top of page

“Cherish that community and share it with other people”.

Biography

Pat Gozemba, born 1940, is a lesbian, an activist and an academic who lives in Salem. She was a founding member of a lesbian and gay archive in Boston, The History Project, and interviewed patrons of Fran’s Place in the early 1980s. A former professor of English and Women's Studies, Pat is active in environmental causes.

Watch Full Interview

Pat was interviewed by Professor Andrew Darien on September 1st, 2023. She speaks about growing up in Waltham, coming out with a former student at Salem State and divorcing the man she married. She talks about feminism, her activism for equality and equity, and the importance to her students seeing a professor who is out.

Pat Gozemba

Duration

1:48:14

Watch Interview Clips

Click an image to watch an interview clip.

Equity and giving the working class guy a chance.

My father was a union member. He was very, very pro-union, always willing to be the shop steward in his printing company, in the company that he worked for. My mother, I would not call progressive at all, but my father's progressive views really impressed me. He was very much about equity and giving the working class guy a chance. So I think I learned my whole appreciation of unions from my father.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Family

I accepted the word tomboy.

I accepted the word tomboy. I didn't see it as a pejorative at all It was who I was and when I moved to Waltham I met another girl who I became friendly with in the neighborhood. And she was a Tom boy as well.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Coming Out and Identity

My own willingness to be very out.

My own willingness to be very out when I finally came out later in life was because I was somebody who was very disturbed by family secrets and the kinds of hurt that they engender within one in the kind of pain that a family lives with within itself.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Family

Getting married to a man.

I did fall into the pattern of getting married to a man, Gary Gozemba, and you know having a house, moving to an apartment in Marblehead because I was at Salem State teaching, eventually buying a house in West Peabody. But it was around that time that I ended up coming out and leaving the marriage.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Marriage and Relationships

I came out with a former student of mine.

I actually came out with a former student of mine from Salem State who had graduated who had identified as a lesbian herself in relationships, but also had relationships with men. And so she and I connected in the summer of [19]69. And I would say that was my coming out.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Coming Out and Identity

Students were in deep pain about being lesbian or gay.

I had looked at the pain and talked with many of the students at Salem State who were in deep pain about being lesbian or gay on the Salem State campus. And I felt it was really important as a faculty member to be out.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Mental Health

A union contract protections for LGBT people.

Nobody was willing to be out. People were afraid of losing their jobs. And I guess I worried at times about the possibility of losing my job, but it seemed to me that the way to deal with that worry was to fight for protections, to try to get into a union contract protections for LGBT people, just to try to be out and say, yes, I'm a lesbian and I'm pushing for salary equity

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Activism and Politics

Coming out to her was such a disgrace.

My mother was outraged. How could I, a Catholic? And this is coming from my mother who was having this decades-long relationship with a priest and yet my being gay, lesbian, and coming out to her was such a disgrace.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Coming Out and Identity

I was at the earliest gay pride celebration.

I was at the earliest gay pride celebration. So I think it might've been one around 1972 that I was there. And of course the newspapers were always there and they were willing to interview anybody who would talk. And somebody approached me, I think it was from the Boston Herald, and wanted to talk about who I was, and why I was there, and what gay pride meant to me, et cetera. So I talked with this reporter,

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Pride

It was really important for students to know.

It was really important for students, for them to know that there were faculty who were gay and you could have a job like a faculty member at Salem State. You could buy a house, you could lead a life that was equivalent to what others were leading. You didn't have to be heterosexual to do that. To me, that has always been really important to me, to be out as an example of you can make it.
-

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Coming Out and Identity

We went into Fran's dressed as nuns and the bar went crazy.

We went into friends place on a Halloween dressed as nuns and people in the bar went crazy. I mean the whole bar, all the people sitting at the bar just went crazy and having these two nuns come into the bar. It's kind of like the lead in a joke, right? Two nuns walk into a bar and that was it.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Fran’s Place and The Light House

I do not want to identify as either a butch or femme.

Many of the lesbians that I was friendly with did not want to get into butch femme because that was kind of giving, that kind of hierarchy was giving sort of a tacit acknowledgement, perhaps acceptance of the heterosexual, you know, butch, and you know, the heterosexuals delineation of male and female, butch and femme. And so that that became kind of anathema to me. Like, I do not want to identify as either a butch or femme.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Transgeneder and Gender Identity

My identity wasn't to be in that marriage.

I was in love with this woman and that I had actually found my identity. It wasn't really to be a partner with him in that marriage, but it was to get out of that marriage and to see what I could find in life, finding happiness and finding my own identity and finding love. So when my husband voted for Richard Nixon, While I had been out working earnestly for George McGovern, I decided this is it. The GE stuff, the union stuff, the fact that I don't really love you, I love this woman, you know, all of that made me want to leave him.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Marriage and Relationships

Waiting for people to come out and beating them up.

There were people, straight men, and who knows if there were gay people among them who were trying to prove that they were straight, I don't know, who would think it was fun, sport, to go to a friend's place or go to the lighthouse and just be outside waiting to beat up somebody who came up, just parking in their cars around the area, waiting for people to come out and beating them up. Now it was men who got beaten up mostly, not women. So when you talk about roles like butch and femme, if you knew that men were out there getting beaten up, you didn't wanna go out there, I would assume, having people think you might be a man.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Discrimination and Violence

There was a lot of violence.

Just the violence. There was a lot of violence. That always worried me, you know, where people would talk about the fights that would break out, et cetera

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Discrimination and Violence

Cherish that community and share it with other people.

But I just want to encourage everybody to support the LGBTQI plus community in whatever way we can, and for us to really cherish that community and share it with other people. And that's what the History Project is making possible, the sharing of our community with other people.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Community and Change

Equity and giving the working class guy a chance.

