Paul Diamond - Creating Our Stories

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[00:00:00] This podcast is brought to you by pride in z.com. And funded through a generous grant from the Legacy Fund of the second Asia Pacific Outgames. [00:00:10] I am got a background as an accountant initially, but then I worked, worked as an accountant for about seven years, but also worked as a journalist after that, and then that really lead into the oral history sort of work I've done. I've worked in radio and the long form, features, documentaries. So I sort of did interviews that were sort of like oral history. And so I started meeting our historians and things. [00:00:37] I ran an oral history project on the Vietnam War. And that was also linked in with a project of my own interviewing 10 mighty men who served in Vietnam. Now, as part of the big Vietnam project, I did interview a couple of soldiers who, who Brigade, who served in Vietnam, [00:00:58] terms of specifically queer guy, things, I've done some research interviews for sort of gay history projects I've been working on but [00:01:09] sort of got, you know, sort of general oral history experience. And I've done the odd sort of biographical interview of people. [00:01:19] So why our history? What is the benefit of doing normal history? [00:01:24] I'm Judith five, who's sort of trained a lot of people and has mentored a lot of people talks about the orality of the voice. And it's a phrase that's really stuck with me, it's, it's, I think, you do this sort of work, because you like listening to the voice. And I know, people say to me, oh, why don't you take a video recorder, you know, and there is something about seeing faces and things but, but I think once you get hooked by this idea of the voice, the reality of the voice, then you you kind of are hooked, and that's perhaps because of my radio background, I have done a little bit of TV work, but I didn't find that came naturally to me. [00:02:01] And when I met some people at the Imperial War Museum, they sort of talked about the difference between video and sound. You know, if you listen to the woman talking about the war, and what it was like being a small child and the war, then you're sort of there with her, and she's a small child, but if you see the video, then she's a woman in it. And I think that's part of what the differences it's, it's, it's about why people like being involved with radios, they talk about sound pictures, something similar is going on with our history. It's also the chance to I'm interested in accents and, and language and language changes. So it's great for that, because that's what you're focusing on, you're focusing on the content of the voice. And it makes you focus on things like pauses, silence. And yeah, and the way the way people say things. So. So that's, that's, that's, for me, what's sort of attractive about this, and it's a historical source. And I think it's exciting the way it's kind of much more, taking much more seriously as a credible source of information. [00:03:10] So, I mean, and I don't read, I think it's a, it's a, it's a form of history that copes well with ambiguity and, and the way we all construct our stories, I think it's hard to explain, but I think it's, it's it can cope with it quite well. And it's not like documents are neutral, unbiased, completely reliable all the time sources either. [00:03:36] So how do you deal with I suppose personal truths or how people perceive events? [00:03:43] Well, there are kind of basic sort of historical things you can do. I mean, you know, good good research techniques, I suppose, like, do as much research as you can about whatever it is you're asking people about. [00:03:58] And then you've got the chance to sort of cross chicken corroborate. [00:04:03] But it's not your role to point out Oh, I think that's wrong. I think it's about it's your job as an historian to ask about the context. So if you do strike something, that seems a bit odd. You know, it's, I think it's okay to say, so where did you hear that? And, and, you know, [00:04:23] who else told you that? Or? Or has that been recorded? Or, you know, without being rude? You know, [00:04:30] there's all those basic sort of ethical principles like [00:04:36] ask yourself if you'd be comfortable answering something that you're asking someone. And that applies in any artistry. And so those sort of good practices, but, but I think it's about gathering that context. Because another thing that Judith five says is that these interviews are for people, they're as much for people and hundred years as they are for the for us now. I think, perhaps because of digital ticket ology and things in the way, interviews are so much more easily disseminated and available. Now. There's this pressure to sort of understand it all. But we need to keep reminding ourselves that we don't use tapes anymore. And it's, it's a lot easier to get this material out there. But we we won't understand it. And that's part of actually. [00:05:20] I mean, in consistencies and, and areas might become apparent 50 years down the track as much as 50 days down the track. So you just have to try and do as good a job as you can through research and the techniques of interviewing at the time you're at now. But I but I think generally it copes pretty well, with that sort of ambiguity and the fact that we are all constructing our own narratives. [00:05:47] And I guess acknowledging in the oral history where you know, information from when somebody is telling you something that they actually I did identify if it's like a first hand account, or they read a newspaper, or they were told by the advanta. [00:06:02] Yeah, yeah, I think it's good to, to ask about those sources. I mean, another thing that people have told me along the way is, it's not really there's not really much point in an oral history, getting someone to cover some things that are already published. So that's sort of related to that to that, but what would I think what it's what it's good at, is capturing personal experience. [00:06:25] So that's something with bearing in mind as well. [00:06:29] Sometimes people might, you know, that's why, you know, someone reading from a script or reading from a history, you know, [00:06:37] what, I mean? I wouldn't say that you never want to do that. But But generally, that's not the sort of thing you're looking for. And in our history, you're looking for things that that really can't be captured any other way. What did it? What does it feel like? What did it sound like? What does it look like that sort of personal experience? And that sets alongside other archival