UNC Greensboro LGBT History Panel Discussion 2017-04-20

UNC Greensboro LGBT History Panel Discussion 2017-04-20


Hey, I’m Scott Hinshaw, and I work in university archives
here at UNCG I want to thank everybody for for being here,
especially our panelists, and I want to just tell you very briefly about the oral
history project we’re doing for the 125th anniversary of the university.
We’re expanding upon the UNCG institutional memory collection and as
part of the of the 125th celebration we’re trying to get a lot of oral histories
done, and we’re trying to focus on groups that are underrepresented in the
community that haven’t been talked to before. Obviously, we trying to still talk to
professor’s and administrators and women’s college alums. We’re going to
talk to them too, but we’re trying to get people that we haven’t talked to
before, so one of those groups is LGBTQ folks. We’re talking to groups
like military and veteran students. We’re talking to international students, so if
you fall in any of those groups (some people fall into many of those groups), and
you want to talk to to us, if you want to do an oral history with us, you can get
touch with me, and I have some cards with me here. You can also find me on the UNCG website just
google UNCG special collection and university archives and you can find us.
Now, I want to turn it over to Stacey, next. Hello everyone. On behalf of the UNCG
libraries, especially the Martha Blakeney Hodge of Special Collections and
University Archives, and University Libraries diversity committee, I want to
thank you all for being here to listen to this panel. My name is Stacey Krim, and
I also work in Special Collections and University Archives, and UNCG
libraries has been collaborating this month for UNCG Pride Month with our
colleagues in the Office of Intercultural engagement, Elliot Kimball
and Kate Rawson, who have had a jam-packed month in honor and
celebration of our LGBTQ students here and I like to give them a hand. As Scott
mentioned, we are enhancing our oral history projects with our LGBTQ students,
faculty, and staff, and we’re also looking to increase in other areas of our
collection, so this is a public service announcement that if you have any
textiles or artifacts relating to the LGBTQ history of this campus, we are very
interested in growing our collection, and you can get in contact with me or you
can find us online if you have anything, whether they are wristbands, pins, dresses
from drag shows, material from coming out ceremonies; anything you can think of
that is directly related to the history, please let us know. Before we begin the
panel, and I introduce our speakers, I’d like to remind you to turn your phones
to silent. Okay, our speakers today starting on my side to the other end.
Our first speaker is Dane Hansen who is from Lincolnton, NC, and Dane started at UNCG in fall of 2014.
Dane’s major is computer science with a minor in American Sign Language, and
mathematics information systems management. Dane works as a tutor of
American Sign Language for the tutoring and academic skills program and special
support services and also works as a Resident Advisor for Guilford and Mary
Foust Hall. Kathy Williams was an undergraduate student at UNCG from 1970
to 1974. During her first two years at UNCG, she was in the first
class of what is now the Ashby residential college. She graduated in
1974 with a degree in teaching physical education. Kathy returned to UNCG as a
faculty member in what is now the department of kinesiology. In 1988 she
rose through the faculty ranks to full professor. Between 1998 and 2007
Kathy served as department head in several departments including dance and
exercise and sports science, now known as kinesiology and as director of the
graduate program in gerontology. Since 2007, she has been an associate dean in
what is now the School of Health and Human Sciences. Jim Carmichael came to
UNCG is a lecturer in the Department of Library and Information studies in 1988,
and was hired tenure-tract in 1989, tenured in 1995, and became full
professor in 2000. Jim began phased retirement in fall of 2016 and will
retire fully in fall of 2019. In terms of his research and community
work, as he puts it, “I’ve meddled in everything.” His areas of academic
interest include library history and gender and race studies. Jay Poole
arrived in UNCG as a junior at 1982. He graduated in 1984 with a BA in
Psychology, returning in 1997, and graduating in 1999 with a Masters in
Social Work. Jay returned as an adjunct instructor instructor in 2003. He moved
into a visiting assistant professor role in 2004 and began a tenure-track
position as assistant professor professor in 2009, becoming associate
professor in 2014. His research interests include gender and sexual identity,
clinical social work practice, and gerontology in social work practice.
Zachary Johnson was an undergraduate student from fall 2012 to spring 2016
and is now a graduate student with plans to graduate in spring of 2018. His
undergraduate majors were political science and women and gender studies, and
Zachary is currently in the women and gender studies MA program.
