The Memory Palace

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Episode 90:
A White Horse

Jun 16, 2016

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Music, Footnotes & Ephemera

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Notes and Reading:
* Most of the specific history of the White Horse was learned from “Sanctuary: the Inside Story of the Nation’s Second Oldest Gay Bar” by David Olson, reprinted in its entirety on the White Horse’s website.
* “Gayola: Police Professionalization and the Politics of San Francisco’s Gay Bars, 1950-1968,” by Christopher Agee.
* June Thomas’ series on the past, present, and future of the gay bar from Slate a few years back.
* Various articles written on the occasion of the White Horse’s 80th anniversary, including this one from SFGATE.Com
* Michael Bronski’s A Queer History of the United States.
* Radically Gay, a collection of Harry Hay’s writing.
* Incidentally, I watched this interview with Harry Hay from 1996 about gay life in SF in the 30’s multiple times because it’s amazing.

* We start with Water in Your Hands by Tommy Guerrero.
* Hit Anne Muller’s Walzer fur Robert a couple of times.
* Gaussian Curve does Talk to the Church.
* We get a loop of Updraught from Zoe Keating.
* We finish on Transient Life in Twilight by James Blackshaw

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45 Comments | Leave a Comment

45 Comments on A White Horse

  1. Jeff says:

    Stop. Making. Me. Feel.

    But seriously, never stop. And thank you for this timely piece that is at the same time poetic, tragic and beautiful. We are the makers of the future, and our actions and words today become how tomorrow remembers what we do with the past we were given. To stand up, to be ourselves; these are the freedoms given to us by our forefathers successes. I raise my glass to those who got us here, and lower my gaze to the storm caused by recent events; the actions of one lunatic must not be allowed to bring down the hopes of so many. Here’s to a future full of places and people who stand like the White Horse has stood and will continue to stand, forever.

  2. Erin says:

    Beautiful. Brought me to tears. Thank you.

  3. Dawn O'Creene says:

    Speechless. Such a beautiful episode/tribute.

  4. Dawn Ward says:

    Thank you for this.

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  6. James Griffith says:

    This podcast was a beautiful, sad, uplifting, perfect story. It captured so much of what I’ve been feeling, and about what a place can mean to people.

    Thank you for this.

  7. Elizabeth Merrill says:

    That was absolutely stunning. Thank you for so eloquently saying what we’ve all been feeling

  8. Chris Burbridge says:

    Oh, my God—Nate is the master of the low-key zinger at the end! What a beautiful beautiful piece.

  9. Doug says:

    Echoing the comments already posted – beautiful tribute.

  10. Liadh says:

    This is mt favourite 10 minutes of radio ever.

  11. Bethany says:

    I started listening to this and I was balling by the end. I have always loved this show but this week was special. The best part was the very end, when you said it would be open tomorrow. I am tearing up just thinking about it now…

  12. Phyllis Reese says:

    Thank you. What a lovely tribute.

  13. Liadh says:

    This might be my favourite 10 minutes of radio ever. Thank you for this.

  14. Brie says:

    Crying at work…This was so wonderful.

  15. Gwenn says:

    I have loved every episode of the memory palace but the unique way this story was told is so moving. Reinforces how sad that anybody has to go to a windowless building to be around like minded people. Where is the tolerance for all in this world

    Enthralled with the way Nate can tell a story in such a succinct manner

  16. Heather Charlton says:

    I have been a fan for such a long time, and this episode was the pinnacle for me. Thank you. It encapsulates all the struggle, the hiding, the fear. It captures the beauty, the freedom, the feeling of finally being safe, the power and glory of love. The feeling when that space is disrupted, again, and again, and again.

    I am so grateful. And I will share it with everyone I know.

  17. Kristin Winlsow says:

    For 30 years, I’ve had the privilege and struggle of advancing queer visibility. This episode lit up so many molecules in the palace of my own memories and like so many others, moved me to tears. Thank you Nick, for helping us powerfully experience our emotions in a time of darkness.

