JD Doyle

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JD Doyle was born on September 24, 1947 in Salem, Ohio. Growing up, JD discovered a passion for chemistry, and later earned his degree in chemical engineering from Youngstown State University. Along the way, a couple of teachers inspired in JD a love for research and organization – passions which served JD well, enabling him to become one of America’s foremost chroniclers of queer culture. 

Upon graduating from Youngstown State, JD took a job with the Eastman Kodak company in Rochester, NY. After growing tired of the brutal New York winters, he headed south to take a job in Norfolk, Virginia, where he discovered he was also tired of living in the closet. After discovering a gay group at the local Unitarian church, JD was soon editing a local gay newspaper, and busting up the highway with groups of friends to participate in the historic 1979 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Along the way, he figured out he wanted to live in a Southern city with a thriving gay scene. He set his sights on Houston, and moved there in 1981.

In Houston, JD got a ‘day job’ with the IRS, fielding complaints from disgruntled taxpayers. But he turned his off-hours passion to radio and music. After serving as guest host on a radio program called Lesbian & Gay Voices, JD was invited to present a regular one-hour segment called Queer Music Heritage. From this, in order to archive and share this programming, JD created the Queer Music Heritage website, which has since grown to 2000+ pages. JD also collaborated with the international radio magazine This Way Out to produce a series of segments called Audiofile, which broadcast for nine years, followed by OutRadio, a monthly internet show featuring nascent queer artists that JD produced from 2010-2015.

Somehow, JD wasn’t tired yet. In recent years, he created two more groundbreaking projects: Houston LGBT History, and the Texas Obituary Project, adding another 14,000+ pages of content found nowhere else. In 2015, he brought his extraordinary legacy together under the umbrella of the JD Doyle Archives – a place where, in JD’s words, ‘our queer history is woven together’.

OUTWORDS interviewed JD in his home office, which is lined with mementos from gay bars and music venues across America, and thousands of music cassette tapes, vinyl, 78s and CDs. In person, JD is low-key, laconic. He kind of shrugs off his work and accomplishments. He made it his goal to preserve one of the most important swaths of LGBTQ history – our music – and, almost singlehandedly, he has done it.
JD Doyle: 0:00:00 ... and post every day of history or video photography or clippings from Houston events or all kinds of stuff, music. I shoot for a variety and my agenda is to give people something to look at other than the horrible politics. And also educating. I spend too much time doing that. I probably spend a couple hours a day doing it. People like it.
Mason Funk: 0:00:30 Wow
Amy Bench: can you say that first sentence again? I post about ...
JD Doyle: I post about 12 Facebook books everyday with a variety of topics.
Mason Funk: Just talk to me here.
Amy Bench: He's touching his mic right now.
Mason Funk: Oh, okay.
Amy Bench: I don't know if we should not have the mic. Yeah, if that's comfortable that's fine.
Mason Funk: Is that comfortable for you?
JD Doyle: Yeah.
Mason Funk: 0:01:00 Okay, we'll keep it on. Let me know, because I can move the mic up a little bit. In fact, let me just move the mic up a little bit. Let me see if I can just get in here.
Amy Bench: Then if you could turn the bathroom light off too.
JD Doyle: Sure.
Mason Funk: Can you stand up again and just watch your head right here. I'm going to come in here.
Amy Bench: I'm going to cut.
Mason Funk: Sure. ... here if you can just keep your eyeline right at my face. Yup.
Amy Bench: Cool.
Mason Funk: All right, let's give it a whirl.
Amy Bench: 0:01:30 Can you turn off the bathroom light?
Mason Funk: Oh yeah, yeah. Is the AC off?
Amy Bench: I don't know.
JD Doyle: No. I turned it way down.
Mason Funk: Is it on right now?
JD Doyle: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Oh, it's fine.
Amy Bench: Yeah, let's just do room tone while I think about it.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Amy Bench: Okay, this is room tone.
Mason Funk: We're going to start with 30 seconds of just silence.
Amy Bench: Okay.
Mason Funk: 0:02:00 ... occasionally attached to you, but they gave me a little bit of a guideline.
JD Doyle: Yeah.
Mason Funk: 0:02:30 If you could start off by stating and spelling your name as you would like it to appear on ... for example if you were talking on screen.
JD Doyle: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I'm JD Doyle. Initials J-D, D-O-Y-L-E.
Mason Funk: Okay, and can you tell us your birthdate and your place of birth?
JD Doyle: 9/24/47. They asked me that at the drugstore whenever I go. 9/24/47 and Salem, Ohio.
Mason Funk: Salem Ohio, okay.
Amy Bench: 0:03:00 JD, can you put your hands more on your lap. I think it's less louder. Yeah.
JD Doyle: I'm all for that.
Amy Bench: I may move. I don't know how this stool thing is going to work. I may just perch on this. I may just perch back here and watch.
Mason Funk: Okay. You grew up, you were born in, I think it was a pretty small town.
JD Doyle: Small town about 12,000. Pretty rural. Looking back it was a nice town.
JD Doyle: 0:03:30 I got a really good education. When I got to college, which was Youngstown State, 20 miles away, I was ready for college compared to some of the other kids that I could tell.
Mason Funk: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Who was in your family and what was the family? What were the priorities and the values that were espoused in your family?
JD Doyle: When you ask that one thing comes to mind is that my dad telling me, "We don't ask you to study. That's for you."
JD Doyle: 0:04:00 And they didn't, and I did study. That was just in me somehow, but I didn't have a lot of examples. My dad worked in a pump company. Not well educated, high school, that's all. My mother was born in Belgium. They met during World War II. She just went to high school, so I was an A kid, a nerd, whatever you call it.
JD Doyle: 0:40:30 I was making good grades and then going on.
Mason Funk: Did you have siblings?
JD Doyle: I have a younger brother, 10 years younger.
Mason Funk: All right. All right, we'll skip over that. You're going to have a chance to review all this later on. You were a nerdy kid.
JD Doyle: Oh yeah.
Mason Funk: 0:05:00 Tell us the story that I've now read online a couple times, the famous, which eye should I wink with, story.
JD Doyle: I love that story. It gives the earliest inkling of where I might be heading, and this was in first grade. It was in a country school and this would have been 1953. What was going on in 1953? We just had the McCarthy hearings, and it was very conservative time. I remember during recess asking Mrs. Mountz, my first grade teacher.
JD Doyle: 0:05:30 Which eye do you use to wink at a girl, and which eye do you use to wink at a boy? She just thought that was the most adorable. She said, "I don't know. Let's go ask the principal." We trotted down the hall to the principals office. I can still remember exactly where we all stood. That's somehow burned that is in my memory. Where he stood and where she stood.
JD Doyle: 0:06:00 She said, "Well, ask him it." I asked him again, " Which eye do you use to wink at a girl and which eye do you use to wink at a boy?" He paused and said, "Whichever comes natural." I think, looking back that was, wow. That was an amazing answer.
Mason Funk: Do you think he had any idea what the subtext-
JD Doyle: No, I don't. I don't. How old was I? Six.
Mason Funk: Mm-hmm (affirmative), but you was already on your mind to some degree.
JD Doyle: 0:06:30 I guess.
Mason Funk: You're a nerd and your brother is 10 years younger so you almost didn't grow up together.
JD Doyle: Correct.
Mason Funk: Your folks were hardworking blue collar folks.
JD Doyle: Yes.
Mason Funk: When did you have a sense that you might be interested in a broader or bigger experience of the world?
JD Doyle: Well, I knew I wanted to go to college.
JD Doyle: 0:07:00 Since I was studying engineering I knew that would probably take me somewhere else, and it did.
Mason Funk: Why did you settle on engineering?
JD Doyle: My high school chemistry teacher was very inspiring. He was one of those special teachers and he just got me interested. I decided chemical engineering.
Mason Funk: That was Dr. Chang.
JD Doyle: No. That was in college.
Mason Funk: Oh, okay. Wait, hold on. Don't go there yet. I want to follow this line.
Mason Funk: 0:07:30 You had a high school chemistry teacher who was very inspiring.
JD Doyle: I actually can't remember his name right now.
Mason Funk: What was inspiring about him?
JD Doyle: He was enthusiastic and he was fun, and up to that point I had not taken any sciences that I liked and that was partly due to my biology teacher who was a terrible teacher who had a knack of turning people off rather than on.
JD Doyle: 0:08:00 I didn't even take any science my junior year, which means I didn't take physics at all. I took chemistry my senior year and then got turned around. That was good.
Mason Funk: I'm sure that teacher would be happy to hear that story.
JD Doyle: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Then you went off to, you said it was called Youngstown?
JD Doyle: Youngstown State. It was Youngstown University at that point.
JD Doyle: 0:08:30 Two years into it, they became a state institution. That was 1965.
Mason Funk: How aware were you at this time, this is a time when there was a lot of movement going on nationally and-
JD Doyle: Well, from my high school in Salem you either went to Youngstown or you went to Kent State. Yes, we were aware of what was going on there.
Mason Funk: How did you perceive that [crosstalk 00:08:59]?
JD Doyle: 0:09:00 I don't know. I wasn't political or anything like that. You just absorb it. I certainly wasn't into the flower child movement of the late 60s. I didn't care about that. I was an engineering student. Come on.
Mason Funk: Did you feel different in any, obviously that could mean sexually, but in any way, shape or form did you feel like you were out of step or-
JD Doyle: 0:09:30 I was always a misfit. I didn't have a lot of friends. The ones that I did have were the brains. I started the French club, me and a dozen girls. That tells you something there. The misfits stuck together and got through it. I was teased. I wouldn't say I was gay baited
JD Doyle: 0:10:00 Because that really didn't exist much, at least in that part of the country in the late 60s. That would be in the early 60s.
Mason Funk: What were you teased for?
JD Doyle: Being a misfit.
Mason Funk: It just makes you wonder sometimes why do kids have to seek out the ones who don't fit the mold and make their lives [crosstalk 00:10:23].
JD Doyle: It empowers them.
Mason Funk: Yeah, sort of. In the grand scheme.
Mason Funk: 0:10:30 Anyway. Around this time, do I have this right, you bought your first record? Tell us the story.
JD Doyle: The first record I bought would have been 62.
Mason Funk: Would you start that clean because I was talking.
JD Doyle: Okay. The first record I bought was in 1962. It was the Peppermint Twist by Joey Dee and the Starlighters on the Roulette label.
JD Doyle: 0:11:00 I used to know all the labels. That started me record collecting, which became a major passion in my life for decades. Then I was just buying stuff on the radio that you liked. I wasn't consciously amassing a collection.
Mason Funk: Did you have any sense that, I don't know if you would have or not, but that this was something that.
Mason Funk: 0:11:30 For example, knowing the labels, which probably most kids did, did you have any sense that this interest for you was somehow running deeper than for the average kid?
JD Doyle: I was always pretty particular about facts. I was pretty focused. For me it was natural to get into that detail.
