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In July 2017, OUTWORDS interviewed Barbara Scott, a true Southern grande dame lesbienne, at her home in Pass Christian, Mississippi, where Barbara also provided comfortable accommodations for our weary crew. She was the only OUTWORDS interviewee who wrote her own bio, which we present here, lightly edited.

“Born in 1936 and grew up during segregation in Webb, Mississippi, a small town of 526 people. At 18, I went to Japan to study painting with the internationally known artist Hirosho Kado. I returned to Tulane University in New Orleans and that year married Michael Scott. We moved to California, he in the space Industry and me in commercial art. Glorious California, but being an only child, I longed for the South. Lockheed Martin opened in New Orleans and back we came.

“In New Orleans, I could only get a job in my field as secretary/coffee maker. Having been an account executive, no coffee girl for me. Historical restoration became my next career, winning awards in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. I had three sons, Shaun, Mace, and Judson. In 1970, I ran for state representative in my New Orleans district, focusing on women, gays, blacks and marijuana. I came out at 32 (didn't know till then). After the divorce, I bought the New Orleans Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and advertised it as feminist hotel. We had a club in the basement that catered to gays and straights. Eureka Springs became a mecca to gays and feminists.

“Eureka was a good mountain town to raise my boys. Single mom sole supporter – my ex would not give any support and threatened to take the boys away at any time. I returned to the Mississippi coast for their high school years and met Mary Desobry. We lived together happily and traveled the world. At 47, I went back to Tulane earning four master’s degrees and a PhD in gerontology.

“After 18 years together, my Mary died of cancer. My Mississippi home was destroyed by Katrina. I have since returned to the coast. At 80, I married Myriam Cloutier after a twenty-year romance.

“Because of my life choices, I have experienced HATE, but because of the joy of who I am, that hate withers. I can truly say I’ve had a blessed life. Long friendships, great sons and five grandchildren, but most of all there is no confusion about who I am.”
Mason Funk: [00:00:00] When I ask you a question, imagine that the person who hears your response will never hear my question. So try to fold my question into your answer. For example if I say, "Tell me about your father," if you just say "He ..." no one will know who you're talking about, but if you say, "My father" ...
Barbara Scott: Or Daddy.
Mason Funk: Or Daddy [crosstalk], whatever you want to call him-
Barbara Scott: I see what you're saying.
Mason Funk: People will know who you're talking about and they will not need my question to understand your answer. So if you remember, and if necessary I'll remind you. Sound like a plan?
Barbara Scott: [00:00:30] Yeah.
Mason Funk: And are we speeding?
Natalie Tsui: Yep, we're speeding.
Mason Funk: Okay. So other than that we'll just have a conversation. Like I say, we can't possibly Oopsie. Sorry. I realized I have to place this microphone ... Final tweak, final thing. Okay, so I'm out, right?
Natalie Tsui: You're out, yeah. So you can lower, lower, lower, lower. All right, that's great. Lower still.
Mason Funk: [00:01:00] We're going to have to just deal.
Natalie Tsui: We'll just have to live with it. yeah.
Mason Funk: We're going to just ... We've made our bed, we're going to sleep in it.
Natalie Tsui: Yeah, it's true. [crosstalk].
Barbara Scott: Yeah, you could go back and forth.
Mason Funk: We could go crazy. And it's her job to go crazy, and it's then it's my job to tell her-
Natalie Tsui: This stuff looks like it's [crosstalk].
Barbara Scott: Enough's enough.
Natalie Tsui: It's not even pointing at her.
Mason Funk: [00:01:30] [inaudible] Anyway, let's go. Okay. Alrighty. So we're speeding?
Natalie Tsui: Yeah, weve been speeding.
Mason Funk: So do me a favor, start by telling me your name, first and last, and spell it all out, literally spell if for me.
Barbara Scott: [00:02:00] Really?
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Barbara Scott: Okay. I am Barbara Scott, Barbara Foreman Scott, for many years I used Foreman. Anyway, Barbara Foreman Scott, B-A-R-B-A-R-A F-O-R-E-M-A-N S-C-O-T-T.
Mason Funk: Okay. And tell me the date and place of your birth.
Barbara Scott: [00:02:30] I was born as a cesarean, very under ... very premature child, in a Memphis hospital. My parents were from the Delta in Mississippi, and it was the Depression. I stayed there in the hospital for a number of weeks because I was in one of these little incubators,
Barbara Scott: [00:03:00] I think they called them, and the nurses got very attached to me and named me. And so for many, many years I had a different name. But finally I needed to go to Japan, I wanted to go to Japan when I was 18, and I had to get a passport. So therefore, I went to a local judge and had them change my name so the passport could read Barbara Scott. Sorry, Barbara Foreman.
Mason Funk: [00:03:30] Okay, okay. And do me a favor, just for the record, tell me the date of your birth.
Barbara Scott: 1936, May first, Beltane.
Natalie Tsui: I'm also not sure if you told her to not look at me, and I see her glancing over here.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Don't look over here at all.
Barbara Scott: I won't look over there.
Mason Funk: Don't look over there. It's not impolite to ignore Natalie for this interview. Or the camera. Most importantly, don't look at the camera.
Barbara Scott: [00:04:00] Okay.
Mason Funk: Okay. So tell me just what was your ... just basic terms, without going off into too much detail, otherwise we'll never get to adulthood, but tell me about your childhood. Just paint me a little picture.
Barbara Scott: Okay. Well I was an only child, and a valued only child because my mother had had problems having children. So my premature, my cesarean, and other miscarriages led me to be
Barbara Scott: [00:04:30] the only child, and I was immediately recognized as a ... I guess you'd call it a member of the group instead of the child. And so I played cards, canasta, things like that, with my teachers and my parents. I had a horse from the time I was five
Barbara Scott: [00:05:00] until the time I was sixteen. I roamed, and I had a beautiful horse that stretched his legs so I could get in the saddle. He was an English walking horse, beautiful prancing horse. But this was a good roaming horse too, tall and just a beautiful horse. And so after that I replaced my horse with a jeep, because a jeep can go many places you don't want to take your sedan.
Barbara Scott: [00:05:30] So I roamed the Delta with my jeep and my buddies, and I went to college.
Mason Funk: Perfect. Wow. You nailed it. What a great picture of a childhood. In a few words. You must be a writer.
Barbara Scott: No, I'm not.
Mason Funk: You said that you were content and never questioned what you didn't or shouldn't have, or what you might have wanted but you didn't have.
Barbara Scott: [00:06:00] That's right.
Mason Funk: Tell me about that. Where did that contentment come from?
Barbara Scott: Well part of it was the enormous security of the love that surrounded me. I think that would make almost any child content. And I lived in a very small town in the delta, and I remember I wanted a pirate gun when I was ...
Barbara Scott: [00:06:30] you know, a pirate gun, when I was about six or seven. That is one of the biggest wants I can remember. And I got a BB gun, and I remember finding it before Christmas. And those were the kind of joys I had, but I don't have any overriding want or discontentment. It was interesting, let me tell you about this one.
Barbara Scott: [00:07:00] When I was a child, the only movies were held in sort of like a garage place that the man had added. It was a car garage, but he had just added some seats and platform bases and run a partition down the middle of them, and had a screen down at the bottom of it. And the black people sat on one side, and the white people sat on the other side. And it was only westerns, he only showed westerns for some reason, it must have been his choice.
Barbara Scott: [00:07:30] But westerns were fine with us. Westerns were good. And if you got there early you threw popcorn over to the other side of the partition, and the other side threw popcorn over to your side. And it was just ... This was the kind of childhood I had. There was nothing hostile. I remember on Saturday the merchants would give out these little theater looking tickets that had a number on them.
Barbara Scott: [00:08:00] If you gathered them for whatever you had bought with these various merchants. Saturday, everybody gathered around and the mayor had a little microphone and he would name, you know, certain numbers, certain amount of goods, et cetera, et cetera. And so the Saturday night auction was probably the hottest thing that happened in my childhood.
Barbara Scott: [00:08:30] And I was an entrepreneur. I had dog shows, I had turkey raffle, I liked that. So it carried on my whole life.
Mason Funk: By the way, what was the name of that town?
Barbara Scott: Webb, Mississippi.
Mason Funk: Webb, Mississippi. Okay.
Barbara Scott: W-E-B-B.
Mason Funk: So you mentioned this beautiful picture of the movie, of this makeshift movie theater with a partition. Literally a physical,
Mason Funk: [00:09:00] a visual partition for the black people on one side and the whites on the other. Were your folks, what was their background, were they plantation owners ...
Barbara Scott: Interesting. My father was one of 12 children, and his father was reasonably affluent in south east Mississippi as a horse and mule trader.
Barbara Scott: [00:09:30] Now, this was before the automobile so horse mule trader was like a car dealership I guess, kind of the situation. But when my father, who was one of 12 and he was the fifth child, and he was in the third grade, and my grandfather was kicked in the head by a horse, which killed him immediately. And of course, there was no insurance and no stability for income after that.
