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    Ackelsberg, Martha
    Barale, Michelle
    Beyer, Dana
    Boggis, Terry
    Browne, Karen
    Chapman, Mare
    Choi, Gina-Kamas
    Coleman, Penny
    Collier, Chris
    Cote, Carol
    Davenport, Kate
    DiNardo, Geri
    Dobkin, Alix
    Earley, Deborah
    Elkin, Marty
    Elliston, Lelia
    Evans, Judith
    Everhart, Jan
    Fagan, Sharon
    Faison, Deborah
    Flachs, Julie
    Fusco, Lisa
    Gabriner, Vicki
    Gillespie, Peggy
    Greene, Emily
    Hackler, Ann
    Hairston, Andrea
    Harris, Lori
    Heller, Deborah
    Hopkins, Lee Ann
    Innes, E. Carolyn
    Jenkins, Connie
    Jerome, Judith
    Kaufman, Miriam
    Kavanaugh, Karla
    Laird, Joan
    Lanzillotto, Annie
    Lathrop, Janet
    Litchford, Marge
    Lukens, Rebecca
    Madsen, Catherine
    Margolies, Liz
    McClintock, Mary
    McHaelen, Robin
    McKenzie, Leslie
    Millington, June
    Morningstar, Betty
    Myles, Eileen
    Nelson, Kristi
    O'Donovan, Alice
    Oglesby, Carole
    Ouellette, Savanna
    Pato, Roberta
    Penotte, Cody
    Perez, David
    Pittman, Catherine
    Plaskow, Judith
    Power, Bet
    Rees, Kelly
    Richardson, Holly
    Rosel, Deliah
    Ruffino, Renee
    Shapiro, Jodie
    Shaw, Peggy
    Shaw, Rebecca
    Shumsky, Ellen
    Spitzer, Rabbi Toba
    Stinson, Susan
    Sullivan, Laura
    Toole, Jay
    Walters, Jennifer
    Wolfe, Kate

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DOCUMENTING LESBIAN LIVES
Student Oral History Project

Narrators:

MARTHA ACKELSBERG

Martha A. Ackelsberg was born in New York City in 1946 and is a graduate of Radcliffe College and Princeton University (where she received her Masters and PhD). She has been on the faculty of Smith College since 1972, where she teaches government and the study of women and gender. She taught one of the first courses dealing with gender at Smith College ("Women and Social Change") and has been a member of the Committee on the Study of Women and Gender and the Five College Women's Studies Committee. Her work at Smith focuses on the construction of gender and citizenship in the realm of what she calls "applied feminist theory," and the anarchist women's organization in Spain.

In the late 1960's and early 1970's, Ackelsberg was involved in the women's health movement in New York City. She was also a student activist at Princeton while doing graduate work from 1968 to 1972. She has also been involved with several movements aimed at changing the status of women within the Jewish community, including the politics of changing family structures and the place of the LGBT community.

Martha Ackelsberg currently lives with her partner, Judith Plaskow, in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she is involved with various feminist, progressive, and Jewish organizations. She and her partner contribute to current "gay marriage" debates.

Abstract

In this oral history, Martha Ackelsberg describes her work in Jewish feminist communities and her experiences with attempts to make sense of her lesbian identity in terms of her Judaism. The interview first focuses on Ackelsberg's early observations of gender inequalities within Judaism and then moves into her work within feminist organizations such as Ezrat Nashim and B'Not Esch to try to combat those injustices. Ackelsberg's describes her feelings about current gay issues such as the use of the word "queer" amd gay marriage. The interview covers Ackelsberg's relationships both with her ex-husband and with her current partner, Judith, and investigates the intricacies involved in becoming a lesbian step-parent and the multiple definitions of family that have become central to Ackelsberg's life, passions, and academic work.
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Martha Ackelsberg's papers are in the Sophia Smith Collection.
See also: interview with the Yiddish Book Center

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MICHELE BARALE

Michele Barale (b. 1945) spent her early childhood in Los Angeles, California, and grew up in Chicago, Illinois, following her parents' divorce. Her parents, Gloria Brennan and Pierre Barale, are now both deceased. Barale's mother's female partner is alive and in her mid-70s, but is not in good health. Michele graduated with a BA in Philosophy from Loyola University of Chicago in 1963, and received her PhD in English from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1983. She has taught at a variety of institutions, including Regis University, Denver; Gardner-Webb College, North Carolina; and in the Women's Studies Program at the University of Colorado. She began teaching at Amherst in 1987, and currently teaches at Amherst College as the Thalheimer Professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies. Barale also serves as the Director of the Amherst Writing Center. She has lived with her female partner for the past 16 years.

Abstract

In this oral history, Michele Barale describes growing up in a working class family and community in Chicago and Los Angeles. Specifically, she discusses living with her mother and Dutch Presbyterian grandmother in Chicago, and her experiences as a college student, participating in lesbian separatism and working at a gay bar before attending graduate school. The interview focuses on her experiences with religion and with lesbian feminism, her experiences as a gay woman who came out to herself and met her first love in college, her path to academia, her interest in queer literature, and opinions on how the different minority groups have interacted with one another. The sound was not recorded on the second tape, but she discusses her experiences after becoming a professor, and how she considers academia a form of activism. Michele's story illustrates that, despite becoming an atheist, religion played a largely positive role in her life, how the lesbian and gay communities have evolved over time, how lesbian feminism has evolved, and influenced her path in academia.
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DANA BEYER

Dana Beyer (b. 1952) grew up in New York City and graduated from Cornell University Phi Beta Kappa in 1974 and from University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1978. Beyer worked as a physician and eye surgeon in Kenya, Washington, D.C., Florida, Nepal, and Mississippi. She retired from clinical practice in 1990 and has been living in Chevy Chase, Maryland, devoting her time to her two sons, earning a master's degree in organic chemistry, and participating in extensive political activism. Beyer ran for Maryland state senate in 2006 and 2010 while serving as a Montgomery County Council staffer, and is currently (in 2014) campaigning again. If elected, she would be the first transgender state delegate in the United States, and one of very few openly transgender elected officials in the world. Beyer has been a leader in many local and national organizations, including Gender Rights Maryland, the Democratic National Convention Rules Committee, Teachthefacts.org, Equality Maryland, Progressive Neighbors, Human Rights Campaign, and National Center for Transgender Equality. Her activism includes bringing comprehensive sex education to Montgomery County public schools, working to pass an artificial trans fats ban in Montgomery County as a County Council staffer, lobbying to pass gender identity anti-discrimination laws in three Maryland counties, and helping to re-write the DSM in 2012 so that being transgender is no longer considered a mental illness. Beyer also reaches a wider audience through writing a weekly column for the Huffington Post.

Abstract

In this oral history, Dana Beyer describes her childhood in a Jewish family in New York City in the 1950s and her intense focus on her education. The interview largely traces Beyer's life through her gender identity and how being closeted for so long impacted her life in many ways, from her relationships with her parents, two ex-wives, and two sons, to her choice of medical specialty, to her introverted yet risk-taking personality. Beyer's story moves through realizing she was a girl as a young child in the late 1950s, experiencing trauma and medical mistreatment from an intersex complication as a teenager in the 1960s, witnessing the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion from the closet, traveling the world for her medical career in the late 1970s/early 1980s, learning about successful trans women like Lynn Conway and the possibilities of surgeries in the 1980s, beginning the transition process in the 1990s, and fully coming out as Dana in the early 2000s, after the catalyst of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Beyer reflects on transphobia and assimilation in the queer community, the rewards and challenges of activism, shifts in sexual orientation labels, and differences and parallels between the Boomer and Millennial generations. Her story shows how she used her experiences of trauma and compartmentalization to fuel her surgical and activist careers.
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TERRY BOGGIS

Terry Boggis (b. 1951) was born in Schenectady, New York and moved to Denver, Colorado at the age of eight. She attended Colorado State University before moving to New York City in the late 1970s. Boggis worked in corporate communications at a consulting firm and as a media specialist at the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York before becoming one of the founding members of Center Kids in 1988, the year her son was born. Since its founding, Center Kids has grown to be the largest regional LGBT families program in the country. Boggis was the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center's Director of Communications and now serves as the Center's Interim Director of Public Policy.

Boggis has written and published many articles on LGBT family issues for many New York City newspapers, including the New York Times. She has also written for Out Magazine and other gay media. Her articles and essays have appeared in many different publications and she has conducted LGBT awareness and anti-bias training in which she speaks on issues that affect nontraditional families. She is also a founding board member of Queers for Economic Justice.

Abstract

In this oral history Boggis discusses her course of life, reflecting on past romantic relationships and current relationships with her family. She tells of her experience as a lesbian mother and the work she does now for other nontraditional families. She tells of her relationship with her own parents and of her experiences as a young, college graduate in New York and more recently.
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KAREN BROWNE

Karen Browne (b. 1948) was born in Buffalo, New York, but spent most of her childhood in the area around St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated with honors from high school in Overland, Missouri in 1966 and earned a BA cum laude in psychology from Macalester College in 1970. She also attended the University of Minnesota for one semester. Browne's employment history includes positions in the field of women's studies and psychology. Immediately after her graduation from college, in 1972, Browne founded the Lesbian Resource Center in Minneapolis and worked as the director there for several years. She then taught a women's studies class at the University of Minnesota's Experimental College. For the majority of her career Browne has worked as a clinical social worker. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-Vietnam War Movement and the Lesbian-Feminist Movement.

Abstract

In this oral history, Karen Browne describes her childhood growing up in a lower-middle-class family in the area around St. Louis, Missouri. She describes her father was an abusive alcoholic, a circumstance that led Browne into a lifetime of recovery and healing and inspired her major in psychology and enter the field of clinical social work, helping other people deal with trauma. Browne discusses her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, Anti-Vietnam War Movement and in lesbian-feminist activism. She talks about many aspects of lesbian-feminist life, including her definition of the term, the emphasis placed on political correctness, lesbian-feminists' presence in lesbian bars and the confusion around transgender people. She talks about the Lesbian Resource Center she founded in Minneapolis; discussing how she got the funding for it, the significance of using the word "lesbian" in the center's name and what its primary purpose was. Throughout this oral history Browne reflects and analyzes her experiences and in the political context of the times from childhood, through the tumultuous late '60s and early '70s, to present-day Northampton life.
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MARE CHAPMAN

Mare Chapman (b. 1944) grew up near Kalamazoo, MI. She graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit with a degree in Occupational Therapy and later earned her masters degree in counseling psychology. Chapman has taught classes in psychiatric O.T. at Wayne State University and University of Wisconsin Madison and has worked in the public mental health system in a variety of capacities, including as the director of a community program for mentally ill adults. She currently is in private practice and a teacher of mindfulness meditation in Madison, WI.

Abstract

In this oral history Mare Chapman describes growing up as a tomboyish child in her educated, emotion-hiding “fine family” as well as her Michigan country high school. The interview follows her feminist awakening, growth and motivation parallel to her career and to her progression through high school dating, marriage to a man, introductory lesbian dalliances, and long-term lesbian partnerships. Chapman’s story depicts her experience as a mother and wife in “traditional” heterosexual marriage and it’s lack of cohesion, equality, and fulfillment before her personal awakening and transition into a woman-centered life. Chapman expresses the joy and fulfillment she has found through other women, family, her career, and meditation practice.
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GINA-KAMAS CHOI

Gina-Kamas Choi (b. 1961)was born in Baker, Oregon and grew up in Boise, Idaho. Her father has a Ph.D. in education and her mother has a Masters in art. Gina-Kamas Choi grew up with a sister who is one year younger and a brother who is two years older and is of half-Korean and half-European-American descent. She identifies as a Buddhist, a Two Spirit, and a lesbian. Choi graduated from Smith College in 1983 and attended Stillpoint Center and Springfield College. Her first job was as a second violinist in the Boise Philharmonic. She worked in various fields, from ranch hand to massage therapist , before becoming a mental health worker in psychiatric hospital. Gina-Kamas Choi is member of her local Democratic Party, the Human Rights Campaign and is affiliated with the Brattleboro Retreat LGBT Inpatient Unit. Kamas is married to her wife, Marian Geller, a social worker. They have one dog and two cats.

Abstract

In this oral history Gina-Kamas Choi describes her childhood, her high school experience, her experience at Smith College, and what it was like to live in Northampton. She describes her family dynamic and the significance of her Korean background. Kamas reflects on her life, including her experiences in many jobs before she became a mental health worker.
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PENNY COLEMAN

Penny Coleman (b. 1948) grew up on Long Island, graduated from Vassar in 1970, and received a Bachelor's of Photographic Arts from Brooks Institute of Photography in 1974 and a Master's in Social Policy from Empire State SUNY in 1996. Coleman's career as a photographer spans employment at various newspapers including the New York Times, the LA Times and the Dallas Morning News. She is the author of two books, Village Elders and Flashback: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide, and the Lessons of War. In addition to the publication of her second book, Coleman has written numerous articles on veterans' issues and spoke before the House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee on the topic of suicide among veterans. She is currently the program director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Veteran Services at Empire State.

Abstract

In this oral history Penny Coleman describes her childhood on Long Island, including the experience of being the child of liberals in a very racist and segregated community and her growing awareness of social injustices which would shape the work she has done throughout her life. This interview focuses on the parts of Coleman's life that have led her to write her two books, both of which work towards elevating the voices of marginal communities. Her marriages, first to a Vietnam veteran who took his own life, and the current one to a professor at Empire State, have been central to the work she does as a political activist. Her activism draws on her skills as a photographer and journalist as well as her position as a member of the LGBTQ community and the military community. Coleman's recollections of the oral history work she did in order to write Village Elders and again to write Flashback reflect on the importance of oral history practices and how she has used them in her efforts to fight injustice.
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CHRIS COLLIER

Christine (Chris) Collier (b. 1960) is a locally recognized and celebrated folk singer and songwriter who has produced seven CDs. She was born in the small town of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and was one of nine children of a teacher and teamster (truck loader). She attended Bowling Green State University and SUNY College at Oneonta, and began her first significant relationship with a woman while in college. She has held a variety of jobs over the past 30 years, including pool manager, nurse's aide, substitute teacher, security guard, bartender, landscaper, GED teacher, caterer, and house painter. She earned a Master's degree in Educational Leadership in 2008 and is now Assistant Principal at Clark Montessori High School, a local public school where she also taught for six years. From 1987 to 1995, Collier also worked with Stonewall Cincinnati, a gay and lesbian rights group, where she organized and performed in pride parades. She has also participated in two gay rights marches on Washington.