sources and things, secondary sources and, and adds to the richness of the history? [00:07:04] So is there much training available in New Zealand for our historians? [00:07:09] Well, the basic, you know, the basic, the, the most common, I mean, the main source of training is an oral history in New Zealand as the courses run by what used to be called the Oral History Center at the Alexander temple library, but it's just that the Alexander temple library, really the outreach part, those are offered in Wellington, there is training offered or being offered an Auckland, I mean, and things sort of emerged from time to time. I mean, there's might be a little bit of training happening in the universities, but those are the main sort of courses that I know. [00:07:44] It's worth looking at the website for the oral history Association in New Zealand, no hands, just because they try and maintain sort of lists of resources and stuff, which can help people if they're planning on our history or wanting to do training. And if you were going to ask me about specific resources, I don't know. [00:08:06] There probably are things overseas. And and it would be worth looking at that. Because overseas, there are bigger sort of queer history. [00:08:15] areas of work. So I would sort of look at things like some of the major collections, museums, universities, there are things here like I'm CRISPR. Cool. Who's a? I mean, what I would think of here is kind of, you know, who are the practitioners who are doing queer history and CRISPR cool. [00:08:36] Which is they r IC ke who is a, he's in the gender studies. He's a sociologist and the Gender Studies Department at at the University of Otago. He's done a lot of queer history. He's done oral histories. And he's written articles about queer history. But he's done one on archival sources. So it's quite useful. [00:08:59] They're all sort of things that probably people should be aware of, if they are thinking about doing queer history, I think, because that's really some of the most significant recent scholarship, but he's not the only one. There are other other people. He's one of the main ones, though, but and then through that, you probably could find some other references and resources, but but I know, you know, his works, has worked uses oral history, which is interesting as well. But But also, just depending on what your topic is, you should sort of be aware, be familiar with the scholarship before you launch out and, and going into a group or a topic. [00:09:37] So with the topics that you've done, have you [00:09:42] chosen topics yourself? Or have the things that you've been involved in vaping, like larger projects that you've kind of slotted into? [00:09:51] What is the queer queer stuff? [00:09:54] I guess it's that Vietnam One was that just emerged as part of a bigger project. That's that's a project with hundreds of interviews with Vietnam veterans, done by a team of interviewers around the country. [00:10:06] And I guess it was because of being queer that I got asked to help with those. And I was really King King to help with those. [00:10:14] I don't know that I've really initiated. [00:10:17] I've written bits and pieces about queer history, but I don't know that I've actually initiated my own projects at this stage. But you know, [00:10:25] even if it's a topic, [00:10:28] one of the things you get taught on the training is that, whether you're doing it, I mean, oral history, interviews are generally either a life history or a topic based interview. But even topic based ones should have life history. And that's something I agree with. And it applies to queer topics, just like anything else. So why is that? It just means that the interview is more useful, longer term. So even if you're asking about [00:10:55] the Spartacus club, and I know in the 70s, you should ask people where they grew up a bit about the background. You know, who the who the fam, where the family come from? [00:11:07] just basic things like, you know, politics, religion, just, I mean, as far as you want to go, but but I think it's good to sort of lay a bit of grammar, because often those [00:11:18] the answers to those questions can help you and wise, quite surprising ways. Actually. Well, you know, for queer topics, having an idea of someone's religious background, may well be helpful. And even if there's no religion, that's interesting, as well. And a New Zealand depending on the sort of generation that the person is, it would be less unusual. Now, if you're talking to a young person, but you know, someone who was who was elderly, if they said that, that would be sort of interesting, because it would be [00:11:49] unusual, and that generation. So yeah, I'm a firm believer, and I've learned that from wicking watching how the oral historians were experienced to me work. Yeah, but I think that's just either other things. It's a bit like journalism, you know, there's there's just good practices that that, that whatever your topic you should be thinking about? [00:12:10] Do you think that the interviewer influences the interview? I'm thinking that you know, do you have a gay man interviewing a gay man? And would that be different from say, a woman interviewing a gay man? [00:12:24] What you want? Yes, yes, the interviewer does that what you want is a good interviewer. And there's no guarantee that just because you're a gay man, that you will be a good interviewer to interview another gay man, what interviews depending on his rapport, I think you have to you have to establish a relationship, and the quality of that relationship will determine how the interview goes. And [00:12:51] and I think skilled interviewers just do what they came to do that and part of it, I've learned is that, you just have to accept that, that who you are, and your background, and how you're perceived is going to influence the relationship. So that means [00:13:08] and I think you just have to accept that and go with it, you don't have to, you know, don't try and make yourself into something you're not. And, and it's just about being upfront with people as well. So in the Vietnam interviews, the fact that I was too young to have protested that I was part Marty, and that I was a man and perhaps to a lesser extent that I was gay, would have affected the, the dynamics of the interviews, but had colleagues who were younger than me, I'm a woman. And, and, and I know, just just was this is anecdotal, but just talking it, we sort of reflected and thought that, you know, our backgrounds and who we were really was affecting the dynamics, and, and that sort of environment. That's, you know, when