Mary Morten is a consultant, filmmaker, and feminist who has spent her life advocating for LGBTQ and women’s rights in Chicago. 

Born on Chicago’s south side, Mary was the youngest child in a devoutly Catholic, social-justice oriented family. After receiving her B.A. in communications from Loyola University Chicago, and fired up by Geraldine Ferraro’s historic 1984 campaign for vice-president of the United States, Mary started volunteering with the Chicago chapter of the NOW. Quickly noting gaps in the chapter’s diversity, Mary spearheaded the formation of a lesbian rights committee and a women of color committee. By 29, she had become Chicago NOW’s first Black woman president. 

In June 1997, Mary was appointed Mayor Richard M. Daley’s liaison to Chicago’s gay community. Literally within days, Chicago garnered headlines around the world for officially promoting its North Halstead neighborhood as a gay destination. Around the same time, Mary co-founded what would become the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, an organization promoting inclusion and safety for LGBT youth. She also developed an anti-racism program for the LGBT community, “The Color Triangle: A Different Look at Race in Our Community.” Mary served as Mayor Daley’s liaison until 2000, when she was named director of anti-violence prevention office for the Chicago Department of Public Health and led the implementation of the city’s violence prevention plan.

Throughout her career, Mary has also used radio and film to advocate for change. In the early 90s, she co-created the documentary “The Nia Project: Images of African-American Lesbians.” She also produced “Leaving the Shadows Behind,” a short documentary on activism in the Black LGBT community. In 2011, Morten directed her first full-length documentary, "Woke Up Black," chronicling the lives, dreams, and struggles of five young African-Americans in Chicago. In 1996, Mary was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.

In 2001, Mary founded the Morten Group, a social change consulting firm. OUTWORDS had the distinct honor of interviewing her at her Chicago home on our very first interview road trip, in the summer of 2016. 
Scott Drucker: [00:00:00] Camera speeds.
Mason Funk: Do me a favor and tell me your name and spell.
Mary Morten: Yes. Mary Morten, M A R Y M O R T E N.
Mason Funk: Okay. Why dont we just start by talking about one of the things we referenced in our first phone call, I guess our only phone call was your The family you grew up in and how they What you do is not necessarily surprising given the family you grew up in. Can you tell me about that? Tell me about your ?
Mary Morten: Sure On the far south side of the city in Chicago. Im the youngest of six.
Mary Morten: [00:00:30] I grew up in a family where my mother was very involved in the community. She was a precinct captain which is in Chicagos neighborhood someone who really helps get out the vote essentially. I was always in a lot of meetings as a young person. I started going to meetings at a very early age and just listening and listening to all the adults talk about all the relevant issues.
Mary Morten: [00:01:00] It was really clear that my mother in particular felt that you have to give back in some way, that there is some work you have to do here. That saying of service is the rent we pay for living was really taken to heart in our family and that youre really either part of the problem or youre part of the solution. From a young age, I saw that, it was modeled for me and I think thats how I ended up getting involved, if you will, in so many different projects as I got older,
Mary Morten: [00:01:30] it was just what I grew up with. Let me just say, it is not everybody in my family thats like that, interestingly enough. It is primarily me and I think in some ways its because I spent so much time with my mother because I was the youngest, my mother was older and also didnt want to leave me at home with my sister because we would often be fighting. It was easy for me just to go with her to meetings. Thats how I got involved in community work.
Mason Funk: [00:02:00] Do you remember Were you kind of like, Argh, mother another meeting? Or was there something Was it different? Were you almost like ? Did you know at an early age that this was a place that you would end up spending a lot of time as an adult, these kinds of activities?
Mary Morten: I dont know if I knew that thats what I would end up doing but I knew that I felt very comfortable in that environment and I knew by the time I even got to high school. I went to an all-girl private Catholic school out in the suburbs and I was in a class where there were probably not more than twenty black students,
Mary Morten: [00:02:30] twenty young black girls. I felt comfortable in that environment because my brother was in the seminary and so from a very early age we had lots of folks coming through our house who were different, who were not black, who were white, who Just a lot of diversity really. I could tell for a lot of the students this was the first time they had been around folks that didnt look like themselves and that was really again part of what I had grown up with.
Mary Morten: [00:03:00] I had a Jewish drama teacher who was a very close friend and really along with the work I was doing and the places I was going with my mother, really just exposed me to a ton of things because I was interested. I was always very interested in lots of things and that has not changed and sometimes its a detriment. I have a lot of interest and I was just curious, very curious. Started with being in the community groups
Mary Morten: [00:03:30] and working, doing murals and things like that. I feel like it was infused in everything I was doing. What I found, and I think is true, is when you find someone whos really interested, whos really curious, you just take them along with you.
Scott Drucker: Im so sorry to interrupt. I need to format this cart so if I can just go back and delete the clips from the other speeds.
Mason Funk: What I was going to ask you, I had never heard that expression, service is the rent we pay for living.
Mary Morten: [00:04:00] Right, its a I believe its a Marian Wright Edelman quote.
Mason Funk: Start by talking of what quote youre talking about.
Mary Morten: Theres a Marian Wright Edelman quote, and Im just paraphrasing but essentially its service is the rent that we pay for living. That was certainly something that we lived by in my family and it was never said. Its not like we walked around quoting people but it was very clear as I grew older that that is essentially what my mother in particular was modeling for me. That we need to give back,
Mary Morten: [00:04:30] we need to give back to our communities, to our neighborhoods. We need to make things better if we can.
Mason Funk: Is that faith based would you say or not? How does that relate to a familys faith or an individuals faith?
Mary Morten: Right. I grew up in a family that was very, underscore, very Catholic and so I often describe it as, and this is true, that on our mantle, there was a picture of Martin Luther King,
Mary Morten: [00:05:00] a picture of Jesus and a picture of the Mayor Daley, the father. That was the group. I dont Maybe for my mother it was faith based, who was very involved in the Catholic Church. For me, and I grew up Catholic certainly, it was more this is the right thing to do. It was much more in a social justice, I would say, bent.
Mary Morten: [00:05:30] Really looking at things around feminism and that maybe my first foray, if you will, into the womens movement, womens community was through Chicago NOW here. I had been reading Mens magazine and I was reading Essence magazine and I just thought, Ive got it covered. I know everything there is to know. I was very much independent and I had not come out. When I really went and got involved with Chicago NOW I was not out, if you will. I came out very shortly after,
Mary Morten: [00:06:00] but I always had this strong sense of self and would have described myself as a feminist very early on. I think thats where all that came from, but it was never For me, it was not faith based. It may have been for my mother but it was not for me.
Mason Funk: Tell me a little bit about Not in Chicago, about how a Catholic family, who was Mayor Daley to a Catholic,
Mason Funk: [00:06:30] a Chicago, an African-American or white I guess, who was Mayor Daley to someone as you were growing up, who was he?
Mary Morten: Well first of all, two things Ill say. People were often surprised when I say I was raised as a Catholic. When I was growing up and as I went into school, people would say, I didnt know there were black Catholics. Actually this is one of the largest congregations in the country is in Chicago. There are lots of schools. Some of them have been closing
Mary Morten: [00:07:00] but still fairly large group of black Catholics. In Chicago, Mayor Daley, Irish-Catholic mayor, and was mayor for years and years and years. He was the only mayor I knew growing up. I think he was the only mayor. Then his son took over after him and as things work out, I ended up working for his son, I was a mayoral appointee. However, in Chicago, it was We talk about how business is done,
Mary Morten: [00:07:30] how politics work and there is something people refer to as the machine, which is really essentially patronage jobs and you need to know someone, to know someone, to know someone to get something done. That was certainly very much part of the infrastructure here in Chicago. It was understood. We used to have a saying, vote early, vote often to get out to the polls. Chicago, at the same time its important to know is one of the most segregated cities in the country.
Mary Morten: [00:08:00] I grew up in an area where it was almost exclusively black but lived very close to an area that was almost exclusively white, and went really back and forth between those areas because I had programming I was involved in or I was in this drama group or Again, this idea of moving in between communities is something that I think thats what I became really comfortable with at an early age. This idea that really you can take all of yourself somewhere
Mary Morten: [00:08:30] was something that I had never really experienced growing up. As I said, I was not out until my early twenties and I was just this young black woman going to college, went to Loyola University. Majored initially in criminal justice because I wanted to be I was going to do pre law and then I realized, which probably sounds silly, but I thought, Oh criminal justice.
Mary Morten: [00:09:00] That means Im going to be working with criminals. Now, as it turns out many years later, Ive done a lot of work with incarcerated folks and formerly incarcerated people but at that time, at seventeen or eighteen, nineteen, whatever I was, I did go in and declare a majors criminal justice and about a year or two later, I changed my major to communications with the sociology and theatre minor and majoring in radio and TV. Again, I wanted to always tell stories. I always really wanted to document
Mary Morten: [00:09:30] and be this narrator of what was happening. I never had a real interest in being in front of the camera. All that I think it stems from my activism of understanding that there are so many people that dont have voices, that we dont hear their stories and thats really what Im committed to doing as an independent filmmaker, in the midst of all the other things that I do. I really want to tell stories. I want Because I think thats what has the ability to change hearts and minds at the end of the day.
Mary Morten: [00:10:00] I work on legislation, I have a policy in advocacy background. Its very important to meet with legislators, to know who your representatives are. I think at the end of the day, what has changed, what made the difference for marriage equality honestly was people really changing hearts and minds. We need the legislation but we need real people to talk to other real people about the reality of their lives. I think
Mary Morten: [00:10:30] I believe in the goodness of people and I think when they hear stories, even some of the folks with the hardest hearts, we start to break down some of those barriers.
