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Welcome to the oral histories and videos page! Here you can find all the oral histories and other events that have been recorded by or for OSQA. These collections document the experiences and perspectives of members of the LGBTQ+ community who have spent at least portions of their lives at Oregon State University and/or in Benton County, Oregon.
Currently, the following collections are kept on this page:
For a complete list of oral history interviews see the OSU Queer Archives Oral History Collection, 2015-2016 (OH 34)
OSU MediaSpace is the site that houses all the online versions of SCARC's audio and video files ~ though not all of SCARC's a/v content. You can browse through all the OSQA videos available on this page by clicking here.
You can also access these videos, video descriptions, and interviewee bios through the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) finding aid.
The following is a collection of LGBTQ+ related events on Oregon State University's campus. Click the title of each event to view the corresponding video.
Panel - "The History of Queervallis", October 29, 2015 1:11:00
On Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, the OSU Pride Center organized the event “The History of Queervallis” with guest speakers Professor Qwo Li Driskill and Assistant Head Advisor for the College of Liberal Arts Tristen Shay who shared their knowledge of queer history on campus and in the Corvallis area. Professor Driskill discussed their research on queer history on both the national and local level. They gave context to the OSU Queer Studies program by talking about the connections between the feminist and LGBTQ+ movements, and spoke specifically about the intersections between gender, sexuality, and race. Shay shared personal stories of his childhood, his activism in high school and college in support of the queer community, and his journey to OSU along with his continued work here in Corvallis.
Panel - “Occupying Margins: A Panel Discussion on Gender", November 14, 2016 1:27:26
As part of Trans Awareness Week 2016 on OSU’s campus, SOL and the Pride Center hosted an event entitled “Occupying Margins: A Panel Discussion on Gender” in which three OSU students—Tara Crockett, Malik Ensley, and Vickie Zeller— with moderator Samantha Wood, spoke about their personal experiences with gender, as well larger impressions of the topic. The description of the panel was as follows: “This panel aims to spotlight the lived experiences of non-binary/genderqueer/gender non-conforming folx who live beyond the gender binary.” During the event, the panelists answered pre-decided questions as well as queries from the audience. A wide array of issues were addressed, including South Asian poetry duo Dark Matter and their argument that if you are a person of color, queer, differently abled, neuro-diverse, low-income, etc. you already do not fit the definition of “man” or “woman.” The three describe their vision for working towards a society that cherishes these trans and non-binary genders and relationships, rather than just “accepting” non-binary people. In addition, the group explores the ways in which the definition of gender can be expanded and improved upon by acknowledging histories and legacies of slavery and colonization. All of the panelists stress the need for difficult conversations, and interventions that make others question their harmful assumptions. They explain that this includes talking to strangers, standing up for your friends, and fostering dialogue with family members. A more detailed summary of the event, with time stamps included, is available on our blog.
Panel - "Consent is Asexy and Required: Healthy Relationships with Asexual and Aromantic People", April 25, 2017 1:41:00
This panel, held on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 6PM at Eena Haws Native American Longhouse, considers what healthy relationships look like when centering asexual (ace) and aromantic (aro) identities. The ace and aro community face high levels of sexual violence and corrective rape, and this panel seeks to amplify their voices in the discussion because their community is so often invisible and stigmatized. The event primarily centers around a panel of self-identified ace and aro community members who speak about their experiences with relationships, consent, and ace/aro awareness. However, the event aims to benefit anyone of any sexual orientation or gender hoping to be better equipped with tools to establish and maintain healthy relationships. A more detailed description of the panel is available on the blog.
Below you will find the documentary "OSU LGBTQ+ Community Film" created by OSU student Kiah McConnell, as well as each interview McConnell conducted in its entirety. Click the title of an interview to view the corresponding video.
OSU LGBTQ+ Community Film, June 2015 00:40:00
Created by Kiah McConnell and submitted to Oregon State University, University Honors College, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Honors Baccalaureate of Arts in Sociology, Honors Associate, presented June 2015.
