Loading...
Pat Hussain was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1950. She attended segregated schools though high school. In 1963, Pat attended a civil rights sit-in at a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. When a man purposely poured a hot cup of coffee down the back of a fellow protestor, Pat stood up and left to prevent herself from lashing out. She realized she wasn’t cut out for non-violence. 

Married twice to men, Pat came out as a lesbian in her late 20s. In 1984, Toys “R” Us hired her, even after she disclosed in her interview that she was queer. At work she met Cherry, a fellow employee. Pat helped Cherry escape from a physically abusive marriage, and the two became partners, jointly raising Cherry’s two kids from her previous marriage.

Pat was always at the center of community organizing. She stuffed envelopes for the NAACP, co-founded the Atlanta chapter of GLAAD, helped the Gay and Lesbian Task Force prepare for the 1993 March on Washington, and was the Grand Marshall for the first Pride parade in Knoxville, Tennessee. Prior to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, when the commissioners of nearby Cobb County approved an anti-gay resolution, Pat led a successful campaign to move the Olympic volleyball competition out of the county. 

At the 1993 National LGBTQ Task Force conference, Pat joined five other women to found Southerners on New Ground (SONG). SONG creates community, fights for rural LGBT equality, and emphasizes intersectionality. Their current campaigns include advocating for sliding scale municipal fees based on income, and creating review boards to increase local police accountability. 

In recent years, due to ongoing PTSD and clinical depression, Pat has had to step back from active organizing. On the upside, she and Cherry are now grandparents, and recently celebrated their 30-year anniversary together.

Pat asked to be interviewed for OUTWORDS at the SONG House in Atlanta’s West End, the neighborhood where she grew up. During her interview, the house was abuzz with SONG staff and volunteers making phone calls, typing articles and blog posts, and generally pursuing SONG’s mission of (in their own words) “building a political home across race, class, culture, gender and sexuality.”

This house, this neighborhood, this movement, and this hope are Pat’s home. For further information about SONG, please visit southernersonnewground.org.
Kate Kunath: [00:00:00] We're rolling?
ManSee Kong: Yeah.
Kate Kunath: Okay.
Thanks for doing this with us.
Pat Hussain: Oh, thanks for asking.
Kate Kunath: Have you done many interviews?
Pat Hussain: Some.
Kate Kunath: The best thing for us to have is complete answers, so if I ask you a question like, "What's your favorite color?" You'll say, "My favorite color is pink," or purple.
Pat Hussain: Got it.
Kate Kunath: And then keep your eyes at me. In case Nancy asks a question you'll still continue to have eye contact with me.
Pat Hussain: All right.
Kate Kunath: [00:01:00] Okay. So let's start with your name and the spelling of your name.
Pat Hussain: My name is Pat Hussain, P-A-T H-U-S-S-A-I-N.
Kate Kunath: Do that one more time for me and include where you're born and when.
Pat Hussain: [00:01:30] All right. My name is Pat Hussain, I was born in Atlanta, Georgia.
Kate Kunath: And what year?
Pat Hussain: In 1950.
Kate Kunath: Let's talk a little bit about your family, what was your family like, who were your parents?
Pat Hussain: My family were ... My father was a postal
Kate Kunath: [00:02:30] How did they meet, your parents?
Pat Hussain: They met in Atlanta. He was from Atlanta and she was from North Carolina. And I'm not sure the exact circumstances. We lived in a subdivision. We lived in the West End, very close to here where we are now and moved into a subdivision called Urban Villa which was in the Dixie Hills neighborhood of Atlanta
Pat Hussain: [00:03:00] during segregation, and that's where we were raised. Oldest is a brother, we were 18 months apart, they wanted two children, they wanted them close together. And then there were twins almost seven years later, so that was us.
Kate Kunath: You're a twin?
Pat Hussain: No, no, there were twins born about seven years later, it was an accident.
Kate Kunath: [00:03:30] Okay. I wonder if it was accident.
Pat Hussain: Yes, things happen.
Kate Kunath: So you're born and raised in west Atlanta.
Pat Hussain: Yes, I was born and raised in west Atlanta. I was born at McLendon Hospital.
Kate Kunath: And we're in west Atlanta now, right?
Pat Hussain: We're in the West End now, yes.
Kate Kunath: And you have a special connection to west Atlanta, there's a reason why you wanted to have the interview here, right?
Pat Hussain: [00:04:00] Yes. And the reason I wanted to have the interview here in the West End is because this was really the line of demarcation. This is where black people lived when black folk couldn't live any place they wanted, and it was here that I attended the segregated schools and engaged life. And so it means a lot to me,
Pat Hussain: [00:04:30] which is one of the reasons I mentioned the hospital where I was born, it's a delineation. There are many people here who are Grady babies, they were born at Grady Hospital, and I happen not to be one of them, which was my parents' choice, but they had the economic wherewithal to decide where I should be born.
Kate Kunath: So your family had the option to live here?
Pat Hussain: Yes.
Kate Kunath: [00:05:00] But the color line was, this is where Were on it basically.
Pat Hussain: We're in the black side of town, yes. And they had some options based on their job. For instance, we were a two-car family and there were things that I didn't encounter on a regular basis like trying to ride a bus, those kind of things that could insulate us. I remember taking family trips and my father would .
Pat Hussain: [00:05:30] always check to see if they had room and whatever, hotel where he stopped, and I understood when I was much older that that's not what he was doing, he was checking to see if they took colored people
Kate Kunath: So your school that you were at was a segregated school?
Kate Kunath: Tell me about that.
Pat Hussain: [00:06:00] There's something about the way we grow up, that's just our life, it's just who we are. Being aware of that color barrier and to know that Brown vs. Board of Education was in the '50s but I was in high school in the '60s and they were still segregated.
Kate Kunath: And you understood that there were laws that
Pat Hussain: No, it wasn't. And I remember there was a point at which - I think I may have been in 10th grade - that you could put in an application to transfer schools, and it was just the beginning. There was a very slow, drawn out implementation on integration.
Pat Hussain: [00:07:30] This is the only region of the country that's not in the denial. We've passed that stage.
Kate Kunath: Tell me more about that.
Pat Hussain: One of the things in moving forward in LGBTQ movement that has been frustrating, that as a black dyke there are people who's experience has been more privileged, people
Pat Hussain: [00:08:30] And say, for instance, there was a big push to find the gay gene so people would really understand that we were born this way. Well I was born this way. And it doesn't make a difference in the discrimination, if they find a gay gene it'll be a birth defect.
Kate Kunath: Yeah, or a way to categorize people or label them-
Pat Hussain: A disease.
Kate Kunath: [00:09:00] [crosstalk] medically or ... Yeah.
So what was the high school that you went to, what was it called?
Pat Hussain: Turner.
Kate Kunath: And did you become politicized as a child or a high schooler? When did that happen?
Pat Hussain: They did something ... Hopefully they've stopped. I was the queer kid and I didn't know it, I was a little pale and that could be a problem.
Pat Hussain: [00:09:30] I'm trying to think of how to say this. I became politicized ... They skipped me a grade, which is ... A year means a whole lot. So I lived in the library because I didn't really fit in with schoolmates. And there was going to be a sit-in down the street from here at a
Kate Kunath: Will you give me the year that you're talking about?
Pat Hussain: This was 1963.
Kate Kunath: Krispy Kreme was here in 1963?
Pat Hussain: Sure.
Kate Kunath: Wow.
Pat Hussain: [00:10:30] And we went and there were some children from the temple also. I asked my parents could I go and they said no. And then I went. And we took over the lunch counter and
we were sitting there and the police were already there. And this man came in and bought a cup of coffee and poured it down a girl's back
Pat Hussain: [00:11:00] and everything went quiet and I turned red and I started shaking. I wanted to jump on him and bite a hole in his throat, I was so incredibly angry. But I knew that if I lashed out everyone would go to jail and potentially be beaten also.
Pat Hussain: [00:11:30] I got up and I walked out and I walked down the street feeling like an absolute failure. I was too weak for nonviolence and I was so ashamed of myself for not knowing how that was going to end and not being there and not participating. And I moved as far back as I could
Kate Kunath: Did you have other people that you talked to? I mean I can't imagine
Pat Hussain: I did not. I was wanting to be involved but I was taking that failure as just me, that other people ... Watching the Freedom Riders
Pat Hussain: [00:13:00] go and the things that happened to them and Selma, Montgomery, all these things are happening and I'm just feeling weak and that what I was doing didn't amount to much. I did talk to an organizer later after that march and I found out from - don't mess up his name - Julian Bond that it was SNCC that was
Pat Hussain: [00:14:00] And also my parents had told me I could not participate, and I understand that that probably was because their jobs could have been in jeopardy with me out there.
Kate Kunath: And when ... I don't want to skip too far ahead of the youth. Let me just check my notes really quick.
Kate Kunath: [00:14:30] Do you know many people who were born here and are still here that are - you guys were born around the same time - and that are still around or do you feel like that's exceptional that you're living where you were born?
Pat Hussain: [00:15:00] It's rare for me to encounter people that grew up with that I knew, and saying that a couple of weeks ago I encountered a man, my mother was his Cub Scout den leader. And I run into some connections like that, or someone from Atlanta, and we'll talk about the different neighborhood because we have a different language for things that have changed that are
Kate Kunath: What are some of the things that have kept you here? How did you sort of characterized that connection that you have and how did you decide to continue living here?
Pat Hussain: I lived other places. I couldn't wait to get out of Atlanta, I hated the weather, that's why I wanted to go so bad, because it's warm today, it's cold tomorrow,
Pat Hussain: [00:16:00] you never know. We have winter days, not a winter season. I wanted to go some place with seasons, so I chose Chicago.
