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The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz Office Manager : Tamarra Jenkins 241 Pugh Hall Technology Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 352 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor O ral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness accounts of economic, social, political, re ligious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, SPOHP recommends that researchers refer t o both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Oral history interview t ranscripts available on the UF D igital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the ori ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript is written with careful attention to refl ect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; s ubjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a later final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and format I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information about SPOHP, visit http://oral.histor y.ufl.edu or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. October 2013
FQH 001 Interviewee: Fred Pratt Interviewer: Jess Clawson Date: October 5, 2012 C: My name is Jessica Clawson, the date is October 5, 2012, and I am here in the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program with Fred Pratt. Hello, Fred. P: Hello. C: The first question I have for you is, can you just tell me when and where you were born so we have a context for where you grew up? P: I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1956. C: Okay. And when did you move to Florida? P: 1967,  68, somewhere around there. C: Okay. And what brought you here? P: I have a disability, and there was no education for children with disabilities in Pennsylvania at that time, at least our part of Pennsylvania. And there was down in St. Pe te, where my grandparents were. M y grandfather was working down there. And so we just moved down there so I could h ave an education. C: Okay. Good. And you stayed for college, huh? P: Stayed for college, stayed for the whole thing. C: Okay. S how do you identify now, in terms of your gender and sexual orientation? P: C: or . ?
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 2 P: No. it, felt since I was little, for as long as I can [Laughter] C: Cool. So, you c ame to Florida to go to school, and then you first went to undergrad at USF, right? University of South Florida? P: Ye ah, ye s. C: Okay. And so when did you first start there? P: 1977. C: Okay. And you were there until ? P: From  77  80. C: Okay. Why did you decide on USF? P: Well, because it was closest, and I was living with my grandmother and was the closest university. And they had a political science program, whi ch is what I was interested in. C: Okay. Did you follow up, has your career followed the political science? P: Actually, sort of Y eah. I worked for sixteen years as a public assistance specialist for the state of Florida, including food stamps, Medicaid food, candidates, doing phone banking. I do a lot of phone banking for a lot of local candidates ; s ome state and national candidates, too. C: Oh wow. O kay. So then at some point you moved to Gainesville. W hen did you move here? P: Yeah, 1988.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 3 C: Okay. And what brought you here? P: ving in Belle, which is about seventy miles northwest of here, and they said, come on up. So we came up. C: Okay. And what do you do here in town? P: eleven, twelve years. C: And before that you were working with candidates? P: And before that I was working with the Department of Children an d Families as a full time job. Doing candidate work on the side. C: P: Volunteer, not getting paid for it, yeah. C: when you were in college, how did you you identified to yourself as a gay man. P: Yes. C: Did you identify openly that way? P: No, no. like I comfortable, because there were frat boys who were making noise, and you know, there was all that homophobia going o n at U.S.F. at the time. C: Can you tell me more about that?
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 4 P: People that were out were getting threatened, they were getting threatened, beaten up, and things left on their cars. And it was just not a good atmosphere. C: Yeah. And the fraternities seemed to play a particular role in that? P: Yes, yes. C: Were there any specific fraternities you remember ? Or was it just sort of the culture? P: years, but there were about two of them. And they were all just really, mmph, you know? Like you know, man t want those queers around me. C: Right. So it was like a culture of masculinity? P: Yeah. C: Interesting. So aware of any sort of gay or queer activism that was happening? P: Well there was a gay student organization on campus. What happened was, between the last part of my junior year and the first par t of my senior year, I was ready to come out, and I went looking for the organization. And I went to the student union, I mean the Student Government, in their offices, found their information. Heard nothing from anybody once I called the phone number that they had. I then went to where they said their investigating on my own, like asking people, I went to this, what
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 5 happened? Well they were moved. They moved to another building. So a few mon ths later I went to go to another meeting once I found their listing t there. So then I asked again, a nd I heard that they had moved off campus ; t hat they had moved to a restaurant/bar. And then af ter that I heard they moved to a couple of private houses, and after that, I have no idea. The organization just disappeared. C: Why do you think they were moving around so much? P: I mean these two fraternities were making a lot of noise about having queers on campus by that time. C: Did the restaurant that they went to, the restaurant bar, was that a gay bar? P: No. C: P: No. It was a student bar. A s far as I know it was a student bar. C: Oh okay. P: Yeah. Student restaurant type bar, yea h C: Interesting that they chose that for their place. P: I assum ed it was the only place they could find that would say yes. C: Yeah, and maybe sort of hiding in plain sig ht. P: Yeah. C: Did you go to gay bars around town at all?