Mason Funk: What's an example of ... for example, knowing the labels or did you keep lists? Did you organize-
JD Doyle: 0:12:00 I kept lists. I did my own survey, my own weekly survey of the top 40.
Mason Funk: How would you do that?
JD Doyle: Well, I would rank my opinions of what they should be.
Mason Funk: Then would you listen to the radio and compare?
JD Doyle: No. It was my list.
Mason Funk: In a given week a record that was number three last week might drop to number five?
JD Doyle: Could. Could.
Mason Funk: What kinds of music were these?
Mason Funk: 0:12:30 All different kinds of music or were they ...
JD Doyle: They were what was popular on the radio. I remember particularly liking Bobby Vee. He was really cute also. In hindsight he resembled my best friend from high school. There was something psychologically going on there. Looking back I did have a crush on my best friend. I liked the stuff you heard. You like the Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, The Beatles. You know, the stuff that was popular.
Mason Funk: 0:13:00 Now tell us about you went to college at Youngstown State. Tell us about this Dr. Chang.
JD Doyle: Dr. Chang was an engineering professor and you didn't even get to his level until you're your third year in college. It was a five year school. He was the major professor for the chemical engineering department. He was kind of an amusing guy.
JD Doyle: 0:13:30 You would think he might be a pushover, but he wasn't. He somehow taught us, and the way he taught us to do stuff, how to organize what we were doing. We kept notebooks with tabs about different projects. Everything was just so, and certain formats that really was a good thing to learn. Much more than the facts it was how to do it. He was important.
Mason Funk: 0:14:00 What do you think now, looking back, how do you connect the dots between now and Dr. Chang in terms of the work you do and the work you've done?
JD Doyle: He probably contributed to my being so meticulous.
Mason Funk: Start off by saying Dr. Chang please.
JD Doyle: Dr. Chang probably contributed to my being so meticulous in what I do. I'm a perfectionist on my work, on my websites, on my music shows. Everything has to be exactly right now matter how long it takes.
Mason Funk: 0:14:30 Do you feel like that's something that's an outgrowth of your experiences with him?
JD Doyle: Partially, yeah. Yeah, I would say so.
Mason Funk: When you say partially do you-
JD Doyle: Well, I was a self starter too. I remember the summer after my senior year in high school, I hadn't started college yet. I decided to read all the Russian classics, so War and Peace, Brothers Karamazov, all those.
JD Doyle: 0:15:00 I read them all on my own, so nerd.
Mason Funk: Excuse me. I thought Arden [inaudible] was the polar opposite of Ray Hill, but I think you're actually the polar opposite. Just in the sense, like I say, every single story for him would tend to go on for 45 minutes. Short concise answers are good.
JD Doyle: Okay, good.
Mason Funk: You're doing good.
Mason Funk: 0:15:30 As you got into college when did, what you would call or you might call your sexual awakening begin?
JD Doyle: It wasn't in college. In college, for one thing engineering is hard. You were busy, youre busy period. I wasn't partying. I was working. It was a hard school, a hard degree.
JD Doyle: 0:16:00 And I don't really have any, "Gay memories" from college. There were no things that almost happened. Like you wonder, "Gee, if I would have done that ..." Really nothing got close enough. I do think of one. It just came to me. We were in a dorm at the YMCA, a whole floor was the dorm.
JD Doyle: 0:16:30 There were some students that were not permanent. They were in and out temporary residence. One of them propositioned one of my friends. He offered him a blow job. Of course that spread through the floor really fast. My friend from across the hall, JD, JD, wake up! Wake up! Wait till you hear what happened." I was in bed, I got to the door in my underwear and Glenn started telling me about this.
JD Doyle: 0:17:00 And I got an erection, which I hid. I was like, "Oh, okay."
Mason Funk: As far as dating girls and dating women?
JD Doyle: I dated till a couple years after college. I was pure. I saved myself.
Mason Funk: Did you pick the kind of girls that might not push too hard to-
JD Doyle: No, they didn't. There wasn't many. I didn't date much. I didn't have a car until I graduated from college.
JD Doyle: 0:17:30 Until I bought one, until I got a job. That would minimize that. Youngstown was largely a commuter school so it didn't have the social life of others.
Mason Funk: What were your parents like? How much of a role did they play in your life, say during these years, high school college? Were they big important figures or
Mason Funk: 0:18:00 did you mostly make your own decisions and go on with your life?
JD Doyle: I was kind of on my own.
Mason Funk: What were they in to, your parents?
JD Doyle: My dad was still working and he would come home and six o' clock he'd be asleep in the easy chair. He was the quiet type. I really never felt really close to him. They pretty much left me alone, and why not? I was doing good.
Mason Funk: 0:18:30 Right. Let me get some Kleenex real quick in case I have to cough. It's okay partner. Sit tight.
Amy Bench: I'm going to cut. Okay. Here we go.
Mason Funk: Okay. You graduated and you made your way.
JD Doyle: Graduated college, made my way to Rochester, New York. It was a down year for engineering and there weren't a lot of offers.
JD Doyle: 0:19:00 I had three offers, which was ...
Mason Funk: Sorry.
JD Doyle: Quit. Lay down. Lay down girl. Lay down.
Mason Funk: Defiant. By the way, those photos on the wall in your bathroom here and those of you, those three, do you have those digitally. Good. Okay. Thank you.
JD Doyle: The one with the hat, that's my favorite.
Mason Funk: I love that one.
JD Doyle: 0:19:30 My favorite kid picture. [talking to dog] All right, you're going to have to go in the bedroom if you don't quit.
Mason Funk: Okay. You said you graduated. It was a down year for engineering.
JD Doyle: Yes. The chem-Es each did better than some of the other engineering fields. We were lucky to get three like offers each. Mine were in Midland, Michigan, Akron, Ohio and Rochester, New York.
JD Doyle: 0:20:00 I picked the furthest one away. Kodak, it was a good offer. It was a good company. Especially then. Good job. I was there eight years. I could not stand the climate anymore, the snow. I grew up in Ohio, but Rochester was right on the lake and it was brutal, the snow. I just finally said I can't do that. I started to get my feet wet being gay in Rochester, just a little bit.
JD Doyle: 0:20:30 I met a couple people but it's not like I had gay friends, which is what I wanted. I just wasn't able to make that happen. When I moved to Norfolk, Virginia to a different company I didn't move with the conscious idea that as soon as I move I'm going to come out. That's exactly what happened.
JD Doyle: 0:21:00 A week later I was out. I found the gay organization Unitarian Universalist Gay Community, UUGC, and met many wonderful people. Some which I'm still in contact with 30 years later, whatever the years later. This was 1978. I just thought a further back story.
JD Doyle: 0:21:30 When I was still in Rochester, my first sexual experience. I'm sure you want to hear that. I was still big into record collecting and I had a bunch of friends who were record collectors, all straight. I was in the closet. We were headed to Toronto for the weekend for a record convention. We went to those a lot. I had decided, when I'm out of town I'm going to make something happen.
JD Doyle: 0:22:00 I had a room at a hotel on Yonge Street, which is where the convention was. Yonge Street is where the gay action is anyhow. I went to a bookstore. It wasn't a dirty book store. It was a magazine store. I spotted this young guy and I knew what cruising was. I figured that out when he was paying attention. He walked slowly out the door.
JD Doyle: 0:22:30 I put my magazine down and walked slowly after him. He was waiting for me and I walked up to him and said, "Would you like some company?" I wasn't beating around the bush. I wasn't, "What time is it? Do you know where such and such street is?" We went to my hotel room and it happened to be the night of the Miss America Pageant. That happened to be on TV, so I knew the date.
JD Doyle: 0:23:00 It was September 11th, 1977. We had a nice evening and the next day at the record convention I ran into some friends of mine. It turned out that they were staying at the same hotel on the same floor in the next room. It's like, "Oh, too bad we didn't run into each other." Yeah, right. That was just the irony at the end.
Mason Funk: Oh my gosh.
Mason Funk: 0:23:30 It brings back such strong memories of that era in my life like yours when you're living this double life. The feeling of this life over here, which is so much more exciting and intense, and then the friends ... anyway we could talk those stories forever. That's a good story. Your friends were literally right next door. Did you worry like, "Oh my God, what if they had seen me?"
JD Doyle: Well, I didn't see them until the record show.
JD Doyle: 0:24:00 So it was already over. I tricked a few times when I was still in Rochester, but not very often. One thing, I didn't know what to do, and I hadn't been brave enough to go to a gay bar. Then I moved, got the new job, a week later came out
JD Doyle: 0:24:30 The gay group in Norfolk was very welcoming. They did everything that needed to be done in the community. It's a small city and one group did it all. I got involved with a lot of stuff. They did the weekly spaghetti dinners and they put out a newspaper. They did the hotline and we all volunteered on this stuff. I worked on the hotline
JD Doyle: 0:25:00 I even did speaking engagements at colleges. It's like, "Really? I did that?" We all got involved and doing work you make great friends and that was wonderful. I very quickly got involved in the newspaper because I was interested and I somehow had a knack for doing the layout of the paper. In a group if someone wants to do something, they let you. "He wants to do this." "Let him do it."
JD Doyle: 0:25:30 I was able to do this, it interested me, had the knack and this was in the time you didn't have programs, you didn't have computers, you had typewriters. Anything you wanted to bend in the layout you had to figure it out. If you wanted to do a picture and have it insert into the text you had to type it that way, manually.
JD Doyle: 0:26:00 The headlines were done with something called Chart Pack. It was a transfer film with the letters already printed on there and you would rub it with a pencil and transfer the letter onto the page whatever size headline you wanted. That was how early it was. I did that for about a year helping with the paper and sometimes writing articles and whatever.
JD Doyle: 0:26:30 The current editor decided he had done it long enough. He had done it before I even moved there. He was quitting and and it appeared I was the only one able to take over. A year out of the closet I'm an editor of a gay newspaper. It's like whoa. Crash course. I was working full-time too. That was a really cool experience.
JD Doyle: 0:27:00 It had some up and down sides to it. Also, in a volunteer group people tend to let other people do all the work. I ended up being the one doing most of the work. After about six months of doing 80% of everything that needed to be done and working full-time I burnt out. I said, "The only way I'm going to snap this group into shape ...
JD Doyle: 0:27:30 " You spend months begging for help and it doesn't come was to quit very dramatically, which I did. They had to figure out what to do. I'm proud that they picked three people to be editors to take my place.
Mason Funk: I'm curious what kinds of stuff you guys published.
Amy Bench: Can you put your hands on your lap again? Down here.
JD Doyle: It was anything in the gay news.
Mason Funk: Do me a favor start off this with something like,
Mason Funk: 0:28:00 "This gay newspaper in Norfolk, Virginia" and then go on and tell me what you-
JD Doyle: The newspaper was called Our Own Community Press. We covered really whatever we could. Of course locally this bar opened or this bar was raided or whatever. We also covered news of what was the National Gay Task Force doing and the group had sponsored conferences. They were very good at having conferences every year.
