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LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Gary Emenitove

UNO Libraries - Oral History Projects

 

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00:00:00 - Introduction 00:00:38 - Early life

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Segment Synopsis: Born in Kansas City, Missouri; 00:54 - Moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa; 01:24 - Growing up in Council Bluffs in the shadow of Omaha, Nebraska; 01:50 - Childhood, only child, Jewish upbringing, friends

00:02:17 - Parents

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Segment Synopsis: 02:19 - Parents owned and ran a store, big part of their lives; 02:55 - Parents were serious and older, born when they were in their 40’s; 03:57 - Growing up and only child

00:04:16 - High school

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Segment Synopsis: 04:19: Acknowledge being gay; 04:59: Hearing terms gay and homosexual, no support; 06:17: Abraham Lincoln High School, life in high school; 07:13: High school in the 60’s; 07:29: Aware of happenings in the country, interest in radio

00:08:45 - Faith and religion

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Segment Synopsis: 08:46: slightly Jewish; 09:05: Unitarian Universalist, heritage, not religion

00:09:27 - Sexuality and coming out

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Segment Synopsis: 09:31: Aware of sexuality in Jr. and Sr. High School; 09:44: Coming out; 10:11: Terms of coming out; 10:20: Working at a radio station; 10:36: Involved with theatre; 10:53: first relationship with a member of the theatre; 11:10: Coming out primary to himself; 11:18: Living in Dubuque, Iowa, which was a primarily Catholic community and did not talk much about gay community

00:12:01 - Radio station jobs and college

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Segment Synopsis: 12:05: Worked at radio station KIWI and WDBQ; 12:13: Worked for a cable company at the end of his tenure in Dubuque; 12:21: Cable company was expanding so it was a good opportunity; 12:23: Attended University of Iowa, 1970-1973, and University of Missouri at Kansas City, 1973-1974; 13:00: Parents had moved back to Missouri; 13:30: had already been working in broadcasting since high school; 13:46: interested in radio while in junior high or even younger; 14:00: radio stations were different then, independently owned, a lot of opportunities; 14:23: Council Bluffs had its own station near his parents' store and he was eventually given things to do; 14:41: during high school offered a part time job; 15:21: worked for the public radio station around the time NPR was starting; 15:33: after college stayed in Kansas City and worked for a cable company where everything was broadcast locally or was on tape; 16:24: Job opportunity in Iowa City with a new radio station; 16:58: Moved to Jefferson City, Missouri and worked for a radio station; 17:12: Opportunity in Dubuque, Iowa;

00:17:29 - Moved to Omaha

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Segment Synopsis: 17:29: In 1983 moved to Omaha; 17:33 - Living in Omaha discovered what Omaha said about Council Bluffs; 17:55: Worked for Sweet 98; 18:05: interesting experience, first time worked for a really popular station; 18:33: Spare time started putting feelers out for the LGBT community; 18:46: contacted Metropolitan Community Church of Omaha pastor; 18:59: Pastor advised that there was a gay discussion group; 19:04: attended gay discussion group and met people also interested in singing; 19:20: went to see Twin Cities Men's Chorus in Des Moines; 19:53: Working at radio station Sweet 98, no interactions with LGBT coworkers; 20:03 - in a relationship with someone in Dubuque; 20:18: Eventually came out joining gay discussion group; 20:34: Information was available if anyone asked him but nobody did

00:21:02 - River City Mixed Chorus

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Segment Synopsis: 21:13: Group went to performance of Twin Cities Men's Chorus; 21:23: One of several life changing experiences for him; 22:00: saw performance and came back wondering how they could start a chorus in Omaha; 23:27: Started with fundraisers for MCC and gay community; 23:35: Became known as Mid City Singers; 24:00: wanted mixed chorus and came up with River City Mixed Chorus; 25:05: First concert was at the Max in Omaha and was a Christmas concert; 25:33 - 26:00 - chorus has been around since 1984, first rehearsal and concert; 27:53: First director died of AIDS, first person he knew closely that died from AIDS; 28:31: Chorus name change when women were added; 28:53: Reception to the chorus; 30:49: Criteria for joining the chorus; 32:00: Pushback from the community

00:33:44 - Working in radio and career changes

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Segment Synopsis: 33:47: In 1985 still working at Sweet 98 and in the chorus; 34:00: Decision to stay in Omaha, get out of radio, change careers; 34:35: Working in Omaha and living in Council Bluffs; 34:37: Working at Children's Square; 35:18: Conne Inc. marketing Firm, Warren Conner, partner of someone he met in the chorus; 37:14: Start of eye problems; 37:44: In 1994 met partner Michael Jones; 39:41: new career as a travel agent with Travel and Transport; 41:00: Moved in with Michael and started own business; 42:06 - Mix 96 KEFM Radi

00:42:57 - Unitarian Universalist Church

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Segment Synopsis: 42:59: Involvement in Unitarian Universalist Church; 43:09: Members at First Unitarian; 43:13: Job at Second Unitarian Church; 44:01 - 44:31: Description of Unitarian Church; 44:32: Second Unitarian was the first place totally out to everybody; 45:12: In mid 50’s was out to the world

00:45:16 - River City Mixed Chorus 2

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Segment Synopsis: 45:16: In 1984, River City Mixed Chorus did not always promote as gay as not everyone was out; 46:08: Allies to the chorus; 46:18: No real safety concerns, articles in paper stating the chorus was gay

00:48:12 - Family and coming out

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Segment Synopsis: 48:13: Felt really good to come out, but a little strange; 49:30: Michael out since junior high, 50:30: Gary is an only child and looked to cousins for extended family; 51:19: Notable experiences of being out; 51:28: Came out to mom; 52:56: Dad passed prior to coming out; 54:48: Places to meet people, bars; 55:14: need to meet others fulfilled by chorus; 55:18: support of other organizations.

00:55:51 - LGBT milestones lived through

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Segment Synopsis: 56:01: Working in radio Gary was aware of things going on and when things were happening; 56:20 – Stonewall was far from Omaha and had nothing to do with Omaha; 56:53: Nebraska Initiative 416 in 2000, Michael was very involved and Gary helped in the office; 58:23: June 2015 legalization of gay marriage; 59:11: Married in 2015

01:01:59 - Mentors and close friends 01:09:45 - Identity today

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Segment Synopsis: 1:09:45: Knows now what he was missing, but did not know then; 1:11:16: Technology, music and information drew him to radio; 1:14:21: Current identity and what it means to be a gay man in 2018; 1:16:50: Glad ended up in Omaha; 1:17:25: May be happier in a more progressive place

01:18:15 - Final thoughts

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Segment Synopsis: Words to young LGBT, keep on keeping on, world has changed to their benefit despite minor speed bump in Washington.