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 6 P: No L ike I said, I was very closeted. C: Yeah. It seems like that part of the state has a sort of booming gay bar culture. P: Yeah, they do. But i t seemed to boom after I was out of college C: Oh okay. The whole Gaybor movement. P: Yeah, it happened like early  80s, mid  80s. Sometime around there, yeah. C: One thing I noticed that I found curious when I was reading through the student newspapers is that, ve any insight on this, was that the USF gay group on campus started much later than at UF or at FSU. They both had things going in like 1970 but nothing I could find related to any gay people on campus there until 1974. P: e one bit. C: Really? You think the culture was different? P: Yeah E ven when I came up here I felt the culture was different. It felt more open; that this was more of an intellectual, affirming, open group. You know, there were s till your pockets of homophobia in your faculty, your staff, your students. C: At the University of Florida, you mean? P: At the University of Florid a. But for South Florida, it was really oppressive. I mean, you could really feel it. C: What do you think was different? P: I t just seemed to be more open here than it was there.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 7 C: Yeah. Do you think there was a religious element in Tampa, or any thing like that? P: There might have C: you remember any things that you saw at the Gay Coalition, I think i t was called at USF, doing? Any accomplishments they had or any specific battles that you witnessed? P: Nothing. C: They were pretty quiet. P: P retty quiet, yeah. Like I said, after they moved from one room to another to off campus, see anybody, e ven though you knew who were members. C: Right. Do you P: with a couple people that were members. C: And they seemed freaked out or . ? P: They were really freaked out, especially after they had to move off campus. C: P: Yeah. C: You know, these groups seemed to fight so hard to get on campus, and P: Yeah.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 8 C: Do you remember the whole Anita Bryant thing in 1977, the year you started? Do you think that contributed to the . ? P: What was that? C: Do you think that contributed to the environment? P: Yes, I really do. I think that it encouraged the element that wanted to get rid of the LGBT people that were there, the students that were there. It kind of bolstered their courage or their side. C: esting. P: And there was nobody speaking up for the LGBT community. C: related activism now? P: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. C: Yeah? Do you want to tell me about that? P: ride Community Center, I ha ve been been a board member when I was going to the Metropolitan Community C: Yeah. When did you go to the Metropolitan Community Church? P: From 88 to about 92,  93. C: What was MCC. P: It was something I needed at the time. It was a place mainly for me to connect with other LGBT people C: Right, yeah. [Laughter]
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 9 P: And I had problems with their Christian ideas, you know? C: MCC as well. P: Yeah. C: Do you remember, going back to the USF time, and if you have thoughts remember any role models of any kind, professors, community members, anyone who was advocating for LGBT people? P: There were a couple professors in my department. I was mainly in the political science department and there were a couple professors that were. C: Do you remember their names at all? P: Harry Vanden and Janice Snook. Now I found out later, many years later, when I moved to Gainesville, that Janice Snook was actually the legal advisor for Tampa N O W. C: Oh really? P: Yeah. C: O W chapter there was deliberately inclus ive to lesbians? I know that some N O W chapters P: wa s that they The lesbians at that time were pushing it, were trying to get in, and they were speaking up, were speaking out. S here. C: Yeah. Get used to it, right? [Laughter]
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 10 P: Yeah! C: Right. So, it seems as though it took a lot of courage, perhaps, for these faculty members, then, in the environment you describe, to speak up. And do you think that their being political science professors had anything to do with that, that t hey were maybe more politically oriented, perhaps? P: I think it was with Janice Snook. Like I said, she was the legal advisor for N O W S he had a lot of clout in the department. Harry Vanden was a C: Interesting. So that might have been a point of contention for him too. P: He j dea that everybo dy is included. That was what I got from him. C: What about your own political orientation? How do you P: Me? C: Yeah. P: I belong to the Democratic Party, but I belong to the far left of it [Laughter] F ar far left. C: Yeah, me too. Quite a bit past the Democrats, yes. Have you always felt like that wa s where you were on the spectrum or did you move? P: C: And did that happen over college or since college? P: That has happened in the last thirty five year s. C: Have you seen changes in the country, or . P: Changes in me.