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Chuck Williams was born in Los Angeles to parents who moved to California to get away from their uptight religious families in Texas. From early on, Chuck’s parents gave him plenty of latitude to figure out his own path. He grew up enjoying the beach, surfing, and riding around on his pet donkey. 

Later Chuck enrolled at UCLA, determined to be an X-ray physicist, but after a professor dissed his science skills, Chuck switched to business. Meanwhile, to avoid being drafted and shipped to Vietnam, Chuck joined the ROTC. After graduation, he entered the Air Force and was sent to Scotland. By now, he was married with a son. Chuck’s time abroad turned him, in his own words, into an “internationalist.” He’s loved traveling ever since.

Returning to the US, Chuck’s marriage fell apart, because he and his wife had different visions for their lives, and also because Chuck was gay. Soon after, Chuck met Stu on a water skiing trip, and they’ve been together now for more than 50 years. Chuck meanwhile entered the burgeoning computer business at RCA (which later was acquired by the Sperry Corporation). With Stu, Chuck moved east to head Sperry’s US and international operations. When Sperry was acquired by Burroughs in 1986, Chuck stepped down, returned to California, worked as a consultant and professor for a time, and ultimately turned to what may be considered his true life mission.

In 2001, Chuck donated $2.5 million to found the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School. At the time, it was the largest donation ever given to a college or university in support of a gay and lesbian academic program. The Institute’s mission was and is to conduct rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. Over the years, Williams Institute experts have authored dozens of public policy studies and law review articles, filed amicus briefs in key court cases, provided expert testimony at legislative hearings, and trained more than 3,000 judges in sexual orientation law. It would be impossible to overstate the Institute’s importance and value to the LGBTQ community in America.

OUTWORDS interviewed Chuck in April 2017 at the home that he and Stu built in Malibu, California. Below us, the sun-struck Pacific Ocean stretched to the horizon and beyond. Chuck is ruggedly handsome, not a big talker, keeps his cards close to his chest. But he had an expansive vision of what the American queer community needed, and he made it happen.   
Chuck Williams: [00:00:00] He stood there for a while thinking, "All right," and I said, "Well, there are other trees you could cut down," and I showed him some other new trees I had planted and stuff. I said, "All those, you can cut all those down," so they were happy they were cutting something.
Mason Funk: How close did the fire eventually get? How bad ...
Chuck Williams: To this house?
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Chuck Williams: It burned to the base of that tree.
Mason Funk: Wow. Oh my God.
Chuck Williams: [00:00:30] That trunk was black. It came to there.
Kate Kunath: How often does that ... We are speeding.
Mason Funk: Okay. Do me a favor. Start off and just tell me your name and spell it out for me.
Chuck Williams: I'm Chuck Williams. C-H-U-C-K W-I-L-L-I-A-M-S.
Mason Funk: Okay, and that's how you are known professionally or is it more Charles Williams?
Chuck Williams: Technically, my name is Charles ...
Mason Funk: Right. Okay.
Chuck Williams: But I go by Chuck ...
Mason Funk: [00:01:00] Okay.
Chuck Williams: And people know me by Chuck.
Mason Funk: Okay. Great.
Chuck Williams: If I'm signing a paper, it's by Charles.
Mason Funk: Okay. Tell me when and where you were born. Let's start ...
Chuck Williams: When? I never tell anybody when.
Mason Funk: You don't tell anybody?
Chuck Williams: No.
Mason Funk: Not even us.
Chuck Williams: Reminds me of my mother. My mother was asked how old she was and she was 98 and she said, "Well, do you keep a secret," and they said, "Oh yeah. Sure." She said, "So do I."
[00:01:30] Anyway, I was born in Los Angeles and my parents came here from Texas on their honeymoon and they liked it and they stayed and that was the beginning of them being here. I was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Long Beach. That's where I went to high school. I had fun in Long Beach.
Mason Funk: What kind of fun?
Chuck Williams: [00:02:00] Well, lots of things. My uncle lived in Texas and we would go there on vacations and I had a horse there. Dan was my horse and he gave him to me. Well, I wanted him to come out to California, my horse, and my folks didn't seem to think that was pliable so I said, "Well, I got to have a horse," I was like 10 years old
Chuck Williams: [00:02:30] so they bought me a donkey so I had a donkey in Long Beach. My dad made a cart for it and I had the cart and that was fun but I'm also a beach person. I could surf and I could do a lot of stuff. In Long Beach it's easy to do, which really makes me an advocate for southern California because I think it's a great place.
Chuck Williams: [00:03:00] In two hours you can be in anything. Admittedly, it's two hours of driving but you can be at the surf, you can be at the mountains, you can be in the desert, you can be in the opera, you can be anything.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Yeah, I agree.
Chuck Williams: I do a lot of sports stuff and it's a good place for that.
Mason Funk: What was your ... your folks were from Texas. Did they have ... were there a lot more siblings, were you an only child, and what was the overall ...
Mason Funk: [00:03:30] you know how families have a culture, like their values, what were your family's values?
Chuck Williams: My mother and dad only had one child, me, and they said, "When you get perfection, you don't keep going for something else." They always said that but I don't know. Anyway, the family, their parents, my grandparents were all members of the Church of Christ,
Chuck Williams: [00:04:00] very conservative church. They lived in Lubbock, Texas and they were part of the community of the church and always doing whatever they were doing. My folks were never much into that. They didn't grab onto that ... and they're the only ... there are a lot of uncles and aunts and all this ... none of them left Lubbock.
Chuck Williams: [00:04:30] My parents got up and moved to California, which was really far out. It was a different kind of culture because they created their own rather than living in the one they left, to be honest.
Mason Funk: Interesting. Do you feel like that had an influence on you in any way that your parents were the ones who struck out?
Chuck Williams: [00:05:00] Yeah, in many senses, I think, because I could do pretty much what I liked to do as long as it's within the rules of the family but ... when I was in high school, two buddies and I wanted to go to Mexico on Summer vacation for a month and we didn't have a car. My mother and father said no way and ...
Chuck Williams: [00:05:30] okay, I worked enough that we split each one third. I worked enough to get a car. We painted it red with a brush and we went to Mexico for a month. They said, "Well, if you can do that," because my dad was really opposed, "if you can do that, then you can put yourself through college." I said, "Sure. I'll do that," and, dumb thing to do but I did it.
Chuck Williams: [00:06:00] I put myself through college and through more degrees and all this stuff. I think that independence feeling permeated my family. My dad was an executive with Folgers Coffee and he had a lot of experience in that being a marketing person. I think that ...
Chuck Williams: [00:06:30] he wanted me to be in the coffee business when I grew up but I wasn't interested in that.
Mason Funk: But you definitely ... it sounds like you inherited a sense of business from your dad.
Chuck Williams: Business, yeah, for sure and independence. More so from my mother, the independence.
Mason Funk: Were they happy in California?
Chuck Williams: Oh yeah. They loved it. There are many stories that prove that but, yeah, they really loved California. They lived in Long Beach and then Bixby Knolls and then, ultimately, in San Francisco area because the home office of Folgers was in San Francisco. My mother would, when she went back to Texas, she would praise California.
Chuck Williams: [00:07:00] they really loved California. They lived in Long Beach and then Bixby Knolls and then, ultimately, in San Francisco area because the home office of Folgers was in San Francisco. My mother would, when she went back to Texas, she would praise California.
Mason Funk: [00:07:30] That's great. You went off to UCLA and you had a head for business. I don't know if you went straight through and got your MBA, I think, you got your MBA there, is that right?
Chuck Williams: Yeah, I did but I started out at UCLA working as a student, getting a degree in X-ray Physicist, as an X-ray Physicist,
Chuck Williams: [00:08:00] and one time, I was a Junior, I think, maybe a Sophomore, yeah Sophomore, and a professor had written formulas all over and it was a very high end course. He spun around and he said, "What is this," and I said, "I have no idea," and he said, "You are not a scientist," and I said, "I think you may be right."
Chuck Williams: [00:08:30] I went to a whole deal at UCLA, you can go and spend days and take tests and see what you are and it said I should be a businessperson so that's when I changed and changed degrees and began a degree in business and a Master's Degree in Insurance and Economic theory business
Chuck Williams: [00:09:00] and then I worked on my Doctorate in the same field. Not at the same time, later. I went to the Air Force for a while.
Mason Funk: What time frame are we talking about? What was going on in the so-called external world or the world at large in these years like when you were in college?
Chuck Williams: Well, there were a lot of different things going on.
Chuck Williams: [00:09:30] I went into the Air Force because I was in ROTC and I had to go in the Air Force. I did go to ROTC to avoid going into the Service in, I guess it would have been Vietnam. I'm not sure but anyway, one of those crises. I did go in the Air Force and was an officer
Chuck Williams: [00:10:00] and headquartered in Scotland. It started my international thing. I have been an internationalist ever since. I've been in 75 countries and I'm still going to more. I love it. International. Anyway, I was there and I was married
Chuck Williams: [00:10:30] just before I went into the Service. My son was born in Scotland and he had dual citizenship. He finally had to select and he selected to be an American but anyway, that whole period of time was ... there were crises after crises. One was a Lebanese crisis and I was in charge,
Chuck Williams: [00:11:00] in the Air Force I was in charge of shipping ... handling the planes that are going to ship the troops and the tanks and all this stuff when a crisis occurs. We had that with Lebanon, having to move half of the ... all the stuff to Beirut. I forgot what you asked other than that.
Mason Funk: [00:11:30] I was asking, well, I was trying to get a sense of what was going on internationally when you were in college and just thereafter. I learned a lot of other things along the way ...
Chuck Williams: Yeah, in college I was playing football and having a good time in college. A lot of fun. Also, then there was the crisis and whatever it was. I think it was Vietnam. I wanted to avoid getting taken
Chuck Williams: [00:12:00] by the government so I joined the ROTC for that reason and then, of course, you have to be in. I didn't have a problem with that. I just didn't want to be interrupted. The crises in that period of time that we're talking about were constant but they weren't, other than Vietnam, we weren't at war per se, we were just in trouble.
Mason Funk: [00:12:30] Right. By now you've gotten married. You've had a son in Scotland. The next thing I know about your life and your biography is that you eventually end up at the Sperry Corporation.
Chuck Williams: Sperry.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Chuck Williams: Yeah.
Mason Funk: I'm sure there were many steps or maybe there weren't but give me a sense of how your career progressed once you had finished your obligation to the Service.
Chuck Williams: [00:13:00] Yeah, I came back from the Air Force to Long Beach and lived in Long Beach for a while and I was working on my Doctorate, PhD, at UCLA. Then, I decided that my wife and my baby and I were hungry and I couldn't stay in school forever. That was part my dad. My dad never understood me getting a Master's much less a PhD.
