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“Oh, God, it's not me. Thank God. I'm not crazy. Finally, Jeez, it's not me. Look at them all,”

Biography

Kathy Clay, born circa 1947, was a lesbian from Beverly who lived in Lynn and who went to the Light House and Fran’s Place. She attended St. Mary’s, Memorial Junior High, and Beverly High. She worked as an auto mechanic and house cleaner.

Watch Full Interview

Kathy Clay was interviewed by Patricia Gozemba on November 27, 1983 about lesbian life in the 1960s at the Light House and more recently at Fran’s Place. She speaks about being locked in Danvers State Mental Hospital at age 15 and a nurse who recognized she was lesbian and steered her towards Fran's on her release. She talks about violence and being kidnapped at the bar, police harassment, rape, family, leather, looking like a guy, butch-femme behavior, and relationships.

Kathy Clay

Duration

3:02:06

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He's the one that destroyed Fran's.

He's the one that destroyed Fran's.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

REJECT

Mother protector? Forget it!

Mother protector? Forget it. If somebody got stabbed in Fran's, as long as they were close enough to the door, she'd throw them outside so Fran's wouldn't be involved or would not allow anybody to call the police to come up and pick up the bloody body. Well. Look at that in 1980, or just before I came back there.
- Was this guy killed up there?
- The guy was killed.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Discrimination and Violence

You want to be a guy? Okay, let's fight.

They'd come over and they'd start. But they would start a little on the fags, but not so much. It was the girls that would dress like guys. Ah, you want to be a guy? Okay, let's fight,

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Discrimination and Violence

Finding each others.

I was wondering how lesbians or gay men found each other.
In the 60s.- Yeah, in the 60s. It was altogether different in the 70s. There were a lot of people talking about being out. And there were all these shows on TV and all the rest. And a lot of talk about it. I think in the 60s, how did people find each other?-

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Community and Change

I married a fag, just to prove I wasn't homosexual.

I married a fag, just to prove I wasn't homosexual.
Really?- Not even 24 hours. After I married him, he decided he wasn't gay no more. I went, that's too bad.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Marriage and Relationships

I was so in love with the nuns.

I was so in love with the nuns.
I think there was only one that I ever liked, Bernadette, Bernadette Marie, Marie Bernadette, whatever. And then we had ones like Sister Rose in the devil, and stuff like that... Get out there, their rules there, and crack at one.-

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Religion

Vice would come in at least once every weekend.

Vice would come in at least once every weekend with a paddy wagon to pick up anybody that didn't have proper IDs or a fight or anything like that, right. So, I mean, I was, like I said, I was really skinny. So I used to go under one of the booths in the back room, right, and all these legs, you know. Poor people would be sitting there, and I'd be underneath there waiting for the Vice squad to get out because I could never pass. I

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Police Relations

I'd go in ladies' rooms.

I'd go in ladies' rooms.
Oh, God.
Ah! You're in the wrong room! No, I'm not, lady. You know? They all have these fits. Which is another thing, at straight bar, I hate to go into the ladies' rooms. You know? Because if the woman screams, the guys think something's going on. Of course, now, today, forget it. The men go in the ladies' room anyhow,

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Transgeneder and Gender Identity

She'd definitely be out of a job.

When I wanted our picture taken, she panicked.
Yeah, right. I remember that. Well,- Well, because of her position in Boston and her work. I mean, if they found out she was gay, she'd definitely be out of a job, for one.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Coming Out and Identity

What if we march by my office?

I think it was 82. I went to march in a big parade in Boston. And I goes, come on, you're going to march. She goes, yeah, what do we do if we march by my office? I says, oh, well. I says, wear a mask. She says, that's not the idea of the parade. I goes, oh, well, what can I say?

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Pride

They died from suicide or hormones.

And the majority of all the fags from back then either committed suicide or they were messing with the hormones and they didn't know what they were doing. You know, they were the real fag type that wanted the breasts and everything, and they messed too much with the hormones, and then they couldn't keep up with the money that it cost or whatever. Maybe they might have stopped flat out, you know, and when they did, I guess it was just too much for the body and it killed them, you know.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Mental Health

Weekend lesbians.

