Social and Cultural History

LGBTQ+ History

  • Jenesys Alicea

    Description: Jenesys Alicea was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1981. Her maternal grandparents were born in Puerto Rico and migrated to the mainland U.S. early in their lives. Jenesys grew up in North Newark and then Belleville. Her father worked in factories and in shipping and handling, and her mother eventually worked for Essex County. Jenesys went to Elliott Street School, Ridge Street Annex and Broadway Middle School in Newark and then, after moving to Belleville, to Belleville High School, graduating in the Class of 1999. She attended cosmetology school at Concorde in Bloomfield and has spent her career working in cosmetology. After first coming out as gay, she began transitioning in her mid-twenties with the help of an organization in Jersey City dedicated to helping trans youth. She identifies as a transgender woman. In the interview, she discusses her family history, childhood and life experiences, focusing in on topics including her Puerto Rican heritage, Latinx communities in Essex County, the process of transitioning, LGBTQ activism, trans-related health care, working as a freelance cosmetologist, and traveling to Puerto Rico.This oral history interview was conducted as a part of the Latino New Jersey History Project, directed by Dr. Lilia Fernandez.
  • Cheryl Clarke

    Description: Cheryl Clarke was born on May 16, 1947 in Washington, D.C. Her father served in the U.S. Army in the Red Ball Express in France after the Allied invasion in June 1944. Growing up in Northwest Washington, D.C., Cheryl attended parochial schools, including Immaculate Conception Academy for high school.  From 1965 to 1969, Cheryl attended Howard University and majored in English. During college, she worked part time at the Washington Post and at a Peace Corps office.  In 1969, Cheryl came to Rutgers-New Brunswick as a graduate student in English. She earned her M.A. in English in 1974. Cheryl taught courses in the Urban University Program and discusses educational opportunity programs in the interview. From 1972 to 1974, she taught courses in the English Department at Rutgers. A life-long activist, Cheryl discusses her many experiences participating in social movements, including the anti-war and Black Power movements at Howard University, anti-apartheid activism at Rutgers, LGBT activism, feminism and lesbian-feminism, and activism surrounding the defense of Assata Shakur. From 1974 to 1978, Cheryl worked in Middlesex County in the Comprehensive Employment and Training Program. In 1978, she returned to Rutgers to study social work, obtaining her M.S.W. in 1980.  In 1980, Cheryl began working in Student Affairs at Rutgers. In 1992, she served as the founding director of the Office of Diverse Community Affairs and Lesbian/Gay Concerns (now called the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities). From 2009 to 2013, Cheryl served as the Dean of Students for Livingston Campus. In 2000, she earned her Ph.D. in English.At Rutgers, Cheryl coordinated the university-wide Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes and the New Brunswick-wide Bias Prevention Education Committee, in addition to establishing the university-wide network of "Liaisons" and teaching numerous courses.Cheryl is the author of Narratives: Poems in the Tradition of Black Women (1982); Living as a Lesbian (1986); Humid Pitch (1989); Experimental Love (1993); After Mecca: Women Poets and the Black Arts Movement (2005); and The Days of Good Looks: Prose and Poetry, 1980-2005 (2006). From 1981 to 1990, she served as a member of the editorial collective of the feminist literary journal Conditions.  In 2013, Cheryl retired after forty-one years at Rutgers. Cheryl and her partner Barbara Balliet co-own Blenheim Hill Books in Hobart, New York and organize the annual Hobart Festival of Women Writers.  
  • Kent Hatfield

    Description: Kent Hatfield was born September 17, 1959 in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He grew up in New York City, in the Bronx, where he attended Saint Angela Merici, a Catholic elementary school. After moving to New Jersey, he attended Belleville High School. Following his graduation, he decided to pursue a career in the military, and at age eighteen, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in Newark, New Jersey, in January 1978. He completed basic training and advanced training at Fort Gordon, Georgia. During his time in the service, he was initially sent to a post in South Korea called Camp Castle from 1978-1979, before being transferred to Fort Hood in Texas. He was honorably discharged in August 1987. Afterwards, he decided to join the Reserves, where he was active for four years as part of the 78th Division in Morristown, New Jersey. Hatfield was a longtime patron and employee of Manny’s Den, also known as The Den, in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
  • Morris Kafka-Holzschlag