you're dealing with former military people, you're dealing with a lot of mean, [00:13:53] but I would think a things and actually, I know this from experience, just because you're gay doesn't necessarily mean you're going to win be the right person to interview another gay person. [00:14:03] oral histories dominated a New Zealand by older, middle class, middle aged woman, but you know, who do a damn good job. Because they're good interviewers. And its basic things, like, being able to listen, being a good listener is really one of the biggest things and if you haven't got there, in the middle, who you are, you're going to struggle. And, and people will struggle to, to feel comfortable with you and talk to you. So now I wouldn't, but at the same time, [00:14:30] if the few [00:14:33] perhaps it's analogous to Marty, you know, the will, just because your body doesn't mean you will be the right person to interview another mighty person bad, there is probably a likelihood that you may understand some of the language and things and you could say the same thing for for gay people as well. But you know, I found them. There are big generational differences. Between I mean, I mean, so I would, I would think there are other things that are more, but I really do agree that your background influences the interview. But that's not a bad thing. I think it's just about being conscious of it, that that's going on. [00:15:10] And I guess, also the kind of question lines that you develop, and the way that you even think it will research, researchers really important, I think, [00:15:21] I may be too too much of it sometimes, or I get a bit bogged down on it, because I do enjoy that part of it. [00:15:29] You have to think laterally, about researching for queer things, because the research that you need may not necessarily be in obvious places. And that's why places like vegans are really important. So we're lucky that that's there. So certainly, you should always think of places like that, you know, any specific, like I mentioned, CRISPR calls, sort of scholarship, journal articles, whatever you can, that relates to the top it as much as you can, will, will really, really help. And the end the interview that you do, I don't, I don't so much plot out my questions. [00:16:05] I sort of have them as a checklist, really, but but I do think through how am I going to approach this, and the classic way you do it, and all history is chronological. So we we born, you know, we tell me about your family background, you sort of move through it. [00:16:20] But there are lots of other ways of constructing it depends what you're what you're doing, you know, what the what the what the project planners, but I think, yeah, that's, if that's clear, then that kind of guides you but you're doing you do need to, it's a structured conversation. And, and you don't have unlimited time. And maybe because I've got a journalism background that you kind of think of, you know, that trends here in the news journalism trends in that pyramid of news. So what's most important, that should be in the first line? It's a bit like that with an interview thinking, well, if I only had an hour, what would I what I really need to talk about what's really important to cover. And also we'd like to about this sport, you know, in people's energy, your energy, their energy. It's not, it's finite. So that's another reason why you should prioritize. So it's, it's, it's a lot of its judgment, actually, about, you know, when is it appropriate, sometimes people might go off on a discuss something that may or may not be relevant, but you've sort of got to bring it and I think it's, you've always got to have a sense of sort of the thread of the conversation and where you're taking someone, which is hard, because it's exploratory because you're doing the interview, because you want to know stuff, but, but I think you do have to have a bit of a plan so that they feel like you're in control, not not controlling, but but kind of giving them a bit of guidance. Because it's a bit, it's a bit scary, really, for people to be interviewed. [00:17:49] I imagined that that for most people, they would never have done a four or five hour interview about themselves before or about a topic. [00:17:58] That's quite a lot of skill. Another not saying I'm in great shape, I still feel like a beginner, but there is a there is a huge amount of skill. And doing that. And and when you listen to people who are really good interviewers doing it. [00:18:13] Yeah. And that part of that is, that's how you managed to do that. And, and at the end of it, you know, end up end up covering a good range of a good range of things. [00:18:23] Now, even in the time that we've been talking, your chair has been squeaking, I've been noticing it because it's quite a quiet environment in here. And I'm wondering, when you're on location, or even choosing locations for an oral history, have you any thoughts about you know, what are the best things to look for? [00:18:39] One of the principles that I've been told and I really agree with is that it's important to make to do these interviews in a way where you make the people being interviewed feel comfortable. So that often means you might want to do the interview in the home. [00:18:57] It might not mean that sometimes people don't want that you just have to be guided, guided by the, what you want. This technically, sound of the quality that you want, if it's in someone's home, you know, you have to, you may or may not be able to control things that are going on. It's good practice in our history to do a pre interview meeting. So that's a preliminary meeting, few days before the interview. And that's where you talk about the recording agreement for me talk about the project that you're doing, it might be the first time you've ever met the person, you might just to talk to them on the phone or written to them to chance to ask about leaders, director, photos, and so that they can be thinking about their or tracking them down, they know before you next meet, and filling in a biographical information form, which is much easier to fill out when you're not on tape. And they might have to go and look at a family history to look at dates and things. And as part of this, you can sort of have a look around and, and work out where you might suggest that an interview be done. [00:20:00] That might be you know, and there aren't you. And so if you've got lapel mics, typically that can be easier to manage that. But, uh, but I've been known to turn fringes off tech cocks out of rooms, you know, you've got to be polite and just see if you can see you