- they are real closet cases. I mean, that . . . and I feel a real sense of . . . I don't know. When When I'm in my worst moods, I feel a real sense of disdain and anger about that. That they're sort of like weekend . . . weekend lesbians. You know, that they're infant . . . they're in Somewhere . . . they're acting out. But, that you see them on Monday . . . you walk into a bank on Monday or you walk into a school on Monday where they work . . . and there's no way that they would even acknowledge . . . in many cases, that they know you. You know, or that you would recognize them because they live such disguised lives.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Coming Out and Identity

They were both basically women's bars.

Well, Lighthouse and Fran's, both. They were both basically women's bars. But at the same time, actually, they're not like, in Boston, where it's women's bar and men's bar. It was mostly women, but you always had the guys. I mean, the guys have always been there. And now up until Jimmy was fired and Tony took over, then you noticed less girls and more guys because that's what he was trying to do, you know. But other than that, it is and always will be basically a women's bar. You

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Fran’s Place and The Light House

My drinking days are over.

I wonder if, like, people feel that, like that if people had a problem with drinking, that they would feel as if the bar wasn't the friendliest or best place for them to be because of all the drinking that goes on there.
Well, that's a good one because sooner or that's – my drinking days are over. My drinking days are over, and without alcohol, I wouldn't even think of stepping into Frans.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Mental Health

People would stick with each other.

But, like, if they were my friends, that I'd stick it through with them, and I'd do whatever I could to help them out. And I wondered if there was that sense of Fran's, you know, that people would stick with other people.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Community and Change

One mean mother cop beat me up.

I was walking through Central Square. I was on my way home. And I didn't have a car at the time. And this cop that is dead now, and it doesn't bother me at all, was one mean mother cop. He ripped my jacket, smashed me up against those big beams that are in Central Square, smashed me up against that, literally beat me up.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Police Relations

Bouncer tried to rape me.

One of the bouncers attempted to rape a couple of girls and none of them said anything about it. And then when he attempted to rape me, I opened my mouth, even though I didn't open my mouth to Franny because he threatened to kill me because of he knew where I lived and everything.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Discrimination and Violence

My mother knew all along.

By the time, more or less, my mother really realized that I was gay. She knew all along. I mean, well, the psychiatrist told her I was, you know. But she didn't care. You know, with her, it was, you know, it's your life. Do what you want with it. You know, I love you just the same, so you're gay.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Family

Afraid my father was going to kill me.

I had a psychiatrist. I was raped when I was five years old. I was six years old. Somewhere around there, but I was raped then, so naturally I had a child psychologist for that. But when I was about 15 years old, I won't... See, my father didn't quite like me. I don't know what it was. I was the only blonde. Maybe he thought I wasn't his. I looked just like him. But anyhow, he didn't like me, and Mother was afraid that he was going to kill me.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Mental Health

Your husband can get you out.

I had also heard something else, that if you're married, your husband can get you out. So when they got me back, because right after we were married, I told you, he decided he was going to be straight. I decided I was going to break his head.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Marriage and Relationships

Constantly arresting the gays.

If they didn't catch you in the bar, the cops were waiting down the street or outside or wherever. They'd pull you over, or if you were driving, they'd pull you over. You know, they were constantly arresting the gays for being drunk. And I was one of the more lucky ones, I swear. Once a week I'd get caught.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Police Relations

Motorcycle group held us hostage.

I'm not positive on which motorcycle group it was. Saturday afternoon came in and held every last one of us hostage in there and wouldn't let us out while they drank almost all the booze in the bar. Kept getting drunker and drunker, and everybody naturally assumed that we'd be injured... We were going, the only thing we asked was, if you're going to kill us, can we get drunk too, you know?

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Discrimination and Violence

I wanted the same freedoms men had.

I didn't want to be a man. I wanted to have the same freedom that they had. To make choices about what I could do.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Activism and Politics

Mother Brown became a woman.

There was Mother Brown and Roger Black. Mother Brown? Two big pegs, you know. In fact, Mother Brown, I saw her in 1980, shot the hell, she finally became a woman. She had the operation and everything. She's down in Texas now. She's married to a man. A homelyest woman you ever...

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Transgeneder and Gender Identity

I know a place.

As soon as you get out of here, I know a place. And she told me where it is. She said, come here. She said, I'll be there. She said, you'll find all kinds of people just like you. And I'm looking at her. Oh, God, let let me go down there, please. My sanity. I've got my sanity to think about.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Fran’s Place and The Light House

Older generation at the bar.

