Lesbian Herstory Archives AudioVisual Collections

NYPAP Oral History Interview: Maxine Wolfe and Anne Maguire


Transcript of MAxine Wolfe and Anne Maquire  Oral History


NYPAP Oral History Interview: Maxine Wolfe and Anne Maguire


Oral History conducted by New York Preservation Archive Project in which Maxine Wolfe and Anne Maguire are interviewed. They discuss their early lives, background on their family histories, and the work as activists.

The talk about the environments they grew up in, Maxine in Brooklyn and Anne in Dublin, and their early interest in, and awareness of, politics. Anne talks about the political climate of Ireland that made her want to leave, eventually winning a green card in a lottery, and moving to New York City. Anne describes meeting Maxine at a Thanksgiving Dinner through a friend, Marie, who would eventually become her partner.

Maxine discusses her involvement in various LGBTQ and Radical organizations in NYC that lead her to ACT UP. Anne discusses being part of the founding group of ILGO, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, which started in 1990, and which she was part of for 10 years. She talks about ILGO's rejection from the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the publicity the group got from that.

They talk about the erasure of lesbian organizers and leadership within LGBTQ history which tends to focus on gay men, and how Lesbians had to advocate for themselves and form their own movements to be heard and to focus on Lesbian issues. They talk about Lesbian and women erasure during the AIDS crisis and how that lead them to for the Lesbian Avengers along with Ana Maria Simo, Anne-Christine D'askey, Marie Honan, and Sarah Schulman. They decided they wanted to focus on serious politics rather than cultural issues, and to not be a top-down organization. Anne and Maxine discuss the first meetings and actions of the Lesbian Avengers and talk about offering organizing help and support to other Lesbian groups around the country.

Maxine and Anne talk about the real depth of activism, and the dangerous legal and personal implications of direct actions. They discuss the importance of being part of a group and having a support structure when taking part in a direct action. Maxine talks about the learning and training and teaching that happens behind the scenes before any direct actions. They go into more detail about work they did as the Lesbian Avengers around the country, and the effect that their bottom-up structure had on small community movements.

They talk about the Alice Austen House and the fact that the Board was homophobic and hiding the queer part of that story, and work they did around protesting how the history was being handled. They discuss the importance of recovering queer histories from the 19th Century, and making gay history available to the public. Maxine talks about the role of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in preserving the history and lives of all lesbians for this reason. They talks about how visibility and survival are related for Lesbians, and the need for people to see themselves represented.

Maxine and Anne talk about seeing the fruits of their activist labor come to fruition after 25 years, and their thoughts about current acceptance of LGBTQ people as being partially related to capitalism and revenue. They discuss more recent LGBTQ history and archive projects and the celebrating of gay institutions that have survived over the past 50 years. However, through some of these projects, they are still experiencing Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender erasure and erasure of the history of every day people.


New York Preservation Archive Project

Date Created

November 5, 2017


Rights belong to the New York Preservation Archive Project, site Liz H. Strong & Anthony Belove To request a copy of this oral history, please contact info@nypap.org


New York Preservation Archive Project, “NYPAP Oral History Interview: Maxine Wolfe and Anne Maguire,” Lesbian Herstory Archives AudioVisual Collections, accessed June 23, 2024, http://herstories.prattinfoschool.nyc/omeka/items/show/1182.