Ron Vanscoyk was born in 1949 in Logansport, Indiana, and moved with his family to San Diego in 1953. Although he was attracted to boys from an early age, and even fooled around with one of his childhood friends, Ron took a long, circuitous, and fascinating route to discovering and fulfilling his identity as a gay man.

After high school, Ron and his then-girlfriend spent the famous 1969 Summer of Love in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco. Even after this experience, Ron hadn’t witnessed any examples of gay men in committed relationships, so he put his feelings for men on hold and, soon after graduating from college, married a woman.

Ron and his now-wife moved to northern California and eventually found the Greenfield Ranch, an intentional back-to-the-land community near Ukiah. Ron soon found a job in a natural foods café run by two very “happy-to-be-who-they-were” gay men. When one of the café owners seduced Ron into his first time adult sexual experience, that changed everything! Ron and his wife soon separated. Just as importantly, Ron began spending winters in the small town of Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. Learning the local language, and making solar ovens for local women (who often experienced lung issues from wood-burning ovens inside their poorly-ventilated homes), Ron witnessed the joys and benefits of people living in extended, intentional community. He carried this experience back to the U.S. with him. 

Returning to Mendocino County in Northern California, Ron met and shared the next 12 years of his life a man named Jackson Branum. Hearing about and visiting a man in the Ukiah hospital who had no friends or family and was dying of AIDS, Ron and a circle of people began what would become the Mendocino County AIDS Volunteer Network. The first clients were men who lived in the hills who needed support to maintain their rural lifestyle while living with HIV/AIDS. Out of this experience came the moment in 1988 when Ron, Jackson, and two other friends convened a rural gathering of gay men. Having invited 27 men, 65 men showed up; and so began the Billy Club, which eventually evolved into The Billys. Beginning as a support network for rural gay men with AIDS (and those without), The Billys today still serve the purpose of connecting people through heart-centered gatherings and has expanded past its rural roots to keep folks anywhere from feeling isolated.

Ron met his husband Scott Love at a Billy Gathering in 1990. It took them 10 years to get together – but they are deeply in love to this day. In 1988, Ron also started going to Radical Faerie gatherings, and in 1991, he had the privilege and joy of meeting Harry Hay who became a close friend and mentor until his death in 2002.

Today, Ron and Scott live on the off-the-grid homestead they built on the land of Greenfield Ranch. They are both still very active with the Billys and count many of those connections among their dearest friends.
Andrew Lush: [00:00:00] Great. So that's recording and I'm going to hit record on Zoom since our backup. And I am going to stop my video on mute myself. So just let me know.
Betsy Kalin: Okay, great. And then Andrew, can you make, let me pin, I'm gonna pin. Okay. There we go. I did it.
Andrew Lush: I can also spotlight his video. There we go.
Betsy Kalin: [00:00:30] Yeah, that's great. That's really helpful. So Ron the first question is perhaps the easiest. If you can say your name and your date and place of birth.
Ron Vanscoyk: My name is Ron Vanscoyk. Since I've been married, I've called myself Ron VanLove, Scott's name, his last name is Love. V A N S C O Y K is how you spell my normal last name. I was born in Logansport, Indiana on July 8th, 1949.
Betsy Kalin: [00:01:00] Great, thank you. And something else to keep in mind is when I ask you questions if you could, and you did that perfectly with this one, but if you could rephrase my question in your answer, so I'm not going to be in this. So if it was, you know, what did you have for breakfast today? Instead of saying like eggs, I had eggs for breakfast today.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:01:30] Got it. I'll do my best to remember that.
Betsy Kalin: I'll do my best to point it out.
Ron Vanscoyk: We're a team.
Betsy Kalin: So what can you tell me a little bit about where you grew up and what it was like when you grew up?
Ron Vanscoyk: Well, I was born in Indiana and all I have is great gratitude that my parents didn't like the weather there. And so they decided when I was four years old to move to San Diego.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:02:00] So I grew up in San Diego and I always was kind of one of those kids that just wanted to be liked. So I did everything right. I was a good little boy and my sister was just the opposite. She rebelled at everything. So we had the same house, the same upbringing, but she hated it and was a mess. I loved it and was, was just the little angel, which of course irritated her, no end.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:02:30] So I grew up there. I had a pretty happy childhood I must say. My parents were both very supportive of me. Very encouraging for me to learn. And I always felt loved and that's a pretty big thing. I didn't see my dad all that much, cause he worked six days a week. My mom was just dear to me and she still is. She's still alive.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:03:00] So anyway, I don't know how far you want me to go with this. If you want me to go just my chronology of, of how I grew as a person or whether you just want to know my childhood, what, what do you think?
Betsy Kalin: Yeah, that was, that was perfect. I just want to know more about like, cause I knew you were born in Indiana and I didn't know what happened after that. That was really helpful to go to San Diego. And then my next question was more about your identity
Betsy Kalin: [00:03:30] and like, like how, when did you realize that you might be different or gay or like any of those things when you're growing up?
Ron Vanscoyk: Well, probably from the time I was eight or nine, I realized that I was different and I realized my attractions even then to some degree, I also realized that was not a good thing. And that was not something
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:04:00] that was anything other than derision or your, it wasn't something that was okay. And I'm a good little boy, I want to be okay. So what happened for me personally was I kind of became very shy. I didn't I didn't feel comfortable. I guess I didn't feel comfortable making a lot of friends and being gregarious cause I was afraid I would be found out.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:04:30] And so it kept me as a really shy person, which helped my studies a lot. I did have a friend, my best friend across the street, David and he and I started doing, as kids do, and fooling around totally while we were asleep. And what I learned from that was all, yeah, even though David and I were doing this thing, we had to be asleep. It was a secret thing.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:05:00] We could not even let each other know that we were doing it. So there was a tremendous feeling of, I don't know, compressed person in here that could not be seen because if I was seen, I wouldn't be liked. And that was really important to me. So as I, after I graduated from high school, jumping a little bit,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:05:30] David and I had stopped seeing each other quite a number of years before. I graduated from high school, I actually had a girlfriend; we decided to hitchhike North to Canada. And we got as far as San Francisco and it was the summer of 67 and it was the Summer of Love, and we got caught up in that area for the next six weeks. I lived there and I worked giving free food for people.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:06:00] And what happened there was there the values weren't to be liked or be like everybody else there, the values were be as unique as you are, be your true self. Just the more unusual you were, was very accepted. So it wasn't an issue. I did meet a couple of other gay guys while I was there, but I was with my girlfriend. So nothing happened, but I also noticed that I didn't see any gay people
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:06:30] that have relationships or at least the two that I had met. They just seemed not very together. There was, there was, there was nothing there that ... Felt like a lifestyle that I kind of relate to. So after that I went back and I went to college and luckily I was in college because that really stabilized me for a period of time.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:07:00] And it was during this time that I got into different religious studies and different dietary things and organics and did a lot of backpacking. I loved the countryside and being in the hills and went through college. And my intention of being in college was I was going to be a teacher, teacher in college. While I was in college
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:07:30] I had seven different majors cause I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do. Start off like in business and math and those types of things. True, not my thing. So then it got into more like philosophy and psychology and spiritual studies. I finally ended up with a comparative literature. I was going to because that was world literature. And a lot of it was speaking of things of spirit.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:08:00] So I thought I could grasp that. Anyway. I graduated from college and right after I graduated from college, I got married to a woman that was I, all I can say is she really was a vibrant person and she really liked me. And so somehow I just caught up, caught up in the swirl and I thought, well, this is the only way I'm going to have a relationship and relations are very important to me.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:08:30] So I ended up marrying her. Wasn't a good thing. It wasn't a terrible thing, but it wasn't a good thing. We were together for about a year and a half during which we moved to Northern California. And while I was up in Northern California, I ended up, we ended up working at a cannery at some point, cause we were going to go to South America; and a friend gave me a call saying, Hey Ron,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:09:00] I'm on my, I just finished the cannery, were two weeks from leaving for South America. And this call came in, Hey, Ron, I'm going to go visit some friends that are living over in Ukiah on a collective ranch. And do you want to come and see? And so I did and we came over to Ukiah and I found the Greenfield ranch, which is an intentional community. It's 5,000 acres. Everybody own, has like their own 40 or 50 acre parcel,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:09:30] there's common land. And so we were intentional community, work parties all the time. We really saw ourselves as people working together to manifest something. It was a back-to-the-land movement. And for me, it was the most wonderful thing in the world because I could live this life out in the hills, but I didn't have to live isolated. I'm in a community of people living out here in the hills and we're all sharing our skills and sharing our knowledge
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:10:00] and mixing it up in such ways that really I felt good. The only thing that felt lacking to me was, was other gay people. Now how that came about. All right so far, I don't, other than my experience with David as a kid, I hadn't really had any experience with the gay part of myself.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:10:30] And so as I live, when I moved to Ukiah, first thing I did was found a house within like a half hour. Went down to a natural foods cafe, asked for a job. I found a job that was within an hour of being there. So I knew I was at the right time and the right place. And it turns out that the people that ran this cafe were two men, two gay men were very happy about being gay. They felt it was a gift in their life.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:11:00] They were very well adjusted. They didn't have the slightest shame or anything that made them feel like they couldn't be who they were. Well, that really was an eye opener for me. And all, I started really questioning what my life choices were. Cause it seems like there is a way to be gay and not be ashamed and not be rejected.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:11:30] And so one time we had I live near this place called Orr Hot Springs and there was a workshop that was happening at the hot Springs and we were going to cater it. And Mitch and I, he's one of the owners of a cafe that I worked at. One of the happy gay man, very gay, gay man. And anyway, we had did this workshop and as the night ended, we were there for the whole weekend.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:12:00] So as the night ended we went to our cabin and turned out he had arranged for us to have the same cabin and the same bed. And he seduced me. And I think it was one of the more wonderful first experiences a person could have. He was, not only was he an incredibly attractive person, but he was incredibly considerate. He knew that I didn't have experience. And so he was like the most charming, caring, nurturing,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:12:30] it wasn't just wham. Bam. Thank you, man. It was, it was like, he was really mentoring me. I loved it. So I went home after the weekend and I immediately told Kathy, my wife, I told her, gee, we did this workshop and Mitch and I made love. And it was wonderful. I was ready for her to say anything, but I just want to tell her the truth. And she was okay with that.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:13:00] But there was definitely a distance that occurred with us after that. . . more, and after six months or so, I wanted to move up to my land at the community. I've been living in town and she didn't want to do that because we'd be in a tent. So both of us very happily went our separate paths and I moved up to the ranch. And Mitch, the reason I lived up here on the ranch is that Mitch, that man I just talked about,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:13:30] he lived up here in a place where there are six other gay men here on the ranch. So it was like a little sub community in our bigger community. So it was like this little gay community that was happening there. Well, I was all over trying to see how they did it and what, what their lives were about. And so I was able to get my land, which didn't cost much. It was $125 an acre at the time.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:14:00] So it was something that even I could do. And that's where I started kind of looking at how, I became an out gay man, but I still did not see, even though I saw people that were happy being gay, I didn't see people that were in successful longterm relations and that's something that's been important to me.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:14:30] I wanted to, I've always felt drawn to share my life with somebody. So it took me another two or three years before I finally realized that no, I've got to make something happen if it's going to happen. And so I met this man, Jackson, and we started becoming very dear with each other.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:15:00] And then he moved in with me for 12 years. We lived together and that's where I've really learned how being in relationship is important to me almost, maybe not quite, as important as being a gay man. So being able to do both is just wonderful. I don't know how far you want me to go with this. I can, I can ...