Barbara Scott: [00:10:00] So the older boys went to work for the railroad, and they became, over the years, railroad men that prospered, enough, middle class. And my father went to work for one of his brothers in the Delta who had gone up there and established a grocery store and an ice plant. So he set my father up with his ... This was during the Depression. I'm sort of skipping,
Barbara Scott: [00:10:30] from the time my father was three onward. But this is how my father and my mother met, and I do not know about my father beyond when his father died, and when my mother and daddy got together, and the great pranks that my father pulled ... I won't go into that, but they were great fun. You can see where Mark Twain or Eudora Welty or some of these people got their great stories, because that was happening. Anyway-
Mason Funk: [00:11:00] You can't tell us any of the pranks? Any of your father's pranks, just to give us an idea?
Barbara Scott: Oh, I can give you an idea of one kind of thing. He and his cousin, Frank, and I've forgotten Frank's last name. Anyway he and Frank one night went up and put a goat on the top of the roof of the school house. Apparently they didn't know the goat was there, because they kept hearing the goat,
Barbara Scott: [00:11:30] and all the little children would go out in distress because this goat sounded like it was distressed. Anyway, the whole point, that was one thing. And another thing had to do with elderberry wine, but I can't remember ... It seems like my father illegally from his family had made elderberry wine and stored it in the attic somewhere, and it went pop pop pop pop. Something went wrong, it was too hot or too fermented or something. Anyway, that was another story.
Barbara Scott: [00:12:00] But I do have something interesting to say about my father's family gatherings. 12 of them, remember. And when I was say, five and seven and eight, and times like this, we would go to these gatherings. He lived in what they called a dog trot house, and I don't know if you know that architecture. It has a roof, and each side has a, like a shot gun, and all through the middle is just open,
Barbara Scott: [00:12:30] and it's called a dog trot house. That was their family home. Anyway the point is, when this group of people, I don't imagine all 12 came, I was too young to really know, but I would imagine at least ten came, a lot. At a certain time and I don't know when, it was right at dusk, they would all gather in this room, one room of this dog trot house, and a fire was going so it must have been fall or spring.
Barbara Scott: [00:13:00] Anyway the point of this whole thing is, they sat in these chairs just as if they were pews, and they would sit there in silence, and then one would rise up and just start telling about their lives, and talk and talk and talk. And they would sit down. Silence. And another would rise up. I've never seen anything like it, or I was too young to appreciate it, but I've always remembered it.
Natalie Tsui: [00:13:30] She's still looking at the camera.
Barbara Scott: Every once in a while you're still looking over there. It's all right, it's all right. Just try to remember.
Natalie Tsui: Only look on this side.
Barbara Scott: I'm going to have to sort of like do this, maybe, maybe. Okay.
Mason Funk: No, that's a little bit awkward, actually. So just try to look over here as much as possible. Okay. So you mentioned, so you went off to college. And I know at a certain point you got married. And so why don't you span those years now, until you got married.
Barbara Scott: [00:14:00] Okay. I went to college from Webb because I wanted more interesting, you know, you just want to go out and adventure in life. And so I went to college right after high school, immediately. But I had a tumor on my foot, and an operation that went wrong.
Barbara Scott: [00:14:30] So I was on crutches. So I went to this college in Jackson, Mississippi, Middlesex College, and then I stayed there for two years, had a wonderful college experience. And one Christmas I had a cousin, a married cousin, that came to take a furlough from Tokyo.
Barbara Scott: [00:15:00] He was the army attache with the embassy at Tokyo.
Mason Funk: One second, okay? I'm just letting [Miriam] go by. It's okay, you can go past. Hey, Miriam? Do you need to go back and forth a lot, or ... ?
Miriam: Just maybe this one time.
Mason Funk: Great. Perfect.
Miriam: I'm going [inaudible].
Mason Funk: Perfect. So your cousin, your married cousin came to visit.
Barbara Scott: [00:15:30] Yes. I was in college at Middlesex, and it was Christmas, and I remember distinctly I was playing cards, and we were around the table, and he said ... Because I was in art. I was an artist. And he said, "Well why don't you come to Japan and live with us, and I can see that you have art lessons from the best artist in Japan?" And so I said, "Oh, I will," just like that. And I did, it turned out.
Barbara Scott: [00:16:00] And I stayed there a little over 11 months, had a magnificent experience. Was arrested as an American spy. Met the prime minister, and his daughter and I became best friends, and I went to the palace for traditional dances, I mean with the beautiful costumes et cetera. And one of the things that I found that was very interesting
Barbara Scott: [00:16:30] was that I was at an embassy party one time, and I was talking to this man from Africa, I don't know what state, but it wasn't South Africa, it was a state represented by a black man. And we were talking, and he said to me, "You know what, they all look alike." And the fact is, so many races
Barbara Scott: [00:17:00] at that time would say that. Like I was in Japan, and of course Japan was totally unintegrated. In Japan, everybody was Japanese. And I guess where he was from. But he didn't understand that for another set of eyes, they would be saying that about him. I mean, you know. Well, anyway.
Mason Funk: Interesting.
Barbara Scott: [00:17:30] It was interesting.
Mason Funk: Perfect timing, you can go right through.
Miriam: I was going to pick up [inaudible].
Mason Funk: Oh, okay, okay. Just cut for a second.
Natalie Tsui: Okay.
Barbara Scott: Actually Louisville, but [inaudible].
Mason Funk: So now, tell me how you met your husband?
Barbara Scott: Michael and I met at-
Mason Funk: Do me a favor, say my husband Michael, so I know who you're talking about.
Barbara Scott: Okay. My husband Michael and I met at Tulane. He ... Actually I met him at a party, because someone said, " There's a boy here from Cleveland, Mississippi."
Barbara Scott: [00:18:00] Cleveland, Mississippi is maybe 30 miles from where I grew up. So I went over to see him, or he went over to see ... Somehow, we met. And he was totally fascinating to me. He had lived in 18 different states. He was doing a double major of nuclear physics and philosophy, and he was the intellectual coach for the football team.
Barbara Scott: [00:18:30] And he ran around with wonderful, interesting, diverse people. So what was not to like? So anyway, after ... He was graduating. I was a junior. So when he graduated we married and moved to ... Actually it was Canoga Park, California. And then we lived in Woodland Hills, California.
Barbara Scott: [00:19:00] And an interesting part about this is, I could not get a job. I ran all over L.A. trying to get a job. I had a big art portfolio. I thought I was wonderful, and I was. And could not get a job, because everybody was in L.A., in the world. And everybody wanted a job in art or in the movies or something connected to it. So a neighbor of mine who,
Barbara Scott: [00:19:30] her husband worked with Michael, suggested that I just sell Avon art for a while until I got the money I wanted to get to go home to Mississippi. So, I did. And I was an immediate hit, because, I'm sure, of my accent. The people in California were very prejudiced against anyone that had an accent,
Barbara Scott: [00:20:00] because that accent meant that that person was prejudiced. So that's the way that one rolled.
Mason Funk: Wait. But how ... You say that you think that you were a big hit because of your accent.
Barbara Scott: That's right, and I'm going to tell you how. Because I was selling Avon in this big subdivision. It was Woodland Hills and that whole area. And I would go there, and we would have coffee or tea or something,
Barbara Scott: [00:20:30] and the ladies would call me up and say, "Bring your book over, we're going to have coffee today." And they would just, they would look at the book at the very last second and say, "Okay, I'll take this, this, this and this." I mean it wasn't three months that I was the biggest seller in the county, of Avon. So finally I just said, "Okay, I'm not going to do this any more. It's beneath my dignity, I'm an artist." So the lady I was talking with said,
Barbara Scott: [00:21:00] "Okay, if you're sure," and I said, "I'm sure." She said, "Wait just a minute." So she went in the kitchen or someplace, called her husband, who was the art director for 150 people at Rocketdyne, and said "Paul, you hire this girl." And so the next day I went down there and got a huge salary. Yes. That's the story of how I got hired. So for two times in my life I've been the extra special person in my hiring.
Barbara Scott: [00:21:30] The other one was, I was working at a psychiatric hospital, and I was the gerontologist. And the gerontologist was a brand new field, the first gerontologist in the hospital was me. So that's why I say, the only time I've worked for anybody by myself, and I've had many businesses, is when I was an artist in the space industry.
Barbara Scott: [00:22:00] So, I was an artist in the space industry, and I was a gerontologist at a psychiatric hospital. So both times I was the person with the person.
Mason Funk: Fantastic.
Barbara Scott: I was not an employee.
Mason Funk: Can you square your chair up towards me just a little bit? That's perfect. And I heard you exhale or something?
Natalie Tsui: Oh yeah, if you shift?
Mason Funk: Oh, I see.
Natalie Tsui: Like if you do a meter shift, it causes the camera to shake, so ... Just try not to shift because sometimes you do that.
Mason Funk: [00:22:30] Yeah, I know. Okay. But, we still haven't gotten to how you met your husband.
Barbara Scott: I haven't?
Mason Funk: Oh yes, you ...
Barbara Scott: I did, I told you.
Mason Funk: I'm sorry, okay, right. So, I knew I had something else in my mind, which was that you, along the way you had three kids.
Barbara Scott: Yes. I have three sons, Sean, Mace, and Judson. And they have succeeded in life, and they have children,
Barbara Scott: [00:23:00] and I have five grandchildren. So, I'm pleased with that. We aren't a close family, because I ... I assume that's because I have boys. I don't know. I really don't know. It has something to do with me, too. I was never the mom, I always had to make the living, because Michael, when I separated, Michael realized that the law was on his side. He could take the children any time he wanted to,
Barbara Scott: [00:23:30] because I was a lesbian. And so he never gave me child support, and always held that threat. So when the boys got big enough, the older boys got big enough, he wanted them, and I said that I couldn't give them to him. I only gave him two of them. I kept the younger one, because it was ... well,
Barbara Scott: [00:24:00] it was heart wrenching. And then, I guess that's probably the reason I left Eureka Springs and bought this property, and asked him did he want to come down and work with NASA and help raise the boys down here? Therefore, I got the boys back.