JD Doyle: 0:28:30 Bringing speakers like Harry Hay and his partner Burnside, and Mel Boozer and Lucia Valeska and all these people, and entertainers. How they could organize this stuff and pull it off and get three, four hundred people to attend in Norfolk, Virginia it's just like "Wow, that would be hard to do now here." The paper covered all this stuff.
JD Doyle: 0:29:00 t would do movie reviews. There was a poetry section. There was a center section called Lesbians Front and Center, because they wanted their own space. Fine. Good. It was a real growth experience because I had never done anything like that. I was never in a pseudo leadership position, but I kind of had to be.
JD Doyle: 0:29:30 You know doing all the technical stuff, but also making the decisions. One special part of that was during that term was the 1979 March on Washington, which was a great event in our history. Since I was the editor I had to make sure we covered the event, which means I took pictures, which I have on my website. That was great.
Mason Funk: 0:30:00 I want to go back one second and then I'm going to come back to that. You mentioned you worked on the hotline. I'm really curious to know in this era, 77, 78, there's a hotline.
JD Doyle: We kept logs on what type of calls they were.
Mason Funk: Set it up for me. Again, in Norfolk one of the things I did was to work at the hotline.
JD Doyle: Okay. One of the projects that the group did was they hosted a gay hotline or gay switchboard.
JD Doyle: 0:30:30 We kept logs on what type of calls they were and we pretty staffed it a lot of the time. Most of the calls, as you might guess, were, "I'm visiting. Where are the bars? What type of bars are in town, so it's information about that. Or what kind of groups are in town, or more directional things. There were also the other extreme suicide calls
JD Doyle: 0:31:00 Which I'm not sure I took one of those myself, but I was around when it happened. It was covering the gambit of what we needed. We filled that need.
Mason Funk: I'm thinking back. This is the late 70s.
JD Doyle: 78, 79.
Mason Funk: In some places like San Francisco or New York there's already a huge amount of activity.
JD Doyle: 0:31:30 Yeah, they had gay community centers by then and so forth, yeah.
Mason Funk: In Norfolk, Virginia for example, just make a comparison for me.
JD Doyle: We didn't have-
Mason Funk: Do me a favor, in Norfolk.
JD Doyle: In Norfolk we didn't have what some of the big cities would have, but we had the Unitarian Universalist Gay Community and the Unitarian Church let us use some space in their church, free. Actually, we had quite a large space. We had a large room for the newspaper production.
JD Doyle: 0:32:00 We were allowed to use the meeting area and the first floor for meetings. It was quite generous of them.
Mason Funk: This may seem like a random question, but do you have any sense or any memory of what made ... was there a particularly gay friendly priest? How did, in this particular case, this particular church, provide such an important place for the gay community? Do you know how that came about?
JD Doyle: 0:32:30 No. The church itself left us alone. They blessed us what we were doing, supported us, but didn't try to tell us anything how to do what we were doing. I don't recall any leaders of the church really. They just let us alone.
Mason Funk: For you personally did the fact that the gay community group met at the church, did it have any connection to you spiritually.
Mason Funk: 0:33:00 Was it literally where the gay community was located?
JD Doyle: The question is did the fact that the group met in a church have any connection to me personally? No. I'm so not religious. I'm also anti-religious. Imagine there's no religion.
Mason Funk: Okay. Excellent.
Mason Funk: 000:33:30 Now lets go back to the March on Washington in 1979. Set the stage for us. Had anything like this ever happened?
JD Doyle: The March on Washington for gay rights in 1979 was in October. It was really the first event of its scope. It was being organized all over the country. It as amazing really how well it was being organized. I was in Norfolk still by that time.
JD Doyle 0:34:00 Of course that's only three hours away from DC. A whole bunch of us, maybe 30 or 40, drove up for that and stayed in hotels. I remember driving up, seeing a car with a March on Washington bumper sticker in its rear window, full of guys. It's just like, "Yay." We all cheered to each other. You got there and you saw gay people. It's like that movie The 6th Sense. I see gay people.
JD Doyle: 0:34:30 It was all over. You put however hundreds of thousands of people ... it's debatable how many there were, but there were lots. Everywhere you went publicly it was full of gay people. That gave you such a euphoric feel that you've never been around that many of your kind before. It was elation.
Mason Funk: 0:35:00 What happened at the actual march?
JD Doyle: They had it set up by the different states and different cities to march together. We had banners that we had made. All the different areas of the country had banners. With had a large one from Tidewater, which was that part of Virginia. I remember I took a picture of that banner and it since ended up on the cover of a book. That's kind of cool. I get contacted.
JD Doyle: 0:35:30 People wanted to use my photos often. We marched and there was a lot of mingling. I remember the Norfolk contingent was starting to march. Out of the blue this guy came out from the sidelines and kissed me. Like, "Oh okay. Wait. Don't go away."
Mason Funk: That was the feeling.
JD Doyle:: Yeah. The night before the march there was a rally concert, which I went to.
JD Doyle: 0:36:00 I didn't quite remember all of this, but recently I was going through a gay archives, some of the photos that a Houston photographer had taken. I was going through looking for something particular about the march, flipping through photos and there was my picture.
JD Doyle: 0:36:30 This guy had caught me in the crowd of the march at the rally. How cool is that? That picture is on the wall behind me. That was very cool. The leaders of the gay movement were there. Ray Hill was one of the organizers. What was his name, Burrows? The poet. Ginsberg, I'm sorry Ginsberg the poet was there. Robin Tyler was one of the co-hosts
JD Doyle: 0:37:00 Just leader after leader. I was just starting to be aware of the musicians, Holly Near and those kind of people, and Maxine Feldman and a group called Gotham, which was an acapella group. They sang AC/DC man. I've interviewed these people in later years.
JD Doyle: 0:37:30 So it's lots of memories. Maxine Feldman was a very butch dyke and she sang Closet Sale. One of the verses are, "Come out of the closet and love me."
Mason Funk: Was that a moment of awakening for you vis a vis the power of music for the gay community?
JD Doyle: I would date that a little earlier
JD Doyle: 0:38:00 Before the march. When you ask it that way I mentioned that our group had lots of events and lots of fundraiser and things like that. In, it must have been 78, because I moved there in 78, we brought a singer to town, Tom Wilson. Now he goes by Tom Wilson Weinberg from Philadelphia.
JD Doyle: 0:38:30 He and his partner stayed at my condo. They sang and it sounded like piano cabaret style. That was what I credit the first gay music that I heard that spoke to me.
Mason Funk: At this point you're 30, a little over 30, 31, 32 kind of thing. I'm always curious at that stage of your life how did you picture your life?
Mason Funk: 0:39:00 Did you have a sense of where you wanted to go or were you still figuring that out? If someone would have said what's your future what would you have said?
JD Doyle: I probably would not have had an answer. I was in Norfolk three years total. After about two years the company I worked for, bad company, they laid off a third of their employees, including me.
JD Doyle: 0:39:30 At that point I had something unique in my life. I had time and money. I sold my townhouse. Actually, my dad suggested, "Why don't you go on a cross country trip?" So I did. I went all the way from Virginia down to Florida, through Texas, Albuquerque, California, Wyoming, Oklahoma.
JD Doyle: 0:40:00 By that time I figured out I wanted to move to Houston so I thought I better go back up through Ohio and that part of the country one more time. I went to Ohio and Philadelphia where I had friends, and New York and came back to Norfolk. I made almost like a butterfly route. I'd moved, not for a job. I didn't have a job.
JD Doyle: 0:40:30 I moved because I wanted to live there, which is not too many people do it that way. I wanted an organized gay community in the south. It had to be warm. It had to be organized.
Mason Funk: By that point, when you got to Houston how did you know that it had what you wanted in terms of an organized gay community?
JD Doyle: During my cross country trip I'd already spent like six, eight weeks in Houston and met a number of people.
JD Doyle: 0:41:00 I had started dating this guy. In fact, when I got to Colorado he flew out to Colorado and we flew back together to Houston. By the time I moved I didn't picture that there was going to be a relationship with him, but I still wanted to live in Houston.
JD Doyle 0:41:30 I'm losing my train of thought.
Mason Funk: That's okay, because I always looked down. I was wondering if she was going to jump up.
JD Doyle: [to dog] Get in the chair. Get in the chair girl. Get on the chair.
Mason Funk: His word is law.
JD Doyle: Good girl. Good girl. Sit down.
Mason Funk: Doesn't she get a T-R-E-A-T for doing that? I'm on her side. Sit down.
JD Doyle: 0:42:00 Where were we.
Mason Funk: We were talking about you just move to ... you said you moved to Houston and now you-
JD Doyle: Moved to Houston with no plan.
Mason Funk: [crosstalk 00:42:05] whether or not this guy had anything ...
JD Doyle: He didn't really drive my move. He was important in showing me the city and what was going on in the city and that was attractive to me. A week after I moved here I was on a bowling team. A gay bowling team of course.
Mason Funk: Did you happen to get to Houston before or after the big event regarding Anita Bryant that had such a coalescing effect?
JD Doyle: 0:42:30 That was after. That event was in June 77.
Mason Funk: Oh, that was earlier, okay.
JD Doyle: Yeah. I moved to Houston in 81.
Mason Funk: Okay. Yeah, so all those events that happened, Anita Bryant and I guess that really ... by the time you got there it was like all this foundation had already been laid into place [crosstalk 00:42:57].
JD Doyle: 0:42:57 Well, the Gay Political Caucus founded in 75.
JD Doyle: 0:43:00 The Anita Bryant event, which is 40 years now was a big impetus to get things started in Houston. A lot of people credit it that way. The next year they had a conference called Town Meeting One, which was a big gay political event. From that event a number of organizations were founded.
JD Doyle: 0:43:30 I think the Sports Association. I'm going to draw a blank at the list. The Montrose Clinic. A number of organizations in the city got their organizing start from that conference.
Mason Funk: Cool. Okay, so let's jump forward.
Mason Funk: 0:44:00 I know that over the course of the epidemic you lost two lovers if I'm not mistaken.
JD Doyle: Yes.
Mason Funk: Can you talk about some of your memories as you first became aware of this new disease?
JD Doyle: Fortunately I was in a relationship when we first all started hearing about AIDs. This was in 83. It was a year and a half relationship and this is with Kim.
JD Doyle 0:44:30 By the time we broke up I knew to be safe. Apparently he did not know to be safe. We stayed friends and he died 10 years later. I was one of the people that helped him. In fact, when we were together, Kim and I, I was already an avid record collector, fanatic record collector.
JD Doyle: 0:45:00 He started collecting Connie Francis recordings and had quite an excellent collection of some really valuable stuff, which I, after his death sold and gave the money to his mother. She would not know how to get the most out of that and I did. I sold his collection for him.
JD Doyle: 0:45:30 He died in, I want to say 91, 90. I met Wesley in 87. That was a fast affair. We were living together in three weeks and he died nine months later. It was just a shock. He got sick and died so fast. It was like I didn't experience the disease. I experienced the grief.