either can say, Well, you know, we could move or can we do something to that sound, if you turn the fridge off, remember to turn it back on. That's, that's awful driving away, and then suddenly remembering that someone's freezer might be still turned off. [00:20:31] Because this the modern gear we're using is so sophisticated and and Tommy rumbles coming out now. So, you know, it's about wanting people to sound good. And you can, you know, pop your headphones on them and show them. Because I think people are surprised if they haven't used a digital recorder how good the sound quality is. But and that's why you should be monitoring your sound. I know our historians who monitor the sound, the whole interview, why don't I just do some little tests every now and again, put the headphones on and just chicken, it's amazing what you're hearing. If you're in an office building, you probably have air conditioning. [00:21:05] Which is can be really loud. [00:21:09] That's not usually a problem. You know, cicadas if it's in summer, I mean, you don't need to be ridiculous about it. I mean, its atmosphere, it's telling you where the interviews happening. But if it's going to distract the listener, then it's better than that, that really does need to be sorted out. But it's just about, again, part of your technical skills and confidence. And you know, I learnt that radio is that the more comfortable you are with your gear, the better the interview will be. Because at some, it'll make the person feel comfortable and all this person knows what they're doing. And it also allows you to focus on the content, which is the most important thing, you want to be worried about your gear. So you've got to whatever equipment you're using, if you if it's your own, or you're renting or buying borrowing it, you've really got to not backwards. And you will always do better into you if you do that. So there's all these sort of basic bread and butter kind of things that help you whatever your topic, but certainly for queer, queer history. [00:22:12] You mentioned before about photographs, and why a photograph so important. [00:22:15] It's just a sort of a habit that the repositories like the Alexander Trimble library have sort of got us into to as part of document in the interview, you might with the person's permission, you know, take a photo of them now, and what digital cameras that's again, so easy now. And then if you're doing an interview about the Vietnam War, well, it was nice to ask a person or have you got a photo of yourself in the 60s or the 70s when you were in Vietnam, and then that is scanned. And then you seen that to include that with the interview as part of the material that you deposit? [00:22:55] There. That's sort of the extent of it, really, I haven't. [00:23:00] I've just sort of followed that, that practice. But again, that's because I was sort of doing war war interviews. And they sort of, that's the sort of model that the ministry for cut from here to Jen and Timbo have sort of followed, but I think it's a nice, nice thing to do. And perhaps that's kind of, you know, making, making up for that not having the video image of the person I think it is, it is good. And they're actually very useful. If you're thinking about, again, with a person's permission, using big sets of an interview, and a presentation or an exhibition or something. And, again, that's, that's always worth thinking through, I suppose. [00:23:39] I guess. I mean, often the most important thing about the oral history is as it for its own sake, but I guess you have to always acknowledge that there is the potential that it could go on the internet, it could be used an exhibition, it could be used, you know, [00:23:53] in a book, and not just by you, which is why the whole recording agreement form is really really empty. to document the wishes of the interviewee. I guess [00:24:03] one of the things with photographs as well as they can be memory triggers, yes. And I get stories and Lisa's next [00:24:12] year, photos, photos more. So in my experience, and that was again, another little technique that we used in the Vietnam project was [00:24:22] you know, Chris, told me this actually, when I went to see him at Santos Military College, because he'd done a lot of oral histories with military people. And he said, you know, get a get a photo of a section, get a photo of a platoon, get a photo of the one above that company. [00:24:40] And just say, you know, who the hard case, guys, you know, it was it was a great piece of advice, actually. So, you know, you're doing a history project about [00:24:51] the logins, logins in the 80s, find a fight you use photos, photos, and use that as something as triggers what's, you know, what was that event, what's happening there, you know, I think they're there with, with bearing in mind, as little triggers. And so part of your research, when you do the pre interview, you have to remember to stop people launching into these stories, and really politely but because, another one of the things that our historian say to you, he knows, the stories are never as good the second time, because if you, and I've learned this from experience to you know, you hear the story, and then the next day, and and and you tell me that story, I've told you that or, or it's never as good. So these little tips to, you know, avoid having to learn these lessons. But, but so you really just have to restrict that preliminary meeting to, you know, the buyer form the agreement form. And that's why the meeting is not a long meeting. And it's, you know, it's not going to take this long. And that's why, you know, just explaining what the interview will involve, generally what your talk about, so that they feel comfortable and don't feel like you're throwing anything, sort of that they're not prepared for. [00:26:09] I don't give people Christians, that's kind of a habit I've got from journalism. I've never done that. I might give people sort of, you know, an email that might be broad topic, headings, areas. And that's generally what I do, because I don't actually, I do sort of write the questions out, but they're more checklist, because I think if you're immersed in your research, you really, [00:26:31] you just go through it, really. And then you might have these as a checklist or whatever. And I asked about that sort of thing. [00:26:39] And if you're, [00:26:42] yeah, and as part of your research, you've got to be alert to [00:26:46] the terminology differences. And that's one of the that would be one of the things that you've really got to [00:26:54] be alert to, I think, for queer history as the terminology