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 11 C: Changes in you. P: Changes i n me. It started when I was 18, doing disabled righ ts, and getting education, jobs, housing for people with disabilities. Then when I came out I immediately jumped into LGBT rights. C: Yeah, s o you had a few irons in the fire then. P: Yeah. Yeah, y eah. And I did that mainly because I felt I needed to c ome out a in disabled rights and LGBT rights. I mean were a lot of similarities. I mean, t he right to have a job, the right to have a family. I mean, even then, back in the  C: Wow. P: Yeah. C: ievable. P: Yeah. C: So there are very real parallels. P: C: When did that change? P: Very recently. In the last four or five years. C: Really? P: No, Florida was one of the last states to do that. C: T hat blows my mind. P: I could have been denied a job. I mean, I have been denied a job as a disabled person.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 12 C: Yeah. In Gainesville, or in Tampa? P: No, in St. Pete. C: In St. Pete? What was that? P: I went for a job to do a dispatcher for the Pinellas County School Board. And, well d the job, but I chose to leave because of a comment ll tell you the whole story. C: Sure, p lease do. P: And the human rights, or the human resources person, says, y But just let me call the person who will be your supervisor to see i f our Now Buildings were just becoming accessible. Okay? Well he gets the guy on the phone and he puts him on speaker phone. talking about me and he says, o ne thing, Mr. Pr att says, ant no cripples working for me. C: Whoa P: the human resources guy, says, I turned around and says, t fine, I do C: No. P: No. C:
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 13 P: Yeah. C: P: It was, but I use it as a lesson, I laugh at it. [Inaudible 16:32] C: P: thirty five years of the struggle. C: Right. Do you, since you have this great political science background, do you see a connection at all between the sort of conservatism that we see with Reagan, connecting with LGBT struggles, LGBT rights, and that kind of thing? P: What do you mean? C: P: The Moral Majority. C: The Moral Majority, exactly. And you know, they coopted a lot of Anita language about religion and those justifications for denying LGBT people rights and that kind of thing. Do you see any connections there in your experiences, in the Florida context, between sort of Moral Majority Reagan Republicanism, Anita Bryant, that ki nd of stuff? P: Well . Y eah, in the Republican Party. The Tea Party is just as bad if not worse th at Tea Party element to the Republican Party. C: Yeah, t hey seem bold in their statements. P: They are. They are bold actions, too.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 14 C: Yeah. That is true. head for a while about the connection with fraternities and that rise of conservatism and LGBT issues. Because, I mentioned fraternities in the very beginning of the interview, because it seems as though, just demographically speaking, fraternity membership went up, you know, in the late 70s,  80s, which also was a time when LGBT issues became just a real national conversation. s a connection, like with your comments about the sort of culture of masculinity around fraternities, with the sort of more national level discussion about where the cou P: I find that, it seemed to me that when I was at USF, that the fraternities were looking for very conservative, macho men, you know. And that is one of the elements that seems to be attracted to the Republican Party and th e conservatives. C: P: I think that the Republican Party is kind of gi ving them a wink, and kind of, come You know? C: Yeah, I hear you. P: y come out and say we want you. C: Right. [Laughter] Yeah. P:
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 15 C: too, beca use we have the Log Cabin Republicans, who are out there, voting for Romney. P: Who I completely [Laughter] C: Oh, really? P: Yeah, I know two of them in town. And he said, w ans because of economi c issues. And I go, but wait a minute, you know? [Laughter] C: interesting. Are you involved in any other sort of non LGBT or ganizations, activism, that kind of thing now? P: I was on the board of the Center for Independent Living. The Center for Independent Living is all over the country. We do basic services for people with disabilities. I do a lot of D emocratic Party stuff, you know. executive committee, their Democrat Executive Committee. I chair one of their other committees. C: W ow. P: C: Wow, y ou have a lot going on. Do you think that there was anything that you experienced at USF in terms of any of this, really ? A ny form of that happened then, or that you thought then, that has informed the way you go about engaging in the community now?