I found out I wasn't really a fan of seasons and I came back on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line. I've lived in North Carolina, in Alabama, in Montgomery, and in Huntsville, and I came back to where I was born
Pat Hussain: [00:16:30] to take my stand, to be here as someone who is out, who is queer. And for me it's kind of knowing where the bodies are buried, there's the history that's told and there's the history that was. There's an African proverb that says, "Until the lions have historians the hunters will always be heroes."
Kate Kunath: So back to high school and segregation and the changes to civil rights movements. Did you feel that was ... Before you got out of school were things changing or was it still segregated and still a challenge?
Pat Hussain: [00:17:30] Well it had begun to change and I thought after the '63 march, after the Civil Rights Bill and the Voting Rights Act that things were going to be different, that it would be full enfranchisement. And I was stunned to watch, not to have to be told but to see it actually play out where it was still a struggle,
Pat Hussain: [00:18:00] it playing out in that struggle and believing in ... We hold these truths to be self-evident and inalienable rights. I had civics when I was in fifth grade, that's actually when it started for me because I read those
Pat Hussain: [00:19:00] There was something about the privileged blindness in the north, I called it the monster under the bed that you have your own rituals so you keep the monster under the bed and this works for you. That my neighborhood has some problems, it's worse over there. That whatever is happening is much more acceptable. And I think about that in the Great Migration of my people
Pat Hussain: [00:19:30] north, there's a reason so many black communities north have people of color in communities on the south because when we got to the town we were told, "Don't come any further." And even to understand that there are sundown towns all across this country where we have never been welcome and certainly not had law enforcement on our side,
Kate Kunath: So when you turned 18 and you were able to vote at 18, what happened then?
Pat Hussain: I registered as soon as I could and I have voted in every election since.
Pat Hussain: [00:20:30] It doesn't matter whether it's a run-off or ... I've had to hold my nose at a lot of elections voting because I was choosing the lesser of two evils. But I walk into that voting booth, for me it is a spiritual act because I'm engaging in a right that people were killed for.
Kate Kunath: [00:21:30] and some of your ... What should we talk about? Like your sexual awakening or when you started to discover your sexuality. You had mentioned before that you were a queer kid so maybe in your early ... But can you tell me about that realization?
Pat Hussain: I did know I was a queer kid. I didn't come out until between 25 and 28. It's more like 28, I was a real late bloomer.
Pat Hussain: [00:22:00] I can look back at that queer kid and see that it was there and I was oblivious to it. It may be the Catholic upbringing that it was so deeply suppressed that I couldn't even let myself see it. And when I came out I had begun to wonder ... I'd never felt anything here for men. They were okay, they were fine, but I just really ...
Pat Hussain: [00:22:30] And my girlfriends wouldn't talk to me because all I would ever say when they were in tears over some guy, I'd say, "Get another one, it's a lot of them out there. What is the problem?"
Then I began to think maybe the love of my life might be a woman, and I was beginning to question my sexuality. So always when I had a problem I went to the library and I found a book called The
Kate Kunath: When was this?
Pat Hussain: This was probably 17, I would say 20. And I talked to my brother, I told him I thought, maybe I'm gay, I don't feel this love, this longing, this intimacy, I don't feel that
Pat Hussain: [00:24:00] find." There was so little to read, to find and I started doing that. I went to a gay bar called Numbers, a 24-hour bar.
I got out of my car and went to go in the bar and I started sweating and I started shaking, I felt nauseous. And I went back to the car and said, "What is wrong with you? You're just going to have a drink. Just breathe."
Pat Hussain: [00:25:00] "Well, did you meet anybody?" I said, "No, not yet."
And one night I just went to try to go in once and then I went home, and she asked, "Did you meet anybody?" I said, "No, not tonight." And I said "Well, did you even go in?" And I said, Well She said, "No, no, what's going on?" And I told her. She got her keys and a purse and she said, "Come on, we're going." Followed me in her car, took my hand,
Kate Kunath: She left you?
Pat Hussain: Yeah, "I'm going home, I'll see you later." And that said something to me, just the amount of repression that I had where I couldn't see me and I don't ... And I was still thinking that I might be bisexual.
Pat Hussain: [00:26:00] My first sexual encounter with a woman was in the back of my van outside of that bar and I found out instantly I was not bisexual. And I never went in a closet. I was so relieved to know that I was alive, that I was human, that I could feel. And I talked to each member of my family separately and I wanted to meet them on neutral ground.
Pat Hussain: [00:26:30] I had no idea what they were going to say or think. But I didn't want anybody to say, "Get out of my house," or none of that. Neutral ground and I'll tell you face to face. For me it didn't ... It might be the last time I'm talking to you.
And it was fine. Each one was concerned, "Wait, but you're not sick, right? Okay, it's just you're gay? Okay, all right. You can tell me if there's something else wrong."
Pat Hussain: [00:27:00] And I was relieved, but I didn't want them to hear it some place because I knew I wasn't going in a closet. I had found out I was alive, I'd found my humanity, and in my life experience people know who I am. I walk in a room, you know I'm female. I walk in a room, you know I'm black. So having something ...
Kate Kunath: [00:28:00] When you were having trouble getting inside of the bar, was it ... I mean obviously there was some fear around that. Was it a fear of being judged by your peers or your family or your community, what was the most oppressive of those feelings?
Pat Hussain: There was something so deep I couldn't touch it. I didn't know what it was because I was a rational person and I had
Pat Hussain: [00:28:30] found the book at the library and I had talked about it with my sister-in-law and now was going to go find out. It was a scientific method. I was going to go and see. And it was practical to me, and yet I was so emotionally wrought over it that I couldn't stop shaking, that I couldn't ... And it was so frustrating because I would sit on the curb or go back
Pat Hussain: [00:29:00] and sit in my van and I'm talking to myself saying, "Come on, this doesn't make any sense, you're just going to go have a drink. It's a bar, just take a deep breath, relax, and then just go and pay the cover and go. Just go in the bar." And I'd be convinced that I was going to do that and get out, and again ...
Pat Hussain: [00:30:00] that's ridiculous." And I would have been wrong.
Kate Kunath: Can you tell me about the girl in the van that night, meeting that person, what that was like. Take me there.
Pat Hussain: We were dancing on the floor and I would go and have a dance and dance and dance, and she had ... I think we were dancing close and she whispered in my ear
Pat Hussain: [00:31:00] So I won't appear to be this absolute
How does it, you know so I won't appear to be this absolute never crossed my mind. Once we were in the back of that van, I didn't need anything else to cross my mind. It was so exhilarating to know that they understand. I understood all at once why my girlfriends were crying about these boys, that there could be something that you could feel so deeply in here that you didn't know existed.
Pat Hussain: [00:31:30] It's attached, it's with this person and I was really clear in that moment; oh yeah, Pat.
If some boy had said to me, some man had said, "Want to go get in the back of my van?" "Not a chance. Really? I wouldn't go to a hotel with you. Forget about the back of your ... No."
Kate Kunath: [00:32:00] That's a pretty good line. I'm trying to picture the van. What kind of van was it?
Pat Hussain: It was a blue Econoline 150 Ford Van. It was the two seats in the front and not a lot else in the back, but I had stuff back there. I had sleeping bag and we just climbed in the back. It was right comfortable
.
Kate Kunath: [00:32:30] Love it. Okay, so that was your first gay bar. Did that bar turn up with any relationships for you? How long did you spend going to that bar before you took your gayness on the road?
Pat Hussain: I went there for awhile I think, but I began branching out into the larger community and-
Kate Kunath: [00:33:00] You might want to repeat that.
Pat Hussain: Okay, I began branching out into the larger community and before I knew what I was a member of the tribe, I was an ally. It is something that I had talked with friends about. Anita Bryant came to Atlanta,
Pat Hussain: [00:34:00] The other part was if it's okay to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation, don't you know all us black people are going to look queer? Do you get that because this is not something that rotates on, ah we caught them in bed. This is discrimination against people based on what they do in bed, but they're being discriminated against
Pat Hussain: [00:34:30] while they have their clothes on and they're walking around in society.
We can't have discriminate. We can't allow ... It's stupid first, but second I would go back to the Constitution and the "truth that we hold to be self-evident," that the most important right, the one I think that people in the United States of America
Pat Hussain: [00:35:00] believe more than anything else, will never be written. It is the right to be left alone, just to be unmolested, that I get to swing my arm. I can swing and twirl around in a circle, yet I have to stop where your chin starts. That's the limit, but I can twirl.
That right to be left alone and to live in the quiet enjoyment of your life without being harassed or hounded,
Pat Hussain: [00:35:30] or hunted has been the thing that has moved me since that civics class in the fifth grade and when once again as an ally first in defending gay people, and I didn't know any gay people and it didn't matter because I just couldn't get really worked up about ... I just really didn't care, but I believed it was dangerous to exclude any group of people
Pat Hussain: [00:36:00] from living their life.
To me it's a three step method. First you dehumanize people by not including them in the family of humanity, making them that birth defect, making them that other, making them unacceptable. The next step is to demonize that person.
Kate Kunath: [00:36:30] We might have to ask them to ... Good?
Pat Hussain: Once you dehumanize a group of people, then you can demonize them, make them the destroyer, make them the danger, make them the other that is going to ruin your way of life.
Pat Hussain: [00:37:00] Whatever spiritual or religious sect that they are, are good with destroying demons. That's the last step, destroy, dehumanize, demonize, and destroy and that path is something that I've seen with black people, with women, and then happening with gay people.
Pat Hussain: [00:37:30] The difference in making that move is that you can decide not to put somebody's picture on your desk. We learn how to use neutral pronouns. You can turn it on and off, but I don't get to turn off this skin and these ovaries. It's always there.
Kate Kunath: Do you have sort of like a hierarchy of your identity at all?