JD Doyle: 0:46:00 but I didn't really experience AIDs. I was still negative, still am. That was hard. He was not out to his family. They didn't find out until he had to go to the hospital, but they treated me decently.
Mason Funk: I'm very curious about these two stories, partly through perspective of it's always I feel worth hearing stories of individuals who may or may not have been out to their families.
Mason Funk: 0:46:30 How their families responded or didn't respond. Maybe if we can go back to the first boyfriend who I guess probably died later in 91.
JD Doyle: He did.
Mason Funk: What was his name again?
JD Doyle: Kim. K-I-M.
Mason Funk: Kim.
JD Doyle: Kim, his mother knew he was gay, but I don't think they really talked about it. He would take me to her house to visit. She met me too.
JD Doyle: 0:47:00 It was like one of these mother, son understood things. Wesley was not out at all to his family. They lived in the outskirts of Houston, probably not very sophisticated people. I had to tell them, "He's in the hospital." In fact, I had to encourage his dad. "If you want to see him you need to come here. You may not have much time."
JD Doyle: 0:47:30 His dad was digging his heels in. I don't know whether he was saying, "My son's not gay." I don't know what his brain trip was, but finally his mother persuaded the dad to come. It was the last chance he could have come. He died six days after he went in the hospital.
JD Doyle: 0:48:00 I gather his childhood, he was not real healthy, so he maybe wasn't prepared to last as long as others. He was such a sweetheart. When the family met me in the hospital I was stronger than I thought I would have been. I said, "Look, I will take care of his bills.
JD Doyle: 0:48:30 I can't do his medical bills, but he doesn't have to worry about paying the rent or anything else. I got it." They treated me very civilly. In fact, after he died it was almost like they were asking permission for his stuff. They should have his stuff. He had a huge wooden piano organ, huge. Yes, that's yours.
Mason Funk: 0:49:00 Great. Now-
JD Doyle: I want to mention that during that time lots of people talk about, oh they lost hundreds of friends. They lost 200 friends and they cleared out their Rolodex, or they just emptied their phone book. I did not experience that.
JD Doyle: 0:49:30 I almost often wondered how did you know so many people? Were these really people you knew? You don't want to say that to somebody. You didn't know these people. It's just like, "Really?" I had six close friends that we chummed around together. I'm the one that's left from that era.
JD Doyle: 0:50:00 I lost my support group and my friends who were my rocks, but I didn't lose 100 or 200 friends.
Mason Funk: Does it seem like sometimes people like you have to say you lost hundreds for it to matter as opposed to losing your group? Is it like that?
JD Doyle: 0:50:30 It never quite made sense to me. No, you weren't close to 200 people. It was like they were trying ... like they suffered more because they erased more people from their phone book. I don't know. No one talked about that.
Mason Funk: It really seems like if you lose your support group it doesn't matter how many people were in it.
Mason Funk: 0:51:00 Anything else about that period that you remember? This is for all of our record, this is for us, in terms of just creating a history of that time period that you stood in, what you remember, what you noticed, how local officials responded or didn't respond, who the heroes were locally? Anything like that?
JD Doyle: One thing that came to mind was I volunteered, for a short time.
JD Doyle: 0:51:30 At the Stone Soup Kitchen. Food was donated and we would help organize the food so it could be given to poor people. I didn't last very long because I didn't like the way they ran it. This was probably selfish, but I wanted to help gay people. I didn't like anybody coming in the door with their six kids filling up their grocery bags with food donated for gay people.
JD Doyle: 0:52:00 So I didn't stay very long. That's not very generous, was it?
Mason Funk: Well, that's interesting. I never thought of that. This is a place where people were donating food essentially to help gay people who had AIDs, but other people would-
JD Doyle: Take advantage. These people I'm sure needed it, but to my mind they were taking advantage.
Mason Funk: 0:52:30 You strike me as the kind of guy who might have said, "This is wrong I want to fix this. In this case you didn't.
JD Doyle: No. No, I do have opinions, but I didn't voice them then.
Mason Funk: Were there any people here locally in Houston that you remember as playing an outsized role in terms of responding to the epidemic?
JD Doyle: 0:53:00 A lot of them are dead.
JD Doyle: Bill Scott from the Montrose Center. Mort Schwab I think his name is, last name, Schwab. There were lots of community organizers. Most of them died of AIDs. I've got an obituary project full of them.
Mason Funk: 0:53:30 Wow, okay let's talk about that. That's a leap in time but what motivated you to do the Texas Obituary Project?
JD Doyle: Don't you want to start with the music website first?
Mason Funk: If it's important. I knew that I was leaping forward.
JD Doyle: It's out of order.
Mason Funk: Yeah, okay cool. All right. Somewhere along this time you developed, what can only be called a passion. Like an [crosstalk 00:54:00]
JD Doyle: 0:54:00 Insane, an insane passion.
Mason Funk: I'm trying to learn to not use ableist language. One of the words I'm trying not to use anymore is crazy or insane. That's why I hesitated.
JD Doyle: Is fanatic okay?
Mason Funk: Sure. Why not? Tell us when did you begin to like ... go deep.
JD Doyle: In the late 90s I was starting to interact with some of the gay music organizations in the country. Mostly this was in New York. There was an organization then called Out Music.
JD Doyle: 0:54:30 They had award shows for a number of years. I got myself involved and I went to those shows and I was judging the music. Somehow they wanted me to do that. I'm not sure how they figured out that I was okay, but here I am from Texas getting my involvement in this. I met a couple people. Let me backup.
JD Doyle: 0:55:00 I started calling up one of the local radio hosts, Jimmy Carper. There was a radio show called After Hours. Saturday midnight to four it's still on the air. I knew him and I started calling him up and saying, "You need to play more gay artists. You need to play more gay artists. They don't have any exposure. They need to be heard." I did this four or five weeks in a row. I did this four or five weeks in a row.
JD Doyle: 0:55:30 He said, "Why don't you come on and play some?" Oh. He called my ... it wasn't a bluff, but he called me on it. Okay, so I put together, we did two of them, two half hour queer music history segments. Jimmy and I, wonderful guy, we had great rapport. He had one of those qualities.
JD Doyle: 0:56:00 Where if you were talking to him you were the most important person in that room. He could do that. What a gift. He was the host and we could joke about these artists and music. We did two of those and the producer of the Monday night show, Lesbian and Gay voices, heard it and offered me a segment on that show.
JD Doyle: 0:56:30 I had not considered doing radio at all. I said, "Okay." I knew the music, but I didn't know how to do radio. Well, so I learned how to do radio. They fixed me up with somebody to help me do the technical stuff and that didn't work out because she wasn't reliable and it was hard to get studio time at the radio station. I needed to do it myself. That kick started me into getting a mixer.
JD Doyle: 00:57:000 he microphones and the recording equipment I needed to do it, and I learned how to do it. Some of my early shows I cringe a little. They were a little bit crude technically, but the content was there. I did that show for six months as a half hour show. Then I said I needed more time. "I can't do enough justice to this can I have an hour." "Sure." It was a two hour show. They gave me two hours. They gave me an hour every month.
JD Doyle: 0:57:30 And it went that way for 15 years. I loved doing that show. I loved digging out the history and talking to our pioneers and saving the history. When you're an editor you have your own agenda, of course you do, that you're getting across. One thing I love to do was to give support to transgender artists, because who else is playing them? No one.
JD Doyle: 0:58:00 I would love to interview them. One year, I think 2007, I did four shows in a row on transgender artists. The special part of those shows compared to, "An ordinary artist," gay or lesbian artist, was I would ask them about their songs, but I would also be asking about their journey as a transgender person.
JD Doyle: 0:58:30 This was information that needed to get out there, that wasn't heard. I just loved doing that. I figured it out I did 30 hours of programming just devoted to trans artists. I also love supporting women artists. I have a huge wing, I call it a wing, of my website devoted to women's music and the history of women's music.
JD Doyle: 0:59:00 I've interviewed a number of the pioneers like Holly Near, Chris Williamson, Margie Adam, Ferron, on, and on, and on for show, after show, after show. These were not just hour shows. Because I had the internet available if I wanted to do a three hour interview with Ferron I did. If I didn't want to edit our talk down to an hour when really.
JD Doyle: 0:59:30 Iit was good stuff that needed to be saved, that other people needed to hear, then I made a three hour show. My Holly Near show was a two hour show. I did special shows on gay Christian music, gay hip hop, chorus music. I did a nine hour show on chorus music. Eight hours on queer core. Bear music, you know the music of the bear community, six hours.
JD Doyle: 1:00:00 Yes, fanatic. I was trying to honor these different areas of our community. Country music, jazz music, musicals. I did, I think, a really cool show on the history of homophobia in country music from beginning on. I love the blues. I did lots of blues shows.
JD Doyle: 1:00:30 I loved digging into the blues artists of the 20s, 30s. Gladys Bentley is a favorite of mine. She was a very out lesbian in the 20s and 30s in Harlem. She wore men's clothing. Usually a white tux and white top hat. I did a quite extensive show on her where I was even able to find some unreleased recordings which I was able to play.
JD Doyle: 1:01:00 I would make these shows. It wasn't just a show you would click on. It was also a resource. You would find clippings about Gladys Bentley or whoever. You'd find photos of the recordings, the labels. Each one was a mini Wikipedia sort of the information because where else was it?
Mason Funk: 1:01:30 What strikes me, among other things is that you were really doing gay history, but through the lens of music figuring that probably every part of the broader gay community has had some form of musical expression. It's kind of genius.
JD Doyle: I took that another step. I created a lesson for university courses to use. I called it QMH 101, Queer Music History 101. It's a two hour class that you can listen to.
JD Doyle: 1:02:00 And a college professor could take this and assign it to his students. "Go listen to this." I had questions in it. No answers, just questions. One question was there was a pronounced women's music movement. Why wasn't there a men's music movement? I didn't give them the answer.
Mason Funk: 1:02:30 The professor could theoretically decide-
JD Doyle: They can discuss it.
Mason Funk: What's your opinion on that by the way?
JD Doyle: On that, the women had an advantage. They had the women's movement period. Not just music movement, they had the movement where they were organizing, at that time, among themselves in the early 70s to get themselves heard. Not just musically but heard period. They had coffee houses.
JD Doyle: 1:03:00 They had bookstores. Not a lot, but they had some. They were organizing. The men weren't doing that. They were already entitled. This lesson is available, still, for anybody in any course. Grab it and use it.
Mason Funk: 1:03:30 Yeah, I saw it on the site. The book, the title, superimposed on a book that you would use in [crosstalk 01:03:34].
JD Doyle: Right, right and you could hear a minute clips of 66 songs spanning 1928 through 1985 is where I stopped. If you take the course on my site you can click and here the entire songs, or you can just hear the clips.
Mason Funk: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Then you basically talk in and out-
JD Doyle: I'm narrating, yes.