Abstract

In this oral history, Chris Collier describes growing up in a small town in Ohio in the 1960s and '70s, coming into consciousness of her own lesbian sexuality, her relationships with women from high school to the present, her participation in the lesbian community in Cincinnati, Ohio (particularly with the UC Law women's football team and through working as a bar tender at the lesbian bar the Squeeze Inn), her experience of losing a job due to homophobia, her experiences as a singer/songwriter, her participation in the gay rights marches on Washington, and her work as an educator in Cincinnati.
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CAROL COTE

Carol Cote (b. 1963) was born and raised in Lewiston, Maine, a predominantly French-Canadian, Catholic, working-class mill town. It is a small city, though large by Maine standards, the second largest city in the state. Her father was also born in Lewiston and her mother is from Pennsylvania. Both of her parents are living. The fifth of six children, Cotes graduated from Lewiston High School in 1981. She was a nursing assistant from 1978 -1983 and was on active duty in the U.S. Army Military Police from 1984 -1986 at West Point United States Military Academy, when she left the army with an honorable discharge. She worked in accounting/bookkeeping at Geiger Brothers in Lewiston from 1986-1984, at Catholic Charities Maine from 1994 -1996, and at Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau & Pachios from 1996 -2000. In 1999 Cotes attended the Central Maine Medical Center School of Nursing in Lewiston and graduated with an associate's degree in nursing in 2001 with the highest GPA in her class. She is a registered nurse and has worked at St. Mary's Hospital since 2001. She currently works at d'Youville Pavilion, the hospital's rehabilitation unit. Cotes lives with her long-time partner, Janet Cyr. They have two dogs and one cat.

Abstract

In this oral history Carol Cote describes her childhood growing up in Lewiston, Maine, a small, predominantly working-class town. She discusses her relationships with her family, both immediate and extended. Cote talks about her early work experiences as a nurse's aide in high school and the friends she met through that job. She recalls her first crushes, discovering her sexuality, and how the friends she made while working in high school helped her to meet other gay and lesbian people. She talks extensively about her career in the U.S. Army and reflects on life for LGBT people in the Army during her years at West Point. She also considers the aftermath there after the repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. Cote speaks about her experiences in nursing school and her nursing career. She discusses her 30-year relationship with her partner, Janet Cyr, and recalls their early relationship while she was in the army, her parent's discovery that they were a couple, and their life together. Cote looks to the future and reflects on her hopes and plans for the next stages of her life.
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KATE DAVENPORT

Kathryn (Kate) Davenport was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1957. She spent her childhood growing up in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire. Davenport moved to Boston at the age of 18 to attend a secretarial school. After living in Boston for a while, Davenport attended the University of Massachusetts and soon after, attended the Smith School of Social Work. After earning her degree she worked as a social worker and a therapist. While at Smith she married and had one daughter. She divorced her husband at the age of 35 and simultaneously came out, when she met her first partner. Davenport’s passions lie in being a parent, and finding tools like yoga, and meditation to be the best person she can be. She lives with her partner of ten years, and currently works as a private psychotherapist.

Abstract

In this oral history Kate Davenport discusses her unstable childhood, and moving to Boston by herself at a young age. She talks about her time at UMass and at the Smith School of Social Work and the challenge of finding herself throughout her adolescence and adulthood. The importance of parenting is highlighted throughout the interview, as well as her exploration of tools, like yoga and therapy, she utilized to overcome the abuse and neglect of her childhood, to bring her to her current point in life.
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GERI DINARDO

Geri (Geraldine) DiNardo (b. 1943) graduated high school from St. Mary's in Milford, MA and moved on to graduate from Our Lady of the Elms in Chicopee, MA, in 1964. She received a Masters in Education from Worcester State College and went on to teach in Spencer and Worcester public schools. She was involved with Catholic Charities, and for fifteen years, she worked for the Division of Mental Health. Geri has been associated with the Catholic Worker Movement and the Worcester Mustard Seed since their beginning.

Abstract

In this oral history, Geri discusses issues of growing up as a lesbian in a heterosexual world. Due to her lack of awareness of lesbianism, she only first identified as a lesbian at the age of 70. Geri has had relationships with women throughout her adult life, and speaks about the intersection of her sexuality with her staunch Catholic faith. She talks about her growing frustration with intolerant Church doctrine, which caused her to speak out at age 70, writing in to a local Catholic Worker newsletter and identifying herself as a lesbian. Geri has since been involved in her local PFLAG. She strongly urges that LGBT Catholics should not leave the Church and discusses her involvement in the Worcester Mustard Seed.
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ALIX DOBKIN

Alix Dobkin (b. 1940) was born in New York City, and lived in Philadelphia, New York City, Washington D.C., and Kansas City, Missouri. At 16, Dobkin returned to Philadelphia and attended Temple University, graduating from the Tyler School of Fine Arts in 1962. Dobkin's parents were members of the Communist Party, which Dobkin herself joined at the age of 16. Her parents and the camp Dobkin attended exposed her to the tradition of folk music at a very young age. Dobkin began performing tradition folk and international music publically, and moved to Greenwich Village in 1962 to perform at clubs and coffee shops. Dobkin married Sam Hood, manager of the Gaslight Cafe in 1965, and they moved to Florida to start a new club, the Gaslight South. They returned to New York City after the club folded. They had a daughter, Adrian in 1970, and they separated in 1971. Dobkin announced she was a lesbian in 1972 after meeting Liza Cowen. Dobkin released the first album made by and for women, Lavender Jane Loves Women, in 1973. Dobkin began performing for women-only audiences, and was a strong advocate for women's spaces. She released 6 albums and played concerts in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and many other countries. She currently sits on the steering committee for OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change), and spends as much time as she can with her three grandchildren, Lucca, Marley, and Sorella.

Abstract

In this oral history Alix Dobkin discusses her early family life briefly, including her involvement with the Communist Party and the 1960's Greenwich Village folk music scene. Dobkin discusses married life, the financial struggles the couple faced in Florida, the birth of their daughter, and her separation from Sam Hood. The interview then moves on to Dobkin's first encounter with feminist consciousness, coming out as a lesbian, and her emergence into the world of women's music. The interview covers Dobkin's involvement with the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, the tensions within the lesbian community, and the struggles of being a female musician, as well as her involvement in OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change), and her hopes for the future.
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DEBORAH EARLEY

Deborah Earley (b. December 13, 1960) grew up in Louisville, Kentucky with an older brother and two younger siblings. She graduated high school from Muhammad Ali High School, earned a BA from Wooster College, and later went on to earn a Masters Degree in Acupuncture at TAI Sophia Institute. Earley's employment history includes a combination of religious and corporate work, before settling into her current entrepreneurial acupuncture practice. She currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area with her partner and two sons.

Abstract

In this oral history, Deborah Earley describes the difficulties that she experienced growing up as a tomboy in her Presbyterian home in Louisville, Kentucky. Earley explains that for much of her life, she sought to find acceptance from classmates, friends, and family through "overachieving perfectionism." Earley describes her internalized suppression of feelings for women because of her religious and familial influences. After a dysfunctional marriage, a 30-year-old Earley began her coming out process. Looking back, Earley explains the importance of living her own life and making the right choices for herself. Primarily, Earley focuses on her role as a mother of two sons, Garrison and Byron, and discusses the pressures and difficulties of raising two boys in a lesbian home.
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MARTY ELKIN

Marty Elkin (b. 1940) was born and raised in the rural town of Danville, Maine. She attended nursing school in Boston and was employed as a nurse and nursing educator at the college level, eventually specializing in maternity care, "Baby-friendly" obstetrics policy, and lactation. She holds a Masters of Public Health and co-authored the nursing textbook, Nursing Interventions and Clinical Skills. Elkin worked as a self-employed lactation specialist before retiring to the diversified sheep and wool farm, A Wrinkle in Thyme Farm, which she and her partner, Mary Ann Haxton, own and operate in Sumner, Maine. Elkin married an attorney when she was in her early twenties, and moved frequently throughout the United States with him and their three children, finally settling in Springfield, Illinois. In the mid-1980s, she met and developed a friendship with Haxton, the wife of the preacher at her Methodist church. Elkin and Haxton and fell in love and began a committed relationship in 1988. Her eldest son died at the age of 18, and her two surviving children live in Illinois and New York State, respectively. Elkin has seven grandchildren.

Abstract

In this oral history Marty Elkin describes her childhood in an all-white rural town, as well as her close relationship with her father, who worked for Gulf Oil Corporation, and her mother, a stay-at-home mom who inspired Elkin through her determination to not be limited by the loss of one of her legs as a child. Elkin discusses maternity care and her efforts to create hospital policy that supports mother-infant bonding, breastfeeding, family bonding, and mothers' medical autonomy. She speaks about her and her partner's struggles to find a welcoming Methodist church, and her experience of earth-based or Wiccan spirituality within the lesbian community in Maine since she left the United Methodist Church. Other topics include feminist process; her first marriage to an alcoholic adulterer; her children, including her daughter's experience with the mental health system and its homophobia; acceptance in a conservative rural Maine community; lesbian community in Maine; her opinions on sexual identities and labels; and her hopes for future generations of lesbian women.
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LELIA ELLISTON

Lelia Elliston (b. 1962) grew up in Ellicott City, Maryland and various parts of New Mexico. As a young adult, Elliston lived in Dallas, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; and Lynn, Massachusetts. During this time she worked various jobs and participated in local lesbian and gay social scenes. Elliston moved to Weston, Massachusetts to care for her aging grandmother in 1984. Through their relationship and the location of Weston, she began to pursue a growing interest in horticulture, eventually resulting in her engagement in higher education and completion of a B.S. and M.S. in environmental biology. She pursued advanced degrees in environmental biology, completing a Ph.D. program in 2006. Throughout this time, Elliston ran her own landscaping business, taught as a grad student, married, divorced her partner/wife of 20 years, farmed the land, and raised two children.

Abstract

In this oral history Lelia Elliston describes her childhood in a middle class neighborhood in Ellicott City, Maryland in the 1960s. Elliston then describes her experiences moving to small-town New Mexico as a young teenager, her experiences at the Cambridge School of Weston in the 1970s, and her subsequent move back to New Mexico after being pulled out of school. Situating her teenage years in the 1970s, Elliston discusses her developing lesbian sexuality, her attraction to women, and her engagement with "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll" during this time. The second half of the interview is focused on her life as a young adult. Elliston moved to multiple states with different lovers, eventually settling in Weston, MA to care for her aging grandmother. The focus of this part of the interview is on her developing passion for horticulture, which led her to begin college and pursue degrees in environmental biology. In this period of her life, Elliston met and married her partner/wife with whom she raised two children. Elliston reflects on her marriage and divorce extensively in the final forty minutes of the interview, discussing internalized homophobia and difficulties of lesbian parenting as issues that emerged during the relationship. Elliston ends with a small discussion of her current partner, who was her best friend before they were romantically involved.
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JUDITH EVANS

Judith Evans (b. 1940) was born in Wareham, Massachusetts where she lived during her early childhood. At age 12 Evans’ family relocated to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where she lived for most of her adult life. Evans graduated from High School and went on to secretarial school where she learned the appropriate skills needed for an office job. Evans worked for Equitable Insurance for 13 years before working at the State Hospital for 26 years as an aid. During her time at the State Hospital she also served as a nurse for the 316th Medical Unit of the Army Reserves. She served a term of two years. Currently Evans resides in Villas, New Jersey living a happy retired life. In New Jersey Evans has volunteered at both a local animal shelter and women’s abuse center.

Abstract

In this oral history Judith Evans describes her childhood, careers, and romantic relationships during her lifetime. Evans discusses the hardships of growing up with an unsupportive parent and the stress created from living a double life. Evans also focuses on the stress felt at work and the need to be closeted for fear of being fired. Evans has always taken a caregiver role, volunteering for several years at an animal shelter and women’s abuse center. Evans’ discusses her motives not to join any feminist movements during the 1970’s and 1980’s because of the lesbian feminist reputation for being far left. She also comments on the ability to “pass” on the streets because of her feminine looks. Her story contrasts that of separatist feminist feelings as Evans promotes having friends of both sexes and sexuality. Her story also comments on a life experienced with different partners and the challenges of being in a committed relationship.
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JAN EVERHART

Jan Everhart (b. October 27, 1956) in Cambridge, United Kingdom. She is one of four children and spent most of her childhood in Berkley, California. Her mother was a homemaker while her father was a university professor, administrator, and President of California Institute of Technology. Everhart earned her A.B. from U.C. Davis in 1978, her Masters of Divinity from Drew University Theological School in 1981, and her PhD from IIiff School of Theology at the University of Denver in 2003.

After finishing seminary in 1981, Everhart's bishop appointed her as the Associate Pastor of Sunnyvale United Methodist Church, where she worked until 1984. She then moved to Byron, California, where she worked as a Pastor of Byron Methodist Church from 1984 to 1989. After this position, she entered her final career move as a pastor within the Methodist Church as Pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church from 1989 to 1998. At this point, Everhart left the Methodist Church because, as a lesbian, she could not live openly with her partner within the confines of the church. She then moved to Denver, Colorado where she became an adjunct professor at IIiff School of Theology while simultaneously earning her PhD. In July of 2003, she moved to Iowa, working as Director for the Initiative of Vocational Exploration at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. She became Assistant Professor of Religion in 2006, and worked as director of the Lilly Service Initiative until 2009. Currently, she is a professor of religion at Simpson College.