Kate Kunath: [00:38:00] Do you feel black first, or female first? Does that, like when it comes down to it ... Not when it comes down to it, but you have those moments you feel yourself reacting more intensely to one identity or another? Do you know what I mean?
Pat Hussain: I do and it is part of what drives Southerners On New Ground.
Pat Hussain: [00:38:30] It is, and the short answer is I don't at different moments choose one. I may speak to one, but I'm a whole person. There's not a point where I abandon my ... and it's part of the reason that an organization like SONG exists, that we came together because growing up, when I was doing my envelope stuffing and all that work.
Pat Hussain: [00:39:00] If I went to NAACP we were working on issues of race. If I went to NOW we were working on issues for women. It was rare that I'd find anything that was about economic justice and even in the context of Dr. King who was killed in Memphis that you almost never hear that he was there because of a sanitation workers' strike.
Pat Hussain: [00:39:30] That had come after two men who were taking a nap in the back of the truck, or escaping the rain, or maybe both, but they had climbed into the back of the truck and there was an accident and the truck activated and they were crushed and killed.
That's not talked about because it's economic, it wasn't just race. The poor people's march
Pat Hussain: [00:40:00] is really left out of that legacy because he was doing something that was unpopular. Let's just stick with race and I will not discard the love of the woman I've been with for 35 years, Miss Cherry, so they are all always
Kate Kunath: Who are some of your early role models?
Pat Hussain: Miss Fanny Lou Hamer. Mrs. Fanny Lou Hamer.
Pat Hussain: [00:41:00] She has always been a SHERO of mine because she had polio as a child. She was a sharecropper and yet she went to register to vote. She was arrested. She was beaten in jail.
They had three separate black inmates beat her until they couldn't beat her anymore
Pat Hussain: [00:41:30] because she registered to vote. When she was released and went home, the place where she was sharecropping, the owner said, "You've got to leave here tonight. You can't stay here."
As a woman who had had a rough life anyway, and for choosing to be herself,
Pat Hussain: [00:42:00] there is a way in which she is someone who stood her ground. She never marched, and there is way in which activism often is portrayed as, "Well you have to get in the street," or "Absolutely, we need people in the street. We need people marching. We need people engaging in civil disobedience and getting arrested."
There are a whole lot of roles that don't have to do with that. On the Selma to Montgomery march,
Pat Hussain: [00:42:30] no one knew the marchers were going to be stopped. The violence doesn't come from us, the violence is brought to us to deter us. When that march was stopped, there were people on the other side that were preparing food for the marchers when they got there. There were people on both sides that were watching the children and there were people that brought their children or grandchildren because this was a peaceful march.
Pat Hussain: [00:43:00] That is the thing about organizing for me is that there are so many roles. Mrs. Fanny Lou Hamer said often we will lament who is not in the room. You know we wish we had some more people. Or other people aren't interested and we don't know that, however, Mrs. Fanny Lou Hamer said, "It's better to have three activists in the room than zero activists in the room." Her example is one
Pat Hussain: [00:44:00] plan is something that is often not understood and its layers of who's doing what.
Kate Kunath: Yeah, I remember when I learned that was the case, I was like, "Of course."
Pat Hussain: Of course.
Kate Kunath: Of course they're doing that. It's genius.
Kate Kunath: [00:44:30] Any more SHEROES?
Pat Hussain: Harriet Tubman.
Kate Kunath: What's that noise?
ManSee Kong It's my [inaudible].
Kate Kunath: It's what?
ManSee Kong My [inaudible].
Kate Kunath: I hear it now.
ManSee Kong [inaudible]. I'll move it here.
Kate Kunath: [00:45:00] Whoops, sorry. I hear it, but it's making some kind of noise.
Pat Hussain: As is Dr. Maya Angelou. The fierceness of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, that these are women who clothed themselves in dignity and spoke their truths and speaking their
Pat Hussain: [00:45:30] truth was not being determined by the reception, but by the fact they had things to say that needed to be said and that people needed to hear and to understand.
Dr. Maya Angelou is one of those ... There's a with names, that there's a way in which names are presumed to be one way. Her name, the end of her name is
Pat Hussain: [00:46:00] L-O-W, and get it right, yeah. No, it's, okay now I'm going to mess up her name. Angelou, yeah, it's L-O-U. But she pronounces it L-O-W, and there's a way in which we don't hear something that's different, that our ears are so Anglicized that
Pat Hussain: [00:46:30] that respect. You know your name is your name. Miss Cherry, my wife's mother's name was Jerri Dean, but on her, she was called Geraldine. It was J-E-R-R-I-D-E-A-N. In the in-taking, because Geraldine was familiar to someone who was in control,
Kate Kunath: When-ManSee Kong
Can I just ask if you can repeat Harriet Tubman is my SHERO as is Dr. Maya Angelou?
Pat Hussain: [00:47:30] Sure, among my SHEROES are Harriet Tubman and Dr. Maya Angelou.
ManSee Kong Cool.
Kate Kunath: You had mentioned being involved in NOW and I know that NOW is problematic because they didn't want lesbians, they didn't want black people. Can you tell me about your experience with NOW, what that was like?
Pat Hussain: [00:48:00] It was, there were so many lesbians in NOW. It was frustrating and it didn't last long. It was really a brush because there was a way you were expected to be. You were supposed to have a certain sensibility and it was, it's like the beginning of the feminist movement, that it was really
Pat Hussain: [00:48:30] about white women and having people that were doing ... There was always a frustration of there is a part of me not welcome in all the single issue rooms. Let's say that in NOW there was not a concern for women who had
Pat Hussain: [00:49:00] lesser circumstances about all the things around women.
The Equal Rights Amendment, there was a big push around that, but then that falls into the belief that once you change the law, things are going to be better. That's really the beginning of the struggle, that's an acknowledgement. It doesn't change behavior and it doesn't change hearts.
Pat Hussain: [00:49:30] That's where the struggle really begins and if it's not in your experience because of the privilege into which you were born, if you haven't really looked around, then there's really a belief that it's going to be alright. For me I say if you're raised on a farm, you can smell it from a distance. There's more. This is a necessary step.
Kate Kunath: Were, I mean was that message being brought to NOW by people who had already been in civil rights struggles, that this is just the beginning? Was that part of the conversation or is that more of how you see the thing in hindsight?
Pat Hussain: [00:50:30] It was more I'll wait until you finish speaking so we can get back to what's important, because it couldn't be heard. It was, let's say, being difficult. Well Pat's with us, but you know she has issues and that these are distractions, that we're not looking at how to bring women. How do we make it
Pat Hussain: [00:51:00] so women can have time off from work, or can breast feed, or that women are actually in charge of their bodies? We want an Equal Rights Amendment and there are pieces, some, very little that was in there that was really going to really, as women, move us forward, but that would give us an Amendment and the belief that that
Pat Hussain: [00:51:30] would do it. We would then as women be equal, and anything else was diluting the message, not incorporating our humanness.
We see what happened in the labor unions for instance, the South was given away. Even in having unions
Pat Hussain: [00:52:00] in the South, I mean in the North, strong unions, they were for white men's jobs. We still don't have that for say women who work in hotels and there are hotels all over this country. Yet the protections that women would need, equal pay, you know to really have a collective voice in how they're treated in doing what can be a dangerous job.
Kate Kunath: So would you say, would you attribute the failure of the ERA to
Kate Kunath: [00:53:00] its inability to be inter-sexual? Why do you think it failed?
Pat Hussain: I think the ERA failed because it was not about women. The voices involved were too narrow
Pat Hussain: [00:53:30] and people that were working on the Equal Rights Amendment weren't concerned as much with adding voices. The otherness was considered to be distraction and it takes me back to Seneca Falls. Sojourner Truth, when the suffragettes
Pat Hussain: [00:54:00] and people in the anti-slavery campaigns came together. They were talking about should we work on this important issue of suffrage and votes for women, or this important issue of the enslavement of black people? They were going to choose and Sojourner Truth said, "Don't do it.
Pat Hussain: [00:54:30] Don't do it. Don't separate them."
But they did, and it's part of the way, a linear way we've been taught to think, but we saw and it has to do with the back and forth. They're have been seven Constitutional Amendments in moving black folk into full enfranchisement, but it took until the 1920's for women to get the vote. There's something about well maybe if we can do
Pat Hussain: [00:55:00] this, and we'll come back for this later. I see it in queerness, in gayness, where there was a point; I remember seeing pictures of people marching in Washington in pearls and heels and suits and ties. There is a way in which, and I think it's cultural, where some people believe
Pat Hussain: [00:55:30] that if we show the larger society that we're just like them.
We pay our taxes. We drive nice cars. We cut our grass, and they'll say, "Oh, you know we thought you were," or something else, and they'll have a seat for us at the table. Mostly that's about whiteness and reclaiming the seat. You had a seat until you said
Pat Hussain: [00:56:00] you were other by being gay. There is another view for me and it's about we need to reorder the table. There never was a seat. People who are hating queer folk, don't dislike us. They hate us.
It may make a difference to us that we have a good job, that we're a business owner, that we are all of these things.
Pat Hussain: [00:56:30] What the people that hate us care about is that at some point you have sex with someone of your gender. There is not a differentiation between whether you're a dyke, a lesbian, you're queer, you're a bear, you're leather, they drown us all in the same sack,
Pat Hussain: [00:57:00] and this has been an issue within the community that bring our full sexy selves. There used to be ads in the paper, personal ads, straight acting, gay men that have talked about having issues with their fathers, or grandfathers, or uncles because of the way they held
Pat Hussain: [00:57:30] their hands, or the way they stood and that piece of hiding who we are or saying that when you gain your seat back at the table I still don't have a seat. I'm still expected to bring the tea and serve everybody.