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 16 P: Yeah T here was at that time a strong Arab presence on campus at USF. And there was a strong Jewish Israeli presence. And, you know, I saw the way those two groups went at each other, you know. And I thought, interesting, you k now. T his is something I want to get into. C: P: I actually started talking to the Arab group. C: Oh yeah? P: I like to see the whole side get together, so I just started working f or that. C: me, in U S politics even now, because it seems like if you say anything negative about Israel P: Yeah. C: [Laughter] But you know, there are all these people in Palestine who have voices, like with so many oth er groups, are not always heard. S o, I think P: In everything. [Laughter] Come on and say it. C: Yeah. D o you have, like, a sort of world view that you can articulate, or sort of an ideology that you can describe? P: My ideology is Ag e,
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 17 C: Right right Borders are ultimately constructed by humans. P: Yeah. There was, one of the astronauts went up and said, y weird, because you can look out at the Earth from the space craft and not see any borders. C: Yeah. P: And I like that. I really would like to try to work to get people together and C: Yeah. Well you picked a challenging state to do that in too. P: Yes, I know. [Laughter] C: Even G ainesville itself has, you know . Do you think Gainesville now has is, would you describe it as friendly to LGBT people, or . ? P: Yes. It is. I back. C: Yeah. What makes you say that P: office that would want to take our rights away from us, you know. C: On the city commission? P: No, that will be running and have run for city commission. C: I see so people who would prefer to because we have a non discrimination ordinance in our city charter P: Yes, includes C: S o there are people who are hoping to repeal that?
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 18 P: Yes yes Matter of fact, t C: It was just three or four years ago now? P: Yeah. C: Yeah, I remember that. Were you involved in that str uggle? P: Oh yes. Oh, yes. C: What was that like for you? P: It was weird, because I was involved in the 1990s when we got sexual anti discrimination ordinance, which was overturned by the court. C: Right. P: And then I was involved in this, when we got sexual orientation added to discrimination ordinance, then gender identity. C: Which protects trans people. P: Trans people, yes. And I saw the same faces in the city battle that I saw in the count y battle, that were against us. C: What groups were those people from, do you think? Were they religious or . ? P: Yeah. Yes. Yes, they claimed to be religious. C: Do you think they really were? Sounds like you have some skepticism. P: Some of th their religion.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 19 C: I remember when the fight c ame up, I think it was the Yes O n 2 fight, or something, the Amendmen t 2 fight a couple years ago P: Yes. C: I remember people saying, well, these folks were basically handed a script from some group in Michigan that targets relatively progressive cities like Gainesville around the country and tries to repeal gay rights or dinances. P: C: P: A ll I know is I heard that they go around and they get, they kind of get people that have, that are living in cities that have anti discrimination ordinances to pass these anti discrimination to repeal the anti discrimination ordinances. And they give them scripts, and they give them talking points, and they do whatever they can to help them. C: I remember that fight, my experien ce of it, being one that was very much about gender and access, and so when I would go, basically, fight with people on street corners about it, they would tell me, w ell, this about ooms w hich is, you know, crazy. P: entirely . C: [Laughter] And it was about, you know, they were pointedly being transphobic. Clearly. P: Yeah.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 20 C: But I thought it was interesting because they were trying to repeal all of the protections for gay people, but they never talked about gay people, and I always kind of wondered why. I mean, they talked about trans people openly, and these gendered issues, bu t they were never talking about . P: My feeling is that they knew that there was a large, pretty large LGBT, gay group in here, gay and trans, and know that the trans group was as big as it is. And that the lesbian/gay C : Yeah, t hey underestimated the power in town. P: Exactly, yes. They also underestimated our organization skills now. Because in that time, between when we tried to get the or when we got the protections in the county, and when we tried to get protection s in the city, it was like ten years. We had ten year s to organize and strategize. C: Yeah it encouraging that the gay community that way. P: Yeah, C: P: Matter of fact, I saw the stories down in Tampa. C: Oh really? Like what? P: Oh, yeah. The gay and lesbian community would not talk to the trans community, for the longest time.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 21 C: When ? P: When they tried to get it passed, I think it was a year ago. Couple years ago. C: P: Oh, yeah. Even that recently, yes. C: Why do you think that is? P: icions What I think happened was that the leaders of the LGBT community they know, we need to work with the trans people. C: Yeah yeah I think so. I wonder . it sounds like you think the Tampa context, the Tampa/St. Pete context and the Gainesville context are pretty different even now. P: Yeah. C: Do you go to Tampa often anymore? P: C: Are you in touch with anyb ody there? P: Not anymore not anymore Just what I hear from the grapevine. C: The community in Gainesville is pretty tight of hear a lot of the same things, I think. P: Yeah. I think we became tight knit. We figured th at was for our own survival. C: When do you think that evolved?