    Description: Morris Kafka-Holzschlag was born in 1965 in Brooklyn, New York. His mother Phyllis Joyce Krotenberg earned her bachelor's degree and Ph.D. at New York University. Dr. Krotenberg served as an English professor and head of the Women's Studies Department at Kean University (then called Newark State College) for thirty years. In the interview, Morris discusses his mother's career and feminist activism with the National Organization for Women (NOW). Morris grew up in Somerset, New Jersey and attended Moriah Yeshiva Academy and MacAffee Elementary School. The family later moved to Maplewood, and Morris went to Columbia High School. His interest in historic preservation began at an early age, and during high school, he founded the Columbia High School Historic Preservation Society. After graduating from high school, he initially went to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and then transferred to Rutgers College, where he was a student from 1984 until his graduation in 1987. He majored in architecture and art history and minored in cultural anthropology. At Rutgers, Morris became involved with student activism in the anti-apartheid movement and the gay rights movement, participating in the Rutgers University Lesbian/Gay Alliance (RULGA) and working at the Hotline. He became instrumental in documenting the history of RULGA (now called the Queer Student Alliance), which was founded as the Student Homophile League in 1969 by Lionel Cuffie, and in archiving the group's historic materials. He worked on the Rutgers Sexual Orientation Survey with Dr. Susan Cavin, the results of which were released in the spring of 1987 and eventually led to President Edward Bloustein convening the Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes and the Select Committee for Lesbian and Gay Concerns in February 1988. Chaired by James Anderson, the Select Committee for Lesbian and Gay Concerns consisted of various task forces and released its report In Every Classroom (1989), which made recommendations for institutional changes at Rutgers. In 1984, Morris bought a property in New Brunswick, which began his preservation work on historic homes in the city. He became a member of the New Brunswick Second Ward Neighborhood Block Club. From 1987 to 2015, he was a member of the New Brunswick Rent Control Board. Morris has spent his career working in the preservation of historic homes. The interview delves into many topics, including social activism, campus life at Rutgers in the 1980s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the historic New Brunswick bar and nightclub Manny's Den, and affordable housing in New Brunswick.
  • Richard Mack

    Description: Richard Mack was born in 1933 in the Bronx, New York. With Eastern European Jewish roots, Mack grew up primarily in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where his father, nicknamed Manny Mack, began a liquor business in 1944. In the interview, Mack recalls World War II-era New Brunswick and traces changes in the city over the ensuing decades. He discusses growing up in the family business, incorporated under the name One Eleven Wines & Liquors and known as Manny's Den. Located at 111 Albany Street, the business began as a bar and packaged goods store and then became a restaurant run by Manny and Leah Mack. Richard Mack attended Livingston and then Roosevelt Junior High School in New Brunswick, before going to Solebury School, a private high school, from which he graduated in 1951. After briefly attending Washington and Lee, Mack went to Pennsylvania Military College, now Widener University. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Mack served on active duty for six months and then in the Reserves for eight-and-a-half years. Mack attended Seton Hall Law School, but he left law school to join his parents in the family business. In the late 1950s, when a local gay bar shut down, the patrons started going to Manny's Den. In 1965, investigators of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) raided Manny's Den and suspended its liquor license for "permitting apparent homosexuals to congregate." Mack and his parents, represented by lawyers Theodore Sager Meth and David Morris, challenged the suspension of the liquor license of One Eleven Wines & Liquors and lost in the ABC hearing. Upon appeal to the Appellate Division, the suspension of the license was sustained. One Eleven Wines & Liquors joined as appellants with Val's Bar in Atlantic City and Murphy's Tavern in Newark, both of which had been disciplined by the ABC. In the case One Eleven Wines and Liquors, Inc., A New Jersey Corporation, v. Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control 50 N.J. 329 (1967) 235 A.2d 12, the New Jersey Supreme Court considered the ABC's Rules 4 and 5 that the department used to target the congregation of homosexuals in bars. On November 6, 1967, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously that gay patrons had the right to gather in bars. While the case was pending, Mack took over the business from his parents. After the landmark legal ruling, Manny's Den continued as a gay bar patronized by locals, as well as by Rutgers University students. Mack expanded and operated nightclubs in Phoenix, New Orleans and Chicago for a time. During redevelopment in New Brunswick, Manny's Den was evicted from its location on Albany Street. Manny's Den, or The Den, reopened on Hiram Street, and eventually, when the Hiram Market area was razed, The Den moved to Hamilton Street in Somerset. Mack's children, Randi and Peter, grew up in the family business, and Peter took over as the third generation to run the family business, currently operating as Sophie's Bistro. Richard Mack passed away in 2013. The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2020-2022 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.
  • Rebecca Reynolds