Betsy Kalin: [00:15:30] You know, you know, you just went down the line and did my first 10 questions. You were amazing. So This is incredible. And then I just noticed a couple of things that I might go back and have you clarify a little bit about I mean, one of the things that you talked about is not really having role models you know, healthy, gay relationships and that's something that's really important to you.
Betsy Kalin: [00:16:00] So when was it when you realized that, "Oh, you know, I can be gay and I can be in a good relationship." Like, did you ever get to see that verbal model in any way?
Ron Vanscoyk: Well, I can say that having met Mitch and Lulu and Leon and Jeff and these guys that were very pleased about being gay and were very comfortable with being gay,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:16:30] that was my first layer that came off. That was the first thing that let me go, okay. I can embrace this part of myself. And I mean, really embrace this part of myself rather than just accept this part of myself. The relationship part. Well, it kinda came to the fact that I didn't really see a lot of successful relationships. I saw a few that tried it and after a year or two, then they break up. And
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:17:00] so I kinda in my head rather than just trying to go there, because there were examples of it, I realized that I've got to create it myself if I want that. And so some of it was just self-motivation. Since then I have a lot of examples of gay men who are very successful in loving relations. And so it's, it's something that's kind of more prevalent now than it ever was during those times.
Betsy Kalin: [00:17:30] And you also spoke about, you know, how Greenfield is a intentional community. And I think a lot of people don't know what the back to the land movement was and how many intentional communities there still are today. And you know, about just the issues around, you know, why people would want to be in an intentional community and what it means.
Betsy Kalin: [00:18:00] So can you just talk a little bit about, you know, what is an intentional community and and then a little bit, are there, well, I know the answer because of my friends are lesbians and are in intentional communities, but like, are there like gay and lesbian, intentional communities and things like that?
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:18:30] Okay. Well, this intentional community was thrilling to me because it was a way to fulfill my dream of living in the country, which I've always wanted to do. My dad always had a dream when we lived in San Diego, his dream was to own 40 acres on Mount Palomar. And so we would go up camping like every weekend or at least once a month. And I, those were the times I would live for, I really learned to love nature from those experiences that I kind of absorbed his dream of having a piece of land,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:19:00] but I was daunted by the fact that if you have a piece of land and you're living out in the Hills, that's pretty isolating. So when I found Greenfield, what it was as an intentional community, it's got all, it's got a story of its own that is a really a magical story, but that'll take too long to go through that. So I'll just say it was, it was set up, there's 500 acres of common land that we all own in common. That's where the ranch house is. There's a little org, there's an orchard there's gardens.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:19:30] There's a pond the swim in, this is where we have our meetings, our parties, our get togethers, our whatevers. So this common land is one of the glues that really holds our community together. I think more successfully than maybe other communities that have tried it. Buyin. . . this community is not one where you had your role to play. And therefore you were expected to completely participate equally with everybody else.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:20:00] This was a community, more of attraction. We had things that were interesting to do. People would, would put out the word that they were going to be building a water tank or a barn or this. And we would all get together or, not all, but we would like probably 40, 50, 60 of us would get together and we'd have a work party and we would accomplish these things. And we did that in different people's homesteads around. So that really created a feeling that we were in this community together.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:20:30] I just want to cut how words are made. The word community actually comes from two words in Latin. One is com, which means with, and munitas, which means tasks. So when people perform tasks together, when they, when they work together, they have more of a sense of community. And that was definitely part of the glue of our community is all of these things
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:21:00] that we did together rather than just on our own. So we have a board of directors even and there's there's roads that we have to take care of. There's a common land to take care of there's events to do et cetera, et cetera. So our intentional community is one that has so many interesting things going on to it that we're drawn to participate
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:21:30] rather than pushed to participate, even when we don't want to, if I want to take a break for a year or two fine, no problem, if I want to be totally involved, Great. And so now it's been since 1972, when the ranch began and we're still going strong. We were all in our twenties then, which absolutely amazes me. And now we're all on our sixties, seventies and even eighties.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:22:00] So it's a definite aging population and there's different challenges that come about as we age keeping things trying to keep young people interested in being here et cetera, et cetera. So it's not without its challenges, but you know, when you're challenged doing things together, it's a lot easier than just being isolated. So I don't know if that answers your question about our intentional community.
Betsy Kalin: [00:22:30] Thats perfect. I think I just wanted it, you know, I know a lot of young people will be watching this and they just don't have the same knowledge, you know? So I thought that would be really helpful for them to understand what it is and what it means. I think also something that I thought that was, I mean, you were probably common values as well. I mean, this was like around the time of the antiwar movement and, you know, so were those like shared values of you know, with going back to the land, it was also, you know,
Betsy Kalin: [00:23:00] about you know, leaving behind what was traditional and, you know, urban areas. And so is that something that people share as well [inaudible]?
Ron Vanscoyk: Yeah, for me personally, when I was in college, I got very active in the antiwar movement when Vietnam was happening. And I noticed after doing that for a couple years, that I was becoming a very angry person. I was just a very angry person and I started questioning it.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:23:30] Do I want to be an angry person? Do I want to be always acting out with my anger? What are the solutions that come up with out of anger rather than other ways that I can come up with by consideration? So I ended up stepping back a bit from the antiwar movement actively, but I still passively was part of it. I would support things and I would be part of mail parties and stuff, but I wouldn't be in that constantly angry state. When people moved up here for the back to the land movement,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:24:00] it wasn't so much politics around things like the war, although this was an alternative community, so everybody was against things like the Vietnam war was just unbelievably bad thing. We were more drawn to the ideals of organic gardening, building our own house, making our own lives,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:24:30] an alternative way of organizing ourselves rather than the way that it was out in the world. And so we were experimenting with different ways of being together and doing things together. That was what drew us. And we knew nothing. Most of us were from basically suburban or definitely not homesteading lifestyle. So we had to learn together. And I think part of learning together really made us learn a lot faster.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:25:00] So the I'd say that the main glue that brought us together was to create a new world where we could have organic food where we could have fresh water, where we could have our own houses that we built ourselves. We can have we had a school at the ranch, so all the kids at the ranch, which for a number of years,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:25:30] it was a baby factory up here. We at one point had one year we had 37 babies born. So, so we had a school and there were all these things that we were doing that were like experimenting with different ways to be together. And, yeah, I don't know what else to say about that. I'm sure I have a lot more to say.
