York to Vancouver British Columbia. But the people you were dealing with you did not tell them that. Especially because we had to go to these truck stops by ourselves and we were sleeping in our trucks by ourselves. The atmosphere, at that time, our lives would have been in danger, period.
Mason Funk: [00:55:30] Yeah.
Mason Funk: [00:56:00] How about, for example, when you worked for Cigna, was that a place where it was safe to be out?
Mason Funk: [00:56:30] In Visalia.
Lee Marquardt: [00:57:00] But since then, you're going to love this. My friend, Pat Poth, was in the senior housing where I lived, we had separate little bungalows, and I used to do this walk, it was a third of a mile walk around our community. I just start talking with her one day and we've become very good friends. I never told her I was gay, but she never told me her son was gay. The reason I didn't is Visalia is a very Republican town. Since I moved, Pat's son Brian Poth, he's an actor from Los Angeles here, but he grew up there, he started a brand new LGBTQ center in Visalia, California last year. The first time they opened their doors they had, like, 200 people show up. Since then, now, they need to get a bigger place and they're becoming prominent in the Visalia community.
Lee Marquardt: [00:59:00] Yeah.
Lee Marquardt: [00:59:30] Yeah.