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Cal Noyce Describes Merging Union, Gay, and Lesbian Organizing

An officer of the Communications Workers of America Local 7704 in Salt Lake City and an out gay man, Cal Noyce began to raise issues of gay, lesbian, and bisexual equity within the union during the early 1990ís. By forming an organization of gay trade unionists in Utah, as well as the national gay, lesbian, and bisexual group Pride at Work, Noyce joined a larger push to link the gay rights movement to the labor movement. Noyce and his associates won the support of Utah AFL-CIO president Ed Mayne, who, like many, recognized the organization as important way for organized labor to reach out to gay and lesbian communities and bring gay men and lesbians into the labor movement as motivated activists.

Listen to Audio:

NOYCE: My second lover and I we split up in 1990 and I think partly my own thing may be to fill up time too, I started doing more within the local. I’ve always gone to the Minority Caucus meetings of CWA which take place a couple of days prior to our annual conventions. We helped several years ago get some things passed in convention to recognize an Equity Committee and also a Women’s Activities Committees. [I’m] very openly gay with the Minority Caucus and I think I’ve gained a position of respect within the Minority Caucus. It’s predominantly black in terms of racial mix, there’s only a few gay people that are involved in it. And I joined it but I was never able to actually attend a Minority Caucus meeting until 1990 at our convention. And Morty Bahr, the President of CWA, was speaking. And he was talking about how at the International level in Washington how they had hired so many more women in staff and that the percentages of women had gone up, and the percentages of racial minorities had gone up, and they were proud of the progress they were making. And they had done a survey within staff to find out these different things. So I got up and said, “Morty, this survey you mentioned, did it include sexual orientation?” I mean, nobody there even knew me, I didn’t know anybody there hardly. And he said, “Well, no it didn’t.” And I said, “Well, I think you need to do another survey then.” Applause. So I kind of put him on the spot a little bit I guess. Then I went up after that meeting and introduced myself to the chair of the Caucus his name is Rudy Francis, he’s still the chair. I told him I’d like to be more involved and wanted to see gay and lesbian issues addressed too.

I had been thinking about forming some sort of a group for gay and lesbian trade unionists in Salt Lake because the phone company traditionally [has] a lot of gay and lesbian people and so therefore a lot of gay and lesbian trade unionists. And a friend said did you read that article about the gay unionists that are going to the march. And I said, “No I didn’t.” So I got a hold of one and read this article and I didn’t know that here it talked about the Frisco group, and Pride at Work in New York and the Boston group. Jesus this is neat. I didn’t have any idea. Here I am trying to form a group and I had no idea that there were already groups in existence.

So anyway starting I guess around June 1993 I started being involved with what became Pride at Work, the organizing committee and getting the whole conference at Stonewall set up. In the meantime I did form the Utah Coalition of Gay, Lesbian, and Bi union activists and supporters, with Ed Mayne. We had our first meeting actually at one of the clubs in Salt Lake, a gay bar called Bricks. And so that was the beginning of it. We have had a table at Pride Day for the last two years, with labor materials. You know I go at it from the point of view that we’re missing out as trade unionists on 10 percent of possible membership here, simply because we don’t actively seek gay, lesbian, and bisexual trade unionists out to organize them.

Source: Interviewed by Miriam Frank 4/30/95
Courtesy of Miriam Frank