because it's changing all the time. You know, because gay and 20, late 2012 means something very different to what it did when I was growing up. [00:27:08] Because I would say, I was using that phrase when I was interviewing a veteran. [00:27:14] And he just said to me that that, because then we were talking about the past. And he said, that didn't mean anything to me. He knew what I was talking about. But he said we we use the word homosexual. And that was great that he told me that I should have sort of thought of that. But that's [00:27:32] but it's also worth checking [00:27:35] out. In other words, you know, and, you know, [00:27:39] the end and interviewing there are open and closed questions. And open questions are generally, really good to us. And in our history, but there will be times when you need to ask a close question. And you just have to judge what's appropriate. But an open question might be, you know, what were the what were the other words that people used when you were growing up? You know, succeed pansy, faggot. All that stuff. But did you have an in a close question might be, but did you ever his shirt left or something that might be a particular word, you know, that you that they haven't mentioned? So sometimes you need to check, you know? So of course, the question would [00:28:15] kind of all of a sudden, is no [00:28:17] answer you ever hear that we're being used. [00:28:22] So it's not that you ever just use one or the other and our history, you need to use both, but you need to be aware of what they both do. [00:28:30] And another general thing that I think's really important to bear in mind is, as the danger with close question, well, at house question, it's more of a leading question, a loaded question. That must have been terrible for you. If they tell you something. And if it wasn't terrible, well, then they really going to feel shy about saying, it wasn't terrible. If you said that. So how, how was that for you? or What effect did they have on you, you've got to try and be neutral, because you can really see that's more important to be aware, often, you know, as a gay man, the best person to be another gay man, I think it's knowing these things that are going on. At some, it's quite a, it takes a lot of mental energy during these sorts of interviews, because the you have to think like that, you know, be be very conscious of, and asking some of these other questions to unpack things that that perhaps might be behind. ambiguity or, or things that might be wrong, but again, trying to unpack some of the context. And so you, it's like a sort of a toolkit, and you're having to be grabbing all of these sort of techniques, and a limited space of time with finite stores of energy. So you see, it's quite a mental sprint, in some ways. [00:29:43] So so in an interview situation, how long would you record for? [00:29:49] Yeah, we used to talk about this at the ministry, you know, how long is an interview? Well, I'll interview as long as it needs to be, and but you're actually bounded by the energy of the post you're interviewing and your energy, because and you need to, you know, you need to look after yourself, when you go into, you need to have breakfast, you need to, don't try not to be tired, because it's a real [00:30:12] mental marathon, really, it is a sprint, but it's also a marathon as well. So [00:30:18] you have to be sensitive to where the person set and chicken, you know, chicken with them. Sometimes I find I need breaks. Ladies, sometimes, you know, you can't generalize, sometimes older people will be fine. But you can't really go. What have I done? I mean, seven. I mean, that's ridiculous. I think I did do seven in one day. But you know, you usually be stopping for lunch and things and you might might carry on. If the circumstances say you're in the same town as someone you want to talk to, you might be able to go back, what one oral historian said to me was at the risk, the thing you got to watch out for, and that is repetition. So you might I find that the same parts of the stories come up again, and then which would be understandable. So you've really got to think you've got to know what you covered. The first time, I haven't really done too many of those interviews, because I've often been traveling. And that's been my one chance. So to be sort of, you know, arrive in the morning, like a start. Do what we can do stop for lunch, keep going stop for my afternoon tea, and then you know, so you're looking at sort of five, five hours maybe. And, [00:31:31] and that's pretty good going. Yeah. [00:31:34] So how long would you record before you took a break? What do you mean, [00:31:39] um, I use a sound device recorder, which is a digital recorder. And that has various settings so that you can I think I used to have it set so that you could break, it just made a break so that you didn't end up with files that were too big. But I, I found that a pain because you end up with the these odd breaks. So which aren't necessarily meaningful. So now what I try and do is try and sort of discipline myself to sort of pause if around round about an hour, because that's quite a lot of digital material, if you're recording at the high standard that you should be for archival purposes. [00:32:19] So sometimes I just say, and you sort of judge it, if you're sort of at the end of the person's at the end of an explanation, and you're sort of, you know, know where you're at in your question lines, peps to say, look, this, just take a pause now. And it's also quite good to do that and stop so that you're not cutting in on their, what they're saying. And it's all about being comfortable and being in control so that you're not. [00:32:44] And then just, you know, [00:32:46] kind of the toilet haven't have a cup of tea or two or your right to go right back on, you know, [00:32:54] because I just think it can be hard to handle the audio. And I mean, but but an You see, in the old days with tapes, people were stopping every 30 or 45 minutes, I suppose respective typically 30, I think with a tape. So, you know, our historians who are used to there probably would be used to the half hour, or at least flipping the tape over. I think it's reasonable to sort of pause [00:33:20] for both of you just to just check your both how you both going and things. [00:33:24] So on the oral histories for the Vietnam vets, how did the kind of gay content come out in your interviews? Because it's a big part, or [00:33:32] they they both knew that that was why we were interested in talking to them. So that was good. [00:33:39] To be honest, I find asking people about six quite