Since entering the world of academia, she has published a plethora of articles, often underscoring feminist ideals and LGBTQ issues within a biblical framework. Everhart has also written about the American birth control conflict, and has presented several papers at the Society of Biblical Annual Meetings across the country. She has given numerous presentations, discussing her published work around the nation. She has earned numerous awards for her work in service and for her vital addition to the scholarship of religion.

Outside of academia, Everhart's community involvement has remained consistent throughout the years. She was convener of the Clergywomen's Association in California-Nevada in the mid-1980s. In 1999, she participated with 70 clergy colleagues in an "ecclesiastical disobedience" by officiating at a public holy union at the Sacramento Convention Center. Subsequently, she was charged with disobedience to the order and doctrine of the United Methodist Church. Everhart has also been active in reproductive rights and queer rights, volunteering at Rainbow Alley, a drop in center for queer youth in Denver, Colorado. Everhart met her partner, Jan Ratliff, at an AA meeting, and has been sober since 1984. Everhart and Ratliff have been partnered since 1988, celebrated a holy union in 1991, and were legally married in the state of Iowa in 2009. They have three grown children and reside on a farm in Southern Iowa.

Abstract

In this oral history, Jan Everhart shares her experiences as an ordained Methodist pastor living in Iowa. She discusses her political thoughts surrounding gay marriage, and details her 22 ½ year relationship with her partner, Jan Ratliff. Everhart also discusses queerness within the United Methodist Church, her dedication to the church's values, and her radical perceptions of the Bible. Finally, she sheds light on her "quiet" activism, commitment to service learning, and passion for mentoring young adults.
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SHARON FAGAN

Sharon Fagan (b. 1953) was born on Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, moved to Okinawa Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan, and spent the bulk of her childhood in Lincoln, Nebraska, first on the Lincoln Air Force Base and later in the city of Lincoln. She attended the University of Nebraska, where she studied Human Development and Elementary Education. Sharon has lived and worked around the U.S. in a variety of administrative positions, most recently as the SGA Office Manager at Smith College. She identified as straight and was in three marriages with men until she met her current wife and came out as a lesbian at 49 in Virginia in 2003. They got married in Northampton in 2004. She currently lives with her wife and three dogs in Northampton, MA.

Abstract

In this oral history Sharon Fagan describes her childhood growing up in a middle-class military family in the Midwest. She discusses her experiences as a survivor of family abuse and violence and her search for love, safety, and community throughout her life. She talks about this search in the context of relationships - three previous marriages with men as well as her current marriage to her wife of ten years - and significant religious communities.

Sharon Fagan's transcript is not available online. Researchers may contact the SSC for a copy.

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DEBORAH FAISON

Deborah Faison was born in 1954 in Wake County, North Carolina, and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She is an African American lesbian who currently resides in the suburbs of Washington, DC. The eldest of four children, she graduated from Germantown High School in Philadelphia and attended Eastern Baptist College outside of Philadelphia for one year. Faison's first paying job was part-time in a sandwich shop, and then she worked as a nursing aide in a nursing home. She later worked at the gas company in Philadelphia as a receptionist and was promoted to customer service representative. She moved to the Washington, DC area after marrying a man. The marriage lasted for 18 months.. Faison has worked most of her life as a receptionist/secretary. She is currently an administrative assistant with a government agency in Washington, DC where she is active in cultural programming. Last year for Black History Month she organized postings of poetry by black poets in all of the organization's buildings. She has also organized the musical presentation of a trio of singers (she was the pianist) who performed at her institution's celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy. In her free time, Faison has assisted with meetings and programs for AIDS/HIV education. She also plays the piano for church choirs in the Washington, DC area.

Abstract

In this oral history Deborah Faison describes growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the early 1960s. Faison, her siblings and her mother experienced abuse and neglect at the hands of the man that she believed to be her biological father. It wasn't until she was an adult that Faison learned that the man she believed to be her father was actually her stepfather and had adopted her at a young age. She recalls having lived part of her childhood with her two uncles and that they were very instrumental in her development. Although Faison married at the age of twenty-one and moved to Washington, DC, she soon fell in love with a woman and began a partnership that lasted for over 22 years. Her partner, Mya, died unexpectedly and Faison talks about how Mya helped to shape her life. It was Mya who helped Faison gain a greater appreciation for her Christian faith and a deepening of her spirituality. When Deborah came out to her mother, she rejected her and they did not speak for over twelve years. Eventually they reunited and maintain a loving and healthy relationship today. Deborah's story is unique in that it chronicles the everyday life of an African American lesbian. She became active in a Black gay church where her perspective about homosexuality as a sin changed drastically. Deborah has a very deep faith walk and her belief system is interspersed with prophecy and visions. Although she did not belong to any political or social LGBT organizations, she has lived the majority of her adult life as an out African-American lesbian. Her quiet strength, deep faith and her ability to live out her convictions in her day-to-day life are a testimony to radicalism and courage.
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JULIE FLACHS

Julie Flachs was born in 1975 in St. Louis and raised in Olivette, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. She attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, earning a Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology. At Michigan, she played field hockey, served as the captain her senior year, and was both All American and Missouri Sports Woman of the Year in 1997. She also earned a Masters Degree from Endicott College in sports management. After graduating from Michigan, she taught physical education in the Midwest for a number of years before moving to Massachusetts.

Abstract

In this oral history, Flachs talks about growing up in Missouri and living in a single-parent home with her brother. She also goes into detail about her coming out process during her first year at the University of Michigan, where she made strong bonds with her field hockey coach, and dealt with issues of isolation and depression, culminating in a suicide attempt. Flachs then describes her struggle as a lesbian and as a physical education teacher within the public school system in both the Midwest and Massachusetts. Flachs' interview is particularly strong around the issues of sexual orientation discrimination within the workforce and her personal coming out process and difficulties. Her story tells us that homophobia is still in full force, even in the Northeast.
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LISA FUSCO

Lisa Fusco (b. 1962) grew up in Springfield and Wilbraham, Massachusetts. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1987, completed her masters degree in criminal justice at Westfield State and completed her criminal justice training at the police academy in Needham, Massachusetts. Fusco was an environmental police officer from 1987 to 2008. She now owns a bar in Easthampton, Casey's Big Dog Saloon, and a hot air balloon company, Pioneer Valley Balloons.

Abstract

In this oral history Lisa Fusco describes her childhood in a working-class family in Springfield, including her close relationship with her grandparents who lived next door. She discusses her time as an environmental police officer and the sexism, racism, and homophobia that she observed during that time. She talks about her struggles during her much of her education, her success in graduate school and how her teachers have helped her become who she is today. The interview focuses on many aspects of her life including an in-depth conversation about her extended family, education, coming out as a lesbian, and her professions. Fusco reflects on her challenges as well as her passions and describes how she reached stability and happiness in her life today. Fusco talks about the unique nature of Northampton and offers life lessons she has learned about being a good person. She tells numerous stories from her life that add to the narrative of the lesbian experience .
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VICKI GABRINER

Vicki Gabriner (b. 1942) was born in Brooklyn, New York, where both of her parents were foreign language teachers in public schools. She attended Cornell University and moved on to the University of Wisconsin, at which point she spent her summers doing voter registration work in Atlanta. After receiving a master's degree in education in 1978 she moved to Atlanta, where she founded the Atlanta Lesbian Feminist Alliance, one of the longest-lasting lesbian feminist groups in the United States. Vicki then left Atlanta and has since spent over twenty years in Massachusetts. She has been legally married to her current partner since 2004. In 2009, Vicki received her Ph.D. in women's history from Union Institute, documenting her mother's involvement in Parent Teacher Association activism. Vicki has been published by Sojourner Truth Press and in Quest: A Feminist Quarterly, among other publications.

Abstract

This oral history has two components. Vicki first chronicles her life and experiences from childhood to coming out in Atlanta, Georgia. It is organized by both time and place, as Vicki describes what led her from Cornell, to Madison, to Atlanta, and finally to Massachusetts. She illustrates how her exposure to activism early in life informed and influenced her later participation in the labor rights movement and gay liberation. The second half of the oral history is topic-based. Vicki draws upon her experience with lesbian feminism to inform her opinions on the current LGBT marriage equality movement, parenthood, religion, and the aging gay and lesbian community.
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PEGGY GILLESPIE

Peggy Gillespie (b. 1948) grew up in New York City, graduated from Smith College in 1969, and has a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma. She is a certified social worker and has held various jobs, such as massage therapist, freelance journalist, editor, dancer, and actor. Gillespie's father died when she was sixteen and she lived with her mother, grandmother, and maid. Gillespie is caucasian, grew up as a non-practicing Jew, and as an adult follows some Buddhist practices. She identifies as bisexual, has been married to men twice, and is currently in a relationship with a woman. Her first marriage at age twenty-one lasted four years. She married her second husband at thirty and he died in 2000. Gillespie and her second husband adopted a biracial girl. Gillespie is the Co-Founder/Director of Family Diversity Projects, a non-profit in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is the editor-in-chief of all of Family Diversity Project's exhibits and books.

Abstract

In this oral history, Peggy Gillespie describes her childhood growing up in New York City and Tenafly, New Jersey. The interview focuses on her desires, sexual attraction, and relationships through her life starting with crushes in primary school. Gillespie's story is a primary source of a bisexual women's experience with love, lust, and sexual relations. The interview also includes narrative about Gillespie's second husband's death and their adopted daughter. Gillespie speaks avbout her experience as a single parent of raising her daughter and watching her grow up as a tomboy, and then later coming out as a lesbian. Gillespie talks about founding Family Diversity Projects and the experience involved in running a non-profit. The interview provides excellent insight into bisexual identity formation and validation, as well as bisexual visibility.
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EMILY GREENE

Emily Greene was born in 1946 and has lived in Washington D.C., Massachusetts, Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Alabama. She has worked primarily in the field of nursing, but has a variety of other experience as well. In 1979, she moved to a women's community called the Pagoda in St. Augustine, Florida, and in 2002, she moved to a lesbian community called Alapine in rural Alabama. She was a member of Alapine for over a decade before moving to Greenfield, MA in 2013. She has been an active member of various social justice and activist groups throughout her life, such as organizations for LGBTQ rights, peace organizations, and the environmental groups. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, hiking, kayaking, and spending time with her cat and two dogs.

Abstract

In this oral history, Emily Greene describes the progression of her life from her childhood in Maryland and Massachusetts to her experiences working as a nurse and living in women's separatist communities in Florida and Alabama. The interview focuses on her experiences coming to terms with her sexuality and coming out, her experiences at the two separatist communities, the Pagoda and Alapine, and her work with activist groups. Greene's story details the ways she grew from her experiences and found communities that were important to her. It also illustrates some of the recurring themes of the lesbian separatist movement in the 1970s, as well as comparisons to movements today.
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ANN HACKLER

Ann Hackler (b. 1960) grew up in Illinois and graduated from Hampshire College. Her background is in anti-racist work, especially in the women's movement. Hackler is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Musical Arts (IMA), located in Goshen, MA.

Abstract

In this oral history Ann Hackler describes growing up in a small Midwestern town in the 1960s - 70s. She speaks about her work organizing around anti-racist issues in the late 1970s on various college campuses. Later, she discusses the women's music movement, and founding the IMA with her partner, June Millington, in the late 1980s.

The transcript of Ann Hackler is not available online. Researchers may contact the SSC for a copy.

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ANDREA HAIRSTON

Andrea Hairston (b. 1952) grew up in Homewood in Pittsburgh, got her B.A. at Smith in 1974, and finished a graduate degree at Brown University. She has since taught at Smith, Brown, Holyoke Community College, and Trinity College. She is an artist, an actor, a playwright, a director, a musician, a poet, an academic, a teacher, an organizer and a novelist. Her published fiction includes the short story "Griots of the Galaxy," novels Mindscape and Redwood and Wildfire, and plays On Display - Do Not Touch, Polywise, Soul Repairs, and Archangels of Funk, among many others. She has also published poetry in African Voices and Chomo-Uri, as well as written a large body critical work on subjects from robot narratives to the persistence of minstrel caricatures. Having co-founded Chrysalis Theatre Company, a broad-spectrum social action theater group, in 1978, she was serving as its artistic director at the time of the interview in 2010.

Abstract

In this oral history, Andrea Hairston describes her childhood in a working-class African-American community in Pittsburgh and her experiences in community activism around Civil Rights, union organizing, and anti-war activity through her teenage years. Describing her sense of "revolving movements," she details her subsequent involvement with women's movements and queer organizing and community through her time as a student at Smith College. The interview focuses on her sense of multiple-issue activism over time, her experience of Northampton's queer, activist, and artistic community development since the '70s, her work with Chrysalis Theatre, and her relationships with her partner, Pan Welland, and James Emery in their three-person household. Hairston's stories detail how her experiences with and senses of community, collective action, and imaginative possibility have shaped both her approach to queer identity and activism in the world, making a strong contribution to these postwar histories.

The transcript of Andrea Hairston is not available online. Researchers may contact the SSC for a copy.

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LORI E. HARRIS

Lori Harris (b. 1957) was born in Dayton, Ohio, and was raised primarily by her mother and her maternal grandparents. Her mother worked in her grandmother's beauty salon and later became an administrative assistant at a local high school. Harris identifies as African American and part Blackfoot and as gay/lesbian. She was raised as a Baptist, later became a Methodist, and currently has no religious affiliation, but still considers herself a spiritual person. In the 1980's and 90's, she was involved with an organization called "The Black Lesbian Support Group."

She attended a vocational high school school, and later went on to take courses in Communication at Trinity University from 2006-2007. Harris worked as a legal assistant and secretary for a law firm from 1975 to 2007, when she decided to attend Smith College as an Ada Comstock Scholar. While at Smith, Harris worked as a Junior Curator/Public Historian at the Smithsonian Institution, had an archival internship at the Black Women's Health Imperative, and was a Kahn Liberal Arts Student Fellow during the 2009-2010 academic year. During the 2010-2011 academic year, she worked as an OCIP/CDO Intern at the Sophia Smith Collection.

In 2011, Harris received her BA in American Studies, with a concentration in museum studies and archival studies.

