Jay London Toole

Interviewed By Ted Kerr and AJ Lewis

Jay Toole describes her experiences of queer homelessness in New York City. Born in the South Bronx, she became homeless as a child due to the circumstances of her family and identity as a stone butch. She describes her chosen queer family in Washington Square Park in the 1960-70s and their means of survival. She recalls stealing a NYC Taxi Cab and driving it to Texas, which led to her 18 month stay in a Texas jail. Later, she reflects on her experiences in the New York City shelter system which led her to form the organization Queers for Economic Justice. (Photo credit: Syd London; Summary by Micah Katz, summarizing two of four part interview.)

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South Bronx (00:30)
Pronouns (00:43)
Race (00:57)
Gender (00:59)
Gender Fluidity (01:02)
Stone Butch (01:05)
Police (01:33)
Mother (01:34)
Institutionalization (01:36)
Earliest Memory (01:38)
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the Bronx (03:41)
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drug use (09:17)
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Mutualism (16:30)
Talking (16:32)
Drug use (16:35)
Alcoholism (16:36)
Conversations (16:50)
Pimping (16:57)
Money (17:01)
Theft (17:06)
Washington Square Park (17:17)
1962-1963 (17:22)
California (17:36)
FBI (17:44)
Theft (18:38)
1964 (18:45)
Taxi (18:51)
Travel (19:12)
Van Horn, Texas (19:17)
Criminalization (19:41)
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Movie (20:27)
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Police (20:34)
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Food (21:27)
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Queers for Economic Justice (25:38)
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Straight Women (29:52)
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Linguistic Evolution (30:15)
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Sex Work (30:26)
Money (30:28)
Safety (30:30)
Washington, D.C. (30:36)
Criminalization (30:42)
Sex (30:55)
14th Street (31:28)
The Village (31:33)
Teen Years (32:05)
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Child Sex Work (33:16)
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New Orleans (34:05)
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Relationships (34:19)
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the State (37:32)
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JFK Airport (38:08)
Idlewild Airport (38:10)
42nd Street (38:22)
Train (38:25)
Being Lost (38:26)
Street Signs (38:32)
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the Villages (38:41)
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Bars (39:14)
Queers (39:17)
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Heroin (39:47)
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Late 60's (39:59)
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Heroin (40:05)
Gay Bar (40:08)
Stonewall (40:12)
Butch (40:17)
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Fear of Violence (40:34)
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Selling Heroin (40:41)
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Communal Living (40:49)
Money (40:53)
Resource Pooling (40:54)
Hotel (40:58)
St. Marks and 8th Street (40:59)
Marlton Hotel (41:17)
Bleeker and 7th Street (41:21)
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Heroin (41:47)
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1967-1968 (41:59)
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Lesbian Bar (42:29)
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Desire (43:35)
Power (43:36)
Club Bohemia (43:50)
Google (43:53)
Lost in History (43:55)
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57 Barrow Street (44:10)
1967-1968 (44:19)
Police (44:28)
Criminalization (44:30)
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Legal Heteronormativity (44:46)
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Lexicons (45:57)
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Chorus Lines (46:07)
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Google (46:59)
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14th Street (47:34)
Pimping (47:35)
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Memory (48:06)
Reflection (48:08)
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125th Street (48:25)
Clothing (48:32)
Community (48:38)
Homelessness (48:57)
Storage (48:59)
Community Assistance (49:00)
Domestic Abuse (49:32)
Child Abuse (49:33)
New York Times (49:40)
Time Magazine (49:43)
Police (49:44)
14th Street (49:46)
Clothing (49:53)
Storage (49:54)
Hotel (49:56)
Oral History (50:08)
Sadness (50:09)
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Violence (50:16)
Death (50:17)
Conversation (50:19)
8th Street and 6th Ave (50:28)
Butch (50:33)
Territory (50:34)
House of D (50:38)
Men (50:41)
Long Island (50:42)
New Jersey (50:45)
Violence (50:48)
Conversation (50:54)
Jail (50:56)
Police (50:57)
Discrimination (50:59)
Criminal Justice (51:01)
Conversation (51:07)
Territory (51:11)
Ownership (51:13)
Resilience (51:16)
1963 (51:32)
1970s (51:40)
Change (51:46)
Heroin (51:55)
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Drugs (51:58)
14th Street and 3rd Avenue (52:02)
Host Show (52:11)
the Village (52:19)
Safety (52:21)
Johns (52:23)
Sex Work (52:24)
Johns (52:38)
Economic Means (52:40)
Violence (52:46)
the Village (52:47)
Only Mona (52:52)
Twin Towers (53:02)
West Side Highway (53:04)
Murder (53:12)
Death (53:13)
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Mangled (53:17)
Friend (53:25)
Sex Work (53:27)
Tricking (53:28)
Murder (53:34)
East Village (53:35)
Bowery (53:36)
Torture (53:40)
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Panhandling (53:46)
Money (53:47)
Burial (53:49)
Services (53:56)
Burial (54:02)
Potter's Field (54:09)
Acknowledgment (54:11)
Memory (54:15)
Babies (54:23)
Pregnancy (54:24)
New York Mirror (54:36)
Childbirth (54:44)
Marijuana (54:53)
Washington Square Park (54:59)
Childrearing (55:00)
Police (55:02)
Selling Drugs (55:17)
News (55:20)
Newspaper (55:22)
Marijuana (55:27)
Child (55:32)
Memory (55:36)
Abortion (55:39)
Condoms (55:59)
Birth Control (56:00)
Blowjobs (56:11)
Oral Sex (56:12)
Queers for Economic Justice (56:39)
1998 (56:45)
Mobility (56:48)
Disability (56:50)
Homeless (56:53)
Community (56:54)
Medical Van (56:56)
New York City Shelter System (56:58)
Homeless Shelter (56:59)
Providence Women's Shelter (57:02)
45th Street (57:03)
Sobriety (57:06)
Anya Duggan (57:16)
Homeless Shelter (57:19)
Inspection (57:20)
LGBT Center (57:30)
Discrimination by LGBT (57:38)
Chasing (57:40)
Safe Space (57:43)
Rich, White Guys (57:44)
Class (57:45)
Gender (57:46)
Race (57:47)
Clothing (57:49)
Smell (57:51)
Homeless People (57:53)
Mindset (57:54)
LGBT Center (58:04)
12th Street (58:05)
Welfare Made a Difference (58:10)
Joseph DeFilippis (58:12)
Amber Hollibaugh (58:15)
Ignacio Rivera (58:19)
Ricky Blum (58:26)
Martin Duberman (58:28)
Homeless Issues (58:32)
Welfare (58:34)
Drugs (58:36)
Homelessness (58:38)
Self-Identification (58:41)
Homeless (58:49)
Chronic Homelessness (58:53)
Voiceless (58:58)
Shelter System (59:23)
Queer Homeless (59:25)
Visibility (59:26)
9/11 (59:39)
Meetings (59:44)
Conversation (59:47)
Queers for Economic Justice (59:52)
Organizations (59:57)
Network (59:58)
Coalition (59:59)
Silence (01:00:19)
Language (01:00:21)
Class Privilege (01:00:22)
Access (01:00:24)
Comprehension (01:00:25)
Embarrassment (01:00:32)
Homeless (01:00:40)
Words (01:00:43)
Intention (01:00:44)
Understanding (01:00:48)
Access (01:00:51)
Understanding (01:00:54)
Resume (01:01:11)
Employment (01:01:12)
Queers for Economic Justice (01:01:37)
Family (01:01:38)
Sober (01:01:41)
Queer (01:01:56)
Language (01:01:57)
Safety (01:02:01)
Social Network (01:02:03)
Director (01:02:12)
Shelter Project (01:02:13)
Proper Words (01:02:21)
Conversation (01:02:35)
Infrastructure (01:02:37)
Workplace (01:02:39)
Shelter System (01:02:49)
Interpersonal Skills (01:02:56)
Sadness (01:03:10)
Denial (01:03:23)
Depression (01:03:24)
Employment (01:03:36)
Unemployment (01:03:38)
Naming (01:03:47)
Memory (01:03:48)
The Miss Major-Jay Toole Building for Social Justice (01:03:49)
Highlights (01:04:00)
Community (01:04:03)
Coalition (01:04:14)
FIERCE (01:04:16)
Audre Lorde Project (01:04:18)
Sylvia Rivera Law Project (01:04:20)
Streetwise and Safe (01:04:24)
Coalition (01:04:25)
Lawyers (01:04:37)
Advocates (01:04:39)
Homeless (01:04:42)
Comfort (01:04:51)
LGBT Center (01:04:52)
The Miss Major-Jay Toole Building for Social Justice (01:04:57)
Safety (01:04:59)
Chasing (01:05:00)
Queers for Economic Justice (01:05:05)
Biggest Successes (01:05:28)
Survival (01:05:32)
Endurance (01:05:33)
Resistance (01:05:36)
Principles (01:05:42)
Marriage (01:05:46)
Don't Ask Don't Tell (01:05:48)
Kenyon Farrow (01:05:51)
Society (01:06:04)
Mainstream LGBT Movement (01:06:05)
Funding (01:06:11)
Homelessness (01:06:16)
Department of Homeless Services (01:06:30)
Survival (01:07:01)
Resilience (01:07:02)
Belief (01:07:08)
God (01:07:11)
Grateful (01:07:17)
Community (01:07:28)
Visibility (01:07:35)
Voice (01:07:36)
Impact (01:07:37)
Childhood (01:07:44)
Success (01:08:12)
New York City Shelter System (01:08:25)
Queers (01:08:28)
Dream (01:08:42)
Providence Women's Shelter (01:08:51)

