This oral history interview is an intimate conversation between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share this recording with Oral History Summer School, and with you. Please listen in the spirit with which this was shared.
This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please inquire about permissions.
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Born in New Haven Connecticut Ron Puhalski is a committed community member currently living in Athens, NY with his partner Sam. In his two part oral history Puhalski tells stories ranging from growing up in a racially diverse city at the end of the Second World War when local icemen and knife sharpeners were the norm, to his time at a Seminary, to biking around with his lover and friends on the mud roads that would end up serving as the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan; to surviving a near fatal accident in New York where he was saved by a stranger he is still in touch with. Many people have a reoccurring role in Puhalski’s life including his parents, his dear friend Nick, Tricia (his one time girlfriend), and Nikos, the man who saved his life. Puhalski’s stories provide insights into what it is and was to be a white gay man in urban and rural setting in the pre and post Stonewall eras. At the end of the 3rd audio file, Ron speaks at length about how he understands activism, which he understands to be related to reaching out. Within this last section he also speaks at length about dealing with other people’s apathy and his own struggle with the resistance he often has within himself towards activists.
This interview would be of interest to those curious in the underrepresented history of the Northeast, the names and location of NYC gay nightlife in the immediate post Stonewall era, the daily life of a young gay man working and loving, leading up to the early days of the US AIDS crisis, and those interested in how people live through their activism and advocacy through community engagement.
Theodore Kerr is a Brooklyn based writer and organizer who has been working for the last 10 years in the US and Canada at the intersection of art, AIDS and activism. In his hometown he was a co-founder of Exposure: Edmonton’s Queer Arts and Culture Festival, where he was also the first Artist-In-Residence at HIV Edmonton.
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.
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.”