Abstract

In this oral history, Lori Harris describes her childhood growing up in Dayton, Ohio with her siblings and her experiences dealing with her mother's divorces and her abusive stepfather. The interview focuses on her journey as a working adult returning to college to receive her bachelor's degree in American Studies. She talks at length about her academic and scholarly work in black women and lesbian health issues, as well as her experiences in the academy as a non-traditional aged student scholar of color. Harris' story about her time in Washington, D.C. as a volunteer with the Black Lesbian Support Group also sheds light on the internal race dynamics of LGBT organizations during the 1970's and 1980's. Her story adds a new perspective on the LGBT movements that gained momentum before and during the AIDS epidemic and, in particular, the voice of the marginalized, tokenized black lesbians, that has been scarcely heard before. It also delves into Harris' personal life, and her journey in discovering herself through romantic and familial relationships.
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DEBORAH HELLER

Deborah Heller (born August 19, 1940) was raised in Brooklyn, New York in an upwardly mobile Jewish family. She graduated from Smith in 1961 as a sociology major and then proceeded to attend the School of Social Work for one year, which ended her up in Cleveland where she met her husband. After 10 years of marriage, she divorced her husband and came out as a lesbian in the 1970s. She earned a masters and a doctorate at Boston College between 1972 and 1976. She taught at Goddard in an adult degree program, BC as a teaching fellow, and started a gender identity clinic. Instead of pursuing academia, she became head of counseling and women’s services at a women’s health clinic, and then director of ambulatory services for department of psychiatry at Cambridge Hospital, with an appointment at the medical school. Then in 1982, she started HellerCunningham, a consulting firm helping organizations (profit and non-profit) become more successful. Heller has been active her whole life. She was involved in anti-Vietnam organizing, early reproductive and abortion rights, and the women’s movement. She was a Board member of Fenway Community Health Service. She and her partner Ann Sanders started the Fenway Women’s Dance, one of the first major women’s dances, together over 20 years ago. She has been with her current partner, Ann for 26 years. They were legally married in 2004 in Massachusetts. They currently live in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Abstract

In this oral history, Deborah Heller discusses her childhood in Brooklyn, New York and her transition to Smith College. She describes Smith in the late 1950s and goes on to talk about her decision to go to the Smith School of Social Work. She discusses her time in Puerto Rico in the Peace Corps and her work in Boston before divorcing her husband. She talks about her academic interest in gender and sexuality in graduate school occurring before and simultaneous to her coming out. She focuses on the women’s movement through lesbian feminism and often discussing lesbian community in Boston. She discusses her political work, including teaching workshops on lesbian sexuality at the short-lived lesbian college, Sagaris. She comments on her experiences during the AIDS crisis and work on the board of Fenway, as well as starting the Fenway Women’s Dance with her partner, Ann Sanders. The interview focuses on her political work, as well as her personal life.
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LEE ANN HOPKINS

Lee Ann Hopkins was born on January 2, 1962 in Kansas City, Missouri to parents John and Sally Hopkins. Her mother was a stewardess and a secretary; her father was a traveling salesman. Hopkins grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. She valued her teachers and always wanted to be in school. After high school she went on to Texas Christian University, received a B.A. at Mercer University in Atlanta in 1986, and went on to Georgia Institute of Technology where she got her Ph.D. in the experimental Analysis of Behavior. Following her Ph.D. she received a Master of Divinity from Episcopal Divinity School in 1992. Her final piece of schooling was from Golden Gate University School of Law, where she received her J.D. in 2002. Hopkins currently works with the law and nonprofits (1999-present). Previously she worked as a clergywoman/chaplain (1980s-1990s), a factory worker and secretary (1980s), and in restaurant and retail work (1970s-1980s). She identifies herself as a white, middle-class, Protestant lesbian. She has been involved in multiple organizations advocating for LGBTQ health and rights, including the Whitman Walker Health Clinic, Free State Legal Project, and the Trans Law Center. In addition she has created an online motivational community called The Hooray Daily. Over her lifetime she evolved from being a member of the Young Republicans to becoming very liberal. In addition, her lesbian identity and religiosity have played significant roles in her life. Currently Hopkins lives in Alexandria with her wife, whom she has been with for two and a half years. She has had three other significant partnerships, in one of which she helped parent two children. She is an outgoing woman who now writes a positive blog about life and optimism.

Abstract

In this oral history Hopkins describes her childhood in an upper-middle-class family and growing up in a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas. She describes how her Protestant roots and Christian identity sheltered her from dating men and from homophobia. Then she describes her transformative higher education experiences that led to her coming out as a lesbian. She discusses coming to terms with her sexuality, significant partnerships with women, her politics, and her experience moving from the Midwest, to the South, to New England, to San Francisco, to the Mid-Atlantic region. In addition, she discusses her change of careers from being a chaplain to being a lawyer at forty years old. She discusses gay marriage, sexuality terminology, gay family, her conversion to Judaism, her proposal on the Supreme Court steps in 2013, and much more.
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E. CAROLYN INNES

Carolyn Innes (b. 1937) grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating high school she received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Penn State in 1970, and obtained a Master's Degree in 1972. A self-described "activist by association," she and a lover moved to San Francisco in 1957 and worked as volunteers at The Ladder offices, stapling pages and mailing copies in non-descript packaging. In 1972, Innes organized the first gay pride parade in Philadelphia alongside Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin. At Gittings' urging she founded the Gay Nurses Alliance (GNA) in Pennsylvania in 1973. The GNA emerged nationally after she and co-founder David Waldron presented the organization at the American Nurses Association convention in June 1974 in San Francisco. Innes' goal was to raise awareness about the number of gay nurses, provide a forum, work for the civil rights of gay nurses, and fight for the medical rights of gay patients. The AIDS epidemic played a pivotal role in lesbian nurses' coming out process. Innes continued her activism, organizing the first gay pride parade in San Diego, and as Director of the Gay Center in San Francisco. She moved to the east coast in 1984 to focus on a career in hospice care. She currently resides in Hadley, Massachusetts with her cat, Jeter.

Abstract

In this oral history Carolyn Innes describes her childhood in Philadelphia, her experience as a nursing student in the 1950s, and her accidental introduction to gay rights activism after college. The interview chronicles her life over a sixty-year period, through personal experiences, friendships and romantic relationships, and consequential activist work during the gay rights movement. Her close associations with prominent lesbian activists during the formation of the Philadelphia Gay Pride Parade led her to form the Gay Nurses Alliance with friend and fellow nurse, David Waldron. She also addresses her alcoholism, subsequent sobriety and her various career choices in the field of nursing.
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CONNIE JENKINS

Connie Jenkins (b. 1967) was born to a working class family made up of a machinist father, a homemaker mother, and an older sister who was eight years older than she. After a relatively stable upbringing, though one in which she did not have a strong relationship with her parents, she went to Miami University of Ohio, followed by the University of Cincinnati for her medical degree specializing in psychiatry. She married a man and lived with him outside of Newark for a few years. At around age 29, she came out to her husband and her family as gay. She divorced her husband and her very conservative Christian parents disowned her. While working at a clinic, she met a woman named who also worked there as a social worker. They began to date and eventually became partners. They have lived in Pickerington, Ohio, for many years with their various pets. Jenkins has never had any children. Professionally, she has worked as a psychiatrist for her entire career, working both in private practice and at hospitals and clinics. She recently quit her job at a hospital and is starting a private mental health practice. Spirituality is important to her, and she practices Buddhism.

Abstract

In this oral history Jenkins describes her family background and childhood in a working-class family in Newark, Ohio, and her experiences growing up with the acknowledgement that she was different. She talks about coming into the realization that she was gay, coming out to her unsupportive parents, and getting out of her marriage. She discusses meeting and maintaining a relationship with her partner. She discusses what it has been like being gay in central Ohio, and how she chooses to work with organizations that are gay-friendly. She talks about being out professionally and how the field of psychology has changed regarding homosexuality over many years. She talks about why she was drawn to psychiatry and her work over the years. She explains her spirituality and her history of exploring spirituality. The interview ends with her discussing some views on feminism, class, and race, as well as the terms queer, butch, and femme.
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JUDITH JEROME

Judith Jerome (b. 1944) spent her childhood in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Dallas, Texas; and Denver, Colorado. She earned a BA in storytelling and mythology from Loretto Heights College in Denver, as well as an MA and a Ph.D in performance studies from New York University. Her extensive professional history includes work as a piano tuner, homesteader, newspaper columnist, general editor of Women and Performance, storyteller, actor, writer, and teacher. She is currently the artistic director of the Stonington Opera House, a community theater that she founded with her partner in 1999. Jerome was active the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s, and organized the first Midwest Women's Festival in the 1970s. She has three daughters and currently lives in Deer Isle, Maine with her partner, two dogs, and two cats.

Abstract

In this oral history, Judith Jerome discusses her childhood in the Midwest, her young adulthood experiences as a VISTA volunteer and a mother, as well as the events that led up to her move to Stonington, Maine where she restored a community theater with her partner. The interview focuses heavily on Jerome's upbringing during the 1940s, where she was surrounded by extended family that instilled a love of storytelling and performance in her from a young age. She also discusses her close relationship with her half-brothers, her marriage with her husband, her three children, her work as a piano tuner, editor for a feminist performing arts journal, organizer of the Midwest Wimmin's Festival, and her lifelong activism. Jerome's fiery personality and motivation to follow her passions shine throughout her narrative, which touches heavily on the back-to-the-land and feminist movements.
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MIRIAM KAUFMAN

Miriam Kaufman (b. 1954) grew up in Cleveland, OH, Durham, NC, and Kingston, ON. Her family moved around during her childhood due to her father's job, and she is one of five children. Kaufman dropped out of high school, but later returned to school, first earning a BSN from Duke University and then an MD from Queen's University. Kaufman is an eminent pediatrician, currently serving as the Division Head of Adolescent Medicine at SickKids Hospital in Toronto, where she has worked for the past 20+ years. Kaufman and her partner, Roberta Benson, successfully petitioned Ontario for second-parent adoption rights for their two children in the early nineties, enabling them to both be recognized as their legal parents of their children. Prior to this, Kaufman was also involved in anti-war and LGBT organizing, notably in Durham, NC and with the Queen's Homophile Association in Kingston, ON.

Abstract

In this oral history Miriam Kaufman describes her childhood in Cleveland, Durham, and Kingston as one of five children of a pathologist father and a stay-at-home mother. She dropped out of high school in Kingston, moving back to Durham, where she became heavily involved in anti-war activism. She then went on to pursue nursing and medical school, meeting her partner at the Queen's Homophile Association when she was in medical school at Queen's University. The interview then shifts to Kaufman and her partner's experience successfully petitioning Ontario for second-parent adoption rights for their two children in the early nineties, enabling them to both be recognized as the legal parents of their children. Kaufman recounts the court experience and then reflects on parenting and partner relationships, both in general and within the LGBT community. Kaufman ends the interview with reflections on how the movement for LGBT rights has changed since she first became involved and the state of politics and government in Canada and the United States.
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KARLA KAVANAUGH

Karla Kavanaugh (b.1950, New York City) grew up on a small family farm outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the oldest of three children in a politically active family. Her parents came from vastly different backgrounds. Her mother, Carola, who received masters in journalism at Columbia University, was the daughter of a well-known art curator and an independent early feminist. Her father, Ted, who worked in public relations, grew up in a working class Irish-Catholic family in New York City's Irish Harlem. The family grew their own food and were liberal activists in a small, conservative rural town. Kavanaugh graduated from Colby College where she was once again considered politically radical by the conservative community of students. Her college years coincided with the social movements of the 1960's and she participated in local and national protests including those around the Women's Movement, Civil Rights, against the Vietnam War and joined her family in their efforts to block construction of a nuclear power plant near her childhood home. She learned weaving at summer camp and after college found her way to Peter's Valley, an artists' community in upstate New York, where she was employed for several years, including a period as interim co-director. It was there that she learned carpentry. She moved with two carpenters from Peter's Valley to the Chatham, New York area where they spent several years constructing a unique artisan house. Through this experience she honed her skills, and became acquainted with local lumber yards and other tradespeople. In the early1980s she co-founded Octagon Construction, an all-women construction company. An advocate of green-building practices and affordable housing, Kavanaugh is presently also construction manager for Habitat Inc. of Columbia County, New York, where she is oversaw the recent construction of the first Habitat passive house in the country. Kavanaugh came out as a lesbian in her late 30s and became active in lesbian and gay causes. She is a founding board member of the Berkshires Stonewall Community Coalition and has served in various capacities in numerous other organizations.

Abstract

In this oral history Karla Kavanaugh describes her childhood as one of three children growing up on a small family farm outside Philadelphia. She reflects on the experience of being part of a politically radical, activist family in a conservative, rural town, as well as her experiences as an activist during the 1960s to the present. The interview focuses on her career as a carpenter in the primarily male building trades, including her founding of an all-women's construction company in Columbia County, New York in the early 1980s. She discusses the formation of Octagon Construction as a political act, as she and her business partners sought to claim a position of power in order to circumvent the difficulties experienced by other women who were trying to break into all-male building trades at the time. Kavanaugh discusses their vision of creating a site where women who wanted to explore careers in the trades could come and learn their craft in a supportive environment. Kavanaugh, who came out in her late 30s, talks about her experiences in the active lesbian community in the rural Berkshire Mountains community from the 1980s to the present. She talks about her present work as a builder, which is divided between Octagon and her position managing the builds for Habitat, Inc. of Columbia County, where she has just completed construction the first Habitat passive house in the country, particularly her commitment to green building as a strategy to mitigate the destructive trend of climate change, which she says is "the frontier now" and the center of her current activism.

The interviewer and narrator have a close personal relationship. They met while Amanna was a student in the Women's Carpentry class Kavanaugh teaches at The Heartwood School in Washington, Massachusetts.

The transcript of Karla Kavanaugh is not available online. Researchers may contact the SSC for a copy.