Mason Funk: Okay. So that was a lot of territory we just covered there, because what we need to go back to ... and I'm going to move my chair slightly, so it's not against the camera, right? That'll help a little bit.
Natalie Tsui: [00:24:30] Yeah, it's actually fine as long as you're not, like, shifting.
Mason Funk: But I can't stop [inaudible] leg against the camera, so let's just move it a little bit. There we go, that's better.
Natalie Tsui: Oh, your leg.
Mason Funk: My camera leg. My chair leg. You ... Tell us about the process whereby you realized that you were a lesbian, and how this related to the end of your marriage.
Barbara Scott: [00:25:00] Oh, really. Well, let's see. Okay. I'm going to tell you how this came about. Very surprising to me. Michael was the ... As he worked for NASA in New Orleans, he became the marketing director of the NASA plant here, and they had, of course, Lockheed, Lockheed Martin, had people coming in all the time
Barbara Scott: [00:25:30] from all over the United States and other places, and Michael was the entertainment. And still, as possibly now, entertainment for business men meant drinking a lot and playing with the women. And so, I had come to terms with Michael and the women thing, and I think the reason
Barbara Scott: [00:26:00] that I didn't resent it so much was because I am a lesbian and I do love women. So, maybe, I wasn't that jealous. I was jealous of the fact, maybe, that other people knew it and that reflected on me, but other than that point of jealousy, I didn't feel the heart wrenching jealousy that you can feel that is very, very hard.
Barbara Scott: [00:26:30] Anyway. So, one time Michael was in some place doing his marketing, and I was going home with Judy and Leroy Ellis, very good friends of mine. And Leroy had been reading The Pearl, which was a pornographic Victorian novel. Leroy had been reading The Pearl out loud to us. And Leroy was very suave,
Barbara Scott: [00:27:00] I guess the word is. He was the campaign manager for several people that had succeeded in running for senator, and he was a worldly kind of guy, and he read The Pearl beautifully. So here we were in a state of semi ... what would you call it? Semi anticipation.
Barbara Scott: [00:27:30] So Leroy was, we were walking back to their house with everybody knowing what was happening, but none spoke what was happening. And Leroy was in the middle and I was on one side and Judy was on one side -- Judy his wife, who I had coffee with every morning. She had children, I had children, we were children coffee mates. So he had his hands on each side of us, on my waist, and we were walking down the French Quarter street ...
Barbara Scott: [00:28:00] And suddenly, I'm pinched. Pinched. Well, I look around, and Michael had come home early from his trip. So I went home with Michael, and somewhere I realized that it wasn't Leroy I wanted to go to bed with. It was Judy. And that thought struck me blind, as they say. I didn't want to see Judy any more after that.
Barbara Scott: [00:28:30] I could not see her after that. So she would come and ring the bell, and she would call me and say, "Let's take the kids for a swim," or something, and finally one day she stood at the thing, ringing, ringing, ringing the bell. And said, "I'm not going away, you're going to let me in." So I let her in and I couldn't ... You know, I was very awkward, yes. And we sat in the living room, and she said, "Okay.
Barbara Scott: [00:29:00] We want to go to bed, don't we?" I could have never in my wildest dreams said that. So that was the beginning of the beginning. And you asked what it was, and there it is.
Mason Funk: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Natalie Tsui: Yay.
Mason Funk: So that's a story. Did Judy and you start a relationship? Did it become a ...
Barbara Scott: [00:29:30] Not really. It turns out that Judy was one of these people that call themselves bi, and she did have affairs with women. She was dedicated to Leroy, but Leroy separated soon after that. He had a reason to separate. And I did see Judy later. She moved to Washington with Leroy and they separated there. Anyway, no.
Mason Funk: [00:30:00] So how did it come to pass, you said that when you and Michael separated, you said that he held this thing over your head, which was, "You're a lesbian, I can take the kids from you any time I want." So how did you get, how did he find out? What I want to zero in on is this idea that as a lesbian mother you lived with this threat of your husband taking your kids from you, and what that was like.
Barbara Scott: [00:30:30] I have not been a person that overly worries about things. I decide what I want to do usually, and do it. And then I get bored with it. And usually sell it, or leave, or ... and then I do something else. I have a habit, and if you'll see my resume, I have a habit about every two years, doing and changing.
Barbara Scott: [00:31:00] So I think that's my answer to that. Even if I have a business, like I had the hotel, I would be doing something else in the interim, in the two years, like I had the hotel, I established the gift shop thing, then I did the Quarter, which was very important to the community.
Mason Funk: You say you did the Quarter.
Barbara Scott: [00:31:30] I did the Quarter, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mason Funk: What does that mean?
Barbara Scott: I made the Quarter a bar and restaurant and entertainment place, which in Eureka was the place that the gay community and the straight community met and loved each other. And they love each other now. That's what's so wonderful.
Mason Funk: [00:32:00] So let's back up and then we'll get there again, okay? Because before you went to Eureka, I understand you mounted a campaign for office, for political office.
Barbara Scott: Yes, yes.
Mason Funk: Tell us why you did that and what your platform was, but mainly tell us about that experience. Give us years, like state [crosstalk].
Barbara Scott: Okay. Gee, I think that's so much to do. I think it's about '70, about '67. '67 this sort of began. I tell you,
Barbara Scott: [00:32:30] it started with a friend of mine, Darlene Fife, and she was the editor of something called the NOLA Express. The NOLA Express was such a threat that the FBI had come in and tossed their apartment as a threat, and also would obviously film them on the street, that was obviously a threat because it was so blatant.
Barbara Scott: [00:33:00] So anyway, I'm just giving you a background on Darlene, she's got a wonderful story. Anyway, the point is she more enlightened me to the need of ... stop. I'm off on a feminist rant. Not gay, but feminist. I'm sorry. I do that often, and I cross that line easily.
Mason Funk: [00:33:30] Keep going. Don't be shy.
Barbara Scott: Well anyway, she did enlighten me to some of the things that were happening, and of course I didn't realize it because I had been the valued person in almost all of my relationships. So I had no idea I was a valued person who was devalued. When I found that out, whoa. Not fun. Uh-uh (negative).
Barbara Scott: [00:34:00] I wanted to change that right away, you know. And I have tried to change that always.
Mason Funk: So let's get back to you running for office.
Barbara Scott: Okay, so I saw that the Democrats were exactly basically as the Republicans are now. They were very super conservative, holding the golf course society at top rank.
Barbara Scott: [00:34:30] They were everything that you can imagine believing that the Republicans are right now, the Democrats. And they controlled everything. The Republicans were just beginning to come back in Louisiana. They had been in completely after the Civil War, but after that when they were voted out, they were out for years and years, and so they were just beginning to have a party again. So I found that to be the way.
Barbara Scott: [00:35:00] In fact there was not really much said about independence, there was not really independence on the ballot at that time. So that wasn't even a thought at that time. But another interesting thing about the Republican situation, I got myself voted ... This was a voting thing, to the state Republican committee,
Barbara Scott: [00:35:30] which gave me a little card that would get anyone out of jail if they were on a misdemeanor, which was, of course, many. So therefore, I thought, this! What a wonderful thing, if I let any woman that walked in that jail, out, 'til I could get some public relations, which would, I hoped, show up some of this inadequacy
Barbara Scott: [00:36:00] that prevails in our democracy. And so I went to the League of Women Voters, thinking, let's do this, this is where we're going to make a mark. And they thought it was horrible. They thought it was guerrilla. They thought I was a radical. Which I was, I guess I'm a radical. But it would have gotten the press. The press only thinks of [inaudible]
Barbara Scott: [00:36:30] let the good times roll. But we had some things starting, and arrests, you know, at gentleman only clubs and stuff. None of it was acknowledged, but we were there doing it.
Mason Funk: And so this all ... Keep going to where you decided to run for office.
Barbara Scott: Well, I guess the whole idea,
Barbara Scott: [00:37:00] I ran for office to more expose what was happening, because it was obvious that it certainly wasn't going to change, but if it was exposed it could change. So anyway, I ran on things like legalization of marijuana, which I thought would free up a lot of money and help a lot of people.
Barbara Scott: [00:37:30] And I ran on equal rights for homosexuals, because I had lived in the quarter and know what enormous talent could be brought forth and used, and how much it takes to be the hidden person. What it takes out of you, and it obviously will be taken out of your talent or out of whatever you want to bring forth and help society with. So. And then
Barbara Scott: [00:38:00] I was for no sales tax, because it only helps the rich, it is terrible for the poor. Luxury tax should be taking care of all of that. Of course, equal rights for women. And, this is the interesting part, I think ... I'm saying this because I'm not sure, and I did have it before Katrina, but I think that information has been lost to me.
Barbara Scott: [00:38:30] I either got 32 percent of the vote or 38 percent of the vote. Now the real thing is, my precinct, which would have been pretty much 100 percent of the vote for me, was closed. Suddenly, all of the machines went down about 9:30, and they came to fix it at 7:30 at night. So my entire precinct was lost as far as votes, and in those days, who cared.
