JD Doyle was the producer of the monthly radio show Queer Music Heritage, heard as a part of Queer Voices on Houston's KPFT-FM, and he also co-hosted the weekly Queer Voices program. QMH took a music history/entertainment documentary approach to the sharing and preserving of our culture's music, and is supported by a huge website, where all past shows are archived for streaming (over 580 hours), along with hundreds of pages of artist photos, album covers and miscellaneous. JD is a self-confessed fanatic collector of gay & lesbian music and likely has the largest private collection in the world. From 2001 through 2010, he was also co-producer of Audiofile, the monthly radio review of CDs of interest to the GLBT communities, which aired on This Way Out on over 200 stations around the world. He was recipient of the Outmusic Award for Outstanding Support in 2002. In 2004 he was pleased to have been selected as one of the first one hundred people inducted into the GLBT/Queer Hall of Fame, organized on the internet by the Stonewall Society. Also in 2005, he got an award at the National Federation of Community Broadcasting conference in Baltimore. One of the QMH shows won a Special Merit Award in the category of Local Music/Entertainment Program of Special. That was the June 2004 show, "Queer Music Before Stonewall." In 2009 he received the award for "Lifetime Achievement in Music," voted by members of the Stonewall Society. And in March of 2012 was very honored to receive the Allan Bérubé Prize from the Committee for LGBT History, in San Francisco. Perhaps the most visible honor was to have been chosen to be Male Grand Marshal for the 2014 Houston Pride Parade, quite humbling thrill. During the last few years he founded the history websites including Houston LGBT History, Texas Obituary Project and was a primary team member for The Banner Project.
Queer Music Heritage -- The How I Got Into Radio Story
I might as well add my "how I got into radio" story. First, I had absolutely no radio experience whatsoever, but a friend of mine, Jimmy Carper, had been hosting his show, After Hours, for many years. I started calling him during his show to request he play a certain artist, or to just play more music, as the show is mostly of talk format. My reasoning was that gay and lesbian artists don't get played anywhere else, he should play more of them. I kept doing this for several weeks, when he finally said "why don't you come on and play some?" So I did. I put together two half hour segments, of old and new music, and "put a little history" behind the songs. As I was very comfortable with Jimmy, we had a good time, and the producer of the GLBT public affairs show that airs on that station on Monday evenings, Jack Valinski, heard us and contacted me, inviting me to do a monthly segment on their show, then called Lesbian & Gay Voices.
Now, with no radio experience I was very hesitant to come on and do a show live, and also I was very particular that I get the history exactly right, and wanted to include interview comments, etc, and had ideas that would be difficult to do on the spot. So I decided I wanted to pre-record the show, and they arranged for a volunteer engineer to work with me in the studio. Well, that didn't work out very well. It turns out the person chosen was not reliable, and also studio time was hard to arrange. That was probably the best thing that could have happened, as it gave me the kick in the pants to learn how to record the show myself, at home, where I could take my time putting together the show. I bought a mixer and microphone and the other equipment needed and began, crudely at first to shape the show.
Some of my early shows still make me cringe a little when I listen, as they were done just with my voice recorded onto cassette tape and then starting and stopping it for the music. My first show was in January of 2000 and the first six shows were 30 minutes long. At that point I was realizing I just could not cover much history in that short of a show, so requested an hour and was surprised and pleased that it was given to me with no objections. The shows were then monthly hour shows, and that was plenty, as I estimate I spent about 50-100 hours a month putting together that one hour. This involves lots of research, writing and editing the script, obtaining artist interviews and editing those, and putting it all together, again with lots of sound editing to make it fit the time slot. As the years went on I wanted to devote more time to do justice to a subject, so while just an hour would air on Queer Voices, on the internet the shows took up whatever time I felt they merited, two, three or four hous long, even including some multi-hour specials of 8 or 9 hours. Yeah, I was nuts.
In the beginning of 2001 I was asked to be a co-producer of Audiofile. Through my internet contacts with the music list serve Outvoice I had "met" Chris Wilson (from Los Angeles), who had helped found Audiofile in 1997, with her lover Pam Marshall, and the engineer, Christopher David Trentham. Pam was "burnt out" so I was asked to step in. Audiofile was a short monthly CD review segment, and as it was carried by This Way Out, on its 200+ stations around the world, I jumped at the opportunity. This would open more doors to me in acquiring artist CDs and I would be able to share the music with a much larger audience.