difficult. But, and, [00:33:48] and really, you know, [00:33:52] things like that they're tricky things to ask about, because you just don't quite know how people are going to react. [00:34:00] Generally, I think people historically know that things like vd are an issue with soldiers. But you know, I did have not in these interviews, but but other cases where, you know, [00:34:12] some people did react badly, because of reflecting badly on on the soldiers. That was a woman actually worked with the soldiers. But I mean, I heard recently about a ward and a military hospital, and it must have been in Vietnam, where, where the men were anonymous, they were anonymized. So [00:34:35] you said, you know, you can remember there's a different different sort of sort of context, in terms of those games is how did it sort of emerge? Well, well, that's why life histories important, because you can then get a sense of, you know, people's growing up, going to school, getting a job, eventually finding their way into the military will. So, you know, when did you come out as part of that. So you've you've got, you've got that sort of base understanding of how they saw themselves sexually, [00:35:05] quite apart from their military sort of career or the topic that you're, you're also so so I'd expect it to a sort of image there. You know, they may have been married, or, you know, but then it would also emerge in the end, you have to, that's why I think you're always thinking about life history and topics. [00:35:27] It's interesting, because I remember hearing an oral history, not part of your project. But we're the author of the story and asked, [00:35:35] Did you have a memory? And the chip said, No. And then she just moved on? And it was almost like, she didn't want to go down that path? [00:35:44] Yeah, it's tricky. It's tricky, because I suppose you were, you might be worried about crying. I'm just I think, What would I say then? [00:35:54] I guess I'd like come on up, try and come up with a bit. Literally like, [00:36:00] Well, you know, so too much also. [00:36:06] Again, it's that thing of, you know, how would I feel about being asked about [00:36:09] or maybe even asking the question, [00:36:11] was that unusual in your genetics? [00:36:13] Or the question being? Did you have any significant partners in your wife? [00:36:19] Robin saying? That's right, that's a sexual marriage time thing. That's right. And relationships, because it might have been a straight person who just chose not to marry? Yeah, I think I think you should, [00:36:32] you should sort of probe that a wee bit, respectfully. But it's, [00:36:38] it's tricky. The tricky things to ask about, because, and that's why I said rapport is really important, because the better rapport you have, and the more the person trusts you the the, the more confident you can be about going in those places. And you might get to places where people just don't want to go so that fine, and also one of the big principles in all of these as you never know, one's researchers, more important, someone's well being and health. So, you know, we never, we never want to interview to ask things that will make people feel, you know, hurt, people will bring up things. And that's, that's, that will very much be a risk with ease. You know, we knew with the Vietnam interviews that, you know, there might be trauma associated with it. And you could well strike that with career interviews as well. Because some people that may be, you know, really difficult, asking them about the sort of top these sort of topics might [00:37:40] reconnect them with really difficult, but to the past, or maybe not, you just don't know, but you just need to be prepared. And in fact, that can happen and you need to be, you know, [00:37:51] where people might, you know, burst into tears or, or beer. You it's often you can't say, this Christian will always be a problem. But in terms of the six stuff. [00:38:06] Yeah, it's, it's interesting. And one of the interviews I did for Vietnam, you know, one of the soldiers talked about a particular incident where [00:38:16] we're, [00:38:20] so this is before the soldiered really had relationships with me, and I think, but [00:38:30] in New Zealand, and one of the one of the camps where people were training before they went to Vietnam, you know, there was a public sort of ceremony where two men who've been sort of found to give her doing something or other had been where ceremonially had the uniform, you know, rank and things taken off the uniforms, and were loaded into a truck and seemed to, ya know, that, that was a really powerful for the person I spoke to, it was a really powerful tyranny. And, and I had, he gave me enough information, actually, to try and trace that through. And I've never, I haven't done that. But but it would be interesting to do that to see if there was corresponding discipline reports and things because that was very the fact that it was done so publicly. [00:39:15] Because when I did ask people about this, and this isn't, you know, that generation of the army, some people said, Oh, no, you know, not at all. But But even this person actually had no idea to lighter, that other men were having sex with me [00:39:34] until much later, and in fact, he said, it was a bit of a, you know, bit of a pain to not have known that then. And I think it was different, a few having sex with someone from another country or another army, then having sex with someone and in your own army, I guess that I think that was that was different as well. But this, this incident was very powerful. [00:39:55] And I think that's hugely significant. So that was, that came out, because the person I interviewed knew that was why we were interested in talking to him. And he was, and I would guess he was comfortable talking about it, because I'm gay. [00:40:14] But I wouldn't have I wouldn't have, you know, I still think it's about being open and honest about why it is you're approaching, it wasn't like we sprung this on people. But what I would sort of try and do is in the other interviews, I guess I didn't always do this, but I but I did try and cover it. You know? [00:40:38] So, you know, going out to the prostitutes, the bars and the steam rooms and stuff, but but along with it, you know, two people having sex with each other, but it's but it's tricky. [00:40:52] Yeah. that have been kind of unpacking it. Is it really important seminar of history, we're you to try and take away the ambiguity. So that you actually do have something 100 years time, we probably can go off. That was the event. That's the person. [00:41:08] I think that's the skill