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Marjorie (Marge) McCann was born in 1939 in New Jersey, the eldest of five children. When she was a freshman in high school, her family moved to Philadelphia. That summer, Marge had her first sexual experience with a girl at Bible camp. Simultaneously thrilled and terrified at the prospect of being a lesbian, Marge headed off to Temple University in 1961. A year later, Ann Bannon published the first of her lesbian pulp fiction series The Beebo Brinker Chronicles. By the time Marge finished devouring them, her fate was sealed. 

In her 20s, Marge started hanging out at Philadelphia’s legendary lesbian bar Rusty’s, where she met and got involved with Joan Fleishmann. Together, Marge and Joan threw themselves into the quest for gay visibility and acceptance, via early activist organizations like the Janus Society, the Mattachine Society, Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), and later a group called East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO). In this era, activists from New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia would often travel to each other’s city to participate in demonstrations, to lessen the chances of outing themselves in their own home towns. In this way, attending a protest march in Philadelphia, one might have spied Marge watching from behind a tree. 

It was also common practice those days for budding queer activists to use aliases in their political and social activities. Marge followed this practice for a time – then quit. Thus, one can find her full name in early DOB publications.  

In 1975, Marge helped plan the national NOW Convention in Philadelphia, and stayed involved with NOW for many years after. Professionally, she worked for years for the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, and helped create the first comprehensive survey of the Philly queer community. Marge later served on the board of the Gay Community Center of Philadelphia (GCCP), later renamed the William Way LGBT Community Center. 

Marge and her wife Carol live today in a retirement community in Kennett Square, about an hour’s drive west of Philadelphia. They’re proud to be openly gay within their community, and to have helped start a weekly Pride gathering with fellow activist Kay Lahusen (another OUTWORDS interviewee). Marge loves the queer community’s hard-won visibility, which she herself helped foster through countless acts of courage and determination.
Marge McCann: [00:00:00] Of course.
Peter Lien: Close this door. Do you want to be here for the interview? You're welcome to...
Guest: Well whatever you want me to do.
Peter Lien: Okay. We're rolling.
Betsy Kalin: Do you want your glasses on?
Marge McCann: These are my reading glasses in case I have to sign something.
Betsy Kalin: Oh okay. Do you want them off for the interview?
Marge McCann: No, because I wouldn't be able to see you.
Betsy Kalin: Oh so you're going to wear ...
Marge McCann: I brought them with me.
Betsy Kalin: Oh okay.
Marge McCann: Totally forgot they were there.
Betsy Kalin: Okay.
Peter Lien: Do you want to put them on the couch?
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, I'll put them ... I'll take them.
Marge McCann: Just don't let me leave without them.
Betsy Kalin: They're great. No, I won't.
Marge McCann: [00:00:30] Yeah, it was just in case I had to sign something.
Betsy Kalin: Okay.
Marge McCann: That light is dreadful.
Betsy Kalin: It's great, I know. If you just look at me then hopefully it won't be.
Marge McCann: It's still there.
Betsy Kalin: It is.
Peter Lien: Rolling.
Betsy Kalin: Okay. Great.
Peter Lien: Is everyone's phone silenced?
Betsy Kalin: Yeah.
Peter Lien: On vibrate?
Betsy Kalin: [00:01:00] Are we good?
Marge McCann: Not yet.
Betsy Kalin: No, you're good.
Marge McCann: Okay.
Betsy Kalin: So Marge if you could just tell me your name, your date of birth and place of birth?
Marge McCann: [00:01:30] My name is Marge McCann. Born Teaneck, New Jersey, September 28th, 1939.
Betsy Kalin: Great. Thank you. I'm September 27th.
Marge McCann: Oh really?
Betsy Kalin: So why don't you tell me about where you grew up and your family and what it was like?
Marge McCann: I grew up in North Jersey and then Upstate New York. Then we moved to Philadelphia when I was 13.
Marge McCann: [00:02:00] I'm the eldest of five, one of whom recently died, Sunday. My father was an administrator in a social security administration, so my primary memory is outside of Albany where I went to elementary and junior high school. As I said, we moved to Philadelphia when I was in junior high, the last six weeks of 9th grade.
Marge McCann: [00:02:30] We grew up in a pretty rural atmosphere, dirt road, a couple of houses along the dirt road. Went to central high schools, central elementary and high schools, all white, hardly any Jewish people even. Pretty sheltered. A fairly, sheltered, rural environment.
Betsy Kalin: [00:03:00] I'm sorry. We're going to just pause one second.
Peter Lien: I just want to back up a little bit.
Betsy Kalin: Okay.
Marge McCann: I'm suddenly too tall.
Peter Lien: No, I just think I want to loosen the framing a little bit more. Hold on. There we go.
Peter Lien: [00:03:30] I didn't stop rolling, we're still going.
Betsy Kalin: Okay. I'll just ...
Peter Lien: I just want to check focus with the little reader. Okay, we're good.
Betsy Kalin: All right, actually we do shoot a little bigger?
Peter Lien: [00:04:00] Say again?
Betsy Kalin: Usually we do shoot a little bigger.
Peter Lien: He told me to shoot wide because we're shooting 4K.
Betsy Kalin: Oh okay.
Peter Lien: And that he would-
Betsy Kalin: Push in?
Peter Lien: ... pop in, yeah.
Betsy Kalin: Okay. Great. Sure thing. Can you start when you moved to Philly and what it was like when you came here?
Marge McCann: It was very different. My father took a job with the city administration here in Philadelphia, so although where we lived in Philadelphia was at that time farmland
Marge McCann: [00:04:30] I was suddenly in a high school with many more people and standards of the time more sophisticated than I was. Just moved in the last six weeks of 9th grade, so I really didn't get to know very many people at that time. I did make a couple of good friends and managed to weather the summer. The interesting part of that move is
Marge McCann: [00:05:00] that my parents knew about the high schools in Philadelphia, which included the academic high school Girls' High and really, really, really wanted me to go to Girls' High, and I absolutely refused because I was afraid I would definitely become a lesbian if that happened, because I already had fears on that subject. So I didn't go to Girls' High, I went to Lincoln High School here in Philadelphia. Got a great education and here I am.
Betsy Kalin: [00:05:30] So when you were talking about you had fears that you were a lesbian, so when did you first realize that you might be gay or you had ...
Marge McCann: First of all, I didn't know what the word was, you know? Remember this was the early '40s, mid '40s. First of all, I became sexually aware very young. I understand it was young, I don't know.