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JOAN LAIRD

Joan Laird (b. 1934) grew up in Rochester, New York, graduated with a BA in political science from Vassar, and a MSW from Columbia. She taught at Eastern Michigan University’s Social Work Program. She did three-years of postdoctoral work in anthropology and social work at the University of Michigan. She co-founded the Ann Arbor Center for the Family with her partner, Ann Hartman. Her partner Ann Hartman was dean of the Smith School for Social Work. She has published several books with Hartman on the topic of family therapy. Laird has also taught at Smith, and has been a pioneer in researching and working with lesbians in the field of social work.

Abstract

This oral history details Joan Laird’s evolving relationships with her family. Laird’s marriage with her ex-husband, the birth of her son, Duncan, and her relationship with her current partner, Ann Hartman, is discussed. Her experiences at Vassar in the fifties are described as well. The interview includes stories of Laird’s time in Ann Arbor as a postdoctoral student in social work and anthropology as well as the opening of the Ann Arbor Center for Family with Hartman. Laird talks about the coming-out process in numerous contexts and the particular struggles of doing so in the field of social work. She also describes her work with gay and lesbian families in the field of social work. She also reflects on the evolving environment for queer people.
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ANNIE RACHELE LANZILLOTTO

Annie Rachele Lanzillotto (b. 1963) was born in the Bronx, New York, to Italian-American parents. Her father, Joseph Lanzillotto, was an iceman and later an electrician, and served in World War II. Lanzillotto's mother, Rachele Lanzillotto, graduated from Jane Addams High School in the Bronx with training in cosmetology. She became a hairdresser and manicurist after divorcing Annie's father in 1975. She is the youngest of four children (Charles, 1948; Rosemarie, 1950; John, 1952). In 1975, at the age of twelve, Annie and her mother moved to Yonkers.

In 1986, Lanzillotto graduated with an Honors BA in Medical Anthropology from Brown University. While at Brown, Lanzillotto worked various service jobs. In 1985, she attended the American University of Cairo where she did her thesis work at the Egyptian Ministry of Health, where she first began to "play with gender" by sometimes dressing as a man. In 1990, she went on to get her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence University. At age 18, Lanzillotto was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and, due to the radiation, she was later diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer at age 35.

Today, Lanzillotto identifies herself as a "theatre teacher, writing instructor, song writer, performer poet, director of solo theatre, director of site specific theatre, memoirist, rock vocalist, and community organizer." In 1993, she entered the theatre world by writing and performing Confessions of a Bronx Tomboy. Theatrical highlights include her public art installation and performance A Stickball Memoir, curated by City Lore for the 2001 Smithsonian Folk Life Festival; her play Pocketing Garlic, commissioned by Franklin Furnace in 1994; her one woman show, How To Wake Up a Marine in a Foxhole, which premiered at The Kitchen Solo Voice's Series in 1998, and her two year site-specific work entitled, a'Schapett! (the act of wiping your plate clean with the heel of the bread, and savoring the juices) at The Arthur Avenue Retail Market in the Bronx. In 2010, The Annie Lanzillotto Band came out with a rock album entitled, "Blue Pill."

Lanzillotto is currently a member of the Italian American Writers Association, the Italian American Historical Association, the Franklin Furnace Archive (which preserves and encourages avant-garde art by underrepresented communities in Brooklyn), Dixon Place, and The Kitchen. She was also a member of Act Up: Rank and File from 1986-1988, and is presently a member of the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition Executive Committee.

Abstract

In this oral history, Annie Lanzillotto describes her childhood in a working class Italian American family, with focused attention on the transition that moved the narrator and her mother from the Bronx to Yonkers, New York in 1974. The interview also explores the impact of her father's domestic violence on her family. Lanzillotto also discusses gender identity and the messages she received regarding sexuality and gender while attending Catholic schools, Brown University, and the American University in Cairo. In addition, Lanzillotto describes the impact of being diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma at age 18 and Thyroid Cancer at age 35, along with her understandings of work and development of an "artist family." Lanzillotto also characterizes her participation in the Triangle Factory Fire Remembrance held on March 25, 2011.
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JANET LATHROP

Janet Lathrop (b. 1951) grew up in Madison, Wisconsin with her mother, father, and one younger brother. She holds a B.A. degree in journalism and a M.S. in science communication from University of Wisconsin, Madison. She identifies as a lesbian and a writer and has worked for a variety of organizations and publications as a newspaper reporter, editor, and science writer. She continued to travel and write until 2008, when she came to the UMass Amherst News Office as the campus science writer. Jan’s first relationship was with a woman, from 1964-68, but she resisted the label of “lesbian” and eventual married a man, Mike Downs, in 1971. She had one child with him, a son named Paul, but eventually divorced her husband in 1987. Since then she has been in two partnerships with women, including one lasting 16 years from 1991 to 2007. She now lives Massachusetts with her parakeet, Phoebe, and is not currently married or partnered.

Abstract

In this oral history Janet Lathrop describes growing up in Wisconsin in a small, upwardly mobile family, and her journey through college and beyond. This interview traces the development of Lathrop’s early sexual and romantic attraction to women over men, and her struggle within a family that often felt constricting and even fearful of her preferences. Lathrop describes her high school and college years, including her involvement in anti-war activism on campus in Madison, Wisconsin. Never quite identifying with the word “lesbian” or the other lesbians she met, Lathrop talks about her decision to marry a man and about becoming increasingly unhappy in her marriage as the years went on. The interview also touches on Lathrop’s development as a writer, and her involvement in a number of newspapers and other publications. Lathrop speaks to the experience of coming out late in life, of parenting as a lesbian, and especially to the discovery of a supportive and welcoming lesbian community and its importance in her life.
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MARGE LITCHFORD

Litchford was born in the 1960s in Arkansas, where her grandmother raised her. She has one brother. She studied religion at Ozark Christian College, was a sergeant in the army, studied criminal justice at Arizona State University, got an education/counseling degree at UMass, and earned her counseling degree in Kean, New Hampshire. Litchford has lived all over the country and currently resides in Northampton. She was the Area Coordinator of Green Street for about seven years, and currently holds the position of Assistant Dean of Students.

Abstract

In this oral history Litchford describes growing up with her brother and cousins in Fort Smith, AK. She describes how her grandmother, who raised her, had no money, but Litchford felt a lot of love in their home. Marge knew she was interested in women from an early age, but also knew that it would not be accepted, and developed the strategy of having boyfriends in high school and in the army so that she would not be suspected. A church funded Marge's first year at Ozark Christian College, which is where she had her first relationship with a woman. After she left school she joined the Army, worked in group homes, was a military police officer, and worked as a parole officer. Throughout her oral history, Marge discusses how she made family through her friends and her relationships. She also discusses how she was drawn to fields in which she could help people, specifically through counseling.
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REBECCA LUKENS

Rebecca "Becky" Lukens was born in 1960 in Lake Forest, Illinois and raised in Park Ridge, IL. She went to college first at Michigan State, and then transferred to the University of Oregon where she received a BS in Asian History and Education with a US History Minor before continuing on to receive an MAT from Lewis and Clark College.

She and her partner, Lisa Dieringer, have been together for ten years. They adopted their two sons, Sam (6) and Isaac (2) from the Pacific Islands.

During the 1980's Lukens was politically active, and participated in marches even though sometimes she had to wear a bag over her head because the school district would have fired her. She was the department head of the West Linn High School's social studies department in 1992, when the elections for Measure 9 were approaching. She was outed by a journalist for the Oregonian, and although at times she worried for her life, she was also struck by the amount of support she received from the community around her. In 1993 she left West Linn and founded an alternative middle and high school with four other teachers in Portland. She is currently the co-director of the school and teaches social studies.

Abstract

In this oral history, Becky Lukens talks about growing up in the Midwest and her family's response to her coming out. She talks about her experiences during Oregon's Ballot Measure 9 campaign, and her involvement in activism because of it. In the last third of the interview, she talks about faith, and the formation of family.
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CATHERINE MADSEN

Catherine Madsen (b. 1952) grew up in Detroit, Michigan and Fairbanks, Alaska. Early in her life Catherine developed an interest in religion, which she studied (along with literature) at Michigan State University, graduating in 1973. In addition to her B.A., Madsen holds a master's and M.F.A. from Goddard College. In 1971 she married a man whom she officially divorced in 1978. In the mid-'70s she met her current partner and became active in the lesbian community. Madsen was a member of the feminist singing group The Greater Lansing Spinsters' Guild, and wrote a number of the songs that the group sang, many of which are on their record The Patience of Love. Madsen and her partner moved to Amherst in the early 1990s. Madsen's early interest in religion led her to explore Protestantism and neo-paganism, but she found her home in Judaism and converted to the religion. The author of three books (A Portable Egypt, In Medias Res, and The Bones Reassemble), Madsen is a prolific essayist whose work has appeared in such publications as Tikkun, The Sun, and Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, and she is also a contributing editor to the theology journal Cross Currents. She has taught religion at Mount Holyoke College and currently works at the Yiddish Book Center as a bibliographer. Madsen is very active in the Jewish Community of Amherst (JCA), where she regularly leads services.

Abstract

In this oral history Madsen describes her childhood in a well-educated family that lived in Michigan and Alaska, focusing on the transformative experience of living in the latter. Madsen describes her experience going to college at Michigan State University, and how she found belonging there in a group of other misfits known as "The Tolkien Fellowship." Among their number was the man who would ultimately become her husband. Madsen describes how she came to meet her current partner through her ex-husband and delves into the complications of feeling that her primary partnership with a woman rendered invisible her bisexuality. Long fascinated by religion, Madsen describes exploring her faith and converting to Judaism. Following her immersion in the Jewish faith, Madsen became an impassioned scholar of Jewish thought and liturgy, and shares her feelings about where the faith should go. Madsen also explores the meaning of music in her life and touches several times on the deep meaning Alaska has to her.
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LIZ MARGOLIES

Liz Margolies (b. 1953) was born in New York City and grew up in New Rochelle, NY. Her parents divorced when she was fourteen years old and her father remarried twice. She graduated with a B.A. in psychology from Clark University in 1975. While in college she found radical feminism and began to join consciousness-raising circles and helped to start the second rape crisis center in the country. She had many varied relationships but eventually came out as a lesbian during her first semester of social work school. In 1977 she received her Master's of Social Work from Rutgers. Margolies then began to work as a psychotherapist in New York City specializing in trauma, grief, sexuality, illness, and human/animal bonding. In 1992, Margolies gave birth to her first and only child. Beginning in the early 2000s, Margolies became involved in gay and lesbian cancer-related health activism and in 2006 founded the National LGBT Cancer Network. In 2012, Margolies' private life became public when her long term partner proposed at the White House. Long against marriage, Margolies agreed and the two were wed in a highly publicized ceremony. Margolies currently lives in New York City with her son and several pets, working from home for the LGBT Cancer Network as well as continuing her private practice.

Abstract

In this oral history Margolies explores deeply her relationship with her son, partner, and larger family as well as giving insight into her motives as an activist, feminist, and lesbian. Margolies discusses what radical feminism was like in the 1970s as well as how it influenced her life and career. She has much to say on parenting as a single lesbian as well as on different kinds of queer family structures in which she has taken part. As a psychotherapist, her work has taken her down many paths, from rape to 9/11, many of which she explores in the interview.
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MARY McCLINTOCK

Mary McClintock (b.1957) graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1978, where she majored in English. She was born in California, grew up in California and Hawaii, and settled in Conway, Massachusetts as an adult. McClintock says she chose Western Massachusetts because she wanted to "live rurally and still have a vibrant lesbian/women's community around." She is an active member of her community and has been involved with activism around growing local foods and other issues. McClintock is well known for her publications around food sustainability and her weekly column in the Greenfield Recorder: "Savoring the Seasons: Enjoying Locally Grown Food Year-Round". She is also a lead organizer for the Free Harvest Supper of Locally Grown Food, founded in 2005, and the Winter Fare Farmers Market (started in 2008). She has also been involved in activism to shutdown the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. From 1997 to the present, McClintock has been on the advisory board of the Valley Women's History Collaborative. Currently she works as a freelance writer, editor, researcher, and book indexer at Better-Me-Than-You Research & Editorial Services in Conway, Massachusetts. Sea kayaking was the focus of her life from 1984-2000 and she led many women's kayak trips and paddled throughout the world, including New Zealand and Alaska.

Abstract

In her oral history, Mary McClintock describes the women-centered community that drew her to Western Massachusetts, and which contributed to her decision to settle in the area. She discusses her involvement with the Valley Women's History Collaborative and some of the work she has done there. She also talks about her life at Mount Holyoke College and her interactions with the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Hampshire College, and Amherst College. McClintock traces the manifestations of lesbian/women-centered community, in Northampton, at Mount Holyoke, in San Francisco, and at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, as well as in lesbian land communities. She discusses her relationships with women, what it means to be a lesbian, and the challenges and joys of coming out in the late 1970s, as well as her relationship with feminism.

The transcript of Mary McClintock is not available online. Researchers may contact the SSC for a copy.

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ROBIN McHAELEN

Robin McHaelen (b. 1955) grew up in Waterbury and Wolcott, Connecticut, and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1994 with a Masters of Social Work. She is the founder and executive director of True Colors Inc. Sexual Minority Youth and Family Services, a non-profit organization that "works to create a world where youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities are valued and affirmed." The organization hosts a conference each March that features LGBT resources and workshops and is open to all interested parties, including youth and educators. True Colors, previously named Children From the Shadows, was started in 1992. McHaelen also provides training and courses for schools, The Department of Children and Families and mental health professionals. She lives in Manchester, Connecticut, with her wife, Holly Lawrence McHaelen, and daughter, Rhylie, 14. Lawrence got her Masters of Social Work along with McHaelen, and home-schools Rhylie.