It calls for a radical shift in how we operate and we have examples of how trying
Pat Hussain: [00:58:00] to do one thing rather than being whole people in it, we give away our strength.
Kate Kunath: Do you think that those diverse bodies, fighting, struggling, are being divided from within or from outside?
Pat Hussain: I think those bodies that, you know and they are diverse, are being divided by both.
Pat Hussain: [00:58:30] There are scripts that we have, beliefs that we have, language that was part of our upbringing and a part of our present that divides us. One that always rises for me is around slave. Now slave is not a noun for black people. However, you wouldn't know that
Pat Hussain: [00:59:00] by hearing it bandied about. Worse than just being slave, former slave. How do you identify a person by their former condition of involuntary servitude.
There is something very perverse and dehumanizing about that. There was a freedmens bureau and there were free people, however, that is not our language
Pat Hussain: [00:59:30] across this country. It's the language of freed slaves. The humanity continually is being stripped away and that we operate and think in these paradigms that have been built, but we need to touch the edge of the envelope, feel the bubble and say, "No not that."
Even in talking about that period of time now, I now refer to the people
Pat Hussain: [01:00:00] who were around these camps, these farms, as human traffickers. They were engaging in human trafficking, and yet that softer language, more honest language about things that have happened or where we are now. So that's inside our particular group, as we single out
Pat Hussain: [01:00:30] the identities, race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, that there are people that believe in boot straps because they never not had boots. To believe that there is that monster under the bed ... If I got here on my merits, then someone else could follow that same path, but we start
Pat Hussain: [01:01:00] at different levels.
If it's not my merits that got me here, then that means that perhaps I'm not as secure as I thought I was. For instance with my wife, Miss Cherry, I'll say something about having ... We talk about growing up and she grew up poor,
Pat Hussain: [01:01:30] I grew up middle class. I'm still coming out in queer community. I was a debutante and it is the one thing I can say that caused gasps in the room. I never thought of it as something that I just held back. Well you know nobody wants to hear about that. It happened and there's a class marker right there. There is a way in which
You believe that there's more to
Pat Hussain: [01:02:00] how we are and what we have that is the luck of the draw where you were born. One of the ways that makes me think about that is as someone who is an American who lives in the United States of America, and I think of myself, I have thought of myself, I'm trying to stop as being a poor person. I don't have a lot, but you know what? I sleep in a house, I have indoor plumbing,
Pat Hussain: [01:02:30] I have lights, I'm going to leave here and get in a car that there is a gap where another half of the world don't have any of that, so no one who lives in the United States is poor. A part of me says, "No, no." But you know I'm just, "No, I don't have an iPhone X."
Pat Hussain: [01:03:00] I don't go Starbucks everyday. All these things that make me feel poor, but the fact is I'm rich because I'm here. That's one of the ways in which we become divided around that, because I see your situation and think, "Well, maybe if you just worked a little harder.
Pat Hussain: [01:03:30] We see it around immigration. I don't have to think about immigration. If somebody doesn't come home, I'm not worried that they've been picked up by ICE. Now I can say a good word, I can say what I'm supposed to say and when I'm around people who may be immigrants or no immigrants, I could talk the talk, but I don't have to do anything. I certainly don't have to think about it which is ...
Pat Hussain: [01:04:00] From outside, that's the stuff because we've been fed the same messages. It concerns me for black youth, males in particular. There's a moment when they step through the looking glass. They go from child to man, they don't have an adolescence.
Pat Hussain: [01:04:30] There's a point of which everyone who doesn't know their name is afraid of them, and they haven't done anything except grow up.
When it happened to our son around around 14, I got so angry, I wanted to be able to protect him and realized I was helpless because the message has been so strong and gone on so long that that was going to happen to him regardless of anything that I had to say. That same way around
Pat Hussain: [01:05:00] immigrants or around women, it's a way in which we are expected to behave and things that are ... where you can still call a news commentator perky, and you'll never see it apply to a man that when women are forceful and aggressive, she's pushy. A lot has not changed around that,
Pat Hussain: [01:06:00] I have talked about it some but not much. I want to be completely respectful of trans folk and to be who they are.
There is something about deciding that being assigned a gender. I have not allowed anyone to tell me who I was and what I was.
Pat Hussain: [01:06:30] A binary and another Latin word or Greek, whichever this one is, there are enough of those names on my body already. Could we have a nice Cherokee word, or a Swahili word, or something? I don't want to take anymore of that language on me, but could we first maybe have a conversation about gender? A couple of weeks ago I met a child,
Pat Hussain: [01:07:00] she's nine. At seven, she told her mother she wanted to be a gender-free child. At nine, she decided that she and her would be her pronouns. Where does that fall at what I said about gender? There's something about ... It feels to me, I'm not saying this about people, it feels on my skin like laziness,
Kate Kunath: Yeah, because if you use words to describe like ... you're right, it is language, because she and he are meaningless.
Kate Kunath: [01:08:00] They only mean what you mean them to mean. They only mean what you associate with those things. Getting at what those feelings are, the dissociation are, then you begin to kind of parse out gender, right?
Pat Hussain: I think that's-
Kate Kunath: Or the different words that identify ...
Pat Hussain: I think that's true. I think that the best place to start is with a conversation. We're
Pat Hussain: [01:08:30] so brilliant. I expected trans people to tell us who they were in a name that wasn't trans, because there's so much, and then I would hear it to say, "Wow." But not that ... It just makes me sad and frustrated. I don't want to attack people for doing that. I want more from us.
Pat Hussain: [01:09:00] I think there should be ... India has a third gender. Native cultures have had six genders that it is time for us to expand into our humanhood and don't shift two boxes for two boxes.
Kate Kunath: [01:09:30] Yeah, well said. I don't know if this was in your questionnaire or if Mason read this somewhere, but as a child, the only thing you lacked was more candy?
Kate Kunath: What does that mean?
Pat Hussain: The only thing I didn't have as a child was more candy because my mother had me reading at three.
Pat Hussain: [01:10:00] She's a reading specialist, so there I was. I'm in love still. I have a romance with the spoken and the written word and that if we wanted to go to the movies, we went. If I wanted to wear a certain kind of shoes, I got it. I can't think of anything in my childhood where I said, "Wow. I wish I had a ..." and
Pat Hussain: [01:10:30] it's not there. The comfort in which I was raised,
I did as all children do, presume is the norm, that my wife will still laugh at me. We used dried beans, and it's used to make artwork. She said, "Where?" We ate them.
My mother, she had this fetish with Cornish hens.
Pat Hussain: [01:11:00] If I never see another Cornish hen for the rest of my life, it won't be long enough. I'll watch people. This is my secret but now let it out, to see people who are eating and put their hand in their lap. That's the way I was raised. My wife had commented on it once that sitting in her
Kate Kunath: What would your mom do with the Cornish hens?
Pat Hussain: She would bake them. She would broil them.
Pat Hussain: [01:12:00] Oh, sometimes she'd stuff them. Oh, they're horrible little birds. I don't know why she ... She would make, what is it, goulash and wiener schnitzel. We had to have some wiener schnitzel. I had to take piano lessons, ballet lessons, modern dance. I hated ballet, I was the clumsiest.
Pat Hussain: [01:12:30] My father got me out of ballet, I was a girl scout, all this stuff. It wasn't necessarily what I wanted to do. There were things that she thought ... because she guilted me into being a debutante. When she said it, I rolled my eyes and she said, "It will not kill you to do this." It almost did. I wanted to learn how to swim, she'd faithfully take me to swim. I became a lifeguard, did water-safety instructor
Kate Kunath: That's great. I'm jumping around here a little bit, but I wonder if we're ready to talk about ... There's a couple, let's see,
Pat Hussain: No, we haven't.
Pat Hussain: I look at Dr. King as a hero and Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer as a shero. Their paths couldn't be more different.
As someone who is an Atlantan native ... Dr. King was deified after his death.
Pat Hussain: [01:14:00] The Civil Rights Movement has been reduced to two lines in most books for elementary, middle, and high school, that Dr. King wanted to get rights for black people, and so we had this march on Washington and they did it. Well, Dr. King was taking over Dexter Avenue Baptist Church because they had a minister there who was too activist.
Pat Hussain: [01:14:30] He was making waves, and at this church they wanted to keep the status quo. They wanted to go along to get along. You had people who were Pullman porters, who were teachers, like my mother, and look how far we've come, let's not rock the boat. Then they got Dr. King.
It's not like the NAACP and the
Pat Hussain: [01:15:00] SCLC and that all these organizations were in sync with each other. Then SNCC, you've got a student organization that the letter from the ... There were people that condemned Dr. King around the letter from Birmingham Jail where he'd been arrested, where all these youths ... there was great divide in having
Pat Hussain: [01:15:30] the children's march, and it did awaken the country by seeing these are children and you turn your dog's loose on them, fire hoses, and people that condemned him for that while he was in the jail. Even in going to his death, he became the focal point of the movement. There was not a lot of interest in him
Pat Hussain: [01:16:00] until H Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael was saying, "Kill whitey. Death to the blue-eyed devils." I think he probably got a call. Dr. King got a call from the White House. "Dr. King, you were talking about non-violence. Let's talk."
I picture a time of him talking with the president saying,
Pat Hussain: [01:16:30] "You know, you brought your people a mighty long way. We want to do more to help. I want you to chair a committee that I want to form on how to bring people forward. You are an educated man, and what we can do to help bring your people forward, so they could roll like you. You're only here
Pat Hussain: [01:17:00] around black people. You're a credit to your race." We right now can allow college graduates to vote. We can work on bringing your people up to that level. Somebody had to say no, somebody had to say, "It's all of us." The luck of circumstances, availability to resources, all of us.
