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Blake Hays

January 28, 2024


Hudson, NY


Recorded by

Liza Yeager

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This interview with Blake Hays was conducted on January 28th, 2024 in Hudson, New York, as part of OHSS’s interview corps.

Blake begins the interview by talking about his childhood growing up in rural Louisiana, where his family owned a pecan farm on 30 acres of land. Blake describes the land itself and his experiences growing up there, playing outside with his sister and cousins and picking pecans with his family on the weekends. Blake describes learning values of care, generosity, and equality from his parents, while also coming to understand that he had different political values than most of the people he grew up around. Blake talks about coming out as queer and the 2008 Obama election as important moments on this path. Blake also discusses the long term impacts of having alcoholic parents.

At 20, Blake moved to New York City and began working in the fashion and retail industry. He talks about his experience working his way up a corporate system without a college degree, and moving first to Pennsylvania and eventually to Hudson to work on the retail business he started with his partner. Blake describes his changing relationship to systems of power, and working inside and outside of them to create change. He talks specifically about police brutality and racism, and the way that his understanding of those issues has changed over time. He also describes his community of friends in Hudson, his current work doing retail management, and his visions of the future.

This interview would be of interest to those hoping to learn about rural life, social justice movement, queerness, addiction and sobriety, police brutality, and small business ownership.

Interviewer Bio:
Liza Yeager

Liza Yeager is a freelance audio documentarian and writer who grew up in Oregon. She has worked on many long form radio stories and projects with a particular focus on history and historiography, queerness, and the environment.

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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.

Part of this interview may be played in a radio broadcast or podcast.

Oral history is an iterative process. In keeping with oral history values of anti-fixity, interviewees will have an opportunity to add, annotate and reflect upon their lives and interviews in perpetuity. Talking back to the archive is a form of “shared authority.”

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