A visit by Chris and CDT to Houston that summer really gave me a huge jump technically, which helped me both with Audiofile and my own local show. CDT brought with him a sound editing program and taught me the basics of it. Gee, I was now editing on the computer! I started small but gradually got to the point where I was editing my whole QMH show that way, and loving the control it gave me, and the ability to professionally do voice-overs, and fade intros and extros, multi-tracking, things I never even tried to do. Plus the sound program could do noise reduction and filtration, which were wonderful tools to improve the sound of interviews and some of those old vinyl recordings I wanted to play.
We decided to end the 14-year run on This Way Out at the end of 2010, opting to move on to other projects. That made it a full ten, and very rewarding years doing this show.
In January of 2010 I started an additional radio show, internet only, called OutRadio. As QMH was designed to be more of a history show, it always bothered me that I could not play enough of the new music I was constantly adding to my collection. So this has been a fun outlet for me. Those shows probably average about three hours per month.
The Website That Ate Cleveland
But another dream I had was for a website so I could share my shows on the net, so that people could listen to them and also see photos of the artists and recordings. I felt that a big part of the music experience was also visual. Since I had a large (and growing) record collection I already possessed many of the photos I needed, and they for the most part could not be found on the internet, so I wanted to change that. I was a couple years into QMH and so far had just used the free webpages offered by AOL. A good start, but webspace was limited and definitely did not include sound capability. So I bought a smart program, in my case, Dreamweaver, and developed the site, slowly learning how to put it together. I thoroughly enjoy doing the "layout" for the site, trying to present the information so that it is organized and also graphically pleasing.
The site has grown to hold currently (as of September 2016) ~2005 pages, but total is deceiving, as my "pages" are long, sometimes ten to fifteen "screens" long, as I prefer to have most of the photos for a month's show on one page. In later years I added more and more auxiliary pages for a show, for example, going more in depth for a particular artist. And I added special feature sections on areas that interested me, like Gay Musicals, Drag Artists, the Camp Records label, an Olivia Records Discography, etc, etc. And the site now also houses all past Audiofile segments. Also added were other special feature pages, like Songs about AIDS, Songs about Matthew Shepard, and Songs about Gay Marriage. I often scan whole magazine articles from old gay newspapers and post them to the site, as this information is just not available anywhere else.
Yes, I spent an enormous amount of time each month between the QMH show and site, OutRadio and Queer Voices, and also networking with the artists and trying to discover additional artists new to me. Sometimes it seemed incredible to me that I could live in a city definitely not known for queer music, but yet to have met and become friends with so many artists from all over. All this was a labor of love, and in it I seem to have found my niche.
One thing I noticed early on with my QMH site is that when I posted information about drag performers it drove a lot of traffic to the site, and I realized that this was filling a need not really available in many other places. So I gradually beefed up this area converting it from a side interest to a major internet resource.
In 2010 after attending a LGBT Studies class at Rice University I got the idea to create a "lesson" that could be used in classes like that, one that an instructor could just grab and insert into the course. I called it QMH 101 and it is a two-hour audio course of history and music clips (over 60) taking that journey from 1926 to 1985. I felt that the music part of our culture was missing from these university courses, and I was in the best position to fill that need. I also put together a video slide-show version, available on Youtube and Vimeo.
While there are many areas of LGBT music covered in my radio work and site, there are two on which I am quite proud of shining a light.
I consider Women's Music the genre that really got out-of-the-closet LGBT music off the ground. With a combination of the women's movement and lesbian movement, they had to stand up for themselves, and they were organized. I loved it, and devoted a lot of "real estate" on my site, trying to capture and honor that history, by showcasing interviews with the pioneers, and devoting many shows to that sub-genre. A few years ago I had to honor of participating in a panel discussion on women's music at a Houston lesbian conference. Not bad for a mere man.
An area of our music that is much under-appreciated is that by Transgender artists, and this became a pet interest. I devoted 15 of my monthly shows (totalling over 30 hours) over the years to the subject (I think about the only radio person to have done so). I got particular satisfaction when I was able to interview the artists, as my questions took the listener not only through their music but also along on their journeys. This is an area so much in need of being heard and understood. I took the next step and produced a CD (the only one I've done) of all transgender music, as a fundraiser for the local trans group. It was called House Blend, with downloads still for sale.