Pat Hussain: [01:17:30] The opportunities to siphon off leadership occurred ... Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer because she encountered, SNCC heard of ways to make change and since she was going to go register to vote. But then also with the Mississippi freedom democratic party,
Pat Hussain: [01:18:00] she said at one point, "My feets is tired, but my soul is rested." This was not their presumption, and between them, I see that range of being polysyllabic and that we need this certain type of education. We got to be able to conjugate in these things that
Pat Hussain: [01:18:30] we separate ourselves at the self-selection of leadership that we are missing pieces.
If we were going by the criteria of Dr. King, we would never have known about Mrs. Hamer. SNCC would never have had anything to do with her and that. In our queer organizing, we need our PhDs, we need our researchers, we need all
Pat Hussain: [01:19:00] of these people. We need the doctors, the lawyers, and we need people who are on food stamps, people who are as the ... We care about queer people. We care about our folk and how many children are still being put out of their homes and are living on the street or engaging in survival sex. Our work is messy.
Pat Hussain: [01:19:30] Between those two, if you put them on a seesaw, that you need the seesaw to move up or down or to get even. I admire their work because they were true to themselves, they both had truth and lies told about them, and also for
Pat Hussain: [01:20:00] Mrs. Hamer. She was only valuable to most people when she was able to be there.
As she began to get older and got sick, people who had admired her and put her on a pedestal left her to be on the ground by herself. There's something about valuing the human being
Pat Hussain: [01:20:30] in the struggle, and valuing the human being when their work is done in the struggle, not making people disposable. Just as people have conveniently with Dr. King talk about the I have a dream speech, when he'd been talking 20 minutes, and they wanted him to be quiet. They'd had enough before he launched into that portion. It was not Dr. King's
Kate Kunath: [01:21:30] Okay. Good? Okay Let's talk about Cherry.
Pat Hussain: Ah.
Kate Kunath: When you met Cherry, how you know she was the one.
Pat Hussain: I was not smart enough to know that. I worked with Toys "R" Us, I was a store director. They were transferring me to Alabama.
Kate Kunath: [01:22:00] Let's start with the year.
Pat Hussain: This was 1984. When I went on the job interview for Toys "R" Us, I told them I was queer because no closet, I was going to be gay. If you're going to fire me in two years, "Oh my god. We found out she's gay," just let me not bother. They were fine, a little surprised at the interview.
Pat Hussain: [01:22:30] They transferred me into Huntsville to take over a store. I said, "Why are you sending the gay one?" It's a smaller town, it's a toy store. I spoke with the people in legal and they said, "Oh, no. It's going to be fine." I said, "Well, if it's not, you'll hear about it." They knew that the dyke was coming to Huntsville. It was real consternation about the wallet in my back pocket.
Pat Hussain: [01:23:30] Well, it was ... I thought she was cute, but then I found out she was married, had two children. I thought, "No." I had been a little wild, though, okay, I'd been wild in Atlanta. Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians. I was having a party, I was out, and had been
Pat Hussain: [01:24:30] go to a bar or something." I said, "Okay." But then I never would do it. At one point, she told me, "This is the last time I'm going to ask you out. If you don't go, then I'm never going to ask you again." I just stood up, I said, "Okay. I'm going home this weekend, but I'll be back next weekend." She said, "I'll cook you breakfast." I said, "That's just fine.
Pat Hussain: [01:25:00] Yeah, we'll do this breakfast thing."
I came home and told my brother-in-law, "There's this honey up in Huntsville that gave me an ultimatum. Me, the predator." I said, "I can't wait till I get back, but she'd probably going to chicken out. But yeah, the game is on." She came to cook for me. She was really nervous like
Pat Hussain: [01:25:30] the long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. She used to complain at work. She said, "Why won't you hug me?" Because she'd want to hug and I'd ... no. One day, I did. I hugged her in the break room, and the whole room went quiet. I thought, "You wanted a hug, you got it." Done.
Pat Hussain: [01:26:00] She was so nervous in the apartment. I had to go for a meeting. When I came back, we met back at my apartment. I said, "Well, let's go to the park," and put out a blanket on a park. There used to be a debate about who kissed who first. She kissed me first, but Id been rubbing my head on her you know. She ended up, she told me
Pat Hussain: [01:26:30] at one point if she had some place to go that if it was in Tahiti, she would go. She was in an abusive marriage. I told her that I had a house in Atlanta.
Her now ex-husband took the keys away from her and put her out on Mother's Day
Pat Hussain: [01:27:00] and told her, "Go live with your gay friends." That was actually someone else at work told me about it. I've told her she could stay at my apartment. That's when I told her, "I have a place." She said, "Well, I'm going to have to beg my way back in because I don't have any place to go." I said, "Yes, you do." Because she'd left before and gone home
Pat Hussain: [01:27:30] to Florida, and they sent her back because she needed to be with her husband. The time we were leaving, she said, yes, she'd go. I had to fly in to Atlanta for a meeting and got in a wreck. When the driver picked ... Anyway, the driver and I had to go to the hospital for a while. I found out against medical advice because I needed to go back because I knew she was going to be at the airport waiting on me.
Pat Hussain: [01:28:00] She stayed there that night and in the morning, I had a red Mitsubishi truck. She'd loaded it up and off we went to Atlanta, and I came back to work. She just went poof.
In getting a divorce, it was proved that he was a batterer. Her attorney said they can't prove anything, and I can't tell you
Pat Hussain: [01:28:30] what to say, but I can tell you they can't prove anything. I told her, "I'll say whatever you want me to say. I'll agree with it. My head's already nodding." She said, "I'm not going to start this relationship on a lie. I'm going to tell the truth." The judge got upset that he was a batterer. However, he gave him custody, because he was heterosexual, of the children. I have not called our legal system
Pat Hussain: [01:29:00] a justice system since then that her lifestyle stopped her from ... Both of the children came to live with us. She has taught me so much, I've read a lot of books, I've acquired a lot of knowledge in that way. But Cherry, Miss Cherry has the wisdom of the ages in her. She told me
Pat Hussain: [01:29:30] once about our relationship, because I had told her it might last a year or two and I'm definitely not monogamous, "If you don't want anything to do with me, I understand." But she told me, "I'd rather be a fool in love with you than to have never been loved by you," which stayed with me.
She has a way of making
Pat Hussain: [01:30:00] me be more human. We were having a discussion that she called an argument. She said, "Well, we can do whatever you want. You don't have to yell at me." I whipped around and said, "I am not yelling at you." She said, "How do you know? You're doing the talking, and I'm doing the listening." It is things like that that just cut me to my core, and I can see the truth and know that I have such a precious
Pat Hussain: [01:30:30] gift in my wife, and she's the love of my life. It's that we did have a probably 20 years in, one year, maybe two, non-monogamous. 20 years in, she said, this is now a monogamous relationship. I'm too old for this. Granted, it had been 20 monogamous years, but you know, I was just about to ... She said, "No, too late. That door's closed.
Pat Hussain: [01:31:00] There's something." Okay, she's now bringing it up. "How does one person unilaterally get to change a relationship when we had an agreement going in?" She ignores that. My Aunt Doris in North Carolina calls her the president, which she is.
She has taught me that ... found a way for us to ... She acknowledges
Pat Hussain: [01:31:30] that I know everything. It's just so, I do, and she accepts that. I acknowledge that she is always right. I accept that and acknowledge that. We'd have had discussions in there with us retreating to our corners where of course I know everything and she's always right. I always get the last word in any argument, and it's, "Yes, dear."
Kate Kunath: [01:32:30] Does it go like in cycles of three or seven or is it just everyday deeper?
Pat Hussain: You know that deepening happens when I least expect it. The one thing I'm clear, so clear on, is that I want to spend the rest of my life with her. How we make our Pieces fit together is part of it. She tells me that
Pat Hussain: [01:33:00] I overlook the obvious and I can ask her questions that I'm not comfortable ... That people are operating in a mode that I'm not recognizing, and she can explain it to me. But I trust her instincts. She's on me. She says, "Don't", I don't.
Kate Kunath: [01:33:30] That's great. So, the kids, they moved back in with you guys?
Pat Hussain: Yes. Yes. Her ex moved to Atlanta to be closer to harass her. That was not going to happen. He and I have had our moments because he was not going to ever be able to put his hands on her again.
Pat Hussain: [01:34:00] I did tell him at one point if I think she was walking down the street and thought about you and tripped and skinned her knee, because the thought of you distracted her, I'm going to reach in your chest and pull your heart out. You need to pray for her continued good health.
They came. Spencer, the oldest, came first and then Eugenia.
Pat Hussain: [01:34:30] He was that emotional blackmail with her. She had a place in our house which she was welcome. You know, come, go, because they were ... We don't talk. We didn't and we don't talk about their father. I actually gave him some information he needed because with the grandchildren, all at once I'm faced with this is their grandfather
Pat Hussain: [01:35:00] because he was not allowed on my street, up to now. Bad blood there.
And to know this is their grandfather, and so he's going to have to be able to come here. So, take a deep breath and try and act like a grandma. During that March on Washington, the Olympics Out of Cobb stuff.
Pat Hussain: [01:35:30] Spencer was in high school and he was a wrestler. We were going to his wrestling matches, and all at once it's on the news. And I said, "Cherry, I don't think I should go because I don't want to cause him problems, by knowing about our relationship at school, that it could cause him problems." And I told him, "I still support you, but I won't come to the matches right now. And I want you to know that
Kate Kunath: Yeah, tell me about that time, the Olympic.
Pat Hussain: Olympics Out of Cobb, I'd just come off from the March on Washington organizing for two and a half years.
Kate Kunath: Maybe we should go to that. Let's do March on Washington first.
Pat Hussain: [01:36:30] March on Washington started 1990, and with a call that went out around ... I was trying to give back to the community because I thought I'd take some time off between jobs and you know just work full time in the community. And the March on Washington, the first gathering was to decide should we replicate the '87 march, and march in '92 October.