Chuck Williams: [00:13:30] Anyway, I quit and said I'm going to go to work and make some money. I had good deals. I had a lot of people covering my things and all kinds of grants but ... I went to work. I said, "What am I going to do?" I thought,
Chuck Williams: [00:14:00] "Yeah, I think I want to go into the computer business," and the reason my logic was there is it was so new, and it was very new then, and the computer business was such that if I were as successful as the industry, I'd do okay because the industry's going to go rapidly. I applied for two companies. One was IBM, naturally,
Chuck Williams: [00:14:30] and I thought that's be the place to go but IBM in those days was very different. It was no problem with, I'll wear a suit and I'll wear a black tie, I don't have a problem with that, and a white shirt. I'll do all that, no problem, but I had a convertible and they didn't want me driving a convertible as a salesman. I said, "Screw this. I'm not going to be told that I can't have a car that I want,"
Chuck Williams: [00:15:00] so I dumped IBM and I had an offer, subject to my car change, and I went to RCA. RCA had a lot of money as a company and they were entering the computer business, a brand new field for them. I said, "That'll be good. They'll be new," and that's what I did. I went to work for RCA.
Chuck Williams: [00:15:30] RCA, at the time, had virtually no customers or very few. You'd have a party if somebody would talk to you about their business. I was a salesman and I sold computers, big ones. Those days they were all big but I sold them and was successful enough to buy a house and things like that.
Chuck Williams: [00:16:00] About the same time, decided I'd like to get divorced so I changed that part of me and it was a difficult time, in a way, because a lot of transitions but then I became a salesman, as I was, to a Sales Manager to be a Branch Manager and all that stuff. Promotions, a lot of them.
Chuck Williams: [00:16:30] With a good job all the way and making more money and everything. I had said, while I was still thinking about life, that I would like to be able to retire when I was 45, that I wouldn't have to work hard, at least. I went up the ladder quickly and I became Vice President
Chuck Williams: [00:17:00] and that was the first time I was Vice President. I said, "Oh gee. That's nice. I don't have to work so hard." Vice Presidents don't work too hard by definition but I really did work. All that was in L.A., and the home office for the company was in New Jersey, well, Philadelphia was the nearest town really but it was in King of Prussia.
Chuck Williams: [00:17:30] I was going to have to move for the next promotion and the next promotion was to be Head of the United States. Well, that was hard to turn down so I moved for the first time to New Jersey, Philadelphia. I had a partner then and he moved with me
Chuck Williams: [00:18:00] so that became a new nest, got a big house, a little farm to go with. I didn't farm any. I was too busy. It started a long career in the East, being an Executive. Ultimately, I was in charge of all the US and then all of international, and then, everything.
Chuck Williams: [00:18:30] The next step from there would have been to be President of the company, the computer part of the company. About that time, Burroughs came on and they wanted to buy RCA Computers. I fought that with the Chairman because I thought we should go and buy the stuff ... it's an interesting story but if you're interested but ...
Chuck Williams: [00:19:00] if you look at what, at that time RCA was a conglomerate with a big part of it computer business and another part in hay balers, new hauling farm equipment, hay balers. The Board and people like that were heavily weighted with hay balers knowledge.
Chuck Williams: [00:19:30] At the same time, Ford has a big truck, big business in tractors. It was just tractors they had. Tractors. And so I said it would be a good deal to merge those two parts together and we'd have hay balers and tractors, which would be good.
Chuck Williams: [00:20:00] The Chairman of the Board said okay and then we were going to do that but he passed away. He was hit by a car and ... anyway, so the new one came in and said, "I don't want any of that stuff," really how you learn not to like big corporation. Anyway, then we didn't do anything and then Burroughs suddenly said, "Well, we'll buy them.
Chuck Williams: [00:20:30] We'll buy RCA's computer business," because we had a lot of money out of RCA. I said, "I'm going to quit," and they said, "Would you be the consultant to put the merger together," and I said, "Sure." That's a job you can't turn down financially, so I did that. I did not go to work for them
Chuck Williams: [00:21:00] but I came back to California. At that point, I've always liked teaching so I thought, "Well, maybe I want to be a professor," so I applied for the three schools that I was interested in, which was UCLA, I never been interested in USC, and also Pepperdine
Chuck Williams: [00:21:30] because they had an excellent school for Executive Training. I ended up being more convinced at that time, better school is Pepperdine so I went to work for Pepperdine as an Executive in Residence, the only one they had. It allowed a lot of things. One is I could make more money and B, I'd be more independent and teaching just Executive education.
Chuck Williams: [00:22:00] And I was, all this time, a consultant. As soon as I had time, I was a consultant, even back at Sperry. That's a way to make more money and I was getting toward my goals. I had a lot of businesses, apartment houses, and stuff like that. That's what happened. I came back and taught school at Pepperdine.
Mason Funk: [00:22:30] And roughly, what year was this?
Chuck Williams: What year?
Mason Funk: Like mid-80s, I think, was it around?
Chuck Williams: Yeah. Yeah.
Mason Funk: Okay. Let me interrupt you for a second because I want to go back and fill in some personal stuff.
Chuck Williams: Okay.
Mason Funk: You mentioned that by the time you moved back east, you got a partner and you've gotten divorced.
Chuck Williams: Yep.
Mason Funk: When along your personal trajectory did you figure out,
Mason Funk: [00:23:00] "Oh, I might like guys as well as women or I might like guys more than women." In other words, when did you come out to yourself? When did that happen?
Chuck Williams: I don't have a year.
Mason Funk: Roughly, how old were you when you began to figure this all out?
Chuck Williams: I was 22. I was about 22 when I thought I liked guys. I think there was a little bit of fading into it.
Chuck Williams: [00:23:30] I guess I was bisexual for a week or two but then I liked guys. I had several affairs or whatever and then I met Stu on a water-skiing trip so it was a nice place to meet. We got together
Chuck Williams: [00:24:00] and after a six month trial of friendship we agreed to move in together and that started that. Then, he's still with me.
Mason Funk: Wow. That's impressive.
Chuck Williams: 49 years.
Mason Funk: Wow. That's like Rob and John. They've got something like that together too.
Chuck Williams: Yeah. Right. I got a little more than they do but not much ...
Mason Funk: About a year. Okay.
Chuck Williams: Not much.
Mason Funk: [00:24:30] Did you ... I don't know exactly when you got married but did you get married after you had already ... how did you getting married fit into the story of you realizing you preferred guys?
Chuck Williams: When I got married, I got married and that was that. There was no guy thing. The guy thing came out ... I'd been married for ... when I had the kid ... I'd say I had been married five years at least
Chuck Williams: [00:25:00] before I ever had an affair with a guy but it was very separate.
Mason Funk: Would you say that the marriage ended because you realized you were gay or is that an oversimplification?
Chuck Williams: That's an oversimplification. Basically, at the time, I was working on my Doctorate and I was living in Long Beach and commuting between Long Beach.
Chuck Williams: [00:25:30] I was excited about hanging out with professors, not gay professors, professors. We'd talk about stuff and it all made me feel very good and very intrigued and I'd come home and my wife was upset because we weren't going to the country club for dinner. I didn't like the country club. Truly, this is the truth,
Chuck Williams: [00:26:00] the country club was part of all of us getting broken up. I didn't want anything to do with it. I didn't. Okay, I was the youngest one there, whatever that meant to the girls in the country club. I didn't like it. Then there was a question of, what kind of life are we going to live and I still wanted to get my doctorate and all this stuff
Chuck Williams: [00:26:30] and be a professor. You're not going to get very wealthy that way, although you can do a lot of consulting. We fell apart over that and there's no doubt, toward the end, some indication on my own part, that I wanted to go with a guy but it was a combination.
Mason Funk: Got you. Got you. Now, in these years,
Mason Funk: [00:27:00] what were the prevailing attitudes that you noticed in society regarding gay men, lesbians ... what did you know? What did you pick up on? How did you feel when you realized that you were drawn to guys? What was the cultural atmosphere that you were most aware of and how did it affect you?
Chuck Williams: Definitely the cultural attitude was extremely negative.
Chuck Williams: [00:27:30] Stonewall was just happening or had happened but that was way far away, actually. Even in California or Los Angeles, San Francisco, it was different in that you could be more open but society, it was very negative. As a generalism there was no acceptance. There were a couple of queer places like San Francisco
Chuck Williams: [00:28:00] but other than that, or New York, parts of New York, but ... it was extremely negative and, yeah, I felt that I was really screwing up and not doing the right thing for myself. When I got divorced, my mother and father were very much opposed to that and they did a lot of stuff to try to keep me together.
Chuck Williams: [00:28:30] Very simple. I never came out directly but it became obvious after a while, but not then, at the beginning. Their thinking was probably like society. Their thinking was they wanted their son to be happy but you must be married to a girl.
Chuck Williams: [00:29:00] There wasn't such a thing as gay marriage. You must be married in order to be happy thus be married. It was that clear and that was really a very prevalent thing about the nicer people without just the kind that are rednecks. It was very ... the other part at that time was the police.
Chuck Williams: [00:29:30] I was in a bar once with friends and the bar was raided. I know because it was a gay bar and there was nothing going on. There was absolutely nothing. I had friends that were arrested because they touched somebody on the shoulder, not somewhere else, and all that kind of activity was extreme. That was in L.A. not in Iowa.
Chuck Williams: [00:30:00] The social attitude was, and some of those kinds of things that the police were doing, they got away with it. They even, once in a while, it was stopped. You can't do that. One organization had a slave auction, which was you pay money
Chuck Williams: [00:30:30] to get somebody to come cook dinner for you. That's the extent of the slave thing. The place was raided with helicopters and cop cars and all that, arrested everybody, and charged them under the Anti-slavery Act. That's extreme.
Chuck Williams: [00:31:00] Finally, that was all dismissed by the attorney or something, Attorney General of the state, but it went a long way and a lot of people went, picture in the paper and all that stuff. The whole environment was awful.
Mason Funk: Wow.
Chuck Williams: In my personal life, I never was impacted by all that directly. I never was hauled off to jail. I never had anything like that but I,
Chuck Williams: [00:31:30] obviously, had friends and associates and all kinds of people that had awful stuff happen for no reason.
Mason Funk: What are some of the ... you mention that you were in a bar one time where there was a raid so you weren't arrested? Is that what happened?
Chuck Williams: Yeah. They just closed the bar and made everybody ... they started to arrest everybody ...
Mason Funk: Do me a favor. Do you remember the name of that bar by any chance?
Chuck Williams: No.
Mason Funk: [00:32:00] Oh.
Chuck Williams: It's not here anymore.
Mason Funk: Oh okay. Just start the story a little bit fresh like, "One time I was in a bar," and just tell me the story from the start of what happened that day.
Chuck Williams: Yeah. I don't know ... I know it's not in existence and I don't remember the name but ... it wasn't The Abbey or something like that. No.
Chuck Williams: [00:32:30] I'm trying to think of any ... anyway, when I was in the bar with friends and one of my friends had gone out to his car to get a jacket because he was cold. He saw the squad cars and the helicopter approaching and he came in and ran and got us and we got in our car and left, otherwise I would have been arrested.
Mason Funk: [00:33:00] Wow. What are some of the things ... you said you remembered friends of yours getting caught up in incidents that were really bad for them. Do you remember some particulars?