My father was a union member. He was very, very pro-union, always willing to be the shop steward in his printing company, in the company that he worked for. My mother, I would not call progressive at all, but my father's progressive views really impressed me. He was very much about equity and giving the working class guy a chance. So I think I learned my whole appreciation of unions from my father.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Activism and Politics

My mother was having this affair with a priest.

That was a tension in our family the whole time, that my mother was having this affair with a priest and priests were considered sacrosanct and the nuns were all about the priests and how wonderful they were. And I had a different view of it from inside my family because my mother was having this affair with a priest

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Religion

My own willingness to be very out.

My own willingness to be very out when I finally came out later in life was because I was somebody who was very disturbed by family secrets and the kinds of hurt that they engender within one in the kind of pain that a family lives with within itself.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Coming Out and Identity

I was was involved in forming the union at Salem State.

Later, maybe in around the late 1970s, I was one of the people who was involved in forming a union, the union at Salem State. And then I eventually became president of that union for a couple of terms at Salem State and agitated around a number of issues of equity. One of them I've mentioned is women's salary equity, which we did achieve.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Activism and Politics

We were afire with feminism.

We were afire with feminism. And of course, within feminism, there were lots of lesbians. And that's where I learned about more lesbian lesbians who were very political. So my, my, and again, remember that I'm a professor at Salem State. So I'm looking at research, I'm talking to people in women's studies, many of whom are lesbians, and by that point I'm out and I'm identifying as a lesbian myself. And in forming something like the Women's Studies Program at Salem State.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Activism and Politics

Man-hating dykes.

He said, all of those people, all those women looking for salary equity are just lesbians. Salary equity isn't really what they want, and they want, it's really equity as lesbians. You know, this was the kind of spin that he put on it. Man-hating dykes was what he called us. And so I thought, man, this has got to be responded to

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Discrimination and Violence

Coming out to her was such a disgrace.

My mother was outraged. How could I, a Catholic? And this is coming from my mother who was having this decades-long relationship with a priest and yet my being gay, lesbian, and coming out to her was such a disgrace.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Family

You're a menace around young people.

I'm going to call the president of Salem State College and tell him that he should fire you. You should not be around young people. You're a menace around young around young people. And she said, I'm going to call the principal of Malden High School and tell him what your girlfriend is doing and and and state that she should not have a job teaching at Malden High School either. So that was the reaction. It was, you're written out of the will, I'm gonna call your employers and try to destroy your career, and that was it.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Discrimination and Violence

North Shore Gay Alliance.

I began working with a group of folks who formed North Shore Gay Alliance and that was 1978 and a colleague of mine at Salem State, David Newton, was the inspiration who founded North Shore Gay Alliance. And a number of the feminists who were associated at that time with women's studies and with the Women's Center at Salem State joined North Shore Gay Alliance. And so I knew that North Shore Gay Alliance existed. It was a group of men and women. I

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Activism and Politics

Fran's was always a lot of fun.

I liked Friends because It was always a lot of fun. There was good music, good dancing. I liked the people I met there. I liked the stories they could tell. They had a flair. I mean, before drag was really the kind of issue that it is now, that was part of Fran's. From everything from the wet t-shirt contest to the limbo contest,

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Fran’s Place and The Light House

If I had come out when I was in high school...

I realized that if I had come out when I was in high school, as many of these patrons, as those patrons of Fran's had come out at an early age, who knows? Who knows that that would have become my life, that I would have taken some kind of menial job so that I could be out and not be harmed and make my way.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Coming Out and Identity

They were military folks who were gay.

I did talk to some people who said, and not that a lesbian bar in particular, but more a gay bar in particular. I did hear some people say that there were people stationed at the air station at Winter island here in Salem, which is a place I walk all the time. It's right near my house. And at the Coast Guard station, so it was at the Coast Guard station over in Nahant. And they said that military folks from both Salem and Nahant would come over to the lighthouse. And they were military folks who were gay.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Fran’s Place and The Light House

There were some people of color.

Feeling good about lifting up working class people, feeling good about lifting up gay and lesbian people. And that also came for, played for racial equity as well. You know, that There were some people of color who would go to Fran's Place, to the lighthouse, but there weren't a lot. And you'll even see that in the photos that you see that I took, and maybe if you see other photos of Fran's Place as well. But there were some people of color in, in Fran's Place.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Race and Ethnicity

The term "LGBTQ+" is awkward.

Well, it's, it's awkward when you're writing and is awkward when you're speaking. However, I think it's important to put that stake in the ground. I think we were as a lesbian, I resisted just being part of North Shore Gay Alliance. I was like, I don't want you to closet lesbians. I want us to be out there. So I think just that incremental change in the moniker that we use, I think is a good one. And I think it's educating people and more people, I mean, now to hear people even in the federal government using that is in a certain respect gratifying,

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Generational Perspectives

Drag being outlawed totally.

Some of the stuff there where, you know, drag being outlawed totally. But then the transgressive acts of, you know, stars going to perform, for instance, in Nashville and calling drag queens up on the stage. I'm very impressed with that kind of bravery and solidarity from straight allies. And I feel optimistic.

Pat Gozemba

Pat Gozemba

Drag

Photos and News Events

ULP Logo Round 2024.png

© 2023 United Lynn Pride Inc
United Lynn Pride Inc. is a 501(c)3 Tax Exempt Non-Profit Organization

EIN: 88-4123340

#UnitedLynnPride
Connect with us on Social Media

Facebook_logo_(square).png
-11590303444ezlkboanlo_edited.jpg
bottom of page