Mason Funk: 1:04:00 Yeah.
JD Doyle: It's also on YouTube.
Mason Funk: Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative). Is it on YouTube with you actually talking on camera?
JD Doyle: Only the introduction of part one has a video of me. Only that part.
Mason Funk: All the rest is documentary style, you narrating with photographs and articles and record labels?
JD Doyle: Yes, exactly. I love record labels, so yes.
Mason Funk: I remember the day when I was like 12, 13, when you get your first record album.
Mason Funk: 1:04:30 It was such a big deal to sit there and listen to it and look at the album.
JD Doyle: It's very visual. Music is very visual to me. That's why on my website it's so graphically intensive. I would have photos that I could find of the artists. Some of these artists, no one would know what they look like or what their 45s would look like, or what their cassette tapes. Sometimes it was just cassette tapes.
Mason Funk: 1:05:00 Do you have a huge collection of cassette tapes somewhere here?
JD Doyle: Yup. Upstairs. Hundreds.
Mason Funk: I would imagine you could play them back.
JD Doyle: Oh yes. Cassette recorder.
Mason Funk: Right. One thing that Ray Hill was very clear on yesterday, he was very eloquent about was the unique power of, I guess you could call it an audio only medium. He was talking about the radio.
Mason Funk: 1:05:30 I'm think also of listening, if you're watching say even on the internet. Whether it's on the internet or on the radio, the power of just having a listening experience. He feels like there's something uniquely powerful about that as opposed to say a visual medium.
JD Doyle: I like both and that's why I went to so much trouble to make it visual also. I thought people, well I did, I thought people would want to see the artists and the labels.
JD Doyle: 1:06:00 Whatever they could of these people they probably had no other exposure to. Hopefully if they're listening they can be looking at the website. I have the scripts for every show you could read so Google can find stuff in the scripts. That's why did that.
Mason Funk: This may seem like an odd question or simply too big to answer, but what do you think was ... take a given show that you put together like music of the bear community.
Mason Funk: 1:06:30 What do you think for you was just so satisfying about doing that? What meaning did it have for you?
JD Doyle: That's like which of your children is your favorite?
Mason Funk: I don't mean that show. I mean a show like-
JD Doyle: Yeah, I know what you're saying.
Mason Funk: Okay.
JD Doyle: I did so many shows that I'm super proud of that it's hard. One show I especially liked was Queer Music Before Stonewall.
JD Doyle: 1:07:00 Which actually won a radio award. Not a gay radio award, a radio award. It used to be the National Federation of Community Broadcasting. They stopped giving awards. Damn it. I wanted to win some more. I won that one in 2004 for that show. A lot of engineering I did in that particular show to tell the story from the 20s up until the 70s.
Mason Funk: 1:07:30 It just struck me, do you regard yourself as a musical person?
JD Doyle: I could play no instrument. I can't sing. Lots of artists love me.
Mason Funk: Yeah. That's funny because a friend of mine from college is kind of similar in that he's by far the most avid music collector I know, but he's not musical.
JD Doyle: 1:08:00 No, I'm not musical.
Mason Funk: Let me ask you a side note just about Houston, since you ended up here, and you stayed for probably a lot of reasons. If someone said to you, "What's Houston like? What are Houstonians like?" How would you answer?
JD Doyle: 1:08:30 I would probably still go back to my original goal of finding organized gay community in the south. Houston is bluer than a lot of areas. We have sucky governors state wide. It's hard. It's hard because every area has their ups and downs, their pro and con.
Mason Funk: 1:09:00 What would you say if someone said what are people in Houston like, Houstonians? I know it's a bit question. There's all kinds, but a lot of cities have a little bit of a special particular quality, the people who live there.
JD Doyle: 1:09:30 Well, a lot of people living in Houston are from other parts of the country. Not a lot of native Houstonians. That's a blend. I've been out totally for a long time. I was out at work. I'm out in this neighborhood. They don't like it, too bad.
Mason Funk: Tell us about ... you ended up working at the IRS for a bunch of years.
JD Doyle: I did.
Mason Funk: Tell us about that.
JD Doyle: 1:10:00 I don't talk about that a lot because it doesn't matter to me. Actually, where people work doesn't matter to me. I never ask, "Where do you work?" It doesn't occur to me. It's not important. It's what you're doing. That was a decent living. I was good at it, but it wasn't any identity of mine. I was there 23 years.
Mason Funk: 1:10:30 What did you do and if you wouldn't mind just saying, "At the IRS."
JD Doyle: The last 10 years I was in a group called the Taxpayer Advocate's Office.
Mason Funk: Mention the IRS please. Just so we know what you're talking about.
JD Doyle: The last 10 years that I worked it was at the IRS in a group called the Taxpayer Advocate's Office. That group was set up to help solve problems, to help people having problems with the IRS and there's no shortage of that.
JD Doyle: 1:11:00 We would get cases assigned to us to interact with customers on a wide variety of problems. "I'm being levied. This audit wasn't done right. I want my refund." All over the map. You know, different categories of problems. Most of them their own fault, but we helped solve them. I was pretty good at it.
JD Doyle: 1:11:30 I remember once at one point in time we had a system where our cases were kept track of on a program. At one point in time I could get into the program and look at other people's cases. Not that I was snooping at their work. I was interested in how many cases they were closing compared to me. A little competitive. I pooled the data for the whole group, like 30 or 40 of us. I put them on a chart and I charted them.
JD Doyle: 1:12:00 There was all these people in the group. There was one woman up here and then there was me up here. I showed this to my boss and said, "Am I closing these cases too fast?" She didn't know what to say. What could she say? "No, you're just so much better than anybody."
Mason Funk: What do you think?
JD Doyle: I was.
Mason Funk: What made you better?
JD Doyle: 1:12:30 Organized. Focused. My whole life I've been organized and focused.
Mason Funk: It wasn't some special quality of empathy.
JD Doyle: No.
Mason Funk: Just because you were organized and focused you got stuff done quicker and therefore you resolved more cases.
JD Doyle: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Do you think you were good at helping people reach some kind of a better feeling that they weren't getting effed over by the IRS?
JD Doyle: 1:13:00 No one contacts the IRS because they're in a good mood. There's always some adversarial position. Even if they know you're trying to help them there's still a wall. I think usually you solve their case for them. You got the levy taken off their wages, you got their refund sooner than they really deserved to get it.
JD Doyle: 1:13:30 You figured it out. We worked with a lot of different organizations at the IRS, so we knew who to go to. We couldn't fix an audit, but we could get it fixed. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mason Funk: 1:14:00 That's just a job that not many people have done. Pretty interesting. I feel, obviously, the IRS just seems like that person. You're like, "Oh no I know this from the IRS." It must take a unique personality to be able to work with people who are in that situation.
JD Doyle: I guess. Like I already said a lot of the people's problems they caused themselves. Well, yes you have a levy, but you haven't filed for several years. You need to file.
Mason Funk: 1:14:30 Now back to your music career there is another, I believe, radio program called Audio File.
JD Doyle: Audio File was an offshoot of my connections with the music group in New York, through meeting a lot of people going to those award shows, the Out Music award shows. I met a couple people from LA who were producing a show for the gay radio station there called IMRU.
JD Doyle: 1:15:00 The show was called Audio File. Mostly, it was already in production for four or five years. It was an engineer and two women who were partners. I got to know them a little bit. They got to respect my knowledge and so forth.
JD Doyle: 0:15:30 One of the women was tired doing it. She was a little burnt out. The others asked me if I wanted to do it, so okay. This was a unique opportunity to get exposure and make contacts and connections other places that I wasn't able to do here. This was, oh geez, 2001. I was not doing my radio very long by that point.
JD Doyle: 1:16:00 This was a nice jump for me of exposure and reason to contact people and get interviews. If you can tell somebody, "I'm doing a radio review of your album. It's going to be on 200 radio stations around the world" you got their attention. That was a big door opener. More than that she and the engineer, Christopher, came to Houston to visit and got me set up, technically how to use the programs, how to get my equipment set up right.
JD Doyle: 1:16:30 I didn't really know how to do that. They got me settled and how to do it so it would be up to their standards. They had pretty good standards. Especially the engineer was really picky. He helped me a lot technically. He didn't particularly care about the music. He just loved doing radio.
Mason Funk: 1:17:00 When you're about to call up or when you were going to call up an artist and interview them how do you prepare for that?
JD Doyle: Oh, I study. I study more for my own show. For the Audio File show we only could use 30 seconds that we would pull out of a conversation. You learn to pick out the right 30 seconds of soundbites.
JD Doyle: 1:17:30 For my own show I was on a mission of covering their music and the impact of their music. I, naturally, would be very rehearsed and very researched on it. I would know which songs by Janis Ian to ask her about that had gay lyrics, because I knew the songs. I made sure I knew the songs where I wasn't just fumbling. I was always well prepared.
Mason Funk: 1:18:00 In that case, with Janis Ian, how was that interview?
JD Doyle: She's very professional, very good, very articulate. She's very nice. Nice woman. Some people come across with more, "Warm fuzzies" than others. She was more business like. Holly Near was very business like, but very nice, very thorough.
Mason Funk: 1:18:30 When you look back, first of all do you have any idea how many artists you've interviewed?
JD Doyle: No.
Mason Funk: Not that you have to. I was just curious if you had a number.
JD Doyle: No.
Mason Funk: Which ones come to mind for you as just the most enjoyable?
JD Doyle: 1:19:00 When you ask that the first person that comes to mind was Maxine Feldman, who was an early woman's artists. She had one of the first openly lesbian songs called Angry Atthis. Atthis was a lover of Sappho. Angry Atthis was also a world play of angry at this. We hit it off immediately. She was just so much fun.
JD Doyle: 0:19:30 It's one of those people you could hand a microphone and walk away. She would do it all herself. We were laughing and it was just instant rapport. It was great.
Mason Funk: Are there any others that come to mind or maybe your worst interview [crosstalk 01:19:51].
JD Doyle: Well, one person, oh dear. What's her name?
Mason Funk: Slide your hands down a little bit.
JD Doyle: What was her name? I can't think. The name just flew out of my head.
Mason Funk: 1:20:00 This was in the category of worst?
JD Doyle: No, of good interviews. Not going to happen.
Mason Funk: Maybe it will come back to you later.
JD Doyle: Holly Near's interview was a very good interview. She was very patient with me. You could imagine you're interviewing somebody of the stature of Holly Near and like 20 minutes into it your hard drive crashes. It's like, "I'm sorry. Can I call you back?" She was very nice.
JD Doyle: 0.194791667 It crashed and fortunately I had a print copy of my questions that I could refer to and a laptop that I could somehow change all my connections so that I could use it instead of what I was already set up to do. I think in 20 minutes I was able to call her back, which is, really ? And we finished it. I'm sure the listener could never tell.
Mason Funk: 1:21:00 Did you ever encounter, within the women's movement ... excuse me. There was a strong separatist.