He has worked on campus at UNCG’s Spartan call center and the Women and Gender Studies
Program office. So, to begin our panel, you may suspect to this question. Why did you
choose to attend or seek employment at UNCG? Well when I first started thinking about
universities I, so I wanted to go to UNC Charlotte because it was the one that was
closest to my house, the one easiest to go home to see my parents, but I applied to UNC Charlotte,
UNC Asheville, and UNC Greensboro. UNC Greensboro chose me. UNC Asheville and UNC Charlotte didn’t. So when I got here, I did the tour, and I didn’t like it,
but then, when I came back, for SOAR, like the campus had bloomed. It was winter when I came here, and it
was cold and there was nobody here. When I came here for the summer, for SOAR, I
just fell in love with the campus and, though I was like oh I’ll come here for a semester and leave, I found my home, and this is where this is
where I belong. Here. My experience was really different. It
was the 70s. it was the end of the Vietnam War. My parents wanted me to go
someplace where I would be safe. I applied to a half-a-dozen liberal arts
schools in the Northeast, and they said, “not so much. Go to that little girls’ school
down there in the south where your PE teachers had graduated.” But, again I
mean, it it wasn’t that safe girls’ school, and you know, I didn’t know of the civil
rights background of UNCG when I first came here. If there was a gay community, although I didn’t know quite what that meant at the time, yet. Yeah it was home, and to answer
the second part of that question about seeking employment it was still home. You
know, I had gone off on to graduate school, gone to a couple of other
institutions to work and had the opportunity to come back and thought
that would be awesome and that was almost 30 years ago. So we started the same year. I think for me, it was – I had a job offer from LSU in my briefcase. I was
a doctoral student at Chapel Hill, and so I followed Marilyn Miller over here from
Chapel Hill. She became my department chair in 1988. I taught part-time here and
part-time in Chapel Hill. I drove eight hours a week, and back and forth, for you know
like a half salary, and then you know, at the end of that time with this offer
from LSU in my pocket I got an offer from UNCG. And, I had just moved mother’s house between, she died in 86, I
moved her belongings between three households in North Carolina, Connecticut,
and Texas. And, so after that, I did not want to move anywhere. I had done my moving. Also, my friends were all here, and I just didn’t want to lose any more friends. Remember, this was’ 88, and we were dropping like flies. The practical reason was this is where the
manuscripts were, in Chapel Hill, because I was doing southern female
librarians as my research topic, and I wouldn’t find many, well LSU was
not really southern its southwestern, which is a little bit different, and it’s
totally different culture, so I was interested in what UNCG and UNC Chapel Hill had to offer. Well thirty-six years ago, I had just
finished at Davidson County Community College, and I went there by accident. I
never intended to go to college; that was not in my plan at all. I was going to go
to work in the furniture factory where my father worked, and be a good
southern working class white boy. And it turns out, that didn’t quite happen. I
never have taken the SAT to this day, so I have no idea what that’s like. It was
all by accident. So UNCG was kind of that way for me too. It was by accident, but I
knew about UNCG because in high school, which would have been about 1979ish, I
used to come over here with a couple of my friends and park in the parking lot
which is right near the financial aid it was the financial aid
building, the old financial building. They’ve moved now so, but where financial
aid was, for the last several years that was a gay bar that was called Davies gay
bar, and so for us to be able to see real gay people, we would come and park in the
parking lot and slouch down in the seats, and watch people go in and out of
financial aid building. So I knew about UNCG, and I also had heard that
UNCG is where the girls are girls and the guys are too. In 1982, I came over here
and moved into my dorm at Phillip Hawkins, and my roommate who I did not
know, he was from Maryland. His name is Jay too. We’re still very good friends am
his daughter’s godfather, or mother, whichever way you want to go. He said he
met me that first day; he called his girlfriend and said, “Cindy my roommate’s
a queer.” So I didn’t know that until many years later, that he had already
read me just like that, cuz I thought I was very much in the closet at the time.
But that would change. I came to UNCG in fall of 2012. And the
way that I made my decision to come to UNCG was the only really appropriate way
to decide which college to go to, and that’s my best friend went here – my best
high school friend went here, and I didn’t want to be separated from her, so I had
just already decided that I wanted to go to UNCG pretty early on. I didn’t
apply to any other colleges, and when I got in, I didn’t feel like paying $75 to
pay to apply to a bunch other colleges so I just, I just settled with UNCG.
But, I later found out that it was UNC Gay, and that sounded pretty good to
me. And, so I came here and wound up loving it. I decided to pursue my master’s
degree here as well, because I love the staff here so much, and I didn’t feel
ready to, like, go off to a ph.d program and be away from my UNCG family. So, I
thought staying local for a little while longer would be best for me. Moderator: What was the campus climate like when you arrived and were you “out” when you arrived? I was out when I arrived on campus. It was well, I joined the UNCG PRIDE Club when I got
here, and wound up meeting a lot of great people through that. So there was some
presence on campus, and I felt like there was some amount of recognition. But, there was also kind of like apprehension, as well. I remember when I was at SOAR
getting oriented and everything here, that our tour guide informed us that if
we weren’t comfortable with like, guys kissing guys and girls kissing girls,
that we probably should choose another school because it was, quote in
her words, “that kind of university.” Whatever “that” means. So yeah, so I thought there was recognition that these things, the gay
things, were happening on campus. But I think there was some ambivalence about the value of that. So yeah, that was that
was an interesting, and me being out at the time, and I was like well, I guess she
means me, I guess who she’s talking about, or whatever. So yeah. Let’s see, in 1982 there was a presence on campus. I know from some of the history that the
PRIDE organization started in about 1978, best we can tell, and we think it might
be the oldest one on a college campus – a public college campus in the United
States. We’re not quite sure about that. So there was some presence. But, it was very much underground. I was out, so to speak, but that meant
that I knew the places to go hang out, which were clandestine. One of those
places was the basement of this library. So, there was a sense that there was a
presence here on campus but it was very hidden, which was part of the intrigue
by the way, was that hidden lifestyle. There was something cool about being
underground, literally, sometimes. Out – what’s that? I mean I just don’t, I guess everybody knew but me. I had articulated being gay by the time I got here in 1988, which I guess is the part of the awakening… and continue to articulate all the time. Our department’s kind of strange. See we only had two straight faculty members out of 7 , so library science is a little bit different. And I guess, you know, somehow
the brain migrates upward as you get older, farther away from adolescence. It’s sort
of not as important, maybe. However, we used to have a dining hall,
where you got served. I can’t even place it right now. I guess it’s where we
ever of teas. And, it was called the Dogwood Room, which we always called the dog
food room. And a lovely place, and the first day I went down there was with Bea Kovacs. I always dressed up, and