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 22 P: discrimination ordinance w e figured it out. We needed to be tight knit. C: are like, I want to help with that, P: C: T his has been a very good place for me in that way, to learn about the value of community. P: Well I think that hard feelings and words said between the lesbian community and the gay men, and I think after that when it went to court and it got repealed, we suddenly realized, you know, p this. C: Interesting. Do you remember any of the people who were involved in that? P: Oh yeah, I remember a lot of the people who were involved in that. [Laughter] C: P: Some of them, yeah. Some of them, no. Some of them have moved on yeah This is Gainesville. C: Florida, I feel, is a difficult place to do this kind of work, and I think Trysh Travis alluded to that in her presentation that we were both at. P: Yeah.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 23 C: Because people leave Flori da, you know, or they lived somewhere else here forever, the way some people do. P: Yeah . C: Oh, really? P: I think there are a lot of people wh o were born here, are in their twenties and thirties that learning, you know, that we need to fight for each other. C: Yeah. community specific? P: Yeah. Well, I see it in the African American community, I see it much now in the disabled community. going to happen, we do come together. C: Yeah. Do you think that . community folks at the Pride Center and places like th at are mostly white people. P: Yeah. C: bout. Do you have any insights? P: Yeah. I have a number of friends in the African American community, and being gay is becoming accepted should be. And personally I blame the churches.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 24 C: Oh, really? P: Yeah. There are a lot of ministers, black ministers out there who are ministering to black churches who are still preaching homosexuality is a sin. C : Yeah. I know that the West Side Baptist Church here in town has a pretty anti gay stance. P: about that. T C: Oh is it? P: Yeah. C: it has a big international group at that church P: C: P: But if you talk to and talk to the east side, and talk to the people that bel this is going on. C: mean, the Rock is mostly white people. P: Oh, yeah. Yeah. C: Dove World Outreach, as w e know well. P:
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 25 C: because we have this sort of religious thing happening keeping the . keeping our gay community a little bit segregated still, I think. P: AIDS in their community, in the African American community. C: Oh, interesting. P: You kn ow, for years they were like, n ve any people with HIV or AIDS. churches. And ing but members in that church. C: Right. S o you moved here in 1988, so it was like, the AIDS crisis was just beginning, it was really ramping up as you were moving here, right? P: Yeah. It had hit real hard by the time I moved here. C: Right. Florida had the third highest rate of AIDS for a long time, right? P: Yes, yes. C: What did you see in Tampa and/or Gainesville the reaction to AIDS? P: In Tampa it was an immediate, yo u know, reaction. I mean, o rganizations started coming up ; people sta rted working to fight the AIDS/ HIV. People started to make organizations. Here it was, mmm . maybe we will, C: Interesting.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 26 P: Yeah. There was a few brave people out there who started the North Central Florida AIDS Network, which no longer is in existence. And I became their phone coordinator for a while there. C: Interesting, wow. [Laughter] P: Oh yeah. C: W hy do you think there was that difference in reaction between the two cities? P: I think w hat I think was in Tampa, it was such a big, it happened all of the sudden. It was like, oh my God. You know? There were so many people getting sick. You know, so many people getting sick with the same symptoms so soon. Here, you would see one person here, a few people here, a couple people over there. You know? C: d in Tampa. P: No no C: Interesting. Was the response in Tampa coming from the gay community or the medical community, or all of those people? Educators? P: It came first from the gay community C: Oh really? P: Oh yeah. C: And so it was recognized like, this is hitting us the hardest.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 27 P: This is hitting us, yes. And we were hitting the medical community over the head, saying, this is here! [Laughter] go away! C: Were they slow to respond? P: Yeah places but they were slow. C: AID S patient to San Francisco and basically dumping him. Do you remember that? P: Oh yes. Oh, yes, I was phone coordinator at the Network when that happened. Oh, yeah. C: Okay. What was that about? P: n. There was no . there were a couple of doctors who were exp erienced in infectiou s diseases come up with this brilliant idea of sending him out to San Francisco where he could get services. C: Intere sting. Well, it sounds like . P: But i t looked real bad. It was bad PR. And t hey could have made a better response. They could have done things here that they were doing in San Francisco, that they did in San Francisco for this guy. C: Right. They could have adapted themselves.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 28 P: Yes yes But the people who were high up in th e Shands administration, my personal opinion is they wanted, they would just bury their heads in the sand. C: Yeah. It seems as though silence around AIDS was a national level thing, his lips. P: Oh my yes. Oh yes. C: So it was supported, the culture of silence around AIDS was supported. P: Yes, yes. C: Interesting. B ut in Tampa, at least, there were people who were not letting it be silent. P: No. The re was people in Tampa that were not letting it be silent because C: I know that, when you think about AIDS in Florida, much like with a lot of where they assume it all happened. P: It blew up in Miami, too. Just shortly before it blew up in Tampa, it happened in Miami. Even larger, though. C: Yeah. Well, M iami has such a huge population and is, you know, a huge diverse population, seems like they were scrambling around trying to figure out, where is this coming from? P: And we were scrambling around like, what do we do? You know?