Rylan Wall, 2015 1:01:28
Rylan Wall begins this one-hour interview by discussing his time serving as co-director for Rainbow Continuum, delving into the issues the organization faced that year with a lack of gender diversity in the leadership and the non-inclusive decision-making that can stem from that situation. Wall talks about the different leadership positions available within Rainbow Continuum at that time, noting that there was a higher than normal rate of student engagement within the organization that year. In addition, Wall briefly discusses his mentor at the Pride Center and the important impact mentorship can have—a topic he returns to later in the interview. Wall details what a typical Rainbow Continuum meeting entailed while he was working there, including a facilitated introduction, and establishing a “safe” or brave space. Wall explains that what would follow was sometimes discussion questions centered on community issues or larger LGBTQ+ issues, and often an activity or game, led by the social director. Wall describes his experience with planning OSU’s Pride Week, including general highlights, again noting that the number of people involved and the number of programs put on was record-breaking that year. Following this, Wall briefly discusses how Rainbow Continuum came to be designated as a voluntary student organization, and the ways that this designation ensured a standard of student autonomy. Wall notes that in his experience, OSU’s administration, faculty, and staff have been supportive of student voices on campus, and seem to always be looking for student input. This conversation brings him back to the importance of mentorship, support, and role models—specifically highlighting the work Jeff Kenney did to improve the Pride Center as Director of Outreach, and how he helped them restructure the center to better fit the expectations of a cultural center. Wall ends by speaking on the importance of having a Pride Center on campus, and how the visibility and resources it provides impacted him in his early days at Oregon State. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell.
Stina Goetter, 2015 0:34:51
In the interview, Goetter begins by briefly describing her high school experience, and the lack of a queer community in that space. Because of this, she explains that she was committed to creating that space when she came to Oregon State, but was pleasantly surprised to find that a queer community was already firmly established at the school. Goetter details how Rainbow Continuum was beneficial to her, particularly in her early days at OSU, and how she fell into activist work. Goetter talks about the kind of work she did as web director for the Pride Center, and later as a co-director of Rainbow Continuum. After describing her early involvement at Oregon State, Goetter primarily focuses on the OSU drag show, its history, and its impact. She pinpoints the ways in which the show has created community, and created a space for playfulness and performativity. Goetter emphasizes drag as activist work that is both empowering and political. In the second half of this interview, Goetter describes a Corvallis Gazette article that ultimately prompted changes within the OSU drag show, thanks to input from Dr. Brenda McComb. Because of this, Goetter explains how she has worked to make the drag show open to a wider range of ideas, particularly in making the show more supportive and inclusive of transgender folks. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell.
Guillermo Rebolledo, February 9, 2015 0:07:22
In this brief interview, Guillermo Rebolledo introduces himself and speaks primarily on his experience as an openly gay member of an OSU fraternity. Rebolledo outlines the way assimilation, stereotypes, machismo, and Greek life culture have an impact on openly gay members of this community, including himself. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell.
Katie Wicks, February 20, 2015 0:11:42
In this short interview, Wicks talks about transgender inclusion efforts in which she has been involved at Oregon State, including a survey she herself initiated as an internship project focusing on OSU’s Pride Center, and another survey conducted by the graduate school and overseen by Dr. Brenda McComb. Wicks describes the ways in which both OSU and other land-grant institutions have made progress in transgender inclusivity, yet still have a long way to go in terms of resources, support, and policy. Wicks also speaks to her involvement at the Pride Center, describing Rainbow Continuum and what it achieves for the community, and detailing Pride Week events on Oregon State’s campus. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell.
Adrian Borycki, February 26, 2015 0:17:43
This interview with Adrian Borycki focuses primarily on their involvement in the Greek community as an openly queer-identified individual. Borycki paints a nuanced picture of Greek life at OSU, describing the ways in which it is both heteronormative and homogenous, but nevertheless supportive in their personal experience. Borycki explains that their sorority, Sigma Kappa, has been very supportive since Borycki came out to their sisters. Borycki explains that they have often felt like a “queer representative” in their sorority, supporting their sisters and having the ability to blend the two OSU worlds of Greek life and the Pride Center. Borycki details micro-aggressions they have experienced at Greek life social events, particularly from fraternities. Borycki ends by speaking about their work as the publications coordinator for the Pride Center, outlining their social media strategy for the center to create a stronger online presence. Borycki explains that the Pride Center’s social media presence is a vital way to keep the community connected, show that there is support, and create an “unassuming way” for students to get involved with the Pride Center—especially for those students who may not be “out” to friends and family. At the time of the interview Borycki used the first name “Sarah.” Interviewer: Kiah McConnell.
