Oral History Interview with Don M. Crisostomo, 1952-

Description

Don Crisostomo is a native of Bethesda, MD, who came out in high school, was active in the Gay Student Alliance, Gay Men's VD Clinic, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, the Couples Support Group and ENLACE. He founded the Suburban Maryland Gay and Lesbian Alliance and worked to get non-discrimination ordinance passed in Montgomery County. He also led the GAPIN-DC, the Gay Asian Pacific Islander Network.

Abstract

Don Miguel Crisostomo was born in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1952. His parents are Filipino (father) and Russian Jewish (mother); he was raised Catholic and practices some Judaism and also Buddhism. In 1970, during his senior year in high school, he gave a speech on gay rights and came out to his class and wrote “Legalize Homosexuality” on the chalkboard. He briefly studied dentistry in the Philippines (to avoid the Vietnam War draft), and returned to DC in 1972 to attend the University of Maryland College Park. He became active in the Gay Student Alliance and coordinated to bring Frank Kameny and Craig Howell, the then-president of the Gay Activists Alliance, to speak at UMD. He joined their efforts and traveled to New York for the 1976 Gay Pride March. He volunteered at the Gay Men’s VD Clinic on Wisconsin Avenue where he met Leonard Matlovich, the ex-military activist and a fellow volunteer. He was also active in Bet Mishpachah, a group for gay Jews. In 1980 he began a relationship with Robert Coggin and helped form the Suburban Maryland Gay and Lesbian Alliance. They worked together to pass the 1984 Montgomery County ordinance to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexuality; they also assisted with other counties and statewide efforts. Both Crisostomo and Coggin became active in the Couples Support Group, a social and support network for gay men in committed relationships. Together they marched in the 1988 Gay Pride parade, and their photograph appeared on the front of the Washington Post’s Metro Section (June 22, 1988). He volunteered with the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. He then joined ENLACE and was recording secretary. After the November 1990 murder of Ana Maria Rosales, the Walk Without Fear annual marches took place; he spoke at the peace vigil about violence against Asians as both a representative of ENLACE and the Gay Asian Pacific Islander Network (GAPIN). In conjunction with the 1993 March on Washington, he organized the first national conference for Gay Asians to coincide with the march. He coordinated many groups from across the country to participate; it included a special forum for gay Asian women. GAPIN had a banner created for the march and Crisostomo inherited the banner when the previous leader left the group. They marched in the Stonewall 25 March in New York in 1994, and used the banner at other events. There was conflict with the Asians and Friends group surrounding the Asians-only focus of GAPIN and the non-exclusive nature of AF. In 1995 he relocated to San Francisco, where he was active in gay community affairs, especially AIDS activism and Asian support networks. In 2013 he moved to Albuquerque.

Access Rights

The interview belongs to the Rainbow History Project.
The RHP release form was used and all rights belong to RHP.

Relation

In 2023, Crisostomo donated the GAPIN banner to RHP. The banner was created for the 1993 March on Washington and was used in the 1994 Stonewall 25 March in New York City, and at subsequent Pride events in DC. The banner was in Crisostomo's possession since the 1993 March until its donation to RHP.

Photographs shown in interview (scans from originals held by Crisostomo):
The first photo is me at DC Pride 1994 with the GAPIN banner.
The next photo is me and friends from NYC at the Stonewall 25 March carrying the GAPIN banner.
The third photo is the Gay Asian Support Network (GAPSN) Los Angeles banner carried in the Stonewall 25 March.
The last photo is from the Rice Conference in NYC held during Stonewall 25, This national conference was sponsored by the Gay Asian Men of New York (GAPIMNY) group.

Interviewer

Vincent E. Slatt

Interviewee

Location

Via Zoom; Crisostomo in Albuquerque, NM; Slatt in Washington, DC.

Transcription

No, not yet transcribed.

Original Format

Yes, recording available, 01:29:00.
(audio .m4a, 83 MB; video .mp4, 1.1GB)

Files

Crisostomo, Don_ Pre-Interview Questions.pdf
Crisostomo, Blade, 1992 Aug 21.pdf
GAPIN 1994 DC Pride.jpeg
GAPIN 1994 NYC Stonewall 25 March.jpeg
GAPSN-LA in NYC Stonewall 25 March.jpeg
GAPIM-NY NYC Stonewall 25 Rice Conference.jpeg

Citation

“Oral History Interview with Don M. Crisostomo, 1952-,” Rainbow History Project Digital Collections, accessed May 30, 2024, https://archives.rainbowhistory.org/items/show/1736.

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