Betsy Kalin: [00:26:00] That's perfect. Thank you. That really [inaudible] Well, now let's talk about the Billy and tell me how the Billys began and, and then your role as one of the backers of the building.
Ron Vanscoyk: Okay. Yeah. Well, I'd been living out here now for about maybe 13 years, 14 years had a couple of other gay friends Terry and Richard and anyway we were all hungry,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:26:30] feeling isolated from being a gay person. I should go back a little bit. In 1987 I think it was, a neighbor of mine, Lynn Meadows, wonderful person, she was a physician's assistant and there was a man in Ukiah who had AIDS and he was dying and he knew nobody. He had no friends, he had no family, his family had rejected him and she felt that was a terrible thing. So she got ahold of Jackson and I, and Terry and Richard said, Hey, could you go visit this guy? Could you do something?
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:27:00] He has nobody. And we did. And we talked about that a bit with Lynn, all of us together. And we said, we need to do something about this. We need to create some kind of a volunteer network where people can support people as they get sick or as they have challenges. And so we started this group called the Mendocino County AIDS volunteer network, which is still happening today, very vital.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:27:30] And some of the first clients that we had were people that lived in the hills, of course, and their challenges were, Hey, I love my life out here in the hills, but if I get sick, I need to have some support or else I won't be able to live here. And I'm going to lose this life that I've spent so many years building up.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:28:00] And so we began talking about it amongst ourselves. We thought, well, let's just find out who we are. Let's find out where we are. So we all put our heads together and got names from a picnic that had happened a couple of years before gay picnic, from a bar that was in Lake County and one that was up at Lake Mendocino. We had a list of 27 names and we sent out a call. I think it was called the good times gathering for rural gay men.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:28:30] This was before it was called the Billys. And so we sat around the table, you know, licking the stamps and writing in all the things we sent out, these 27 names, I mean, calls and 65 people showed up at the gathering. There was one, it was one day, then it was the night. And then the next day we left.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:29:00] And people at that event found people that lived just right over the Ridge from them. And they didn't know, they didn't know they were there. All of a sudden there were all these people that had contact with each other, and it was very supportive for networking and for creating friendships and for creating support networks. So we thought, wow, that was really interesting. Let's do it again.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:29:30] And so we went to have one later in the summer and this one was going to be at my place that I have some land that could host a gathering, me and Jackson, and we sent out 65 or 60 calls this time and 110 people showed up. So we realized we're really onto something there's, there's a need here for, and it wasn't just about AIDS. It was, it was the support kinda got initiated
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:30:00] because of the need that was around this pandemic. But as it turns out, there's a lot of people, a lot of gay men that lived in the Hills that just felt isolated from their gay identity. And so this was fulfilling that as well as supporting people that might be getting sick. So that second gathering was where we started doing hearts circles
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:30:30] and heart circles are kind of one of the glues for the Billys. There you get together in circle and either, either a talisman goes around the circle, one person at a time, and everybody shares from their heart. What's going on with them. What's important to them. Another way of doing it is what we call popcorn, where we have the talisman in the center. And when you feel moved to speak to get up in the center, you grab and get the talisman and you speak,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:31:00] and then you pass it to somebody else who wants to speak. And it's such a great method for weaving community because, in heart circles, you really get to know people. I have had my judgments completely obliterated from my experience in heart circle. You know, how it is like where you, you kind of see somebody
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:31:30] and you kind of make initial judgements about them. Oh, they're this kind of person. And they're that kind of person. And then when they get to share in heart circle and you realize, Oh, there is depths of this person that I had, that really surprised me. And as a result of that, I tend to box in people whole lot less now, because I realize we are much more complex people than, than sometimes we present.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:32:00] So I'd say, yeah, I don't know how much of, the history of. . . the Billys is an evolving thing. It began, like I said, as a way of networking rural gay men who had a need to not be isolated because of either sickness or because of just isolation. After like maybe two or three years of us having gatherings,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:32:30] we just sent, we decided we started reaching out to other friends of ours, many of whom lived in the Bay area. And all of a sudden, I think it was in 1990 or 91, all of a sudden we got this influx of Bay area men to our gathering. And it was a big splash. And it was something that very much concerned many of the people who lived rurally in the Hills like,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:33:00] Hey, this is our only thing. Whereas you live in the Bay area where there's a lot of ways to mix it up with other gay men. As we discussed these things further and deeper, especially in heart circle, we discovered that during this time of the pandemic gives me, I'm going to have to stop for a second. I forgot to turn off the phone. So I'm probably being interrupted.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:33:30] So Betsy, should I continue? Or should I wait till, this is over Betsy. Are you there? Is anybody there? Are you there now?
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:34:00] Let me know when you want me to do something.
Andrew Lush: [00:34:30] Hi
Ron Vanscoyk: Hey, hi.
Andrew Lush: So we lost you when [inaudible] your phone, but the recording has been good, it's still been going.
Ron Vanscoyk: Let me go turn off [Crosstalk]. Let me go turn off the other phone. Okay. [Crosstalk] Go ahead.
Andrew Lush: [00:35:00] Also, it would be great if we could unlock your phone screen so that its vertical as well.
Ron Vanscoyk: My phone screen vertical? Okay, let me go turn off ... [Crosstalk] Okay. I'll go turn off the phone first.
Andrew Lush: Great.
Ron Vanscoyk: Here we are again.
Betsy Kalin: [00:35:30] And that was so good too. I lost you like right after you started talking about gay men from area joining the Billys, and then I froze. So I didn't get to hear what you said. So Andrew, should we do that again?
Andrew Lush: Well, we have the recording, but I guess it's up to you because we couldn't hear it so...
Betsy Kalin: [00:36:00] Well we can continue, like where you, where you left off before you pause. So you were talking about that and then how that changed a little bit.
Ron Vanscoyk: Okay. Well, like I said, as we were discussing the impact it was having, by all of our, all of the people from the Bay area, coming to the Billys,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:36:30] there was a sense that we wouldn't be able to continue our networking, that we were isolated but they weren't isolated. And so why should, why are they coming to do... And by the way, these are all dear ones and friends. So we had no personal issues about it, just about the dynamic. In discussing this stuff, we learned, especially during this time of the, of the pandemic,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:37:00] that there was no venues or no ways in San Francisco or the Bay area that people were coming together in ways that were really supportive and really a nurturing community, a feeling of community. So once we got that, there was the same isolation for people in the Bay area during this critical time.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:37:30] It just opened up a little bit in terms of how people felt about it. And there's a, so it did shift things for sure, but luckily over the years that we had been together as a rural networking organization, many of those networks were established and were vibrant. And so it wasn't as life and death as it felt like it was at the beginning.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:38:00] And there was just a lot of, at that time, the Billys were run by volunteers, mostly Terry Brown. I have to say for the first many years of the Billys Terry was the one that would coordinate things and would send out calls and he'd be the office guy. And but there, it was, it was a circle of people that were doing the volunteering to make these things happen.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:38:30] And there was becoming burnout because as the Billys started getting steam, especially with all the new influx of people from the Bay area, we started uh, needing there's a lot more work to do. There were more gatherings. We had to find places for these gatherings. Right around this time, one of the Billys one of our dear ones that had been from the beginning,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:39:00] ended up getting this resort at Saratoga Springs and he got it specifically so it would be a home for the Billys to have gatherings. And that has been a glue that has really helped keep us together. Cause we have a really nice place to go gather. And so it picked up and there's so much more work to do. And I remember, I think it was 1993.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:39:30] I got a call from this Billy brother, his name was Doug Murphy. And he said, I had a dream last night. And I think it's really important that we start a 501c3 so that we can be, we can do what we do better. And, well, I thought about that and we all thought about that and thought, well, yeah, there's burnout happening, but is that going to be creating a bureaucracy? Is that going to be taking some value away from that which we do?