Mason Funk: Wow. Thats really powerful. I agree with you. Obviously thats why Im here. Its powerful to hear you I resonate with what youre saying because its so true to me. Now, when you In the Catholic Church women are relegated to a certain role.
Mary Morten: [00:11:00] Yes, they are.
Mason Funk: When you began to form a more of a sense of yourself as a feminist, did that cause any conflict?
Mary Morten: Yes.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Mary Morten: I went to, as I said, an all-girl Catholic high school in the suburbs, Elizabeth Seton. I can remember sitting in the car with my mother one day to her saying, Well Im not sure why I need to go to confession. Why do I need to go to confession? Why do I need to go in and tell this man, this white man on top of it, what Ive done so he can tell me that God forgives me?
Mary Morten: [00:11:30] Im just not sure why I just cant do that myself directly. I remember my mother turning my head looking at me like, Have you lost your mind? I will knock you out of this car. That was the first conversation and probably the only conversation we had like that because part of it was you want your children to be free thinkers and to explore the world, but then it runs up against something that you fundamentally believe in. What I think is interesting is that my mother,
Mary Morten: [00:12:00] whether she was conscious of it or not, was demonstrating to me all the things I was saying. Even though yes she was married to my father, she was very independent. She was the one who was more educated. She had a nursing degree, a bachelors of science, my father did not, had not gone to college, and was really just somebody who I admired enormously. I saw her as an activist although we werent using that word and she I remember one summer she decided that she was going back and get some additional courses.
Mason Funk: [00:12:30] Do you mind saying that, I remember one summer my mother.
Mary Morten: Okay. I remember one summer my mother decided that she was going to go back and get some additional Do some additional coursework and for a degree to an early childhood education because she was working in some childcare centers. She said, Well Im going to need to go to Milwaukee for this program so Im going to have you and your sister go and stay with a relative
Mary Morten: [00:13:00] and your father will be here. Hell be fine. Hell be okay by himself and was like, See you. We were gone. We went to camp, thats what it was. We went to summer camp a couple of hours away. My sister was a counselor, I was a camper. My brother was in a seminary at the time so my mother got in touch with me and said, Were going to meet your brother in St. Louis. Hes getting ready to go to Brazil. Then youll go back to Chicago. Im going back to Milwaukee. This was when I think about it, Wow, okay sure.
Mary Morten: [00:13:30] It didnt seem odd to me. When I reflect on it now I was like, Wow, she was doing all that. My father was like, What am I going to do? Okay. He didnt really have much to say about it. Again, she was modeling this independence. It was interesting as I became older that she would say things like, which was completely I feel just out of the experiences I have had with her, Well youre going to need an escort. An escort? What are you talking about? An escort? Youre going to get to a point where youre going to really want to go someplace with a boy.
Mary Morten: [00:14:00] Im like, Really, I am? Okay. It wasnt like I wasnt interested in boys. I was. I had crushes on them. I was dating men. Actually I was dating men generally who were much older than me because I looked older. I was probably 511 by the time I was in eighth grade so I just continued to grow. I always looked a little older than I was and therefore, I ended up going out with men that were a little older than me. She was completely supportive of that.
Mary Morten: [00:14:30] It was clear that she felt that was something that I was going to need. That I was Youre going to Were going to have to get you some clothes to do this and the other. I think Okay, Im going to stop because I completely lost where Im supposed to be going now. I just lost What thread were we on? Theyre so many that are popping around in my head now.
Mason Funk: It was the thread of you What youre saying is your mother was modeling feminism for you.
Mary Morten: Yes.
Mason Funk: [00:15:00] But at times also your emerging feminism also brought you into conflict with your mother.
Mary Morten: Right okay. I had that conversation with my mother. I had the conversation with my mother about religion and why I needed to go through this formal confession process. Then I remember one year as I think many people had this experience of you have a year book and your parents signs it or everybody signs it and then maybe your parents sign it. It was senior year maybe,
Mary Morten: [00:15:30] maybe even junior year. Actually, it was going into junior year. People were writing missives. Oh this. I had very close relationships. I actually loved high school. I was in every club, I loved it. One of my friends, who I think I later realized I had a huge crush on, we had been going back and forth on the phone for hours. Id go out to her house, she lived out in the burbs, but then when I would get with her, like wed go on a field trip or something, Id be sitting right next to her. She said,
Mary Morten: [00:16:00] Why is it youre always so quiet whenever were together? It seems like we have all this stuff were talking about on the phone and Later on I realized that oh Ive got a really huge crush on her. I think that was my first serious crush. She wrote in my book ... We were Im sorry, let me back up. This friend I had in high school I was very close to, wrote in my yearbook, Tell your mother not to worry, I wasnt going to jump your bones.
Mary Morten: [00:16:30] I didnt think anything about that. Forgot about it. My mother is reading my year book and going, What does this mean? Oh my God whats happening? So she is convinced that she needs to pull me out of this school because maybe Im going to turn into a lesbian, oh my God. She actually talked about pulling me out and sending me to the closest public school. My oldest brother, who was older by almost twenty years actually,
Mary Morten: [00:17:00] seventeen years or so, said, Why are you doing that? Why are you disrupting her life? I was getting ready to be a junior. Shes done really well in school, why would you do that? He talked her down, if you will, and then I think I because not really understanding what was going on or what my mothers problem was, it was about the same time that I also did, probably start doing more dating, so maybe she felt calmer about that. Whats interesting of course is that all this time I have a younger I have a brother
Mary Morten: [00:17:30] who is older than me because Im the youngest, so its me, my sister and then my next brother who is very gay, super gay. I dont know how they Of course they knew he was gay but nobody ever talked about it. No one ever said anything. My mother showed him how to make clothes. He made a lot of our clothes for special occasions. When I was eight years old in second grade, I was wearing a little hair piece. I thought that was completely normal.
Mary Morten: [00:18:00] I thought all eight year olds wore hairpieces. What do I know? Whats my context, right? My brother is the one who showed me how to put on makeup. He was a female impersonator. I didnt know that until I was an adult and had come out by then, but thats why he was always coming home late at night because he was working at a very well-known established drag bar here called The Baton. All that was going on as the background, I didnt know it. Ill tell you how I figured some of that out
Mary Morten: [00:18:30] and why it makes It was very odd that my mother reacted that way to what she thought might be my burgeoning sexual orientation with regard to being a lesbian. When I was in eighth grade as I said I was already very tall. It was really hard to find shoes that didnt look like honestly like they were for my grandmother. We found this great pair of white sandals for my eighth grade graduation. I really only wore them around the graduation and then I forgot about them. Then later that summer I thought, Where are those white sandals,
Mary Morten: [00:19:00] I cant find them anywhere. During this time, my brother had come back home for a while and he had left home, come back home, all this. He was in one of the bedrooms in the basement. I had been tearing up the house looking for these shoes. Where are these shoes? How can a pair of shoes just disappear? This is absurd. I happened to go downstairs in the basement and Im aimlessly walking around and I happen to look in his closet and I go, Wait a minute. Oh my God, those are my white sandals,
Mary Morten: [00:19:30] and clearly been worn by someone they were not made for. That was I didnt really understand what was happening. I was like, Why does he have my shoes? I dont know if I ever talked about it to anyone. I dont know if I just snatched them. I dont even remember at that point but I remember that moment where I saw those shoes and I thought, He has been wearing my shoes. Again, never talked about, no one ever said anything about it.
Mary Morten: [00:20:00] Then you fast forward to all the stuff happening with me. My brother goes away. What I found out later is that he was in the business. He was working on theatre plays. He was working with Stephanie Mills, he was working with Maurice Hines. He was performing. He was very well-known in the drag community and very highly considered and really gorgeous. I have to say just absolutely gorgeous. I did not experience him in that way. I didnt know about any of that until probably about two years before he died of AIDS.
Mary Morten: [00:20:30] You have all this going on as backdrop. Hes making clothes. Hes making clothes in our home, hes making clothes for my mother, hes making clothes for our prom, all that was never discussed. I would say that he was one of the favorites of my mother in terms of you get a sense of how people are being treated and he was Id say highly favored. We had the same birth date. We were always close.
Mary Morten: [00:21:00] Even if You know how you cannot see someone for a long time and then you pick right back up? That was how it was with us. In any case, I think my mother may have been concerned because she knew about my brother but of course we never discussed it and thought, Oh, we cant have Mary go down this road too. Again, never actually said anything. I go back to my high school, I graduate, Im dating men. My mother is very supportive of that.
Mary Morten: [00:21:30] Again, nothing ever said directly about sexual orientation, but it was clear that, as Ive gotten older that of course she knew and it was just some decision was made not to talk about it. Moving forward, I think I didnt have those conversations with my mother very often because she saw it as just being somewhat disrespectful
Mary Morten: [00:22:00] to really question the Catholic Church. Although again, Im getting conflicting messages because she is doing a lot in the church. She is somebody everyone knows. She is volunteering, very active. In my church, we started a gospel choir which was a choir then that where you would clap and have instruments, drums, guitars, that was unusual apparently. I was coming up right after Vatican II
Mary Morten: [00:22:30] which is when there were major changes in the Catholic Church. Nuns stopped wearing habits in some cases, all those kinds of things. Further down the road for us to have a gospel choir was a big deal. My mother was very supportive of that, I was in the choir for at least ten years. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I probably was in the choir until I moved from home to go to college. That was part I continued to come back and support different activities but once I did realize that I was a lesbian,
Mary Morten: [00:23:00] it actually happened after my mother died, which I dont think is a coincidence. My father died when I was sixteen, my mother died seven days after I turned twenty one. Probably about a year after my mother died I remember telling my roommate, gay man, I said, I had a dream that I was kissing a woman. He said, How did that feel? I said, Well it felt okay.
