SYOL - Where did the Name Come From
Sometime around 1985 or 1986 a writer for the Gay Community News in Boston MA., returning from a meeting of some sort in Washington, D.C. (most likely having to do with the AIDS crisis) noticed that someone had made up these bright yellow 2'X 3" stickers and had placed them on the inside of the men's rest room stalls all the way from D.C. to Boston. The sticker said something like "SAVE YOUR OWN LIFE! Use a condom when having anal sex".
Soon after, an article appeared in the GCN along with a verbatim reproduction of this aforementioned sticker. This led to a discussion between J.H. and myself in the atrium of the famous and infamous 48 court street apartment where we both rented rooms from the always bizarre Kelly Corcoran : SM /fag hag /lesbian/feminist et al extraordinaire.
J.H. and I decided to begin a call to arms in the Broome county region by starting an organization that would both deal with the current crisis and revive the idea of the Broome Lesbian Gay Alliance at the same time. We started out by making up flyers to put up at the bar or bars operating at the time and announced the first meeting.
Eleven people showed up at 48 Court Street for the first meeting, representing an incredible cross section of the community. We literally had everyone from street hustlers to retired teachers.
The second meeting was held at the original location of NUMBERS on outer court street by the gracious invitation of R.D., the owner. Sixty people showed up this time and decided that they wanted not a consensus structure as J.H. and I had planned, but a traditional structure of democracy such as a President / Vice President / Secretary / Treasurer etc. So we went along with it.
About a year later the organization incorporated as a nonprofit and we developed a spiffy newspaper we called the GAY-Zette. The paper started with one page one side, mimeographed. It eventually turned into a 12-page paper.
It came to our attention later that the folks in Binghamton did not entirely embrace the ribald aspects of the paper so we developed a new more tasteful and tactful paper and with the input of our illustrious feminist mentor Kelly, named it AMETHYST.
From there in conjunction with my association with OFB (Opportunities For Broome) the local federal antipoverty agency and first home to STAP (Southern Tier AIDS Program), we became an umbrella group for the GLBT community.
This is basically the history of the organization as far as I can remember. TRUST ME, there is a lot more to the story, but I just thought it may be of some interest by this time for those who never knew where the name came from or the struggles that were gone through by ordinary "GAYS LIKE US" to begin the recognition of our selves in our community, to confer significance upon the lives that we live in our world, hostile as it may sometimes be, and to demonstrate that the life force within all of us can and will manifest survival under any and all circumstances no matter how frightening they may be.
The world is starting to get frightening again. Regardless of what we call the organization, let's get organized!
- Patrick McHugh