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:40:00] Well, we had to do something. So we decided, yes, let's have a board of directors and see where that goes. And it turns out now, I guess it's how the people that step up to the board are going to hold themselves is kind of how it's going to go. We've been very fortunate with the Billys the people have seen themselves as stewards of this thing happening rather than as directors from the outside.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:40:30] These are people that are part of our community. These are people that care deeply about what goes on. And so we've been very fortunate to have very heartfelt people on the board of directors and it made all the difference because now all of a sudden there's a circle of people working on stuff and they're signed up to do that. And so there's continuity and there's a fermenting of ideas back and forth. And its, it's going somewhere.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:41:00] Well, one of the places that it went, I think a couple of years after the board formed, we had a real, we had a real important thing happening. We were realizing that it had always been one of our basic values; we would charge a, an amount to come to a gathering, but no one was turned away for lack of funds. If you didn't want to pay anything, you could still come to a gathering, or if you couldn't afford to,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:41:30] we encourage people to pay what they could; but as it happens in such things, people pay whatever they want to, and if Joe only paid $20, why should I pay more? Or if he gets in for free, I'm going to get in for free. At some point, people weren't taking responsibility and the finances were becoming really strained enough to where we didn't know if we could continue doing gatherings. And so the board of directors decided that:
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:42:00] to come to a gathering, you had to pay the fee. Well, that very next gathering there was, we were in an uproar because the community had not been informed there was a financial crisis. And this seemed to be one of our core values that all of a sudden this board of directors decided that it was no longer a value. They did it for very good reasons, but the community felt like if you'd let us know,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:42:30] we will, we can help come up with a new solution. And the board went great, work on a new solution. Let's come up with it. And so we call the circle together, a visioning retreat and tossed around how can we make it affordable for people that can't necessarily afford it. And we came up with a scholarship policy and that scholarship policy people could contribute more if there was any extras,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:43:00] extra money from a gathering, which often times there'd be, there would be that would go into the scholarships. And for many years, no one was turned away for lack of funds because the scholarship worked that well and was that supported. But as things go, expenses go up and up and up. And so therefore what you charge has to go up and if you're trying to cover for people that can't pay, it gets to be kind of expensive.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:43:30] So it's worked out pretty well. That's kinda where we're at now is you apply for a scholarship and the Billys will give you a scholarship for whatever they can afford to do. They try to make it as available to as many people as they can, rather than one person taking it all. So that was a big thing. The only reason I brought that up. It wasn't so much to go into the nuts and bolts of how we have the scholarship happen
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:44:00] it goes into how we operate as a community where the board of directors might do something because they feel like they need to act, but they're very willing to have the community participate in the solution. And once this came up, we realized, Oh, the board decided to have these things called advisory retreats, where they would invite active people in the community, come together for a weekend with the board
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:44:30] and would envision what was, what we wanted To do and how we want to do it. That's where our mission statement came from. We had a values statement that came from that. There's all kinds of things that have happened, how we do our gatherings, how we all participated. Those things happen from this rich exchange between the community and the board. At every gathering, there's a community circle where anybody comes to it,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:45:00] and if they have issues that they want the board to address, or that they think would be a great thing to happen for the Billys, that's where it gets discussed. So there's, there's all these avenues by which the board and the community, the larger community interact to form solutions to things and to form ways forward.
Betsy Kalin: I had, I had a question though, and I've been thinking about this as you've been talking is how, how did the name, the Billys come about? Because it's a very unusual name for a group?
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:45:30] Well, kind of, it's kind of serendipitous in a way. Alright, were all, way back in the beginning, the very first gathering there's Terry and Richard and Jackson, and I, and we're all making these licking stamps and writing the return address and all that. Well, the second gathering when we had 65 of those to do, we thought, I don't want to be, I don't want to be writing that many return addresses.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:46:00] Turns out Richard is an incredibly talented maker of homemade cards and he'd come up with a name for his card business. And the name they came up with was the Billy Club. And the way he came up with that is when he and Terry, it's kind of personal one, when he and Terry first got together, Richard had just broken up with a man named Terry and it wasn't a pretty breakup.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:46:30] And so now when he meets Terry, he's much more enamored of this new man in his life than he is of the name, Terry, for this new man. And so they were fishing around, what, what, what kind of nicknames can we call each other? Oh, and they came up with some really fun ones, like Annette, uh, Bronco. And they arrived at Billy. And so they call each other Billy. And when they moved into the area with Jackson and I, they, you know, we were all Billy.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:47:00] We would say Billy to each other, rather than calling each our real names. And so anyway, we're sitting around this table and we don't want to do all the return addresses. And so Richard has the stamp for his handmade cards and has the PO box of Terry on it. So we could just stamp the return address. And that's how the Billy Club became the Billy Club. After a number of years
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:47:30] it was felt the Billy Club, well we're not really a club, we don't really have a membership. We're more of a community. Uh, billy club has other connotations to it like a police stick. And they thought, well, I think Billys works better for us than Billy Club. And so that's when we changed to become the Billys instead of the Billy Club.
Betsy Kalin: [00:48:00] That's great. Thank you. [Crosstalk]
Ron Vanscoyk: We were close to becoming the Annette club. So we got saved from that one.
Betsy Kalin: And how many people are involved now in the Billys?
Ron Vanscoyk: Boy, that's a hard one to answer. We've probably got, I don't know, maybe 2000 on our mailing list. And that's after it's been culled down a lot.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:48:30] Active people, we have nine board members. We have at every gathering that happens, there's always at least a couple of coordinators and sub coordinators. There's a lot of people that are active, but they're active as the events come up as basically the board members and others in the background, we have a resource coordinator that works in the office that does what Terry's old job was. And it's just,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:49:00] so there's a lot of people involved, but it's hard to there's, I'd say nine people that are like constantly involved and that, and that number changes as people get inspired.
Betsy Kalin: And I mean, one of the things that I would like you to talk about is, you know, you started you started this organization as a way to really bring gay men together who were feeling isolated,
Betsy Kalin: [00:49:30] who were in rural areas. And, you know, what, what are some of the needs that weren't really being met that you thought a community would really help with?
Ron Vanscoyk: Well, an obvious one is for people who had AIDS that they would have, if they got sick and it doesn't mean you get sick and you're gone, it means you get sick and you have a period of time where do you need help, and then you get better.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:50:00] And so the networking and, and finding out who we were created a really good resource for these people to stay in their homesteads, with friends that were supportive in the area around them. That was the biggest start of it. For me personally I didn't personally have AIDS. I did feel very isolated as far as this really important aspect of my life. I love all the other aspects.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:50:30] This was an important aspect that I, I felt like wasn't as vibrant as I wanted it to be. So I ended up being drawn to it for my own selfish reason of wanting to connect with other gay men who lived in the hills, so we can have more interconnectedness, more times that we could share in different ways. And many people share our lifestyle. And there's not that many people that live that share the lifestyle of gardening
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:51:00] and building your own home and developing your own water and your roads and all of these things that happen. It's really nice to copollinate this information. So I'd say the Billys It's more or less a way of of combating isolation for people who live rurally. That's the, for the rural people for,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:51:30] for Bay area and city people. It's a way of combating isolation for people who live in the thick of it as well. Because we, we meet in ways where we really are genuine with each other and authentic, and you make real friends, so many relations have happened through the Billys. My dearest in my life, Scott I met him at a Billy gathering in 1990. We were both already in a relationship at that time.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:52:00] Oh boy, was there a spark! I like this guy. He, oh, and he felt the same way. And if you, as years went by, we met each other again, Whoa, it's just the same feeling. But once again, we were in a relationship. And so it didn't happen. At some point Scott wanted to move to Mendocino County and he needed a place to live.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:52:30] He applied for a resource coordinator at the Billys, got the job, needed a place to stay. I had a yurt that nobody was living in, it hadnt been put up. Scott's a carpenter. So he erected the yurt and lived in that for a couple of years. And during that time we broke up from our relationships and there we were, and we just already really cared so much about each other.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:53:00] And so, you know, after a few months we figured out, Hey, we're both free now. Wow. Maybe we should consider being together. And so we did. And he's the love of my life. I have, I have to say, I love him more than I did when we first met. And that was, I love him more now than almost any time, we really do well together. So I'm very, I mean,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:53:30] there's a lot of people who through the Billys have met their partners have met friendships that are lifelong friendships. So I know there's a, I've heard anyway, theres a sense that some people think of the Billys as a place to go where people want to just go and have sex. I want to go. And it's a playground. That's not what we're doing. We're, we're trying to find ways of meeting and connecting with each other on a much deeper level.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:54:00] It's not like sex doesn't happen, but that's not the reason that we come together. A lot of gay venues that come together around alcohol or drugs or sex, and that's like the main venue for, for gay men to come together. The Billys alcohol is I wouldn't say it's prohibited, but it's so discouraged that, that, that, it's, it's very, it's, it's, it's not prohibited, but it's very discouraged.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:54:30] And so it just doesn't happen. And yeah, our reason for being together is a lot different than just connecting sexually or around those party ways, and we spend like four or five days together. So we actually build this time together where we're building relations. We're not just going and having a party and then maybe a call afterwards. No, we're actually building friendships and building relations.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:55:00] The most vital part of the Billys that I see is what happens when the gatherings aren't happening. Do people contact each other? Do they form friendships that carry on outside of the gatherings? Yes, to mixed degrees, it does. And for some not so much. So that's where we're trying to do is figure out how to nurture what happens in gatherings to happen in their lives.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:55:30] Cause that's, what is the main thing is to try to get people out of isolation in, in, into feeling like they're part of something.
Betsy Kalin: And well, I, I actually did a documentary about tantra with all these people and women. So I did about lesbian tantra and Sebastopol. So not that far Russian river area as well. S
Betsy Kalin: [00:56:00] o to me it sounds a lot like the same values and the same community building in the Billys like, it seems like it's a very spiritually, almost focused group that is on intimacy. And it's more about intimacy than anything else and not sexual intimacy, you know, in general, it's just like intimacy between people.
