As time goes by, I realize that I gravitated toward people who were known as queers. My husband had a first cousin who was a lesbian. … When I went to live with my husband's grandfather, his lesbian cousin's friends came to his house all the time. I remember begging her when she and her friends were going to go out, “Please let me go! Why can’t I go?” And [the cousin] wouldn’t, because she knew she’d get into a world of trouble with his family. And that was a clue. But I didn’t know what to do with that information. I had no idea. I just knew I wanted to go. And I was not allowed.
Subject: Vera Martin
Date of Birth: June 1923
Place of Birth: Natchez, MS
Age at Interview: 77
Date of Interview: October 2000
Interviewer: Arden Eversmeyer
Place of Interview: Houston
Transcriber: P. Anderson
Length of Transcript: original 52 pages; OCRed text, 51 pages
Contract Dated: 10.18.2000
Support documents: 38 pages; copies of photos, articles,
speeches and certificates
After a very isolated early childhood being raised by her mother's guardians in rural Mississippi, Vera ended up living with her mother and stepfather in California. There she completed her schooling, married, had two children, then divorced. Although she knew by now that she was a lesbian, Vera felt it was important to provide a strong male role model for her son. She remarried, this time to a gay man. When her children were grown and she was no longer married, Vera was able to build a relationship with another woman. Vera worked her way through almost every department in the offices of the City of Los Angeles and was very involved in the union. As an African American, a woman, and a union and civil rights activist, Vera often found herself in challenging situations. Retiring in 1985, she was able to devote even more of her time to causes that mattered to her by serving on the Board for the Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum, helping to found Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, and working with the NGLTF and ASA, just to mention a few!