  18. Kristen says:

    Wow. I’ve still got tears in my eyes. Thank you.

  19. Jennifer says:

    This was just so, so beautiful. Thank you

  20. Louise says:

    Nate my good sir, you are made of good stuff. Thank you for being a man of such great character and knowing just the right way to bring this story to us while honoring the lives of all of those who will live on in our memories.

  21. Patrick Botts says:

    this is your best episode ever. Truly.

  22. Carol says:

    I just listened to this episode. Wow. Amazing. This is why I listen to your podcast. Thank you.

  23. Freya says:

    Hi Nate,

    I’ve been a fan of The Memory Palace for a long time. This is the most moving (and also the most beautifully written) episode I’ve ever heard. I’m in tears. Thank you for making it. <3

  24. Margen says:

    This was so lovely. Your episodes are always such a humanizing perspective on history. I never know where you’re going to end up, and I love that element of discovery. It was especially powerful this time as we walked along with these people through history straight into present day. These vignettes are treasures. Keep up the excellent work!

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  26. Anonymous says:

    This was beautiful and deeply moving. Thank you for telling our stories, for expressing the experience of finding yourself in a safe haven from the persecution, for expressing my thoughts after this tragedy better than I could hope to.

  27. jennifer baum says:

    thank you. that was just the sliver of understanding of the depth of grief and also the ray of hope that i needed.

  28. Alex says:

    Listened to it twice in a row. Beautiful!

  29. Carl Alexander says:

    I have despaired for my country a lot these past six months or so. And each time, one of America’s great storytellers – gifts we don’t deserve, every one – has rekindled hope. Thank you, Nate.

  30. Chuck says:

    That was beautiful. I listen to your show while commuting on my motorcycle and I had tears running down my cheeks under my helmet as I listened to this one. Well done.

  31. Jim says:

    I don’t really have any ties to the LGBTQ community nor did I know anyone involved in the Orlando shooting but wow, this podcast brought me to tears driving through the hills of West Virginia. Thank you. Absolutely beautiful.

  32. Lindsay says:

    Thank you for this–for the semblance of hope in a dark time.

    “It will be open tonight. It will be open tomorrow.”

  33. D says:

    I just have to echo all of the previous comments. This was beautiful. Thank you, and well done.

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  35. Shae Brennan says:

    This podcast is always thought provoking and beautiful, but this episode was particularly meaningful to me. Thank you.

  36. Melissa says:

    Beautiful. There are no words.

  37. Elysha says:

    Hi Nate,

    While I enjoy each of your episodes, I think you’ve created a bit of a masterpiece with this one. It’s beautiful. Thank you for putting in the time and effort and thank you for sharing with us.

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  39. Katie Page says:

    I did not think you could raise the bar any higher, but indeed you did. This episode moved me to tears but still left me with hope in my heart. Amazing work, Nate. Keep up the good work.

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  42. Sam Diener says:

    I am a huge fan of this podcast and, first, I want to echo the encomia others have posted about this episode. You beautifully evoked the emotional importance of a particular example of what Sara Evans calls “Free Spaces” (see for sustaining persecuted people, and then for building movements for radical social change.

    One historical quibble. Around the 9 minute mark, you mention the White Horse was open when “Massachusetts passed its marriage law.” But the MA legislature didn’t do so. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the law preventing same-sex couples from marrying violated the state Constitution in 2003 (see You might have been thinking of the attempts to overturn this ruling via state constitutional amendment, which failed in the state legislature in 2005 and again in 2007 (see

    By the way, your conclusion, “And it will be open tomorrow….” was so understated, so moving, so perfectly prepared, so quietly hopeful, it evoked in me simultaneous chills and tears.

  43. admin says:

    Thanks very much for the correction. I don’t think I’ll change the text, but I very much appreciate the fact check.


  44. Eve says:

    What a beautifully written episode, it brought me to tears. I am Englush and have not heard of The White Horse & it’s long history. A place full of brave people just living their lives, long may it continue.