Marge McCann: [00:06:00] I read voraciously anything I could get my hands on. So I knew the word, homosexual, but the definition in that book didn't make any sense. It said, "One who loves his own sex." I got confused by the lack of pronouns, if you will, didn't understand what that meant, but I knew I had crushes on girls and I knew I wasn't supposed to have crushes on girls.I was reading everything I could find. In that day it was books
Marge McCann: [00:06:30] and bookstores in the back and things like that. Apropos the bookstores in the back, when we moved to Philadelphia I had a great deal more access to what would be called, elicit materials.And so, by the time I was 15 I had read all of the Ann Bannon series and all of the Beebo Brinker stuff because there was a bookstore in Philadelphia that had a backroom and how I, an unprepossessing
Marge McCann: [00:07:00] teenage girl with bad hair got into that room, I don't know, but I did and I bought that stuff and brought it home.
Betsy Kalin: Do you remember the name of the bookstore or no?
Marge McCann: No, no. Not even sure it had one. It was underneath the elevated at the Frankford and Bridge L Station, seedy kind of neighborhood at the time.
Betsy Kalin: When was your first sexual experience with a girl, like when ...
Marge McCann: [00:07:30] That summer that we moved to Philadelphia. My parents sent me to a vacation Bible school and things happened, as they will. It was wonderful. It was absolutely wonderful and I knew that that was right, even though it was wrong, it was right.
Betsy Kalin: That's great. Did it just last that summer?
Marge McCann: Oh yeah, yeah. She panicked.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah. So growing up, so did you have any role models?
Marge McCann: [00:08:00] No. Mm-hmm (negative). Only the ones you found in the bad novels, with the result that at a certain point during my teenage years I thought I was going to either be an alcoholic or commit suicide, and maybe both, because all the books ended in tragedy, as they had to at the time in order to get published.
Betsy Kalin: That's true. When did The Well of Loneliness come out?
Marge McCann: [00:08:30] I have no idea, but I read it early on. Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: So when you realized after Bible school that you were a lesbian did you have a name for it?
Marge McCann: No. Mm-hmm (negative). No. I'm not sure when and where I developed the name, and I didn't use, lesbian, gay maybe, homosexual probably, but you didn't use lesbian until the '70s, I'm sure.
Betsy Kalin: [00:09:00] Then when you went to college what was it like being in college? Did you have experiences there with women?
Marge McCann: Yes, I did. What was it like being in ... Closeted, I mean closeted but you always managed to find people or a person at a time, and very busily trying to convince myself that none of this was real, so I was dating and going out with boys and not liking it very much.
Betsy Kalin: [00:09:30] I think I remember reading that you did have an experience with a girl in college and then you guys got caught, is that ...
Marge McCann: Yeah. Yeah, my goodness, we did. Yes, yes, I did, we did. I talked my way out of it. She left school, well at the end of the semester she just never came back.
Marge McCann: [00:10:00] The interesting part of that was having talked my way out of it I got called down to the house mother's office after the whole thing had kind of been brushed under the rug. I did not want to say, "Blown over" because it wasn't blown over. The house mother just said to me, "In the future dear do be more careful." So for what it's worth.
Betsy Kalin: Well I mean that was like an acknowledgment.
Marge McCann: It was indeed. It was, yeah.
Betsy Kalin: [00:10:30] Wow. I mean I got caught when I was a kid and so I remember that feeling. Did you then try to just play it cool and not have relationships?
Marge McCann: I tried to be more careful.
Peter Lien: Say it again, I was coughing. Let me get that cough out. Okay, good.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah. Can you say that you tried to be more careful?
Peter Lien: [00:11:00] Yeah. I just tried to be more careful. I didn't have the intent to stop. I don't even know whether it crossed my mind as something that was possible.
Betsy Kalin: That's great. So how did you get-
Peter Lien: Time out for just a minute. There's something I have to do. Let me know if we should keep it all in or keep it off at this point because I was going to have that light on in the corner. What do you say?
Betsy Kalin: [00:11:30] Okay, now turn it off. Oh it's nice. I want it on.
Peter Lien: Okay. Clap when you're ready.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah I will.
Peter Lien: I'll just dub you out, sorry.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, we'll just keep rolling and see if we have time to go back.
Speaker 3: Pull yourself together.
Peter Lien: I know right. I'm coughing, everything, it's crazy. All right, sorry about that.
Betsy Kalin: Okay. So how did you first get involved in the bar scene in Philadelphia?
Marge McCann: [00:12:00] When I was a senior in high school my friend Jerry, who now lives in California, asked me and my friend, good friend but not relationship, if we could get age cards. Somehow I managed to convince a 32-year-old friend of my mother's to lend me her age card and Frank got one too.
Marge McCann: [00:12:30] Jerry took us on a tour of the gay bars in Philadelphia and the next day he and his family moved to California. So that's the first exposure, it was frightening and exhilarating all at the same time. When I turned 21 my plan was to ... and what I did was take the subway into town and kind of watch people until I got the nerve to follow likely looking people
Marge McCann: [00:13:00] and see where they went a few times and then finally go there myself, and that's how you get involved.
Betsy Kalin: What was it like? What was the year? What was it like?
Marge McCann: Well let me see I was born 1939, you do the math, 1960, yeah.
Betsy Kalin: So was the bar scene at that time really butch-femme?
Marge McCann: Yes, exceedingly, yeah.
Betsy Kalin: Can you repeat the word, butch-femme because we're going to cut me out.
Marge McCann: [00:13:30] Oh okay. Yeah. Oh yeah, the bar scene was very butch-femme. There was a disparaging term for people who were not either butch or clearly femme, and it was frowned upon. You know, this is before the women's movement, so we aped what we knew which was the nature of heterosexual relationships, one was the boy, one was girl, one was a man, one was a woman. Those were the models we had for how our relationships should be until the women's movement, which made a huge difference. Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: [00:14:00] And so, which one did identify with?
Marge McCann: Butch. Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: And so, what did that kind of behavior was conscribed?
Marge McCann: Well I'm not an athletic person, I'm much more of a nerd than anything else, so my forte was being gallant. So I would be very deferential and light cigarettes and things like that. Gallant worked for me at the time.
Betsy Kalin: [00:14:30] That's great. So did you just stay in the bars in Philadelphia or did you go to New York as well? Was there a woman's bar here?