Barbara Scott: [00:39:00] Anyway, I guess ... If I look back on these things, I realize that I probably am glad that happened, because it would have been, it would have limited my life a lot to have been representative of something.
Mason Funk: Plus you tend to lose interest in things after a couple of years anyway.
Barbara Scott: [00:39:30] Well, I don't lose interest in what I consider my rights, but I do lose interest in these things that I create.
Mason Funk: So you, on the heels of that loss, you decided, somehow you made your way to Eureka Springs ...
Barbara Scott: Oh I did that, and it was basically as you say, on the heels of that loss, because ...
Mason Funk: Okay, so start ... okay.
Barbara Scott: It was on the heels of that loss I went to Eureka Springs, because of two things.
Barbara Scott: [00:40:00] One I found that people felt that they could just talk to me in the middle of the sidewalk any time, like I could proceed up the sidewalk and it might take me 40 minutes to go down the block, and I'm not particularly liking that kind of situation. I like to talk to people and I wouldn't mind at all, but it became a nuisance actually.
Mason Funk: [00:40:30] Just one second. Miriam's going out. You're fine, Miriam.
Miriam: Do you have an idea how much time that you will be still recording?
Mason Funk: We will be ... Let's see. It's 11:14, we'll be done by 12:30.
Miriam: Oh, it's [inaudible].
Mason Funk: About an hour and a quarter. Alrighty.
Miriam: Looks like you got good tools there.
Mason Funk: Thank you. Thank you.
Barbara Scott: Okay.
Mason Funk: [00:41:00] So skip over the part about, like, let's get to Eureka Springs.
Barbara Scott: All right. Okay. Oh, yeah, let me just say this. So I was, I had two reasons, one I mentioned and the other was, my boys were being hijacked or whatever you call it for their lunch money. And I didn't see much way out of it, and one of them did not like going to school
Barbara Scott: [00:41:30] because of, I guess, what they would call now bullying. And I didn't recognize any way to deal with that, and I didn't really try too hard, I just decided ... I went to the Fatted Calf, this was a bistro restaurant in the French Quarter ... Tennessee Williams went there and Rock Hudson and anybody you could think of that was gay and went to New Orleans.
Barbara Scott: [00:42:00] Anyway, point being is, I was there one day and this man said he was from Eureka Springs, and he had a hotel he was selling. And just as quick, I said, "I'll buy it." And that was my solution. I bought the hotel. Didn't know anybody in Eureka Springs. But it did turn out that my ex husband had been to all the places telling the VFW
Barbara Scott: [00:42:30] that I was a lesbian and that I would make their community a lesbian haven. Scared the hell out of them. So when I went to Eureka Springs, it quickly became a very hostile environment for me. The one woman came up to me on the street, I was out sweeping in front of the hotel, and said, "I'd rather fuck a donkey than a lesbian." I mean, I thought she was going to say hello or something,
Barbara Scott: [00:43:00] you know. But I've had these kind of things happen before. They rejected ... It was a [inaudible] basically hotel. They would bring big busloads and they would go see the passion play. And then when I bought it, and I advertised ... I was one of the first people advertising in Ms. Magazine as a feminist hotel, and so they obviously thought it would be a good idea to get rid of me,
Barbara Scott: [00:43:30] the powers that be. And so they would tell people at night to write all over the place in the mountains there-
Mason Funk: Sorry, just one sec. That car is making a lot of noise. Should be just a sec.
Natalie Tsui: [inaudible] center just a little bit.
Mason Funk: Gotcha, just scooch this way. We told you we were so adamant about ignoring the camera that you rotated your chair. So now I want you to rotate back.
Natalie Tsui: That's fine.
Mason Funk: [00:44:00] Okay. So you said you encountered a lot of resistance in Eureka Springs.
Barbara Scott: Yes. Economically, it was bad. The word, the feeling had not gathered, it takes long enough to gather, to come. And there was just, the money, the rooms, nothing was happening. And suddenly a woman came in and said
Barbara Scott: [00:44:30] that she was from the Tulsa World and she would like to do an interview. Well, we did this interview, and then something called Fanny wrote me and said they would like to use this interview and get it on UPS. Fanny was at that time an existing feminist wire service. It doesn't exist now, but it did then. And so Fanny got this as a UPS, or as ...
Barbara Scott: [00:45:00] I don't know what they call it, but it was half page in about 200 of the major papers all over the United States. So basically this just totally overrode all of anything they could do locally, and suddenly the New Orleans Hotel began to gather. Women all over ... I had nuns that ran away from nunneries, I had ... you cannot believe the wonderful and very different stories
Barbara Scott: [00:45:30] that people had when they came there. And then after that they came and did a 30 minute, I guess ... One of these things that they have 12 o'clock shows that show the variations of things to do within maybe a 500 mile radius. So I was out of trouble. And then I developed the Quarter.
Barbara Scott: [00:46:00] The Quarter was where everybody met and were happy and we became sort of the heartbeat of the town there, for tolerance, love, et cetera.
Mason Funk: Who would come to the Quarter? Was it like a bar?
Barbara Scott: It was a bar. [crosstalk]. It was in the basement of the New Orleans Hotel.
Mason Funk: Start clean, start over. Just say, The Quarter was ...
Barbara Scott: Oh, The Quarter was in the basement of the New Orleans Hotel,
Barbara Scott: [00:46:30] and it was, initially when the hotel was built, a saloon. And it had been several things in the many years before, because the hotel was built in 1890. So, The Quarter, as I had it, was a place where the gay people and the straight people and the people would meet,
Barbara Scott: [00:47:00] and you know, eat and be entertained and enjoy, and so it gave a presence and a place for all of these people, and they all loved each other. It might have been the water, you know. Anyway. Eureka Springs is special.
Mason Funk: Well, some people give, they really attribute you buying the New Orleans Hotel and opening The Quarter, to really turning Eureka Springs-
Barbara Scott: [00:47:30] It was. It was the change. It was-
Mason Funk: So tell me about that.
Barbara Scott: Well initially it was very, very hard, as I told you, because economically, and because Michael had spread word to all the official channels he could that I was a lesbian and the lesbians were coming. So ... I don't understand the question, quite.
Mason Funk: [00:48:00] The question is, is it true that you buying the Eureka Hotel and establishing it as a place for women to come, that that really made Eureka Springs a mecca for gay people from all over? It made it what it is today.
Barbara Scott: When I initially bought the Eureka ... When I initially bought the New Orleans Hotel,
Barbara Scott: [00:48:30] there was a total change that occurred after I'd had it for a couple of years. It became a place that harbored women from almost everywhere. I had letters from South Korea, from Iceland even, that would say, "If we ever came to America, we would come to the New Orleans Hotel." It became the place that lesbians, I hope,
Barbara Scott: [00:49:00] felt safe and could gather and be together. And you know, in passing, see ... So the town became sort of a feeling of that kind of haven. And that attracted many, many gay people from all over, you know, Chicago, California, all kind of areas that you would think they were perfectly happy there, but they wanted to be in this togetherness, little wonderful place. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mason Funk: [00:49:30] That's wonderful. Well we were in Eureka Springs on this trip. We interviewed two people there, including Trella Laughlin, who introduced me to you. And yeah, we just were like, "This is amazing. It's like a little slice of Eden on earth."
Barbara Scott: It is. It is.
Mason Funk: So that's amazing, that you just, by running into this man, who said, "I have a hotel for sale ..."
Barbara Scott: [00:50:00] Yeah, I feel that way. I feel sort of like there is a interior guy that more or less helps me along to less stressful situations in life. I don't know if that's true or not. And I personally have a personality that sort of has a curiosity and love of different people, so. Put all that together, and I'm led along this path that seems to be quite nice.
Mason Funk: [00:50:30] That's wonderful. Why don't we take a little break, and then we'll come back and resume and then just do a little bit more?
Barbara Scott: I wanted to tell you one thing that you've never been exposed to, and that is about what happened to me over in Bay St. Louis, when I left Eureka and came here. It's never been anywhere, but it was very harsh. [crosstalk]. Another one of those things
Barbara Scott: [00:51:00] where they hate to have Lesbians in their area, and Michael had gone before to tell the ... what is it, veterans of foreign wars? That the lesbians were coming. And there was a real beehive stir up.
Mason Funk: You want to tell more about that right now while we're talking about it?
Barbara Scott: [00:51:30] We're talking about something that wasn't in the book that we haven't discussed yet, and that was I left Eureka for one of these situations where I do that, when everything is absolutely perfect and I just go off. I went off and bought a place, this place here. The front house existed at that time. And a friend of mine insisted, and insisted, and insisted that I do something like a bar and restaurant, like I did in ...