Chuck Williams: Yeah. I know one friend of mine was arrested and charged for lewd vagrancy, I believe it was, and that was
Chuck Williams: [00:33:30] because he made a pass at a policeman, plain-clothes cop in a bar, and offered he wanted to go home with him, all the way pass. I am hot for you and all that stuff but also he wanted to go home with him. He was arrested for solicitation
Chuck Williams: [00:34:00] or lewd vagrancy or whatever it was and was arrested and charged and he lost. It went all the way to court and usually those kind of cases, everybody pleads guilty and that's that but he was pretty solid about it but he was convicted. He had to pay money. He didn't go to jail but after ... There were other cases similar to that.
Chuck Williams: [00:34:30] I went to a Halloween party and it was in a private home. The police raided the house and just by the shear of my teeth, we ran out before but they arrested most of the people in the house.
Chuck Williams: [00:35:00] Supposedly it was too noisy and it upset the neighborhood and all of that but those are just excuses but that didn't stick but they did haul them all away and your cars left there and ... I had another friend that was beat up in what is West Hollywood. He came out of a bar and was attacked by ...
Chuck Williams: [00:35:30] he came out of the gay bar and apparently they were waiting for somebody to come out and the three guys jumped him and beat the hell out of him. He lived but he was in the hospital for a while. He was a friend of mine.
Mason Funk: [00:36:00] Did ... at this time, was this what you might call the beginning of what eventually would lead to your interest in legal status and laws that affect gay and lesbian people? Was this part of one of the seeds, would you say?
Chuck Williams: Yeah. I have answered the question. I funded ... I started an Institute, which is part of what you're asking, which is now called an Institute. At that time, it was called project.
Chuck Williams: [00:36:30] Anyway, I started and I've been asked many, many times why, what did they do to you? The answer is they really didn't do anything directly to me but the answer is also they did a lot to a lot of people. They really hurt a lot of people. Suicides, people giving up, people ... all kinds of things happened
Chuck Williams: [00:37:00] because of the extreme pressure from the police departments and the attitude of society, which was very negative. That is why I started an Institute, which is further downstream from what we're talking about but it certainly ... I saw enough to know that it's awful what's going on and it's not right. It isn't right.
Chuck Williams: [00:37:30] About that time also, or somewhere along the way, AIDS started being known and I saw that occurring with friends and people dying and everything. I went on the Board of Directors of an organization called AIDS Research Alliance,
Chuck Williams: [00:38:00] which was an attempt to find quick solutions to, at least, the problems, not the cure, because there was no cure question. I went on member of the Board and I handled a lot of stuff on that for several years. Significant donations of money and significant interest in trying to cure it,
Chuck Williams: [00:38:30] not cure it but address the illnesses. You saw the same kind of thing occurring with HIV people. The hate. Let's lock them up and put them in ... there was some politician that proposed that we put them in a pen somewhere. Whenever I saw stuff like that I saw the same kind of extreme distrust
Chuck Williams: [00:39:00] that I saw with society in general but more specifically aimed at people with HIV and AIDS. That started me getting closer to doing something about the whole issue.
Mason Funk: Let me see. I lost my place in my notes here. Sorry.
Mason Funk: [00:39:30] Were you ... in addition to, just going back to the AIDS era, in addition to seeing people being discriminated against and the fears of them being rounded up and put in quarantine, I would assume that you also had friends who got the disease and passed away.
Chuck Williams: I lost a lot of friends.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Chuck Williams: A lot of friends. I used to keep a list but I stopped because it was too depressing.
Chuck Williams: [00:40:00] I don't have any numbers but I'm sure I lost 50 or 100 friends. Terrible. I didn't think I had a way to cure that but I thought I had a way to help with the disease and fund some research on curing.
Mason Funk: [00:40:30] Right. Yeah. One thing that I'm doing through this project is trying to capture reflections on other people who were prominent at the time, who played significant roles. That's why I asked you to give me some names and I'm going to ask you about those individuals but I wondered if in this period there are people that you remember who stand out for you
Mason Funk: [00:41:00] as being on the front lines of addressing some of these issues whether it was the AIDS epidemic or whether it was societal in tolerance, are there any key figures that come to mind for you that you think just played a significant role in helping to fight these situations?
Chuck Williams: Yeah. Not so much for me personally. That was what I thought the question was before.
Chuck Williams: [00:41:30] Did I have people that I felt had done anything to ... there was one that I guess I would say was personal. The guy that married me, my wife, was a minister and I think my wife got him more than I did
Chuck Williams: [00:42:00] but anyway, there was some conflicts with my mother-in-law to be ... I wanted to have champagne and she didn't approve of drinking and that kind of thing so there was some conflicts in the wedding process and this minister was the moderator. He came out to be ... and I didn't know him before this ...
Chuck Williams: [00:42:30] he came out to be a friend. He was a great guy and he almost got me into religion. When I came out to myself, that was a tough time, very tough time. I'd grind my teeth at night and all that kind of thing.
Chuck Williams: [00:43:00] Finally, I went to see him and I said, "I want to talk to you but I'm not planning on joining the church. I just want to talk to you," and so I told him I was gay. First time I told anybody that and he was beautiful. He said, "You come back ... how about coming in once a week,"
Chuck Williams: [00:43:30] and I said okay. He talked about his father was a priest or minister rather and he would have never known that he had people that were gay or lesbian in his parish but he did and he knew it and they're nice people and they're doing good. You do what you feel comfortable with. I said, "Okay, now, I don't want to keep taking your time
Chuck Williams: [00:44:00] but I'll do anything," I said, "I don't have a lot of money now but I will, so anything you want me to do for your church, I will do it." He said, "I want you to be on my committee for," something, projects or something, and so I ended up advising them on whether or not they should sell some very good property that they had. I said, "No, don't sell. You can get more later,"
Chuck Williams: [00:44:30] and I was the young kid in this committee but he was very important to me on a personal level. People that I admired in society, I didn't see a lot of that. Harvey Milk, of course, but I didn't even relate to Harvey Milk per se, other than the fact he got shot,
Chuck Williams: [00:45:00] which is part of the pogrom. They, also, he was probably too far out for me to be feeling about him but I did relate to him. I met him a couple times and I thought he was a nice guy so, yeah, Harvey Milk. There were some women
Chuck Williams: [00:45:30] that I knew that were, one of whom was lesbian, that I respected a lot. They really were cool. One of whom ran for office, didn't make it but ran and I supported her.
Mason Funk: Who was that? What was her name? Do you remember?
Chuck Williams: [00:46:00] Yeah. Karen, she's no longer with us, Karen Anderson. There were others that ... Joel Wax was a good friend of mine and the first time he ever ran for office I gave him a party
Chuck Williams: [00:46:30] and had gay people come. No one in those days would write a check or use credit card, it all had to be cash because they were afraid it would be tracked. That's what I did and Joel got elected and was in office for a long time
Chuck Williams: [00:47:00] and he was pretty sharp about the way he dealt when they said that he was gay. He never came out at that time but his opponent was saying that he was a homosexual and didn't have ... and Joel went on the stage and said, "I want to talk about the issues of potholes or something and my opponent wants to talk about homosexuality.
Chuck Williams: [00:47:30] I want to go back to the issues of potholes." It was a clever way to approach it but all that time there was a lot of that kind of thing. What was her name? The lady in ... she came out. She was always ... I don't remember her name. She was in New York and she was running ...
Chuck Williams: [00:48:00] She ran for office and got elected, had a big hat ...
Mason Funk: Bella Abzug. As soon as you said hat.
Chuck Williams: She was great. I got to know her when I lived in the east because I had a few little parties in the east to invite people. There, again, that was a difference ... in those days ...
Chuck Williams: [00:48:30] and she was great by the way. She was a great lady. She was very exciting. In those days, Philadelphia was really very backwoods as it relates to the gay being out, that stuff, and I gave a party at our house in Pennsylvania and she came
Chuck Williams: [00:49:00] and brought a bunch of people and stuff. It was great. Raised money for Whitman Radcliffe.
Mason Funk: What was that?
Chuck Williams: It was an organization that we founded here and then in Pennsylvania as well, which was a gay rights organization, embryonic to anything that we have.
Chuck Williams: [00:49:30] I guess the closest thing would have been growing in to be HRC but I'm not sure. Anyway, whether they would agree to that or not, but it was ... we raised money and had events and predominantly to help gay people get along better.
Mason Funk: That's funny. I've never heard the name of that organization.
Chuck Williams: Whitman Radcliffe.
Mason Funk: [00:50:00] During these years when you ... after you divorced and you met Stu and you guys had embarked on your life together but you were still working in corporate America ...
Chuck Williams: Yeah.
Mason Funk: How did that work out?
Chuck Williams: I wasn't gay.
Mason Funk: Do me a favor. Just so we know you're talking about say, "During my years," ...
Chuck Williams: During my years in corporate America, I never came out at all. It was not ...
Chuck Williams: [00:50:30] it wouldn't have been feasible. Maybe if I ... at the early phases of my career but certainly not as an Executive Committee and a Member of the Board, no way. The Chairman of the Board was a Mormon and he was not a [inaudible] Mormon. I don't think I would hold that against him per say
Chuck Williams: [00:51:00] but it was just a question I had with his religion. There were no such things as gay people. One guy that ... When I was doing interviewing back at the very beginning, it was a friend of mine who worked for IBM and he said, "Don't go to work for any company, any computer company.
Chuck Williams: [00:51:30] IBM will find out who you are and they'll out you and then you'll be fired." I said, "Well, then I'll be a beach boy." Seats at the beach. Anyway, back to your question, in those days there were no such things as a known gay Executive. None.
Chuck Williams: [00:52:00] Nowadays, we have them or everybody knows they are and whatever. I never came out at all. There was one Executive that I liked a lot and was friends with and he and his wife and two kids. We'd have dinners together and stuff like that. I often wondered if he was gay a little, gaydar.
Chuck Williams: [00:52:30] No idea. Time passed and all this went a different way and I'm here.
Mason Funk: Did you have ... you had Stu living with you?
Chuck Williams: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mason Funk: I'm just curious, how would you present ... Who was Stu to these people if you had to go to a corporate function?
Chuck Williams: I didn't take him with me. No way. The corporate dances and all that, no.
Chuck Williams: [00:53:00] I had a girlfriend there that would go with me. A girl friend. She was great and she was pretty. Everybody was sure we were going to get married soon and just never got married. When I would throw one big party a year for all of the offices,
Chuck Williams: [00:53:30] because I think everybody likes to see what the boss's ... what he lives in ... but Stu would not be there for that but I never made him hide in the sense of my secretary knew everything but other than that ...
Mason Funk: How about your parents? Were they in the dark the whole time?
Chuck Williams: My mother was never in the dark. She knew but she didn't want to talk about it.
Chuck Williams: [00:54:00] I never came out to them formally and they never asked. They didn't agree with the fact that I'm living with a man but that never was discussed. My dad died at a relatively ... When I was relatively young, about 26, and my mother remarried and she remarried a man that is
Chuck Williams: [00:54:30] more conservative than Attila the Hun, a very conservative gentleman. As is she but he was more so and she loved me anyway type thing. She was just not going to let him find that out, boy, no way so that kept it under wraps further.