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 29 C: Right. Eventually, I think a lot of people still think of AIDS as the gay P: Do you think that? C: P: No, do you think people think that? C: same people who t hink negative things about gay people in general. P: O kay, okay. C: But I wonder what happened that eventually made people realize that this unprotected sex thing. P: C: So it hit home people said P: It hit home. Yes, yes. C: [Laughter] You know someone anything else that you wanted to add, any other stories or significant moments or anything like that that you wanted to tell me about? P: Well, let me see. We started, I think, HRC basically started, Human Rights Council of North Central Florida, out of the getting sex ual orientation discrimination ordinance.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 30 C: Here in Alachua County? P: In Alachua County, yeah Yeah. C: And is that a Gainesville based . ? P: based, yes. C: And does it run out o f the Pride Center? P: Yeah, and they have their board meetings there. When talking about HIV and AIDS, we have North Central Florida AIDS Network, which was doing member of Gainesvil le Area AIDS Project, where we did kind of social C: Right. I mean, you see all kinds of things h appening for them. Benefits and . P: Oh, yeah. Mm hm. Yeah. I still see a lot of homophobia out there. C: Yeah? Here in town? P: Yeah. Let me tell you a story okay. When I started working with the LGBT community and getting sexual orientation added to the county anti discrimination ordinance the other side thought they could target me and make me go away. C: Oh really? P: Oh yeah. C: How so? P: They were calling me up and they got my phone number. I went under a different last name ; I had a different last name because I had my step
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 31 that name. So, t hey would call me up every hour of the night, you know, leave me messages, and they thought they could get rid of me. C: [Laughter] P: Hmm. dealing with these people, and fifteen years of disabled rights beca use heard the same things. C: Right. Yeah, i supported each other for you. P: C: P: No no The disabled community and the LGBT community do not speak to each other. C: Oh really. Why is that? P: Oh, really C: P: Matter of fact, I went to a s tatewide disability conference in Orlando, and oh, t his is getting off the story I was gonna tell you; this is another story a nd they do breakout sessions on housing, education, health, and employment. And then they added in a segment on sex and sexuality, okay? Well there were four of us who were out there and sa ying, h ey, we
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 32 want to be included, too. And we started talking about our, you know, our a s to close down the whole thing, t he whole program. C: Wow. When was that? P: 1990,  92. C: Wow. P: Mm hm. And so we were sitting outside, the four of us after we walked out, okay. We wer e sitting out there, and somebody call the media. C: Yeah. [Laughter] P: Well getting it added to the county anti discrimi nation ordinance, and I said, a re you out? Are all of you out to your friends, neighbors, relatives? I mean, to the yo C: Yeah. [Laughter] P: So that want to admit it. And the gay community here, I had a hard time, because t . Let me back up, okay. At that time, I split it up into gay men and women. The women loved me, I mean, I was fighting for all the anything to do with me. Matter of fact, a few of them who wer e leaders at volunteer.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 33 C: Really? P: Yes. C: Well you had a lot of experience. P: Yes. C: So I bet you showed them quickly. P: I had to, yes. Yes. C: Do you have any idea why? P: I think they just saw the disability. Straight people do the same thing. They C: Right, the brain. Yeah. P: And you gotta remember society, the gay male society. It is still stuck on looks and, you know. C: is when did this happen, this sort of body building culture in the gay community, or being ver y thin, and that kind of thing. P: An kind of changed it. C: Oh really? How so? P: Because they realized that one mo nth there was that guy who was the body builder; sarcoma and C: P: Oh, the other story
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 34 C: Oh, right. P: I was working with the LGBT community to get sexual orientation added to the county anti discrimination ordinance and one day I was going remember where it was now, an d a guy turns around and says, Yea h, C: Whoa. P: Yes. So they referre the whole time. C: Who, specifically? P: One of the anti gay community groups, you know. C: P: And that only happened probably because I came out, probably because the media, I was told the media wanted to talk to someone who was a was a member of another minority group by neighbors who were frat boys and all that, you know? C: P: Ye C: Yeah. [Laughter] issues with visibility even within LGBT communities. Disability is one, trans people, people of color, you know, people who .