    Description: Rebecca Reynolds was born in Washington, DC in 1962. Her maternal grandmother, Pauline Miller Shereshefsky, graduated from the University of Chicago, after which she worked at the Hull House settlement house. She spent her career in social work, later becoming closely associated with Jessie Taft and Virginia Robinson at the University of Pennsylvania and the Otto Rank Association. Her grandfather Judah Leon Shereshefsky was a notable chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project and went on to serve as a professor at Howard University. While Rebecca Reynolds was growing up, her father worked as a psychiatrist in the public sector, and her mother became a psychologist, earning her Ph.D. after her children were grown. Raised in Chevy Chase, Reynolds attended public schools. She earned her undergraduate degree in English at Vassar College. She received a M.A. in English at Rutgers and MFA at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where she studied creative writing and poetry and won the Avery Hopwood Award for Poetry. While a graduate student at Rutgers, she worked at the Institute for Research on Women during the summertime. Reynolds is the author of two books of poetry, Daughter of the Hangnail (1997), which won the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, and The Bovine Two-Step (2002). She has spent her career at Rutgers dedicated to women's education as an advisor/administrator at Douglass and instructor in English and Women's and Gender Studies. She has been involved in LGBTQIA+ advocacy on campus, serving as a liaison and helping to found the organization Q-mmunity. She worked as the Assistant Director of the Douglass Scholars Program and the Mabel Smith Douglass Honors Program from 1991 to 2000 and as Assistant Dean of Academic Services from 2000 to 2007. Currently, she serves at Douglass Residential College as the Assistant Dean and Director of Mentoring and Advising at the BOLD Center (Building Opportunities for Leadership and Career Development) and as the Director of the Mary I. Bunting Program for Returning Women Students.The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2020-2021 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.
  • Charles Silverstein

    Description: Charles Silverstein was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1935.  He grew up in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and went to P.S. 235 and P.S. 135.  During high school, he attended the School for Industrial Art in Manhattan.  He went to college at SUNY-New Paltz and majored in education, after which he taught in the public school system in Larchmont. At that point, Dr. Silverstein decided to become a psychologist.  He initially went to CUNY and studied clinical psychology and then went to Rutgers, where he studied under Peter Suedfeld and earned a Ph.D. in social psychology.  While at Rutgers, he became involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement.  In the interview, he discusses conversion therapy and the process he went through before coming out. In the years immediately following the Stonewall rebellion of 1969, Dr. Silverstein became an activist in the gay liberation movement with the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA).  He founded the Identity House, which was a counseling center, and then the Institute for Human Identity (IHI).  He served as the editor of the Journal of Homosexuality. Through his activism and professional engagement, Dr. Silverstein played an important role in enacting paradigm changes in the psychological community towards homosexuality.  On February 8, 1973, Dr. Silverstein made a presentation to the Nomenclature Committee of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).  In December 1973, the APA changed the diagnosis of homosexuality in the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II).  It was later in DSM-III-R in 1987 that homosexuality was completely removed as a mental disorder. Dr. Silverstein is the author of numerous articles and books, including Man to Man, The Joy of Gay Sex (along with Edmund White), A Family Matter: A Parent’s Guide to Homosexuality and his memoir For the Ferryman.  He is a practicing psychologist, in addition to working with the New York State Psychological Association and supervising students at several New York universities.  He won the gold medal for the practice of psychology given by the American Psychological Foundation.  Dr. Silverstein is featured in the episode “Dr. Davison and the Gay Cure” in the Radiolab podcast UnErased. In the oral history interview, Dr. Silverstein discusses his activism in the field of psychology, experiences during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, and involvement in battling censorship, along with analyzing the LGBT movement.  Pictured in the photograph are Charles Silverstein (left) and his partner of twenty years William Bory (photo courtesy of Charles Silverstein).