When people get to be, like, I don't know, over 40 or over 30 or over 50, I mean, did they get a sense that they felt weird being in the bar?
I don't know. I really, you know, I really don't. I mean, I can tell you that a lot of them, you know, especially the older ones and stuff, don't – I mean, they show up for, you know, like the reunion or something like that. They don't go to the bar that much anymore. I think they just, you know, figure the bar scene, you know, they just don't want it anymore. But that's a younger scene.-

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Seniors and Aging

I've heard two things about Fran.

I've heard two things about Fran. One is that, you know how I suppose people hear about all of us, right? Like, one is that she's sort of like this mother protector of a lot of gay people, sort of. And of. And the other is that she's somewhat cynical about it.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Fran’s Place and The Light House

Jan and the car thieves

You can be brave all you want as long as Jan's standing next to you, black belt in karate and all this. She went out one night to get into her car. She had a beautiful black Camaro and Puerto Ricans came up to her, you know, with a gun and pointed the gun at her and said, give me your keys, we want your car.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Discrimination and Violence

Nobody knew about gays, fags, anything.

Nobody knew about gays, fags, anything, you know. I just thought I was walking around very strange. Oh, these girls look nice. Don't bother with the guys, you know. What's wrong?
- This was when you were in high school?- Yeah. What's wrong? Can't figure out what's wrong, you know. And then I met Barbara McCallion, and she had told me about a gay bar.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Coming Out and Identity

At that time they locked up homosexuals.

I had heard somebody telling me I was homosexual. What's that?
Who told you that? Was it another kid?- No, it was a psychiatrist. It's like, you're homosexual. No, I'm not. Because at that time they locked homosexuals up and didn't let them out. No, I'm not. No, I'm not.-

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Mental Health

Buy more dresses!

My father got, when I was about 13, my father started on, you know, he's the one, more or less. In other words, like, he had two girls, and one acted like a little boy, and he liked it, you know, because he had someone to take fishing and stuff like that. But then like that. But then when the third one came along, was a little boy, when he was old enough to go take fishing and stuff, then I was about 13. So then he started, you know, Margaret, get this kid out of slacks. I can't stand it. Buy more dresses.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Family

Thank God. I'm not crazy.

When you first went into that bar, I mean, did you start getting a sense of, that there were more gay people?
Oh, yeah. I felt great. I goes, oh, God, it's not me. Thank God. I'm not crazy. Finally. Jeez, it's not me. Look at them all, you know. And, of course, naturally, I went there,

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Mental Health

Knocked me out cold.

- this guy come out with his big fist and knocked me out cold. Apparently, he didn't knock me out cold, and I don't remember. I remember when I got home in Lynn, they said I was never knocked out, but I was a little on the dazed side. Never did figure out why the hell that guy hit me. That difficult. I never went back to Jacques after that. Of

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Discrimination and Violence

GE does no longer discriminate.

GE does no longer discriminate whatsoever as far as gays go.
Really?- I mean, like I said, the female population of Fran's, the main population of it, works at the GE.- Is that right?- So the union must be pretty strong on that issue, then?- I don't know. They don't seem to have any problems or anything. As long as they do their work, that's all that GE cares about.-

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Discrimination and Violence

She'd definitely be out of a job.

When I wanted our picture taken, she panicked.
Yeah, right. I remember that. Well,- Well, because of her position in Boston and her work. I mean, if they found out she was gay, she'd definitely be out of a job, for one.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Discrimination and Violence

The whole preppy thing at Somewhere.

But the whole preppy thing at Somewhere. . . I mean, to talk to somebody at Somewhere means that you want to go out with them. You want to sleep with them. You're interested in a relationship with them if you just talk to them. And it is that whole kind of preppy, you know, crowd.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Marriage and Relationships

It's nothing like it was.

Are the women different? Or are the women mostly the same?
I don't know. It's hard to say. It's totally different. It's nothing like it was. I mean, even the women were nothing like they were back then. But now, I mean, like my first warning, like someone had told me, when I first went in there, my first warning was watch out. A lot of them are bisexual. And so . . . and then I find a lot of them down there are . . .- Still bisexual?-

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Community and Change

Your lover has to be in the closet.

Does it bother you with your lover that she has to be in the closet like that?
Well, other than wanting to, you know, be in the gay pride that march there . . . Other than that, it doesn't . . . I can understand her. You know, her thing. I mean, she's, you know, she started from the bottom. She worked her way up. And she's got a damn good job. And, I mean, I cannot see jeopardizing it just so everybody will know you're gay. I mean, I would think that would be totally insane if she thought she was going to lose her job if she said that she was gay and she turned around and said it. You

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Marriage and Relationships

All the guys had skirts on.