Barbara Scott: [00:52:00] And so it turned out that I did that, I did a place over there called Rather Southern. Rather Southern. It was basically the same format as The Quarter, same kind of menu, et cetera, et cetera. But in the meantime I had bought this building, I had gutted this building out, and I had a contractor to do the work. I had all the beautiful old things that I was going to use,
Barbara Scott: [00:52:30] and I had an SBA loan to do it. And suddenly the contractor disappears. Place is empty, all gutted out, contractor disappears, in this little town. So I went to the, I tried to call him lots of times. No phone in the building that had been gutted out, so I went next door to this bar, and I was trying to call the contractor and this old man, I called him old, he must have been about 55 to 65 ... came up, right in my face,
Barbara Scott: [00:53:00] I mean almost nose to nose, and said, "How many pussies you been sucking this week? How many pussies you been sucking this week? Well, I just almost fainted, you know, to say something like this, to do something like this. And then I put this together with this empty building that I had, and the money was just sifting away while the building stood empty. So I realized that the contractor was one of the good old boys,
Barbara Scott: [00:53:30] and he wasn't about to do that building. So I got a jake leg kind of building man, and finished the building. So I operated there, and not well. The gay people weren't en masse at that, they weren't there ... There were some gay men and they were all very closet, and they were from, professionals at New Orleans. This was the second home. And this was during the AIDS scourge,
Barbara Scott: [00:54:00] and almost every one of those men got AIDS and passed, initially. But anyway the point is, Bay St. Louis was definitely not out, and they wanted to stay that way for sure. So the police would ride around behind me about bumper to bumper, and just intimidating as much as possible.
Barbara Scott: [00:54:30] One time they took the meter out, the electrical meter out of the place. I had won an award for doing this place over, by the way. They had taken the electrical meter out, so that everything in the refrigerator and everything else just went bad. They had ... We found out there was just a lick of water on the roof. It turns out they had put these styrofoam buoys in all of the gutter traps
Barbara Scott: [00:55:00] so the water had nowhere to get off the roof. Didn't know that the water was on the roof until it started pouring through the ceiling. This was the kind of thing that I met in Bay St. Louis when I went there. It was not exactly the peace loving holistic gay accepting town it is today. I was there too early. I'm a hundredth monkey apparently. I go, and you know, right before ...
Mason Funk: [00:55:30] The hundredth monkey? I've never heard that expression.
Barbara Scott: Yeah. No? Well it's all about radio starting in various countries just about the same time. It's not exactly how to get started with Marconi and any of that. And automobiles, almost all things you could find if you look hard enough, that they start in various places almost at the same time. So the phenomena's called the hundredth monkey.
Barbara Scott: [00:56:00] And this business is, meaning that I'm sort of like on the very cusp of a place that might be what it is today, accepting, loving, gay, da da da. That's all.
Mason Funk: You're just a little ahead of your time.
Barbara Scott: Yeah, I'm ... Am I? Am I ahead of my time? I've proved that in many ways. By a lot of loss of money, too. A little ahead of my time.
Mason Funk: Well thank God in Eureka you were not ahead of your time, you were the leading edge.
Barbara Scott: [00:56:30] Yeah, at the edge in Eureka I was. And in Bay St. Louis I was a little ahead.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Fascinating. I'm loving this. This is wonderful. Let's just take a little break.
Barbara Scott: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Get some more water. You can sip your water.
Natalie Tsui: [inaudible]. All right, go ahead.
Mason Funk: I want you to just, you said, "When I first came out, I didn't ... I found gay people to be, they were a huge curiosity, and I was chagrined." Repeat that and then keep going. Sorry.
Barbara Scott: [00:57:00] Okay. When I first came out, I wanted to know about gay people, and I was totally chagrined when I found out that they ... Not the people at the quarter. Because the people in the quarter had their own community, and they had that ... In New Orleans you get to have your own club, your own society, your own sense of unique and magnificent place. But on the whole, gay people were
Barbara Scott: [00:57:30] just an emulation of the hetero society. The only difference is they had to keep their gayness in the closet, to themselves. And if they were somewhat in a society, a lot of them took roles. This is well known. They took the roles of the heteros. So there was just not the gay person that I know today.
Barbara Scott: [00:58:00] The person I know today is free. They are themselves. They have the opportunity to be themselves. And they have the receipt of a lot more appreciation and love, and they're not afraid.
Natalie Tsui: [inaudible] this mic is no longer actually [inaudible].
Mason Funk: Oh sorry, [inaudible].
Natalie Tsui: So let's just get this ... just a little bit closer.
Barbara Scott: [00:58:30] You know I love Facebook. I get to meet all of the wonderful women that I've been associated with in all the different communities. That's what Facebook does for you. I love it.
Mason Funk: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-hmm. [inaudible].
Natalie Tsui: Yep.
Mason Funk: It's good. I think it's good. You raise an interesting question.
Mason Funk: [00:59:00] Do you feel like gay people in their striving for acceptance have at times sacrificed part of their unique individuality?
Barbara Scott: I really don't feel that way. I feel that if a person has unique individuality and that ... Are you talking about then or now?
Mason Funk: Just over the course ...
Barbara Scott: Then I do feel that people were suppressed, and that much suppression takes energy and creativity away from that individual.
Barbara Scott: [00:59:30] I feel that. But now I feel that it is so much appreciated, and I think that that's the whole idea, that the gay people have as much to offer as anyone that just walks around, and more in certain categories, and ... I'd like to mention some of these wonderful gay authors
Barbara Scott: [01:00:00] that have never surfaced before, for women, that are on the Booker list and the Orange list and the Whitebred list. These are women who are gay, they say they are gay, and they have magnificent books that every woman should read. British, by the main. Of course there's Rita Mae Brown, who's always been wonderful. Nevada Barr who's a wonderful role model, both of those.
Barbara Scott: [01:00:30] But there's Sarah Waters, who has written some of the most magnificent gay women's books imaginable, books that have been on the Booker Man finalist list. This is something, I would say, new within the last ten years. It's just wonderful to have a well written, complex, psychologically exciting book that the general public reads.
Barbara Scott: [01:01:00] So that makes the general public exposed to the variations, depths, of the gay community.
Mason Funk: Great. I'm going to keep an eye on the time. Tell me about you, on a list of role models you wanted to talk about, women, female pioneers. Talk about the importance of Barbara Jordan.
Barbara Scott: [01:01:30] Well, you know, Barbara Jordan was pretty much contemporary as far as a media ... What would you call it, media interest. Barbara Jordan ... Let me just say this. I have talked about the Democratic party being representative of what the Republican is now. Okay, Barbara Jordan ...
Barbara Scott: [01:02:00] Wait. Stop, I forgot. What was that? [crosstalk]. There was some reason that that had something to do with that, very much had to do with that, but I can't remember what it was. Barbara Jordan, Barbara Jordan. Oh, I know what it was. Okay.
Natalie Tsui: There's a truck backing up.
Mason Funk: Just a second, there's a truck backing up. Hopefully it's going to be quick.
Barbara Scott: [01:02:30] Okay. God, I've got that ... I'm having a hard time keeping this relationship, and it's very important. Barbara Jordan.
Mason Funk: Okay, whenever you're ready.
Natalie Tsui: It's still there. [crosstalk 01:02:42].
Barbara Scott: I've got to get a grip again. Why can I never remember that, Barbara Jordan, Barbara Jordan. Oh, okay. When I ran for state representative, it was a very exciting time, because the NAACP was just gaining power and branches in every place in the United States,
Barbara Scott: [01:03:00] and they were becoming, feeling their power as a political entity. And the feminists-
Mason Funk: I'm sorry. There's a plane going right over. But I won't let you forget your thought, don't worry. You were becoming a state, when you were running for office ...
Barbara Scott: Okay, I'm just telling you some of the things that were affecting the whole climate.
Mason Funk: [01:03:30] Yeah, I'm just ... If I can't hear you, you know, we have to wait for the plane. As soon as it's clear, like now.
Barbara Scott: Okay, give me my clue then.
Mason Funk: Okay. So when you were running for state senator, the NAACP had these chapters-
Barbara Scott: Oh, the NAACP was beginning a very grass roots, what would you call it, organization. And also the feminists were coming into a spotlight.
Barbara Scott: [01:04:00] There was Ms. that had just started. There was Fanny, which was a feminist wire service. The feminists and the NAACP in New Orleans would meet together and feel as a group, and the thought was, we need a coalition. And that was completely broken apart because the good old boy golf club society Mardi Gras people-
Mason Funk: [01:04:30] Don't look at her.
Barbara Scott: ... would get together with the good old boy society golf club Mardi Gras people in the black community, and they put a definite stop to it. So that went nowhere, that enthusiasm that was there. And maybe another thing had to do with the media in general, because New Orleans will never be taken seriously.
Barbara Scott: [01:05:00] It will always be the King Carnival, it will always be, let the good times roll and the best jazz you've ever heard. So.
Mason Funk: But, having said that, having said that the good old boys network came and shut down that coalition, I really want to talk about some of the accomplishments and efforts that you have been involved in, and the strides ... The accomplishments you think
Mason Funk: [01:05:30] you've been able to make here in New Orleans in terms of feminism. In terms of coalition.
Barbara Scott: Well, I left New Orleans. So I can't really say ... I have had people say, "Oh, are you the one that had the campaign that basically enlightened me about the difference in the wages." I had a ... Oh, here's one interesting thing. I started a newspaper at that time called the Distaff, and it ran for 15 years, the longest feminist paper in the world,
Barbara Scott: [01:06:00] I guess, and basically the idea of it, it was to disseminate the variation of discrimination and to publish poetry and novel, I mean short stories, and et cetera. So that lasted 15 years, it was called the Distaff. And I started, because it was an outgrowth of my campaign to continue to expose
Barbara Scott: [01:06:30] injustice of men and women. Because I was living in the quarter among gay people basically, straight people and gay people, but ... it was, you didn't find discrimination there. It was your community. And what I did in Eureka was more or less help establish that kind of community in Eureka. And also by being the abused one,
Barbara Scott: [01:07:00] sort of helped establish that in Bay St. Louis, because they were so bad, I think that upstanding people just didn't want that kind of abuse to be representative of them.
