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Since then, of course, for the last twenty years of my life, I’ve been very active in gay organizations and have read everything that I could get. I subscribe to the Advocate; I subscribe to Christopher Street; I belong to three gay organizations in Cincinnati. I’m very active in Integrity, which is the Episcopal gay group. I was one of the four men who founded the first chapter in 1975 in Chicago. That’s all I have to say about my experiences prior to 1937 when I graduated. I might add that I am one of the Kinsey six — I’m 100% homosexual. I’ve never had sex with a woman; I’ve never wanted to have sex with a woman. I’ve never even thought about getting married — which is just as well, I think. I even heard about some friends of mine who have been married; they’re fathers and grandfathers. It’s all right, but not for me.

Devon Clare: I wanted to agree with Tom, who said he didn’t regret his experiences. I also was married; it wasn’t this great trip. But I don’t regret my experiences either. What was important to me was the women’s movement that I discovered in the basement of Northeastern University in 1969. I became active in the women’s movement. I was around twenty-eight or twenty-nine, which is when Saturn returns astrologically and you make all these changes in your life. That’s what I did. I got divorced and I came out and I started working with the women’s movement. That’s been the biggest and the most important thing that has happened to me. I’ve been working with women mostly, and I guess I was pretty separate for a while. It’s only since I got into a Buddhist organization in Berkeley in the last few years that I’ve started working with men again. That’s probably a better balance, but in the beginning everybody was very angry. “Stay away from men and blame men for all the guilt of the society.” See, I was living in Boston for about ten years after I went to Oberlin. I went to the Homophile Community Health Services, the name they used then. It was a mixture of men and women, but after a while I decided I really needed to be with women. So I was with a bunch of women in therapy groups. It’s interesting that I only went to therapy to keep my gay relationships together, but I never went to therapy to keep my straight relationship together.

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Allan Spear: […]I was very politically involved that year [1968] in the McCarthy-for-president campaign and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. It was shortly after that day when Stonewall happened and the gay and lesbian movement came along. And I went through that time of classic transition of the ‘60s that many women experienced too — of coming to this understanding that I was a member of an oppressed group too, that I had been active for so many years in the movement for Black Civil Rights and the anti-war movement and Indians and Chicano and everybody else, and it suddenly dawned on me, “But isn’t there something about me too, that I should be fighting for?” It really happened to me very much in a political context. It was not a matter of meeting a guy and falling in love, at least not yet at that time. It was a matter of time coming to this realization through the political conceptualization that had occurred in the 1960s, of the political being personal and not just something out there in institutionalized society.

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In 1972, I was very much involved in Democratic party politics. Also, in 1972, the gay and lesbian movement appeared within the Democratic Farmers Labor party for the first time, and I went to my first caucus. I’d been involved in politics, and I was already fairly well known as a DFL party activist. These young men appeared and said they were gay and got up and said, “We demand a certain number of delegate slots as gay people.” And, of course, all of these straight liberal people who had already come to terms with this in regard to racial minorities and to women had this, “Oh, my God! Not another group. Is this just going to go on and on and on? And this is too much. We’ve got to draw the line somewhere. Can just anybody get up and say I’m gay and get a delegate slot?”

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The final thing that happened was in November of 1974; Elaine Noble was elected to the Massachusetts legislature. She was not the first lesbian to be elected to public office there. I have learned subsequently that there were two lesbians elected to the Ann Arbor, MI city council in the early `70s and they were apparently the first. But I’d never heard of that. That was a little bit too local, and I didn’t know about that. When I heard about Elaine, I had the sense, “Well, at least if I come out now I’m not going to be the only one in the world.” So when she was elected I called a reporter that I knew with the Minneapolis Star. This reporter had known that I was gay and had told me some months before, “We’re never going to bring you out against your will, but if you decide to, boy, I’d love the story.” So I called her and we had an interview. When we finished the interview, I said to her, “Where do you think it will appear in the newspaper?” She looked at me like I had just asked the dumbest question in the world. She said, “Are you kidding? It’s going to be on the front page.” Sure enough, the following week, I picked up the afternoon paper and the headline was all the way across the front page just under the center fold, “State Senator Allan Spear Declared That He is a Homosexual.” I’d asked for it and I got it.

It was a good story, a very positive story. The headline was a little stark, but the story was very good, very positive, and very sympathetic. I didn’t know what to expect. I had several friends over to sit with me because I didn’t want to be alone when the story hit the streets. The phone rang all evening, but it was mostly very positive. There were a couple of the kind of calls you would expect from people who told me what was going to happen to me after I died and how I was going to burn in hell, that sort of thing. But most of them were very positive, including a lot of my political supporters and my colleagues. I had told some of my colleagues in the Senate prior to this that it was coming. It really didn’t change much in terms of my relationships with people in the Senate. The ones who didn’t like me before because of my liberal politics had another reason not to like me. The ones that did, it didn’t change anything. The ones I worked well with, it didn’t change anything.

The story got a lot more circulation than I thought it would. I knew it would be a big story locally, but it was picked up by the wire service, and when I realized that, I had to make some telephone calls. I had prepared people in Minnesota that I knew of, but I had relatives all over the country who didn’t know. My parents did and my brother did, but I had to call my aunts and uncles and tell them because I didn’t want them to pick up their local newspaper and read it. Everything from the New York Times and even Der Spiegel in Germany had a little story in there in the equivalent of the `people’ section. So that’s kind of how I’ve been out. As far as I know, I was the first man in political office to publicly come out. As I said, I know of at least three women that preceded me. I’ve been reelected to the Senate five times since I came out, and I’ve been in the Senate for almost twenty years. And I am chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, so obviously coming out has not hurt my political career.

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