Ron Vanscoyk: That's exactly right. Matter of fact, when we have workshops for people that, people from the gathering, they decide to put on a workshop.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:56:30] One of the popular workshops we have is a workshop called nurturing touch, which it's, it's a different way of connecting physically with people than just sex is. I can't tell you all that goes on in this thing, but it's, it's, it's very much a designed to create a different way of approaching physical interactions with people,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:57:00] getting over some of our isms: ageism, weight, all the isms that we have, color, et cetera, et cetera. And in the nurturing touch ritual, we find ways to touch each other in ways that are not objectifying. I would like to talk a little bit at some point about my relation with Harry Hay. So at some point I'd like to bring it,
Betsy Kalin: [00:57:30] We're going to get there. We will, we will definitely get there. That was really important. Me. I have a bunch of questions about that, but while we're, while we're here can you, can you talk a little bit about the challenges now that the Billys are facing as the population for the most part is aging. You, you hinted a little bit about that with, you know, when you're just talking about touch, but like, what are some of the concerns now?
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:58:00] Well, now we're in a particularly difficult time because of the pandemic, the things which the Billy do Billys do, and what we're all about is getting people together and then finding ways of intermingling with people in ways that are more dynamic than your normal objectification ways that is so prevalent.
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:58:30] So the big challenge now is how can we keep nurturing that which we do, this community that we do, when we can't get together. And I have to say, people are stepping up and trying so many things. We've had talent shows digitally. We're now having a gathering thats digital, they've had workshops digitally. They've had, there's a thing. People are stepping up and it's a very varying amount of success on how that happens, but people are attempting,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:59:00] like coming labor day, we're going to have a gathering and it's going to be all digital, the energy that's going into this, the loving energy that's going into this, that creative energy is astounding. It's gonna, it's not going to be the same thing as a gathering and maybe it'll work, and maybe it wont; but what works is people trying to find ways of staying connected during this time when we're so apart. One of the challenges that's occurred with the Billys is, when we began back in 1988,
Ron Vanscoyk: [00:59:30] we were all like in our thirties and now we're and for so many years it was only word of mouth is the only way the Billys. And it was important to people that it would be word of mouth. At that time, there were so many people that wanted to come to a gathering that the gatherings would fill up and there'd be these long waiting lists of people that wanted to get in. Eventually we had to have two gatherings at the same,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:00:00] like the summer gathering, we had to have two of them. The winter gathering, we had to have two of them at the same time, because we couldn't manage all the people that wanted to come. As the years have gone by, and the costs have gone up and our resources have been stretched a bit. It's no longer, it was no longer a thing where we had so many people coming in, that we had a long waiting list. Actually, we weren't fully filling gatherings for awhile.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:00:30] And so then as we started trying to find ways to deal with what seemed to be a diminished interest, it wasn't, we're having six gatherings a year, so there's a lot of events happening. But we thought, well, we need to have a web presence. We need to actually have a presence in the world and have people that might be interested in this finding us. And so we've done that.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:01:00] And we now do have a web presence and we do have committees that are, like we have a diversity committee, that's outreaching to people of different ethnicities. We haveWell, my, There's just many. We're also trying to reach out to youth, but it's interesting because when you have mostly an aging population, that's always not the attractive thing for young people to come
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:01:30] and be amongst all these old guys. So we started doing these, this thing where we would have gatherings that the Billys and the radical faeries would merge, and we have this gathering called generate gathering. There'd be a lot more young people that will come to that. There'd be trans people that would come to that. There'd be all these people that weren't in, our normal circle were coming. And we were seeing each other
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:02:00] and we were intermixing and we were, and we found, Oh yeah, we, we find that's vital. That's something that brings energy to this thing that we're doing. And so it's, it's important for us to cultivate that. And how do we do that? So diversity committee happened and that's to bring in young people and people of different ethnicities. It seems like as we get challenged by a need, somebody seems to step up and say,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:02:30] Hey, I'll work on that challenge. Does anybody want to join me? And then a circle happens and things start percolating. And we start growing in that fashion. We'll see where it all goes. All of this was starting to really take off when the pandemic hit. And there's a, it's a different world right now. So we're not sure exactly how everything's going to settle in this world.
Betsy Kalin: It's great. Yeah. I mean I think something that people, and I don't know if you want to get a drink of your tea or something.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:03:00] I would love to [Crosstalk]
Betsy Kalin: Something that I don't think a lot of people know is the raddical faeries. So can you just explain what that is? And some of their, I mean, I know, I know them from friends and from pride, so I always made sure to go to the radical faeries. But can you explain what they are?
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:03:30] Well, it's hard to explain the radical faeries without talking about Harry Hay.
Betsy Kalin: So why don't we, my next question is why can you tell me about Harry Hay, so why don't you start telling me about Harry Hay and and how you met him?
Ron Vanscoyk: Okay, well, I'll go back before I met Harry Hay, I said it has to do with the Radical Faeries. Harry Hay had had an idea that, gee, we're a special people,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:04:00] his concept, I don't know that I can explain this not being too intellectual about it, but he thought as gay people, we have an opportunity. In our normal patriarchal culture, heterosexual relations are often subject/object. The woman is an object. If you hear men talking, theyre objectifying a woman. In so many marriage relationships, especially at the time of Harry,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:04:30] which is many decades ago, it was even more so. It's, it's woke up a bit now, but I'm speaking of a time period. And in that time period, there was just in the hetero relations, it seemed like there was more subject/object. The woman being the object. With gay people we're more equals. Therefore we can be subject/subject, as equals with not one above the other, one more important than the other.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:05:00] And that was a really important concept that he thought needed exploration. And he thought, I feel he thought we're a different people. We're actually a third gender. There's male and female. And then there's queer people, us and we're a different gender. And we had, and he was, he put together this concept that just really intrigued me
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:05:30] and has captured me for a long time, even since which was this man, William Burroughs, he was a physicist, came up with this thought that... There's no trait that survives millennia after millennia, that doesn't contribute to the perpetuation of the species. And for Harry, he's thinking well, gay people have been, it continues millennia after millennia, and we're not necessarily the best propagators,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:06:00] but there's some role that we play that's vital to the perpetuation of our species. Let's explore that. Let's discuss that. And he thought I will call He, and I think Mitch Walker and Don, there were several people I want to call for a a gathering where we can come and we can percolate these ideas of us as third gender people and how that might be...
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:06:30] The way that we can contribute more effectively with who we are in the world, rather than being hetero imitative. How can we support ourselves to be our unique selves when we can really offer what we have as gifts rather than what we feel like we can have Add to the herd as part of the herd. So that's where the first Faerie gathering came. That was in 1979.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:07:00] I'd heard of faerie gatherings. I'd heard of Harry Hay. Actually. I'd heard of Harry Hay a bit before that. If I can step back a little bit, there was an important thing that happened that also was important, I think, to us as queer people, which is in the 1950s you couldn't be a gay man out in the open
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:07:30] because youd lose your home, youd lose your family, youd lose your job. And there was no protection against that. Harry had the concept that wait, we're actually a class of people that have rights that are protected under the constitution, and we need to fight for these rights. And so he started this group called the Mattachine Society, where they explored, where they actually found lawyers to protect people that were,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:08:00] or to defend people that were arrested for just for being gay. And yeah, that is the most important concept, I think, that really launched gay liberation was the idea that we, as a people have rights that we can stand up for Mattachine society is what began this, Stonewall is what kind of solidified it even further, Hey, we have rights. You cannot do this to us anymore.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:08:30] We're not going to stand for it. And so I'd have to say, Harry is probably one of the biggest pioneers of gay consciousness. And so the faerie gatherings continued. I hadn't heard of gatherings much, but I'd heard little bits. And then I started meeting these people that had gone to these gatherings and there were really quality people. And they were really interesting people and colorful people.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:09:00] And really glad-to-be-who-they-were people. So I went to my very first gathering in 1987, 88, actually, it was right after the first Billy gathering. And that's where I kinda got woke up to how effective heart circle was in knitting people together
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:09:30] and creating a sense of a-part-of and community. And so we started adopting heart circle techniques in the Billys, and it does the same thing. So I think it was like 1989. I'd gone down to Malibu. There was a faerie gathering. I went to this faerie gathering, Harry and John were at this gathering, and they did a workshop.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:10:00] I think it was on relationships where they said we choose each other every day. We don't, we don't make a commitment, but every day we make a commitment and he did this workshop and I just got really enamored. Who is this guy? He seems like he's so caring about us as a people. He's so much into mentoring and you don't see many mentors in our world.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:10:30] Old people now are old people where it used to be elders were mentors as well. So I saw this man is reclaiming the mentorship of elderhood. He claimed elderhood and I was very impressed. We talked a little bit at the gathering, but he's so distracted by so many people that want to talk to them, that we didn't spend a lot of time together. A couple years later, I went on a kayaking trip.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:11:00] And one of the places we were was the hood river up in Oregon and decided to spend the night at Wolf Creek sanctuary, which is a Radical Faerie sanctuary. And Harry and John were there. They had just finished a week-long workshop, Circle of Loving Companions, and so they were in just a wide open space and we spent hours and hours and the next day, hours and hours,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:11:30] Harry and I just talking, I was, we were talking about the Billys. We were talking about living in the hills as a gay man. We were talking about the radical faeries were talking about so many things that we just stimulated each other fantastically and became very dear friends, wrote letters. Many times Id go down to LA to visit him. Hed come up here, but never got to my home, which has always been a sad thing. But he never actually saw my home,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:12:00] but we had so many times together. I did many workshops with him and many many discussions. He's the one I can still hear his voice. I was frustrated about something not happening fast enough. And he has a very deep voice. Ron, Ron, you must learn patience. So now whenever I start feeling antsy about stuff,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:12:30] I hear Harry's voice saying patience. I take a deep breath and everything's in order again. And I can go the next step a lot easier. So on so many levels, I feel like Harry has been my mentor and my very dear good friend as well. I, I was aware that he, wasn't a perfect person. He's quite authoritarian and just a delightful
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:13:00] and wonderful person and what he's done for this for us as, as LGBT people is inestimable. So I'm very glad to have had all of the time that I've had with Harry. And yeah, I dunno how exactly, I'm not sure where else to go with all of this.