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 35 P: People with HIV. C: People with HIV, exactly, people whose first language is not English, you know. Or international LGBT people. P: Yes. C: P: see that too. C: ch work to do, I think, between . inside, right? A mongst ourselves, and outside to the, you know, hetero world, where our visibility is still an issue ther ally fascinating stuff. P: [Laughter] It got to the point where I felt like the only disabled gay man in the country. C: P: So when I went to the  C: Oh wow. P: C: P: I forgot about that! Yeah! [Laughter] I went because I felt I needed to go I needed to make myself heard on a national level, or be there on a national level. But I was going . there was a happy incident that happened there. Like I said, I felt like I was the only gay disabled man in the country. So I
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 36 went down, got my room, went down to the gay section of Washington, D C and to the march center, and picked up a newspaper of all the event s that are going on there that weekend. And I looked and that night C: Wow. Did you make a lot of friends? [Laughter] P: Oh yeah, friends I keep up with even today. C: P: Phoenix, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis. C: P: Well we call each ot her, because you kind of get this, like, disabled lesbian or gay man in this town, I feel like. C: f how visib le is your disability, you know? P that way. P: C: Right. [Laughter] Tha P: Teach me! C: Yeah yeah T lot of neuro atypical, I know a lot of queer people who are involved with the Icarus Project, and that ki
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 37 they ? [Laughter] P: Yes! C: What else? What other fabulous stories do you want to share, if anything? P: I did a lot of the, I ran the phone bank for the No O n 1, or the No O n 2 C: Oh, really? P: Yeah, the local one. The local getting trans added to the, yeah. C: How did that go? P: It went really good! C: Yeah? P: Yeah, it was better than I expected. I had a lot of help. I mean, HRC came and sent a representative. Equality Florida sent people down. C: I remember the United Universalist Church was pretty involved in it. P: Oh, they always are. The UU is always, ye ah. Unitarians, t involved. C: Yeah, i t seems to be part of their mission. P: Yeah, yeah. C: You were going to . ? P: Well, I had people in there every night making phone calls, making phone calls, making phone calls. C: How did you a ll talk about it with people, if yo u were just cold calling people ? P straight.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 38 P: We talked about it as a civil rights issue, not a gay rights issue, but a civil rights issue. C: Did you find th at people were confused when they first heard about it ? B ecause it was presented as an issue of bathroom use. P: Yeah, and we had an answer to that. C: How did you talk about it? P: We just said, no, this is not about the bathrooms. This is about equali ty. And we pushed that, every phone call. This is not about the bat hrooms. This is about equality. C: Yeah. crucial public education step. P: also going to say. Gotta educate people You know? W hat is a trans person. You know, how do they become trans? You know, why? C: Yeah, and that can be a lot for people to take in, you know. [Laughter] P: But hey! I had people who were in their eighties and se venties and they were taking it in; in their seventies and eighties, taking it in. C: I mean, I work with PFLAG a lot and we talk about trans issues a lot there, too, because even people who mig ht themselves be gay are like, oh, I You know? Like we have trans groups come in and give talks and have conversations interesting how much education there is to do. We should just phone bank all the time. [Laughter]
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 39 P: e. [Laughter] C: Are you phone banking for the upcoming presidential election? P: No. C: Okay, yeah. Those are two pretty important things happening at the local level. P: Yeah, because the right is doing a real push to take over the school board and the county commission. C: P: C: She seems to be right there with us. P: Yeah. N o C: I only went because someone bought m e a ticket; price range. But yeah that was an interesting event. S he seems like a cool lady. P: My community banquet story? They had elected me, or nominated me, as man of the year one year. C: Oh, wow. P: Yeah. open. Well I got my days mixed up and I went out w ith somebody that Friday night. [Laughter] C: Oops.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 40 P: I got this phone call, h ey I accepted the award for you. I was like, awwww! And I have could never people joke with me about it every so often. C: y to give a big speech, I guess. [Laughter] P: Nope. Not th C: Well, if you do, feel free to write me an e mail, or we can always record another conversation. Okay? P: Okay! C: Well, thank you so much. P: [Break in recording] C: Okay, this is Jess Clawson, we are back on the record with Fred Pratt because he recalled some stories that we need to have recorded. Go ahead. [Laughter] P: A friend of mine, who was living in New York, said, you know, w you come up to Stonewall 25 t he twenty fifth anniversary of the Stonewall riots. I said sure, why not ? So we joined the disabled we jo ined the disability contingency. T hey had the main street where the parade was going to be on, and the staging area was al l the side streets. So we were waiting there, and along comes these two guys with their children. They legally adopted these two children out in