Mason Funk: Whoa. Wow. It's fascinating because it is so ... it's just such a different ...
Mason Funk: [00:55:00] It reminds me a bit of that TV series, Mad Men. It's just a world unto itself that seems to bear very little relationship to the world we live in today.
Chuck Williams: Very true. Forget marriage for a second. That's obviously a big thing but just living in society and ... you saw little things happen along the way but,
Chuck Williams: [00:55:30] in general, society was violently opposed to this gay thing. Gay, itself, wasnt used, homosexual thing. In some ... I think the police and the politicians helped make it worse. I think, also, that today,
Chuck Williams: [00:56:00] the freedom level is so wonderful that you can't imagine it being other than that. You can't imagine it being lousy anyway. It's true. It was. I don't know how you want to go further up in time but you want to go further out in time?
Mason Funk: Yeah. Let me see. I have my list of questions here. Let me check in with that.
Chuck Williams: [00:56:30] Okay.
Mason Funk: Yeah, we've covered a lot of this good stuff. Let's take a little break and talk ... because we're kind of almost ... well, we're not quite [inaudible] but there are three people you named specifically that you wanted to talk about, Brad Sears and Tim Gill, and David Bodette, all of whom I know of or know a little bit personally,
Mason Funk: [00:57:00] but why did you choose those individuals? Why don't you take them one by one and tell me what you thought the importance of those guys was or is like Brad Sears, for example.
Chuck Williams: Okay. I don't know, somehow, I got to get into this Institute before we ...
Mason Funk: Okay. Let's do that then. [crosstalk]
Chuck Williams: We really should do that because all three of them relate to the Institute.
Mason Funk: Okay. Okay. Let's go there. What is The Williams Institute, for those who have never heard of it, and what led you to decide to take this step?
Chuck Williams: [00:57:30] Okay. I funded and founded The Williams Project, it was called, and it is a think tank at UCLA. It's in the School of Law and the background of it was I was working on my Will and Trust because I was beginning to accumulate money and you got to take care of it if you die,
Chuck Williams: [00:58:00] even if you don't while you're alive. Anyway, I was working on that and when you do it you see, well, you're going to do some things for people and then if there's something left, what are you going to do with it? I said I'd like to do something with some money that's left after people are taken care of.
Chuck Williams: [00:58:30] I have never been one that worked on charity operations that a lot of people do and I'm not belittling it at all. It's no question about it, there's something good feeling to go out and find somebody on the street, pick them up, take them in for dinner, and give them a bed to sleep in. My position is, I want to find out how they got there and why,
Chuck Williams: [00:59:00] rather than the other approach. Therefore, I said, if I'm going to do something and I decide I want to do with some money, do something for society, well, who? Well, the society is, the one I'm interested in is mine, which is the gay and lesbian society. Okay, then, what do you want to do? My thing is I'd like to try to end discrimination,
Chuck Williams: [00:59:30] which is prevalent throughout everything, legal, judicial, regulatory, society itself, all of that. I want to try to help reduce that or solve it so I said you need a think tank, somebody that's going to really study the issue and see what they can come up with. Okay, so I was going to ...
Chuck Williams: [01:00:00] I had a guy working for me and he made a survey of all the major ... and I said I wanted it at a university because it's cleaner if it's at a university and the issue's dirty in the eyes of many people. I wanted to be at a university plus you get the advantage of having some brilliant minds around. Anyway ...
Mason Funk: [01:00:30] Wait til it stops ringing. Let's wait for the phone to stop ringing.
Chuck Williams: It'll stop.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Chuck Williams: In due course. I don't want to answer it anyway.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Chuck Williams: That's it.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Chuck Williams: Now, I hope we can't hear them talk.
Mason Funk: No. I think when we were upstairs ... sure ... we'll wait until we're sure. Yeah.
Chuck Williams: [01:01:00] Nope.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Chuck Williams: Start over. Supreme Court, maybe I'll get ... I've been in the White House. I've met the President, not this one, and I've met, personally,
Chuck Williams: [01:01:30] three out of the nine Supreme Court Justices. It's really great people.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Chuck Williams: All right. Back to this.
Mason Funk: Yeah. You ... the change you wanted to bring was to address the root causes in a way.
Chuck Williams: Right, and so ...
Mason Funk: Oh, and you wanted to align yourself with a university.
Chuck Williams: Yeah, and be in a university. I said, okay, we'll give some money to somebody that's doing this
Chuck Williams: [01:02:00] and we did the study and there are none. I said, "Well, then we'll have to start one." That became ...
Mason Funk: Tell me ... sorry. Just let me interrupt you. When you say give someone ... give money to someone who's doing this?
Chuck Williams: Having a think tank.
Mason Funk: But a think tank specifically about what?
Chuck Williams: Gay and lesbian rights. All of the rights.
Mason Funk: Maybe just, let's kind of reset a little bit by having you say something like, "I decided I wanted to set up a think tank
Mason Funk: [01:02:30] to focus on the legal system and how it effects gays and lesbian," or however you want to put it so just give me that sentence and then carry on.
Chuck Williams: Yeah. When I said I wanted a think tank, there's a lot of caveats around that. I didn't want to do a think tank, put in a social science environment where they're thinking about thinking. It had to be practical in nature and that's why I decided to put it in a law school because, regardless of what you think of lawyers,
Chuck Williams: [01:03:00] they're practical. That says, Do what? That says do research to affect change in the legal society and the laws of the country all the way up to the Supreme Court, whatever. It also includes such things as what we're doing in planning for that.
Chuck Williams: [01:03:30] Example, the judges that are currently, at the time, were currently judging cases related to gay and lesbian issues, never had a course on gay law, law relating to gays so I have to teach judges and that had to be a part of this think tank thing. You look at the legislators,
Chuck Williams: [01:04:00] they're passing laws every day and some of them don't have a knowledge, understanding, of what's going on and what could go on and so we've got to bring that up and teach them. You look at the question of having people that are in Congress or in state legislators, why are they there? They're not just there to beat up on gays and lesbian
Chuck Williams: [01:04:30] so we got to teach them how not to do that. All of that is combined into a question of think tank, my words, these are my words, not what somebody else would say, and put it together and demonstrate what to do. I said, "Okay, we'll have to start one." My criteria for starting one was being at a university,
Chuck Williams: [01:05:00] being a university that has a background of knowing what's going on in society as opposed to just teaching from the book. That's a big one. We went to 15 universities with the request for proposal, here's what we want and we want you to give us a proposal on what you'd do. I had a guy working for me doing all that
Chuck Williams: [01:05:30] and then we got an answer from all of them and all 15 wanted it to lesser degrees here and there so I narrowed it down to three universities, Harvard, Stanford, and UCLA. My bias was to have it at Harvard because at Harvard it must be right. Of course, it could be perceived as very good but I got into situations
Chuck Williams: [01:06:00] after I met with people at Harvard that it didn't work well. Stanford and UCLA and I am an alumnus at UCLA but that had nothing to do with it. A lot of reasons but one of the big ones was the Dean at the Law School was excited, not just interested, excited about it and they put together an excellent proposal, which really helped.
Chuck Williams: [01:06:30] I don't have to pay for gardening or for light fixtures or for water cleaning the floor or for all that stuff or even the space. I don't pay. That's an advantage. Then, the other part that all this came to be ... I wanted to meet with the Chancellor of the university because I didn't want somebody waking up and saying, "What are we doing with this queer stuff,"
Chuck Williams: [01:07:00] and so I had lunch with him and he finished and stood up and he said, "This is an issue who's time has come," and from then on he gave speeches all over the place, all over in the country saying that. Then I met with the President of the university system and he agreed and then I said I want to meet with the Committee of the Board of Regions and they agreed
Chuck Williams: [01:07:30] so I said, "It's done. We'll do it," and that's why we got it at UCLA.
Mason Funk: What is it?
Kate Kunath: Let's get some [inaudible].
Mason Funk: Do you know what that sound is?
Kate Kunath: Hold on. Just give it a second.
Mason Funk: Okay. Just one second.
Chuck Williams: Did Stu come home?
Kate Kunath: Waiting on the siren to get out of the background too. It'll help if ...
Mason Funk: Yeah. If they need to mix it. Okay.
Chuck Williams: Is it okay?
Mason Funk: [01:08:00] Yeah, we just need to be quiet. It's a weird thing but we're recording the sound of that, whatever that sound is.
Chuck Williams: You want me to get up and try to find it?
Mason Funk: There. It's off. Okay. We're good.
Chuck Williams: Maybe somebody flushed the toilet.
Mason Funk: Maybe. The gardener's been waiting the entire time. Okay. UCLA made you the offer
Mason Funk: [01:08:30] that felt like the best offer. They weren't going to charge you for office space and watering the lawn and so on.
Chuck Williams: Right, and so ... seven, 18 years ago made the decision and then put it into place the following year, roughly 17 years ago. It might have been a little off on that. I made an investment of two and a half million, which is, at that time,
Chuck Williams: [01:09:00] no one in the country ever gave two and a half million for gay and lesbian stuff. At all. Anywhere. Never been heard of, which made it interesting I guess. Anyway, so we went in there and we started it. The first I needed to do was hire an Executive Director. Two and a half million doesn't buy you much
Chuck Williams: [01:09:30] in terms of space or ... we didn't have to pay for space but in terms of doing anything, programmatic work, and plus I had another whole bunch of criteria. We had to have an endowment. Why do you have to have an endowment? Because people say how long are you going to be in existence, you just opened the door, and if you have some little endowment at least then your strategy is to build a bigger endowment. I said, we want to have 20 million endowment when we're 10 years old,
Chuck Williams: [01:10:00] and we did. We now have about 30 billion, million, not billion. Anyway, then everything we did had to be first class so if we did anything, did a report, printed it, sent it, mailed it, took it, the paperwork, everything has to be first class because, again, we're not going to be sloppy. We're going to help
Chuck Williams: [01:10:30] all sides of society, gay and lesbian society, not picking on anyone or saying that's better, lesbians are not as good as gays and gays are all that. Never deviate from that. We started to hire a new ... hire an ED, Executive Director,
Chuck Williams: [01:11:00] and there was a really sharp guy, young man, that came into being. He was teaching at UCLA but not as a professor, as an adjunct, and his name is Brad Sears. He went to work for us, what is now 17 years ago. Still there.
Chuck Williams: [01:11:30] He's been great. He started out and he had an office that was a closet and we cut a hole in the wall so he could see out in the door. That's what we started with, which is a long way from where we are today. What do you want me to do? Go through becoming an Institute ...
Mason Funk: [01:12:00] Let me ...
Chuck Williams: Or you want me to talk about people?
Mason Funk: Well, I think you've given us a good idea of what the Institute ... I guess I would ask you, in general, since you founded it up until today, 17 years or so, how has the Institute's mission expanded and changed or not changed? Just give me a sense of how it's evolved up until the present.
Chuck Williams: Sure. It started out as a project.