Mary Morten: [00:23:30] He said, I think you should go with that. I think you should really play that out. I was like, Really? I didnt know what that meant. Of course I had tons of gay male friends and I didnt really think much more about it. Then I ran into someone I went to grammar school with who was always rumored she was like that. We were in a book store and so in my attempt to make sure she knew I dont care, Im cool with all this,
Mary Morten: [00:24:00] I went and stood in what at that time was the gay and lesbian section of the bookstore. Just as I say Im down with this. We ended up lightly dating and that was probably my first relationship with a woman. Then came out of that closet and just kept moving. Let me just say that to me early on
Mary Morten: [00:24:30] because I was also very much I considered myself a feminist, I really was doing all this work with myself and with other communities at the same time, so thats when I I came out when I went to Chicago NOW really. I really came out and I can remember telling the associate director who was a mentor and a close friend to this day, I told her, because my first girlfriend really was through Chicago NOW.
Mary Morten: [00:25:00] I met her at Chicago NOW and we were in a relationship for three years. She lives about a mile from me now. We I think At Chicago NOW it was during the Mondale/Ferraro campaign and I walked in saying, Oh gosh, I think Im home. I was longing for a place where I could have deep conversations about issues that I cared about and I was not really around folks on a regular basis
Mary Morten: [00:25:30] where I could do that. I was really excited to walk into the offices of Chicago NOW in the midst of this campaign where a woman was running for vice president. I was really excited about that, I just wanted to get involved. I walked in, I want to get involved. As often is the case and was the case even then and especially then, I was the only black woman in the room.
Mary Morten: [00:26:00] I remember saying to the associate director, who became the executive director and a very close friend, I said, Why arent there any other black women or women of color here? She said, Well thats a really good question, and we had this long talk about it. I felt like she wasnt just giving me lip service, We just dont know why they dont come here. Because that was certainly early on. People would say, Well we built it, why arent they coming?
Mary Morten: [00:26:30] I think we know a lot more now about organizing and meeting people where they are and being culturally appropriate when youre organizing in communities that are different from your own. That was not the case in the 80s certainly not with this chapter of Chicago NOW. Let me just say, this was one of the most diverse chapters of Chicago NOW in the country. It was one of the largest chapters of Chicago NOW. We had five or six staff. It is really where I got my leadership chops, if you will.
Mary Morten: [00:27:00] Again, this idea of you want to do something, were going to make it possible for you to do it. Youre interested, then you can do it. I had a natural Let me start that again and I have to scratch my nose for one second because its really bothering me.
Mason Funk: All right. Did it reset as normal?
Scott Drucker: Yes. Its fine, otherwise we would have
Mary Morten: Where was I?
Mason Funk: Let me
Mary Morten: Yes.
Mason Funk: Let me direct you for a second so we kind of refocus a little bit because weve covered a lot of territory.
Mary Morten: [00:27:30] Yes I know. Thats the I start talking and then its gone all over the place.
Mason Funk: All bets are off.
Mary Morten: Yes, thats right. Its weaving all around.
Mason Funk: At least I dont have to pull, I dont have to get things out.
Mary Morten: No, that will not be a problem. It wont be the easiest thing to edit but it wont be a problem to get me to talk.
Mason Funk: Yes. I think what I do want to go back to for a little bit is when youre talking about your family, first of all, you said your mother considered pulling you out of your high school after she read that thing in your yearbook.
Mary Morten: Yes.
Mason Funk: [00:28:00] I want to finish, I want to get a little bit more specific about what did happen or what she said to you. I want to hear that story in a little more detail and maybe we can just take that as a standalone piece. Weve set up the whole thing, your mother reads and she What was her reaction, what did she say to you, what happened? Start kind of when my mother.
Mary Morten: When my mother read my yearbook, she was upset and talked to my oldest brother about it and essentially said, Well I think shes going to need to be transferred. I think she needs to go to a school thats got some boys around her
Mary Morten: [00:28:30] because it sounds like shes getting very close to some of the girls shes going to school with. That is where my brother intervened and said, That doesnt make any sense. Shes doing really well. Just let her stay where she is. For whatever reason she agreed to do that. Give it a, well see. Thats what happened. I ended up of course graduating from there and she was very happy and excited about that.
Mason Funk: [00:29:00] Did she say anything to you directly?
Mary Morten: She said
Mason Funk: My mother.
Mary Morten: My mother said that she was worried, concerned about this note that Debbie had written in my year book and as a result really thought I needed to go to a different high school, she didnt go into any much more detail than that. It was just implied. Again, I dont think I really understood what the problem was because it was so far removed from my life in many ways.
Mary Morten: [00:29:30] I was just like, This is a close friend, thats all. She didnt mean anything by that. My mother immediately read something into it and was concerned and as it turns out she had reason to be.
Mason Funk: Now, let me ask you a cross cultural question.
Mary Morten: Okay.
Mason Funk: The code of silence around these matters, your brother and you, do you think thats a characteristic of families in general or do you think that was a particular characteristic of African-American families or maybe African-American Catholic families? How do you read that?
Mary Morten: [00:30:00] Goodness, let me think. With regard to whether or not there is a code of silence around talking about issues around sexual orientation, much less gender identity, but sexual orientation in African-American families, I think it was generational for sure. I think
Mary Morten: [00:30:30] it was influenced by religion, absolutely it was influenced by religion. I think one of the things that has always been very different particularly in black families about the perceived code of silence around sexual orientation is that when you ask people, Did you ever grow up or know any gay folks? Im like, Well I knew Uncle John had a good friend or uncle Whomever,
Mary Morten: [00:31:00] somebody had a friend that they thought, Well who is that person to you? They just accepted that person. It wasnt a discussion about it but they were accepted. I think thats more of what happened. There was never an out now discussion about my brother but it absolutely was known and probably talked about in whispers but never out in the open. I think that was absolutely influenced by religion but I think it was also, as I say, generational.
Mary Morten: [00:31:30] What I always appreciated is that certainly within our family, my brother was treated well. He was treated very well.
Mason Funk: What was it like for you just on a personal level to lose your father at the age of sixteen and your mother just after your 21st birthday, how did that affect you?
Mary Morten: I was not particularly close to my father. It was difficult because In my mind it was more difficult
Mary Morten: [00:32:00] because of what I saw my mother going through and also how my family were at each other which sometimes happened. The worst occasions can be funerals and sometimes weddings. It was a sense of loss but not nearly as dramatic as the one that happened five years later when my mother died because I by that time was the only person at home, the only child at home and had gotten to a point where I was a caretaker.
Mary Morten: [00:32:30] I can remember many times being in the emergency with my mother at sixteen years old and that I had driven her to emergency or gone with her to the hospital. At sixteen, seventeen, I can remember having a part time job and being close enough so that I could drive home during lunch and check on my mother. That loss was much more significant because I was so much closer to my mother. We were,
Mary Morten: [00:33:00] as I said, when I grew up, I was often the only one at home because my sister is seven years older than I am. We spent a lot of time together. Played a lot of games. I was very shy, people find it hard to believe, growing up very shy like dont talk to me kind of shy. At home, I would take on these different characters. I would be these different characters. My mother would just go along with it. I would go upstairs, come down and be somebody else and have this whole conversation and she would just go with it.
Mary Morten: [00:33:30] Then eventually I started taking drama classes, thank goodness, where all that came out but I was very shy. We hung together a lot, so it was a huge loss when she died on a number of different levels. She was also, as I think is not unusual, the person who brought everybody together in the family and then I tried to do that, not necessarily successfully. We gathered around her and then when she was gone, things started to break apart a bit.
Mason Funk: [00:34:00] Wow.
Mary Morten: Yes.
Mason Funk: How do you think your Then at the age of 21 youre thrusted into the world on your own to a certain extent.
Mary Morten: Right. I was going to say by the time I was 21, I was already living away from home. I was in college. I had been working on a regular basis since I was sixteen.
Mary Morten: [00:34:30] I was actually when my mother died, Im going to stop again. I dont know whats happening with my nose. Okay, goodness, okay. When I was When my mother died I was on a play at Loyola. I was in rehearsals because I was a theatre minor. I was doing Raisin in the Sun and I was playing the role of Lena Younger whos the matriarch. I remember my director saying, You still are Youre not aged enough.
Mary Morten: [00:35:00] You really need to take this inward in a different way than youre doing. I had a vocal coach, all these different things and then my mother died. I took about a week or so off because we were close to opening and when I came back, I remember when I went into my first rehearsal my director said, Okay, you got it. Whatever had been missing was now there and it was like okay, lets move forward. I know that was impacted obviously by my mothers death and being a person that when my mother died,
Mary Morten: [00:35:30] the people that were closest to me at that time were two gay male friends, one white, one black. I did not, the night of the funeral or the We go back to the family home and all that, I went back for a while but I did not stay. I went and stayed actually at a friends house out in the burbs. One of my closest friends and roommate, was someone I actually met in a restaurant
Mary Morten: [00:36:00] and weve been friends ever since. I was very close to him and I went and stayed with him because that was more comfortable to me at that point than staying with my family who were going through all the kind of things that you often go through when someone has died. I just didnt want to be around it. I remember my oldest brother again saying, You need to take care of yourself. Whoever you need at the funeral you should have there and you need to take care of yourself. I said, Okay, Im going to take that to heart and where I would be most comfortable with staying out at Davids. Thats what I did, I stayed at my friends house.