I guess this guy at the next table didn’t like it. He got kind of vocal about it. And, Bea looked over at me and said Jim, Don’t even pay him any attention. We’ll take care of him,” and with friends like that. I should have said when I ran into you today, I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen you
without an ascot. When I got here in 1970, I wasn’t gay. I think everyone, like you
said Jim, everyone else knew I was but I didn’t. I had dated guys when I was
in high school and thought this is just weird, why am I doing this? But you know, I was raised in a devoutly Catholic
household, and you were supposed to get married and have babies and I kept
thinking “oh crap, WHY?” So you know, I arrived at the UNCG
campus, and I think my first realization of what gay meant other than happy was,
Gaylor help me here, there were two women in our dorm who I think got caught
in bed together, and it was scandalous. Do you remember that. Oh, maybe I just heard
our first our freshman year I think. I don’t know. I just remember two women got caught, and it was just a huge scandal. But anyway, one thing led to another. I guess I had a straight
roommate. We’ll walk down memory later. I had a straight roommate, who I didn’t
know about the bar, that Jay and I had this conversation last week. I didn’t
know about that particular bar. Maybe in 1970, it didn’t exist, but there was a gay
bar up on, in one of the little strip malls up there on Battleground where
Wendover and Westover where called The Renaissance, and my straight roommate said, “let’s go and dance.” And I went there
once, and you couldn’t get me out of the place. I still graduated. I grew up in a small town Lincolnton, North Carolina. You have to kind of, when you say
Lincolnton, you have to say Hickory, and people are like, “Oh Hickory.” So you have to reference a small town to get to another small town. I grew
up in West Lincoln. We are the home of the rebels, still in this day and age,
2017 they’re still the rebels. So I grew up thinking that being gay was wrong, and
though my family didn’t teach that, the church taught that, and so did all of the
people that I hung out with. I came out in tenth grade, which was really hard, but
as soon as I got here, I was, I was more worried about what my roommate thought
of me than what the rest of the campus was. And, he told me later (we’re still
best like we’re best friends still) but um he told me later that when I told him
I was gay he was like, “yeah — no… no” and literally, that first week that we were
here, we were up to four o’clock every every night just talking about like what
it meant to be gay because he had never had any experience with any gay person
in his life, so he was just really apprehensive at first. Now, we hang out. Moderator: So what was your perspective of the ethnic and gender makeup of of the LGBTQ population on campus when you arrived? Not a clue. It was pretty lilly white, I tell you. Slightly not white, but I wouldn’t say it was anywhere near as diverse as it was today. I love how quickly the mic came down. My perspective is that it was definitely diverse. I
think still, at least in the social groups I was running in, there were
still most leadership in the community was usually white individuals – usually
white gay men. That’s changed, though, over the course of the four years I was
here. Though, especially in my in my later years, most of my gay friends, most of my interactions with the gay community happened through UNCG PRIDE and later the Queer Student Union, and leadership changed in the demographic
makeup of the club kind of changed. I don’t know if that’s representative
for the entire community here at UNCG, but I know in the circles I was in, that
issues of race and gender definitely got forefronted a little more than they
had been when I first arrived here for sure. Moderator: When you arrived on campus, how did you meet other LGBT+ people? Where you part of an LGBT+ student or faculty/staff organization? At what physical locations did you meet people, and how did you learn these were “safe” places? I think I mentioned twice now that I joined the PRIDE. That was like my first thing. That was the thing I was most excited
about, joining a gay club, a gay interest group anyway, then doing college stuff like going to class and stuff. I was more excited about
that, and as I met Sarah who is here with us today, who was a really big part of my
freshman experience here on campus, and it was amazing. This is the
first time I got to meet other gay and lesbian people and the first time I got
to have other gay friends. It was amazing. I got to be on the Executive
Board eventually of that Club and was able to influence, like, events and
decision-making that was happening there. That was early on in my career. I
kind of stopped doing that as much after my sophomore year just because my
academic stuff is here, and I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with the
rest of my life. But my senior year I really became involved in the Women’s
Gender Studies program. And, I think I’ve met so many great gay, lesbian, trans
people doing really great work and really great projects, and in the Women’s
of Gender Studies program. And, the staff and faculty, they are so so open to gay,
lesbian, trans, queer work being done on campus and willing to support that work
intellectually. So, definitely the later part of my academic career and where I
am at in my academic career now, the Women’s and Gender Studies program has given me so
much support. And, that’s where I’ve found that meeting a lot of people doing similar work to what I’m doing, as well. As far as physical spaces, I
remember private clubs even just to be held in Graham, like in a classroom, so we were kind of stuck on the corner of campus in the dark a lot of
times. But, we would have events in the EUC. we have events. I think
if I remember the first Club meeting I ever went to was an interest meeting
that was close to the volleyball field. Back towards that corner of campus like where the volleyball field is and stuff, so still
very much like literally on the marsh ends of the campus sometime, but we did
stuff that was more out in public. There was a big controversy about
Chick-fil-a my freshman year. It was after the CEO of Chick-fil-a made those terrible
comments, and I remember we went to the SGA meeting, and our president actually
wore the PRIDE flag, wore it like a cape, and we came into the meeting. People were upset about it, but we we cause trouble all the time. So the early 1980s, we were just pre-AIDS epidemic. So, we were wild and crazy. If you younger folks
think you’ve done wildly crazy things, you didn’t live pre-AIDS. So, that’s all
I’m gonna say about that. That was happening on this campus; I can tell you
that. It was very much clandestine. There were a few spots, I think, that
people tended to congregate. Those were all secretive, and I’m only going to
tell you the one, the library bathroom downstairs right here. That’s the only place
I’ll reveal at this point, but I can tell you that life was very much in that
double identity place. I had a girlfriend here. She expected to marry me, bless her
heart. That I had her here the few years, that I was here as an undergraduate my
roommate was very confused about that. We never talked about my other identities.
Now granted, on the weekends I was over at what was then WHAM. It later became
Warehouse 29, and now doesn’t exist anymore, or at the Palm’s which was
another gay bar downtown. And, she always wondered where I went on the weekends.
So, there I was, leading that double life That was so common in the early 80s, and
I’m not sure that we’ve appreciated what that was like at this
date. We’ve kind of forgotten about that
double lifestyle, although I know some people still live that. But, campus was not open
per se. I will say that. We, a few of us, would kind of sneak over to the EUC when
the PRIDE group was meeting, but we never went to it because that would have
really been a major target, but you could sneak around and kind of see who was around.