Ish Guevara, March 15, 2015 0:12:11
In the interview, Ish Guevara offers his thoughts on the politics of queer and trans movements and support, both nationally and at Oregon State University. Guevara outlines his vision for stronger collaboration between SOL, the Pride Center, and the other cultural centers. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell.
Jaqc Allen, April 29, 2015 0:25:23
In this interview, Allen details their coming out experience as someone who began to explore their identities a little bit later in life. They describe coming out as a process, and describe the way this process looks different with friends, family, teachers, and peers. Allen briefly explores the intersection of masculinity and race, and how this intersection has impacted them as a masculine-presenting person of color. In addition, they share their vision for the future of SOL (the LGBTQ+ Multicultural Network), the Pride Center, and the other cultural centers. Allen explains the ways in which the mere existence of SOL is indicative of a greater problem with inclusion amongst the cultural centers, and a lack of intersectional awareness in their resources and staff. At the end of the interview, Allen briefly discusses Project Social Justice and how it has impacted their life. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell.
Jeff Kenney, May 13, 2015 1:01:55
In this hour-long interview, Jeff Kenney discusses a wide range of topics relating to the culture and history of the Pride Center at OSU, and student affairs and outreach work more generally. Kenney explains that as Coordinator of LGBTQ+ Outreach and Services, his primary goal was to ensure the promotion and success of LGBTQ+ students. He details the responsibilities of this position, including serving as an active liaison to the Pride Center and partnering with other units both on- and off-campus; providing supervision, mentorship, and guidance to OSU students; and mediating pressures to serve both students and staff, to reach outside the OSU community or focus on campus issues. Kenney briefly explains the root of this conflict, detailing the ways in which queer and trans faculty at OSU can feel isolated, as well as face micro-aggressions or direct hostility from their colleagues, but have no significant support for this issue. In addition, he discusses the ins and outs of serving a diverse constituency, not only balancing the demands of students and staff, but also seeking to serve non-students from the surrounding community. Kenney suggests that another pull and tug is experienced by outreach coordinators like himself—being held responsible to both the institution as well as the student body, and having to sometimes represent policies that feel outdated or created from a place of fear. Following Kenney’s in-depth exploration of the many conflicting expectations for outreach coordinators in general, but particularly at Oregon State, he briefly discusses how the push for marriage equality during his time at Oregon State impacted the Pride Center. This part of the discussion details the ways in which marriage equality is important, but also homonormative, and often negates the more pressing needs (i.e. stable jobs, shelter, food) of many queer communities. Kenney concludes the interview with a more general discussion on the Diversity and Cultural Engagement Office at Oregon State. Kenney describes the changes he has observed in the relationships between cultural and resource centers on campus, as students and staff increasingly envision these centers as one consortium. He describes the ways his office has become a more complex organization in reaction to a complex student body, and ends by speaking on the emotional aspect of doing this kind of work. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell.
Vanessa Vanderzee, May 2, 2017 0:55:49
In the interview, Vanderzee discusses her young life and upbringing at length—detailing her personal and academic pursuits. In addition, Vanderzee explores the role—or lack thereof—of LGBTQ+ issues in her youth. While LGBTQ+ issues were not taboo in her family, Vanderzee explains that they did not become a significant part of her life until after college. Because she did not discover asexuality until her early twenties, this played a role in her journey towards identity and community development. Much of the interview revolves around Vanderzee’s experiences with the academic institution, and Vanderzee describes her experience as a first generation college student—explaining how she learned to navigate academia with the help of family and mentors. Having lived the majority of her life in Illinois, Vanderzee also compared and contrasts Chicago and Corvallis, and expands upon the differences between her small liberal arts undergraduate experience and her graduate experience at OSU. Finally, Vanderzee reflects on her experiences working for the Oregon State University Queer Archives, the role these experiences played in her thesis research, and her personal and professional plans for the future. Interviewer: Natalia Fernandez.