Marge McCann: Yes, there was a woman's bar here. I stayed here in Philadelphia. I didn't drive at the time. I didn't get a driver's license till quite a bit later, and didn't know New York.
Marge McCann: [00:15:00] I mean how was I going to know New York? It was scary enough to find the right places in Philadelphia, there was no directory in those days, you know? So yeah there was a woman's bar. It was called Rusty's, and it was outside of the Forrest Theater at 12th and Walmart, roughly. It was a long flight of stairs, upstairs over a regular,
Marge McCann: [00:15:30] straight bar and Rusty was the enforcer. There was a bouncer at the door name Dee, et cetera. I mean you've heard these stories before. The bartender was a man Billy, Billy Schaffer, who kind of moderated everything, had a dance floor and a jukebox et cetera.
Betsy Kalin: So did you meet any partners there?
Marge McCann: [00:16:00] I did as this matter if fact, Joan Fleischmann, who I understand has died within the past couple of years. I did not hear about it at the time, I heard about it later, but yeah I met her in a bar, and that brings us into the movement because she was active in the movement. Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: So why don't you tell me about how you got involved in the movement?
Marge McCann: Well Joan was active in the movement. She was associated with Clark Polak and with Frank Kameny,
Marge McCann: [00:16:30] and with other people whose real names I don't know, like Bob King and Julian Hodges. When she and I moved in together and then there were meetings at our apartment and that's how. It was a very male-dominated movement then, and we were kind of providing coffee and meals, and taking notes and things like that, but it was still involvement.
Marge McCann: [00:17:00] We got very deeply involved and traveled back and forth to DC and New York regularly for movement events and meetings. It was an exciting time, scary but exciting. Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: Can you tell me which organizations you were a part of?
Marge McCann: The Janus Society here in Philadelphia, Mattachine in New York, Mattachine in DC, and DOB. Then all of those together maybe with the exception of Janus formed East Coast Homophile organizations as a kind of umbrella group.
Betsy Kalin: [00:17:30] And so, what were you organizing for? What were the goals at that time?
Marge McCann: Acceptance, however you phrased it. Decriminalization wasn't even thought about. Our goals were kind of small, but they were appropriate for the time because when you start with absolute invisibility
Marge McCann: [00:18:00] and dismay, if you will, and lack of acknowledgment of even existence then you want to get to where ... I think where you want to get is to on a personal level where you don't feel like you're such a bad person. As I think of it now, I think perhaps a lot of the early involvement came from the desire for personal validation,
Marge McCann: [00:18:30] which could only be done if you did a group thing.
Betsy Kalin: There was a lot of fear at that time, right? So how did you ...
Marge McCann: Yeah. Well you can't be out and not out at the same time, except in the early years many of us pulled it off. For example,
Marge McCann: [00:19:00] I was asked to do a television appearance in Canada, in Montreal and I agreed on the statement that they would never show it in the United States because I didn't want my parents to accidentally stumble upon it on the ... They agreed, of course. Whether they meant it or not, I have no idea but they knew what they had to do.
Marge McCann: [00:19:30] So I did a half-hour taping in Montreal about which I remember nothing. But here I hid. I had family. I had a job, and I had landlords et cetera, and so I hid, almost everybody did.
Betsy Kalin: And so, did you hide through dress or behavior, what did you do?
Marge McCann: [00:20:00] Well I didn't let my name be used for anything. I adopted another name just like practically everybody else did, and yet I decided very early on I didn't want to do that, so I stopped using a false name. So on one of the early DOB publications my name is there as Marjorie McCann. I remember walking down the street somewhere in Center City,
Marge McCann: [00:20:30] Philadelphia and running into a former political science professor of mine who said, "I saw your name in The Ladder, is that you?" You could have floored me, I mean male, political science professor, who knew?
Betsy Kalin: That's an awesome story. Okay. When did you come out to your family?
Marge McCann: [00:21:00] When I was 46. I had just ended the ... had just been ended in a really, really nasty breakup I needed my mommy. I went home and just sat down and told them the whole thing. It turns out that they had each individually begun to think
Marge McCann: [00:21:30] that maybe it was possible within the past year and had started talking about it in the past six months. How if it's not on somebody's radar they don't ... I mean I had been bringing girls home for Christmas for years, years, and it had just occurred to them. I will say that after that
Marge McCann: [00:22:00] they learned a lot and at the end of their lives they were both accepting my current wife as their daughter-in-law. They lived in a community like this and they were introducing her as their daughter-in-law, so I felt really good about that. Excuse me.
Betsy Kalin: Wow, that's amazing.
Marge McCann: Yeah, 46 when I came out to them.
Betsy Kalin: And you'd been an activist for years.
Marge McCann: [00:22:30] Yeah, I had, but didn't get my name in the papers.
Betsy Kalin: Then why don't you tell me about when you were organizing with these early organizations, did you go to demonstrations and what was that like? What was your fears about going out in public?
Marge McCann: I watched demonstrations in Philadelphia. I went to demonstrations in DC, but I watched from behind a tree in Philadelphia because again,
Marge McCann: [00:23:00] family, landlord, job, et cetera. I really admired the people who marched but in the Philadelphia demonstrations for example most of the demonstrators were from New York or Washington. We would very carefully demonstrating in each other's cities because the chance of exposure was much, much less. Only a very few people march in their own city and/or used their own names.
Betsy Kalin: [00:23:30] Did you know people who have been outed and then lost everything?
Marge McCann: Not personally, but the stories were always around. Yeah, I did not know anyone that I know of. I mean this was also the time when you met somebody in a bar and you hit it off, and you went home, and you slept together, you still don't know their last name or where they worked because of the fear.
Betsy Kalin: [00:24:00] So why don't you tell me a little bit about what the activists were doing in Philadelphia and what it was like here? What kind of environment it was?
Marge McCann: I'm not sure how to answer that because-
Betsy Kalin: So it was it big? Was it small?
Marge McCann: Small, it was always a handful, we could have met in anybody's bathroom,
Marge McCann: [00:24:30] always a small group of folks. People came and went on the fringes, but always a small group of people who were trying to ... It's odd that I can't frame what we were trying to do because
Marge McCann: [00:25:00] we would try to get fair treatment in the press, or we would try to get visibility without being visible, you know because you have this conflict. Although the goals were probably even written, DOB for acceptance in society, et cetera, they were so lofty
Marge McCann: [00:25:30] that the actual actions didn't have a specific purpose, as I look back on it. I'm just talking about the things I was involved in, because I know, for example Frank Kameny was doing really, really important work in DC. He was doing focused employment based work that had real goals.
