|TOPMAN ¶ Online Writings by and about John Preston|
I knew John Preston when I first moved to Minneapolis in 1973. At the time he was divesting himself of two organizations that he founded. (I don't recall why. I think he was just moving on to other things, perhaps thinking about leaving the area.)
Gay Community Services was one of them, which he began as more of a consulting/training organization on gay and lesbian mental health issues. He handed over the name Gay Community Services to Jim Frost, the director of Gay House, in December of 1972. Jim organized a group of peer counselors (lesbian and gay) to begin a peer counseling service for lesbians and gay men who were coming out. GCS first used space at Walk-In Counseling Center and then moved into their own spaces, offered free of charge by Abbot Northwestern Hospital, near the corner of 18th and Nicollet. I joined GCS as a peer counselor in 1973 after I moved to Minneapolis (and lived with Jim Frost, who was my lover at the time).
The other organization that John Preston founded was the Minnesota Council for the Church and the Homophile. It was modeled after a similar organization in San Francisco, the Council for the Church and the Homophile, out of Glide Memorial Methodist Church (1960s). I met John at a gay liberation conference in Madison, Wisconsin, in November of 1971. I had just graduated from Chicago Theological Seminary in June of 1973. John knew I was moving to Minneapolis and asked me if I wanted to take over the Minnesota Council for the Church and the Homophile.
I said yes, made some contacts with some liberal clergy, mostly from the United Church of Christ. But I learned quickly that there was no money to support me in such a venture. So I abandoned the project and did not offer it to anyone else. I did, however, begin a religious discussion group for gay men, with Ron Mattson, a former secretary of ministry for the Minneapolis Friends Meeting. The men who joined the group in the winter of 1973-74 went on to begin Dignity Twin Cities [a group for gay Catholics] and All God's Children Metropolitan Community Church [a Protestant gay church].
John Yoakam is Chair of the Social Work Department at the College of St. Benedict / St. John's University, St. Joseph, Minnesota.
Topman's Timeline: A Documentary Biography of John Preston
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