Kate Kunath: And what was the group that you're talking about?
Pat Hussain: This is call that went out from the taskforce, the NGLTF, yeah. They changed their name, so I'm struggling with it. It was NGLTF, that's the National LGBTQ Taskforce
Pat Hussain: [01:37:30] for people up a question on should we march again? And I guess there may have been a hundred people there, maybe more. And first we decided that we would use a modified consensus where we wouldn't just do simple majority, we would see if we could come to a consensus. If not, we would discuss. And then we could ultimately vote.
Well, of course, the first question was, should we march in
Pat Hussain: [01:38:00] October of '92 like we did in '87, and two people blocked consensus. And the room went kind of, "See. That's why we need Robert's Rules of Order. This is what happens." And someone ... Hatchet was there. I can't remember the gentleman's name who was with her. And she said ... we had to hear the objection,
Pat Hussain: [01:38:30] and she said, "That will be the 500th anniversary of the invasion of Columbus. We in the native community ask you not to do anything then, because you will render us invisible."
So more discussion or call for consensus on march in '92 and the room that split in half. And I would like to tell you
Pat Hussain: [01:39:00] for the next two and a half days we had a reasoned debate and discussion. There was blood on the floor. The good thing was that there werent back rooms and people saying horrible racist, sexist things, we were all in one room together. The can was open and the worms were crawling around.
And I learned in that weekend that but is an eraser. I stand in solidarity with indigenous people,
Pat Hussain: [01:39:30] but George Bush will be elected. I support indigenous people around the world, but bottom line, '87. I mean that weekend in '92 and even questioning native people, "Well, if we do this for you, what are you going to do for us?" Well, where
were you in '87 with the response of we didn't wear our feathers.
And people have their stuff said, "You can't fund
Pat Hussain: [01:40:00] this march is you don't do a thing." I represent a student organization that has ... you know. I represent this organization and we're committed to, and we have the resources to help, and on and on. And so finally for me it came down to date rape which I did say to the group, "I'm asking you to stop. You will or you won't, know what you are." We achieve unanimity that we can only on that we wouldn't march then.
Pat Hussain: [01:40:30] And so people had to go back and explain that.
Throughout the process of the march there was another meeting. We were in Chicago, and we were coming up with a composition of the national student committee, and four people, and there were those of us, people of color caucus thought that the four person composition should be minimum 50% people of color,
Pat Hussain: [01:41:00] minimum 50% women. That didn't go down too well. And at one point after we had discussed it, one of the white men said, you know, well, we support women and people of color, but we just need to be clear. We need to be honest. You know, they're lazy, they just don't get the work done.
We ended up passing that as a structure for the march and they are trying to implement it. This kufee came from that march,
Pat Hussain: [01:41:30] because there was ... I got tired of hearing ... I was just tired of hurting myself by being in rooms where White people thought everyone was White. And that nasty, funny, racism that just slimes out all over the floor. I didn't want it. And
Pat Hussain: [01:42:00] my job was creating that national network, and seeing that the elections were held first year in committee and that they were present when it was seated, and all that. And they do an outreach so that I was able to find contacts in
Montana, in North Dakota, that the taskforce didn't have, HRC, they didn't know anybody there.
And I say that only to say that I have since that time been continually very often
Pat Hussain: [01:42:30] introduced as the person who did outreach to people of color for the march. Because the concept of a black women wrangling that, being in charge of that still doesn't mesh, and I was fine as long as I was reaching out to black and brown communities. I used to answer the phone in the Washington office, I called it Trolling for Queers.
Pat Hussain: [01:43:00] That's how I found people from Montana and North Dakota.
And there was a point at which I reached out to Log Cabin because they weren't going to march. And I cant reach the telephone. And there were people that were arguing against it that felt politically more like I did, but that wasn't the job. And we talked, and he said, "Well, we don't agree
Pat Hussain: [01:43:30] with the march platform." I said, "You can march pissed. Stonewall 25 is coming up behind us, but you'll decide. And just say it." And they did come.
And I haven't found them less disgusting as time has gone on. But you do outreach or not is what I felt at the time. But this kufee protected me, it said I was 'other'. Whatever you may think, I think I look like
Pat Hussain: [01:44:00] the average black woman. You need to get your shit re-calibrated. But I didn't have to hear that stuff anymore, because it was just ... It was wonderful and heart grinding work and I was coming off the end of that. One little snippet from that march.
There was a family we've been fighting with them about opening up
Pat Hussain: [01:44:30] the metro early. And there was a family, you know, husband, wife and two kids riding metro and all these gay men's choruses were there. And they start singing on the metro. And one of the children asked his mother, "Why are they singing?" And she said, " They're singing for their freedom honey." And I'd come off of that and
Pat Hussain: [01:45:00] I wasn't going to do anything. And then Jon-Ivan and Olympics Out of Cobb. When I met him, someone had told him, "Talk to Pat."
I met him in the parking lot at karis and he was telling me about it, I said, "Yeah, I know about that." He said, "Well we have to do something." I said, "Well, what do you want to do?" He said, "I don't know, but I'm pissed." And it resonated with me
Kate Kunath: And what was it. So everybody has what was happening in Cobb? What had that just ...?
Pat Hussain: [01:46:00] The Cobb commissioners had passed an ordinance with no force of law behind it that said, "By the way, we don't want you gay people here. You're not consistent with our values that families, and it all got started over some play 'Lips Together, Teeth Apart' and somebody mentioned somebody gay in it. And so they wanted to defund the art in Cobb county.
And instead, the
[01:46:30] commissioners decided that they would disparage a whole portion of the population. Then the Olympics-
Kate Kunath: And what year was this?
Pat Hussain: This was '94. And we went and met. I tried to get someone else to ... I'd just gotten back from Washington, I was exhausted. That was ...
Pat Hussain: [01:47:00] Anyway, but I was sure that I would talk to some organization that would get involved. I'd been organizing with people in Atlanta. And I was told two things. One was that we can't ... This is the Olympics, they're an international sports organization, there's no chance. And the other one was more hurtful.
Pat Hussain: [01:47:30] That I should consider my position in the community.
I didn't know we'd get engaged in fights that we were going to win. I thought we fought with the intent to win, sometimes we do, sometimes we don't but that's not how we pick them. And I did not want to organize with him. This is a White boy from Tennessee with no organizing experience.
Pat Hussain: [01:48:00] He and his partner owned a business, Rear Window, they did photography. And everyone said 'no'. And I talked to Cherry about it. And I had promised her I wouldn't want to do anything when I got back home. And she said, "You want to do it. Go ahead. What do you know about him?" I said, "I don't know. I don't know when he's going to retreat to that whiteness and that maleness and dump me on my head."
Pat Hussain: [01:48:30] She said, "I'll kill him when he does it."
And Jon-Ivan was such ... You know when you put things under pressure, sometimes you get dust, but sometimes you get diamonds. And Jon-Ivan Weaver is a diamond.
The struggle was within the community and with the larger community,
Pat Hussain: [01:49:00] because for us it was about getting them out of Cobb County where they've already said the Olympics welcomed everyone, so how can you do it in Cobb? But they had given them women's volleyball. So you're going to send all the dykes and their girlfriends and the dyke cultures and their girlfriends into Cobb County, this sounds like folly. And they said of course they wouldn't. And then we began
Pat Hussain: [01:49:30] meeting and pushing them.
And the battle was won by people we never saw. There was, I think somebody described us a rag tag bunch of queers. There were people inside the Atlanta Olympic committee giving us information, giving us phone numbers. There were Olympic athletes who were supposed to have their 10th anniversary reunion at the Atlanta games,
Pat Hussain: [01:50:00] and we're talking about not coming. It was astounding. What they were saying was the tip of the iceberg and they didn't even have to say that we had been there.
I remember when they were pulling out of Cobb County, they called us. I was at work at the Fund for Southern Communities office.
Pat Hussain: [01:50:30] Jon-Ivan was at work I think, and he called me. I'd hang up the phone. I called, he said, "Did they call you?" Shirley called and said, "We're pulling out of Cobb, congratulations." We ask for you to wait until the press release goes out. We did. He said, "She call you?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "What do you think?" I said, "I don't know."
We're on the phone scheming because we figured
Pat Hussain: [01:51:00] they're going to say, "No, we didn't say that." And make us look like fools, and they didnt, because we had no choice for them at all. There were people who were willing to discard pieces of our community to make a deal.
We were offered, "You'll be at the opening ceremony. Billy Payne, the CEO of the Atlanta Olympic Committee he will call your name." "Well, I'm excited."
Pat Hussain: [01:51:30] That it was about get out. We did adopt their mascot. Billy Payne and his buddies came up with it. They must have been messed up. And his name was Izzy, he looked like a big, blue sperm. And so in our protest, we were asking,
Pat Hussain: [01:52:00] "Is he gay? Is he straight? Is he safe in Cobb County?"
And we made up our own costume of Izzy and went to picket at their office. Then they wanted us to come inside, "Come, Billy Payne will talk ..." No, we don't want to come inside, no. We'd rather be out here on the street. And Shirley Franklin was number four with the Atlanta Olympic Committee. So we met with her first. And I talked to
Pat Hussain: [01:52:30] my friend Lynn Cothren, a gay man who went to work for Mrs. King when he was 19. And he got me a spot, hooked me up and we met at the King center for the first time. And when we first met there was an attorney there for the Olympic committee. And she said, "Well, we're staying in Cobb. But you know." I said, "Well we will tie this city into an Olympic
Pat Hussain: [01:53:00] knot if you stay in Cobb." You would be attacking
the games. No, we're raising the alarm, that it's not safe. So you can just get out though. Leave Cobb. That's all we want.
And that work was ... There were people within queer community that wanted to make some kind of deal.