Abstract

In this oral history, Robin McHaelen describes a childhood of isolation which she associates with her gay identity and the effect that has had on her life, particularly on her social activism. She also paints a vivid picture of her Italian family, which she characterizes as central to her identity. McHaelen speaks talks about how she came to the University of Connecticut's School of Social Work and her involvement with Children From the Shadows. She shares stories about True Color's transformation from a fieldwork project to a non-profit organization with a substantially wider reach. McHaelen reflects on her life as an activist, particularly her efforts to reach out to more people and about how she has work to keep from getting burnt out in this demanding work. She describes the critical importance of her experience as a wife and mother, recounting heartfelt stories that reflect an evident pride in her daughter. The conversation includes her personal journey with her own sexuality and therapy, her coming out as a lesbian at her job, her reflections about lesbian history, especially lesbian book stores and women's music festivals, as well as her identity as a "recovering Catholic."
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LESLIE MCKENZIE

Leslie McKenzie (b. 1946) grew up in New Jersey. She graduated from Smith College in 1968 and moved to New York City, where she obtained an MBA and an MPA. She worked in research administration at Rockefeller University and healthcare administration at Cornell University Medical College, as well as teaching business courses and working in court administration for the New York state court system. She met her current wife in 1993. They married in 2003 in Toronto. McKenzie is now retired and lives with her wife in New York City.

Abstract

In this oral history, McKenzie discusses the difficulties of growing up with a mentally ill mother and an abusive grandfather and the ways in which this experience affected her later in life. She talks about enjoying her time at Smith, including Park House, her academic life, and her relationship with her boyfriend. She moves on to a description of her work life after college in New York City. The latter half of the interview focuses on McKenzie meeting her current wife and coming to fall in love with her, despite identifying as straight up to that point. McKenzie's narrative shows both the advantages and difficulties of coming to a non-straight identity later in life, as well as discovering feminism through this experience. It also demonstrates the alienation that McKenzie felt from the lesbian community. She brings up the theme of a desire for safety in her life, and the safety that she has found in her relationship with her wife. Finally, the interview concludes with a discussion of her fraught relationship with her father in the years before his death and the reasons why she's now happier than ever before. This story brings to light the experiences of a woman who only experienced opposite-sex attractions for much of her life and was never involved in activism of any kind.
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JUNE MILLINGTON

June Millington (b. 1949) was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States as a teenager. She was drawn to the guitar and started an all-female band, Fanny, with her sister, Jean Millington. Fanny was the first all-female band to be promoted by a major label. Shortly after leaving Fanny, June started touring on the women's music circuit. She has stayed involved in music as an artist and producer by playing with other women's music artists and producing the albums of many notable female musicians. She now runs the Institute for Musical Arts, an institute committed to mentoring, supporting, and educating female artists.

Abstract

In this oral history, June Millington discusses her childhood in the Philippines after the Japanese Occupation and her discovery of the guitar as her passion. She talks about her time in the mainstream music industry and women's music, as well as her participation in the women's movement and her current activism. The interview focuses on her sexuality and experience as a biracial, bicultural women. Her experience as a lesbian and woman of color are discussed in relation to her experiences of growing up in Manila, moving to the U.S., playing in an all-girl band within the mainstream music industry, women's music, and her current activism.
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BETTY MORNINGSTAR

Betty Morningstar (b. 1952) grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts. In 1971, she graduated from Smith College with an A.B. in Psychology. She pursued her graduate studies at Smith, earning her M.S.W. in 1977 and her Ph.D. in 1989. In addition to her extensive studies at Smith, Betty holds a M.A. from the Andover Newton Theological School. Since 1983, she has worked as a therapist in a private practice. Her teaching experience includes the Schools for Social Work at Smith and Simmons Colleges. Currently, she serves as the president of the Massachusetts Chapter of National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and in the past, has served as the chair of the national LGBT committee of NASW. She is also the former chair of the Social Workers for Peace and Justice. Additionally, she contributed to the book Lesbians and Lesbian Families: Multiple Reflections with the chapter "Lesbian Parents: Understanding Developmental Pathways," (1999).

Abstract

In this oral history, Betty Morningstar describes her evolving relationship with her parents, including their attendance at her commitment ceremony. She explains her schooling experiences as a Jewish student at both private and public schools, and articulates how many choices in her earlier adulthood manifested from her lack of choices within the social times growing up. Her educational and ideological explorations during her studies at Smith College, as both and undergraduate and graduate student, highlight her positioning on the cusp of major political movements of the late 1960s and 1970s. Additionally, she chronicles her emerging feminist and lesbian ideologies during her personal growth of relationships and professional development. From a realization in her early childhood to become a therapist to being the president of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Betty has demonstrated a clear professional trajectory. The interview includes experiences as a single, lesbian woman searching for the means to create a family with children and a supportive partner. All the while, Betty fuses the clinical practice of therapy with the exploration of the religious, personal self. Betty's story details the avenues she explored to become a lifelong learner, an active community member, and a lesbian parent and spouse.
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EILEEN MYLES

Eileen Myles (b. 1949) grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts, attended Catholic school, and graduated from the University of Massachusetts- Boston, with a BA in English. She moved to New York in 1974 to become a poet and since then has received multiple awards and grants for her work. In 1991, Myles ran for President of the United States of America, leading the first all-female write-in campaign. She served as a Professor Emeritus at the University of California at San Diego from 2002-2007. Myles currently lives in New York with her partner of three years, Leopoldine.

Abstract

In this oral history, Eileen Myles describes the complexities of existing as a queer, working class individual. She details her childhood spent in the suburbs of Boston attending Catholic schools and reflects on the presence of Nuns in her early life. The interview, however, focuses more specifically on the later years of her life, following her move to New York City in 1974 with aspirations of becoming a poet. Myles details her experiences in the poetry scene of the lower east side, specifically her time at Saint Mark’s Church, and speaks of her coming out process as being inherently tied to the poetry community. Myles speaks heavily about the activist sentiment present in her work, as she feels her work relates to the larger political spheres of feminism and queer politics. Myles’ story brings awareness to the intersectional aspects of identity (in this case, sexuality and class). Additionally, she sheds light on the way in which activism at a communal level can be isolating, while simultaneously remaining imperative at a personal level. Myles traces this thought through her relationship with second wave feminism and the political environment of the 90s. This oral history provides excellent insight into personal, queer interaction with the larger political and cultural spheres from the 1970s-present day.
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KRISTI NELSON

Kristi Nelson (b.1960) was born in Yonkers, NY to young parents who were in college. She is the oldest of three siblings. She has a brother (b.1961) and a sister (b.1963). After moving around frequently, her family settled in Amherst, MA where her father became an English professor. When she was 17 years old, her parents divorced and her mother moved to Connecticut to pursue a career in law. After taking a few years off to work and travel, Nelson enrolled in UMass Amherst and declared a major in Women’s Studies. In 1983 Nelson got married and dropped out of college. She was married for four years and got divorced in 1987. Nelson began a career in fundraising and philanthropy working for the Peace Development Fund, the Progressive Group, 20/20 Vision, and Food & Water inc. In 1992 Nelson was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma. After an intense struggle with cancer, Nelson began working for hospice. In 1997 Nelson was hired as Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. In 2002 she finished her B.A. in Women’s Studies from UMass Amherst. She went on to complete the Leadership for Change program at Boston College in 2003. She ran her own fundraising company for non-profit organizations called Inside Out from 2002 to 2006. In 2007 she completed a Masters in Public Administration at Harvard University. She worked at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health from 2007 to 2008. Nelson currently works at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society in Worcester, MA. She lives in Hadley, MA with her partner Linda and Linda’s two children from a previous marriage.

Abstract

In this oral history Kristi Nelson describes her experience as a social activist throughout her life and the many forms her activism has taken. The interview follows the course of Nelson’s life from her experiences as the child of activist parents to her current role in non-profit fundraising. Nelson’s story encompasses her more radical social activism in high school and college. She reflects on the feminist and lesbian separatist movements in the early 1980’s, focusing on her experience as a bisexual woman. Nelson’s story then moves to her career in fundraising for non-profit organizations and the way this fundraising connects with her social activism. Nelson relates her experience as a cancer survivor and the way this experience shaped her spirituality. She describes her philosophy as a mindfulness practitioner. She reflects on homophobia within the women’s movement and describes her experience of being closeted within the movement. Nelson’s story includes her experience of being a lesbian mother in a non-traditional family. Finally Nelson reflects on the current state of the gay rights movement, social activism and American politics.
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ALICE O'DONOVAN

Alice L. O'Donovan (b. 1945) was born Alice Louise Lilly to Kathryn Frisbie Lilly and Ralph Guilford Lilly in Plattsburg, New York. She was raised in Willsboro, New York until age nine and in Ashfield, Massachusetts until age seventeen and attended high school at Sanderson Academy in Ashfield, Massachusetts, graduating in 1963. Her one brother was born in 1935. O'Donovan's father, Ralph Lilly received a BA from Middlebury College and and MA from Columbia University. He worked as an educator, school administrator and banker. Kathryn Lilly received her BA from Adelphi College and was a full time educator before her marriage. She worked part time as a substitute teacher while raising her children. O'Donovan earned a Bachelor of Science in recreation administration from the University of Massachusetts, followed by a Masters of Divinity from Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1988, and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from Hartford Seminary, Hartford, Connecticut in 1988. She married Robert J. O'Donovan Sr. in 1971 and divorced in 1982. He died in 2004. She has three children from this marriage, Robert Jr., Stephen, and Mary.

O'Donovan worked as a field director for the Connecticut Trails Council of Girl Scouts from 1967 to 1970 and became the first female director of recreation for the City of Norwich, Connecticut in 1970. Additional experiences include farm laborer, fire department EMT and chaplain, and member of a town library board. Since 1988, she was employed in several pastoral positions at Peru Congregational Church in Peru, Vermont, South Windham Congregational Church; as Interim Associate Pastor at the Congregational Church of South Glastonbury; Interim Pastor at the United Church in Bernardston, Massachusetts; Interim Pastor at Second Congregational Church of Stafford at West Stafford and Interim Pastor at Westfield Congregational Church in Danielson, Connecticut until September 2012. O'Donovan has worked tom raise awareness within church organizations around lesbian/gay issues since 1982 as a member of the United Church Coalition for Lesbian/Gay Concerns.

O'Donovan lives in Tolland, CT with her partner Kathleen (Cass) Crewdson. Crewdson and O'Donovan met in 1970 as colleagues on a summer camp staff, began their life together in 1980 and were legally married in 2009 on their 25th anniversary. Cass earned a BS at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, attended graduate school at the Connecticut Center for Message Therapy, and is a Licensed Massage Therapist. O'Donovan identifies as a Caucasian, lower-middle-class lesbian and as a Christian in the United Church of Christ.

Abstract

In this oral history, O'Donovan tells about her family and parental background in New England in the 1950s and 60s. She recalls leading a happy childhood as a tomboy fascinated with outdoor sports, bicycles, horses TV, Girl Scouts and reading books and refers to her early, independent interest in religion and church. The interview includes a wide range of her interests, and traces a trajectory from college to seminary during the 1970s. She talks about shifts from Southern Baptist to Roman Catholic and finally to United Church of Christ and Congregational Church denominations. O'Donovan reflects on her sexual identity, her relationship with her partner, Cass, and outlines the dynamics of her divorce, as she left her husband to raise three kids with Cass. She discusses historically significant ordination as the first openly gay women ordained by the Episcopal Church in Connecticut in 1980 and the hardships and victories of her church life, including struggles with discrimination as well as acceptance in her churches. Through pastoral leadership and membership in the United Church Coalition for Lesbian/Gay Concerns, O'Donovan utilized her self-identity as a "justice pastor" to further an understanding of lesbian and gay issues in her congregations through a lens of faith.
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CAROLE OGLESBY

Carole Oglesby (b. 1938) grew up in Oklahoma and California. She earned her BA and MS from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1961 and 1964 respectively, and earned her PhD in Physical Education from Purdue University in 1969. She also earned a PhD in Counseling at Temple University in 1999. Oglesby started her career as a professional softball player, competing in national level softball championships in 1962, 63, and 65, and coached teams from both Purdue University and the University of Massachusetts. Oglesby is a professor emeritus in sport psychology (2001) from Temple University and was Chairperson in Kinesiology at California State University Northridge from 2003 to 2009.

As a sports psychology consultant, she has worked with Olympians and Pan American Games champions in rowing, cycling, para-Olympic cycling, and with the USA Deaf Women's VB team. Oglesby was on the executive committee of the USA World University Games group from 1972-1992, the US Olympic Committee House of Delegates from 1992-1996, and sat on the USOC Sport Psychology Registry for 12 years. She has presented papers and conducted training and leadership workshops in 31 countries. She has also published several pioneering works, including, Women and Sport: Myth to Reality (1978); Black Women and Sport (co-edited, 1978); and Encyclopedia of Women and Sport in America (1998). She is past-president of WomenSport International, served on the Executive Committee of the International Working Group for Women and Sport, and was the principal contributor to the UN-DAW monograph, Women 2000 and Beyond: Women, Gender, Equality and Sport, 2009. She is a recipient of the Women's Sports Foundation Billie Jean King award, AAHPERD R. Tait McKinzie award, ICSSPE Phillip Noel Baker Research award.

Abstract

In this oral history, Carole Oglesby describes her childhood with her feminist mother and supportive father. The interview is a quick overview of her relationships, activism, political activity, and family life. Oglesby details her introduction to feminism, and credits her interest in sport psychology as stemming from her life long battle to attain equal rights for women in sports. She has worked on many different projects, for example she talks about her work with the 1977 Women's Conference in Huston, and her work with Title IX.
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SAVANNA OUELLETTE

Savanna Ouellette, born Patricia Ouellette, was born on July 4, 1945 in St. Francis, Maine. Her first language is French, and she did not begin speaking English until she started school. At age ten she moved to Massachusetts and then settled in Connecticut with her parents and brother. She comes from a poor, working-class family who could not support her educational pursuits, so she put herself through college. Feminism is a big part of Ouellette's life. After college she became very active in the New Haven feminist movement, joining a band called the New Haven Women's Liberation Rock Band, an agitprop feminist rock band started by a lesbian couple. It was in this band that Ouellette met her first long-term partner. After living in New Haven, MA, Ouellette moved to the Boston area to pursue a law degree. While living in Cambridge, MA, Ouellette joined another feminist music group called The New Harmony Sisterhood Band. It was there that she met her current long-term partner and wife. Eventually Ouellette and her partner moved to western Massachusetts, settling in Shutesbury, where they adopted two girls, ages six and seven. She is currently retired and the bassist for the band One Journey.