Mason Funk: [00:36:30] Great. This is Youre a fantastic story teller. Im so proud of you right now. I just have to say it. Im going, Yay.
Mary Morten: I know. I would say if somebody who is on the other side of that camera, most of the time it is nice when it works out that way where youre not feel like you have to pull teeth.
Mason Funk: No guarantee.
Mary Morten: No, thats not helpful.
Mason Funk: Yes and were not just letting them rumble. Im kind of like just telling myself just dial back your anxiety, this is all going to be fine
Mason Funk: [00:37:00] because I was saying to Scott on my way over here, I was like, I dont know why Im so nervous? My anxiety for whatever was just spiking. Its now just
Mary Morten: Good.
Mason Funk: Yes. Tell me a bit more I just did this big six hour documentary series about sex and one of the things we were talking about was the early resistance to lesbian women in the National Organization of Women.
Mary Morten: Yes, National Organization for Women, its actually called.
Mason Funk: [00:37:30] For Women, exactly.
Mary Morten: Yes.
Mason Funk: I think we interviewed Gloria Oreb of all crazy people and she told a story, I think it was actually the 19 Anyway, she told a story about how Maureen Reagan, at one point there was a big event happening and they wanted to bring up a comic who was a lesbian, Maureen Reagan said, No way, no how were not going to have lesbian comics at a NOW Conference. Anyway you
Mary Morten: Its another type of woman.
Mason Funk: [00:38:00] You came along I guess Im curious to know when you first got involved in NOW what was the climate for somebody who was a lesbian?
Mary Morten: Yes. When I got involved with NOW during the Mondale/Ferraro campaign there already was a lot of swirling about, about NOW being either not for women of color and certainly this organization not being for or about anyone who might be a lesbian. I was not out as I said when I walked into the doors of Chicago NOW and some people would say, Well see thats why you turned into a lesbian because you went into Chicago NOW. I just wasnt out literally
Mary Morten: [00:38:30] but it was already there. My experiences in Chicago never mirrored anything that I heard nationally. I was very aware what was happening nationally and what I always thought was as I got more involved with the organization and eventually became president of this chapter, first black woman to be president in twenty five years, first out lesbian. I had to really look at both those issues. I think thats always
Mary Morten: [00:39:00] whats challenging about having multiple identities. Im not black here and a lesbian there. All that comes with me. I really felt strongly about trying to build a space that was welcoming. I felt that it was but I thought externally that was not understood and so we started a lesbian rights committee and we started a women of color committee. I really couldnt do one without the other and so we established those committees while I was president of the board.
Mary Morten: [00:39:30] During the same time that I was president of the board, just as I was stepping down, the Anita Hill hearing started. I remember being interviewed about that and the lesbian piece didnt come up. I had to come out, as I said I didnt have to, I came out while I was at NOW and one of my major issues was reproductive justice or what we at that time called reproductive rights.
Mary Morten: [00:40:00] I remember saying to Sue Parrington who was my associate director, mentor, friend, I said, I really want to come out around this issue because there is a clear connection around privacy rights, around reproductive justice. She said, Well, you should write an article. Write an op-ed piece. I wrote an op-ed piece for our local gay paper and that was me making those connections and really was the first time I was very out about being a lesbian
Mary Morten: [00:40:30] and why I fundamentally felt that this was an issue that certainly the LGBT community, not that we were calling it that at that time, needed to be concerned about and that we needed to do a better job of being each others ally which is still an issue today. We still have not done a really good job at that. That was my coming out, if you will, at NOW. I never had any problems. I can remember walking in to Sues office because the woman that I was seeing
Mary Morten: [00:41:00] became my really first girlfriend, had decided we were going to tell Sue, we were going to tell someone at NOW and so we told Sue. We walked in, closed the door, We have something to tell you. She was like, Okay, great Im happy for you. Then tonights meeting. It was like lets move on, it was no big deal. Thats really what you want ideally when youre coming out in that way for the first time and coming out in an organization. I did not really have any problems. If people had problems with me,
Mary Morten: [00:41:30] they didnt let me know that and I can Yes, if people had problems I wasnt aware of it. I did know that there was swirling about and I did know that people had that perception here locally. I did a lot of work around reproductive justice, reproductive rights and I was often the only black woman in the room or one of three or four. I think that also kept me engaged because I felt that it was important for other women of color to see this was an issue that women of color cared about.
Mary Morten: [00:42:00] Its always been an issue that women of color have cared about. Black women in particular have always gotten abortions but again culturally not talked about. There is a lot of talk about it being genocide to the race and things of that nature. I never saw it in that way and would have to regularly do a lot of media. I did a ton of media where I was sitting in situations where I was the pro-choice person in there and there was an anti-choice person across from me.
Mary Morten: [00:42:30] I did a lot of that. I allowed myself really to be used, if you will, because we didnt There werent other women of color who were doing it or were available to do it, who felt comfortable doing it. I showed up at the clinics. If youre going to do clinic defense work which is making sure that women can get into a clinic to have an abortion, you have to be there at 5am, 6am in the morning because the anti-folks, anti-choice people would show up and put glue in the locks
Mary Morten: [00:43:00] so you couldnt open the doors and all those kinds of things. When we would have to do some kind of a rally or make sure we had presence at a clinic, I often would do the press. I got very comfortable with that, I didnt really have any issues with it and I was never And no one in my family. If they had an issue with it, they never told me either. I did that work and again, all those rumors about certain issues not being issues that NOW would take on or NOW is not interested,
Mary Morten: [00:43:30] I just didnt have that here in Chicago but I know that it was happening nationally.
Mason Funk: Great, fantastic. Two things that didnt happen I want to follow up on. One, just because from that education I guess, why did the shift occur from calling it reproductive rights to reproductive justice?
Mary Morten: Right. One of the things that I would say the womens movement and in particular I would have to say the white womens movement did not do well was only talk about abortion as abortion.
Mary Morten: [00:44:00] We knew early on that culturally you could not talk about it in communities of color like that. Life is precious in a different way. I think it certainly for black folks it may extend back to slavery in terms of preserving life, taking care of life, having control over life, but really believing that always life comes forward and that it wasnt so much an issue about the It never really reflected what was best for the woman.
Mary Morten: [00:44:30] When we made this change from reproductive rights to reproductive justice it was because we understood that we needed to talk about the right to have an abortion in a broader context. In the context of family planning a woman should have the ability to decide when, whether and with whom to have a child and that is a decision that she makes personally and that she makes with her healthcare provider. It is not for the government to intervene, right? Justice, on a broader level,
Mary Morten: [00:45:00] when we talk about its not just about a right because as you may or may not know there is something called the Hyde Amendment that was put in place many years ago that really took away all federal funding for abortions, Henry Hyde from Illinois. That was felt very deeply here in Illinois and in Chicago and there was an understanding that we must look at the issue of abortion in a broader context. How do we talk about justice,
Mary Morten: [00:45:30] how do we talk about healthcare as an issue around access as a right, and not something that only a few people can have. Because always throughout history if a woman wanted to go to her doctor and have an abortion and she had the ability, the means to do that, she could do that and women have been doing it for years. Before it was legal, here in Chicago there was something called Jane. Jane was an underground group of women
Mary Morten: [00:46:00] who were providing abortions to women on the south side in Hyde Park probably not far from where you were. These women were on the south side of Chicago. It was a very intricate network where women would be able to get into this pipeline and get an abortion because women were desperate to have control over their lives. Women know when they can have another child or not and its absurd to think that anyone else other than them really should be making that decision.
Mary Morten: [00:46:30] This idea of it not being a Of moving it from reproductive rights to reproductive justice was to look at it in a larger context and to look at it related to other issues that women were working on. It particularly resonated well with women of color, the justice issue because again this idea of how are you each others ally or advocate, there are many issues that I could be standing with somebody on the front lines
Mary Morten: [00:47:00] of a protest for reproductive rights issue but then two days later Im at another protest and its around some issue that clearly is related to race and how are we bringing these two issues together? How are we being each others ally and advocate? People have been slow to understand that that is really whats critical in terms of coalition work and in terms of moving legislation forward. I think one of the reasons that Roe v. Wade continues
Mary Morten: [00:47:30] to hang by a thread is that we have not done a good enough job at making sure that people understand all kinds of women need and have had abortions and that this is a family planning issue. It is an issue that is immensely private. I think as long as we continue to put the face of this issue out as primarily women, of white women,
Mary Morten: [00:48:00] primarily white women who are of means, we will continue to fight this battle around hanging on to Roe v. Wade which is really has ebbed and flowed over the years but I just feel that we have not done that work. Ive been on the board of Planned Parenthood, Ive chaired a group here called the Chicago Abortion Fund. Again, first African-American woman, first out lesbian, all that,
Mary Morten: [00:48:30] because I felt that was my issue. Thats how I came to the movement was through reproductive rights, so its always been an issue that Ive cared very deeply about and I think fundamentally its just not anyone elses business.
Mason Funk: A weird question just occurred to me. Have you ever felt Among the women who were fighting for reproductive justice, a really weird question but here it comes. As a lesbian, because you I guess you could say,
Mason Funk: [00:49:00] probably could never have become pregnant in an unwanted fashion did anybody ever question ?