of an event where that incident, that public incident, yeah, and I think you have to really think on your feet and think, you know, [00:41:15] ask everything you can about it. And especially if you're what you're going to try and provide a basis for someone to put this alongside some other historical sources, like newspaper reports, or archival records more likely. [00:41:32] So when was this? [00:41:35] Hey, do you remember being the What happened? You know, [00:41:40] did you see it? Or did you hear about this? And and, you know, what? What, what do you really remember? You know, why? Why have you remembered that all? and What effect did that have on you? I mean, just really [00:41:53] that's a key. What's a key incident that you've really got to probe and, and try come at it from different angles, different questions, will, will work differently, because all of us, you know, [00:42:09] someone at work asked me about reminded me of me visiting the library to ask about something. And it was only five years ago, I couldn't remember. But when she prompted me, I call it but memory is a funny thing. And [00:42:24] I think part of the game, part of this little toolkit is to ask different questions, and different things will trigger. That's why the photos are good. Because we all respond differently to different things. And, and different things might sort of prompt different responses. But that's, yeah, that's that's a notable. That was a that was a notable thing. But that's if you're doing sort of queer history, those things, you know, should set off an alarm bell for you to take notice of, and it's actually something you can come back to, to, you know, because you might think about that, and I think I should have asked, you know, because you'll be processing it, too. So there's always the chance to come back. [00:43:07] So you take notes, as you interview, [00:43:09] I do, I tend to I sort of have this outline. And I they'll say things often than not, and I'll just make a note, just stop myself forgetting it. It's it's a sort of a radio, you, you you sort of learned to, you know, ask a question and have the next question in your head, really. And that probably doesn't hurt and our history either. But in both those types of interviews, you you're writing stuff down. But you know, they'll be saying something that you want, you want to let them finish what they're saying, but there's something that I've reminded you off that you need to follow up, or they've mentioned a name, who's that you just mentioned, you know, or a word or all sorts of things. Yeah. So you're constantly kind of [00:43:54] building what they say, into the [00:43:59] playing Christian lines and things. [00:44:02] Before we started this interview, I actually sent you a question line. [00:44:07] And you have noted on it, and I'm just wondering, [00:44:11] if things that we haven't talked about that you would like to cover? [00:44:15] Well, you asked about verbally identifying your files, this is something that you get trying to do. So you should as you did, ID, where you are the date and time and things to get the person to introduce himself, or say the name on the tape. [00:44:30] Some recorders have the facility to label to create the names, which is handy. So I do that on my recorder, which makes me do it. So I always have a system for the the person's name, in fact, that has got a limited number of characters. So you know, it'll be g What can it might not get to this, you know, but at least that's enough for me, and it'll just be 1234567. So that's a godsend, that means, you know, you know, [00:44:56] you know what that project was, but you also should do the idea on it. If you're interviewing groups, which I don't have a lot of experience doing festival oral history is, is is one on one. But, you know, particularly for Marty, say, some ethnic, you know, not be ethnic cultural reasons why you might interview people to give it that could well happen with them, queer interviews you might have, you might be interviewing a couple. [00:45:22] I haven't done that so much. But what I would do is, I think that it's really important to get people to introduce themselves. And especially if you had a big group, which, again, would be sort of unusual in our history, but but you might have that, because if you're going to be trained was you or someone's going to be transcribing this or, or abstracting it. It's much easier for them if they can have a way of tuning and all that's Frank, okay, let's try blogs, especially with a bunch of means a whole bunch of women, to be able to differentiate the voices will be quite important. As part of your training, it's good to know that abstracting, which is a [00:45:58] it's a guide for researchers, it's a time code summary of the interview that pulls out [00:46:06] details, like names of gay clubs, names of people, names of places, you know, any sort of [00:46:14] details, facts, that a researcher might be interested in any sort of group things by topic, childhood, a 10 minutes, 30 discusses school, Calcutta, miss school, you know that stuff. And it's a summary. It's not a transcript, a trend and New Zealand, we tend to not do transcripts of whole interviews, because they've become unwieldy really quickly. And you can't really see your way through an interview. And also, [00:46:41] when you transcribe your editing. So do I put in the post I put in the armed you're making decisions about how to represent that speech on the page, you sort of out with an abstract as well, I suppose, but, but abstracts I think are a bit easier to you're not making such a difficult judgment call of a better editing the the because whenever you transcribe on the page, it's an approximation, whereas the whole principle of an abstract is to get you back to the recording, it's to make the researcher listen to the recording, so you're not putting it all down. And so often, when you give people an abstract to check the guy, is this thing's Lyft out. But you have to explain to them that it's just a summary. And it's just to help the interview. And typically, what you're asking them to check for is some spellings of names and stuff. And they'll be often things people mentioned that are but unclear to you that you should clarify during the interview. But if you didn't, that's the time to die. It's good practice to get people to spell it on unfamiliar names. So that the abstract or if it's not, you can can or I mean, you might not know yourself, just a little sort of little techniques like that. [00:47:51] I think it's really good to have a clear sense of your project, which is why the research is really