Yeah so, that was my experience back in those days. There was another place called General Greene downtown, which predates all of these. The only reason I
know about it just because Charlie Cuts who used to own Arbor House, which no
longer exists, it’s a lamp shade type place, told me about it. So you know, I’ve yet to be in a university campus where people
did not plan assignation or have assignations at the university library. I
mean that’s the universal, but maybe maybe international, who knows. That
would be worth a study. But so, when I got here, we tried to form a faculty
club, my gay friends. I didn’t worry too much about it. I was in a department that
was very accepting, and although Marilyn Miller said that an ALA president was
not going to introduce same-sex dancing at the inaugural ball under her watch,
you know we were pretty, pretty loosey-goosey. I think the thing that sticks in my mind about those years, is the time we tried to form the
Faculty Club. We met at St. Mary’s House. We had covered-dish dinners, of course,
and we met about three times. And, my impression was that gay men were more
open than lesbians, and I think that’s understandable. that was true in my department. That was true everywhere. And because there was a precedent for it.
Although Barbra Gettings, among other activists, had already been to this
campus in the late seventies. And, so I mean, it wasn’t totally new stuff. It was
just people forget very quickly. But, my friends I met in 12-step programs that
were LGBT oriented, and I qualified, I think for all of them. So that’s where my gay friends were, and LGBT friends. And, I will also say that I was married three and a half years, and it’s way over rated, and I lived to tell the tale. You have to remember that when I got to UNCG, UNCG was only about five years post WC [Women’s College]. And, I was a PE major, so we were on the
edge of campus, and there were very few men. I don’t know if there were very
few men on campus period, but there certainly, I think there was one guy in
my PE cohort. So, we just didn’t see ya’ll. I guess I didn’t get to that basement
bathroom. There were no organizations, at least none that I was aware of, on campus.
You know, we met in dorms; we met in the Renaissance, which was the bar
that that I mention little bit ago. It was all very informal and
kind of like, “well your in PE, of course your gay.” You know, we didn’t, we were pretty open,
but and so, we didn’t really have to do the two life thing except when you went
home. You know my mom always wanted to know who I was dating, and like, whatever mom. But you know, really was, I think one of the question Stacey’s gonna
ask us later sort of you know about discrimination and safety
and stuff. This was really the place that we felt safe, and I think through most of
my life, and that’s why I came back here most of my life. I felt safer on a
college campus, I think, than almost anywhere out there in the world. It’s
just something about me. Well. when I came to UNCG, I learned about QSU at SOAR. They had a table with SSS and a bunch of other organizations that I talked to. Since I
was, I fell in love when I first got here at SOAR, so I just wanted to get involved
right there. I did wait until fall, but when I got to
campus I tried to go to the Wednesday’s meeting. I don’t know what
they’re called, but when I first got here in 2014, and I went. I tried to
go to three of those meetings, but each of those meetings felt a little bit like
I was not a part of the friend group. I was not part of the conversation
Now our friend here, she would sit and talk to me. I tried three times to come
but I couldn’t connect with the people that were there. We
weren’t the right personalities for each other. So, I saw other places to, to define my people. I was in the living learning community for computer science that lasted three
months at the beginning of my semester here. Three of the people that were in
that living learning community with me were able to be there too.
So we all kind of just hung out together, and we still kind of have our
little group that goes around, and “what class did you take last semester,
like what teacher do you like?” So, having that group of friends when you try to branch out a little bit, and now Confetti, learning about meeting a bunch
of people in a space where it’s not… so like… I don’t know everybody just
talks. It so laid back. Moderator: Just some clarification of the abbreviations WC stands Women’s College. UNCG was a college for women until 1963 when we became co-educational, and became The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. QSU stands for Queer Student Union. And for our next question.
Did you witness or experience any discrimination on campus you are
comfortable describing in this forum? Is this related just to LGBT? Yes, so yeah I
have not. You know I mean like, I said, I always felt much safer here than out there in the world. Because I was involved in committees and
governance from almost the first minute I got here, I was involved. Involved in a case that three library employees, and by the way, l want to back up and say, that if it hadn’t been for
organizations, if it haven’t been for Lillian Adcock. She ran the gay organization on this campus before we had PRIDE office, before we
any of that, and she did an incredible job and most everything that happened
during those years on campus for students was because of Lillian, and she
was so out – really had to have a strong stomach. And, she was good, and she
still lives in Greensboro. And, now back back to the the real topic. Two female, and
it may have been three employees, at the library were name-called. One got their
car spattered with paint and stuff, and I served as the human welfare
committee at this place, like 1995-96. And, because of that, I was on
that, Iwas on that committee. Novum Mason, head of interior design, who’s now deceased, and
Charles Tisdale, who was the chair of the Faculty Senate, asked me to speak up,
because there was a debate going around about inclusions on our webpage. And so, I
was asked to give a “queen for the day” statement, you know, to the Faculty Senate
because there was somebody in the philosophy department who was upset
about the meaning of the word “lead” or something. And so, I got up and gave my little statement. But, the incident that that brought it up made me aware of how many incidents we would never know about as professors because less students,
unless you’re deeply involved with the governance of the university, you really
don’t get to hear whats going on or dirt coming out. And, I am very glad it did happen because of that we became the university we are today. As Jim was talking, I don’t remember the
incident with the library folk,s but I do remember the the discussion and though
the discussion of a particular faculty member who was in opposition to
including an inclusion statement. And, I’ve always stayed away from the Faculty
Senate like the plague, though I did go that day, and that probably is the one
instance where I sat there and thought, “really, what do you care about us! We’re just living our lives. Leave us alone.” And, I was very heartened when it passed. I don’t know, well, I didn’t have an experience of being discriminated against particularly here,
but I was very guarded with that also. So, my Hall was all guys, and I recognized it
was important for me to be one of the guys, thus the girlfriend. So you know, I
went through that dance, but I do want to mention Kenneth at this point. Stacey
just wrote a excellent remembrance of Kenneth’s suicide, and I knew Kenneth to
some extent, not well but I knew who he was. And I knew that he had been bullied and I remember that, and I remember the
reputation of reading the article reminded me of that reputation of Strong
Dormitory that that was really a difficult place. And, the night that Kenneth died, I
and a few of my friends were driving in literally down the road where the
library tower is and all the fire trucks were around. I remember that we were
coming back from the gay bar, by the way, and when we heard what happened it was
terrifying. It was terrifying. That really has
stuck with me all these years, to think about what happened, and there was some
talk, you know, in the underground world, though was this an accident, was… did
something really happen differently than a suicide, you know? And, you know how
things go like that. There was some fear around that, obviously, so I do
feel like the campus has been, for me always been a welcoming place in many ways and
a kind of safe place and certainly today I feel that way, but I don’t feel we
can wash that over either. I know there have been times on this campus
where there’s been a lot of tension, and still is I’m sure. Yeah, I definitely agree. Even being here in more recent years, I personally feel very fortunate
to have not faced much explicit discrimination in any kind of form. Most
of the not so explicit stuff is just passive-aggressive stuff from straight
roommate guys that didn’t like me very much. But, I was lucky and my later years
to be able to room with other LGBT people and have more peaceful
living situations for the most part. As far as other discrimination I experienced, I do I do still think it’s important to recognize that a lot of LGBT
people do still experience discrimination on this campus even
though it is, I think, one of the more welcoming campuses I’ve been on, and that my experience has been really well… I had a roommate that pretty frequently
experienced a lot of verbal harassment both from like roommates, people on the
street, like getting slurs yelled at him on the street, Like, that stuff still happens.