JD Doyle: I knew you'd say that. Yes, I encountered separatism. Linda Shear was the artist that stands out the most for that. She did not want even straight women at her concerts.
JD Doyle: 1:21:30 Not just no men, but no straight women, very separatist. I featured her one month. It wasn't an interview I'm not sure I could get a hold of her at that point. I did certainly after and she did not thank me for the interview. It's like, "Okay."
JD Doyle: 1:22:00 She said I misspelled her partners name, which was a really odd name and it was a typo. Like, "Okay, I'm sorry and you're welcome for giving you exposure."
Mason Funk: But there weren't many who-
JD Doyle: No, no. Most people were very nice and especially when you're interviewing somebody that's been out of the, "Limelight." They were never in the limelight, but long past their recordings. They especially appreciate the recognition.
JD Doyle: 1:22:30 Deidre McCalla is a woman's artist who, when we finished the interview, she wrote me that I gave her a new appreciation of her music. Cool.
Mason Funk: That is cool.
Amy Bench: I'm wondering if his mic fell. It's hard to tell.
Mason Funk: Oh, let me check. Let me just check on the position of your ...
Amy Bench: [crosstalk 01:22:57]
JD Doyle: 1:23:00 Like the one of the boy. Well, it's a frame, I'm not going to take it out of the frame.
Mason Funk: Right, but you have a version of it, no digital version of it.
JD Doyle: But not 300 I don't think. I don't think.
Mason Funk: Okay, we'll take our chances. It looks like a pretty high quality photo. I'm imagining if you scanned it it's probably-
JD Doyle: I don't know what it is when I have scanned it.
Mason Funk: Can you feel that mic still there?
JD Doyle: 1:23:30 Yeah.
Mason Funk: Okay, cool. Alrighty. Okie dokie. We speeding?
Amy Bench: Yes.
Mason Funk: Okay. Actually, I want to switch gears and talk about another personal topic, which is I know you had a long time partner who passed away, Jeff.
JD Doyle: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mason Funk: I wonder if you would just talk about that and its importance to you.
JD Doyle: 1:24:00 Jeff and I met in 1995 at the gay country bar, the Brazos River Bottom. I was helping to teach dance class. I was the assistant teacher. I was the follower, and I'm a very strong follower. If you're dancing with me you don't realize you're even leading, which was great for a dance class. He came to the class a few times and so we met there. Can we stop?
Mason Funk: Sure.
JD Doyle: 1:24:30 She may need to go outside.
Mason Funk: Oh, is that so?
JD Doyle: That's why she's looking around I think.
Mason Funk: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Do you want to take her.
Amy Bench: Do you want to cut for a second?
JD Doyle: Oh she's ...
Mason Funk: ... and about Jeff.
JD Doyle: Okay.
Mason Funk: Are we speeding?
Amy Bench: Yeah, let's lower your hands.
JD Doyle: I met Jeff at the Brazos River Bottom, which was a country bar. It was in existence for 34 years. It was the main bar. I spent a lot of time there. I was on a country western dance team, a performance dance team where we did couples performance dancing at different events.
JD Doyle: 1:25:00 That was pretty cool. We also helped teach the dance lessons at the bar on Thursday nights. I was the assistant teacher. Scott Clark was the leader. I was the follower and I was a strong follower. I could pull people around the floor like they know what they're doing.
JD Doyle: 1:25:30 Jeff came to a couple of the classes so we met doing that. Then we saw each other again at one of the parties at the BRB, the Brazos River Bottom. They had a party every year called the denim party. It was an invitation party where they gave you handkerchiefs of different colors every year. In fact, that's one of the handkerchiefs hanging on that lamp, a very western handkerchief. We were both there and that's where I asked him out on a date.
JD Doyle: 1:26:00 We went from there and the first date was a Bette Davis play. It was a reenactment of her staying at somebody's house and the hassle of that. That was our first date, was a play. We started dating seriously. We moved in together after six months.
JD Doyle: 1:26:30 We got rings after three years and he moved into my condo. Let's see. I don't know where I want the story to go. He had been working in a shoe store, because that's the family business. He wasn't working in the family's shoe store, but he was working in a shoe store, because he knew that type of stuff.
JD Doyle: 1:27:00 He decided he wanted to go back to school and be a teacher. That was his lifetime dream, so he did. It took him nine years and I supported him. Not financially but I supported him, helped him with whatever homework I could and so forth through the whole thing.
JD Doyle: 1:27:30 He got his degree and started teaching. After about six months he got cancer. He had chemo treatments for a few months. Then he got a little better and then he got treatments again and then he didn't get better. He died August of 2007 a week from our 12th anniversary.
JD Doyle: 1:28:00 That's a huge loss, because we were so well suited for each other. You wouldn't think we would have been, because he was super religious and I'm super not, but it was never a problem. I still supported him, like the work he did for church. I would help him do stuff. I knew the people he went to church with. I just wasn't religious and he tolerated that.
JD Doyle: 1:28:30 I'd be working on my radio shows, he'd be in the other room working on his school stuff. It was great. One thing especially good about him was his family. His family accepted me immediately. Not just mom and dad. Aunts, uncles, cousins. I was welcomed and totally accepted everywhere.
JD Doyle: 1:29:00 It was like, "Who are these people?" You don't expect this. I'm still part of their family and he died 10 years ago. I still visit his parents regularly. I go over there and we play board games and we go out to eat. I'm still their son-in-law. They're just amazing people.
Mason Funk: 1:29:30 How about your folks back in your parents? Did they become part of your life as an out gay man?
JD Doyle: Say it again.
Mason Funk: Your parents, how did they come along with you on your journey?
JD Doyle: My dad pretty much ignored it. He said, "We accept you. We love you" that was it. That wasn't out of character for him.
JD Doyle: 1:30:00 Remember they're in Ohio. I was in Norfolk, I was in Texas. It was almost immaterial. Jeff and I went to visit, the year before he died, visit my parents in Ohio. Well, my dad had already died. My mother, my brother, they liked him a lot. He was a charmer. They accepted that.
Mason Funk: 1:30:30 How did you take his loss?
JD Doyle: Hard. I tell people you don't get over it. You just get through it. I'm probably still dealing with it. I've not dated anybody in 10 years.
JD Doyle 1:31:00 You don't know how much of that to chalk up to I'm not that interested or I'm older now and less likely to get a boyfriend. I don't know. I'm busy. I keep busy.
Mason Funk: 1:31:30 I would imagine that the work you had to do was a thank goodness I have something to pour myself, heart and soul into.
JD Doyle: Yeah. I was always working really hard so that just didn't stop.
Mason Funk: Okay, well thank you for telling us about him. You mentioned three people you wanted to talk about beginning with Toni Harrison. Who was Toni Harrison?
JD Doyle: 1:32:00 No, what I was suggesting is three people you might want to interview.
Mason Funk: Oh, okay.
JD Doyle: Toni Armstrong.
Mason Funk: Oh, I typed it wrong. Okay. Oh, I'm happy to have them as interviewees. I thought the idea behind the questions was anybody that you might want to talk [crosstalk 01:32:19].
JD Doyle: Oh, I didn't understand the question I guess.
Mason Funk: Well, tell me a little bit about Toni Armstrong. I think Toni is in Florida. Is that correct?
JD Doyle: Yes, she is.
Mason Funk: Just tell me about her.
JD Doyle: 1:32:30 Toni Armstrong is an amazing woman. I got to know her through my interest in women's music. She was, is a big leader, founder, in that genre. Not a musician, although she was in a small band. She was a founder of women's music magazines. One of them was called Hot Wire and the other was called Paid My Dues. Hot Wire was the more advanced one. It was 1984 to 1994. It was what a scholarly music magazine ought to be.
JD Doyle: 1:33:00 It had good, intelligent, detailed interviews with discographies and photos just the way I would do it. It was great. One of the music award shows that was going to in the early 2000s, the Out Music shows, one year instead of New York they had it in Chicago. She was in Chicago then. I already knew that when I went to Chicago I didn't want to interview any of the artists that were potentially there for that event.
JD Doyle: 1:33:30 I wanted to interview Toni, and I did. It was an excellent interview. It was great to capture her work and give her some tribute.
Amy Bench: Is it going to rain?
Mason Funk: It's raining already.
JD Doyle: Yeah. [to dog] Stay.
Amy Bench: That's why its so dark.
JD Doyle: Stay. Stay.
Mason Funk: Yeah, it got really dark. I think the storm's coming over. Okay.
JD Doyle: 1:34:00 She doesn't like rain.
Mason Funk: Oh yeah.
JD Doyle: Doesn't like thunder.
Amy Bench: [crosstalk 01:34:11] real quick.
Mason Funk: Yeah, we need to shoot 30 seconds of the sound of the rain basically for editing purposes.
JD Doyle: Okay. She may want to sit on my lap.
Mason Funk: [crosstalk 01:34:20]
Amy Bench: That's fine. Well, I'll hear the breathing.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Oh.
Amy Bench: Let's just do it and see.
JD Doyle: Try it?
Mason Funk: Sure.
JD Doyle: 1:34:30 Okay, come on. She's a big baby.
Mason Funk: Can you check and make sure your mic is still in.
JD Doyle: It's right here.
Mason Funk: Okay.
JD Doyle: You stay girl.
Amy Bench: This is 30 seconds of raining room tone.
JD Doyle: 1:34:30 No, you got to lay down. You got to lay down. Every Monday morning the lawn crew comes and gets their leaf blowers out and right here.
Mason Funk: Oh, silly.
Amy Bench: That's scary.
Mason Funk: 1:35:30 Are we ready again?
Amy Bench: Yeah. I was listening. Is there rain drops hitting a metal air conditioner or something? There's something sounds like crackling.
Mason Funk: I hear that.
Amy Bench: [crosstalk 01:35:49] glass. I'm going to cut for a second.
JD Doyle: Good girl. Stay.
Mason Funk: Okay, we're on the home stretch. I'm going to change that right here though. I think I already put Toni Armstrong in a list of my own because I'm [crosstalk 01:36:07].
JD Doyle: 1:36:00 What is your criteria for picking people? Is there an age thing?
Mason Funk: Ideally I like the people to be well into their 60s or in their 70s or 80s.
JD Doyle: Okay.
Mason Funk: Is she in that age category, Toni?
JD Doyle: Yeah, I'd say so.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Beyond that it's just as much diversity as possible. Types of people, things they've done, things they're interested in.
JD Doyle: My friend Jack Valinski, I don't think is old enough.
Mason Funk: Oh, is that so.
JD Doyle: 1:36:30 I'm not sure how old he is.
Mason Funk: All right. Well, it's okay. For a later trip, you know. Then Pokey Anderson.
JD Doyle: Pokey doesn't live here anymore. She lives in Oregon.
Mason Funk: Washington state.
JD Doyle: Washington.
Mason Funk: Arden talked to me about her as well. Why do you think she's important to talk to?