Mason Funk: So even in Bay St. Louis, even though you faced a lot of discrimination, you feel like you were able to shift the needle a little bit.
Barbara Scott: Well I obviously shifted the needle because they did outrageous things. And many people knew about it because I had a logger named Adam,
Barbara Scott: [01:07:30] and his last name was Adams. I don't remember his first name. But he came to me, the doors were locked. I had lost $175,000, it was a lot then, of money, and the doors were locked. But I was inside there, and there was a knocking on this locked door, and I remember this man appearing at the door and saying, "Can I do anything?" And he was a logger in town. "Can I do anything?" By that time they had gotten little boys,
Barbara Scott: [01:08:00] I had a neon sign, Rather Southern. They had gotten little boys to throw rocks and things and break the sign to pieces. So ... And I had won an award on the beautiful place. One like, Shackhouse or something. But anyway, the point is that this man felt something. He obviously felt ashamed of those people. And I think he represented a lot of people in that town. They changed, the mayor,
Barbara Scott: [01:08:30] everything changed after that. So I'm not saying Bay St. Louis is that. I'm saying that was controlled, Bay St. Louis was controlled by that element at that time.
Natalie Tsui: Gonna start [inaudible].
Mason Funk: I know, but we just-
Barbara Scott: Oh, that's the garbage truck, beep beep beep. Picking up-
Mason Funk: [inaudible]. It's just going to ... It's too far away, what can we do? We'll just have to live with it.
Barbara Scott: A beep in the background.
Natalie Tsui: [01:09:00] You know I have to say something, so later on you're not like, "What's that sound?"
Mason Funk: No, I'm hearing it too. I'm not unaware. Let me see here. Who was Nathe Barney?
Barbara Scott: Natalie Barney.
Mason Funk: Natalie Barney. Tell me.
Barbara Scott: Natalie Barney's interesting, because she was from ... I can't remember what state she was from up north, but she had an income.
Barbara Scott: [01:09:30] She went to Paris and established a home and a salon, she kept a salon all of her life. She died in the very late '90s I think. She had one of the most famous salons in Paris. But that's not what interests me about her. What interests me about Natalie Barney is she was the ultimate lesbian. She was independent. She had a huge amount of exciting friends
Barbara Scott: [01:10:00] that were artists and writers, Colette and Vivian Renee, and oh god, Romaine Brooks, famous painter, artist. Anyway she led, I guess you would call it, the charmed life. Naturally, she had the income, but she had an interesting circle of women around her. She wrote novels.
Barbara Scott: [01:10:30] She had the salon that all attended. It wasn't like a gay salon, it was like a very well respected literary salon. And anyway, that was why I mentioned Natalie Barney. She was one of the many people that went to Paris for the freedom. And it's always been true it seems, as far as I've studied, that the society women
Barbara Scott: [01:11:00] can be gay pretty much and bond together and even have their own private clubs, without harassment or anything. And I took a Latin American studies and the gay women in South American, the ones that had money, that came from the families, they would go to the monastery, have a wonderful, beautiful house built, staff it, and maybe have four or five mistresses. This was in the monasteries.
Barbara Scott: [01:11:30] This was in the Latin American studies you found these things out. But all I'm saying is, gay is horrible for some people, I mean in the past, and for some people it really didn't matter that much. For Natalie, for the wealthy people, it didn't really matter that much.
Mason Funk: Which speaks to this-
Barbara Scott: And many, many kings were thought of as being, you know, they would normally call them perverts, but they call them kings.
Mason Funk: [01:12:00] Which of course speaks to the, that's one more reason why the economic disparity we experience, even today, is a serious issue, because it determines, for many people it determines whether they can afford to be who they are or not. I think that's even true today. In other words if you have-
Barbara Scott: Oh, I think so. Because we have a lower group that their hands have always been stepped on,
Barbara Scott: [01:12:30] on the ladder, and they have to have prejudice in order to have a feeling of certain respect, I think. Because what else do they have respect about, if it's not a group of people who have the same prejudice.
Mason Funk: Explain that more fully? I didn't quite understand.
Barbara Scott: [01:13:00] Well I was saying that people, it's sort of like this thing that we have this thing with Trump. They say that groups of people that are with Trump that have ideologies similar to Hitler, say, or something like that. In other words, that attracts the same kind of people and they get their feeling of individuality
Barbara Scott: [01:13:30] and respect from the group that they represent, is basically what I'm trying to say. Does that make any sense?
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Barbara Scott: So I'm saying they, I called them on the bottom, but unenlightened, I don't know, I'm prejudiced too. Everybody is.
Mason Funk: You mentioned you married Miriam. Is that, I'm just wondering about your personal, your relational-
Barbara Scott: [01:14:00] I'd like to talk about that, because I have a definite thing to say about that, that I've found, that I do not like marriage, at all, I think it's a terrible thing that's happened to the gay community. And I was willing that people of course, naturally, that wanted it, I wanted anything that I'm supposed to have, right? But it turns out that marriage is hellish, I don't like it. Because it infers too much that is not a given
Barbara Scott: [01:14:30] and a presented and a ... something given in love. A right given in love. In other words marriage just dodges right in there and says, "This is this and that's that and those are yours and that's yours," whereas, we had a ... I lived in a partnership for 20 years. And you could get out of that partnership any second you wanted to.
Barbara Scott: [01:15:00] That was not even questioned. But the partnership itself had to have a huge respect from each other, and it wasn't something that had to be defined, or it wasn't something that had to be obligated
Barbara Scott: [01:15:30] or any other thing. Now I'm finding these things are too much present. I'm not used to it. And I rebel against it. And I find that I do not like marriages, I like partnerships. And I guess people do marry because of children and things like that, but other than that I really think it's a terrible mistake.
Mason Funk: [01:16:00] Interesting. It reminds me of the old Joni Mitchell song, we don't need no piece of paper from the city hall keeping us tried and true.
Barbara Scott: That's it. That's exactly the answer. [crosstalk]. And the minute the paper starts being mentioned, the problems start. Because in a partnership you have to take it for granted, there's nothing written.
Barbara Scott: [01:16:30] It's all exactly. And I know people are getting married like ... And Miriam and I got married because she's Canadian, and there's no other way to do it. But I still don't like the marriage thing. I still hear ... I still find what I don't like about it, and I wouldn't have been exposed to it had I not been married.
Mason Funk: [01:17:00] Right, uh-huh (affirmative). Interesting. Natalie, do you have questions?
Natalie Tsui: I do. I have a couple.
Mason Funk: So she's going to ask you questions, but you still have to talk to me, as if these questions came from-
Natalie Tsui: Don't look at me, yeah. Okay so one question is, so clearly you've ... You've made, you know, like queer community spaces, you built queer community spaces, and I wanted to know what, like you think the importance of these spaces are in society today.
Barbara Scott: [01:17:30] These spaces, like ...
Natalie Tsui: Queer spaces. Lesbian spaces.
Mason Funk: Like The Quarter. The spaces you've created for queer people to come to. What is the importance of them in society today?
Barbara Scott: Today?
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Barbara Scott: Well it's ... The society today still has meeting places that are predominantly gay, or predominantly heterosexual, but the smaller the town is,
Barbara Scott: [01:18:00] the more they need like minded people to gather together whether they're gay or heterosexual. So ... I'm sorry, I'm [inaudible] I don't ...
Mason Funk: That's all right, that's all right. Do have a-
Barbara Scott: I'm not getting ...
Mason Funk: Can you ask the question a little more ... Rephrase the question, if you can.
Natalie Tsui: I guess, what are the benefits of having a space where
Natalie Tsui: [01:18:30] lesbians can gather or gay people can gather to you? What's the importance of that?
Mason Funk: Are you talking about today or back when she was creating these spaces?
Natalie Tsui: It could be back then or today. Maybe both.
Barbara Scott: Oh. Well back in the late '60s and '70s it was important to me personally to meet people who were gay, because I had been heterosexual
Barbara Scott: [01:19:00] and had no exposure that I knew, and people were just coming out so that you would meet, and it was a place to meet and find people of like minds. Not every gay person, being gay doesn't mean that you have a lot of things in common. It just doesn't. But to be around a group of people
Barbara Scott: [01:19:30] is the only way you can find out who you have things in common with. And so that was the basic, who you can be comfortable with, free with, and enjoy their company. I think that is the purpose of the gay bar. I dispel alcohol because I've owned bars,
Barbara Scott: [01:20:00] plenty bars et cetera, but I don't smoke. I mean, I don't drink. I smoke. And so I can't speak about the alcohol effect. It definitely has an effect on the whole situation. But I don't want to go into that.
Mason Funk: I think I'm going to move on to the editor.
Natalie Tsui: Okay, yeah.
Mason Funk: I wanted to ask you real quick before we finish, just to talk about your experiences during Katrina,
Mason Funk: [01:20:30] because even though Katrina doesn't necessarily have anything to do with your being a lesbian, but it's ... I just want to not miss the opportunity to record some stories of people's experiences during Katrina. So what happened for you, in general terms?
