Recordings for a ground-breaking gay radio program from 1973 to 1982 are quickly disintegrating–will you help us save and share history?
The D.C.-based Friends radio program was one of the earliest and longest running gay-themed radio shows in the country. Friends, which aired from 1973 to 1982, was the key public forum in D.C. to hear the voices of the emerging gay presence.
With an hour of programming per week, the shows took on any topic of interest to the gay and lesbian community, often in the face of considerable obstacles. As its tagline proclaimed, Friends was “radio for and by the gay community” and it welcomed well-known figures like Frank Kameny, Eva Freund, Divine, and many more. They grappled with key issues like gays in the federal government, gay parenting, and policing, while highlighting emerging local organizations and events like the 1979 March on Washington and the Third World Conference of Gays.
Friends is long over, but the tapes still exist. More than 250 polyester reel-to-reel Friends radio broadcast tapes and cassette tape outtakes were donated to the Rainbow History Project in 2003. Over the past decade, Rainbow History has preserved and digitized a large percentage of these one-of-a kind recordings. But many of the tapes have yet to be preserved and are quickly disintegrating. Some recordings have never been heard and few are labeled with dates or speakers.
You can be part of preserving our community’s voice. Rainbow History Project needs $10,000 to restore, digitize, and catalog the remaining reel-to-reel tapes and make them available to the public on archiving software.
As the Friends radio theme song reminds us, “You gotta have friends!” Please make a gift to make Friends available for future generations.