Marge McCann: [00:26:00] I'm not saying we didn't have real goals, but we had, again just speaking for myself, the desire to do something, but not a strategic oversight of what that would look like. Maybe that's it.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, I mean that makes sense.
Marge McCann: [00:26:30] Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: It sounds all very grassroots and very beginning.
Marge McCann: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: I remember I read this and I thought this was really interesting because it's so different than today, but that being an activist, when you would go to the bars and talk to people like they didn't-
Marge McCann: Oh no. No, no, no. I can recall walking into Rusty's and having people turn away,
Marge McCann: [00:27:00] and I finally figured out and asked people, the fact that we were trying to make being gay more visible and more accepted, what people feared we were doing was raising the community's knowledge about gay people, which threatened their closets. Suddenly people would look at those two women
Marge McCann: [00:27:30] who walked down the street together all the time and say, "Oh wait, I bet they're gay. I bet they're dikes." People were fearful of that, very, and I don't actually blame them, but we were self-righteous about it. Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: Well I mean it's hard because like you said, I mean you're trying to conquer invisibility but at the same time invisibility gives you tremendous protection.
Marge McCann: [00:28:00] Absolutely, yeah, yeah. Once we made the society believes that not every gay man is a screaming queen, people who are not screaming queens are suddenly more vulnerable to being outed.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, and I found especially with lesbians like no one even thinks, right?
Marge McCann: Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: That you wouldn't even think about it.
Marge McCann: Right.
Betsy Kalin: But now that you know they're out there.
Marge McCann: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, you look at every woman with short hair walking with a woman with long hair and thinking, "Hmm."
Betsy Kalin: [00:28:30] Yeah. I can see that, and it's changed so much.
Marge McCann: Yeah, it has.
Betsy Kalin: So getting into now, this is my movement and my era, so we're getting into the woman's movement.
Marge McCann: Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: So how did you get involved with feminism and the women's movement?
Marge McCann: A couple of women that I worked with were active in planning the ...
Marge McCann: [00:29:00] I don't remember the year National NOW Convention here in Philadelphia.
Betsy Kalin: I think it '72.
Marge McCann: Was it? Okay, '72. Thank you. A couple women that I worked with were involved in planning that, and they asked me to come to some meetings and help, help plan lots of logistic stuff and that's how I got involved, and got very involved for quite a long time. I think that the appeal was the realization
Marge McCann: [00:29:30] that life didn't have to be the way it was, that it was our understanding of the social roles that was giving us problems. For me, the fact that women's roles could be challenged was also an eye-opener as a lesbian.
Marge McCann: [00:30:00] It meant I didn't have to be stuck in the lesbian interpretation of the heterosexual male, and I could be more free to be who I was, and who I wanted to be. That was astonishing, that was absolutely astonishing and mind blowing. So I think for an awful lot of us the women's movement freed lesbians
Marge McCann: [00:30:30] as much as it freed straight women, although it freed them from something slightly different. Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: Can you talk a little more about that because I've talked to people who were like stone butches, right, in the '50s and then the women's movement came and like you said it was mind-blowing?
Marge McCann: It did. It absolutely did. I probably would've been characterized as a stone butch of the '50s and that makes strong limitations on your life,
Marge McCann: [00:31:00] on who you can be, and how you can be. Breaking that mold was astonishing, absolutely astonishing. As you say, you've talk to other people about that sort of thing and it really was huge from that point of view. It was also huge for the femmes who in the heterosexual model were not valued as much as the butches.
Marge McCann: [00:31:30] This, the movement gave the femmes the right to have their opinions valued equally, and I think that was really important as well.
Betsy Kalin: So tell me about working within the feminist movement, were lesbians, did they have to be kind of closeted or were they open?
Marge McCann: [00:32:00] There were stages. I mean The Lavender Menace, Betty Friedan's, was it Betty Friedan's, Lavender Menace? The accusations that the women in Philadelphia were trying to take over the organization here in 1972, a majority caucus all kinds of ... Yes. So over time we lesbians brought the movement along to the point now
Marge McCann: [00:32:30] where in most of the United States, national, now people can say the word, "Lesbian" without spitting or stumbling on the word.
Betsy Kalin: Did you have an experience where you went into a room and said, "Hey, I'm a lesbian"?
Marge McCann: I think I didn't actually ever have to. I was part of the fairly outspoken lesbian caucus,
Marge McCann: [00:33:00] if you will, certainly not anywhere near the top of that pile of people, but one of the people who did insist on, "Wait a minute you can't keep putting us down." So this is not about acceptance of an ideal that doesn't include us, this is about acceptance of us as well. Truth be told, the people who led the movement for the most part,
Marge McCann: [00:33:30] the energy came from the lesbian community, partially because true to the times we didn't have families and kids, we had more ability to manage our own time, and the movement took a lot of time.
Betsy Kalin: Can you remember that convention and what it was like?
Marge McCann: [00:34:00] I can because I was in charge of registration and it got fucked up. There were false credentialing challenges, so everybody had to be re-credentialed and it was a nightmare, but it got done and everybody got to vote, and we still won. Yeah, I remember it from a very personal point of view, here all this work I've done is like shot,
Marge McCann: [00:34:30] and we have to do it all over and they aren't going to let me redo it all over because I'm the one who didn't do it right first time, or something like that.
Betsy Kalin: So that sounds really stressful.
Marge McCann: Yeah, that was really stressful.
Betsy Kalin: After this convention you stayed really active and now, tell me about did you travel the state, the country, what was it like?
Marge McCann: [00:35:00] The state, not the country. Well I was usually involved in planning for the National NOW Conventions and I did go to a lot of meetings in Detroit, I seem to recall, but mostly Pennsylvania. We'd drive for hours to get to some place central, in Central Pennsylvania, places to meet so it was fair to everybody, which meant that it was the intersection of two interstates with a lot of motels, nothing else going on.
Betsy Kalin: [00:35:30] So it seems to me that your social life now and meeting other lesbians happened through the women's movement.
Marge McCann: Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
Betsy Kalin: Can you talk about that?
Marge McCann: What's to say? I mean you have a bunch of passionate, committed women in a motel for a weekend, you meet people, yeah. Actually, I'm trying to think about
Marge McCann: [00:36:00] when I was not going to NOW stuff, I'm thinking that my social life was pretty much non ... I'm kind of an introvert actually, and so I didn't put myself out a lot except for the NOW stuff. So yeah, that was my social life but it wasn't social in between events.