Barbara Scott: Well it was interesting about Katrina for me, because I was in Vancouver living with Miriam in the summertime. And so I was about to, I had my car packed actually,
Barbara Scott: [01:21:00] my dog in the car, ready to go back, and it turns out there was going to be this major hurricane. So go back 'til the hurricane's over. And so it became bigger and bigger and bigger and it became quite the thing in Vancouver, and everywhere ... And we were told that everything was destroyed, which it was. And the thing that was very upsetting,
Barbara Scott: [01:21:30] I thought, was the media made everything about the ninth ward in New Orleans. I mean that's what you heard of Katrina, ninth ward in New Orleans, which was a level of water. In the coast here, it destroyed, destroyed, about three blocks for 80 miles. Huge difference. But anyway, because I guess it's Mississippi, and Mississippi's a no-no,
Barbara Scott: [01:22:00] that wasn't particularly talked about. But the fact is, you couldn't get back down in here for something like two weeks. When I finally, we rode across country, did come back, many, many things were missing. The house was a total jumble. They said don't go in it because it's not safe, et cetera. But many things were missing. The gold that I'd saved for my grandchildren,
Barbara Scott: [01:22:30] the jewelry that my mother had given me in inheritance. Many things were missing. So the looting thing had gone on for the two weeks that nobody could get in but the National Guard. But some of the interesting things about Katrina was, everything washed out and washed in, and my son happened to find my mother's urn way out in the sand there.
Barbara Scott: [01:23:00] You found unusual things. If you had seen it, well it looked like a huge, unbelievable disaster, but there were these kind of interesting things that were happening.
Mason Funk: What did you mean when you said 80 miles was destroyed for three blocks but no one talked about it because Mississippi's a no-no. What did that mean?
Barbara Scott: Well, the fact is, this was a huge disaster along here, but it wasn't really mentioned, mentioned.
Barbara Scott: [01:23:30] New Orleans flooding, the ninth ward, the things that people think about Katrina are not this, which was a huge disaster, but they think about that. And that's always irritated me, because I was one of the people and I saw what happened over here, and it seemed so silly to talk about the water coming up, you know five feet in the ninth ward, when all of this disaster happened. And what did I mean about Mississippi?
Barbara Scott: [01:24:00] Mississippi is the last state every way in anything, practically. Education, health, anything you can name practically they have a bad, bad rep on. So therefore, I assumed that that had something to do with the lack of interest in the total media.
Mason Funk: You mean Mississippi is treated almost like a bastard child, or ... ?
Barbara Scott: [01:24:30] Well they deserve the reputation. It's not that. They do deserve the reputation. But I tell you it's very nice in some respects. We have the most delightful traffic, and the beach, it's yours.
Mason Funk: Because people just don't think of Mississippi as a-
Barbara Scott: As a place you'd want to ever go, [inaudible] and not only that,
Barbara Scott: [01:25:00] this is the good part, that it just stays so peaceful. So peaceful. That's the trick.
Mason Funk: Alrighty. I've got four short questions, and then we'll be done. These are the same questions I ask everybody when we're finishing up. If somebody comes to you and says "Barbara, I'm thinking about coming out," whatever that means to that person, what pearl or dollop of guidance or insight do you offer that person? What do you say?
Barbara Scott: [01:25:30] Just the quickest concept is, you'll never regret it. It might be tough at first or whatever, but nevertheless, down the line, you will be you, all the way, 100 percent. And when you lose that portion, you lose it in all areas.
Mason Funk: [01:26:00] Excellent. What is your hope for the future?
Barbara Scott: Equality for women. That's my overriding thought. Because I think it affects so much. And here, I've got such a happy face because of this. The people in graduate school and people in doctoral are women.
Barbara Scott: [01:26:30] All women. Something like 72 percent in the masters and something enormous in the doctoral, like in the 80s I think. So things like that just make me happy, happy, happy, happy.
Mason Funk: Yay. I love that. Why is it important to you to tell your story?
Barbara Scott: [01:27:00] Well basically, I started this because I, years ago, when it became out, went to Ancestry.com, and my main relatives love Ancestry.com. They did it, loved ... My uncle, my cousin, everybody had always done it. They love it. And I thought, well I'm, check it out.
Barbara Scott: [01:27:30] Checked it out and you could not get women. You couldn't find your ancestors. You could find your men. You couldn't find your women. And of course that made me upset. So I said, well I'm going to put me together because I'm something. I'm putting me together, and I'm giving it to my girls, and my boys if they want to see, but they'll have an ancestor there. And so that's what I did. I started doing this,
Barbara Scott: [01:28:00] and making it, and putting it together. And there's a lot there. I mean I've been in four jails. Things like that.
Mason Funk: You've been in four jails?
Barbara Scott: You didn't read my thing? Yeah.
Mason Funk: I read everything you sent me. I don't remember the mention of four jails.
Barbara Scott: Well, I've won three awards, top awards in three states, for restoration. I've been in four jails. I've got unusual stuff. So I put it all down for my girls, and my boys. So when they get to Ancestry, they're going to find something.
Mason Funk: [01:28:30] Can you tell us briefly, because I missed it and you haven't talked about it yet, the four jails you've been in.
Barbara Scott: The first jail was Japan, and that was very, very interesting, because they came and they picked me up in a car and they took me to this place and they put me ... First they did my finger things, fingerprints. Face.
Barbara Scott: [01:29:00] Took me in this room and sat around a table with six Japanese men, and they asked me these questions like, "Where did my father go to grammar school? Where did my mother go to high school? Where did-" They kept asking, different ones would ask these, pretty much the same questions. And I didn't know what to make of it. It lasted a while, and finally I got up and I went over to this phone, because people, phones weren't the usual, I mean they weren't everywhere.
Barbara Scott: [01:29:30] There was a phone on the end of, and I picked it up and I knew you said [Japanese]. I couldn't have said a word after that, but I picked it up, I said [Japanese]. And that man came and he put the phone down and they all got up at the same time, just like a movie, and bowed from the waist and left the room. Another policeman came and took me to the car. They took me home and that was a Thursday.
Barbara Scott: [01:30:00] Every Thursday, on Thursday, as long as I was there, a white gloved policeman on a bicycle would deliver me a present. Now why, I found out several reasons. After, I didn't ever know what happened. But several years after that I find out that my cousin, who was the army attache, was the far east spy master. I was picked up for espionage. I didn't know that. And I also,
Barbara Scott: [01:30:30] he became the dean of the army intelligence school, and while he was there he came to New Orleans to do spy practice, practicing the agents to see how cool and clever they were. And one of the things that they did was go to the [inaudible] library, and was supposed to picked out a book, and it had the microfiche in it. You probably remember those old days. Okay, I picked out this book that had the microfiche in it, and this other man came up and he said that he would like to read a book,
Barbara Scott: [01:31:00] look at that book, and he looked at the book, and then he put it back on the shelf. So about that time the New Orleans police come up, and they arrest him as a John, and arrest me as a hooker. Take me off in the car, take him off in the car. They let me out a couple blocks later. The idea is to see how cool he is under this drilling of the New Orleans ... Anyway. One other one we did at the Fatted Calf. And he put microphones under the table tops.
Barbara Scott: [01:31:30] Anyway, that was why they arrested me for espionage. It turns out that [inaudible] was the ... And listen, you're probably too young to remember. Do you remember the white papers they used to do on TV?
Mason Funk: No.
Barbara Scott: No. Too bad. That was when they tried to get to the truth, and they would do white papers on the TV so that people could ... anyway.
Mason Funk: [01:32:00] So that, does that basically signify, that was the first time you were arrested?
Barbara Scott: First time I was arrested. Second time I was arrested, I believe it was in Nevada. I was going to see ... We were separated, I had the three boys, going to see Michael in California. I had to apparently last minute get stuff for the Christmas business, it was Christmas. Santa Claus. Young boys. So I went somewhere and got something called electric guitar
Barbara Scott: [01:32:30] they had in a box, for Christmas, under the Christmas tree. And the damn thing didn't have the batteries in it. So what did I do? I went in and I was going to get batteries, and the line was like ... Christmas time. The line was like, you know, fifty miles long. So I just got the batteries and left. Well guess what? Yes. Got arrested for shoplifting. Went to jail. Okay, that was my second time.
Barbara Scott: [01:33:00] Third time, I was in Mexico, in [inaudible].
Natalie Tsui: There's a train.
Mason Funk: Oh, there's a train. Hold for the train.
Natalie Tsui: Also, Im going to have to move the speaker because she leans forward [inaudible].
Barbara Scott: The Mexico thing was fantastic. I'm not going to ... This doesn't have anything to do with being gay.
Mason Funk: I know, but it's fun.
Barbara Scott: But it's great women stuff, if you want to hear that.
Mason Funk: Yeah. I want to hear from the women's perspective.
Barbara Scott: Well this was great women stuff. I thought it was fantastic.
Mason Funk: [01:33:30] Okay, so just hold for ... Where's that train going to?
Barbara Scott: Damn train.
Mason Funk: Where's it going?
Barbara Scott: I don't know, the government subsidize it and they send all kind of stuff. Those jeep things and all this stuff. I don't know where they go. It goes down the coast-
Mason Funk: Is it a passenger train?
Barbara Scott: No, no, they're trying to get the passenger train though. Of course they should do that. They should have monorails. They should ...
Barbara Scott: [01:34:00] They had, in 1967, I remember that because I was running for office, they had this paper in New Orleans that showed the monorail through the city and all this. I guess the ... I don't know what happened. I guess-
Mason Funk: The automobile industry shut it down, probably.