Mason Funk: The Institute, The Williams Institute.
Chuck Williams: [01:12:30] Yeah, which was the name it was given because it was so little.
Mason Funk: Right.
Chuck Williams: You couldn't be sure what it was going to be. That's the university speaking now, so we said okay. Then I said, "Well, in five years we'll be an Institute," and that was the strategy. We made it in four. That means that you're doing more work and you've got more people and you have more money and you're broadening your focus of what you're doing
Chuck Williams: [01:13:00] because you can do it. That became an Institute. Now, we're called an Institute forever. We started out with an operating budget of 100 thousand a year. We're at 4.8 million today. We started out with two million in endowment. We're at 40 today, 35,
Chuck Williams: [01:13:30] 30 to 40 depending on what we count. We're getting a lot in next week. The Institute has really accomplished a massive amount in terms of what we do. I mention that we teach people who are currently in law. We teach people who are judges. We teach people who are legislators.
Chuck Williams: [01:14:00] They all have to go to school and they get credits for going to school, all of them, and we get in with the teachers and we have a class on us. We have a guy that just does that full-time and we have looked at what kinds of research is necessary to help win a case,
Chuck Williams: [01:14:30] talking about the legal case. The classic example of this was a case called Lawrence V. Texas and that case was a case in which two guys went to bed together in the privacy of their apartment and were arrested and were convicted for having sex. That's what they did.
Chuck Williams: [01:15:00] They were convicted all the way up through the Circuit Courts and it went to the US Supreme Court. We got involved in that when it started ... we knew it was going to go to the Supreme Court because of the way it went through the Circuits. Anyway, we got together, pro bono, that means people, law firms that will help us, 28 law firms,
Chuck Williams: [01:15:30] and we had our staff of four people in Texas. We were studying what gays or lesbians are doing in every county in Texas. There are doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, they sell newspapers, anything they do. A lot, almost the majority,
Chuck Williams: [01:16:00] of those things that one might do requires the rights of the state. Example, if you're going to be a hairdresser, you have to license to be a hairdresser from the state. All kinds of things like that. You couldn't get such a thing if you were proven ... These things are felonies. This was a felony case for having sex in their home.
Chuck Williams: [01:16:30] It went that way that you couldn't get a job if they knew that you had a felony. Okay, we had got all ... we got a book showing every single county and how many people there were, estimates. We had to find at least one or we couldn't make an estimate. We found two counties that didn't have anybody. No gays or lesbians in two counties,
Chuck Williams: [01:17:00] had only about four people but anyway, that went and we presented all that to the Supreme Court. Amicus brief is what it's called. We also had a guy working on it that worked for us who had been a clerk for Kennedy, Justice Kennedy. Well, that's a great tie in. We presented it.
Chuck Williams: [01:17:30] Long story short, they ruled in our favor. They said that law is not valid and not only is it not valid but the prior ruling, which is Bowers, is the name of it, was invalid when they ruled it at the Supreme Court so here's the Supreme Court ruling that not only said, this is no good but everything we've done about it is no good. I said that's where we won a war.
Chuck Williams: [01:18:00] Really did. It was very exciting and it got us significant ... because we were quoted in the Supreme Court ruling ... we were very, very changed in how big we were, how strong we were, and how much money we could raise, the whole bit as a result of the Lawrence Case.
Chuck Williams: [01:18:30] We then opened up an office in New York and we opened up an office in Washington DC where we still have significant offices. We expanded all of our fundraising expertise and that stuff. Our dinner, our big dinner every year cost $5,000 to go to dinner, which you can join us on Thursday, Friday this week.
Chuck Williams: [01:19:00] Just a whole thing opened. What didn't make it easier, we still had these enormous tasks but that's how it really got going and we have continued to do all of the things we started to do, focusing on every level, regulatory, that's extremely important too, and the laws that you can just pass without voting on them.
Chuck Williams: [01:19:30] That happened and we continued to have the same mission. Our byline is "Research that matters" and I think that's valid. We still have the same rules, the same strategy, the same mission,
Chuck Williams: [01:20:00] and we have been being forced to try to readdress that but we have not.
Mason Funk: What do you mean that last part? You've been ...
Chuck Williams: Well, there have been people that have tried to say that we should be doing other things. The only thing we've done that's big that we didn't mention anywhere early on was we do work internationally as well but that is small compared to the domestic.
Mason Funk: [01:20:30] Okay. Give a second. Technically, we're just going to swap out ... Lawrence V Texas, 2003. Okay. I was pretty close but it sounds ... that sounds like an incredible validation. Holy moly.
Chuck Williams: Yeah, it was, and it was in the magnitude of our work. We had 28 pro bono firms
Chuck Williams: [01:21:00] and we only had four people. They were all ... too funny.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Chuck Williams: Very humbling.
Mason Funk: I would have thought that it made you feel proud.
Chuck Williams: Oh yeah.
Mason Funk: But humble at the same time.
Chuck Williams: Well, humbling that we managed to do it with so little resource but proud in terms of what we did. Oh yeah. Amazing, and it really was exciting
Chuck Williams: [01:21:30] when it came out and the way it came out because, as I said, it not only ruled on that case, it said all the other cases, Bowers, were a pile of shit. Invalid.
Mason Funk: Wow. Well, that's very exciting. That gets my blood flowing.
Chuck Williams: Yeah, mine too.
Mason Funk: Congratulations because that's quite a mighty accomplishment.
Mason Funk: [01:22:00] Let me go back to my list of questions and see where we're at. Maybe it'll make sense to ... you want to talk about those three guys.
Chuck Williams: Sure. Sure.
Mason Funk: You already talked briefly about Brad Sears.
Chuck Williams: Sure. When I'm looking back over these years of the Institute, which now is 17 years or something like that, there's several people that I would say had significant influence on me personally
Chuck Williams: [01:22:30] and/or The Institute in general. One of whom is the Executive Director, Brad Sears. Brad Sears, this year, is deciding to step down, but not out. He's going to continue to work for the institute -- forever, I guess, I hope so -- but as a senior researcher, not as the manager, executive manager, but he's been the executive director up until we find a new one,
Chuck Williams: [01:23:00] which has not yet happened. He came into this thing as a very brilliant man all the way through. If you said, what time is it, he's going to tell you how to make a clock. He's brilliant in that way. He also is very personable. He has a personality and charm that you hope someone has that represents me or it,
Chuck Williams: [01:23:30] my institute, because he represents me. He and I often are interviewed together. We very rarely go interview alone like this. We're like a little team that can answer anything because he knows a lot more about the details than I do so it does work. He has gone before Congress and testified before
Chuck Williams: [01:24:00] the judicial committee and all kinds of committees and was well-received on the Employment Non-discrimination Bill. We got it through the Senate and he was the one that got it through the Senate. He drafted it. He presented it. He did all the work personally because it was such a big deal.
Chuck Williams: [01:24:30] Of course, it never got to the other house. I say, of course but it never got across the other house. He is ... he came in with an understanding of the law because he taught Constitutional Law but with a great desire to study what that meant on a given case or in a given ... whatever's going on in society,
Chuck Williams: [01:25:00] whatever. He had a great presence with the press, which is good. He didn't know much about managing and that was my job to teach and to counsel and to advise. We worked like an intimate team and have all those years. When he has a question on management-ish stuff
Chuck Williams: [01:25:30] then I'm for it because that's all I know, is how to manage. It's been a good team. He's well-respected throughout the movement. You can't go to anybody that doesn't know him that's involved in all this stuff. He goes to those committee meetings in Washington that they have for the movement people and all of that so he's been excellent.
Chuck Williams: [01:26:00] He advises a lot of people, a lot of our younger people and people that have come in. We bring people in to learn how to ... we have a thing that we hire ... somebody that has gone to law school, has graduated from law school, and who has the desire to be a professor,
Chuck Williams: [01:26:30] and we bring them in for two years and they, in the Institute, they will be teaching under the hospices of either Brad himself or as a faculty member, and they'll be doing a research project and then they'll present the research project and Brad monitors all of that. We have two of those all the time. We started this thing ... there were 20 professors in The United States ...
Kate Kunath: [01:27:00] Say that one more time. Sorry.
Mason Funk: Say, when we started this thing there were 20.
Chuck Williams: We started this thing, there were 20 professors in The United States that taught Constitutional Law relating to gay and lesbian activities. We have graduated 19 so we've almost upped to doubling it. It doesn't sound like a lot but doubling it sounds like a lot and it's so important.
Chuck Williams: [01:27:30] Need these professors teaching. Anyway, Brad has been responsible for the organizational structure to do that. We have grown immensely in terms of everything we do, numbers of people, helps with fundraising. He's great toward the end of the line on fundraising. He and I can do a pretty good team on fundraising
Chuck Williams: [01:28:00] and he's just a very, very interesting, strong, bright person. I haven't seen anyone that has his calibers, especially someone with a law background and also his intellectual capacity and his willingness to stop and think. He never blurts it out. He's one of the guys that I think is great.
Mason Funk: [01:28:30] How about Tim Gill?
Chuck Williams: Tim Gill. Tim Gill is the founder and principal of the Gill Foundation. The Gill Foundation is the largest foundation that gives money to gays and lesbian causes, largest meaning the most money. Tim Gill made a lot of money in the computer business and then sold it
Chuck Williams: [01:29:00] and then he kept some for himself and the rest went into The Gill Foundation. That has been a magnitude of things. The Gill Foundation, Tim Gill himself, has been intimately involved. He's less involved today because he got married and his husband is doing more of the work but he has been directly involved
Chuck Williams: [01:29:30] in all of the strategies from up until more recently, less so because he's looking at a new business venture. Anyway, he's a charming guy. He's very, almost simple in the way he acts and speaks and everything. He isn't a great speaker but he gets his point across and he cares dearly about the subject and the subject is discrimination.
Chuck Williams: [01:30:00] He's put an enormous amount of money into this thing and with a lot of care of what's going on. He first started out, and with the Executive Director that they had at the time and all these other things, but he first started out with saying, "Let's pick as many as we can,
Chuck Williams: [01:30:30] start-up organizations that are going to be in this field and we'll give them $75 thousand," so they did, lots of them and most of them were dead the following year for a lot of reasons. There's a lot of inadequacies in gays and lesbian organizations in general.
Chuck Williams: [01:31:00] He saw after, I think less than two years anyway, this doesn't work. It's just not working so they changed directors and all that. Then they said, "Okay, we're going to find two or three or four and really fund them and help them out and hopefully not screw up," and that was a better strategy really. He has more to it than just this part of it.
Chuck Williams: [01:31:30] The other is he brings together politicians and tries to decide who to vote for and that goes out another arm, 513-C and 5134, and that one is equally brilliantly managed in terms of what they're doing. Back to this one. We got in at $200 thousand, which was our ... big money for us at that time
Chuck Williams: [01:32:00] and we have been in $400 thousand a year for many years since then because of the two things. One of them is his continuing strength to helping pick something and stick with it and make sure that it's working, audit the hell out of them, make sure that it's really good, see what's going on but if it's working, we'll keep funding.