Betsy Kalin: [00:36:30] And so, tell me about your long-term relationships, did you have them in this time period?
Marge McCann: Yeah, enough said.
Betsy Kalin: You said you weren't a stone butch anymore.
Marge McCann: What's that got to do with it?
Betsy Kalin: Talking, sharing details about relationships.
Marge McCann: Well several of the people with whom I was in long-term relationships have since died,
Marge McCann: [00:37:00] and more than a couple actually. I was in a series of your mid to long-term relationships, some people I've lost track of, some people have died. Some I'm still in connection with, and now my partner, Carol and I have been together for 28 years, and we got married right after DOMA.
Betsy Kalin: That's great. Congratulations.
Marge McCann: [00:37:30] Thank you. Thank you.
Betsy Kalin: How did you meet Carol?
Marge McCann: Through friends actually, a friend of hers who was also a friend of mine had recently broken up and had recently gotten involved with a new person to whom she wanted Carol and her then partner to meet. Then she invited the friend, a names thing, invited me to join them, so I met Carol at this dinner.
Marge McCann: [00:38:00] At that time I was involved in a lesbian theater group here in Philadelphia called, Order Before Midnight, and Carol had some previous experience in the theater. She'd worked at Society Hill Playhouse some time ago, and so we were talking theater and she expressed an interest. I said, "We're casting. Call the director."
Marge McCann: [00:38:30] So she got the role, and there we were the only full-time employed members of the theater group, so we were kind of the parents, if you will. We got to know each other. She was involved in a relationship at that time, her partner died some time later, and after that we got together, and have been together ever since.
Betsy Kalin: Congratulations.
Marge McCann: And we're here together as the elderly lesbian couple, one of the elderly lesbian couples.
Betsy Kalin: [00:39:00] That's great.
Marge McCann: Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, because this place is not ... it's mixed, right? So it's straight and ...
Marge McCann: Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I don't even know of a set-aside retirement community, nor would I want one.
Betsy Kalin: That's really interesting. Let's see. Why don't you tell me also how you got involved with the community center here in Philadelphia?
Marge McCann: [00:39:30] Oh okay. At the time that I got involved with the community center that I had heard of, but had never even been to, I was working for the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and Bill Way, who the center is named after, was working for the Redevelopment Authority at that time, and I had some experience in survey research and somehow or other that connection got made.
Marge McCann: [00:40:00] I got invited to a meeting of the community center board to talk about the fact that they wanted to do a survey to find out what a community center should offer the community and would it be received with enthusiasm, et cetera? I offered to design a survey and it got administered and it was pretty interesting, but that's how I got to know the board. Then after the survey work was done they invited me to join the board at the community center.
Marge McCann: [00:40:30] Then that was quite a slog in itself. We had some serious ups and downs along the way, but now the William Way Community Center is alive and well.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, I heard the other day about their archive too. So they even have like an archive.
Marge McCann: Oh yeah. We've been very lucky, even from the time I first got on the board we've always had people who are committed to maintaining the history,
Marge McCann: [00:41:00] so we've always had librarians from the Free Library of Philadelphia involved. There's been a real commitment to keeping our history, and I think that's really important. It provides a resource which turns out people are using for research and things like that. I've always thought it more research for the kids coming up to learn about the past.
Betsy Kalin: [00:41:30] Yeah. No, I have friends who are gay historians and that's what they do.
Marge McCann: Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: So, it's pretty interesting all that work. So there's one thing that I want to kind of bridge all of your organizing and through the feminist movement and see how it's changed because you said when we were talking about how in the early years of the gay movement that the men were having you get coffee or be secretaries. Then through the feminist movement I sensed a change in leadership.
Marge McCann: [00:42:00] Right.
Betsy Kalin: So can you talk about the differences?
Marge McCann: I think that the women's movement has created a really profound social change, and we're still seeing it in the Me Too stuff going on now. I think that what has happened is that there has gradually been an appreciation of two things.
Marge McCann: [00:42:30] One is, if you don't use all the brainpower that's available to you, you're going not do as well if you only use the male people, there are women with ideas too, and you have to use it all. You need to use it all in order to make it effective. The same thing goes for race, if we are deliberately leaving people out of the discourse because of the color of their skin or their ethnic background
Marge McCann: [00:43:00] we are cheating only ourselves, and in the country as a whole. I don't think we're there yet. I think it's clear that we are not there yet, but we have seen an enormous growth in our ability to analyze the situation. I remember reading Ta-Nehisi Coates book
Marge McCann: [00:43:30] and hitting myself upside the head regularly as I read that book. There are other moments like that I think for many, many people realized that they just hadn't thought of it that way before. If that learning keeps happening, I think we will, we can get there.
Marge McCann: [00:44:00] I do however think in the current atmosphere there's a little bit of a backlash to openness to learning.
Betsy Kalin: Openness to truth, education.
Marge McCann: Oh that stuff.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, I mean that's something that I always thought was interesting because when I talked to activists that were there at the beginning they said how it was really hard even when gay men ... to assert themselves and to have their voices heard.
Marge McCann: [00:44:30] Yeah. I think we're making progress. I think the Me Too thing, between Black Lives Matter and Me Too thing I think we're seeing upheavals that really can make strong, strong differences, even though they're both minority movements at the moment.
Betsy Kalin: [00:45:00] Great. So I'm going to go, we have a questionnaire and so, I'm just going to ask you the questions from our questionnaire-
Marge McCann: Okay.
Betsy Kalin: ... which is, three events from your early years that help shape who you are today.
Marge McCann: This kind of questionnaire is dreadful. I mean first of all, most of us don't remember much of our childhood and you're much more likely to remember the bad things than the good things, okay?
Marge McCann: [00:45:30] That's just human nature. Specific events, can't do it.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, I'm going to ask you a specific question to see if this helps. So I was a tomboy and I knew when I climbed the tree in my front yard that was incredibly empowering. I was wearing jeans, I was dirty. I was going up a tree and that to me was like, " Oh I can do this.
Betsy Kalin: [00:46:00] I can do what I want. I don't have to wear this stupid dress and do that." So did you have some kind of outdoors moment or something like that when you were a kid where you felt ...
