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00:00:00 - Relocating to Asheville, NC

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Partial Transcript: Amanda Wray: So, did you consider other places in North Carolina?
Michael Todd: Well yes I did. It was between going back to Durham or here. And it was interesting enough, my mother who really wanted me to come back to Durham, when she visited me here the first time she goes, "Oh no, Asheville is definitely the place for you."
Amanda Wray: Oh nice.
Michael Todd: As we sat in a coffee shop downtown and dread headed people came in an out with colorful clothes. She says, "No, you're at home here."

Keywords: 1990s; Asheville, NC; Career; Charlotte Street, Asheville, NC; Durham, NC; Family; Nature; Social Work; Tennessee; Work

00:07:21 - Early Involvement with Radical Faeries

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Partial Transcript: Michael Todd: Anyway, kind of lost my train of thought a little bit there. Yeah, Radical Faeries. When I showed up I was like, whoa, there's a lot of vegetarian, hippie, gay men who like to be in the woods. I totally connected with that group.
Amanda Wray: It sounds so healthy.
Michael Todd: It was lovely. It truly changed my life. Actually, when I left there I changed my career. I changed probably most everything about myself changed when I left there the first time. I had worked for the Department of Social Services, with children and adolescents.
Michael Todd: That had been my social work career. When I came back I'm like, I'm dedicating myself to queer folk. And so I immediately got a job in the AIDS field. Yeah, that's what Radical Faerie meant.

Keywords: AIDS; Commune; Community; Community Needs; Faeries; Gay; HIV; Harry Hay; Nature; Queer; Sexism; Short Mountain, TN; Spirituality

00:18:22 - Coming Out Journey

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Partial Transcript: Michael Todd: Yeah. So let me just back up and tell you. I actually had two coming outs. I came out in Durham when I was about 18. I had been involved with the church. I did not grow up in a religious family at all. I won't say at all. My grandmother was religious and I think either her father or her grandfather was a minister. But she was the only religious person in my family.
Michael Todd: My parents were not religious. To this day they're not, so I wasn't brought up very heavily religious. I had some Mormons that were neighbors, and so they took me to church with them. The Church Of Jesus Of Latter Day Saints. I had a spiritual understanding through the neighbors. Because they were Mormon they were cliquey and stayed together, so I liked that sense of community that, that offered.
Michael Todd: Then I pretty quickly knew that I was gay. And that was not something that I wanted at all. My youngest when it came to me I was probably prepubescent and I knew that I had an attraction to other guys.

Keywords: 1980s; Baptist; Bullying; Christianity; Church; College; Coming Out; Community; Drugs; Durham; Durham, NC; First Gay Bar Experience; Florida; Gay Bar; High School; Middle School; Mormon; Religion

00:33:10 - Overdose and Rehab

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Partial Transcript: Michael Todd: I remember when I got back to the training center, the first thing they asked me, and this is going to sound sad but it's not as bad now. They asked me what I learned. And I said, "The number one thing I learned over the last 30 days was how to hate. I don't think I ever had been in touch with hate before. And I learned how to hate." And I got very in touch with that emotion. And that's what I learned there. I finished the program.
Amanda Wray: You were hold old when you finished?
Michael Todd: I was probably 20. I was there for a year and a half so I was right at 20. Fell in love with a guy there. He fell in love with me as well. We never acted on it. Later we got together. Anyway, I finished the program.

Keywords: Anti-Gay; Appalachia; Christian; Chruch; Conversion Therapy; Drugs; First-Generation College Student; Mountains; Philadelphia, PA; Rebersburg, PA; Rehab; Religion; Teen Challenge Rehab; West Virginia

00:43:13 - First Marriage

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Partial Transcript: Michael Todd: We were together for five years. We weren't married that whole time. But in the marriage is when I realized that number one, I didn't believe in God anymore. And number two, that I was gay and I was going to be gay. And that's when I connected back with Tom who I fell in love with at the rehab. I called Tom.
Michael Todd: I remember I was sitting in a swing set in a park. And that's where I just kind of like, Michael you're gay. And it's okay. It's okay. The bad things, you don't like gay people. But you're gay. I remember thinking, have I ever experienced love?

Keywords: 1980s; Attempt; Christian; College; Commune; Durham, NC; Florida; Mental Health; Overdose; Suicide

01:01:52 - Activism, Advocacy, and Work with Tampa AID's Network

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Partial Transcript: Michael Todd: I remember this one lesbian came up to me and she was just giving me hell. Like, "How can you do this? This is wrong. You're feeding right into it." And I'm like, "No, I'm doing exactly what we need to do because we're not going to change them. They're not going to change us. So let's bring the absurdity into the whole thing."
Michael Todd: That was my role to bring the absurdity and make people laugh because everybody was so intense, and angry, and wanting to hurt each other.

Keywords: AIDS; Act Up; Anger; Anti-racist; Awareness; Community Work; Feminism; HIV; Inequality; Jessie Helms; Lesbians; March on Washington; Protest; Queer Nation; Radical Faeries

01:12:30 - Time at an Anti-Gay Conversion Camp

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Partial Transcript: Amanda Wray: Because you said that you learned to hate.
Michael Todd: I did.
Amanda Wray: So tell me what you mean by that. Like, what that was.
Michael Todd: Yeah, I don't think I was a very angry or hateful person but I remember the people who ran this place, which actually it ended up getting shut down. They were mean. And you know, and just very degrading. I probably blocked some of it out because I'm having trouble remembering other than the big concepts.

Keywords: Conversion Therapy; Hate; Homophobia; Religion

01:20:04 - Changes in Religious Communities and their Perception of Queer People

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Partial Transcript: Michael Todd: So yes I think in the last few years it's been remarkable. There's even a term for it. It's not called the new religion, the new church. The emerging church I believe is what it's called. Krista Tippett is I think part of this whole movement too. Is that, churches have taken a re look at themselves.
Michael Todd: I think they've seen that they've done a lot of harm. And I think your more mainstream have wanted to do something about that. You're going to have your fractions. You're always going to have your fundamentalists.
Michael Todd: Actually, I actually believe that you kind of can gauge how well you're moving toward progression by how hard the fundamentalists ratchet up. Because when you're starting to move toward a social progression, the fundamentalists up their anty. And that's when you see this shit going on. You know, like this week even.

Keywords: 2010s; AIDS; Churches; Fundamentalist; HIV; Prejudice; Progression; Queer Visibility; Southern Churches