Betsy Kalin: [01:13:30] Well, I think when I was going to go to, from that was, you know, like he really fought for rights for the LGBTQ community. I mean, what we have now is because of the work that he started doing. And then one of the things was, you know, we finally got gay marriage, which, you know, was controversial because, you know, a lot of people were like, well, you know, marriage is not really how I see, you know, myself, but it was still a huge right that, that we were able to have.
Betsy Kalin: [01:14:00] And so I wanted to go into that, you know, your thoughts on that, your thoughts on marriage, and then maybe tell me a little bit more about you and Scott.
Ron Vanscoyk: Okay. Yeah. A few years after I got together with Scott, we became domestic partners for, for, for legal stuff. But it was before there was gay marriage.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:14:30] When the Supreme court decided that the law of the land is that same sex people can get married legally and be legally recognized, I thought about that. I thought, well, huh. How would Harry feel about that? Well, Harry was so against hetero imitative, that the part that he wouldn't have liked about that
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:15:00] is that all of a sudden we start trying to be married like hetero people are married. The thing he would have liked about that is a thing that he has fought for all of his life is that we have equal rights to things. And so he would have fully embraced the equal rights, but he would have put out a caution saying, but don't necessarily have to do it the way heteros do it.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:15:30] We still are people that have our own ways and we can create our own ways of doing things. So Scott and I thought about this and we thought, well, we do want to celebrate this event that has happened with the Supreme court ruling. And there happened to be a Generate gathering, which is one of those gatherings, the Billys and the Fairies produced together. We thought we're gonna create a time in this gathering
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:16:00] where we invite people, Scott and I are going to get married publicly at the gathering. And we're going to invite others to also express their commitments in whatever way they feel. Basically as a celebration of this unique thing that has happened, where we're now legally able to do this thing. So we had nine people that got married that day.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:16:30] And usually, usually what happens is you have, you know, couples and so nine, is not a couple, it turns out there was this one young man. And he had empathy for people who might be at the gathering and come to this thing. And they really want to be in a relationship, but they aren't and they're alone. And how are they going to feel included? And so he thought, well, I'll get up and I'll marry myself.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:17:00] And so he got up and, dressed fabulously, and it was so wonderful because he said his thing was, how can you be in a loving relationship with somebody else If you aren't in a loving relationship with yourself? If you're not committed to your, to loving yourself, you're not going to be successful in loving others to the fullest extent. And so he wanted to give voice to people to marry themselves,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:17:30] love themselves, and then relations may or may not happen, but you're going to be happier. And if you are in relations, you're going to be happier, if you nurture loving yourself. It was spot on. It was just wonderful. It was so I, from feedback I heard from others that were single, and feeling that it's the one thing that made them feel really included in that ceremony. Because it was Radical Faeries and Billys,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:18:00] it wasn't your traditional marriage at all. It was, we had this wonderful woman witch that was one of the officiators. We had people doing it naked. We had people, it was just a lovely experience of how can we celebrate this thing that's heteronormative, that's normative in a non-normative way. And so that was the way we did that. For Scott and I,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:18:30] we'd already been considered ourselves married for 12 years before that so, for us, it wasn't a matter of that we were getting married. It was a matter of a statement about this thing that happened in the nation, the Supreme court ruling. It was so surprising to me when we were in front of our community and Scott and I are speaking to each other from our hearts about how we value each other in front of our community.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:19:00] It was surprisingly important to me. I wasn't expecting that. I thought it was about this event that happened, but it felt personal. I wasn't expecting it to feel that personal. So it was lovely. That's now, since Scott's last name is Van, is Love. My name is Vanscoyk. So we decided to merge our names. And instead of having it be ScoykLove, we thought VanLove sounds better.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:19:30] So basically in the Billys I go as Ron VanLove, and I don't know how you want to put me on this particular interview, but that's who I see myself as.
Betsy Kalin: That's beautiful story. And, and and these are meaningful for people to hear about. You know, I think a lot of people take it for granted,
Betsy Kalin: [01:20:00] you know, that okay, well there's same sex marriage. And now, you know, we'll just get married and they don't really think about all the steps and all the people who work so hard for, to even get basic rights.
Ron Vanscoyk: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I when at the time when Harry was young, you absolutely were at risk of your life if you were seen as a gay man. So the leaps and bounds
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:20:30] that we've come over these decades, we're still far from there, but we have come so far. I have an interesting, there's this woman that I'm very good friends with and her and her husband in Ukiah have been heading this group called PFLAG, which is parents, and friends of lesbian and gays. And I said, well, DeLynn, how, how is it these days with PFLAG that, cause it seems like it's much more acceptable now,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:21:00] the parents aren't having as much problem when their child comes out as attracted to the same sex. She says, well, yeah, it's changed quite a bit. The people now that they see are parents of trans people, people who have, who feel like they're in the wrong body, she says, that's where the support is needed now; people are fine with their sons or daughters having their attractions there.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:21:30] That's not as big of an issue I should say. But now there's a whole new issue that's emerging and that's the issue that is being addressed by PFLAG now. So I thought that was kind of interesting that that shift, there's always going to be something new that we're going to be dealing with. And we need to go those next steps until we're really feel free of our prejudices about ourselves.
Betsy Kalin: [01:22:00] Well, and like you talked about when you were growing up and you talked about when you were you know, experimenting with your friend David and how you kind of felt this internalized homophobia. And so do you think that that's still something, you know, that a lot of people are facing even today and like, you know, Mendocino County, like, do you think that, you know, there's, there's still this issue.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:22:30] Yeah. There's still an issue we're not fully across the line with the issue. We're just much farther along the line. There are so many support places that people can go as parents or friends that are dealing with somebody that they know, or their family being gay or lesbian. There are so many positive role models in the world. There are so many examples of people having successful lives and good relations. So it's not the same thing that it was before.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:23:00] Yeah, I, I don't know what to say about that. I'm just really glad that that were at a different place, but we have a different place we have yet to go to. I'll be really curious to see where we go, how far we get there.
Betsy Kalin: Well, that's my next question. What do you think needs to happen today in our society? What do you think still needs to happen? And, you know, we've seen some hints of that recently.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:23:30] Well, we definitely need to, I think a. . . boy now you're opening up a bigger society issue. The Black Lives Matter protests that are happening now are bringing so much awareness to the issues that black people are facing in this culture
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:24:00] that I think there's a chance for that particular paradigm to shift, but there's no guarantee that it will shift, but there's a lot more potential now because of the focus on that stuff. So I think as gay and lesbian people were kind of, kind of in circle with the black lives matter. We have things that have always been oppressing oppressed with us,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:24:30] and we've been very successful actually at getting that out in the world to where things are changing. But boy until the paradigm shifts and people really accept people as who they are and value their unique contribution that they can offer and encourage that unique contribution.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:25:00] There's a saying, by the way: always remember, you are unique. . . just like everybody else. So we're all unique. And if we could treasure the uniqueness that we bring, wow, we would be a flourishing society, I think, as gay people. Well, for instance, growing up, I was never a big, I was never a competitive person. I was pretty good at basketball. My dad spent time with me and I was tall when I was young, so he would practice,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:25:30] but I hated basketball games, at least that I was playing in, because of the competition of it. I just wanted to have fun and in all the games I wanted to have fun. I didn't necessarily want to beat somebody; that wasn't the part that drove me. Competition. I think sharing is so much more useful than competing for, in terms of going further in our culture. And so I think cultivating,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:26:00] sharing and caring is and, well, as gay people, I would like to see us bring our gift of not being as competitive and being more open to sharing. I'm starting to muddle now. Anyway, it's, it's,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:26:30] it's a shift that I see that's happening, but it's got a long, we've got a ways to go. I'm not sure what...