Mary Morten: Why?
Mason Funk: Because I guess My ignorance just let me fly.
Mary Morten: Okay.
Mason Funk: Its just I tend to think of women having abortions as heterosexual women who have become pregnant because they had sex with a man and they became pregnant at a time where they didnt want to become a parent. Whereas, a lesbian who might decide to have a child or for gay men for that matter, its much more a planned out thing.
Mason Funk: [00:49:30] I just wondered, did anybody ever question you as a legitimate spokesperson for reproductive justice as a lesbian?
Mary Morten: No actually, I never was. I think part of that was that I think the folks that honestly knew that I was a lesbian, its not a huge number I think number one. I say that only because years down the road when I became the mayors liaison to the LGBT community, what my brother would go on to describe as Mary is the mayors lesbian.
Mary Morten: [00:50:00] I think people were surprised because they knew me in the womens community but they didnt necessarily know for whatever reason that I was a lesbian. I remember when I would say, Oh, Im going to this new position and this is what is needed. I could see that like, Do you have to be a lesbian to do that job? Or does this mean youre a lesbian? They werent quite sure in some cases. There were a lot of people that did know but there were people that didnt know. Im not sure that people knew but I was never questioned is the short answer.
Mary Morten: [00:50:30] I was never questioned. I organized the first press conference in the Mid-West with African-American women for reproductive justice. Pulled women together because I thought it was so important that we have a face on this issue that was not just white women talking about.
Mason Funk: Great. Then another question, this is all part of me learning which is I never would have understood if you hadnt just told me how for African-American women, for black women, abortion has a different connotation.
Mason Funk: [00:51:00] The idea of self-inflicted genocide, I never would have thought that.
Mary Morten: Right.
Mason Funk: I wondered if you could just talk more about that. What this rub has been and how essentially terminating the life of an unborn child is seen differently or has been traditionally seen differently for people of color than for white women. Obviously a big topic.
Mary Morten: [00:51:30] Right, a big topic. I think when you think about what abortion means in people of color communities, it is important to keep in mind the historical context around the ability to have children, to have children that are wanted. Also this idea of when is the fetus a viable life so that we dont refer to it honestly, we dont refer to it as a baby when its three weeks old. Yes, if youre In terms of saying this is Because at that point obviously the child is not The fetus is not viable
Mary Morten: [00:52:00] that early in the pregnancy but I think for many people it was seen as another way to take away from the race particularly men who have been very vocal about it.. Because another great bumper sticker was if men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament. I so believe that we would not be having these conversations if men really
Mary Morten: [00:52:30] were impacted in quite the same way that women are. I think for many people they might make the distinction around whether or not youre pro-choice or some people will say Im not pro-abortion Im pro-choice meaning that I want women to have the choice and maybe you say its something that I might personally never do and some women will say that. This idea that if you have a child that you know from testing is going to have a disability, some folks want to have the ability to end the pregnancy.
Mary Morten: [00:53:00] If youve had a number of miscarriages. There are all kinds of reasons why someone may need to terminate a pregnancy. Again, not for anybody else to have to decide, right? This idea that we dont think that women can make a decision about their bodies is of course, it is sexism on steroids, if you will. It is unbelievable the misogyny that is just so clear in those kinds of actions
Mary Morten: [00:53:30] and words is overwhelming at times to think that. That its often always men. Thats whats unbelievable about it. Its men who are not ever going to be impacted in that way. This idea of speaking on behalf of people that you really dont have a relationship to in any meaningful manner is I think what infuriates so many of us who work on this issue. That is just constantly being chipped away and chipped away.
Mary Morten: [00:54:00] It makes it very difficult. In people of color communities again we understood that we needed to talk about it in the context of family planning and that we needed to have these conversations with young women at an early age to make sure they understood, here are your options. Thats the concern in schools and in other places that young women arent told their options. If you want to talk about adoption thats great, but when you talk about adoption in most of the anti-choice communities,
Mary Morten: [00:54:30] theyre talking about little blue eyed blonde babies, theyre not talking about kids of color, absolutely not. That piece has also been very disturbing. They say they want to take care of all the children, have the children, put them up for adoption. Well who are the children that are sitting in these agencies now? Primarily kids of color.
Mary Morten: [00:55:00] That seems to be missed somewhere in this argument in terms of the reality of peoples lives and what we must do to support women who find themselves in a difficult situation. If a woman has had a couple of children already and knows that she doesnt want to have anymore, nor can she take care of anymore, why would you force her to do that, right? Why would you force her to do that? I think that the reality of peoples lives, its better than it used to be but it is not where
Mary Morten: [00:55:30] it should be. Its always brought up as a platform at any political debate, certainly in our national elections. Whos pro-choice, whos not and cases, and where are you okay with being pro-choice. Again, is it absolutely not okay except in cases of rape and incest? I think thats been a very difficult complex conversation for people to have and for people to really understand.
Mary Morten: [00:56:00] I see people becoming more vocal because one of the things that we realized many years ago was that we are not, we meaning pro-choice folks, are not as vocal as anti-choice people are. I could be riding downtown and I could see a huge billboard, clearly anti-choice. Do we ever have any billboards like that for pro-choice folks, no. People will strike up a conversation Anti-choice people will talk to you about being anti-choice anywhere, not pro-choice people, we often dont know.
Mary Morten: [00:56:30] One of the things that we talked about was how do we level the playing field? How do we normalize this so that people feel okay talking about it? We have to take some of that concern about people knowing where you are on that issue away because thats what the anti-choice people do. They just get right in your face about it all the time and we dont do that in the pro-choice movement. We try to be a little bit more polite, but sometimes you cant be polite about it. Were talking about womens lives at the end of the day.
Mason Funk: [00:57:00] Right. Wow. For you personally as a lesbian woman of color, you mentioned you bring your whole self everywhere you go, but its a lot. I wonder if sometimes just on a personal level These are realities that I just cant understand and imagine as a white male.
Mason Funk: [00:57:30] Do you feel like youre carrying a lot of weight for Do you always have to be a certain way in order to kind of like be a standard bearer?
Mary Morten: Oh, God yes.
Mason Funk: The first to take the first step?
Mary Morten: In my life, I have often been the first or the only in almost every position Ive had. When I I got used to at an early age people saying, Oh, but youre so articulate. Oh my God, you speak so well. Im of course wondering, Well why would you expect anything different?
Mary Morten: [00:58:00] I was raised My mother as I said was a registered nurse and then she became an educator. There was never this idea or if youre going to college its when youre going to college. Thats just what was understood. As Ive goten older and found myself in these situations where I was the only or the first, it is enormously challenging, at times overwhelming. Certainly when I was president of NOW I felt that way.
Mary Morten: [00:58:30] I became the first African-American president of the board for Chicago Foundation for Women which was one of the largest womens funds in the world. I absolutely feel the weight of being out there and being a role model. I know that its important for people to see other people that look like them in positions and in organizations to make sure that they feel like, Okay, this is a place that I can come that I can feel safe. I understood that early on.
Mary Morten: [00:59:00] I didnt shy away from it, it just comes with the territory. There is no other Im not going to not go for an opportunity because Im going to be the first or the only or whatever and sometimes I didnt even know that. I didnt know that necessarily, I would find out later. It is hard. Theres just no two ways about it. Its hard. It will wear you out because of the expectations that not only the folks who are from your community
Mary Morten: [00:59:30] but also folks around you from different communities in terms of what they expect you to do and how out front you will be on particular issues and how vocal you will be. Everything from how I dress to certainly when I was younger how I wore my hair, all that was put through this filter of you are a black woman living in a white world, which is pretty much how it is now. You have to be better than everybody else and you always have to be prepared, you always have to be ready.
Mary Morten: [01:00:00] I became When I came out of college, I went right into middle management. Ive never been in any other position. I immediately started supervising people. I supervised people that were old enough to be my parents when I was coming out of college. They were a little resentful of that. I did not necessarily have a mentor so I was reading every book I could on management and who was it? The One Minute Manager, I think thats Ken Blanchards book which would say dont dress for the position youre in,
Mary Morten: [01:00:30] dress for the position you want to be in. I took that to heart. My policy has always been to be a little bit more dressed than everybody else. A little bit more this than everybody else because thats just how I came to it. Because I came into management at a very early age, I had to figure some of this out. I would look at people around me. I would see who was advancing. I had to learn how to supervise people which is, there is an art to supervision.
Mary Morten: [01:01:00] I was a consultant, I can say that to other CEOs and executive directors, but I had to learn a lot of that on the fly. That is one of the reasons why I feel it is so important to give back and to I will always make time if somebody says, I just want to talk to you because Im looking for a job or I want to talk to you because Im changing careers or I want to talk to you because I dont have anybody else to talk to. I always make time for those women and men as well, but in particular women
Mary Morten: [01:01:30] because eventually I did find women who would do that for me, but earlier on I didnt have it and I know how important it is. I particularly know how important it is as a black woman. I felt constantly on stage. Let me just say, my theatre background came in handy because Im a huge proponent of fake it till you make it. There are times when I remember telling a prospective employer this, I said, I may not know the answer but no one will know that I dont know the answer and Ill find out the answer.