Abstract

In this interview, Ouellette chronicles her life, starting with her childhood in Maine. She reflects on her social standing as part of a poor, working-class family and the effects of class on her and her life. She also discusses how her family dynamics, such as having alcoholic parents, affected her and her brother growing up. Ouellette also recounts her experiences putting herself through college, becoming a teacher, and joining the feminist movement in New Haven, Connecticut. She reconnects her experiences as a feminist musician with her relationship to class, speaking both to her own experiences and to broader feminist ideology. She tells of her journey from a rock musician to a country western musician, while also recounting her experiences within different bands. Ouellette also speaks about her romantic history and her subsequent marriage to her long-term partner. Finally, she tells of her experiences raising two adopted daughters, the struggles they had, and how she is now raising her grandson.
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DELIAH ROSEL

Deliah Rosel was born on April 14, 1950 in Queens, New York to a lower-middle-class family. She grew up with her two sisters and their parents in Queens. Her maternal grandparents and paternal family (including grandparents, uncles, and their families) were integral members of her close family growing up. She babysat and worked as a summer camp counselor and office clerk as a preteen and teenager. Rosel identified as heterosexual and was in a ten-year relationship with a man until age 25, when she began to identify as a lesbian. She had her first long-term relationship with a woman soon after that and continued to maintain significant relationships exclusively with women from then on. Rosel earned her bachelor's degree in biology from SUNY Stony Brook and her Master's in Public Health Medical Microbiology at UMass Amherst in 1976, which she followed with a two-year healing apprenticeship. She then worked to become certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork and started her private practice full-time in 1986. Rosel is currently a massage therapist healer. At the moment she lives in Conway, MA and maintains a private healing practice in downtown Northampton. She has studied energy medicine and Qigong, an ancient Chinese form of movement and energy therapy, which became one of her primary foci in the mid-1990s. She had her Bat Mitzvah as an adult, and her studies inspired her to create her own version of Qigong intertwined with Judaism: L'Chaim Qigong. She wrote her dissertation on this Jewish perspective of Qigong healing and in 2008 received her doctorate in Ministry in Jewish Spiritual Direction. Rosel was raised culturally Jewish and identified as such until after she came out, when she embraced witchcraft and lesbianism and later became an observant Jewish lesbian witch. Her faith is an integral part of her life as a healer, and she frequently gives workshops and prayer services to strengthen the connection between Judaism and healing.

Abstract

In this oral history Rosel describes her time growing up in Queens, New York, and becoming aware of her lesbianism in the 1970s. She talks about her relationships with her two wives, how she reclaimed her Jewish heritage, and how she began her spiritual healing practice in the 1980s. At this point in her life she can reflect back on many interesting points over her lifetime, and she is enjoying getting older and gaining wisdom.
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ROBERTA PATO

Roberta Pato (b. 1946) was born in the Bronx and was raised in the Lower East Side in New York City. She spent most of her life in NYC, and attended Hunter College, an all-women's college in Manhattan. She also earned an MS in Education, and taught in the NYC Public School system from 1967 to 1990 — when she moved to Arlington, Massachusetts for three years and worked as an accounts clerk at MIT — resuming in 1993 and working until her retirement in 2002. She currently resides in Northampton, and is actively involved in LGBT and anti-violence organizing in the Valley.

Abstract

In this oral history, Roberta Pato describes growing up Jewish in a multi-cultural apartment building in New York City, her early consciousness of lesbian desire and the pressure towards conformity. Pato contrasts the differences between her experiences with men and women, and the process of finding relationships. She details the painful experience of losing the love she found with a woman to societal expectations. Pato discusses the experience of being married to a man for nine years, and the affair and a thirty four year partnership with an abusive woman. The interview focuses on the process of losing family due to this relationship, and reconnecting to them, the reality and consequences of an abusive partnership, the arduous process of leaving an abuser, the finding of a lesbian community and searching for love and company in more recent years. Pato emphasizes the importance of safety and truthfulness, and the toll taken from being at least partially closeted for almost thirty four years.
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CODY PENOTTE

Cody Penotte (b. 1957) grew up in Ohio and Florida, living with two foster families after leaving her family of origin at the age of twelve. After attending high school, she spent a year in a cultural anthropology program, during which she lived in Mexico, Canada, and the Sea Islands. After this, she spent two years as an apprentice to a Shaker furniture maker, and, since then, she has been a passionate furniture maker. Penotte is currently an Ada Comstock Scholar at Smith College, majoring in Education. She lives on Nantucket with her partner of thirty years.

Abstract

In this oral history, Cody Penotte describes her very diverse childhood in several different families and socioeconomic backgrounds, her equally diverse job experience, and the factors that led her to pursue a Bachelor's degree at Smith College. The interview focuses on the numerous jobs she has held, particularly in the field of woodworking, as well as her experience with the Ada Comstock program, and her relationship with her current partner. Penotte's story also details the ways in which diversity in her upbringing has influenced her life.

The transcript of Cody Penotte is not available online. Researchers may contact the SSC for a copy.

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DAVID PEREZ

David Perez (b.1961) grew up in Northampton, Massachusetts and attended Northampton High School. He has two older brothers and a younger sister. Both of his parents emigrated to the United Stated from Puerto Rico in the 1950s. Perez married his wife Michelle in 1985 and their son Derek was born in 1986. His mother, father, brother, brother-in-law, sister-in-law and David have all worked for Smith College. At the time of this interview, Perez had just completed his 30th year of service as a custodian at Smith. He was the assistant coach for the Smith basketball team from 2000-2007. Perez and his wife share a two-family home with his brother and sister-in-law in Florence, Massachusetts.

Abstract

In this oral history, Perez talks about how his family came to the United States and, specifically, to Northampton. He talks briefly about his parents and their work on tobacco fields in Sunderland, Massachusetts. The interview focuses on the changing face of Northampton, particularly on shifting class dynamics and other shifts since the 1980s. Perez speaks about the lessening of homophobia he has observed in Northampton, and his own growing awareness of the lesbian community at Smith, as well as his recent identification with pan-sexuality and the misreading of his gender. He also speaks about his experiences as the assistant coach of the basketball team at Smith, his operatic voice lessons, AIDS, racism in Northampton High and his mentorship of a transboy through Facebook. The oral history traces Perez's work history from employment in a car showroom to the Daily Hampshire Gazette and then to Smith College.
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CATHERINE PITTMAN

Catherine Pittman was born in Flint, Michigan on August 3, 1961. She is a graduate of Central Michigan University and Northern Illinois University (where she received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology). She has taught at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana since 1989. Though she is a practicing clinical psychologist, Pittman's passion has always been for teaching. At Saint Mary's, she has served as advisor for several campus organizations that raise awareness of issues such as violence against women and LGBTQ visibility. She also co-authored a book with Elizabeth (Lisa) Karle entitled Extinguishing Anxiety: Whole Brain Strategies to Relieve Fear and Stress.

Catherine Pittman currently lives with her two daughters Melinda and Arrianna in South Bend, Indiana, where she is a community activist in the debate of whether to amend the city's Human Rights Ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity. She served as spokesperson for South Bend Equality, a group advocating for the Human Rights Amendment, from 2006 until 2011.

Abstract

In this interview, Catherine Pittman discusses growing up in Owosso, Michigan as the oldest of 10 children raised in a single parent household. She recounts her religious and spiritual journey—growing up with Catholicism and later finding a home in Unitarian Universalism and earth-centered spiritualities. Pittman talks of her academic passions in the field of psychology as well as her activism as a professor at Saint Mary's College, a small Catholic women's college in Notre Dame, Indiana. On a personal level, she discusses her divorce with her husband, her relationship with her two daughters, and her identity as a bisexual woman. Explaining her current activist work, Pittman discusses her efforts to amend the South Bend, Indiana Human Rights Ordinance to include gender identity and sexual orientation.

The transcript of Catherine Pittman is not available online. Researchers may contact the SSC for a copy.

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JUDITH PLASKOW

Judith Plaskow (b. 1947) is a Jewish feminist theologian. Her work exists at the juncture of practice and ethics, applying feminist thought to religious thought and belief. She is among the first scholars to develop and promulgate a body of feminist scholarship in religion.

Plaskow was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Long Island during the 1950s. She has one sister and was raised in the Reform Judaism tradition. As a Jewish feminist scholar, she is the first to identify as a theologian. She received her B.A. from Clark University in 1968 and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. She initially taught at Wichita State University in Kansas, but left there in 1979. Since then, she has taught at Manhattan College. From 1969 until 1984 she was married to the Rabbinic scholar Robert Goldenberg and had one son, Alexander, born in 1977. She came out as a lesbian in the 1980s and celebrated her commitment ceremony with Martha Ackelsberg in 1986.

As a theologian, Plaskow is trained in Christian theology, although she is committed to her Jewish faith and over time decided to do her theological work within the Jewish tradition. Much of her works deals with the problem of theodicy, a question she has been grappling with since her teens, as well as with sexuality and issues such as political justice for the state of Israel. Along with her partner Martha, she is one of the co-founders of B'Not Esch, a Jewish feminist group. Plaskow has served in high-ranking positions for the American Academy of Religion and was one of the early chairs of its Women and Religion group. Of her works, Plaskow's book, Standing Again At Sinai, is of particular importance in relation to how the body and sexuality interact with traditional language and understanding of God in the formation of individuals and their lived religious practice and understanding.

Abstract

In this oral history Judith Plaskow talks about her childhood and foundation in religion and politics, and her educational life. She discusses both the religious and academic sides of her work and the ways in which feminist thought has influenced on her work and religious practice. In much of the interview, she talks about particular conferences and organizations and their impact on her work and relationships.
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Judith Plaskow's papers are in the Sophia Smith Collection.

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BET POWER

Bet Power (b. 1950) is an FTM transgender man who has chosen not to medically transition. He is a longtime activist and agitator for LGBT rights. Power was raised in Chicago, and has been a resident of the Northampton area since the late 1970s. He identified as a stone butch, and lived and socialized in the lesbian community in Chicago and Northampton during the 1970s and early 1980s, and has identified as an FTM transgender man since 1983. Since the late 1970s, Power has been curator of the Sexual Minority archives, which document the lives and histories of varied sexual minorities, including lesbians, bisexuals, gay men, transgendered people, S/M leatherfolk, and fetishists. He founded the East Coast FTM group in 1992 and continues to host the monthly meetings in his home.

Abstract

In this oral history, Bet Power describes his childhood in a working-class family in Chicago, and his experiences in the Polish Roman Catholic community as a child. The interview focuses on his involvement and experiences with the lesbian feminist movement in Chicago and Northampton in the 1970s and 1980s, his experiences coming out as a transman in Northampton in the early 1980s, his activism within the LGBTQ community, and the history and development of the Sexual Minorities Archive. < br/>

The transcript for Bet Power is not available online. Researchers may contact the SSC for a copy.

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KELLY REES

Kelly Rees was born in Colombus, Ohio in 1966, the sixth of seven siblings, and grew up in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, a racially diverse borough of Pittsburgh that began to decline economically with high unemployment and the shutting down of steel mills, increased racial tension, "white flight", and declining housing values. She went to Catholic school for twelve years and received her Associates Degree in Nursing in 1989. Rees has lived in Pittsburgh for the entirety of her life. She came out as a lesbian at the age of 17. She is a registered nurse, but was unemployed at the time of this interview.

Abstract

In her oral history, Kelly Rees describes her childhood in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania and her family of seven siblings. She discusses her relationship with her parents and the process of coming out as a teenager in Wilkinsburg. She discusses the gay community in Pittsburgh, its small size, and the butch/femme dynamics that she observed. She describes the bar scene in Pittsburgh during the 1980s as well as where LGBTQ spaces are emerging today in the city. She shares her insights and values, emphasizing honesty and truthfulness in response to ignorance and lack of forgiveness.
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HOLLY RICHARDSON

Holly Richardson (b. 1965) is a queer identified community organizer. She was born in Worthington, Massachusetts. She received her BA from Western New England College, and then went to the School for Social Work at Smith College. She has worked for a variety of community organizations, and is currently a member of Arise for Social Justice and Out Now, a queer youth organization in Springfield, Massachusetts. Richardson has also been involved in anti-prison organizing and protesting the construction of the Chicopee women's jail. Her other areas of activism have involved outreach to sex workers, working for the decriminalization of prostitution, and AIDS activism.

Abstract

This interview covers Richardson's childhood, young adult, and adult life history. There is a strong focus on Richardson's working-class background and her childhood experiences growing up on a farm. There is also an emphasis on her queer gender identity and sexuality, which includes the story of her father's gender identity and suicide. The interview also covers Richardson's experience in an abusive relationship, which became the catalyst for her subsequent activism. A large portion of the interview focuses on Richardson's critique of Smith College as an institution, in particular the School for Social Work program.

The transcript for Holly Richardson is not available online. Researchers may contact the SSC for a copy.

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RENEE RUFFINO

Renee Ruffino (b. 1957) was born, raised and currently lives in Buffalo, New York. She has held various jobs throughout her life, from shoes salesperson to working at a printing company, and eventually as creative design director and adjunct professor at the University at Buffalo. In between, she earned her MFA from the University at Buffalo. Ruffino lives with her life partner, Sherri Darrow, and together they have raised three children, one biological and two of Ruffino's nieces. Ruffino is highly involved in the Buffalo community, as a principal in various art galleries as well as several organizations in Buffalo. She has a passion for art and photography.

Abstract

In this oral history, Renee Ruffino describes her childhood growing up in an Italian-American working-class family and community. She talks about attending the University at Buffalo and the various jobs she has held throughout her life. Ruffino reflects on her coming out process and her experiences in the lesbian bar scene in Buffalo, where she met her partner, Sherri Darrow. She discusses the creation and growth of her family, including having one child together and taking in two of her nieces. In addition, this interview details her relationship to art, religion, and to the Buffalo community. Ruffino describes her relationship to her four siblings and the recent death of one of her sisters. Her story documents the changes she has seen in the lesbian/gay community in Buffalo over time and explores nuanced details of her life as a lesbian in Buffalo, New York.
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JODIE SHAPIRO

Jodie Shapiro grew up in Brooklyn and the Bronx, New York. She attended State University College of Buffalo, where she opened a women's resource center and met her current partner. After graduating college, Shapiro moved to New Mexico and worked as an elementary educator while her partner pursued a career in pottery. The couple moved to Northampton in the early eighties and have been active members of the local community ever since. They had a daughter in April of 1994. Shapiro is currently the program director for the Carson Center for Human Services, working with people with traumatic brain injury. She is both a musician and an activist and hopes to become more involved with her activist work after her retirement.