Transcript

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Interview Data

Date of Interview
June 29, 2016
Location of Interview
New York Public Library Schwarzman Building
Notes
Interview in four parts, on June 29, 2016, October 20, 2016, November 24, 2017, and August 8, 2018.
Rights Statement
This work is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this work in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights law that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights holder(s).

About This Collection

NYC Trans Oral History Project

NYPL's Community Oral History Project is teaming up with the NYC Trans Oral History Project to collect, preserve, and share oral histories from our city's transgender and gender non-conforming communities. 

We'll be training a community corps of interviewers to collect these largely undocumented oral histories in order to build a lasting and expansive archive on NYC transgender experiences.

About the NYC Trans Oral History Project:

We are a collective, community archive working to document transgender resistance and resilience in New York City. We work to confront the erasure of trans lives and to record diverse histories of gender as intersecting with race and racism, poverty, dis/ability, aging, housing migration, sexism, and the AIDS crisis. 

We are inspired by the public history activism of the ACT UP oral history project to build knowledge as a part of our anti-oppression work. We believe oral history is a powerful part of social justice work, and that building an alternative archive of transgender histories can transform our organizing for transgender liberation. 

You can listen to interviews, search interviews tags (like #genderfluidity #self-knowledge #gentrification and #queerfamily), and soon read transcripts. We hope the interviews and tags will preserve and proliferate new knowledges about trans and gender non-conforming experiences.

Content warning: Many of the interviews here include personal accounts of violence, sexual assault, abuse as children, or trauma.