Mary Morten: [01:02:00] Because I was going into a position where I had a lot of volunteer experience around policy and advocacy, but I didnt have paid experience and so the president was asking me, Well how are you going to finesse this? I said, Dont worry about it. I will take care of that. Because I was so used to being in situations where I was not only the only person of color, or the only woman or the only black woman, I went into positions like that all the time where I was being challenged by men. You got to step up
Mary Morten: [01:02:30] and you have to exhibit a certain amount of self-confidence even if you dont feel that way because if not, they will just eat you alive. It does take its toll but this is life and I dont have any experiences that Im sorry about. Everything has prepared me for the next level and I think thats hard to see early on but everything has prepared me for the next level. Now Im running, Im in the fifteenth year of my own consulting business. Never thought I would do that necessarily.
Mary Morten: [01:03:00] Did it as something that was my reaction to honestly not getting a fellowship that I applied for, that I was in some ways pulled out of because of conflict of interest. Meaning that I was a finalist for a fellowship that would have given me a year off to make films and they felt that I was connected to somebody in a decision making role and so I was pulled out.
Mary Morten: [01:03:30] My advisor for that process said, You should just stay. Its time that it will be In a few months, youll go back into the process. You can probably get it the next time. I thought that means I need to stay in my current position in city government for a lot longer and I wasnt willing to do that and so I started my own consulting business.
Mason Funk: How are we doing for time?
Scott Drucker: We have twenty eight minutes left on this timer.
Mason Funk: Perfect, okay. Do you want to take a break at all?
Mary Morten: No, Im good.
Mason Funk: We could fire up the AC for a few minutes if you want, I dont know.
Mary Morten: [01:04:00] Its getting a little warm. It is a little warm. Yes can we do that?
Mason Funk: Yes, lets do that.
Mary Morten: It was going to have to happen. He just took his time doing it. Thats fine.
Mason Funk: Yes, crazy times this year.
Mary Morten: Yes.
Mason Funk: I guess thats what I want to focus on for the last half hour. One thing you said earlier on that I want to go back to about different groups not working out well together. Thats I think a topic worth exploring. Then Id like to just talk about where we are as a nation
Mason Funk: [01:04:30] and how is the LGBTQ concerns and how it doesnt? I just want to hear your take. Its something we can talk about off camera but I feel like Tell me are we speeding?
Scott Drucker: Yes, were speeding.
Mason Funk: We should kill the AC.
Mary Morten: Yes, kill the air.
Scott Drucker: Yes, Ill go around. Cameras speeding.
Mason Funk: I think the question I wanted to pick up on was you mentioned and to kind of something else how different groups within
Mason Funk: [01:05:00] Im not even sure what groups youre referring to but, We hadnt had a great job of working together. Thats broad and vague but what did you Do you remember where your thoughts were?
Mary Morten: Right. Well I think one of the things that the LGBTQ community has not done well is work in coalition. We have not worked on behalf of other folks. We have been I think, often singularly focused and only working on our issues or what we perceive as our issues. I think certainly Prop 8
Mary Morten: [01:05:30] out in California was a very good example of that in terms of initially people saying, Well its because African-American voted against it. We assumed if they were voting for the president they would vote for this as well and all kind of assumptions were made that people had not really taken the time I think to look into, to build those relationships in those communities so that when Now we have so many issues that we need to do that around. Certainly around immigration,
Mary Morten: [01:06:00] certainly around violence and gun control. We have not been others allies much less advocates in a way I think that has been meaningful and it has hurt us. It is much more normal fare for me to do that because I have multiple identities. Im not just showing up some place as a gay person.
Mary Morten: [01:06:30] A number of years ago, here is an example, I put together a program called, or initiative called t=The Color tTriangle:A Different Look at Racism in Our Communities. At the time I was an on air personality for a gay radio station, LesBiGay radio. I wrote a grant for this radio project that was really going to be an attempt for us to look at racism in the LGBT community in a variety of different ways.
Mary Morten: [01:07:00] I remember when I talked to people about it they thought, Racism? What are you talking about? What racism? Like what do you mean? I said, Well first of all, we are a microcosm of the larger society, of course there is racism here and we need to address it and this is an opportunity to do that. We had various work groups. We had a dinner committee, we had a leadership development committee because what we kept hearing and certainly I was hearing as a consultant was, Well Id like to make our board more diverse but we just cant find anybody.
Mary Morten: [01:07:30] We cant find anyone. When what really people were saying is, We cant find people who dont look like us but think exactly like we do. Thats what people really want. I think this idea of being an advocate, of being an ally, is a huge downfall of the LGBTQ community and has really impacted advancing some of the concerns and challenges weve had legally at a faster rate. I think marriage equality is the perfect example.
Mary Morten: [01:08:00] Certainly here in Illinois it was. Did not work first time around and why? Because the coalitions that needed to be put in place were not. The second time around they were and it passed. That is not by accident. This is a proven technique, its a proven strategy. Why we think we dont need to do that is beyond me but I think people learn those lessons the hard way but once you learn it you dont forget it and it is something that should be applied to,
Mary Morten: [01:08:30] as I said a number of other issues that we have in front of us, whether its around gun violence, whether its around immigration issues, the number of folks that are being detained by immigration and customs and enforcement here or ICE as is referred to particularly trans folks. We have a huge issue with trans women of color being killed. As I was saying on a panel on Saturday, this would not be an issue
Mary Morten: [01:09:00] if this were happening to, I would even say white gay men, it wouldnt be an issue. It would be addressed and it would be addressed very quickly but weve got trans folks and then weve got trans women of color. Two groups that we dont really particularly care about in general or at least that would be the appearance or the impression that I have. So many things that we need to do we have to address. In order to be successful we have to address issues around race.
Mary Morten: [01:09:30] Really centering racial justice in the work will also address all the other isms that we need to deal with, right? The sexism, the ableism, the classism. There are so many things that are really about class but we think theyre about race and theyre really about class. Having some frank conversations about that which was something I was trying to do literally fifteen years ago through this initiative that lasted for five years and then we sunset it, we intentionally sunset it. We made a conscious effort
Mary Morten: [01:10:00] we werent going to just let it peter out. We sunset it and closed it, but it could be just as relevant today honestly and I made some relationships in that work which are long lasting. So much of our work and so much of our success is really only going to happen if we build relationships. It really is about relationship building and across communities. Thats something that I think I have done a lot of. Thats what I When people say,
Mary Morten: [01:10:30] Well, what do you think your particular role has been or your niche has been in all these? I think that I connect people and its because I live in various communities just as part of my life and that I connect and work with people in various communities. I try to bring those people together as needed, but it is so important as I said that we are each others ally, and that even if Im not sitting at the table you understand that Im not at the table, but that my position needs to be represented,
Mary Morten: [01:11:00] and until I can get in a room or someone else can get in the room that maybe looks like me, we still have to do that work. We dont get to say, Well, theyre not here, so were not going to talk about them or think about them. I think that has been the case for expediency sake, right? We certainly know a number of years ago that when there was major push for ENDA, there were national organizations that thought, Well, we dont include trans people, thats okay. We just need to get this done. No.
Mary Morten: [01:11:30] They have continued to pay the price for that exclusion, and were hurt as a movement. Were hurt as a movement. Its just not something to say. Its just not a nice thing to say. Really, there is strength in numbers and there is strength in the diversity of opinions. I think that we have aways to go in terms of really internalizing that. I think marriage helped people see that, and theyre starting to think about it, but we have a ways to go.
Mary Morten: [01:12:00] We have youth who are experiencing homelessness, right? The numbers are growing. We need to talk about that issue. We need to talk about poverty because for many years there is this perception that all LGBTQ folks are doing just great. Theyre all above the poverty line. They dont have any concerns around income. Thats not true. Again, we know that certainly that it impacts people of color disproportionately,
Mary Morten: [01:12:30] and as someone I was with this past weekend said, We need to stop saying that and just say thats racism. Thats what racism is when it impacts people of color disproportionately meaning theres only thirteen percent of African-Americans in this country, but that we make up these huge numbers in other areas whether its incarceration, the school-to-prison pipeline, youth who are experiencing homelessness, thats racism, and we have got to talk about it. Its not going to go away. I would like to think the people know that now.
Mary Morten: [01:13:00] If they have not seen that in the last several years, they have been living under a rock.
Mason Funk: Wow, Im a little ... I have two questions. One is a bit of a slam, but I do think it was ironic that after the Orlando massacre, all the gay Frankly white gay men came out of the closet and said, We have to talk about gun violence.
Mary Morten: Thats right.
Mason Funk: Like what?
Mary Morten: [01:13:30] Well, thats a perfect example. When we have the situation in Orlando which was horrific and horrible, and really almost exclusively where brown and black people killed, then people thought, Oh gun violence, I guess I do need to be concerned about it because now its hit our community. That is really sad. The hopefulness that I have is that we may see some work in a different way than we had before on the issue
Mary Morten: [01:14:00] because there is a new interest in it. I think we use that to our advantage. Im annoyed by it, but Im also smart enough to know we use it to our advantage, right? If we can make something happen around gun violence, then we need to do that. I was already working on that issue, but if the larger LG, queer community, LGBT community, whatever wants to now work on it, great. We need the numbers. We need folks stepping up, but it is very frustrating
Mary Morten: [01:14:30] that all these other mass murders that have happened, whether it was Sandy Hook, even as far back as Columbine, whatever has happened that people did not feel, Weve got to do something about guns, about assault weapons. There is no reason why anyone needs an assault weapon, period, just walking around down the street or have the ability to get one, right? That makes me hopeful. Again, as I said, Im annoyed by it
Mary Morten: [01:15:00] but it also makes me hopeful. Id like to think pragmatic enough to understand if we can use this to push this issue forward, then lets do that. I hope that along the way theres some other enlightenment and education that comes for people who didnt feel like this was an issue that was their issue that they needed to care about. The fact that we have so many conceal and carry laws now in so many states, I think it just increases the chances of that happening more often.