Barbara Scott: Is that it?
Mason Funk: It happened in L.A.
Barbara Scott: Well they shut it down. [crosstalk]. And we, a group of not even 30 people, maybe 20 or less, stopped the expressway from going over the French Quarter.
Barbara Scott: [01:34:30] Over the French Quarter. It would have been awful. But anyway, but like I say I definitely stopped the, one of the very important, that, stopped the expressway.
Barbara Scott: Okay, so just keep holding, we're almost done I think, maybe.
Natalie Tsui: I can even see it, it's still there. I'm just going to cut[crosstalk].
Barbara Scott: Third time I was arrested-
Mason Funk: Sorry [inaudible].
Natalie Tsui: Recording now.
Barbara Scott: [01:35:00] Okay. The third time I was arrested was in Mexico, and the reason was, we had gone into Mexico and the Sanborns, which was the only place that issues insurance, was closed, and so I thought well, we'll get the insurance at the next big town, [inaudible]. And so we started and of course-
Mason Funk: Do me a favor, I don't know who "we" is. Who, when you say-
Barbara Scott: Mary. Mary and I lived together for 20 year, and she died of breast cancer.
Mason Funk: [01:35:30] Okay. So start this story over and just say, when you say "we," say "My partner Mary and I." So we know.
Barbara Scott: Oh, okay. So we had gone-
Mason Funk: Sorry. The third time I was arrested ...
Barbara Scott: Oh, the third time I was arrested, we went to ... The third time I was arrested, my partner Mary and I went to Mexico and got there just a little late, where the Sanborn insurance company had closed. So I said, "We will just drive on
Barbara Scott: [01:36:00] until we get to [inaudible] and then we'll get insurance there. Well in the meantime I had a wreck. My ... We had a Volkswagen camper. My dog was sleeping in the front, which you know is right at the wreck site, and so he ran out into the desert, and they came and arrested me because I didn't have insurance.
Barbara Scott: [01:36:30] And Mary, Mary my partner, had to get the car towed into [inaudible] and take a cab. So anyway the point is I got processed in jail, and finally got to the jail itself around oh, it must have been around 11 o'clock. The jail was an old 1870s barracks, during the Maximilian time, I believe.
Barbara Scott: [01:37:00] Anyway, so the women had taken the very colorful bedspreads and made individual little fillings, so that they had privacy. So anyway I get there about 11:30, lights off. I go into this big room that has the various lavatories and stalls, and I'm in there getting my toothbrush, they let me have my little dopp kit. No cards though,
Barbara Scott: [01:37:30] they took the cards out. Dopp kit and I'm getting my toothbrush, and I hear this knock on the door, and I'm thinking, well this whole thing belongs to the jail. So I go to the door, I open the door, and there's this little lady, and she has her hand out like that, and she has a little square of chocolate in her hand. And I know she's taken that chocolate and divided the little squares, and she probably has one a day or something like that. She knock on the door and give me the little chocolate. I thought, oh. I was just overcome.
Barbara Scott: [01:38:00] So I go on and brush my teeth. In a minute I hear a little knock on the door. I think, well this is the same lady. So I go open the door, and there's another little lady, and she's got this sweetest little worn out bar of soap in her palm. And she gives it to me. And that's all I remember about that, but I was just overcome, I was just overcome. So in the morning I wake up,
Barbara Scott: [01:38:30] they had made my little crib, I guess, whatever you call it, and I woke up to the most beautiful operatic aria. You could not imagine. And I, it was hard to get my place here in this jail with this magnificent aria. So best I could, I asked about this, and they told me in, you know, our pidgin process,
Barbara Scott: [01:39:00] that the people thought to be insane came into the prisons, the women went into the women's prison at night and the men went into the men's prison at night. And this woman got up every morning and walked the patio and sang arias. And to have known those arias like that, she must have had years of music experience. It was quite something.
Barbara Scott: [01:39:30] I had quite a bit of experience there. They made pinatas, that was their business. And the third one was, fourth one was, in Vancouver. I had gone over to see Miriam, and the year before I had driven, and they found marijuana roller in my glove compartment. So they said, okay, fess up. So I gave them one I had in my pocket, of course I had more in the car.
Barbara Scott: [01:40:00] Gave them one I had in my pocket and they said, "You can get more in Vancouver," and I drove away. Well the next year, Steven Hopper had been elected, and he was a big admirer of George Bush. And so I went through the line not realizing any of this, and they came to me and they selected me to inspect, because no doubt I had driven through with the marijuana. Okay.
Barbara Scott: [01:40:30] And I said, ha ha ha, no need for you to do all that, I'll show you where I've got it. So I showed them where I got it, and the whole process was totally different. The whole gang was totally different. So these people take me to a cell and practice their interrogation until 3:45 in the morning. And they say I cannot come into Canada. They will let me go to this motel, and I can spend the rest of the night but I have to be on the ten o'clock plane to Seattle.
Barbara Scott: [01:41:00] So that was what happened, that was the worst of my many, well four experiences. That didn't have any tale to be told afterward other than ...
Mason Funk: Those are fun stories, actually. That's a rare claim to say you've been in jail four times.
Barbara Scott: Four times, yes. Three awards, in three different states, that's pretty unusual.
Mason Funk: Yeah, yeah. For restoration work?
Barbara Scott: [01:41:30] Restoration.
Mason Funk: So tell us about that, what are the three states?
Barbara Scott: Mississippi, Alabama ... Oh, it wasn't Alabama, no. Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. See I had the hotel in Arkansas.
Mason Funk: Fantastic. Natalie, do you have any more questions?
Natalie Tsui: Okay, I have one, and then that's it. So it had to do with earlier, which is when you were talking about coming to, what's that place called? Bay St. Louis?
Barbara Scott: [01:42:00] Bay St. Louis, yeah. I didn't go there for ten years after that.
Natalie Tsui: But it seems like you have a lot of experience with resilience, and I was wondering if you had any words of advice for young people who might face a similar situation?
Barbara Scott: I would say to young people that they have the best chance they've ever had in the history of the world,
Barbara Scott: [01:42:30] and to take advantage. Be good, be sweet, and usually that will come back to you.
Mason Funk: And if they find themselves hitting up against a seemingly implacable foe, or discrimination ... ?
Barbara Scott: I would say change the scene. That's what I would do. I would just change the scene. And because I think we have,
Barbara Scott: [01:43:00] we make, I know that's hard to say because I don't feel like I could be an authority on this. I have, I think I have four degrees and one of them is in social work, and I still don't think I could be an authority on anything that guards or -- what would you say -- counsels mental health, because I had such an idyllic childhood.
Barbara Scott: [01:43:30] And most things in mental health involve the younger years. So I feel like that I'm, that's one reason I went into gerontology, I felt like who am I to say, because I was like ... you know.
Mason Funk: Great. Last question. This project is called OUTWORDS, and we're traveling the country collecting stories
Mason Funk: [01:44:00] like yours from as many different kinds of people as we can find. What do you see as the value of doing that? And if you could mention OUTWORDS in your answer.
Barbara Scott: I think the value of OUTWORDS archives will be in showing that there has been a struggle, and we have made that struggle. We have things to be proud of,
Barbara Scott: [01:44:30] and we should be proud of, and that's the acceptance we gained, the joy we've given, the ... I don't think there could be a more nurturing heart than a gay heart. And I know, in many times, in early movies,
Barbara Scott: [01:45:00] gay people were depicted as being snide or jealous of homosexual relationships or things like that, and I think that was all, you know, in my opinion bad propaganda, because even if things were true the positive parts were never shown. And that's what you're doing. You're showing the positive parts.
Mason Funk: [01:45:30] Fantastic.
Barbara Scott: Good.
Mason Funk: We're going to record ...
Barbara Scott: I was going back to see what had happened to my house. And so I thought, "Well I'm going to need some grass for this." So I went down to this head shop, and the woman at the head, I said, "Look, I'm one of the Katrina people and I need your help," and she said, "Oh, not here, not here, not here."
Barbara Scott: [01:46:00] But she said on the second floor there's this marijuana society, or some society that was trying to get rights. So I thought, "Well, I'll go up there." So I went up, and I went there, and the door's open, and there's a whole lot of motorcycle men looking, just walking around in there. And I said, "Is this the society of whatever, cannabis society or whatever?"
Barbara Scott: [01:46:30] And they said, "No, this is the motorcycle club something something." And I said "Oh, I'm sorry, I was just trying to find that, I've got to go back to Katrina." And they all just turned around, all of them turned around. And I said, "I'm here, I've got to have some marijuana." And I'm telling you, those big old leather things that they wear in their back pocket came out, and they opened them up,
Barbara Scott: [01:47:00] and I mean I had a bud, I had a handful that big. They were taking that grass out of those leather things and putting them in my hand, I'm not kidding you. It was something to see.
Mason Funk: God bless those leather, those leather dudes. Were they like, they were like a motorcycle club?
Barbara Scott: It was a motorcycle club. On the next floor was the marijuana place.
Mason Funk: Oh I see, how funny. That's hilarious.
Barbara Scott: It is, it is.
Mason Funk: [01:47:30] All right, well, we're done. We're done.

Interviewed by: Mason Funk
Camera: Natalie Tsui
Date: July 11, 2017
Location: Home of Barbara Scott, Pass Christian, MS