And even today, in coming up to my fifth year here, transphobia is
still a very big problem on this campus, both from just the campus community in
general, still from faculty and staff. And, I would say even in some spaces that are
supposed to be LGBT positive. There’s still a lot of problems with transphobia –
people not respecting personal pronouns and people not willing to engage or broaden their minds about what gender can be or what forms gender
can take. And, I’m like there’s still pockets of resistance on campus.
And, there’s still really great pockets on campus where that’s not the case and people who are transgender have the kind of respective support they
need. But, unfortunately, I don’t think that’s as widespread as I’d like it to
be. Moderator: Did you witness or have you experienced any positive interaction that surprised you as a member of the LGBT+ community? I was surprised that I found other gay
people, because for a long time coming up in my school, I didn’t think it was ever
going to happen. So, I was just happy to have those really great positive
interactions really early on in my my college career. Later on, when I really
got into Women’s and Gender Studies, I found that there were just so many great
people there and that there was really great, really radical work going on in
that program. And, I’m so grateful that I decided to focus on that instead of
political science. Poli-sci was great; we have a great poli-sci
department here, but they didn’t, it wasn’t quite the same level of support
that I’ve gotten from from Women’s and Gender Studies. And, my mentors there, I
feel like I’ve learned so much in that program, and I’ve met so many great
people. It really completely changed the way that I looked at the world, and I
think that’s the most positive experience I could possibly have here at
UNCG – getting my whole mind and world changed
from an academic program. So but, definitely those early experiences to
with the PRIDE club were very helpful, as well Absolutely positive, even in the early
days I felt like while we were underground we still had some
connections here. The friends that I made at UNCG later on when I was back from a
master’s degree in the late 90s, the campus environment was much more open, much more visible. I was certainly very visible. I wasn’t
hiding. There was no double life Jay is gay, and that’s the way it is. So
that felt very good. And then, later on, back as a faculty member and a
doctoral student, very very open, very supportive. The research interest I have
has been supported. I’ve got rainbows all over the place, you know. I have no qualms
about the visibility, and I think that’s supported on this campus, even in
administrative circles it’s very very supportive. I think the community still struggles a little bit, and I think that’s probably
why we don’t have a GLBT center on this campus. I think we’ve got some community
tension out there that probably will continue to evolve, but remarkably
supportive, and to me, that just keeps growing through the years on this campus. So, I was thinking the first thing that
came to my mind was John D’Emilio, and getting to know him, which it actually
wasn’t, I didn’t know him that well until the very end of his time here on campus.
