Friday, March 24th, 2023

Regarding the memorial service of Yolanda Retter

Jim Schneider

September 30, 2007.

This was the best organized memorial I’ve ever attended (except for the end).

I arrived at MCC early by myself in time to get a good parking place. The first four rows of seats were roped off for speakers, so I sat in the 5th row from the front. A heavy lady sat on the right side of me, and lo and behold, Karen Quimby spotted me and moved in to sit on my left side with her partner. We had a nice little visit. Karen (who resigned from ONE a few years ago) now has a job representing people in the U.S. Congress from Santa Barbara where she and her partner live.

At least 200 people attended and took up nearly all the seats. Only 20 men attended. The rest were women, including one couple who brought their two young kids along.

Yolanda Retter
Yolanda Retter

People from ONE Archives boycotted the event, except for Walter Williams who spotted me and came over to shake hands. He brought his laptop computer full of a big dissertation he wanted to present. A filming crew recorded the event from the upper balcony in the rear. You may get to see a copy of the filming later on. Stuart Timmons contributed to the cost but did not attend that I know of.

Scheduled speakers were pretty well organized and had humor in their messages. The music was superb. One Hispanic lady played her guitar and sang in Spanish. This kept the audience very attentive, except when it came time for ending with audience participation, at which time those who wanted or prepared to speak were asked to stand up and move to the side of the room in a row. Twenty of us stood up and moved as directed.

Then came a drag queen, which was unexpected. Speakers were taking too darn long to read boring papers or recall uninteresting things from memory. The emcee did not limit speaker time to three minutes, instead letting them ramble on and on for seven to eight minutes each. Walter and I were near the end of the line when this problem was recognized. Half of the audience became bored, got up, and walked out at which time they stopped the speakers and ended the memorial. Neither Walter nor I got to speak. I followed others to the refreshment room, ate, and then left for home.

Good night, from Jim.


About The Author


  1. Karen Ocamb

    Hi Billy –
    Karen Ocamb here – I’m the news editor for IN Los Angeles magazine. I attended the event and managed to put in a very short item since we went to press the next day. However, Jeanne Cordova is sending me a book with an essay Yolanda wrote, a portion of which I’m cutting down and putting in the next issue. I’ll set it up with a bit more from the memorial.

    BTW – Stuart Timmons did attend, as did Ivy Bottini and Terry Wolverton. I sat with Walter Williams – the book he co-edited with Yolanda was mentioned in a video tribute and was also on display in an adjacent room.

    One more thing which you may find amusing….I am speaking at ONE on Oct. 21 and I’m hoping to present them with a photo I took of Jim Kepner, Harry Hay, and Morris Kight — smiling together for the camera. If you have access to the current edition of ≤i≥Frontiers≤/i≥ (it’s a theme issue of honoring lawyers), it’s in there along with small stories about the ONE-Post Office battle and Dale Jennings’s fight against the lewd conduct charge (thanks to C. Todd White for his help here, too). Anyway — when I was just starting out as an LGBT reporter, I attended and covered Dorr Legg’s memorial at ONE — and I got an earful about what these three men thought of each other — I got to know them all (Harry and John were my neighbors) — so I thought the shot was really something to behold.

    Anyway — I appreciate reading your missives.
    Thanks —

  2. Billy Glover

    Thanks for this info. Let us know how things go at your speech. Isn’t Ann Bannon going to host an event there soon too?

    And I agree that all of those pioneers had to be “something,” or they would not have been able to start and work in this cause. It had alread been going a decade when I started, and all the hard work had been done.

    And whose to say how much being a communist helped and hurt the cause. I think the work they did politically may have been needed to start the movement. But then it hurt when the McCarthy era was attacking many Americans.

    I’ll try to find Frontiers on the internet. I’m confused about In Mag, some emails bounced. Or I mean Gayfab.

    Life does not stand still. We have to keep working and ver time we get and lose friends.Two friends in Dallas, due to one’s mother dying and the other one’s mother ill in Baton Rouge, are going to probably move, separately in a sense, as one’smoving to Houston for her job and the other to Baton Rouge to help ill mother. Hopefully their relationship, for years, wll not suffer. One, worked in the Crossroads bookstore in Dallas, which is where I met her. That is why our “community” is in a sad sense “renewed” as we come and go, as here I am in LA, Todd is in NY, Ron is now in San Antonio—where Toby Johnson is, who co-wrote a book with Walter.