Betsy Kalin: Well, I think it leads into something that you talked about before as well. Something that you really focused your life on, which is community, right? It's about sharing. It goes back to this whole notion of what it means to be community. And so maybe if you could talk a little bit about, you know, what this really is like one of your, your whole focus is for your life.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:27:00] Yeah. Well, my first attraction and experience to community feeling is, of course, when I moved here to Greenfield ranch, my first year that I lived here, I lived in a teepee and I found out very fast in the winter time, teepees were not made for rain. There are fine in the snow actually, but in rain after days and days of rain, everything gets damp.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:27:30] And so, Oh, I can't be here now for the winter. I mean, like, it's going to be a miserable winter. I thought, well, I'll go to Guatemala. I had $300. I grabbed that together. My backpack, I hitchhiked to Guatemala. I got a house on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. And for the next five years, I would live in Guatemala for five months of the year.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:28:00] And while I was living there I really got involved in the struggles of the indigenous people of the village that I lived in and tried to learn the language. And I would, one thing I knew is I knew how to make a solar oven. And I, I saw that the, I heard that the women were dying of lung diseases. And the reason that was happening is they were cooking on wood fires in their unventilated houses
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:28:30] and cooking beans and rice and that sort of thing. Well, I knew how to make solar ovens. I thought, wow, that's something I can contribute to these people. I can show them how to make a solar oven. And they put their beans and rice in the oven. It's always sunny there and they don't need to have this lung disease. And they don't need to be spending all their time spending a couple of days to go up the mountain and come back with enough firewood for a few days et cetera, et cetera. I thought I could really change things.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:29:00] So I started doing that and I built many solar ovens in the village and was really feeling like I was contributing to that. I'll come back to that a little bit. But what I saw while I was living in this village in Guatemala was here are people who really are poor and yet they seem, they're having struggles,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:29:30] and it's almost a revolution, they're being very oppressed, but they somehow seem happier on many levels. And when I come back to America and I see how people are with each other, I start thinking about that a bit. And then as I, I've traveled all my life, and as I started going to other countries, even years later, like, like Indonesia, and, I would see this over and over again, or I'd find people that had very little, X
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:30:00] that seemed way more happy and sharing with what little they have than what I witnessed in the U S and I thought about that a lot. And I thought, well, once. . . the times, when I see happy people who are desperately poor, always they have either extended family or they're part of a community of people that they've grown up with. They feel a part of something. There is, they're not just on their own. And the culture in America,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:30:30] we have many physical comforts and, and prosperity, but we have a culture that were, we no longer have many generations of people living in the same household. We don't, we no longer have this feeling of, of a village. We don't have community in this particular culture. And thats,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:31:00] because I was part of this community on Greenfield ranch, when I was seeing some of what was happening in the LGBT world, to my mind, we need to find ways where people don't feel isolated, where they can feel connected. And that's the impetus of the Billys from the beginning is, is, is that. So I would have to say that
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:31:30] the importance of community is, is hard to calculate. It's so important to feel a part of something and finding ways to do that are, is not easy in this particular culture. And I think the Billys go quite a way towards that, as well as the radical faeries, as well as the other, other groups too. The, you spoke of other LGBT communities.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:32:00] I don't know that many. Ive, I visited a couple, there was one down near Napa and Ive become very good friends with them, but they got burnt out in the big fire. So they, their community got destroyed in the fire that happened in Napa, like three years ago. I would love to see more gay people be here on Greenfield ranch, but I have to say the people that are here are lovely people. When I came out,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:32:30] cause when I moved here, remember I was, I was a married man and people saw me as a heterosexual man. And here I moved to this place that's really important to me, how people feel about me and yet I'm coming out. And so I knew that I had to be out with my community and I came out and not only was it okay. Oh, good. Oh, we have gay people here. Great. They really saw that as a plus for our community. And so the support was, was,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:33:00] was wasn't something I had, it wasn't a hurdle to do. It was definitely a warm embrace to walk into. So I felt pretty supported at the time. Of course I was already 25 at that time. So I already had become somewhat cognizant of who I was. I was more secure in myself, but being embraced like that really, really helped me to flourish as a gay man.
Betsy Kalin: [01:33:30] That's great. I, I knew I was saving that question. I need, give me a waterfall, really thoughtful, really about my answer. I'm just gonna check my notes and see if I skipped anything. So just one second as I go through, Oh, something that I didn't notice on the Billys' website was that there was a Memorial page and I thought that was really powerful.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:34:00] Yeah, it is. What you might have also noticed is that page is pages and pages and pages. It's a ...
Betsy Kalin: I'm just going to just interrupt you there. Can you, can you say that the Memorial page on the values website? Cause they're not going to know what we're talking.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:34:30] Yeah. There's a Memorial page on the Billy's website. We call, I call it Billys Beyond and it's pages and pages and pages of people who are no longer with us and have been a part of us for a lot, for a long time. It's, I think it's important for us to remember all of those that have come before us, that we are now a part of, because of their contributions and at the time when the Billy's began
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:35:00] and for the first many years of the Billys, the AIDS epidemic was just raging. And as a result of that, of course, there are so many, Billys so many people that came to the Billy's because of their need for support during this really hard time and found that support and found love and found the community and then were no longer with us, but wow. It's like family members, you know, it's, it's,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:35:30] it's you've, you've formed these really deep relations and then they died. So this is our way of remembering all of who we are and who we have been so that we no longer just take for granted what we have is just the way that it is; it's this way on the backs of a lot of people that have put a lot of energy into making this manifest. And I think that's what the Billys Memorial pages are about and they're still being added to.
Betsy Kalin: [01:36:00] Yeah. I mean, I just, when I looked at it too, I thought about how much support that the organization would be for those who lost partners, you know, during the time that they could go somewhere.
Ron Vanscoyk: Yeah. yeah, I'm really glad they found the Billys. Another little interesting thing about the Billys that's a pretty recent thing.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:36:30] I mentioned that we have we have gatherings called generate gatherings and in those gatherings was the first time really that we had a lot of trans people and, and because of who the Billys are, it was FTM, female to male trans people more for some reason. And in sharing in circle, we realized that, wow,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:37:00] there's a there's a challenge for authenticity that is very difficult for this new population that's coming amongst us. And how can we be supportive of that? And so one of the things that Billys decided to do was sponsor this gathering for trans people, it's called Transmission and they support this happening. So trans people can get together
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:37:30] and discuss with themselves their value and who they are and how they might bring their value to the world. So it's a, it's kind of a cross pollinating cultivation of consciousness with a different focus, because right now the focus isn't so much just LGBT, but it was, it was a specific focus that, that trans people needed to explore and discover.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:38:00] And so we, as Billys decided we can help set the cauldron and then they can create then, then the event can have its own life from that. So I just want to bring that up because a part of what happens with things like the Billys is we, we, we embrace other communities that are supportive and we try to nurture one another
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:38:30] so that we can grow larger together than we can just trying to get our own needs met. I thought that was worth mentioning.
Betsy Kalin: It's very worth. And I didn't know about that. So that thank you for sharing that. Cause that was even in my notes. So thank you so much. So one other question that I wanted to ask you is, so we talked a lot about, you know, about why the Billys formed and it was because
Betsy Kalin: [01:39:00] you were isolated in a rural or rural community, but what do you think the advantages are to being gay in a rural area? Are there advantages?
Ron Vanscoyk: Yeah. The advantages aren't about being gay so much, the advantages are about if you love this lifestyle and you want to live in this lifestyle
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:39:30] and you're a gay person, there's now more support in being in this lifestyle. I can't say there's an advantage to being gay in this lifestyle, but I can say being in this lifestyle, there's an advantage for being gay, that there wasn't before, because we found ways of networking and finding out who and where we are. And it's a little bit of a different world now. At the time, and the Billys began, there was no internet, so there was no Scruff and all these different apps
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:40:00] that people have to be able to connect with other people for sex or for likeminded community, whatever it is there there's there's options now available that weren't available then. And I think that that has a, it's a two edge sword because you can, it's an advantage that you can meet people, but you don't necessarily meet people in a similar dynamic way. Once again, it can go into objectification.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:40:30] And the whole point of creating community is getting away from subject/object, from being, getting away from objectifying people and approaching people as equals and as, as valuable as I am. So there's more connectivity with it. And on some level less connectivity, there's a two-edged sword.
Betsy Kalin: [01:41:00] That makes sense, definitely. Well, something that you mentioned on your questionnaire were two members who were really instrumental in the Billys. And can you just tell me a little bit about Terry Brown and Bill Blackburn?
