Pride Conversations: A 100-Year-Old Gay Journalist Reflects On Her Life And Career

Pride Conversations: A 100-Year-Old Gay Journalist Reflects On Her Life And Career



– I never dreamed I was
gonna get to be a hundred. If I knew, I would've done
a lot of things differently. First of all, I retired too early. Second of all,
(Dani laughs softly) I got involved with a lot of people I never even should've said "hello" to. (Dani laughs) (calm, instrumental music) – [Dani] Do you have a coming out story? – [May] In my day, wasn't a question to come out; there was nobody to come out to. You didn't go to your mother and father, say "Hey, look, I'm gay. "I'm never gonna married." It was considered shameful to be gay. The thing that got me into being gay was I was a great reader and
I read about gay people. I didn't understand,
really, what it meant, I just knew that it was frowned upon. People were always saying to my mother, "Why don't you make her
behave like a girl?" My mother, who was very wise woman, said "She's fine." She thought if you had a child, the thing you should do was let your child be his or her person. And I had short hair,
which little girls didn't, and I always played with boys. So my mother took me to a men's shop and she said to the man, "My
daughter is very athletic "and I wanna get her a pair
of jeans or a pair of pants." So the guy looked at her, he said, "Lady, I wouldn't sell
you pants." (laughs softly) They wouldn't sell us
pants! (laughs softly) – What was the queer dating scene like in Brooklyn in the '40s? – Gay people lived in gay bars. That was your life. I thought it was fun but I didn't drink! – [Dani] Can you talk
about being a gay woman in a male-dominated work place? – [May] I thought it might be fun to work on a newspaper. And there was an ad that
said "The Daily News is hiring girls now because
all the boys are all at war." The guys in the office loved me. No one ever said to me "Are you gay?" or "Is it tough being
gay in the business?". I never had a bad moment. Newspaper people, once they take you in, you can commit murder and (Dani laughs) and you're not guilty! There were a lot of
offices, if they found out you were gay, you were out. And I understand it's
still happening today. You see, now, I never
had to worry about that. – But it was still something that happened to the point where you were aware of it happening to other people. – Absolutely. Yeah. There was a lot of prejudice from parents. Parents said "If you
don't stop hanging around with gay people, I'm gonna
stop supporting you." – That still happens. – Yeah! Of course. A couple of people we
knew committed suicide because of that. – Yeah, I think that New York is a bubble, compared to the rest of the world. And both of us, obviously,
in different generations – Yeah.
– grew up in that bubble. – And, obviously, in some ways, it's easier to be gay today
because it's so prevalent and because so many important and famous people come out, you know. At the office, I was in the
Sunday feature department and the story came up and he said to me, "You want a shot at it?" After that, they couldn't get rid of me. The biggest mistake of my life was retiring at 55. Well, when I was 55 I thought
"Well, I might, you know, "I'll probably die when I'm 66."
(Dani laughs) Who the hell knew I was
gonna live to a hundred? I was at the point where
everybody in this city knew me. I could walk into any office, I could pick up the phone
and call the president of any company and get a welcome and I quit! I quit to come out here. And the woman I was living with, when I met her, she was
a West Side, chic woman. Very feminine. Came from a very wealthy family. She had always dated guys. Somehow, took one look at
me and we ended up in bed! (Dani laughs) Her parents hated me because they knew, because of me, she didn't get married. You asked me "any prejudice?", her parents hated me. And then we heard about the Hamptons. We came out here and we bought this house and then, of course, there was
a whole bunch of gay people. (calm, instrumental music) Obviously, if I was
gonna do it over again, there are a lot of things I wouldn't do. But I consider myself
one of the luckiest kids on the face of the earth.

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