And, it’s been since he’s left and gone to Chicago that I really have
interacted with him and shared research and all that stuff. So, I guess
for me, though the real positive interaction was that opportunity to
speak for faculty senate, which was just… nobody laughed at me, or you know, said
haha. And, you know it was fine. And, I think the second way that I have gotten affirmation is having an article on a certain national survey on attitudes of male
librarians towards stereotypes. After that accepted as a journal and having
attained ten minutes of fame in library journal, you know, I found out that 86%
of librarians think that there is a gay male stereotype. So, after 10 minutes
everybody like flap flap flap and then it is all over, but it was you know, that
really felt good because you know these were questions that could occur to me
every day all of my life And, it’s sort of like no one even bothered to ask. This was when I became aware that there is something about methodological snobbery within the Academy. And, you
know, everything used to be quantitative, and narrative research didn’t really get
a hold in universities. So after I got my degree, and after I was here, I had this thing about going around and asking people well isn’t
some information better than no information? But, you know, I was
stonewalled at Chapel Hill, so this felt really good. I can share a couple of examples. I mean for the most part, as I said, I’ve always felt welcomed and more people knew that I was
gay way before I did. But when I came back, just a very quick story, when I
came back, I went to a faculty party maybe my first or second faculty party,
and I went and my partner, my then partner, didn’t accompany me. And, I walked up to my department chair’s door and you know, knocked on the door, and he came and
answered. Before he said hello, he said where’s your partner? Really, am I
chopped liver? You know, with that, I think illustrated very nicely how
welcoming my department was. And, the second very quick thing I would share is
that when my spouse and I got married last summer, my Dean came to our wedding which was so cool (and cried). I was like oh there are gay people gonna be at this campus. I’m going to be able to meet people. I got here, I was like where are they? I
literally was like where are they? And now, I feel from when I got in here 2014 to now 2017, it’s a little bit more open than it was before. We do have a
PRIDE parade coming up, which is gonna be a lot of fun. But the vocalness, like, words I can’t do words, um but I have met more people in the last
two years than I met my first year here, and as the community still grows because
we keep adding more and more students it’s just a broadening community. Moderator: Did you have a mentor and/or serve as a mentor for any LGBT+ students, staff, or faculty? No. Yeah, Of course, I had so many… but talked about that but I knew that some of the people who advised me etcetera were, unofficually. But anyway, I certainly have had students. I’ve been very very lucky. I have a student
assistant now, who I just absolute, Chase is the best, And, several opportunities. And
also Stacey. I mean Stacey, she told me years ago, okay she said while we were having tea with the tea group outside, she said,
“in my next life I want to be a gay man” and, oh honey, you don’t really. Your just fine the way you are. Most gay men would rather be you. But it’s really been so exciting, and also we work with the Women and Gender Studies program that’s
just phenomenal. I am a very lucky person. Early days, that wasn’t discussed, but my
music teacher, I was in the symphonic chorus, in Bill Carol’s very first
year here, I was in show choir with Bill, and of course, they were mentors to me
here, and beyond still in friends with David Pegg who was symphonic chorus
conductors – still sing with David some today. As far as me being a mentor,
certainly I offer myself for that. I’ve worked some on the periphery with PRIDE
and now Queer Student Union. I feel like my activism, and Jim Shears says
this in a lot of his writing you know, there’s different kinds of activism and
some of it is out in the streets with signs and rainbow flags and all that. That’s awesome. My activism is mostly getting to know me. I let you get to know
me, and then I spring it on you, and then it’s hard for you to hate me sometimes. So, I’ve
done that with some folks because I am a recovering Baptist,
and I have been through all that, and that’s still very much part of me. If you
read my writings, you’re gonna read about that, so I think that’s very important
for us, especially now in this day and age. We’ve got the kicked up all that, and
move forward as mentors and and working together with younger people etcetera. So I am all for that. I think that’s a great strategy, the hang up, spring it them at the last minute. I
really like that. I’ve had, I feel like everybody that I’ve come into contact
with, that’s been in any way related to the gay community has mentored me
some form or another, because again, this is my first time being around other gay
people, or just people that like gay people for the most part, so I didn’t
know what to do with myself a lot of the time. So, I have a lot of great people
leading me along the way. Sarah is one of them for sure because she made my first
year here amazing. We used to have office hours LGBT office hours of the what was
then the Office of Multicultural Affairs and every Wednesday from 4:00 to 6:00 I
would be there eating all the cookies and just talking about whatever was
going on in the news that week, and it was a really great experience. But, I was
thinking about this question. I was thinking about, like, what does mentor
mean, and who could be a mentor, and I think a lot of people were mentors
to me. Now, I’d say my intellectual mentors to people mentoring me on my
academic path would be professors and the Women’s and Gender Studies program
like Danielle Bouchard, Sarah Cervenak, Michell Powell, and for people that don’t know, because some people hear Women’s the Gender studies think we
study dead white women exclusively, which that’s that’s part of it, but that’s not
all of it. All of our faculty in Women’s and Gender
Studies also specialize in queer theory, so I’ve been able to do, and other
students ,have been able to really study their own community, study the ins and
out of their own communities and, study the theory that their own
communities are making about current political issues, which is which is
really amazing. And, I couldn’t be doing the work I’m doing now without standing
on all these people’s shoulders that, I’ve, that have mentored me over the years. Moderator: How have things changed at UNCG for the LGBT+ community since you first arrived on campus? I think this is an interesting question. Because on one hand, I think it’s gotten better in a lot of ways. I feel that there are just more of us now than there were when I got here, even though that was
five years ago. I think people are a lot more vocal, and I think the influence of
groups like Black Lives Matter have really put the gay community’s own blind
spots on display in a really important way, and have made us reckon with our own biases and prejudices in really important ways. So, there’s definitely been progress on several different fronts there. I do want
to say though, I think there is a small group of people who are more resistant
than than ever, and I’ve seen that interacting with undergraduates now. I
think as there’s been this kind of progress both here and on the national
scene there’s now a more embittered and embattled minority that’s becoming more
and more resistant every day. I don’t think that’s a lot of people. I don’t
think that’s the overall consensus attitude on the campus, but those people
are there, and unfortunately sometimes, they’re in important positions and
they’re in positions of power, and I think that’s something to stay attention
to. But overall, I’m very optimistic, that I’ve enjoyed my five years here, and I
think most queer people that I talked to have enjoyed their time here as well. And,
I think the consensus from the people I talk to is that it’s getting, it’s like
it’s getting continually better from year to year. I’ve already said I think it’s
better overall but you know this is a piece for me that I think a lot about
now that I’m past 50 and that is I miss the underground piece a little bit. And,
that that’s just my must nostalgia, maybe, but I kind of missed that. I miss the fact
that there used to be a gay bar on that periphery of campus, you know that’s now
part of the campus, we don’t have a dedicated gay bar in Greensboro except
Chemistry. We used to have three or four of
them. It was a you know, it was kind of a cool lifestyle, and so I wanted to speak
to that because I’m getting really interested in what that means to my
generation of people and how that plays out for a younger generation who
now goes over to Limelight or Green Street or whatever the clubs are now. And,
it’s just all mixed up together you know. It’s not, it’s not a separate kind of
identity, and I sort of see that around campus. I see identity starting to blend
and cross and intersect and that’s all great, but there’s a piece of that I
think that warrants some looking at, you know. So, I think that’s intriguing to