- you really couldn't tell all the guys had skirts on. I mean, you know, it was really bad back then. Some guys back then were very attractive women. In fact, I lost $10. I had a $10 bet that he's definitely a girl. There's no guy that can look like that. He's definitely a girl. Very attractive. But his hair was real. Everything was real. He was on the hormones and everything. Everything was real.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Transgeneder and Gender Identity

Two sides of the bar.

It's interesting, you know, kind of these two sides of the bar. That on the one hand, it's sort of the – has been at times the only place to go, you know, to meet people and to be feeling okay about being gay. And then on the other hand, you know, there's this great down side about fights about, in-fights and squabbling and, you know, people ripping off each other's honeys..
You know, the place is – Yeah. But it comes right down to choice. You don't have much. So naturally, if you have somebody, why bother going to the bar?

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Fran’s Place and The Light House

One mean mother cop beat me up.

I was walking through Central Square. I was on my way home. And I didn't have a car at the time. And this cop that is dead now, and it doesn't bother me at all, was one mean mother cop. He ripped my jacket, smashed me up against those big beams that are in Central Square, smashed me up against that, literally beat me up.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Discrimination and Violence

Key figures that would come through.

- were there people that other people in the bar sort of looked up to as sort of like key figures who would come through at times like that? Are there any guys that were like that as well as women who were like that?
- There has never, ever, and there never will be a fag that you could depend on.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Discrimination and Violence

Rape and the police.

And as far as rape goes and the police go, when it comes to being gay, forget it. I wouldn't bother. That's one thing. I mean, a lot of gays that have been raped and stuff like that feel the same way. The minute they get you in court, they'll tear you apart as far as being gay. And that would do it right there. I mean, they'd throw it out. They'd let the guy go because you were gay.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Police Relations

It was a sickness and they locked you up.

- they had gays in there. And they were all locked up in the back. I mean, totally normal women. When they came in, but they stuffed them with so damn many drugs. They acted like loonies. But they were gay. Most of them were butchers, and they were gay women. And back then, it was a sickness, and they locked you away.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Mental Health

I understand what you are going through.

Who feel as if I'm the only one. Nobody else is gay or anybody else is gay who is in a mental hospital or is trying to commit suicide or all the other stereotypes that, of course, society drives people into acting out. And it just, you know, I just think about, like, how nice it is for gay people to meet somebody else who's gay who says, you know, I understand what you're going through and this is what you can do.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Mental Health

They didn't feel that homosexuality was a sickness.

- they were younger doctors and they didn't feel that homosexuality was a sickness. You know, they had already believed it and that they said eventually, you know, it would turn. So, you know, I just felt more confident.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Generational Perspectives

It was total bravery.

- when you walked in there, it was total bravery, because you didn't know if you were going to make it home alive, which which cracked me up in a way, because way, because all these people that didn't want anybody to know they were gay, if they were ever killed out in front of you, the people would have known, you know. But

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Discrimination and Violence

Drag queens at Dominic's.

You had your guys in there and your really swishy fags that were all down Dominic's. They were all more or less even because even the gay guys, the macho ones didn't really care all that much for your drag queens. I mean it got to a point where I don't think many people like, I don't, I've never liked, I can understand a girl being gay and still can't figure out what a guy's doing with a dress on.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Drag

I was born gay.

I was more or less born gay. I can't picture me with a guy. I probably have the same feeling in me as a straight guy has with being with another guy. My thoughts of being with a guy, I can't picture it. Like, I wasn't born. Maybe I was born in the wrong body, but you know, I don't want to be a guy either,

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Coming Out and Identity

I know a place.

As soon as you get out of here, I know a place. And she told me where it is. She said, come here. She said, I'll be there. She said, you'll find all kinds of people just like you. And I'm looking at her. Oh, God, let let me go down there, please. My sanity. I've got my sanity to think about.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Coming Out and Identity

Femmes did not do it to butches.

Years ago. Butches... Forget it. Butches did everything. You know the Femmes... You know. Butches did it all. Femmes did not do it to butches. It was uncalled for.
ou're talking about love making.

Kathy Clay

Kathy Clay

Transgeneder and Gender Identity

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