    That is why I find publications like Lesbian Connection valuable to our community, as it goes past geographical boundaries. Andway I think all publications should mention Gayellow Pages in their pages, so that their readers will know resources in other places. And why such “special” publications as Gay & Lesbian Review should be mentioned—as these are not in competition to local publications.
    And why gay/lesbiantravel people should suggest that travelers/visitors go to the local g/lcenter, so they can, as in L. A., find local publications, free, to give them news of events, etc. Visitors need Frontiers, and they can find it there, along with LN etc.

  3. Karen Ocamb

    Where do you live in LA? I’d like to meet you at some point. Perhaps for lunch and an interview???
    Can we work that out?
    Thanks –

  4. Billy Glover

    You do understand that I’m in LA the state.  Bossier City/Shreveport, far nw corner, as far from New Orleans as you can get (no negative meaning implied).  I do hope to get back to L.A. someday in the future. But if you are ever nearby, I could come.  I do have a small house an a 2d bedroom, available. I’m right up against I-20 as it passes through here from Texas going to MSand on East.  And I getto Houston maybe once a year, and Dallas is nearer on I-20.  I have been to San Antonio, drove once, flew once.  And visit with my younger old co-workers and partner Melvin and Peter in PA, and they go to the Hillside Campground near the NY border, and visited with William Percy in Boston,and his friends, editors at GLR and Guide and John Lauritsen-whose latest book is controversial.  Todd White wants to get our views on our website, so hope that he gets done before too long as it seems younger people do use the internet.  But I do hope to see you sooner or later ion LA or L.A..

  5. Karen Ocamb

    No – I did NOT realize LA the state…I’m laughing out loud at myself though. How myopic of me!
    Perhaps we could do an email interview, nonetheless.

  6. Billy Glover

    I am available,most anytime. That is the glory of the internet.I assume you have seen our web site.And you know lots of the history already. I can’t say that I can describe it, but in theory, it is interesting to have lived this long as I in theory should be able to say how things turned out that we wondered about as we worked from the ’60s on. I have already said that, and this may not be a good thing: I do not think I would change a thing, and I still believe today what I believed in the ’60s. What I felt about people and ideas then, I still believe.

    I worked with Don Slater and Dorr Legg, both conservatives but whose work I respected — and their thinking. But I was then and am now a liberal Democrat, even though I am not sure Adlai would have made a good president, but I handed out literature for him in the middle of Vermont in ’56.

    I am watching the C-SPAN shows on presidential libraries and see the good and bad parts of each one. Eisenhower hurt homosexuals and didn’t stand up to McCarthy, and was slow on race problems, but perhaps he was right for the times. I have no doubt that my moving with Don Slater was the right thing for me and the homosexual movement. And Dorr’s tactics that threatened me/us personally (he investigated our parents to see if he could sue them (making him no better than Joseph McCarthy)). But I never doubted that he and all of them had done a great service to our cause.He wanted to emphasize education as colleges do today. But Don thought a magazine reached more people, and he was right too. But they both kept going.

    Where are most of the others who were around a while and then quit??? And Jim Kepner focused on archives/library/history, and of course that is what we do now. Our cause/movement/community has grown so fast and far from the founding in the ’50s that we can afford to have different people and groups and publications cover different areas. It may sound or seem contradictory, but I’m sure you see that we can support legal actions of Lambda Defense, et al. for same sex marriage, but also have an organization fighting gay marriage since it works against those who do not want marriage ((Alternative to Marriage Project) and Don Slater’s answer was and is to give the benefits to everyone, or NO one. We have to deal with homosexuals who are religious, and those who are atheists. With gay rodeo people and gay people in PETA who object to gay rodeos. We have asked for diversity — now let us honor it. We are drag queens and bears, men and women. Live with it. Celebrate it. (I however, will not appear in the nude, as it would not help the cause, believe me. But I would look at cute men and women who believe in nudism. I don’t think that makes me a hypocrite.)

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