JD Doyle: She was one of the-
Mason Funk: Start with Pokey Anderson.
JD Doyle: Pokey Anderson was one of the political founders of the Gay Political Caucus and one of the leaders, don't mention matter women. She was one of the leaders period in the gay movement in the early 70s.
JD Doyle: 1:37:00 She was out and she was doing it and she was speaking up. We're still friends. We still keep in contact. She's great.
Mason Funk: Okay. Now in the realm of musicians I wonder if can tell me, say five? This doesn't even have to be in the interview. Well, except I would love to hear you talk about three or five, is it even possible to go there, in terms of musicians who you feel have made especially noteworthy or interesting contributions?
Mason Funk: 1:37:30 I know that's like asking you who's your favorite child.
JD Doyle: If you're asking what artist had a big impact on the culture one of the first names I come up with is the duo Romanovsky and Phillips. From the late 80s to early 90s they did funny political humor.
JD Doyle: 1:38:00 They were on topic. They were discussing a lot of parts of our culture that was I'm that were not necessarily talked about in other artists songs. I like to say that they were the soundtrack of our lives. They were very good.
Mason Funk: 1:38:30 It sounds interesting. How about others. Any others come to mind just like that, popped to your mind.
JD Doyle: I could be scanning my site and say, "Oh yeah. Oh yeah."
Mason Funk: Well, what I will ask you to do later is to, especially in the realm of people who are older, I'll ask you just to maybe refer some [crosstalk 01:38:59].
JD Doyle: Well, a lot of these people are not in their late 60s yet. Romanovsky and Phillips are not.
Mason Funk: 1:39:00 No, but I'll ask you if you can think of some who are if you have any good recommendations. We'll go there afterwards. Amy, do you have questions?
Amy Bench: You were talking about your butterfly trip after you left Norfolk and you spent, I don't know how long-
JD Doyle: Six months.
Amy Bench: 1:39:30 Okay, you spent six months driving around the country. You said you met people in different cities. You were in Houston for six weeks. How did you meet people?
JD Doyle: That's easy. When I was on my cross country trip remember I had just been editor of the newspaper in Norfolk. That was my door opener. I would get to Tucson and say, "Hey, I'm visiting Tucson. I'm on the staff of Our Own Community Press in Houston. I'd like to see your facilities."
JD Doyle: 0:40:00 They all would say, "Yes, yes." At that same time I was able to say, "What's going on in this city? What bar should I go to? Is there a play I should know about?" I was quickly tuned in, keyed in to what was going on and what was important for me to do in a small amount of time.
Amy Bench: You said that you were looking for a city that was southern and that was organized.
JD Doyle: An organized gay community in the south.
Amy Bench: 1:40:30 How could you tell that Houston fit that? What specifically was organized about [crosstalk 01:40:40].
JD Doyle: I knew it had a gay bowling league right away. I visited the gay bowling league. I already made a number of friends who told me. We had talked about it. It wasn't political stuff necessarily.
Amy Bench: What parts of town were you hanging out in?
JD Doyle: Montrose, of course.
Amy Bench: 1:41:00 Can you describe what it was like to walk down the street then, or drive down the street?
JD Doyle: No. Montrose was the gay ghetto. It's much, much less the gay ghetto now. A lot of the bars were within walking distance of each other. A lot of the people you would meet lived in that part of town. It had a gay vibe. A lot of that has gone away now because the clich of the gays gentrifying the community and then they can't afford to live there.
Amy Bench: 1:41:30 Can you talk about what decades Montrose was the gay ghetto? What time period?
JD Doyle: That would be 70s and 80s.
Amy Bench: Can you say it in a full sentence?
JD Doyle: 1:42:00 The Montrose was probably a stronger gay ghetto in the time period of the 70s and 80s compared to after that when things started to get too expensive.
Mason Funk: Do you think a neighborhood like that in a town like Houston ... Houston's got a real, for me anyway not being a southerner, it has a real strong southern feel. It's hot. People, to my ear they talk. They have a unique way of talking. A lot of them seem genuinely friendly.
Mason Funk: 0:42:30 I wonder if that makes a place like Montrose, or made a place like Montrose, just that much more vibrant as a kind of gay ghetto or a gay mecca?
JD Doyle: I think in part also people were from everywhere. They were not local people. Maybe they were more friendly because they were also new.
Mason Funk: 1:43:00 Were a lot of people there from Texas, but from small town Texas who were fleeing to the big city?
JD Doyle: I think they were from out of state.
Mason Funk: It's so funny because Houston is such a revelation to me. I don't think of it in my mind, I have never thought of it as a place that people would move to from other parts of the country, but apparently it is. It's a huge city. We have four final questions that I ask all my interviewers.
JD Doyle: 1:43:30 We haven't covered the other two websites.
Mason Funk: Oh my God. I'm so sorry.
Amy Bench: What are your other two websites?
JD Doyle: The history site and the obituary site.
Mason Funk: Yeah. My bad. Excuse me.
JD Doyle: I wouldn't let you get out of here. You can't leave.
Mason Funk: 1:44:00 You can't leave. Tell us about HoustonLGBThistory.org. Where did that come from?
JD Doyle: When I was doing the music site, Queer Music Heritage for about the last couple years I started adding non-music content.
Amy Bench: [crosstalk 01:44:25] thunder.
Mason Funk: Hold on. Yeah, we have to wait until ... we have to have her settle.
JD Doyle: 1:44:30 You got to lay down girl. Lay down. Just lay down. Stay. No. No. No. No. Get on the chair. Go on. Stay over there. As I was doing Queer Music Heritage for the last couple years I realized that I had a number of photos that I had taken of Houston gay life from the early 80s like the Pride Parade, the Westheimer Arts Festival, which was a very gay event.
JD Doyle: 1:45:00 I wanted to share those so I started adding them to my website. That was the website I already had so I added them there. That wasn't logical, but that's what I had. I started adding more and more scans and clippings and things that interested me and I thought people might be interested in having available.
JD Doyle: 1:45:30 I realized this is nuts. I need to get a site for the history by itself. I setup HoustonLGBThistory.org as its own site and moved the other stuff over. That started, I guess, in 2014. It started growing very fast, because I started digitizing gay publications. There was a publication called This Week in Texas, or TWIT, that was around from 1975 till 2000.
JD Doyle: 1:46:00 It was the publication of Texas. It was our gay life. It was a pretty good job. I know we didn't respect it as much then, but looking back on it, it was a pretty good job. They covered all the community pretty well in the state. People loved that publication. I decided I would start scanning issues of that.
JD Doyle: 1:46:30 Some I had in my own collection, some I was able to borrow. There were 15,018 issues. I've done all but 45 I just haven't had access to those 45 yet. They're scattered around different archives. It's hard to track particular ones down.
JD Doyle: 1:47:00 That's a real popular area of my site. I have sections on the bars, on businesses, people. I reorganized the site this year to make it a little more user friendly, setup tabs for the different categories of gay Houston. You can find a page of videos. I'm looking over at the chart. There's a section on the AIDs response in Houston, a section on radio, events, photo galleries, Pride, publications, politics each set in their own category where you can find the stuff.
JD Doyle: 1:47:30 Of course, very organized, with lots of clippings from the publications. If I would find a copy of the Houston voice from 1993 I would go through it. In addition to scanning the whole thing as a PDF I would notice what articles were in that copy.
JD Doyle: 1:48:00 If there was an article on the Caucus or PFLAG or the Montrose Center or some other organization that was really important, I'd do a separate scan of that and then put those scans on a section of my sight for that organization. They kind of grew on their own.
Mason Funk: Huh. Out of that grew the Banner Project. Is that correct?
Mason Funk: No. The Banner Project was founded by my good friend Sara Fernandez. She went on a trip to New York.
JD Doyle: 1:48:30 In one of the museums she saw a display that gave her the idea to do the Banner Project. The Banner Project is a pop-up museum that is available for organizations to have displayed at their galas, their events and it's been very popular. We've been adding to it. We started with 27 banners which are 30 inches by 60 inches, very colorful.
JD Doyle: 1:49:00 If you have 30 banners in a row that are brightly colored, not rainbow but rainbow colors, it makes an impression at an event. It's very dramatic. The website has history on each banner. We've been at a lot of different events. Last fall the University of Houston invited us to come for Coming Out Day, which was a big success. This was a win/win. This was our first public venue, public not gay venue.
JD Doyle: 1:49:30 We'd been at the HRC events, we'd been at the Diana Awards things like that. This was a non-gay event in the library. It was wonderful. We're going to do it again this year. We're working on new banners for it. We're up to 37 or something now. We don't know how many we're going to do. You get to a point where it's too many.
Mason Funk: 1:50:00 This site, how would you say what does it mean to you in comparison to the music sites? The more specifically music sites?
JD Doyle: The music site I'm no longer adding hardly any content to it. I'm certainly not doing anymore radio shows, although I sometimes find things that I do want to add. It might be a photo of a rare recording or a clipping that I didn't have before I have a large section on Gladys Bentley.
JD Doyle: 1:50:30 I sometimes research for more clippings on her. That's pretty much, on the internet, where you're going to go, you're going to go to my site to find her. I add stuff like that, but I'm not adding music or programs. What was your question?
Mason Funk: Kind of comparing what the music sites have meant to you as compared to the LGBT [crosstalk 01:51:01].
JD Doyle: 1:51:00 The music site I still am maintaining as a resource and it will run as long as it can. I intend to keep it that way. The history site is also important. It's my main passion at the moment, the history site. About the same time as I was starting the history site I, like a crazy person, decided to start the Texas Obituary Project.
JD Doyle: 1:51:30 I found, in San Francisco, the Bay Area reporter setup an obituary site of obits from their publication. They had a big advantage because they had control of their publication and access to all the files. They set it up with a search engine searchable database. I thought I've got a lot of copies of the TWIT, which ran obituaries and still did, I could put those in.
JD Doyle: 1:52:00 I tried to get one of the local groups, history groups. The group is still around. It's called ARCH, Area Rainbow Coalition Houston, something like that. People thought it was a great idea, but no one wanted to step forward and do it. After a few months I decided screw it. I'll do it. I had the ability to do so, I figured out how to set it up technically to make it searchable, and it's a different format from the San Francisco site.
JD Doyle: 1:52:30 There's is just searching thumbnails of obituaries. I have individual pages for each person where you can add text too, which gives it the ability to search more things. You can search for the city, you can search for the age. I have tags setup for cause of death like AIDs, female, Latino, black, violence, whether it was a hate crime.
JD Doyle: 1:53:00 Those are categories that researchers can use to do studies on Texas's obituaries. It's more versatile than their site, but they were the inspiration. I started that about the same time and got it launched in January of 2014. All this happening together. There are now 5,500 obituaries and people still die. I try to keep up with it. I spot somebody on Facebook. Oh, I need to track down that person's obituary, because Facebook may not have much information. I keep adding.