me, but in terms of the overall progress, we just can’t deny it. I mean you know, I
used to call my friends up and say, “oh my God, Donahue’s drag queens on. Turn
on the television.” That was the only time you could see a gay person, you know. Now
I mean, you can’t turn one direction without seeing some kind of queer person,
right? So, that’s cool. that’s a good thing. I can’t really separate the local from the national. Today I’ve got a request to review a book about LGBTQ hospice. So, that kind of
tells you where you end up, and changes your perspective. But, I what Zach
mentioned about the resistance that is now in America. I’ve started contemplating
contemplating retirement I have been in retirement, meditation groups. I have been going to yoga classes just trying to deal with this piece of the program that deals with how do you handle someone
whose point of view is totally different than you. And, I think that’s the biggest
question facing everybody in the world, today, including, I was reading about the
French elections coming up today, and they’re going, you know queer issues are
part of every single trouble spot in the globe right now, which is in a way a good
thing. It means we’re screaming loudly, but we haven’t learn to talk, yet. But, I
think it’s real important to pay attention to what’s going on right now
with the people who are not like you, and try to figure out a way that we can come
together, because we’ve got to sooner or later, you know, with what’s ahead. Yeah I think the whole outness is so from what it was in the seventies. You know, we were out in our own little group, but as
I said before, there were no clubs. There were a few gay bars, and I’m interested
to hear you guys talk about, you know, the sort of the death of gay bars. there was
an article in The Times. last week I think. It was titled “bring back
the lesbian bars,” and it was a woman bemoaning the fact that there are no
more lesbian bars in in New York City. Well, hell, I’ve never even found a
lesbian bar, I don’t think. But, I think it is a really interesting time that we’re
in, I think because we are so much more out than we were back in the 70s and 80s,
and maybe to some extent even the nineties. There is so much pushback. You know, we’ve gained so much in, I mean my God , we can get married you know. How did that happen
you know? How did we get that special right? But you know, as a result, there has
become so much pushback, and whether we’re talking about fundamentalist, you
know countries with extremely fundamentalist religions that are now
throwing people off the roofs buildings because they’re out or you know our
government that is trying to find ways to take away the rights we’ve managed to
to get, it is interesting. It’s a real paradise I think some of the time. From the time got to UNCG was not so long ago even though that we have more of us here
keep growing as a semesters keep going because our freshman class gets bigger
and bigger every year, I just see I, you see it, people more. You see the
little out buttons on everybody, ally buttons, you see the support on campus. It’s not like, quiet. It’s, like, loud, screaming your face – “hey
we’re here!” It was like that when I got here. but it’s a little bit more now. Moderator: Given your experiences, what Moderator: What challenges in understanding and communication (if any) have you encountered within the LGBT+ community generationally My unit is Health and Human Sciences, and
our Dean has a nice diversity and inclusion initiative that we’ve been
working on it. Three or four years ago we had a, people
often think athletics is part of health and human sciences, and it’s not, but we live
in the same building unit, and so on and we had a a group several years ago to
talk about the language we use. And there was a lot of talk about, you know, it was
very wide ranging, a conversation about using the n-word, and who can and who
can’t and and so on. And, one of my younger colleagues was talking about
getting married, and she was talking about her wife, and she said, “you know
these people who use the word partner, that’s so old school and I just
don’t understand.” And, that as my head exploded. I was thinking you know, I refer
to my my life partner, as my spouse because to me wife means being owned and being subjugated, and I just had this epiphany listening to this woman about, God, I’m so old. Wow! Oh my gosh, communication. So here’s an
interesting thing I’ve been thinking about lately. You know now it’s the thing
to say what pronoun you go by right, so I’m still getting used to that in
meetings that I go to, and I often say he, him, and her. And, I don’t mean to say her
necessarily, it’s just as my, you know, with ineptness with English. But, you know that’s part of the language that we have back in the early
eighties, probably before. We I always refer to my male gay friends as
girl, her, Miss Thang, you know. This is how we talked right – Dorothy,
Mary – whatever. It was a very weird gender queering of the language with gay men,
especially, and that seems lost now. So like, I don’t hear that anymore, and I’m
reluctant to engage in what I grew up with as gay language. So, I know there’s
some research out there about gay language, and I’m much more interested in
that now because I don’t hear it anymore, like I’ve heard it before.
In fact, probably people would get offended at me doing that kind of thing
now. If I were to run around and say girl, you know so that’s where my brain is with
communication. Well first of all, I don’t think you’re old-fashioned at all for wanting to use the work partner, because I would do the same thing if I were a woman. So, I don’t think you’re old-fashioned. I don’t think that’s old-fashioned at all and
that’s interesting because I would almost expect the opposite in some cases
because I’ve known some people. They get offended that people
don’t want to use the word wife or husband and choose to use the
gender-neutral term instead, so that’s really interesting. Thank you for sharing
that. I think I also agree with you that I think terminology and the way that
language has shifted it has has put up some barriers, but I think they’re
productive barriers. I think there’s something to be said for like respecting
people’s pronouns obviously, and respecting people’s identities, and
keeping up to date with how terminology and language has shifted. But, I think
doing a genealogy of the lavender language is really important too because
I think there’s something really radical and really important to be preserved
there. I haven’t had too many problems with this, and it’s interesting too with
thinking about how gay marriage has been legalized recently on the national level
,and it might get to stay that way, maybe. Same
as what’s happening now. It is important to remember that some people
don’t have an interest in getting married or don’t feel like they have a
stake in getting recognition for the relationship from the United States
government for a lot of different reasons. And, that’s created some
barriers too because on the one hand, some people have been waiting for that
for their entire lives, and that’s such a moment for them to finally get that
legal recognition. And, that sometimes the hesitancy on behalf of others to
not want that recognition and to refuse that pretty strongly. Sometimes
those conversations are tense, and there’s tensions between the people who
have been, like, couldn’t do this and wanted to for a long time, and people that never
wanted to to start with. So, there’s some interesting both language and I
think ideological barriers, as well. But, I see this within generations, do not
just like it’s one generation is what we had the other way, because I have to
think like that all the time with gay men and lesbian women my age, as well. So, I think that happens within generations. It’s really interesting. I’ve been with my spouse for 20 years, and you know, we
never talked about marriage until about three years ago because we never thought
we were going to be able to so. It wasn’t something that we ever addressed, like well you know, people get married. Should we? And, we just never thought it would
happen. And so, we’re big ice hockey fans, and
the day the the suits overturned the law so that we could get married was
actually opening night of the Carolina Hurricanes hockey season. So, we’re
sitting up at our nosebleed seats, and it pops up on my phone. We’re sitting at the beginning of this hockey game weeping, partly because it was beginning hockey season. But, but, it was like well, should we talk about this now? Do we want
to do it? So, it’s been a really interesting evolution in us to make the decision
about, you know, do we even want to think about; it let’s do it. Moderator: Given your experiences, what can the UNCG community do better to support and improve the lives of LGBT people on this campus? So, the university does offer the Safe
Zone training. And, I have to do all 3 of those: the Safe Zone one, the Safe Zone two, and Trans Zone. And, I do think that education does fight
ignorance. And, that is a big, that could be a bit like having faculty go to those
kind of trainings and be aware of the ever-changing vocabulary that is the
LGBTQ community, which keeps having. Something might change today the community might not know about until next week, and it’s ever-changing.
