30 Years Ago in PGN

30 Years Ago in PGN

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Kennedy comes out for gay rights

In an interview with PGN, then-presidential nominee Sen. Ted Kennedy made several pledges to advance LGBT rights if he made it to the White House.

Kennedy said he supported federal legislation to ban employment discrimination against gays and lesbians, would issue an executive order to ban antigay discrimination in the federal government and would revise discriminatory immigration laws.

“I would hope that the longstanding commitment that I have shown to eliminate discrimination against individuals on a whole range of different areas — race, color, creed, religion — would be a factor in [the LGBT community’s] understanding that my commitment in the area of sexual preference would be a continuation of that standing commitment and we would gain their help and support.”

Kennedy lost the 1980 election but went on to continue serving in the Senate until his death last year, at which time he was the lead sponsor of the federal LGBT hate-crimes bill.

Norristown man sentenced for antigay murder

Norristown resident Michael Frederick, 24, was sentenced to 10-20 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of third-degree murder in the October 1979 shooting death of Robert Matson, 42, an openly gay Conshohocken resident.

Frederick allowed Matson to perform oral sex on him after a night of drinking, but said he was “repulsed” by the encounter and left. Matson followed him and Frederick alleged that when he rejected him again, Matson attacked with a knife, prompting Frederick to fire the gun he kept in his car. The shot ricocheted off Matson’s arm and lodged in his heart.

“I honestly didn’t know he was shots,” Frederick testified during the trial. “The man fell away from the car, and I just went home. I just can’t understand why faggots keep bothering people.”

Assistant District Attorney Bernard McNulty said the jury found the defendant’s self-defense claim “far-fetched” and that he had pushed for first-degree murder charges.

“There was specific intent to kill,” he said. “It was premeditated, not a spur-of-the-moment decision.”

MontCo club alleges harassment

An after-hours lesbian club in Upper Provide Township in Montgomery County alleged it had been harassed for months with little action from local police.

Estelle Augustine, owner of the P.C. Club, said locals yelled death threats, vandalized cars and a group broke into the bar and broke furniture and bottles and attempted to set the club on fire. Throughout the incidents — which had been ongoing since the club’s 1978 opening — only one person was arrested and later released on $200 bail.

Upper Providence Sgt. Don Sherid claimed that Augustine and her father were “aggravating” police and noted that the club taking the story to the press may lead to more harassment.

“They’ve drawn more attention to the bar; now everyone knows it’s gay.”

— Jen Colletta

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