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 41 California. And one of them was about three, I guess, and the other one us about how great it is that we came out and blah blah blah, you know. And their little boy who was about three, standing between them g on of them on the leg going, Daddy, Daddy, no answer. So he turns to the other one and he says Daddy, Daddy, going, Daddy! And they both go, w hat?! And he says the word every parent hates in a situation like that, the ph rase, I gotta go to the potty. C: Oh, no. [Laughter] P: So he, they went, o h my G od, what do we do? And somebody just happened to be walking by with their child, and said, t s a guy about half a block away. I f you buy something So, the one man has a backpack on his back, and the other looking in the backpack, says because he the kid, for this parade, they put him in diapers w I see the bottle, I see food, I it. ack there. [Laughter] And we were turning around looking at each other, saying, w media? Why do they just show the drag queens? This i s what they need to be showing. [Laughter] C: The bickering couple. P : No, not the bickering, but b ecause this is a slice of life, of everyday life, in
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 42 C: P: The other one is after the parade had started one of th e corners, I had ju st changed spaces with somebody because, when you go, you gotta move around. sometimes. [Laughter] s omething! Jump up and down, scream, yell, take your clothes off, do I get a call from a friend of mine who live s out in San Francisco, and he says, hey, movie star. Gimme a call. w hat? And he says, you know, I called him back, and he says, m y partner and I were at the San Francisco G ay F ilm F C: No kidding! Do you know what movie? P: Jeffery year there for about thirty seconds about three seconds. C: do you remember anybody tal king about Stonewall in Florida when you were here? P: Yeah. C: What kinds of things were they saying about it?
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 43 P: Well, there was a few people who were out at the University of South Florida. This is jogging my memory, too. We were saying, they would talk about Ston ewall and remind people of it. C: Oh, really? P: Yeah. C: So it was important to the community there? P: Well, it was important t to the community, but to these people. C: Yeah. These were gay people, talking about it? P: These were gay people talking about it. Who were gay, to other people they knew were gay at USF. C: So it was a way of sort of saying, r emember this thing that happened, P: Yeah. C: Interesting. P: And sort of, one or two people were saying, we need to do that activism here at USF. yeah, I was ready. [Laughter] C: Right. So this is, you know, in the lat e  70s to 1980, right? P: Yeah. C: So this is a little while after Stonewall but it was still something that was coming up a lot.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 44 P: Yeah. Because there were some people that were angry, they felt that the LGBT group had just been basically pushed around and shoved around from room to room, and pushed off campus which they were, in my opinion. C: Yeah, s t they called back to Stonewall. I P: rd about Stonewall. C: Fascinating. Is there anything else you want to . ? P: Lemme look around! C: Yeah! Read the other posters on the wall. [Laughter] P: C: Okay! Good. [Break in recording] P: Back again. C: Back again with Fred. [Laughter] Go ahead. P: We were just talking about Stonewall and you said something about the drag queens. I knew a number of drag queens in town. C: Oh, really? P: And when I was talking to them about, when we were trying to get sexual orientation added to the county whatever ? I had these two very, very good friends who were drag queens, who said, if something happens to you, start a Stonewall for us. [Laughter] Our Stonewall riot.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 45 C: Yeah. This was here in Gainesville? P: Th is And I said, you know, please if anything does happen I want you to keep this place in . C: Yeah. You okay? Take your time. P: I just said I want you to keep this place quiet. C: P: C: P: I said cause of anyone else getting hurt. C: That seemed like a risk to you, huh? P: Excuse me. C: P: that, I prepared myself trying not to do that here. C: Yeah. pain and trauma in the community is not always spoken, you know? S o P: C: [Laughter] place, I think.
FQH 001; Pratt; Page 46 P: Yeah, they were real adamant. They were like, i f anything happens to you, n o. I want you t o keep a lid on this community. C: Yeah yeah Protecting it. P: Yeah. C: [Laughter] Talked about a lot of scary things today. P : Okay. [End of interview] Final and a udit edi ted by: Diana Dombrowski, May 16 2014