Marge McCann: Outdoors is where I got away from little brothers and sisters, so find a book, grab some jellybeans, go in the woods, find a tree, sit and read or we had, as I said rural,
Marge McCann: [00:46:30] one of the favorite places to read was climb a haystack to the very top and make a little nest in there, the sun's breathing down, but that's not something that was a huge epiphany, it's just a memory.
Betsy Kalin: You did say though that you were a reader.
Marge McCann: Oh yeah.
Betsy Kalin: Was there something that you read that you were really inspired by?
Marge McCann: [00:47:00] As an adult there have been things, but as a child I read everything I could get my hands on. My father was an only child so I had access to all of his childhood books. So I had the Hardy Boys and I had Tom Swift and all. I didn't have girl books because my father was an only child.
Marge McCann: [00:47:30] My mother was one of six and she didn't bring any books to the marriage that I know of. They were very afraid that I was not going to grow up very well-rounded. So when I first learned to read I was limited to one book a month. So the very first thing I learned to steal was books.
Betsy Kalin: That's a good story. I've never heard anybody being limited to books.
Betsy Kalin: [00:48:00] Was there something that you needed or wanted when you were growing up that you just didn't have?
Marge McCann: I can't think of anything.
Peter Lien: Books.
Marge McCann: But I got them.
Betsy Kalin: You did, you stole them. There you go. You had said too that you didn't have role models.
Marge McCann: [00:48:30] Right, but I didn't know I wanted them, right? So it's not something that I wanted and didn't have. It was something, if it's not in your realm of possibilities you don't miss it.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, that's true. Okay. So during adulthood what are some events that you want to share with us? A key event or did I ask you about them already?
Marge McCann: [00:49:00] I guess, I don't understand key events. Are there things that have happened along the way that have changed you, of course, but they're not usually big events? I mean you learn things all the time.
Marge McCann: [00:49:30] I would wager that most of the things you learn you don't remember where or when you learned them, it's just they gradually became part of the way you look at the world. So you know there have been life changes, but that's what they are, they're life changes, somebody dies, somebody breaks up, some new person comes into your life, you move, that's just life's happening, it's not key events.
Betsy Kalin: [00:50:00] What about things you're proud of, the things that you're really glad that you did or participated in?
Marge McCann: Things I'm really glad I did was mostly outdoor travel, wilderness travel, canoeing the Okefenokee Swamp, things like that.
Marge McCann: [00:50:30] There have been work products that I've been proud of, and still are because I'm still working. There have been moments of pride for my partner.
Marge McCann: [00:51:00] I took my mother to one of the women's rights marches in DC when she was in her late 60s, that was a moment. Yeah. Sure.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah.
Peter Lien: Can I ask a question about the swamp?
Betsy Kalin: He wants to go back to the swamp.
Peter Lien: I just want to know because it seems like you're really proud of that moment, what was a day like for you in the swamp? Did you cook in the swamp? Did you tent in the swamp, what did you do?
Marge McCann: [00:51:30] Yes. Yeah.
Peter Lien: Just talk a little bit about that.
Marge McCann: I was working for the Philadelphia City Planning Commission at the time, and was not in a relationship with anybody, and was just kind of interested in wilderness travel, so I was getting catalogs.
Marge McCann: [00:52:00] Excuse me. I do not remember the name of the outfitter but there was a trip, it was canoeing the Okefenokee Swamp, and this sounded like a lot of fun. So I went, and I had never canoed my life. I do not swim, but hey. It was the first night, so canoes take two people,
Marge McCann: [00:52:30] so there was another single woman, much older than me named, Evelyn Peterson. I can say her name because I'm actually sure she has not lasted this long, so we paired up. She had canoeing experience so she was in the stern and I was in the bow. I learned really, really quickly, but that first night we paddled along a river on the way to the swamp,
Marge McCann: [00:53:00] and it became salty because that was in the Everglades, okay? Anyway that first night we camped on an island in the Everglades that Okefenokee was the next trip, made entirely of oyster shells that had been left by the Native Americans who had lived in that area.
Marge McCann: [00:53:30] I just remember being covered in rain gear because I had neglected to bring mosquito repellent, eating raw oysters from the water into our mouths and being just as happy as I could possibly be. In Okefenokee Swamp we camped on platforms built in the swamp, you were there surrounded by swamp water
Marge McCann: [00:54:00] and alligators making dreadful noises and things like that. One day it was kind of rainy and we were canoeing along, and we stopped for lunch and it was rainy, so we were passing food on paddles back and forth to each other because there's no dry land where we were and then we set off again. So in Okefenokee the cypress trees go up and create this canopy for you,
Marge McCann: [00:54:30] and it is almost cathedral-like. Evelyn Peterson and I got ahead and we came to a big open area in the swamp, we didn't know which way we were supposed to go from there so we stopped and just shipped our paddles. Sat there in the middle of the lake-ish kind of place. We were very quiet,
Marge McCann: [00:55:00] and all around us alligators started to surface, kind of surface and look at us and go back down and surface. My camera was under my seat. I didn't, couldn't move to reach it because I didn't want the moment to be over. I didn't want to scare them, didn't want to startle them. So they got used to us and they drifted away. My canoe partners started singing, and that's one of the moments
Marge McCann: [00:55:30] that is like a photograph that just stays with you for all time. It was another one of those sublime moments which had nothing to do with being gay or being in the movement, or anything else, just one of those sublime moments.
Betsy Kalin: That's a beautiful story. That's a beautiful story, oh my gosh. Thank you for sharing that. I've been there.
Marge McCann: Oh really?
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, Because it's breathtaking.
Marge McCann: Oh yeah, it is magical.
Betsy Kalin: Yes. Yeah.
Marge McCann: Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: [00:56:00] Yeah, in fact one of my favorite photographers was Clyde Butcher, whom has been in large for ... oh my god. So do you have a story like that about the movement? Like anything ...
Marge McCann: No.
Peter Lien: No wait, wait, that is the movie.
Betsy Kalin: I know.
Peter Lien: So that we can literalize, have moments like that.
Betsy Kalin: Like that.
Marge McCann: Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: That we want to have the freedom to do what we want.
Marge McCann: Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: [00:56:30] Are there three people that you want to talk about for the record? Just three other people who you think should be known in our archive and that we should know about?
Marge McCann: Joan Fleischmann. The other people mostly I didn't know their last ... Do you know Eva Freund in DC?
Marge McCann: [00:57:00] I know other people's real names I don't know. Like as I said, Julian Hodges in New York, Bob King, Robert King, excuse me, in DC. I never knew their real names.
