Queer Newark Podcast
Through a mix of interviews with LGBTQ+ community members, academics, and students, find out why Newark's LGBTQ+ history matters and how public history projects can combat queer erasure. This podcast is an offshoot of the Queer Newark Oral History Project, a community-driven endeavor supported by Rutgers University-Newark that collects and preserves the life stories of LGBTQ+ and gender nonconforming individuals in the city of Newark, NJ.
In 2002, Saundra Toby-Heath and Alicia Heath-Toby joined the fight for marriage equality in the state of New Jersey with six other same-sex couples. Represented by Lambda Legal, they filed a lawsuit, Lewis v. Harris, to demand their constitutional right to marry. Their case made it all the way to the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2006 where they ultimately won the right for same sex couples to marry into civil unions. This was one of the important pre-cursors to the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and required the U.S. government to provide the same benefits to both gay and heterosexual couples. Then in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality nationwide. Hear what it was like for Saundra to be a part of such a pivotal legal battle.
On April 15th of 2023, we lost one of Newark’s dearest LGBTQ+ leaders, James Credle. In this episode, you will get to hear James talk about growing up in the Jim Crow South and what it was like to move North to Newark, his time serving as a medic in Vietnam, living through the AIDS epidemic, and becoming a dean at Rutgers-Newark, where he provided support to all marginalized students, especially those who were LGBTQ+. James was also a founding member of National Association of Black and White Men Together, the New York Men of All Colors Together, the Newark Pride Alliance, and a member of the Newark Commission on LGBT Concerns. He was an integral member of Newark’s Ballroom community and progenitor of the iconic Newark Fire & Ice Ball. James always cared deeply about young people achieving their dreams and so he founded the Circle of Friends Awards, a non-profit that provides financial support to college students committed to promoting diversity. They can always use donations.
“Don’t ever forget the struggle continues.” - James Credle
Rest in Power.
Welcome to the Queer Newark Oral History Project! In this episode, grad student Kristyn Scorsone talks to Dr. Whitney Strub and Dr. Timothy Stewart-Winter about Newark's LGBTQ history and their work as historians of gender and sexuality. Find out why Newark's LGBTQ history matters and how oral history is a great way to preserve LGBTQ history for future generations.
In this episode Kristyn Scorsone talks to Aaron Frazier about his new book of poetry, Tears of a Poet. As house mother, Aaron describes what it's like to be a part of Newark's ballroom scene since the 1980s. Find out what films like Paris is Burning and shows like Pose miss in their focus on NYC. He also talks about how he has been living with the AIDS virus for 38 years as well as describes queer bars and clubs in Newark that he used to hang out in, and we get to hear him read one of his amazing poems.
This is part one of two episodes on tips for doing oral history interviews. In this episode, Kristyn Scorsone talks to Dr. Timothy Stewart-Winter to find out why oral history is used to document the experiences of marginalized groups and hear some of his practical tips for doing oral history interviews. Stewart-Winter is a historian at Rutgers-Newark and the award-winning author of Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics.
American Studies doctoral students Kristyn Scorsone and Mi Hyun Yoon talk about their process when conducting oral history interviews including building trust, showing respect for the interviewee, and what types of questions to ask. Mi Hyun also discusses her work on the Korean diaspora in the United States and how she plans to use oral history to research the Korean merchant population in Newark, which is currently at risk of displacement due to gentrification.
Episode Five: Interview with Noelle Lorraine Williams on Frederick Douglass' 1849 Speech at Rutgers University-Newark
170 years ago, famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave a speech at a church once located at the site of what is now the athletic field at Rutgers-Newark. In this episode, Kristyn talks to grad student Noelle Lorraine Williams about her work researching this recently revealed historic event. What was the significance of Douglass' visit? Who was in the audience that day and why? Williams provides the answers to these questions and gives us insight into her own work as an artist, activist, and scholar.
Ray Rivas identified as a "revolutionary gender evolutionary." A trans warrior, activist, and artist, he refused to adhere to gender norms and instead demanded society conform to him. Sadly, Ray passed away days before he could record his life story for QNOHP, tragically underscoring the importance of documenting LGBTQ history before it’s lost. In this episode, Ray’s friend Aleix Martinez recalls his life, his radical gender politics, and how he paved the way for others to live authentically.
As the president of Newark Pride, Sharronda “Love” Wheeler sits down with Kristyn to chat about what it’s like to organize and run four days of Pride events annually in the city of Newark. They also discuss how Newark Pride got started, how it has grown over the years, and how others can start Pride celebrations in their own towns or cities. Be sure to come out July 11-14th for The Sounds of Pride: Newark!