Pat Hussain: [01:53:30] That yeah, this is what you want, what will you accept? And there was nothing short of getting out of Cobb that was acceptable. We don't need you to build us a nice LGBTQ center that is state of the art, in that at a discussion with another organization that was willing to do some compromise with them around the resolution to say, "If you don't have the stomach for this get out of the fight,
Pat Hussain: [01:54:00] but I'll fight you too if you're going to allow ..." No.
When we talked with Shirley, we were telling them ... We'd always told them, get rid of the resolution or get out of Cobb. And of course they said, "Well, we're not politically affiliated, so call your boys and talk to them, then get rid of this thing, we're out."
But to understand what it means about homophobia,
Pat Hussain: [01:54:30] that they were willing ... I thought, and I would have been a good person. I would have been on a commission, I would say, "Okay, let's rescind this resolution, okay? We'll make it go away. Three months before the Olympics, we'll put it back in force. What are they going to do? We'll have our resolution and we'll have our Olympic venue. So ..."
But no. They gave away a once in a lifetime
Pat Hussain: [01:55:00] multi-million dollar opportunity to host an Olympic venue in a city where it's not going to ever happen again because they hate us so much, and that says a lot. And we couldn't believe we'd won, but then they made us fight them again for the torch relay. They were going to take the torch into Cobb County, and we did and we heard.
Pat Hussain: [01:55:30] First they wouldn't announce the relay route because of that. They were going to placate their buddies out of Cobb County. And people that were torch bearers were calling us saying, "I'll put it out."
And they finally took it out in Cobb County, but there was something about winning
Pat Hussain: [01:56:00] when it was, we couldn't make them do anything.
We couldn't, but we had a protest on the interstate when the International Olympic Committee was in town.
Kate Kunath: Hold on one second. Was it a demonstration?
Pat Hussain: Yes. The International Olympic Committee was coming to town, and they were going to show up and all that stuff. So we planned some protests to give them a taste of what might happen during the Olympics.
ManSee Kong: [01:56:30] I'm sorry. Does the just turn on? It says room tone?
Kate Kunath: [01:57:00] We should say that it's room tone with a H-AC.
Pat Hussain: A demonstration, and we planned a traffic slowdown. We had talked about tying this city in an Olympic knot if they didn't get out of Cobb County. So we drove out to Cobb County and put pink triangles on the tops of our cars. Jon-Ivan was riding with a reporter and
Pat Hussain: [01:57:30] we got into the interstate 75 coming into Atlanta from Cobb and started doing the minimum all the way across.
When we got in, a helicopter showed up. I guess they do speak, the word got out, and there were state troopers, with Cobb County police bearing down on us. And they pulled us over. Well, they pulled Jon-Ivan over because he was in the far left-hand lane, and we all pulled over. They were real mad then.
Pat Hussain: [01:58:00] Telling us, you know, "Go! Nobody pulled you over. Get back on the road." And I talked to him, I said, "You all right?" He said, "Yeah, I've got a reporter with me. There's only so much they can do." I said, "Okay." And we got back on the road and stopped the traffic again. And we made this huge mess.
One of the guys with the Olympic committee was saying,
Pat Hussain: [01:58:30] "Well, it's just these few people and they can't do much." And our response was, "Oh, this is not a full-on demonstration. This is a taste of what's coming." There was a congregation, first existentialist congregation of Atlanta where the leader had said, "We can protest during the Olympics in the air-conditioned comfort of our cars. We will pull onto the interstate and we will park
Pat Hussain: [01:59:00] And let them tow our cars."
There were people talking about lobbying volleyballs into the ... And people had all manner of things they wanted to do. And the only way ... And I think that has something to do ... But when all those things came together that people said, " This is not okay. They have this resolution against gay people and how they hate them,
Pat Hussain: [01:59:30] and then you give them an Olympic venue that well Olympics welcomes everyone, it is not okay."
Kate Kunath: That's great. I love it. Let's talk about ... This is moving forward. The double-edged sword of marriage equality.
Pat Hussain: [02:00:00] Yes. Marriage equality is an example of single issue organizing. That if you had a seat at the table and trying to get that seat back, it's back to the straight acting, you know, I can pass this heterosexual. The ways in which we hide our queerness so we can get along or go along. Just to make that ... And it's not a deep spiritual connection
Pat Hussain: [02:00:30] or human connection, but it's cosmetic. So that I don't have to be concerned about you.
And marriage equality, absolutely, a good idea. An important issue, but it was 'an' issue, it was not 'the' issue. I don't know what marriage equality has done now to keep queer folk or get queer folk into the United States that are from someplace else.
Pat Hussain: [02:01:00] And that this is the issue, and presented it in that way is it comes from that privilege point. And everything is fine with me, except I have this one little issue, and if I can get this taken care of, then I go back to my normal life rather than creating a new normal.
Pat Hussain: [02:01:30] And that it was a part of the March on Washington, because even though it was in April of '93 there was a lot done about gays in the military. And that was when we moved into, in '94 don't ask, don't tell. But it was in some ways hijacked by that, the idea
Pat Hussain: [02:02:00] of wholeness and community and forced to be able to be okay was taken away. And to not frame marriage equality around immigration, or issues of economics where people file their taxes. It wasn't as much about families, it was really about ... it sounded, the sound came through
Pat Hussain: [02:02:30] as if we didn't already have children. Like we weren't already families. That what was going to fix our lives was getting married. And not to short-change it.
Cherry and I had papers, had a lawyer that had put things in place for us around a living will and a will. We saw during the AIDS pandemic what happened, how many people were kicked out of their homes,
Pat Hussain: [02:03:00] how many people were not allowed in intensive care, just horrific things. And how many bedside weddings would there have been that could have prevented that. There are things you get with that marriage certificate that don't come any other way. Yet presenting us in this one, ag comforting package rather than making sure that marriage equality would
Pat Hussain: [02:03:30] help families and yes families that were adopting children, families that were going to be that couple and that was it. But also in acknowledging, we were families already ... there were families that had been hurt by not
Having that available to them, and that as much as I supported it,
Pat Hussain: [02:04:00] I wanted so desperately for it not to be put forward as the issue, an issue that involves people who are immigrant, that involves people ... and to really look. It was a chance to explore what marriage provides and look at the breath of that, is one of the things that ... full faith and credit is one of the things that
Pat Hussain: [02:04:30] across state lines has to be recognized. You don't have to get married in every state you move. It's, you've done it, you're done.
Kate Kunath: Can you talk about how marriage has fit into like the paradigm of either assimilating, or you can call it a number of things, but there's assimilation and then there's just being queer.
Pat Hussain: [02:05:00] Yeah, and getting married and being queer. You can be married and not be queer, or be queer and get married. And it is about a choice, having a choice available that you can do. And I think that in being married,
Pat Hussain: [02:05:30] I personally, and I feel that if we're going to talk about our folk, that it doesn't mean that some people won't, because they don't want that. They're not interested in monogamy. And some people will get married who are not interested in monogamy. And as we have seen from the long history of heterosexual getting married that monogamy is not necessarily in place in those relationships. But that
Pat Hussain: [02:06:00] it's a way to begin to think of doing both and as an American citizen, I have the right to vote, I don't have to. I can. And the same around marriage that we should now all get married, and get a house in the suburbs, and get a dog. That I want us to be
Pat Hussain: [02:06:30] weary and not present it as the option, that it ... and that we leave room or rather not take up space that doesn't belong to us. Rather than having this envelope that has come out to find somebody get married.
And I know that there are people that have spoken out
Pat Hussain: [02:07:00] to it as assimilating, and it can be. And I disagree with them in that it doesn't have to be. It's about being able to put your family on your health plan. That they're so many more things that could happen for your family in that situation that couldn't without that certificate.
Pat Hussain: [02:07:30] And these are life changing experiences. That not to be angry with people who want to get married. There are, Im finding out recently now that there are many people my age, older that are going back in the closet, because assisted living, nursing homes,
Pat Hussain: [02:08:00] it's not safe. And I'm thinking about safety for youngsters, that also turns into safety for elders.
So I don't want us to get stuck on marriage. And there are people who once we have marriage equality they're done, that's all they needed, and that will happen. Yet we as a movement, as people have to follow
Kate Kunath: That's a good question. Okay, I'm going to ...
Kate Kunath: Do you have any questions?
ManSee Kong: Actually no.
Kate Kunath: No. Then okay, if you're going to give advice to a person who was coming out whether that person is young or old, what would that advice be?
Pat Hussain: [02:09:30] If I had to give advice to someone who was coming out young or old, well I have to say this first about people coming out young, especially in the wake of the marches that have recently happened. As we watch young people take to the street, and go to Washington,
Kate Kunath: [02:10:30] the present.
For people coming out at whatever age, youth, elders, figure out what's safe for you, what feels best for you. There's not a way to come out, and I still have to come out all the time. And one of the places that I may have to come out and I do, but you have to feel safe
Kate Kunath: [02:11:00] it's a good idea to feel safe coming out, it's to my doctor.
And I know many people who still aren't out well that my doctor doesn't need to know that. Well, and in places I can decide to use a neutral pronoun or I can say, 'my wife'. I don't have to say 'my wife', I can call her my friend and all manner of things. So I'm encountering people and situations where I decide to be all of who
Kate Kunath: [02:11:30] I am or not. And I could get queer branded on my forehead, but it's not ... And again, the skin, the breast, they come with the package, and I'm used to people knowing, and I don't like being misidentified as heterosexual.
But to come out in your time and in your way. And if you need some help you've got to find somebody to talk to.
Kate Kunath: You're not alone.
Pat Hussain: No.
Kate Kunath: [02:12:30] We're all out here. What's your hope for the future?