Abstract

In this interview, Shapiro describes her childhood in a working class neighborhood and her early activist roots learned from her parents, while elaborating on their complicated relationship. She speaks about founding a women's resource center (which included a women's library) while she attended State University College of Buffalo. She also speaks extensively about how she met her partner and tells their entire love story. She also focuses on her travels cross-country and her subsequent discovery of various women's communities all across the U.S., as well as her involvement in a multitude of activist movements and groups in the Northampton area. In this interview, Shapiro explicitly outlines many of the struggles in her life as a lesbian.

The transcript for Jodie Shapiro is not available online. Researchers may contact the SSC for a copy.

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PEGGY SHAW

Peggy Shaw was born in 1944 in Belmont, Massachusetts into a working-class Irish Protestant family. There were eleven children in her family. Shaw's upbringing was very religious, and she spent time as a missionary in Central America when she was thirteen. Her mother suffered from nervous breakdowns and was institutionalized many times during Shaw's childhood. After attending Massachusetts College of Art and Designs, Shaw moved to New York City in 1967 where she married and had a child, Shara Antoni. Shaw worked at the Department of Social Servicess for the City of New York. A couple of years later she met the theatre troupe Hot Peaches. Initially Shaw built and painted sets for Hot Peaches. She began performing when she and Shara joined the troupe on a tour of Europe. While in Europe, Shaw joined Spiderwoman Theater and met Lois Weaver. She and Weaver left Spiderwoman to create their own theater company, Split Britches, with Deb Margolin in 1980. Shaw and Weaver also started the WOW Café in 1980. Shaw lives in the East Village in Manhattan with her grandson, Ian.

Abstract

This oral history focuses on many phases of Peggy Shaw's life including childhood, college, working and touring with Hot Peaches, and her hopes for the future. Shaw also discusses gay liberation, the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, second wave feminism, and the current gay rights movement.
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REBECCA SHAW

up with her two siblings, Alan and Leslie, in the rural town of Towanda, PA. Her mother was an elementary school teacher, while her father worked in a local factory. Shaw was raised Presbyterian, and describes her experience growing up in a conservative family as very difficult. Shaw attended Elmira College, graduating with Bachelors degree in Business Administration and Marketing in 1984. She soon began her first job in Springfield, OH as Residence Hall Director at Wittenberg University until June 1986. That following month, Shaw continued her education, attending Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, PA. While working towards her Masters, Shaw worked as Residence Hall Director yet again. She graduated with a Masters degree in College Student Personnel Administration in 1988. Shaw moved to Carlisle, PA, where she worked at Dickenson College from 1988 to 1994. Shaw has extensive experience in leadership roles within College Administration field, holding the position of Dean of College and Director Residence Life multiple times during her career. Shaw currently works at Smith College as Director of Residence Life. She lives in western Massachusetts with her partner of 19 years, Amanda Costin and their three children: Bailey, Meghan, and Samuel Costin-Shaw.

Abstract

In this oral history, Becky Shaw describes her childhood in a conservative, working-class family in Towanda, PA. The interview focuses on her journey to self-discovery, discussing her struggles with coming out to herself, as well as her family and friends, as well as accepting her ambitions outside of traditional female roles. This period ranges from her formative high school years to well into adulthood, as she began her career in student affairs. Shaw shares her complicated relationship with her family, history of past relationships gone wrong, and discrimination she’s suffered as a lesbian and mother. Shaw goes in depth about the process of having children, and creating a family with her partner, Amanda Costin. Shaw’s narrative details the way in which we come to understand the shift in lesbian history through the 80s and 90s, as she moves past a feminist movement to a more current period, in which she sought her own personal happiness.

Rebecca Shaw's transcript is not available online. Researchers may contact the SSC for a copy.

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ELLEN SHUMSKY

Ellen Shumsky (b. 1941) grew up in Brooklyn, received her B.S. from Brooklyn College in 196l, and earned her Masters in library science from the Pratt Institute in 1964. Shumsky taught high school science in the New York City school system for four years, followed by ten years as a school librarian. In the late 1960s, Shumsky studied photography in France with her mentor and brother-in-law Harold Chapman. She returned to the United States in 1969 to join the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Shumsky co-founded the Radicalesbians and co-authored the lesbian feminist text The Woman-Identified Woman under the name of Ellen Bedoz. She served as the principle photographer for GLF's newspaper Come Out. In 1979, Schumsky received her Masters in social work from SUNY Stony Brook. From 1980 to the present, she has worked as a psychiatric social worker, a psychotherapist in private practice, and teacher and supervisor at psychotherapy and psychology institutes in New York City.

Abstract

In this oral history, Ellen Shumsky describes growing up in a Jewish community in Brooklyn and her experiences learning about photography in France in the 1960s. The interview focuses on her experiences in the New York City school system, her experiences working in the Gay Liberation Front and co-founding the Radicalesbians, her work as a photographer and chronicler of the gay liberation movement, and her work as a social worker and psychotherapist. Shumsky's story details the origins of lesbian feminism from an intimate perspective, those policing this movement, internal discord, and commune life. She also illustrates the experience of being a lesbian psychotherapist, and how her identification as a lesbian changes her relationships with her patients and the larger discipline.

The transcript of Ellen Shumsky is not available online. Researchers may contact the SSC for a copy.

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RABBI TOBA SPITZER

Rabbi Toba Spitzer is the religious leader of Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in West Newton, Massachusetts. She was born in the Philippines in 1962 and was raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. She completed her undergraduate degree in Social Studies at Harvard in 1986, entered the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1992, and was ordained in 1997. In 2007 she was appointed president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and became the first openly gay or lesbian rabbi to lead a national rabbinic organization. She has also served on the boards of J-Street and B'rit Tzedek V'Shalom and continues to work for peace in the Middle East.

Abstract

In this oral history, Rabbi Toba Spitzer describes the experience of entering the rabbinate as an out lesbian and talks about how her spirituality has influenced her social justice work. She describes how she became involved in the Labor Zionist movement at a young age and how political involvement has always represented an important part of her connection to Judaism. She also explains how the feminist movement has been important to her and how she has worked to articulate her spirituality in a feminist context. This interview also focuses on Rabbi Spitzer's activism and her work around economic justice and Middle East peace.
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SUSAN STINSON

Susan Stinson is a lesbian-identified novelist that currently lives in Northampton, MA. She has been the writer in residence of Forbes Library since 2010 and is the author of five novels, a contributor to seven poetry anthologies, and has penned dozens of articles and essays over the years. Her work often centers around fat activism and her experience as a fat lesbian, and her novels often include queer characters and themes. At the start of January 2014, Stinson also became a visiting lecturer at Amherst College in Amherst, MA. Stinson was born in 1960 in Amarillo, TX and spent most of her childhood in Littleton, CO, but has resided in Northampton for most of her adult life.

Abstract

In this oral history, Susan Stinson begins by describing her childhood in Colorado and Texas summers with her grandparents. She talks about the struggles of growing up fat and how school, her parents, and society contributed to that. She also explores her early discovery of writing and literature and talks about the importance of writing in her life and the publication of her books. Additionally, she discusses the process of coming out, painful crushes in high school, and the lesbian feminist community she found in high school that helped her grow. Stinson also briefly touches on her time at the Center for Popular Economics, her year working at a battered women's shelter, and her experiences living in Northampton for the past thirty-plus years.

The transcript is not available online. Researchers may contact the Sophia Smith Collection for a copy.

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LAURA SULLIVAN

Laura Sullivan (a.k.a. "M.L.") (b. August 1, 1959) grew up in Westport, CT. The third of five children from a middle-class Italian-American family, she was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended Catholic schools throughout her primary and secondary school education, until she attended Yale University in the late 1970s. After graduation, she became a physical therapist at Yale New Haven Hospital, where she worked for eighteen years, during which time she married and had a daughter. In the early 1990s, after becoming disillusioned with her role as a physical therapist, she and her business partner, Samantha, opened the Chateau, the first women-owned and operated BDSM club in Connecticut. A strong advocate for BDSM awareness, the Chateau was a safe space for employees and patrons to find community and "play." M.L. left the Chateau in the mid-1990s over creative differences wither her business partner, and divorced her husband in the early 1990s, suffering through a tumultuous child custody battle, where her BDSM interests and activities were major factors in the court proceedings. She now lives with her daughter and leather family in Connecticut, where they run a small, private BDSM club.

Abstract

In this oral history, Laura Sullivan begins by describing her childhood in a close-knit Italian-American family, where the listener gains insight into her privileged upbringing. Her loving and supportive family provided a disciplined and structured foundation, where she had strong female role models (i.e. a mother who was a nurse and a grandmother who owned a bakery), which helped lead her to a life filled with self-determination and confidence.

The interview mainly focuses on Laura Sullivan's interest, entrance, and existence within the BDSM community, beginning with her involvement in "shoe-licking" shenanigans in the second grade, to opening the Chateau, a mass BDSM club, to her commitment to her present, private BDSM club in Connecticut. Through her personal reflections, the audience is allowed access to the emotional and literal negotiations between the roles of wife, mother, daughter, teacher, student, etc., through a perceived sexualized lens. Her story offers valuable information on the study of alternative sexualities and women entrepreneurs in the sex industry, as well as providing a normalized perspective of what is often considered a taboo subject.

The transcript of Laura Sullivan is closed except with permission. Researchers may contact the Sophia Smith Collection for more information.

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JAY TOOLE

Jay Toole (b. 1948) was born and raised in Bronx, New York. Her father was a brakeman on the railroad and her mother was a stay at home mother often absent due to mental illness. Jay was thrown out of the house when she was thirteen years old and lived on the streets of New York for twenty-five years. She battled addiction for thirty-seven years until she got clean in 1999, the same year she obtained her GED. In 2000 Toole left the shelter system and helped to co-found Queers For Economic Justice (QEJ) in 2002. She is a trained alcohol and substance abuse counselor and in 2006 was awarded the Richard L. Schlegel National Legion of Honor Award for emerging activists. Toole currently lives in New York City with her girlfriend Sheila.

Abstract

The oral history of Jay Toole discusses her childhood, her family, and her time living on the streets as a young butch lesbian, her drug and alcohol addiction and her queer activism in her later life. The interview is particularly strong on the topics of homelessness, New York City shelters, activism and Queers For Economic Justice.

Small portions of the Jay Toole interview are closed and have been removed from the transcript.
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JENNIFER WALTERS

Jennifer Walters (b. 1960) grew up in Buffalo, New York, graduated from Marquette University with a bachelor's degree in theology (1982), and earned Master's degrees from Boston College (1984) and Michigan State University (1994) in religious education and philosophy, respectively. She also holds a doctorate in ministry from the Episcopal Divinity School (1990) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Walters' employment history includes work for the Fenway Community Health Center in Boston, and holding positions as ombudsperson and chaplain at University of Michigan and part-time pastor in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is the Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at Smith College. Her family includes partner Celeste Whiting, and three children, as well as an assortment of furry animal companions.

Abstract

In this oral history Jennifer Walters describes growing up as the oldest of six children in a Catholic working-class family and community in Buffalo, New York. She explains how her early experiences as a student leader of college ministry at Marquette University, and later as a counselor to HIV-positive patients at Fenway Community Health Center, led her to obtain a doctorate from the Episcopal Divinity School. The interview centers on Walters' vocational discernment to the priesthood as an openly lesbian woman. She also details her coming out process, both to herself and her family, and emphasizes her family and community's unfailing support as she negotiated a place for herself in the Catholic Church and later the Episcopal Church in the midst of homophobic harassment.

The transcript is not available online. Researchers may contact the Sophia Smith Collection for a copy.

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KATE WOLFE

Kate Wolfe (b. 1964) grew up in El Paso, Texas, with her mother, step-father and one of two older brothers. She graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1986, and stayed at the university to earn her MA in Experimental Psychology in 1989. In 1994, Wolfe earned her Ph.D in Social Psychology from the University of Houston. Wolfe's subsequent employment includes pre- and post-doctoral positions as a teaching assistant, a research fellow, a director of research projects and, in 2001 she began teaching at community colleges in Washington, Connecticut, Illinois, Texas, Oregon and Massachusetts. Her published work includes articles in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (1990), Journal of Psychoactive Drugs (1995), and the American Journal of Public Health (1996). (All articles published under her previous name, Susanna M. Perry). Wolfe currently holds four teaching positions (virtual and physical) as a Tenured Psychology Instructor at Seattle Central Community College, an Adjunct Psychology Instructor at Springfield Technical Community College, Asnuntuck Community College and Holyoke Community College.

Wolfe grew up in a white, working-class Catholic household and moved frequently as her step-father, a former sailor in the Navy and her mother, a registered nurse diagnosed with Lupus, looked for work throughout Texas and New Jersey. Wolfe lived with her parents until 1989 when she moved to Houston, where she came out as a lesbian and began the first of three significant relationships. Wolfe lived in Seattle, Portland and California before moving to Massachusetts with her current girlfriend Kellye Rowland ('AC) in 2010.

Abstract

In this oral history Kate Wolfe describes her childhood in Texas, her estranged relationship with her stepfather and elder siblings and the year spent sleeping in a car while her parents moved the family across the country in search of work. The interview focuses on Wolfe's romantic, intellectual and emotional life since grade school, her employment history and her lesbian identity. Wolfe's story illuminates the experiences of working-class lesbians, perspectives on the "queer" label, Wolfe's marriage in 2003 to then-girlfriend in Portland, her attempts to reconnect/ distance herself from her family and her activities in academia.
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