Chuck Williams: [01:32:30] That's been very nice to us. That's a big ... we weren't getting a lot of million dollar donations. So his insight into that and following it and launching ad changing managers and all that, a lot of changes, but anyway, seeing to it that his strategy is being implemented is a sign of his excellence.
Chuck Williams: [01:33:00] He cares, he's involved, and he will make sure that what he wants to do, vis a vis this, is done. I admire him greatly. He's a good friend. Prop 8, when Prop 8 was going on in California,
Chuck Williams: [01:33:30] he doesn't really like California ... I don't want to say this but he doesn't like California and he doesn't like the "show biz" but, boy, he said, "You got to raise money for this Prop 8 thing," and he came out here and gave a talk to the five biggest donors and richest ... And all of them were there except for one, who Tim doesn't speak to or about,
Chuck Williams: [01:34:00] but then they really pushed the whole thing and Tim sent one of his best people out to work, to manage Prop 8 at the end, too late but anyway. I'm saying his breadth of understanding and involvement is really great and he cares deeply about all of it.
Chuck Williams: [01:34:30] He's also very careful. One of the major organizations he found out by having people generate all his knowledge, about 40% of the money they raise is used for fundraising and that's obscene. We run eight percent. It can be done. Anyway, he said, "You fix this. You get no more money from this organization at all,
Chuck Williams: [01:35:00] not a dollar, and I can see to it a lot of organizations would agree to that." They changed. You can imagine. He looked at what he could do to help the whole schmear so he's a very good man. Great guy. Likes to ski. He's constantly skiing. Got married about three, four years ago.
Chuck Williams: [01:35:30] I forget when but I said he was telling me he's going to get married. I said, "You better hire a lot of attorneys first," and he said, "I did."
Mason Funk: A good friend of mine who has been one of my advisors on this project works for him in their DC office, runs their policy, Gautam Raghavan.
Chuck Williams: No, I don't know him.
Mason Funk: He was Obama's liaison for three years to the LGBT community and now he works for Gill.
Chuck Williams: [01:36:00] Yeah. Okay. I know who he is.
Mason Funk: Really super guy. He and I went to Stanford together.
Chuck Williams: Yeah?
Mason Funk: Not together. He's much younger than I but we both went to Stanford.
Chuck Williams: Same thing.
Mason Funk: That's how I know him. Same difference.
Chuck Williams: It's a good school.
Mason Funk: How about David Bonnette?
Chuck Williams: David Bonnette was the first of the five, there's five who are the A List in gay monies, the first of the five that I ever spoke to
Chuck Williams: [01:36:30] and I got him interested. He became very interested and very caring about us, specifically us, not in general. We have an event, at first it was in L.A. only but no L.A., Washington, and New York, which is our major fundraiser. It's a whole day thing roughly
Chuck Williams: [01:37:00] and we talk about what's going on. It's an update of what's happening around the country, around the issues, and then there's a reception. Oh, and then there's a moot court. We're the only ones that has a moot court in the country on gay and lesbian subject and they have students. We started out, there was six schools that came, now it's 48. This current year is 48 schools sending people and going through the [inaudible].
Chuck Williams: [01:37:30] Anyway, the moot court and then after that a VIP dinner or Founders dinner and it's 5,000. We start in L.A. we started at 5,000, it's remained at 5,000, even though there's been pressure to reduce it not raise it. In the first ... I've always said that I don't understand people having these big events
Chuck Williams: [01:38:00] at the Waldorf Astoria and spending all their money on a hotel and that so we have them at somebody's house, somebody's nice house, of course. The first one was at David Bonnette's house and that's a major statement he had about 50 people or 75, now it's up to 100 come there and that's not easy to deal with
Chuck Williams: [01:38:30] and David said he would help out because he knew we couldn't really afford all the booze and all the food so he had the waiters and he helped with all of that and it was the first time anybody of stature had said, "I care about these guys and I'm bringing them in to my house with all their people." David, ever since then has been extremely good friend of mine
Chuck Williams: [01:39:00] but also [inaudible]. If I want to know something I call and ask him. You don't call him directly. You send him an email and say I'd like to call you. He's busy now on new projects and has broadened what he does but his major things are he's got the philharmonic and he's got all this stuff going on
Chuck Williams: [01:39:30] but he's always there whenever we need him. He's not standing ... His guys that work for him in this field do a little scouting around and if they give you money, they'll follow up and see what you're doing with it but, in general, David himself is sort of like I'll do it, I'll let you know.
Chuck Williams: [01:40:00] He calls and says, "Hey, how about this," and it's just amazing. He's a wonderful person. He's really a good guy. He and Tim tend to be more mentors of mine than ... Brad's more my buddy but ...
Mason Funk: [01:40:30] Wow. Those are some great stories and some great guys. Needless to say, I've heard their names many, many, many times and such ...
Chuck Williams: You have?
Mason Funk: Oh yeah. Well, [crosstalk] Brad ...
Chuck Williams: Which? Who?
Mason Funk: Because I feel like he's more off in your legal world but ...
Chuck Williams: Not true. Broader than legal.
Mason Funk: He's not the guy who founded Out Leadership, is he?
Chuck Williams: No.
Mason Funk: Okay. There's a new organization and I thought it was the same name but it's clearly not. Certainly, Tim Gill, I've had conversations with my friend, Gautum,
Mason Funk: [01:41:00] about would the Gill Foundation ever be interested in OUTWORDS because this is a going conversation that we're having and similarly, David Bonnette, I know his chief guy, Michael Flemming.
Chuck Williams: Michael Flemming, yeah.
Mason Funk: He and I actually lived in the same apartment building for a little while earlier this year and [crosstalk] ...
Chuck Williams: Michael ...
Mason Funk: Have had Michael and I and Louis and my partner have had conversations and he's just given me encouragement, "Don't give up. We're not going to fund you yet but don't give up," and so that's been enough [inaudible] ...
Chuck Williams: [01:41:30] That's pretty good because usually he pulls through on that.
Mason Funk: Yeah. I hope so. I hope so. We'll have a conversation later about ... because I'd love to hear your thoughts on my organization because we're still so much in our infancy ...
Chuck Williams: Sure. Sure.
Mason Funk: But those names are just ... it's heartening to hear those names and those individuals talked about because of everything they've done for our community.
Chuck Williams: Yeah. They have.
Mason Funk: It's refreshing.
Chuck Williams: Tim's by far the largest in that sense but Jon Stryker in Arcus,
Chuck Williams: [01:42:00] he's a sweetheart of a guy too. He's much less personally involved. He's got other things. He likes apes. Off the record, is this still on the record?
Mason Funk: You're going to get a chance to take anything off the record that you want to.
Chuck Williams: Anyway, one time he asked me how many people he thought I should ... how many people I thought he should have to run his foundation,
Chuck Williams: [01:42:30] The Arcus Foundation, and I said, well, he has Kalamazoo, which was where the factory started and everything and ... if you're a gay in Kalamazoo, you've got it made, believe me. You got to have money to take care of Kalamazoo because if you can go to college, Kalamazoo, Arcus Kalamazoo will pay for it. Anyway, I say you probably need three or four people there.
Chuck Williams: [01:43:00] Then, the apes is his big thing and I always say to myself, "How much money does bananas cost," but it's much broader than that. To hear him talk about the whole field, it's a lot ... it's everything else around the world not just in Africa. It's operated out of London so I said, "You probably have to have 10 people flying around and skirtsing around,"
Chuck Williams: [01:43:30] and then the rest is predominantly human rights, gay and lesbian related at the home office, which is now, it used to be in Kalamazoo but it's in New York. He needed somebody in finances and I counted up about 10 people for that and the inspectors, program managers, they call them.
Chuck Williams: [01:44:00] He put it together and he got maybe 30. I don't know. I told him, I said, "Jon, I've never had the problem of how to give away hundreds of millions of dollars." He's a billionaire so, "Okay, but I hear you," so he fired the ...
Chuck Williams: [01:44:30] because he had 78 people and he got down to 35 or 40 or something. Just whap, whap, whap with a new ED but he's a beautiful guy but he's not ... he cares and is involved but he's ... when they run low on money, throws 100 million over the wall or something but he doesn't really stay deep into it.
Chuck Williams: [01:45:00] He cares about the Institute though but ... Arcus is, they're a good donor but Jon is a good friend of mine and therefore I like him a lot. He's just a nice guy. He's just ... he rides his bike to go to ... when he goes to dinner in New York, he rides his bike to dinner, locks it up outside,
Chuck Williams: [01:45:30] and that's Jon. He says, "What my hobby is ... I like to collect houses." He doesn't talk money or anything like that. He's a regular guy but he bought a Frank Lloyd Wright house here in L.A. and I said, "What are you doing with that?
Chuck Williams: [01:46:00] Why did you come out here," "Well, I like houses. I don't know." Okay. He comes out to see his Frank Lloyd Wright house. Sometimes, not much, but he has somebody to ... I said, "How many estate managers do you have?" "Quite a few."
Mason Funk: Wow. Wow. Well, let me ask you, shifting topics a little bit because I wanted to talk to you about marriage equality in terms of, I would be very curious to know
Mason Funk: [01:46:30] when you first began to think about marriage equality and if you thought it was a good idea or a bad idea and your thoughts on that as a legal issue? We all celebrate that we've achieved it but it was a dicey thing for some people as to whether it was a good idea or a bad idea and I would love to hear your thoughts on that.
Chuck Williams: Yeah. When there was the beginning of that, M Wilson, I thought he was nuts.
Chuck Williams: [01:47:00] He and I were both being honored by some organization, I forget, and we were getting some more crystal pieces and he spoke and I spoke because we both were being honored. He spoke with this conviction that we should have marriage next week and I thought, "Is he nuts?" I said, off record,
Chuck Williams: [01:47:30] "You got to walk before you run and you're trying to do a ... trying to win a 400 meter race and it's just not going to happen." Anyway, he certainly proved me wrong in a sense of being able to organize for it. My feeling after it was becoming an issue was I felt strongly
Chuck Williams: [01:48:00] that you have to walk before you run, that you got to go through these stages and it can't worry about being marriage because it's too much of a problem emotionally with the population. Lord knows, the last thing you can do is ever have an election on marriage, in my opinion. I still believe that. Anyway, the thing I felt was that you got to do what would be the simplest, easiest, first thing.
Chuck Williams: [01:48:30] How about some little rights? Give people some little rights and make that phase one and then keep going to the final phases. That's pretty much what I thought. In California, have you lived here all the time?
Mason Funk: No, but for the past 24 years.
Chuck Williams: [01:49:00] Oh, well, you've been here. In California, we had a case of the two ladies, lesbian ladies, lived in an apartment house and one of whom came home with the groceries and was eaten by a dog. There was a dog, neighboring apartment, two of them actually, came roaring out, jumped the girl, and physically ate her.
Chuck Williams: [01:49:30] They had no rights at all, zero. They couldn't, the surviving partner couldn't sue for wrongful death. That simple thing. I said, "The population or the judges or the legislature or whomever the hell we're talking about cannot let that pass.