Mason Funk: 1:54:00 Why do you do that? Why are you doing these two ... I almost feel like they need to be talked about separately. Let's take the LGBT history site. You described it as a passion.
Amy Bench: Can I just [crosstalk 01:54:18].
Mason Funk: Yeah, we got a little bit of a major light change.
Amy Bench: The sun came back down.
Mason Funk: It's probably a little hot. Yeah.
Amy Bench: Damn. It does not look like that.
Mason Funk: I don't think it would look bad if you just completely closed them all.
Amy Bench: 1:55:00 Well, he's had a light on him for most of the interview from out the window.
Mason Funk: Oh, I see [crosstalk 01:55:07].
Amy Bench: It just went away for 20 seconds. You know what I had? Let me just cut. Okay.
Mason Funk: Let me ask you the question again.
JD Doyle: Go ahead.
Mason Funk: Let me talk about the LGBT history site. Why is it so important to you? Why is it worth doing?
JD Doyle: The history site and the music site and the obituary site are important for the same reason. The information needs to be available.
JD Doyle: 1:55:30 It needs to be accessible. Our history has to be online where people can find it. I'm able to do that so I do it.
Mason Funk: I still might ask why does it have to be online? Why does it have to be accessible? Why does our history matter?
JD Doyle: I'm gay, so it matters to me. There's nowhere else for people to find it. You can't go to many libraries.
JD Doyle: 1:56:00 and if you do they might have copies of this week in Texas, but they're in some restricted area where you'd have to ask to look at it and for a limited amount of time. Mine is available 24/7, this information and you can search and find stuff. If you want to search for Steve Shiflett who was a gay activist who died in 1988 or something, you'll find him in a lot of places.
JD Doyle: 1:56:30 On the obituary site, on the history site, and you get a broader picture of who he was from there. If you just are looking at U of H and their TWIT collection that would be hard.
Mason Funk: You say there's not a lot of places where people can find this stuff and you might have a limited amount of time.
1:57:00 Yours is available 24/7. I still ask what is the particular importance of preserving this particular history, the particular history of our community?
JD Doyle: If you don't preserve it, it's gone. It's like oral history interviews. The person's dead. You can't do that anymore.
Mason Funk: 1:57:30 What does it matter if it's gone?
JD Doyle: That voice is gone. A number of the artists on my music site have died since I interviewed them, but I captured them. You can still hear them and hear their humor and their message and so they're not really gone.
Mason Funk: 1:58:00 A lot of people these days, in particular since the election of last November are saying, including myself, now more than ever it's important to preserve our history. Now more than ever. Even though that seems really, really straight forward I still find myself asking what will be the value? What is the value of preserving our history? In particular at this time.
Mason Funk: 1:58:30 What can history do and therefore why is it important to preserve it?
JD Doyle: If you have it available you can study the different movements over time of the community, like the response to AIDs or the response to hate crimes and hopefully learn.
Mason Funk: 1:59:00 Okay. It really does some pretty simple in some ways. Sometimes I find myself searching for a different reason or a deeper reason, or a reason that I could use to convince people to give me money. That's a whole separate conversation.
JD Doyle: There are a couple oral history projects in town. Rice University has one. They did well over 100 interviews. There's one right now called the O Project: Oral History project that's focused on the response to AIDs
JD Doyle: 1:59:30 and people who were active in AIDs assistance and activism. Talk to those because it's been 20 years but some of these people aren't going to be around. A lot of them were lost to the crisis, but some of the ones who weren't during the crisis, they're older.
Mason Funk: 2:00:00 For sure. For sure. Well, is there anything that we haven't covered having caught up on those two major topics of the history and the obituary sites?
JD Doyle: 2:00:30 Not that I think of right now.
Mason Funk: Okay. Is it still there?
Amy Bench: You're discovering the mic.
JD Doyle: It moved. It moved.
Amy Bench: [crosstalk 02:00:43]
Mason Funk: Oh boy. Okay. We have these final four questions I ask everybody. The first one is if somebody comes to you an acquaintance, a friend you have a person who says, "I'm thinking about coming out," whatever that means to that person. What advice or wisdom would you share with that person? Should we fix that?
Amy Bench: It's up to you. I left it just because-
Mason Funk: 2:01:00 Oh, it just sagged a little bit. It's probably okay.
JD Doyle: This is not one of these actor studios type of question?
Amy Bench: Sorry. No, it's out of the shot.
Mason Funk: Okay, all right.
JD Doyle: Actor studio where the guy, "Oh, if you went to heaven what would you want God to say to you?"
Mason Funk: It's a little bit like that in the sense that we ask these questions to all four people. Rather I ask these four questions to all of our interviewers.
JD Doyle: 2:01:30 Okay, so start over again.
Mason Funk: If somebody comes to you and says, "I'm thinking about coming out." What short, small, concise piece of guidance or wisdom would you give them?
JD Doyle: Do your homework. Evaluate your own situation. Are you living at home? Are you dependent on being provided for by parents? What would you do if you were thrown out of the house. Those things happen still. Make sure you're covered in your livelihood.
JD Doyle: 2:02:00 Educate yourself on the internet. At least you have the internet. When a lot of us came out there was no place to look. There were no mentors. The only examples were bad examples. You looked and said, "Oh, there's Liberace. There's Paul Lynde." I'm not like that.
Mason Funk: 2:02:30 Great. What is your hope for the future?
JD Doyle: The Democrats are in office for the rest of eternity. I'm such a liberal. I used to say I was to the left of Teddy Kennedy. I'm very liberal, very progressive.
JD Doyle: 2:03:00 And I can not understand the things Republicans want to do.
Mason Funk: Hold on one second. Hopefully that will just quickly pass.
JD Doyle: You would say, "I can not understand what the Republicans want to do." How could they have these views on so many different topics that are so contrary to what I think they should be?
JD Doyle: 2:03:30 How could you not be for Planned Parenthood? How could you not want to help poor people? How could you not want education for your school? On, and on, and on. Whatever they want to do you can be sure it's opposite of what they should be doing.
Mason Funk: In the midst of all that what is your hope?
JD Doyle: 2:04:00 The Republicans are out of office and stay out of office.
Mason Funk: Okay. Fairly put. Fairly put. Okay, before she wants to jump up two more short questions.
JD Doyle: [to dog] Get down.
Mason Funk: One is why is it important to you to tell your story?
JD Doyle: I've been telling other people's stories and making history available. I'm not really focusing on my story.
Mason Funk: 2:04:30 Do you regard this interview as not important to the historical record, because obviously we do.
JD Doyle: No. I guess I was a little surprised that I'm not your activist type that you would normally think of for an interview. It's like when I got grand marshal in 2014. How did that happen? I'm not sure. I'm not your politician, I'm not your fundraiser, I'm not your joiner.
JD Doyle: 2:05:00 Oh, sorry girl. Sorry. I'm not your politician, I'm not your fundraiser, I'm not a lot of groups. How did I get voted grand marshal over three very qualified people that are friends of mine. It's like, "How did that happen?" I was very, very honored and it was something I wanted as a recognition, as an appreciation for my work.
JD Doyle: 2:05:30 I didn't expect it. To win a community election when I have trouble mingling at a party. Come on how did that happen?
Mason Funk: Well, personally I'm glad they did it. I think your contributions have been incredible. You might not see it that way. That's okay too. Last but not least,
MAson Funk: 2:06:00 OUTWORDS, what do you see as the importance of a project like OUTWORDS?
JD Doyle: You're doing what some cities are already doing and trying to start building their oral histories, but you're doing a national approach and maybe finding people that would have dropped through the cracks. People that, " Oh, well she's great, but she's in Oregon now.
JD Doyle: 2:06:30 And out of sight out of mind." It's a bigger painting of the story.
Mason Funk: Yeah, that's how I think of it. I'm a little patriotic so I like having the idea of having a whole painting.
JD Doyle: You can use that.
Mason Funk: Pardon me.
JD Doyle: You can use that.
Mason Funk: 2:07:00 Thank you. Just one last time, Arden always says and I have to agree with her, there's always going to be something that you don't [crosstalk 02:07:06].
JD Doyle: Yeah, and in bed I'm going to think of, "Damn, I meant to tell him about that."
Mason Funk: We got the wink story.
JD Doyle: Yeah, that was important. I wanted that one.
Mason Funk: Yeah. All right, well Amy, do you have any final questions?
Amy Bench: Did you want him to talk about the court case?
Mason Funk: Oh, well sure. Why don't you talk about that photograph. This was one of my Ray Hill, holy shit we didn't talk to him about Lawrence V. Texas.
JD Doyle: 2:07:30 Fine, because I have a personal connection to that. One of the events of our history that I'm very blessed that I was a small part of. Lawrence V. Texas finally got through the Supreme Court in 2003. I think it was June or July. We knew the decision was coming down. We didn't know it was positive yet, but we knew it was. I was able to-
Mason Funk: 2:08:00 Can I stop you for one second? I'm almost positive it was 2006.
JD Doyle: It was 2003.
Mason Funk: Was it really? Okay. For some reason in my mind it's always been 2006. Could you start again? Sorry. I just wanted to make sure we hadn't misspoken.
JD Doyle: Okay. One of the events of our history that's been a landmark event was the Lawrence V. Texas case where the sodomy laws were overturned.
JD Doyle: 2:08:30 If they had not been overturned you would not have same sex marriage for one. This started in Houston in, I think, 98, 99. It takes a number of years to get to the Supreme Court, get through a lot of other courts. It did in 2003, in June. That's when the decision came down and we all knew it was close. We were hopeful it was going to win,
JD Doyle : 2:09:00 But we didn't know for sure. I was already working for the radio show and for a number of years by then.
JD Doyle: 2:09:00 But we didnt know for sure. I was already working for the radio show for a number of years by then. I was able to ask my boss at the IRS for permission to have the afternoon off so I could go to the press conference and cover it. I took my little mini disc recorder and set up on the day just like when I was news person, just set it up there and turned it on. I was able to record that announcement by the local attorney of the victory. I pinched myself that how did I end up being at this particular place in time and location to witness that? How did that happen? That's a gift.
Mason Funk: 2:10:00 Yeah, I wonder if you look back to say your childhood in Ohio when ... it's such a huge sweep of history to go from one set of circumstances to the highest court in the land finally stating it's not illegal for two men to do what they want to in the privacy of their own homes.
JD Doyle: Or two women.
Mason Funk: 2:10:30 Or two women, exactly. Yeah, its incredible.
JD Doyle: Yeah. A lot of history in a relatively short time.
Mason Funk: Well great. I think we're done here. Thank you very, very much.
JD Doyle: Are you going to take pictures? You said you want to take some pictures.
Mason Funk: I'm going to take a photograph. We're going to take an iPhone photo of you and me together.
JD Doyle: Okay, good.
Mason Funk: Then I want to take a few photographs of you. As far as, and we'll-

Interviewed by: Mason Funk
Camera: Amy Bench
Date: June 03, 2017
Location: Home of JD Doyle, Houston, TX