Mary Morten: [01:15:30] Im like, Come on in, the water is just fine. A lot of us have been doing this work for a while, you are slow to it, thats fine. Lets try to move forward, but we must do it in a way that is respectful, that is culturally appropriate and that honors the work that has been done. I think were also a community that forgets history and certainly when I talk to
Mary Morten: [01:16:00] folks in their twenties now who dont have any context for some of the legislative wins that have been made over years, and just sort of were like, This is how life is. I get to walk down the street with my boyfriend or my girlfriend holding hands and life is great. Its like, No, someone died for you to have that ability. I think you got to pay it back. You got to pay it forward, youve got to honor those folks that did that work. We all stand on the shoulders of those folks who came before us, but there is not a sense of that.
Mary Morten: [01:16:30] I think there is a huge There is a lot of history. People just Because our history is not taught in schools, right? That is why something like Im the co-chair of the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame, is really important because it really talks about the history and contributions of queer folks over just a variety of industries and fields, but people dont have that information.
Mary Morten: [01:17:00] As I said its not taught in schools, so if were not doing it, its not going to get done.
Mason Funk: Right. There is a new book that I think either Darby or Pat was reading about Chicago queer history.
Mary Morten: Yeah, Tims book. Tim Winter, hes got a hyphenated name, but yes. We just did a program on it, thats why theyre talking about it. We did a program on it in June for Pride Month.
Mason Funk: Thats really cool.
Mary Morten: Yes. Queer Clout, is what its called.
Mason Funk: Queer Clout, exactly. Can you give me a ten minute warning?
Scott Drucker: Yeah, were at fifteen now.
Mason Funk: [01:17:30] Perfect, okay. Its one thing to say that they were hopeful, that youre hopeful and that we hope these changes are going to occur that there will be more coalition building, but youre part of the How do you convince the people who have not been doing the coalition building that this would be beneficial to the entire community?
Mason Funk: [01:18:00] For example, if you see examples of essentially white male dominated organizations and youre saying, you know what? It really will be beneficial to you to have a more inclusive approach as we move forward, more coalition building, more attention to the issues affecting people of color, but thats not where theyre coming from. In other words, they havent reached that conclusion on their own.
Mary Morten: Right.
Mason Funk: How do you/we create that change?
Mary Morten: [01:18:30] Well, I think again I think it comes back to relationship building. There will be people, and I know this because again I had this conversation recently with some folks from around the country that theyve really had to push their colleagues to understand why it needs to be What were referring to now as intersectional advocacy. That we must look at race and gender and sexual orientation and gender identity because thats how many of us show up, right? We cant cut off one piece of ourselves.
Mary Morten: [01:19:00] I think thats becoming understood, but I think that its going to take a while. I think theres going to be some organizations that are going to be slow to do that. There are organizations that are only focused on marriage that dont know what in the world theyre going to do now, right? Theyve got to reinvent themselves, if they never did any of this other work certainly in some cities like New York. Weve seen that their state advocacy organizations, state LGBTQ organization has really made a turn in terms of changing their direction
Mary Morten: [01:19:30] and closing some of their programs because so many resources were put into marriage. Those groups are going to be hit, and have been hit very hard. I think if people can turn quickly, pivot if you will, they will be able to do work around youth who are experiencing homelessness, and around seniors, and around immigration.
Mary Morten: [01:20:00] Issues that we all should be concerned about because it impacts our community in a real way. Certainly I have friends who have partners or who themselves are impacted by immigration. Its not this far away issue. I think theyre starting to move, but I think for those that arent, theyre just going to be left honestly because one of the big signs right now or the big I would say one of the concerns and challenges that were all experiencing is
Mary Morten: [01:20:30] because of the Orlando shootings, and how do we get more involved, but also get involved in the way that it is clear that its the LGBTQ groups and their work, right? I have been involved here locally, but I wasnt coming to it as necessarily a lesbian. I was coming to it as a black person who is tired of seeing black people being shot. I think people will come along or they wont, and theyll get left honestly
Mary Morten: [01:21:00] because we cant continue to do the work in this compartmentalized fashion. Thats also not how our lives are. Its just not realistic at the end of the day. I think that people are starting to understand that, and I would like to think that they have taken marriage as an example of why it worked in certain states and why it didnt, why we continue to work on it. There are so many areas of discrimination that are important now that we have to work on. Thats really the next frontier. These issues with bathrooms and trans folks
[01:21:30] which at the end of the day, that was a way to just really extend fear mongering among people, right? Oh my God, youre going to be trapped in a bathroom with a man whos dressed as a woman, when that had not been raised as an issue, but lets raise this as an issue. Lets just drop that down somewhere and lets see what happens.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Mary Morten: Lets see what the ripple effect is, and it got one. We see that happening around the country.
Mary Morten: [01:22:00] Discrimination is going to be a major challenge moving forward and striking down these discriminatory laws as well as working on issues at the federal level around ENDA, around immigration and there is a role and opportunities for the LGBTQ community to get involved in a meaningful manner. I just hope we take that opportunity.
Mason Funk: Its funny because theres been a portion of our broader community for decades has been complaining.
Mason Funk: [01:22:30] Even twenty years ago when marriage equality was just maybe, and people were saying, Why marriage? Whats wrong with marriage? Fear and buying into that because it was going to leave so many other things on the sidelines.
Mary Morten: Yeah, so you dont want to be gay married? Dont get gay married. As my friend would say, Dont do it. You dont have to do it. Its not going to bother you. Its not going to impact your marriage. Its almost this idea, and this is I think the route that somebody is coming for you and what you have.
Mary Morten: [01:23:00] Certainly this issue, and thats how I think some of our political candidates have made it sound around immigration, These people are coming here and theyre taking stuff away from you. Thats not happening, but its this idea of, We dont have enough, and Oh my God, these people are going to take the little that we have away. Thats what people prey upon. They know people are concerned about it, so they just prey upon it and put those messages out, but it absolutely has been the case for a long time.
Mary Morten: [01:23:30] As I said, I think weve seen I think Ive seen some epiphanies. I think Ive seen some enlightenment. I just hope that it
Mason Funk: Hold that thought.
Scott Drucker: Who was that?
Mason Funk: Yeah, I saw him coming. I think Ive seen some epiphanies
Mary Morten: I think Ive seen some enlightenment. I think Ive seen some epiphanies with people in the queer community understanding okay, Ive had a very narrow focus. Ive only thought about things
Mary Morten: [01:24:00] that really impact me in my life. Do you know what that is? Thats called privilege, right? In many cases its white skin privilege. I never really thought about it. Well I dont have the privilege not to think about violence and gun violence in particular, and how the police interact with communities? I dont have that privilege because its something that Im concerned about, that I worry about and I think Ive seen just a flicker at the end of the tunnel.
Mason Funk: [01:24:30] The question occurs to me which is that, how do we also as a community Everyone is trying to figure out why, whats the reason for transgender popularity, and a lot of this seems to have to do with those people saying theyre coming for us. Theyre going to come, theyre going to take away what little I have, but there clearly some people who feel very economically distressed, how do we as a community even find a place
Mason Funk: [01:25:00] You mentioned classism earlier. How do we extend our breath? How do we broaden out to include even people who we feel we have nothing in common with in a way, but who are experiencing some kind of distress?
Mason Funk: Pardon me.
Mary Morten: I said however, hes tapped into something.
Mason Funk: Well, thats what I want to How do we take into account what he has tapped into so that we dont disregard fellow Americans who are experiencing distress?
Mary Morten: [01:25:30] Let me think about that. Let me just say two, are you concerned about dating this in any way?
Mason Funk: No.
Mary Morten: Okay.
Mason Funk: In fact I want it to be very in the know.
Mary Morten: Okay. I think in our current political climate with the presumptive nominee being Donald Trump for the Republican Party, it is clear that he has in fact tapped into this unrest, this disenchantment that many Americans feel.
Mary Morten: [01:26:00] I think that thats on the money. Unfortunately, hes done it in a way that has been the most racist, classist, exclusionary way possible. I have to say I feel for his part its purely pragmatic. I honestly dont believe he believes some of the things he says just based on things that Ive known about him in the past, but I think it makes sense. My understanding is that he never expected to get this far,
Mary Morten: [01:26:30] but hes tapped into a general disenchantment and unhappiness that people have across the country even though this country is across the board in a better position than it was seven and a half years ago. There is no denying that, but people have denied it. Theyve misconstrued it. Theyve spun it in various ways, but Barack Obama walked into an absolute nest. There is no two ways about it.
Mary Morten: [01:27:00] I feel very strongly, I just thought about it much longer to start crying about the fact that hes not going to be in office in another six months. Were going to miss him in a real way. We dont even know how much were going to miss Barack Obama. I think that what we have not managed to do, and why Trump has been successful is that theres still been a I want to say somewhat of a heavy handedness in how some issues have been approached.
Mary Morten: [01:27:30] I feel as though there is a lot of things that happen behind the scenes that people arent aware of, and we had an example of that just at the beginning of the republican convention. People were trying to bring a vote to the floor so that if they wanted to not vote for Trump, ultimately they would have the ability to do that, and they wouldnt even let him take a vote. Its that kind of youre not even going to let us exercise what we thought was our right.
