Hoboken Talks: Randy Wicker, legendary gay rights activist, with Hassan Khan

Photograph by Ryan Wolowski

Longtime Hoboken resident and legendary gay rights activist Randy Wicker began working for gay rights as a student in Austin, Texas in the mid ’50’s. After graduating, he moved to New York City. In 1962, after hearing a broadcast on radio station WBAI where psychiatrists discussed the sickness of homosexuality, Randy demanded and was given equal air time. He also informed Newsweek, Variety and The New York Times of this upcoming program.

He and seven other gay men spoke about what it was like to be gay. The show was met with a range of responses, including a challenge to WBAI’s FCC license to broadcast. The FCC ruled the show an exercise in free speech, making homosexuality a legitimate topic for broadcasting. In 1964, Randy famously led the first public gay protest at the New York City U.S. Army Induction Center after the confidentiality of a gay man’s draft records was violated. These are merely two example of his numerous, legendary ground-breaking contributions to the movement over a 60+ year span of time.

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Wicker met pioneering transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson in 1973 when he was working as a reporter for the LGBT journal “The Advocate.” They became roommates around 1980 and were close until her untimely death in 1992, the details of which remain unresolved. Since 2009, he has been documenting and participating in the Radical Faerie communities in Tennessee and New York.

At hobokenmuseum.org on YouTube Thursday, June 2 at 7 p.m. the museum kicks off PRIDE month with Randy Wicker. Hassan Khan is the host for this live event. In an article in Vogue UK from 2021, Randy says: “From the beginning, I believed in publicity and discussion as a means to change attitudes.”