Chuck Williams: [01:50:00] You cannot say that ... you throw something this gorish in their face and say, 'And nobody has any rights to complain?'" The cops that came out had to go to some sort of psychiatric help because of the obscene picture that they got of picking up parts. That was my thinking, that you got to look at that.
Chuck Williams: [01:50:30] Second part of my thinking was, we formed, we had a meeting. The dog thing hadn't happened yet just about a day later. We had this meeting at the Institute and we had representatives of everything. The activists, the most active activists. We had lawyers. We had judges.
Chuck Williams: [01:51:00] We had everybody that you could think of represented in this room for a day. I sat there in the back of the room. It was Brad's thing. You could imagine the violent difference of opinions. That's where the difference of opinion, I didn't know there could be so many that were extremely different across that spectrum.
Chuck Williams: [01:51:30] They came out and they agreed, by a consensus, that we should start right away with getting people some rights. Call it what you will, don't call it marriage and maybe even community property things are different but you know what I mean,
Chuck Williams: [01:52:00] give it any nice, sweet name. That was agreed to by that group. Individually they went back to their constituency, and then the next day or two, the dogs ate the girl and we went right straight to the ... we never are activists. That's not our role but we went and we ... I went myself to the state legislature.
Chuck Williams: [01:52:30] Brad was ... we went there and stayed until they passed a bill, which was three days. Three days they passed a bill to give the right to sue if your partner's eaten, not that bad but wrongful death. That was one time that we saw the Institute doing something specific
Chuck Williams: [01:53:00] but I think the key to that was that my thinking got firmer in that, yeah, we should think about marriage. Not now but in general, later, and we should also make sure that we are moving steps. We proposed legislature every six months giving a new right and
Chuck Williams: [01:53:30] we had a strategy and we had ... we did the research, said here's what it means, means more, means less, and that time if anything costs money, you couldn't do it. If you had to have another toilet you couldn't have one. We did a study. First of all the legislature did a study, not the legislature but the Department of Finance
Chuck Williams: [01:54:00] or whatever it's called, did a study and it said the proposed bill would cost money, some dollars, whatever it was, not a lot but maybe a million or two. That's it. We can't do it because we don't have any money. We, UCLA, we had an economist, still do have an economist on our staff and did a whole economic analysis of how much this is going to cost
Chuck Williams: [01:54:30] and looking at the people coming and going and all of that stuff. Long story short, that came out and it'll save the state about four million, something, whatever it was. It was printed in a big book, beautiful, UCLA stamped all over the cover and that was sent and given to the state.
Chuck Williams: [01:55:00] The state in their first hearings after that arrived, they said that UCLA's done this magnificent report and they know more about it than these other people do and so we'll accept that. From then on, it was okay. We could do a whole bunch of bills. We got on that same thing. It was delving back in to the what you can do.
Chuck Williams: [01:55:30] That helped me, helped us to really put together another strategy, which was to use this template to go state to state. We went, every state, and people were calling us, "Hey come," and we would get press releases for Iowa or Montana or wherever because it would be a press release in that newspaper,
Chuck Williams: [01:56:00] in the Daily Gazette, whatever it is. That helped us get more presence across the ... not all the country but much of the country, not the total south, nothing you can do there. I don't think. Anyway, that worked as a template program and I think we did 40, I think it was 40 states,
Chuck Williams: [01:56:30] analysis of how much it would cost them to do this, which was nothing. It made money. Then we went from there, the Prop 8 thing came in the middle. Prop 8 did a lot of damage to fundraising because ... I had parties here for monied people to give money to Prop 8,
Chuck Williams: [01:57:00] not to the Institute, and everybody else had given significant money, said I can't give any more money, I'm giving it to Prop 8. It hurt that and it also hurt because we lost so lovely and we were terribly managed. We lost.
Chuck Williams: [01:57:30] People less sophisticated get discouraged easily, especially on gay stuff. Then we had a lot to do, in fact, the testimony before the state Supreme Court, which is where it went to win ...
Chuck Williams: [01:58:00] the expert witness testimony was our research director and she did a brilliant job. If you remember that case, the other side had an idiot that was ... I shouldn't say that they were an idiot but had a very incompetent person on the other side and our expert witness just plowed them under. We did a lot on that stage.
Chuck Williams: [01:58:30] The question about we helped with the Supreme Court case, the ultimate case, not Prop 8, and we were quoted in the ruling of the Supreme Court. Our work was quoted. A whole bunch of research, we did piles of research.
Chuck Williams: [01:59:00] We were quoted several places and Justice Kennedy was telling them we were great. We knew what we were talking about. Then, I think, part of the question of marriage is do I think it's good or not in general and I think it is. I think it's good because it gives us another place to be normal,
Chuck Williams: [01:59:30] not be weird. I think it's ... I worry sometimes because a lot of the young people, and everybody is younger than me so I'm not counting that, are getting married because, "Oh, I think I'll have a baby and get married," and I don't think that's good. I think you have to live together a few years
Chuck Williams: [02:00:00] and then have a baby and get married or get married and have a baby or whatever sequence you like. I have friends that I said to the two guys, they have two dogs and they have a dog walker and all that and said, "Well, we can get a nanny if we might want to go to Europe," they have a lot of money. Anyway, want to go to Europe or whatever they want to do
Chuck Williams: [02:00:30] and I said, "Dogs and nannies are very different," to their face. I mean it. Also, they get upset with each other so they have an apartment for one of them and a house for the other. When they get upset, they move there. I said, "You can't do that. You can't talk about having a kid until you've been living in the same house for a couple years, at least,
Chuck Williams: [02:01:00] then you can get a kid." They're already married so that's taken care of. I see that kind of thing happening more than once or twice. I think it's a concern but I don't know that there's anything that you can do about that concern.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Chuck Williams: Really. We're doing some studies on it. That may help.
Mason Funk: Do you worry at all about the fact that marriage equality in the end was, of course, passed by the Supreme Court
Mason Funk: [02:01:30] and relatively few states at that point had passed marriage equality and so some people feel like that's just not the right way to get such a fundamental right?
Chuck Williams: Yeah. It's a troubled thing because part of the country or the part of the states that would love to tear it up use this as a good excuse. "Well, it's this damn justice system, the high powered Supreme Court.
Chuck Williams: [02:02:00] Another reason we got to change Presidents so we can change justices." I know it is an argument and I think there are people holding court under that argument that it isn't really meaningful and we should have a vote of the people or something. I do not believe at all that it's right for the majority
Chuck Williams: [02:02:30] to vote on the rights of the minority. I think that's an obscene thought. If you can think of any major rights question would it have been an existence by voting for the rights of the minority by the majority. Just wrong. That doesn't make people want to give up the idea. Those that have the idea
Chuck Williams: [02:03:00] want to stick with it and that gets back to the states because the individual state that didn't have the law ...
Mason Funk: Excuse me.
Chuck Williams: Approve ... I think ... I only hope that time, there will be enough time before they get something before
Chuck Williams: [02:03:30] the Supreme Court again, which is where it would have to be. You're not going to ... the Supreme Court's not just going to roll over and say, "By the way, I think I'll change my mind." They have to get a good gory case and I'm just hoping that there's enough time that passes that it can become less of an issue or that the number of screaming states diminishes to the point
Chuck Williams: [02:04:00] where it can be okay at the Supreme Court. That's the only place I can see that it can ... you can have people complaining and saying that a should be a vote of the people where you can change the Constitution or something but thank God that's not easy to do. I don't think there's any danger. I think there's a danger. I don't want to say that. I think there is a danger that they could get it through.
Chuck Williams: [02:04:30] If you get the ... I don't want to get into politics but if Trump lasts four years, easily there could be two Supreme Court justices. One we got now plus one more. We got two justices that are really old and Ruth Bader Ginsburg has pancreatic cancer and that's a lethal thing to have but she's survived it for three years already.
Chuck Williams: [02:05:00] If you had two more, I could see a case getting up there and getting it overturned but I only hope that that can't happen in the next four years even if he's changed the court because you got to get the case up there.
Mason Funk: Right. Great. Well.
Chuck Williams: [02:05:30] On that sad note.
Mason Funk: I have four short ... I call it the final four ... the four short final questions.
Chuck Williams: Okay.
Mason Funk: Unfortunately, UCLA's not in it.
Chuck Williams: No Bruins.
Mason Funk: My first final question is if someone came to you and said they were thinking about coming out, whatever that meant to that person at that time, what would be your short words of guidance or wisdom to that person who's about to take that step?
Chuck Williams: [02:06:00] Well, I would say why are you thinking about coming out? Are you ready to come out? Do you feel that you decided that you want to be gay or want to be a lesbian or is somebody forcing this on you? Why are you doing it? If you're doing it of your own free will, then I'd say go for it. I think that it's better to admit to yourself,
Chuck Williams: [02:06:30] number one, and to your friends and family that you're gay because you cut off free dialogue, free discourse, if you don't ... I, for many years, said, "Oh yeah, I went to a party. It was fun." I never said what kind of party. I never said where we went. Why? To anybody, and then later on when you're with your parents and you want to talk about ...
Chuck Williams: [02:07:00] I travel all the time. Stu travels with me all the time. Well, I'm going. That's wrong. My point is you got to be sure that you're saying it for yourself, not because somebody wants you to come out or not because you think it's time but it's time for yourself, yes.
Chuck Williams: [02:07:30] If it is, do it. Really. A friend of mine was going, we're going to have to get some water pretty soon ... a friend of mine was going to a wedding, a family wedding. It was aunts or uncles or somebody. It was in Mammoth and he was driving all the way up there by himself. The car ... he said,
Chuck Williams: [02:08:00] "This is awful. My partner can't come with me. I got to go all the way to Mammoth to go be with all the family by myself," and while he was there one of the people, one of the ladies said, "Oh, Rich, I know you're going to be next. You're going ... the next wedding will be yours. Won't it be," and he said, "No, I'm gay," just like that and did it.
Chuck Williams: [02:08:30] That woman ran to Rich's mother and said, "He said he's gay," and then it went all around and he said, "Yeah, that's right." You know that's an extreme example but it was time.
Mason Funk: Great. Question number two. What is your hope for the future?
Chuck Williams: What is my hope?
Mason Funk: [02:09:00] What is your hope for the future? What do you hope to see in the future?