Betsy Kalin: Can you talk a little bit about Joan?
Marge McCann: Well we were partners for quite some time, six years or so. She was an English teacher who lost her job.
Marge McCann: [00:57:30] If memory serves it was because somebody outed her, but I'm not certain of that anymore, rather more forceful than one would expect a femme to be at that time. She did good work, she was a good writer. She did good organizing work, but always a little bit behind the scenes.
Betsy Kalin: [00:58:00] That's great. So what do you think is the most significant change that LGBTQ people experience today compared to 50, 60 years ago?
Marge McCann: Visibility. I mean that's what we've talked about.
Peter Lien: Put that into a whole sentence.
Betsy Kalin: [00:58:30] Yeah. Can you just repeat a part of my question? So like say, "The biggest change today is ..."
Marge McCann: Okay. So the biggest change today is that the right wing is calling Emma Gonzalez a lesbian, and people are rising to her defense. I mean it's all about visibility. We were invisible in the '50s and '60s,
Marge McCann: [00:59:00] now we are visible and becoming accepted as real people with real opinions, and real abilities, and real power and that's huge, and Emma Gonzalez is my hero.
Betsy Kalin: Why do you think this happened? Why do you think this change has come about?
Marge McCann: [00:59:30] I think it was incremental. I mean all of the work that everybody did along the way in the movement prepared us for this. As each little incremental single person's mind change has built to the next one, and the next one, and the next one. As people have had the courage to step out because the people before them prepared some way for them to step out and that builds.
Marge McCann: [01:00:00] There are huge watershed moments with regard to legislation or that kind of thing, but they have built on the work of those before, they absolutely have. You can't just ... things are going to change, you snap your fingers, not going to work that way.
Betsy Kalin: Are you optimistic?
Marge McCann: [01:00:30] Yes, because I essentially believe that people are good underneath it all, and I think that's what it takes to be optimistic these days. Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: It's a hard time.
Marge McCann: It is a hard time. It is a hard time, but this time it isn't just focused on us.
Marge McCann: [01:01:00] I think actually that the bases of the American experiment are under attack, and that affects all of us. Some more than others, because white people with money
Marge McCann: [01:01:30] are certainly more protected from the impact of the changes that are happening than are poor or marginalized groups, but the changes will affect everybody.
Betsy Kalin: I mean the thing. Hold on, can you hear that outside? Yeah, we're just going to wait until I think the ... Do you want to go out and just tell them?
Speaker 3: [01:02:00] Me?
Betsy Kalin: Yeah.
Speaker 3: Oh sure. Do you want me to stay out there?
Betsy Kalin: No, no. Just ask them if they can move.
Peter Lien: Just ask them to be quiet.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, to be quieter. Okay. You're doing great.
Marge McCann: What?
Betsy Kalin: You're doing great.
Marge McCann: Thank you.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah. It's great.
Betsy Kalin: [01:02:30] Yeah, you can come in. Oh is he still there?
Peter Lien: You want to come in? No.
Marge McCann: He's probably talking to the people out there.
Peter Lien: I'll just keep rolling.
Betsy Kalin: Okay, we're going to keep rolling. I think what I've noticed in talking to a lot activists who have been organizing since the '50s and '60s
Betsy Kalin: [01:03:00] is that yes, this is depressing and upsetting, and all of that, but it feels like just another one of the pushbacks and yet we're so far ahead already, but they do on the whole seem very optimistic.
Marge McCann: We will get through this. We will get through this. I don't know what we'll look like
Marge McCann: [01:03:30] and how long it's going to take us to recover, but we will get through it. I hope to live to see the recovery.
Betsy Kalin: I hope so too.
Marge McCann: And be able to have the mental capacity to appreciate it.
Betsy Kalin: I mean I just think that what the kids are doing, it's phenomenal.
Marge McCann: [01:04:00] Yeah. It actually speaks highly of our education system which has been under a great deal of attack of late. I mean those kids are good. Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: I think they're great.
Marge McCann: They're great and one of the most impressive things about those kids is their acknowledgment of their own privilege and they're welcoming
Marge McCann: [01:04:30] less privileged kids to be represented. I think that's astonishing. Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, it's a huge change.
Marge McCann: It is. It's a huge change, yeah.
Betsy Kalin: So our final questions they're meant to be like short answers. So if a person comes to you tomorrow and says that he or she is thinking of coming out,
Betsy Kalin: [01:05:00] what advice or guidance would you give them?
Marge McCann: Do it if it's safe. Don't risk your livelihood, risk friends, and family. Don't risk your livelihood. You need to be able to continue to fight, you can't do that if you don't have a livelihood.
Betsy Kalin: [01:05:30] That's a good point. What is your hope for the future?
Marge McCann: Oh my. I would like us to find a way to have true integration, that's my hope for the future.
Betsy Kalin: [01:06:00] So in integration can you tell me what you mean exactly?
Marge McCann: For me integration means valuing each person
Marge McCann: [01:06:30] in the context of not just accepting, but respecting their different perspectives, but on a much more practical level we won't solve education till we solve residential segregation. So I mean you can talk about the high level integration,
Marge McCann: [01:07:00] but on the ground we won't solve problems in the educational system until we solve problems in residential segregation because the effect of residential segregation is to create separate and not so equal educational systems, which you're in violation of the Constitution.
Betsy Kalin: [01:07:30] My whole last documentary was all about that.
Marge McCann: Oh yeah?
Betsy Kalin: Yeah. So I looked at planning in East Los Angeles and restrictive housing covenants, as well as redlining.
Marge McCann: Oh my.
Betsy Kalin: So you can talk about this all day for me. So why is it important for you to tell your story?
Marge McCann: [01:08:00] I'm not sure it is. I don't think I'm very different from a whole lot of other people. I think it's important historically to know that people did this work, but as far as my individual role in it, not particularly important.
Betsy Kalin: I disagree, but ...
Marge McCann: Well you may.
Betsy Kalin: [01:08:30] I think it's important to hear stories about people who got brought into the movement. I think what you said about how it was a personal growth. You did it because you wanted to be accepted and it was a personal thing, I think that's just as important today.
Marge McCann: Okay.
Betsy Kalin: [01:09:00] So OUTWORDS is the first national project to capture and share our histories with in depth interviews, and why is it important? Please mention OUTWORDS in your answer.
Marge McCann: I think that OUTWORDS is doing the work that needs to be done to establish a base of information,
Marge McCann: [01:09:30] data if you will, that can inform future movements. Oral history, I believe that oral history is a fundamental necessity for understanding the breadth of practically anything in society.