Mary Morten: [01:28:00] Youre just going to shut that down, so people feel like theyve been shut down. They feel like theyve been shut out. I think theres also a number of communities across the country that have not seen some of the economic recovery that other communities have. I totally get that. Certainly in places like West Virginia, in Core Country, theres absolutely strong concerns. I totally understand that, but I think you have to look at it in a much more holistic manner, right? Is the country better off?
Mary Morten: [01:28:30] Absolutely. The country is better off, but what Donald Trump has managed to do is to tap into those folks who yes are unhappy, dont feel like theyve been listened to and also by the way a majority of them, if not Certainly not all of them, but majority of them are white, and they feel like theres been too much talking about people of color with the black president. Thats what we were worried about. Hes just going to care about black people when I can tell just from
Mary Morten: [01:29:00] what Ive seen, and I knew and know the president, I worked with him prior to him leaving Chicago and his wife that it was never going to be his intention. He understood I think pragmatically how I need to be. Im the president of all the people, not just of some people. I think in this last year, he has gotten to the point where hes like, Im going to say pretty much whatever I need to, whatever I want because why wouldnt I at this point? But that he has gone above and beyond
Mary Morten: [01:29:30] trying to create this idea of we can talk across the aisle. Hes an ideologue, I dont know how you do that job and not be an ideologue. Always wanting to do work that is bipartisan, always trying to have a conversation and I am a huge believer in the work that I do as a consultant. I talk about this all the time that the conversation is the relationship. You cannot have a conversation, you do not have a relationship. It is critical that we keep talking, that we keep the dialogue open.
Mary Morten: [01:30:00] I feel like more than any other president, hes tried to do that. I think that has not been appreciated or understood, and was always. This president has received more push back than probably just about any other president in history in terms of every single thing he does, theres something wrong. Every single thing he does, right? There is no good, and that is absolutely, I think the case of we decided that that is how were going to treat you,
Mary Morten: [01:30:30] and no matter what you do we are never going to say, Good job. Were just not, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that hes black. Plain and simple. Its just racism. Theres no two ways around it, its just racism. Because when you think about it, Barack Obama became the first black president because he one, didnt have a record, and so it was very strategic for him to run at the time. Two, because he is enormously Hes brilliant.
Mary Morten: [01:31:00] Hes very smart. That is the only person that would have been deemed acceptable by many people. Super smart, very charismatic, extraordinary speaker, had to have all those pieces because we know weve had a lot of presidents that didnt have any of those pieces and they were still president. It happens all the time, right? The playing field has not been leveled. I think for many black folks, there was an assumption that things were going to be just so much better,
Mary Morten: [01:31:30] and this idea that we were ever going to be post racial was always a ridiculous idea. We have years and years of racism to unpack in this country, and one black president for eight years is not going to change that, just not. As we can see he has suffered enormously during this period of time because hes been a black man trying to do things in a different way
Mary Morten: [01:32:00] because hes an extraordinary educated black man, right? Some of the things that Ive seen online written about Barack Obama, it just makes my heart sink that people can be so mean and so vitriolic. They only do it because they can do it online. They would never do it face-to-face because even people now that would do things face-to-face. I dont know if folks would recall when he was giving a speech. It may have been the State of the Union Address, I forget, but it was some address and someone yelled out.
Mary Morten: [01:32:30] The rudest thing on earth, the president of the United States is speaking, and you another elected official deem it appropriate and okay to yell out during his remarks. Its unheard off. I think because Trump is so completely uncensored and has said some horrific things about people and groups of people whether its women or Mexican folks, and immigrants
Mary Morten: [01:33:00] and the disability community, right? Making fun of that reporter who had a disability. I kept saying, Is this what youre teaching your twelve year old son that its okay to bully people? That its okay to make fun of people? Whenever someone attacks Donald Trump, I understand to some degree, I dont think its strategic pushing back, but not pushing back in such a personal way. Pushing back so that he takes people down about their hair, their face, their gestures.
Mary Morten: [01:33:30] How do we explain that to children that this is how you interact with people? You want to be president? This is how you become president, just be a bully. Talk about people. Talk about how they walk. Talk about what they look like, denigrate them in some way, youll be on top. I dont know how, and hes never really of course successfully answered those questions when hes been asked about them because there is no answer for it. Its bullying behavior, and because people that hes talked to
Mary Morten: [01:34:00] in a very direct manner feel like they too have been bullied or been left out of the equation, that the only thing that Barack cares about are black people. At least this man cares about me and hes a white guy, and he gets it and he pulled himself up by his own boot straps. Well, thats not entirely true of course, right? Yes, hes built Hes had a lot of businesses but he didnt come from He came from wealth. He came from opportunity.
Mason Funk: Let me go for a second.
Mary Morten: Okay, Im sorry.
Mason Funk: I want to check on our time.
Scott Drucker: [01:34:30] I was going to say were done.
Mason Funk: Three standard wrap up questions. One is to a young person, say LGBTQ teen maybe early twenties whos just about to kind of step out, what advice would you give this person from your experience?
Mary Morten: If I were talking to a young person about Okay, let me start again.
Mary Morten: [01:35:00] If I were giving a young LGBTQ person some advice, I would really encourage them to get out of their comfort zone and whatever that means to them, and to explain to them that real change is uncomfortable, and that as long as were in our comfort zones
Mary Morten: [01:35:30] we wont have any real change. We wont have justice at the end of the day. Ideally be able to break it down and give them some examples because thats a fairly broad statement, but I think its important that we dont just accept the status quo, and that we find out how were going to give back. I think its important. I think everybody has some work to do and the question Im always asking is are you doing your work?
Mary Morten: [01:36:00] I think giving back is very important. Giving back can mean various things. It doesnt mean you need to necessarily march in the streets, it could mean writing a check. It could mean volunteering which is something when youre a younger person that have you more of the capacity to do, right? You may not be able to write a check, but you can go and volunteer. You can go and have conversations with people, get involved in different groups, and as I said just look beyond what is right in front of you.
Mary Morten: [01:36:30] Look down the road and look for ways to build community because we often use the word community to talk about the LGBTQ community when actually its communities at the end of the day, where lots of subcultures were not monolithic even though people like to paint us in that sort of way. Portray us in that manner, and that its important for you as you sort of make your way on this journey to really surround yourself with people
Mary Morten: [01:37:00] who are going to be encouraging to you, who are going to help lift you up and that you expose yourself to as much difference as possible. That goes against everything that we have been taught and how weve been raised. The more you do that the easier it becomes.
Mason Funk: Fantastic, great. Second question. What is your hope for the future?
Mary Morten: Just in general or myself or the world or?
Mason Funk: I think the world.
Mary Morten: [01:37:30] Good.
Mason Funk: And in terms of that last answer was perfect. In terms of that I guess. Its kind of easy to adjust.
Mary Morten: Right. Well, I think when I think about the future and my hopes for the future, I am of course concerned. But I do remain hopeful, and I remain hopeful because of the work that I do. I work with a lot of organizations
Mary Morten: [01:38:00] that are working on opportunities for individuals, for groups of people and my work makes me hopeful because I think if people are willing to get up every day and go to an organization and provide services or work on policy or advocacy issues, then theres reason to be hopeful, right? Theres still people that believe in the future, that believe that we can come together and that makes me hopeful. My work really encourages me
Mary Morten: [01:38:30] because I know that people are trying to make a difference, and I want to join them. I want to support them. I want to share what Ive learned over a number of years and move that work forward.
Mason Funk: Great. Last question, what is the value that you see in a project like OUTWORDS?
Mary Morten: Oh God. Yeah, okay. Ill try to keep it short.
Mason Funk: I love hearing that.
Mary Morten: I mean no. This is you know. I think the value of a project like OUTWORDS is enormous.
Mason Funk: [01:39:00] Its OUTWORDS.
Mary Morten: What did I say, OUTWORDS?
Mason Funk: You said ward, you said singular but its plural.
Mary Morten: It is plural. Maybe thats why I couldnt find it.
Mason Funk: Oh maybe.
Mary Morten: Okay, interesting.
Mason Funk: I can give you the URL.
Mary Morten: Okay, all right. I think the value of a project like OUTWORDS is extraordinary. Its hard to really even measure it because LGBTQ history is not taught in school, and many of us dont know the history of our various communities.
Mary Morten: [01:39:30] We understand that someone came before us, but we dont know exactly how that happened, what they did, we dont understand the pieces of their lives that really might apply to ours. I think that the more we can document and tell our own stories, the better off we will be now, and the better off those who come before us will be. You want me to say more?
Mason Funk: That was great.
Mary Morten: Okay.
Mason Funk: [01:40:00] The only thing I wanted to say was that at the very end you said, The better off we will be and the better off will be the people who come before us, but I think you meant to say people who come after us.
Mary Morten: No, come after us.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Mary Morten: Okay, let me say it again.
Mason Funk: Okay, just that last part.
Mary Morten: I think the more opportunities we have to document our lives and the reality of our lives, the better off we will all be and in particular those who come after us. They will have something to look at, something to understand, something to see that really talks about the challenges and the success that weve had.
Mason Funk: [01:40:30] Yeah, that was amazing.
Mary Morten: Okay.
Mason Funk: That was fantastic.
Mary Morten: Its always nice when you can get it. I have to tell people sometimes okay, you know how people like stop and they dont, and then they continue talking like I just need you to
[01:41:00] [ROOM TONE]
[01:41:30] [ROOM TONE]

Interviewed by: Mason Funk
Camera: Scott Drucker
Date: July 19, 2016
Location: Home of Mary Morten, Chicago, IL