important. Because the better the clearer, of course, explores, because that's why you're doing the interviews, but but, you know, perhaps a research question. You know, [00:48:08] what were the what were the events that led to the establishment of the lesbian library or something, you know, that's, that's a starting point, and then your project plan. So if I said, I think it's good to have that can change, and it can be dynamic, but that can let you give people information. When you ask them, if they want to do an interview, you could do a little [00:48:30] primary exponent explanatory thing, which can be useful to them. Because you know, you can send that to them, you can give it to them at the pre interview. And it's really important to be comfortable with the agreement form, which is where you get people to specify what sort of restrictions on access that should be, and also where it's going to be kept. So you might, I mean, I tend to work on with the Alexander Timbo library, because that's got an oral history collection there. And they've got the facility to manage power history, which, you know, has its own, it needs specialist skills to manage that, especially with digital digital technology. But that's not the only repository, I think it's just about [00:49:12] encouraging people to deposit it somewhere where it can be managed, and, and the access can can be controlled. And, and I mean, it's, it's good practice, of course, to give the person a copy of the interview as well. But, and it's up to them what happens to it, but, but if there are restrictions and things then the repository, repositories, like the timber will manage that, and, and, you know, restrict access, or let me my opinion, what people are specified [00:49:42] in terms of looking ahead at talk to another thing that Judith told me is that you can I remember talking to Judith about, you know, particular how we should approach the Vietnam interviews, you know, should [00:49:54] you know, there are there have been research projects with I've tried to get you know, someone from every unit, someone from every rank and Judah, Sybil could be good to just do the medical team and just do a really in depth sample of there, you know, that that would be valuable. And, and she's right. So [00:50:13] keep always keep that in mind. It's not necessarily you don't have to try and do [00:50:20] sometimes you might want to do it abroad sample [00:50:25] what might you be looking at, you know, I don't know game in talking about their schooling or something. And you might want to try and do a very broad sense, or you might just want to go narrow. So don't feel restricted. But and in terms of how to contact people, I guess, you just have to use your, your networks, it must be getting easier, I guess, like you could advertise and the listener for this now, but you wouldn't have been able to do that few years ago. But you know, [00:50:52] just be again, thinking laterally, but but also thinking about who you're likely to find. And the various ways you might be trying to rich people. And yeah, and it might be a case of having to use particular techniques of reaching people. [00:51:07] If you're finding that there are, you know, you're not getting a particular group, I can I find those semi men in their 40s. You know, I might have if you want, if that's part of the grip you want to be talking to. But that's, again, that's just good oral history practice, that. Just thinking laterally about how to how to contact people, you know, the ministry, they used to get people to do questionnaires. And then on the basis of that work, and how to interview and I was always a bit wary of that, I guess you had to have a way of selecting people. And they were also dealing with bigger responses. But I always worried me that, you know, you might miss someone who'd be a terrific interview, but just wasn't that good at putting their thoughts down on paper. And also such just because you're good at writing your thoughts down on paper may not mean you're that good talking about it. But it's horses for courses, the different [00:51:56] sorts of projects. And I guess also, when you advertising for interviewees actually questioning why does this person want to be interviewed? Actually, that was the motivation for this rather than it must be quite different if rather than you approaching somebody actually theme responding to an advert? [00:52:15] Mm hmm. I hadn't thought of it. And journalism, they always used to say to you, you know, everyone always talks to you for a reason. [00:52:25] It's not just to help out the newsroom. You know, [00:52:29] I guess oral histories a bit like that as well. I, you know, I must have got a stake in it. And it's a it's a huge thing that you're asking, asking them to do. That's right. Yeah, you're right, if they've ever approached you. [00:52:43] But I guess that's part of the what's all it's before the pre interview, isn't it? It's really working at, you know, you, you will there's a whole stage before the pre interview of the sort of negotiation and and sussing each other out really better put on quite often on the phone on leading up, you can you can, and sometimes that person might not be right, sometimes they may not want to do it, sometimes they may lead you to someone else, it's quite good. This is an easy, this is just a good thing to think of in general is to be recommended can be quite good, you know, to be [00:53:20] to work through someone who knows, the person you're trying to contact, I would have thought that could that could work well on this for queer history. Because you will. [00:53:31] You will have for some generations, you know, you will have it will be hard. And I remember doing trying to track down people who were in the gay rights group and having a terrible time. [00:53:43] It might have been me, but it might have also been that generation have, you know, had a different experience of being gay and this is the generation who who live through the reform that had a whole period before that, where it was really difficult. [00:54:01] And maybe there's the whole thing of [00:54:05] having to be having to be more covert, more comedy. [00:54:10] And maybe that's why [00:54:13] they wouldn't necessarily respond. Well, someone from this general younger generation just sort of following up and say, oh, tell me what it was like to be going on, you know, in the 70s. [00:54:21] Perhaps, but that's about being sensitive and sort of understanding as much as you can about the context of what you're trying to do and then you'll do a better interview.

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