Marge McCann: [01:10:00] I think oral histories have been missing in classical historic analysis because the records of people who were just ordinary people doing stuff have not been maintained. So I think OUTWORDS is doing great service to the future in terms of getting the oral histories of ordinary people who participated in a particular set of changes in history.
Betsy Kalin: [01:10:30] That's so good. That was so good. Do you have more questions?
Peter Lien: Yeah, I don't want to get my ... How are we doing on time?
Betsy Kalin: We're doing pretty good.
Marge McCann: No, it's after 10:00.
Betsy Kalin: I have another question if you don't, but I ...
Peter Lien: Oh I have some questions.
Betsy Kalin: Okay.
Peter Lien: But I wanted to get a little bit more flavor of your experiences.
Peter Lien: [01:11:00] So I mean you get exhausted from doing NOW work, you would come home and you would literally read a book and go to work, and do that routine over and over again. Then you would get something in the mail and you'd start thinking about the next NOW Convention. So there must have been a moment when you got something in the mail that really your brain started going off on a tangent about how you can bring something new to the movement,
Peter Lien: [01:11:30] did you ever have an awareness like that in your downtime, not at the kind of-
Marge McCann: Yeah. Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: And you talk to me.
Marge McCann: Right. I just have to think. I don't know, there were always controversies in the movement and sometimes letters flew back and forth before email, before the internet, letters flew back and forth.
Marge McCann: [01:12:00] I generally, I don't recall a specific one, except dresses. The whole respectability versus out there controversy, but I do not recall, and I'm sure there were times when something happened and triggered
Marge McCann: [01:12:30] that kind of a reaction to get going, do something, but I don't have a recall of anything. As I explained to Mason, I do not have very good memory.
Peter Lien: So talk about the dressing thing. I know Frank Kameny had a very stringent idea over dress in public. What was your relationship to that?
Marge McCann: I wore dresses to demonstrations. I mean if you're looking for acceptability the theory was you had a fit in,
Marge McCann: [01:13:00] flamboyant didn't work in those days, and still doesn't work all that well.
Peter Lien: Can you described the dresses you wore during Frank Kameny's protests in the '60s versus ... which you probably were watching behind a tree okay?
Marge McCann: Still wearing a dress.
Peter Lien: Still wearing a dress. So after the women's movement started and the butch-femme thing started breaking down, can you describe what you wore in contrast from those two times?
Peter Lien: [01:13:30] Just describe maybe a wardrobe element, how would you look differently? Paint a picture.
Marge McCann: Yeah.
Peter Lien: It doesn't have to be accurate, but like how you would recall best how you looked at these times.
Marge McCann: I was, look a good deal thinner, most of us were.
Marge McCann: [01:14:00] What I wore to work didn't change until very much later, and so what I wore at work is what I wore to these demonstrations because that was respectable. Skirt, blouse, heels, stockings the whole schmear. Not makeup, I never did that, but I used to curl my hair.
Marge McCann: [01:14:30] Started wearing slacks to work probably in early '80s. First of all in the '50s and '60s it was only one manufacturer of pants for women aside from jeans. There were no women's jeans, if they were they had side zippers, which is dreadful.
Marge McCann: [01:15:00] But there was a manufacturer called, John Meyer of Norwich, which made Bermuda shorts for women with fly fronts and slacks for women with fly fronts. They were all in demand among the butches. I'm sure that that was their marketing plan. Stopped wearing heels after I had surgery for toenails, beautiful excuse.
Marge McCann: [01:15:30] Pretty much, I moved here with no skirts, okay? That was five years ago. So at work I became more and more slacks and a jacket, but so did a lot of other people, you know? I mean there are still women here who wear the occasional dress, but almost everybody here,
Marge McCann: [01:16:00] almost all women here wear slacks almost all the time.
Peter Lien: Okay. So I remember hearing in California that there was a dress code law that women could be arrested wearing pants. Did you ever experience anything like that?
Marge McCann: No.
Betsy Kalin: No, they weren't a thing.
Peter Lien: What's that?
Betsy Kalin: They wore dresses.
Peter Lien: Right, I mean I'd learned that it was illegal sometimes to wear pants.
Betsy Kalin: It was, people got arrested.
Peter Lien: So I didn't know. Yeah.
Marge McCann: Now in Philadelphia in the early years in the bars there was three items of clothing rule you had to have.
Marge McCann: [01:16:30] I can't remember whether you were supposed to not have more than three items of the opposite gender or you were supposed to have three items of yours, or whatever it was, or otherwise you could be arrested.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, that was the rule.
Marge McCann: Yeah.
Betsy Kalin: It was three items. If you were a woman you had to have three feminine items.
Marge McCann: My question a lot was always, "How do shoes and socks count?"
Betsy Kalin: Count.
Marge McCann: Are they two or are they one?
Betsy Kalin: [01:17:00] So that leads into ... see my question is, the thing that I really benefited from the feminist movement was sexual awareness and sexuality, because before that with butch-femme you were all these conscribed rules on sexuality, but sexuality is meant to be free and expressive and all of that, so how was your experience of the changes before and after?
Marge McCann: [01:17:30] Long and slow. A stone butch, not so much now, but also I'm 78 years-old, so you know, but, yes it has been a change, but it's awfully personal.
Betsy Kalin: [01:18:00] Yeah. I mean I think my generation's really lucky because we did not have the prescribed rules and we were able to find.
Marge McCann: Right.
Betsy Kalin: I think it was a more open even fluid kind of thing that you were allowed, but I think that's one of the things that a lot of women don't talk about. They don't talk about you know how important is ... I mean we talk all this talk, "We're lesbians. We're lesbians. We're lesbians."
Marge McCann: Right.
Betsy Kalin: Right. But sexuality is such a strong part of that.
Marge McCann: [01:18:30] Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Betsy Kalin: And it's something that a lot of people just don't feel comfortable celebrating.
Marge McCann: Right. Sure, especially on television.
Betsy Kalin: Well thank you for speaking with me.
Marge McCann: Okay.
Peter Lien: Are we good?
Betsy Kalin: Are we good?
Marge McCann: Yeah. Okay.
Betsy Kalin: Okay, I think we're great.

Interviewed by: Betsy Kalin
Camera: Peter Lien
Date: April 05, 2018
Location: Kendal at Longwood, Kennett Square, PA