Chuck Williams: How short [inaudible] future can I hope? I'm extremely disrupted by Trump. To the gay and lesbian thing, just limited to that plus most of the stuff is broader than that so I think the short term is going to be very difficult
Chuck Williams: [02:09:30] and very unhappy. I'm not just picking on him. I'm more concerned he doesn't have talent around him and all that stuff. It's a big thing and I don't think everything he does is wrong and I don't think everything he does will kill us all but a lot of it is terrible. I have friends
Chuck Williams: [02:10:00] that are in that back there that know a lot more about what's going on than I do and they tell me, it's worse than I think. If that's true, what do I think about the near term ... it's a problem. I think also it gives us an opportunity in terms of the organizations like the Institute,
Chuck Williams: [02:10:30] there aren't any others but, anyway, in terms of gay organizations, lesbian organizations that are trying to advance change and I think you see this as an opportunity if you look at it the right way and that is you're going to have to take on some of these issues, you're not going to be afraid of them, you're going to have to know that you're on the right side of history,
Chuck Williams: [02:11:00] you're on the right side of what's right, and even though you may not win, you may scratch some hope. By that, I mean, maybe we'll change some legislators or we'll get some more people involved or we'll get some money or whatever. I think we see opportunities that are going to come out of this in the next years. Hopefully, no more than four
Chuck Williams: [02:11:30] but anyway, but it's certainly beyond because some of this will be going ... filtering on down and I think that's a chance for us to look at what have we not been doing or what have we been doing wrong or what could we do differently and it also gets in to the questions about what I think we need to do, and we're doing a lot of new work in this area,
Chuck Williams: [02:12:00] of looking at the poverty issue and looking at the homeless issue and say, why is it a high percentage of the homeless are gays and lesbians? Much higher than their population percentages, much higher, and that's true across this board of issues.
Mason Funk: Pause for one second. Hello.
Speaker 4: Hi.
Chuck Williams: You can come in. A chance.
Kate Kunath: [02:12:30] Can you say that again real quick?
Chuck Williams: I don't remember what I was saying.
Kate Kunath: I think we're going to see a chance ...
Chuck Williams: I know but what was I talking about?
Mason Funk: I think we got it. I think you basically said, yeah, it's bad in the short term but it's also a bit of a wake up call and it's an opportunity to learn.
Chuck Williams: It is a big opportunity and I have seen cases of that already showing up. Money or interest are being involved.
Chuck Williams: [02:13:00] One of my talks is, as a philanthropist, is you don't want to be a philanthropist that just writes checks. You got to be involved. You got to know what's going on and be a part of it. When that happens you have a chance at looking at what I was just saying ... the people that are poverty stricken or homeless and things. We need to recognize that
Chuck Williams: [02:13:30] that's the case and why are they more percentage wise, gay and lesbians, and what can we do about it?
Mason Funk: Great. Third question. Why is it important to you to tell your story?
Chuck Williams: Because I was asked. I don't know how to say no to most things. No, I think it's important for a couple reasons. Number one,
Chuck Williams: [02:14:00] I'm an example of you can be successful and be gay. There's no question about that. You can get as far as you want to get and be gay or lesbian, and I have lesbian friends that are just as successful as I am. I think that's important because some gays have a little bit of a
Chuck Williams: [02:14:30] complex about the whole question of, "I'm gay. I can't do that," and all that. It's a psyche that still exists and I'm saying that it's good if it can be deviated, lessened. Another reason I think it's important is, the philanthropy part, gays and lesbians are relatively cheap when it comes to giving money to their own cause.
Chuck Williams: [02:15:00] When you look at the amount of money that comes in from gays and lesbians, given the needs, it's really minuscule and that's a mistake. It doesn't mean that everybody ... there's also a general feeling among a lot of younger gays, especially that, "I'm not a millionaire. What the hell? I can't do that." It doesn't take ...
Chuck Williams: [02:15:30] our first event that we ever held raised $10 thousand and that was a big deal. That was at somebody's house in Long Beach and that was people giving five dollars, $10, $20 and it was ...
Mason Funk: Sorry. What Stu's doing in the kitchen is probably a little too noisy for us.
Chuck Williams: [02:16:00] Stu. Hey Stu. Are you ignoring me? Hey Stu. He can't hear in the kitchen.
Mason Funk: Okay. He might have just ... he might have stopped. That might have been the last bit. [crosstalk]
Chuck Williams: Hey Stu. Let me go ... I'll be right back.
Mason Funk: All right. You've got that ... okay, yeah, just duck your head there. All right.
Chuck Williams: [02:16:30] I don't want to say that but ...
Mason Funk: I know. Well, you sort of already said it but go kind of reiterate that and then carry on.
Chuck Williams: Yeah. What I really think is that the gay and lesbian community needs to learn as a cultural thing to donate their time, their effort, and their money. If they did, we'd have it made financially because there's a lot of gay people and lesbian people.
Chuck Williams: [02:17:00] The other part of this though is that they or whomever is a philanthropist, big or little. It's small philanthropy ... statistically, it's a fact, I'm on the Board of Directors of the UCLA Foundation, which has four billion dollars. Okay, so it's a big deal. The fact is that the largest donation you make
Chuck Williams: [02:17:30] is made 15 years after your first donation. That's a statistical fact. Well, I'm not concerned about your largest donation, I'm concerned about everybody giving a little. Maybe it's one less drink at the bar or maybe it's one less party or just it's the piggy bank is full.
Chuck Williams: [02:18:00] It would be great if that would occur. The second part about philanthropy, which I'm now into right now, you cannot be ... it's right to be a philanthropist. I think it's an honor to be a philanthropist but you have to be involved, just writing a check is not philanthropy unless you write such a big check you can ...
Chuck Williams: [02:18:30] I know a few people that could write that big a check but not many. I say to anyone that has said, "I'm going to try it but I don't have time," okay, try a dollar or two and then try an hour.
Mason Funk: Great, that's great advice. My last question is, regarding this project, OUTWORDS, which is really the first attempt to create an archive, not a documentary film
Mason Funk: [02:19:00] but an archive of raw materials, mainly interviews with countless people from all different walks of life in the LGBTQ community, what do you see is the importance of that? And if you can mention OUTWORDS in your answer.
Chuck Williams: I don't know what you do with it. If you have it in a vault somewhere, I don't know. I really don't know but I would say that you should make it available and if that's part of the process ...
Chuck Williams: [02:19:30] and I would say that, to encourage people to thumb through it. It's like reading a book or opening a magazine. If it can be done that way, I just don't know about all that stuff but I think it's invaluable because you might motivate somebody or you might give somebody a vision that they wouldn't have otherwise. You might give somebody a thought process that they wouldn't have otherwise.
Chuck Williams: [02:20:00] We're not all klutzy, all the people you interview but I think that ... you also see divergent types and I think that's good because there's no cookie cutter. I think that your people, what you've done,
Chuck Williams: [02:20:30] they can have an opportunity to see a great diversity of people in all respects, whatever it is, and that's good because somewhere in there I might fit. That's why I think it's nice. Yeah.
Mason Funk: Great.
Chuck Williams: I would say you got to do two things. That is, it's got to get advertised or not advertised but it's got to get spread out
Chuck Williams: [02:21:00] and everybody's got to know about it and some way to know how to get it.
Mason Funk: Absolutely. Yeah. Everything will live online so eventually everyone will be able to search it, watch ...
Chuck Williams: Is that how it will be?
Mason Funk: Yeah. It'll be an online archive.
Chuck Williams: That's the easy way.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Yeah.
Chuck Williams: Well, easier.
Mason Funk: Well, easier, technologically speaking for sure. Anybody, anywhere with a phone or a tablet or a computer can dig around and watch and learn. That's the goal. In fact, that's the goal for this year is to start getting our content up online.
Chuck Williams: [02:21:30] What would you do it on a website?
Mason Funk: Yeah. It would be a website, a searchable website so, literally, you would go onto the website, you would create a username, and then you would dig around. You can read the transcripts or you can watch the interviews or both and search using keywords. If people are particularly interested in the law, they can search, watch interviews with the people who are more involved in the legal side of things
Mason Funk: [02:22:00] or if they're more particularly interested in a particular part of the country, to find people from that part of the country, or people who have practiced a particular faith or water polo players. I haven't interviewed any water polo players yet but if you were, maybe athletes, any particular area of interest that someone might have, they will be able to search within the archive and, of course, the more interviews we add, the more breadth there will be. More different types of voices.
Chuck Williams: [02:22:30] Yeah. Then how do you get people to know about your website?
Mason Funk: That's going to be a big part of the process is the outreach, spreading the word through social media, letting people know that we exist and that's just ... that's basically marketing. For example, I'm building my board right now and I have a guy who I'm talking to because he's just a young marketing guy. That's all he thinks about, branding and marketing,
Mason Funk: [02:23:00] and that's certainly a huge thing. If people don't know about us then they can't take advantage of us.
Chuck Williams: Yeah. That's great.
Mason Funk: Yeah, so that's the vision.
Chuck Williams: Yeah. That's great. Yeah. Maybe sometime you want to get your marketing guy for sure and then maybe, make a presentation to
Chuck Williams: [02:23:30] our board or to our staff, one. Just so these little modules know about it.
Mason Funk: Exactly. I would love for your board to know about it because you never know how that can spread out and they can refer people to OUTWORDS. It's interesting. You were talking about how some people see their way of helping out as direct services, like they see somebody hungry on the street and they want to feed them. In your case, you see your area of involvement, this high level legal research ...
Chuck Williams: [02:24:00] Not just legal but research.
Mason Funk: Okay. Research.
Chuck Williams: You got to remember it isn't just legal.
Mason Funk: Okay. Good correction. But scholarly research that will ultimately have an impact in millions of ways, small and large. My contribution feels like it is the collection of stories and the preserving of our shared story
Mason Funk: [02:24:30] so that our story, as a community, can never be erased, so that we cannot be erased, and so that we have ... I look at all the people who have done what you've done or picked up their plow in any way, shape, or form and I want to have those stories recorded because those are resources for other people. How did they do that? How did they bring about this change? How did that person get the courage to do X, Y, or Z?
Mason Funk: [02:25:00] I feel like I want those stories to be recorded as a resource for future generations.
Chuck Williams: That's good.
Mason Funk: I feel like that's my way of trying to give back to our community.
Chuck Williams: No, that's very good, very good. How many people ... excuse me. How many people have you interviewed?
Mason Funk: We did 44 last year.
Chuck Williams: Wow.
Mason Funk: This year ...
Chuck Williams: It was all done last year?
Mason Funk: Yeah, we only launched ... last year was our first year of operation. I work in television
Mason Funk: [02:25:30] so last year I was still working in TV but during the Summer, I took the Summer off and I ran around the country with Kate and other people shooting interviews from California to Maine and New York and Philadelphia and Washington state and also in the Midwest. It was very important to me that I not fly over the Midwest.
Chuck Williams: Right. Right. Right.
Mason Funk: This year our goal is to shoot 130 interviews.
Chuck Williams: That's a lot.
Mason Funk: It's a lot. It's a big step up for us but it has to happen because if I do 40 interviews a year, we'll never reach that critical mass.
Chuck Williams: [02:26:00] Five years.
Mason Funk: Yeah, well, within three years I want to be at 500 interviews and then simultaneously with the shooting of the interviews, the creating of educational programs, the getting everything up online so people can access it and use it. I was on a radio ...
Chuck Williams: That's great.
Mason Funk: Yeah, so that's the vision.
Chuck Williams: Well, that's a good vision. I think that's great.
Mason Funk: [02:26:30] Thank you.
Chuck Williams: Like I said ...
Mason Funk: Just one sec. You can actually cut.

Interviewed by: Mason Funk
Camera: Kate Kunath
Date: April 04, 2017
Location: Home of Chuck Williams, Malibu, CA