Partner Gary Chewing
94 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014
Marle Becker (April 8, 1943 - November 28, 2014) was the co-founder of Out-FM. Out-FM is a radio program serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in the NY/NJ/CT tristate region.
Marle grew up in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, a coal mining town. He graduated in 1961 from Mahanoy Area High School, and began a life that included working in Washington DC, and New York City. He was deeply attracted to the performing arts and at the young age of 14 became the Jill Corey fan club founder.
Marle joined WBAI in 1988 helping in the tally room. In an interview published in the book “Queer Airwaves” in 2001, Marle discussed how he got involved with WBAI. “My involvement really began 1988. That was the beginning for me. I spent every Sunday evening at the radio station, and even before I realized it, I was part of the collective. It was awfully difficult to get people to come onto the Gay show in 1988, even people who were out of the closet. You were really hard-pressed to get a guest, not because they didn’t like the program, but because things were so closeted back then. It was 11 to 12 years ago. If there was anything that AIDS did for our community it brought gays out of the closet.” Later the “Gay Show” merged with Gay and Lesbian Independent Broadcasters to form Out-FM.
In “Queer Airwaves” Marle described how he got involved in activism through the civil rights movement. “I guess I didn’t know it at the time, but as I was marching for civil rights I was also marching for myself. I wasn’t really quite sure of my sexual orientation back then. My involvement in the civil rights movement was a way for me to get out there and march. It was boot training for me. It was sort of my bootcamp so that when the gay rights movement really started to become apparent, I was really prepared to take part in it”
Marle saw radio as another way to contribute to the LGBT movement. He was deeply moved by some of the callers the show received. He described a call from a man in his 70’s, who listened to the show for years but only did so in bed with an ear piece under the covers so no one would hear that he was listening to a gay show.
Marle had a deep commitment to fighting AIDS that started with his involvement with the Gay show. Three of its members later died of AIDS. As he aged the issues of growing older as a gay man grew. Teen suicide was an on-going concern and he addressed it in coverage of the Trevor Project, Joe Bell’s suicide and Tyler Clementi’s tragic suicide among others.
Marle was also known for bringing on guests from Broadway and Off-Broadway shows as a way of attracting a larger audience for our core mission of LGBT liberation for all the communities that it is made of. He regularly secured free tickets for hit plays for the WBAI audience and in recent years got tickets for WBAI pledge drives. He felt it was extremely important to give airtime to musicians who were openly LGB or T. He was also an avid sports fan and followed gay athlete’s career development. Marle believed for the community to win freedom it needed to contest all public arenas, from music and the arts, to sports, and politics, to demonstrations in the streets.
Also in “Queer Airwaves”, he described some of the guests they brought on, “We’ve had a lot of politicians. Bella Abzug, one of the greatest women who I think I’ve ever met in my life. Bella played a tremendous part in my becoming an activist. I met her long before I went on the radio. I worked on every single campaign that Bella ever ran. “
In recent years Marle interviewed dozens of activists, artists, musicians and notables from the LGBT community. Among them were:
David Carter, author of Stonewall, the Riots that Sparked the
Rob Smith, author of "Closets, Combat, and Coming Out: Coming of Age as a Gay Man in the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Army ".
Sean Strub about his memoir "Body Counts" describing how he was driven to activism by the AIDS crisis, his own personal battle with the disease and "Poz Magazine" which he founded to bring timely critical information to people who are living with AIDS.
Gus Archilla and his partner Elmer Lokkins, who were together for 58 years before they were able to legally marry in Canada in 2003.
Film maker David France about his powerful new documentary on ACT UP, How to Survive a Plague
A short tribute to AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor who died in March of 2011.
Marle Becker engaged producer Daryl Roth and director George C. Wolfe in a conversation about their respective roles in bringing the revival of The Normal Heart to Broadway.
Marle worked for the federal government for several decades, and pursued a 2nd career as a professional dancer. While working for the federal government, he experienced anti-gay prejudice, but he was able to keep his job until he retired.
In addition to being a professional dancer he was Elaine Stritch’s friend, assistant and dresser. Stritch was an American actress and singer, best known for her work on Broadway.
Marle also was on the advisory boards of the Beaux Arts Society and Gay Performances Company, an adviser for the Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards, and wrote the forward for Will Grega's "Gay Music Guide". Marle appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand regularly. He was elected as a New York County Democratic committee man. Marle volunteered at Saint Peters Senior Center and worked the polls at elections.
The love of his life was Gary Chewing, who died on April 28, 1987.