And, even though, like, I identify in LGBT community, I don’t know everything about
each term under the umbrella. I need to think about that. I’ll let Jim speak more now. So, I really I think we do have a problem with communication, period. And, it’s not you
know, we have an attention deficit country we live in with an attention
deficit world around us. We’re all glued to our cell phones and can’t say hello.
And so, I think the real problem is one that goes beyond the gay community. I
think a real problem is how we’re going to handle getting any message out to any
group of people in a clear and concise way. Well having been part of the latest,
which goes back four or five years, iteration of the Diversity Committee,
University diversity committee, and coming from a lot of focus groups and
work with that, was this notion of having a GLBTQ+ Center on the campus. We’ve
talked about that for years. That’s imploded. We still don’t have that. And, I am intrigued because there are other state
universities, our sister universities, in the system that have such centers. So, I
don’t think that’s gonna solve all the problems or maybe any problems. I don’t
know, but having something like that says we are supported. And, when other campuses, that may not be recognized as as diverse as this campus, have those
places, and we don’t, I think that sends a message. And, I’m concerned about that,
that we keep kind of pushing that, and we don’t get very far. And, that’s where I
think our community tension comes in Greensboro. I would say the thing UNCG could do to
better support and improve the lives of LGBT people in the standards to stop
building rec centers and start hiring more and getting tenure to more LGBT
faculty, and supporting non-lgbt faculty who are doing work in these fields. I
know I plug WGS about a billion times already, but I will say that not just
programs at Women and Gender Studies, but also other programs on the cutting edge
like African-American and African Diaspora Studies are grossly underfunded by
the university, unfortunately. And, we kind of live in a weird tension because I
think a lot of what we want to do at UNCg is take our stuff outside of the Academy and eventually move beyond the corporate Academy. And so, there’s there’s
a lot of tension there sometimes. But, supporting those projects is really
important because, I mean, we think about intersectionality. That’s such a big word
right but that’s such a big thing in social justice discourse now that came
out of it the Academy, that came out of an academic term. That came from a
critical race scholar by the name Kimberlé Crenshaw. So, supporting the work in the Academy, even though some people like to call an
ivory tower theorizing and stuff, which it is sometimes. But, supporting that work
is what keeps the community going forward to in a lot of different ways.
So, I would say that tenure for all, for all gays please. I want it one day. Also while we’re at it, you could add to that full professorships for more women
because that is one of the big areas we’ve still got to work on. Moderator: This concludes the panel. Does anyone have questions for our panelists? Question: I notice some of you have lived in other locations in your adult maybe out lives. Do you have any comparative thoughts on
other geographic locations you existed in? I did my graduate work at the UW-Madison,
so you know, that was like Disney World. You could be out 24/7, 365 that was very
cool. Hi my first job out of graduate school
was at the University of Oklahoma. Not so much outness there. I didn’t have my
gloves and my sundress. So you know, it it is very different in many parts of
the country than is here. So I guess, in that regard, you know we kind of are
blessed, and you know to be fair, maybe to be more fair than they need to be, I
haven’t been in Oklahoma in thirty years. So maybe it’s really different. I worked in Milledgeville, Georgia before I came to Chapel Hill, and you know the theme of
I’ve heard my whole life from friends is why don’t you come to San Francisco where you can
meet somebody, and I’m sorry you know. I’ve lived enough places to know.
Milledgeville was actually a pretty wonderful place, and I don’t think it’s,
it has anything in size or metropolitan flavor. We’ve had
several people including, Nathan who went up to New York City. And you know, I think some people thrive in that,
especially if you’re in the performing arts or any kind of creative artist, but
it’s not for everybody. And, the relationships I formed in the little
town of 12,500 where, you know, it’s like going back in the last century, were amazing. And so, I don’t think that geography is always a
cure, and I think a lot of times it’s it’s being where you are fully. I worked in Asheboro. I’m from Randolph
County North Carolina. You can tell by my accent. I am good old, you know, white bread, southern person and grits for breakfast always, always. And, my entire
life even as a teenager, this was the place that you came to see weird and
different, and I think that’s pretty cool. That Greensboro has somehow navigating
its way through Southerness to be this very interesting, diverse place with over
120 languages spoken in our school system in Guilford County. With, you know,
every, every kind of person around the world practically here in some form or
fashion, and this community having been recognized as the most gay friendly
community in North Carolina, when we’ve got Charlotte sitting down there, right.
And, Asheville, of course. It’s pretty remarkable that we’re sitting
right here in the middle of this place


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