Pat Hussain: My hope is that ... a baby's just been born and people are there waiting and saying, " You've had a baby, what did you have? Is it a girl or a boy?" Well, we don't know yet,
Kate Kunath: [02:13:00] but we've got a healthy child. I hope that doctors and medicine will outlaw mutilating children. We know not only are there trans-folk, there are intersex folk, and they
Kate Kunath: [02:13:30] have been destroying bodies and lives for a long time in their medical
certainty that there are two genders anatomically and mentally, and they're wrong.
That is a fervent hope of mine that they will be rained in and reeducated on humanity and begin to look at us as
[02:14:00] human beings that might not be like you, but that justice be found out that there are variances throughout the human condition. That gender is one of them as is sexual orientation. And it's a lot more fluid than we thought and not make the presumption that there's been a mistake, a birth defect with this person.
Kate Kunath: [02:14:30] And why is it important for you to tell your story?
Pat Hussain: It's important for me to tell my story because I'm a survivor of movement. In the midst of my work I collapsed
Kate Kunath: [02:15:30] And also, in not participating in the silence around what happened to me. There is a ... I think a presumption within organizing, that if we're not showing up, that we're lost, we've lost interest. Some people will curl up in a fetal position crying. We know that when we lose a struggle, we lose a battle, we get hurt. I think it is
Kate Kunath: [02:16:00] extremely important that we understand, when we win we get hurt too. Betsy Gressler gave me the language, it's death by paper cuts, where we don't take time to heal ourselves, to be with ourselves, and know that these attacks are painful and personal. And that we need to attend to our physical
Kate Kunath: [02:16:30] and mental health, that if there are mental health issues, it's not a weakness, it's something that happened and it does happen. And there are too many of us rolling through and can't function in a particular way or hold back because it's not welcome in the room.
And so I said as I was descending into
Kate Kunath: [02:17:00] that absolute darkness that I would always name it because I know I'm not the only person who has walked that road as I'm still walking that road, and to encourage all of us to be gentle with ourselves. To be loving, and if the airlines tell us, "Put on your mask first."
Kate Kunath: [02:18:00] ashamed of your tears. And even though they don't show I have warrior marks.
Kate Kunath: We didn't talk about SONG.
Pat Hussain: We did not.
Kate Kunath: Let's circle back, bring SONG in. I think SONG was something that you got involved in after the march in Washington.
Pat Hussain: [02:18:30] Yes, it was. At the first Creating Change we ever held in the south in '93 in Durham, North Carolina. And there were people that were incredulous that it was going to be held in the south, do they have airports there?
Kate Kunath: Well, I'm just going to start again, because it wasn't clear when you were starting to talk about ... if you're talking about SONG, or if you're talking about the ... What's it called?
Pat Hussain: [02:19:00] The Creating Change Conference.
Pat Hussain: Okay, it's about SONG. And its roots starting ... When SONG began it was a convergence at the Creating Change Conference by the National Gay Lesbian Task Force, and it was held for the first time in the south.
There were those ... we were there, there was a southern organizer's workshop and considering
Pat Hussain: [02:19:30] after you have ... this is how old it is, that after you had mailed out ... sent out your mailing list inviting people to things, you want to be multicultural, and multi-racial and no one came. What's the next step?
And to Mab Segrest who was one of the founders doing a plenary and people couldn't understand
Pat Hussain: [02:20:00] why she would say anything about NAFTA in that because it was not a gay issue.
... 45 to president Obama. And I'm just thinking about, any one of the things that 45 has done that have gotten Obama impeached. Just one.
Kate Kunath: [02:20:30] Right? Okay. Where were we?
Pat Hussain: SONG. Creating Change. At Creating Change there were activists who were saying that the queer struggle for freedom was the same as blackness. That they were the same thing with no context
Pat Hussain: [02:21:00] to understand. I never had to come out to my parents over the dinner table, they knew I was a black child. And that those of us who were women and people of color didn't have the opportunity to hide from ... we just were who we were. And so there are similarities. You get that touchpoint of similarity of why you don't do this, because someone will know who you are.
Pat Hussain: [02:21:30] And that there are those who don't get that. And then six of us: Pam McMichael, Joan P. Garner, Mandy Carter, Mab Segrest, Suzanne Pharr and myself came together as southern organizers and we're talking about a way, rather than subdividing, rather than choosing different areas that I would bring my whole self
Pat Hussain: [02:22:00] to an issue, not subdivide. And that is the issue. A different way of organizing. We can't afford to go to any more meetings, we don't have any more time.
When I walk through a door, I bring my race, I bring my ovaries, I bring whatever is in my wallet, and the love of my wife, Cherry, all with me, so that is the issue.
Pat Hussain: [02:22:30] And that is where we begin, and we're offered a friends housing. We went and talked and spent a weekend, and we're draining what we wanted. Looking at the Combahee River Collective as a base in that work as those black women came together and spoke their names and who they were and what they believed. And seeing how we could organize and hone this
Kate Kunath: Cool. So you guys were the founders?
Pat Hussain: Yes. And for the ... There are
Pat Hussain: [02:23:30] things that are part of SONG. We didn't want to engage in random acts of senseless diversity. We wanted to be deliberate, intentional, and to break up narratives. The idea of, let's say, now that there's SURJ, Showing Up for Racial Justice.
Pat Hussain: [02:24:00] That each of us brings privilege to the table. Some more than others. And where there are ... I was surprised, and I'm not as surprised now because it doesn't ... anyway, I digress the ...
I have had more white gay activists use the n-word than I ever
Pat Hussain: [02:25:00] And that as a part of organizing now for ... If you're coming to a SONG event meeting there will be childcare. It's been taken on as an organizational responsibility, rather than to have each person figure that out, because that's the reason some people don't come.
Some people don't come to organizing groups and meetings
Pat Hussain: [02:25:30] because they work two jobs. And when they're not working they're sleeping. And also food. 'cause we were there that weekend, Ms. Cherry was cooking, and she said, "You all stop. Time to eat."
And we separate our humanity from our organizing in that you've gone to a meeting, and you just whip through a drive-through and got something,
Pat Hussain: [02:26:00] and you're stuffing it down your throat as you were going on to get to the meeting. Or you're sitting in a meeting, and your head is pounding, "Will this meeting ever end? I'm so hungry." And yet, it's so human that we're going to eat, yet we won't bring it into that setting. And maybe there's something in that. So to deliberately include that.
And it is very, very
Pat Hussain: [02:26:30] unlikely you will get something from SONG or hear from SONG if you haven't met someone who is involved at SONG, haven't been to a SONG meeting. At that point organizations would get a one-time use of somebody else's mailing list to send out information about it was being spread person to person
.And the work we felt it was so important that it need to be spread as fast as possible.
Pat Hussain: [02:27:00] And to do that we needed to slow down and look at engaging people where they are. Fly fishing dyke from Arkansas said, "You have to bloom where you're planted."
And that our struggles may be similar, but that the best people to understand that are the people ... I don't know about rural people and how they engage. Or what they
Pat Hussain: [02:27:30] need to do, because I'm coming from a city perspective. And it becomes that, "Well, this is what works for me." And to listen to people rather than bring an agenda, but to bring people together, and do that joint problem solving and approach.
And Pam McMichael said one time
Pat Hussain: [02:28:00] that changes happen on the East and the West Coast. But when the South is in motion for justice, this whole country shakes. And that I believe is true. And the kinship within SONG is strong. And having the co-director model, because lifelong friendships are forged in ways like that.
Pat Hussain: [02:28:30] And co-mentoring now, and being asked to be a mentor, I will only if you will mentor me. Because someone who is 20 comes from a world I don't know, as do I from 1950. We have much to learn from each other, and not to think that it's a one-way street that yeah, to get that and that way we can up
Kate Kunath: I get it. Thank you.
Pat Hussain: Thank you.
Kate Kunath: I feel like so many social movements borrow those ideas back and forth of like educating each other and like bringing a sort of wisdom of a place
Kate Kunath: [02:29:30] and people to the organizing. Like organizing happen right where this happened.
Pat Hussain: I was on a board with folks of southern communities, a granting board. And there was a group. This was a while ago. They were working in North Carolina around pickle boycott. And this group from Philadelphia had given us a proposal
Pat Hussain: [02:30:00] that they wanted to help. They could do it because they're experienced in doing that kind of stuff. Before they'd done it in other parts of the country, and I was uncomfortable with it, because ... Okay, they were experienced but they didn't know North Carolina.
And we ended up not funding
Pat Hussain: [02:30:30] the proposal. And what I said to the other members of the funding committee was that it's like the chicken and the pig. Chicken and pig wake up, barn yard, they're rolling around. Chicken sees the pig and says, "Hey pig, what do you think we ought to have for breakfast?" And pig says, "Well, I don't know. Chicken you're pretty good at choosing, what do you think?" And she says, "Well, I think we ought to have bacon and eggs."
Pat Hussain: [02:31:00] And the pig says, "You know you're making a contribution, but you're asking me for a total commitment."
So it's something about that not being on the ground. And after that we got a handwritten proposal and it was signed by all the members of the group of that organization, and they were Latino. Some of those members they grew into a bigger
Pat Hussain: [02:31:30] organization and they worked with ... you know. But these were people who were ... There's something about having been there or being from there that is valuable. And things are, yeah. And we know that there's wisdom wherever it is the work is happening. And we need to go help ignite that. Not bring them what they need to do, but you know, engage.
Kate Kunath: [02:32:00] Yeah. We're going to do some room tone which is again, just be quiet. So I'm just going to turn this light back on.
Kate Kunath: We'll just sit quiet for a second.
ManSee Kong: So 30 seconds in room tone. Okay, thank you.

Interviewed by: Kate Kunath
Camera: ManSee Kong
Date: March 26, 2018
Location: SONG House, Atlanta, GA