Ron Vanscoyk: Yeah. Terry Brown was the one who was the constant person. If, like when we would have a gathering, he would be the one that would, that would put the call together. And because there was no computers, you're talking about taking scissors out
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:41:30] and cutting out little images and pasting them on a page and, and pasting letters on the page. And then you finally have your flyer and then you send that out. So he did that, but it was always a circle of people that assisted, he had his finger on what was necessary to keep it all together, but he didn't do it alone. There were other people that did different aspects, like taking care of the mailing list stamping and addressing envelopes,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:42:00] a lot of stuff that happened, happens. So I'd say if Terry, if it wasn't for Terry, the Billys probably wouldn't have been able to continue as they did just very, very vital to the growth of the organization. Bill Blackburn. He didn't come to ... He came to the second Billys gathering. He hadnt been to the first one. I'd say what he offers is he's always been
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:42:30] the heart of the values of the Billys. He always brings it back to the heart. He always brings it back to who we are and how we interact with each other. What are our values? What are, what is it that we do that helps nurture and cultivate these values. Right now, for instance, Bill is involved with a senior project, especially during this time of COVID, where he does networking of seniors during this time of COVID.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:43:00] And he has uh workshops and he has discussion groups and he has ways for people to plug in with each other. So he's one of those people that's always, in his heart, held onto what is the world, what does the world need and what values can we as gay people bring to the world and nurture it. Bill, more than any other person has, whenever we've wobbled like, Oh, we're going broke.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:43:30] Or, Oh, we have too many people or, Oh, this is a problem. That's a problem. He always brings us back to the values that we have. And from those values, we find the solutions that are within our values, not necessarily compromising our values so that we can find the solution. So I'd say more than anybody else. Bill has been a rudder for the Billy's to continue in their deep values.
Betsy Kalin: [01:44:00] That's great. That's beautiful. And do you want to get another sip of tea? We only have a couple of questions left, just the usual OUTWORDS. So, so if a person came to you tomorrow and said that he or she is thinking of coming out, what advice or guidance would you give to that person
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:44:30] To come out, to really to really value yourself beyond what people might think of you or not think of you? Because if you come out as yourself, you have more to give to the world than if you try to suppress this part of yourself or that part of yourself so that you might be accepted. So my advice would be just bloom, just, just give your whole self and trust that you will know
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:45:00] what to do because you're valuable and you're a loving person and you can contribute. So I, to me, I think that's one of the things that as gay people, we always need to work on is how to value ourselves in a society that doesn't always value us. And so having these things like the Billys or the fairies, or many other venues where that value is cultivated.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:45:30] Well, if you're coming out, find those, find those communities, that would be a very helpful thing, but above all, let your light shine.
Betsy Kalin: That's great. And then what is your hope for the future?
Ron Vanscoyk: Well, I hope our political system changes. Boy, you know,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:46:00] coming from coming from the summer of love Haight-Ashbury: peace, and love. I would love to see harmony in the world, more harmony in the world and less competition for national needs. I would love to see more sharing rather than competing for resources. I'd love to see us as a
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:46:30] as an LGBT community to really embrace our differences. We are not one type of people. We are we're we're an array of colors. We're an array of ways of being. And so we need to nurture our uniqueness rather than our sameness.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:47:00] Harry once said, Oftentimes we're seen, as gay people, that were the same as everybody else, except for what we do in bed together, who we choose to be in bed together with. Harry's comment was: that's the place where we're most similar. We're actually very unique people. And we might choose to be in sexual relations with the same people,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:47:30] but we pretty much do that, dont do that much different things. That's not where our difference is. Our difference is in our outlook in the world and what we have to offer to the world. And so we need to find that which is special to us so that we can offer fully to the world, the gift that we have, which is why we're still here, millennia after millennia with this trait still. So we are here for an important reason
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:48:00] for the survival of our species and the planet. So we need to, to embrace that and bring ourselves forward fully.
Betsy Kalin: That was such a good answer. And then why is it important for you to tell your story?
Ron Vanscoyk: Well, I was surprised actually that I was asked to do this.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:48:30] I feel like it's important for people to know that there are communities that support what it is, our unique way that we are and what we do. I think it's important for people to know, for instance, that you can live rurally if you want to and not necessarily be isolated in, in being a gay person.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:49:00] Yeah, I, Oh, I guess I could go on and on about all this, the main thing is people should know that they're not alone and that their value is being as fully authentic as they can possibly be. I wish this culture supported authenticity rather than just how much similar to people we are.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:49:30] Were not similar, were quite different. And that should be a wonderful difference.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah. And, you know, I have to say, I mean, I kind of, I, for me personally, I was so excited to interview you because I'm very interested in community. I'm very interested in, you know, living in intentional community creating a community. I studied tantra, so I'm very interested in bringing spirituality into everyday interactions.
Betsy Kalin: [01:50:00] So I know you didn't say any of that, but for me that you represent this outlet of, you know, how to create something when nothing was there and yet have something that grows flourishes over all of these years. And it is life changing people and a new way of being, you know, like it's a, it's a new way of being where your heart centers and you were focusing on it anyways. That was just my,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:50:30] Yeah. Its. . . community has been the important linchpin in my entire life. I feel very fortunate that I was a part of this ranch community that I live on. I feel very fortunate to be part of this. The Billys which is a gay community feeling being a part of something is, is, is as important thing is I think that a human being can do, and right now during this pandemic, it's harder and harder to feel a part of something.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:51:00] So I hope we find our way during this new time to, to be a part, to not feel isolated.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah. I mean, it's so crucial right now. So the last question is OUTWORDS is the first national project to capture and share our history through in-depth interviews. And why do you feel that this was important? And if you could mention the name OUTWORDS in your answer, that would be great.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:51:30] Well OUTWORDS bringing the stories of people that have participated in our history on many levels is so important. There is not really a mentoring part of our LGBT community. I don't, I don't, I don't see a lot of examples of mentoring, but what OUTWORDS is doing now is creating a venue
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:52:00] where they can hear these stories of people that have been working for all this time, or have been participating and cultivating what is. That's important to know, because if we don't know where we came from, we don't necessarily put as much value on where we are now. So the work that OUTWORDS is doing in bringing these stories, I think really creates more of an appreciation for where we are. And hopefully by these stories to see how these people had a harder time,
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:52:30] were able to do this work to further cultivate our LGBT sense of self. It's important to know that, because that means that now I not only appreciate what is, but I can feel empowered to go further where I see there's a need, the work is not done.
Betsy Kalin: [01:53:00] It's definitely not done. Ron, I hope that you will be mentoring.
Ron Vanscoyk: Thank you, Betsy. You've been, by the way, I just want to say I'm not, I live in the Hills and I don't, I'm not around people very much. So I kind of expected myself to feel very uncomfortable during this time. You've made me feel very comfortable
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:53:30] and you've made me feel really glad to be talking about this stuff. So I thank you for your efforts and your energy and the spirit of who you are really helped me to speak today. Thank you, Betsy.
Betsy Kalin: Thank you. Thank you. So, Andrew, I think we're, we're just about done.
Andrew Lush: Wonderful. Thank you so much for letting me sit in on this interview.
Betsy Katlin: [01:54:00] Of course I mean, I gotta say, I just want to run up there and join.
Ron Vanscoyk: Come on. We have spare bedroom. [Crosstalk] I'll show you everything.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah. My friends are in Western Mass and so there's a lot of intentional communities in Western Mass.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:54:30] Good. there was a question I was going to ask, but I forget what it is now. So I guess I'll when it occurs to me, I'll write an email to it or...
Betsy Kalin: Is it a technical question or?
Ron Vanscoyk: No, no, it was, it was a question about Oh, one of the things is, am I going to get a copy of this?
Andrew Lush: Oh that could probably be arranged. You should write a Tom with that question.
Andrew Lush: [01:55:00] The intention is to make this available to the public on our website. So that's probably, I, I can't promise that, but it sounds like something that's probably, probably.
Betsy Kalin: If you, if you go to the website and see that there's transcripts and there's full interviews, what's so great about it is that, you know, you're a student or a scholar or researcher you can search for like a keyword.
Betsy Kalin: [01:55:30] So let's say we can, you know, look for like Harry Hay and then put that in. And then your interview with pop up, you're talking about that section. That's really a cool aspect.
Ron Vanscoyk: So I guess I'll talk to Tom and he'll let me know what is or not available that I can have in my record.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah. That'd be a good thing. And I'll also bring up the question to him as well.
Ron Vanscoyk: Okay. And that's, well, that's what I'll bring up my suggestion that he interviewed David Weissman.
Andrew Lush: [01:56:00] That would be so helpful. Yes.
Betsy Kalin: Yes, I know David.
Ron Vanscoyk: You do? Yeah. Great.
Betsy Kalin: Yeah. [Crosstalk] Documentary community.
Ron Vanscoyk: Yep. And right now he's been working this last couple of years on one called conversations with our elders. So it's kind of like right in line with what OUTWORDS is doing. So I think that he'd be probably a pretty good interview.
Betsy Kalin: That's great. Thank you so nice to meet you, Ron.
Ron Vanscoyk: [01:56:30] Yeah. Good to meet you, Betsy. Thank you very much.
Betsy Kalin: Hi, Betsy and Ron, we're gonna stay on together for a few minutes while I copied the files and everything. Okay, cool. So I'm going to stop the recordings, so let's see. Stop recording.

Interviewed by: Betsy Kalin
Camera: Andrew Lush
Date: August 19, 2020
Location: Home of Ron Vanscoyk, Greenfield Ranch, Ukiah, CA (Remote)