Around 2013 I branched out to make available other history websites, and I knew my interests were shifting to those. While there was always more areas to cover on QMH I was ready to close it down, so my March 2015 show was the last one, and also the last OutRadio show. I felt I could not continue them all to the degree I wanted. And besides, the QMH site would stay as a resource archives, still the only one like it in the world.
When I first moved to Houston I had taken numerous photos of the Gay Pride Parades, in the early 80s, and wanted to share those. At first I just put them on some pages of the QMH site (well, I already had the site), and then kept adding more and more, until that just didn't make sense anymore, if it ever did. This history needed it's own site, and it's now my main archiving outlet, trying to make our history accessible, especially early gay publications, a huge ongoing effort. This work began in 2013 and is ever growing.
In 2012 I got inspiration from a website in San Francisco that was a searchable database of all obituaries to appear in the Bay Area Reporter. I felt we needed a site like that for Texas, and tried to get members of a local history group to take up the project. After about a year I got tired of waiting for that to happen and decided to just do it myself, and did, gathering data mostly from the publication This Week in Texas, but also from what other early publications I could find. I started building the site, and data collection, in September 2013 and it was ready to launch in February 2014, and currently (as of September 2016) has over 5275 pages, meaning it has that many obituaries of LGBT people we have lost. This project is especially gratifying because it takes on a very personal aspect, in giving many people a sense of closure. I have received many, many emails thanking me for having their loved one's obituaries, many of which they could find no where else. The data also incorporates searchable "tags," including not only the city in which they lived, but also identifiers like black, latino, female, drag, violence and AIDS, providing a useful tool for researchers.
During 2013 work had started by Sara Fernandez and a few others on an idea for a pop-up museum of Houston history and I was asked to join that effort. I was reluctant at first, wanting to help, but gee, I already had two new quite large websites calling for my attention. But I was hooked and am quite proud of this project. it has been very well received at a number of galas, banquets, at universities, and other settings, and new banners are added every year.
As time went on I realized I needed to make my history efforts more established and in November 2015 received IRS status for a 501c3 non-profit organization, and it is the umbrella for all of my websites and sub-sites. Hopefully this will allow me to apply for grants to help with the financial angle of this work.
Just to get the background stuff down on paper, I grew up and went to college (Youngstown State, degree in Chemical Engineering) in Ohio, and left as soon as I could. Looking back, I unfortunately went the wrong direction. As I hate "the cold" I should not have taken a job even further north, in Rochester, NY, but job offers were scarce then, and the job itself (at Kodak) was a good one. But I grew tired of the brutal winters and took a job in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1978. Once there I quickly came out of the closet, and got involved with a wonderful gay group, the Unitarian Universalist Gay Community. Okay, in those days the term "gay" was fine to cover everyone. That group did everything that needed done, gay-wise, in that area, and I got involved in most of their projects, including the hotline, and even to the extent of speaking at college human sexuality classes.
But I was most involved with the gay newspaper, called Our Own Community Press, and after helping with it for a year found myself accepting the Editor position. Gee, out of the closet for a year and then editor of a gay newspaper, didn't see that coming, a crash course. You know, in volunteer groups you often find yourself doing roles you would not ordinarily do, but as you believe in them getting done, well, you just do it. My work on Our Own turned out to be one of the chapters of my life of which I am the most proud.
That's me at the 1979 March on Washington, and I was fortunate that it occured during my run as Editor, as otherwise may not have taken all the photos of it (see March on Washington. The satisfaction garnered during that time has only been surpassed by the work done on QMH and my recent websites. I've told people I'm a "quiet activist" or a "gay music history activist." or just a worker-bee. Without waving banners or making speeches my gay agenda is getting our music and history culture out there, available to anyone on the net. And I even became comfortable talking on the radio, something I would have never predicted. Oh yeah, I moved to Houston in 1981, as I sort of outgrew Norfolk, just needed to live in a larger, and warmer city
On the more personal side, I had a lover, Jeff Pierce, who died of cancer in 2007. I was blessed to be together with him for 12 years. Now, I'm single (and available).
See more info in my Press Coverage section, Here
Above left, 1987, and at right, 1991 Photo
Above, from 2009, editing a show on my computer
Below, just a fun pic...taken outside of a record store
spoiled) little angel, Parker,
So, these are the highlights
and if you are brave enough