Brenda McComb, May 17, 2017 0:38:15
In the interview, retired Oregon State University faculty member and administrator Brenda McComb begins by describing her early life in a conservative, blue-collar family, and growing up on a New England farm. McComb details how she struggled with gender identity for most her life, not knowing who to talk to or how to articulate her experience. Having no one to confide in, McComb explains that she always preferred to share her time with her dogs and other animals, spending long hours in nature. McComb describes the many ways that gender expectations were rigid in the 1950s and 60s, and how the actions of her peers made it clear from a young age that it was not safe to reveal her true self.
McComb explains how and why she continued living under her assigned gender for most of her education and career, all the while struggling with severe depression and depending on coping mechanisms like throwing herself into work and abusing alcohol. Nevertheless, McComb did her best to maintain a “normal” life, marrying her wife Gina and raising two sons. Not long after their son's birth, McComb and her wife decided to move to Oregon, where she taught and conducted research in the Department of Forest Sciences and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. After moving to teach at the University of Massachusetts, McComb explains that she finally began to seek therapeutic help for her depression and suicidal thoughts. She describes how this was a breakthrough moment in her struggles with gender identity, given that this was the first time she understood the cause of much of her unhappiness. In the interview, McComb describes the difficult situation she faced at this point in her life—to continue suffering with depression and risk suicide, or to begin the transition process and finally fell comfortable with herself.
McComb shares that she waited to “come out” to her colleagues and students until her oldest son had graduated from high school, as he had requested. When this time came, on a Friday afternoon, McComb sent an email to over 300 faculty and undergraduate students stating that on Monday she would like them to use she/her pronouns and referred to her as Brenda. After years of silence, depression and struggle, McComb was finally able to live her life openly and honestly. Interviewers: Evelynn Castillo, Madeline Mathewson, and Sami Quintero.
Searainya Bond-Frojen, May 19, 2017 1:11:00
In the interview, Bond-Frojen describes her atypical childhood in Florence, Oregon, under the care of an extremely progressive, politically active mother. Bond-Frojen explains that drugs and alcohol were prevalent in her early life, due to her “pot smoking” parents, and her father’s struggles with alcoholism. Although she describes her mother as a good parent, she also recognizes that drugs and alcohol sometimes interfered with consistency in her upbringing. In Bond-Frojen’s youth, she was heavily involved in the Evangelical Christian church and was extremely passionate about music—participating in both her school’s drumline, marching band, and jazz band. Bond-Frojen shares that religion and spirituality have played a large role throughout her life, and she forged many meaningful relationships with mentors through the church as a young person. Bond-Frojen did not identify as lesbian throughout most of her youth, and so experienced no conflict between her sexual identity and religious beliefs. Although LGBTQ+ issues were not discussed in her K-12 schools, Bond-Frojen recalls her mother using terms like “lesbian” and “gay,” and giving her the classic book Our Bodies, Ourselves to help her explore her sexuality. Bond-Frojen’s mother even told her that she knew Bond-Frojen was a lesbian and that she was supportive of it—even though Bond-Frojen herself was offended at the time, given that she did not yet identify as such.
Bond-Frojen describes how she continued to express her faith after high school, attending Christian universities for both her undergraduate and graduate education. Bond-Frojen earned her bachelor’s degree in Bible and Christian counseling from Eugene Bible College, after taking a 15-year break from her education. Bond-Frojen details how she spent her time during this break—working with adults with developmental disabilities for five to seven years, and as a receptionist at Portland’s Adventist Medical Center for almost a decade. Following this period, Bond-Frojen pursued a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from George Fox University from 2006 to 2010, even receiving a student-of-the-year award for her major. Bond-Frojen explains that it was during her time in graduate school that she came to identify as lesbian, though she did not feel safe “coming out” for fear that it would jeopardize her educational opportunities. In the interview, Bond-Frojen also describes the inner turmoil she faced when her spiritual and religious beliefs came in conflict with her sexual identity.
After much reflection, and while working as a mental health counselor following her academic career, Bond-Frojen found a way to reconcile this conflict. In the second half of the interview, Bond-Frojen describes her relationship with her wife Robin Frojen, whom she met online through the dating website OkCupid. This portion of the interview includes a lengthy discussion of Searainya and Robin’s relationship, including how it has evolved over time. In addition, Bond-Frojen briefly speaks about how the marriage equality act affected them as a couple. Interviewers: Brooke Wendland, Sanghyeon (Han) Yu, and Ariana Rabette.
Jill McAllister, May 22, 2017 0:30:52
In this interview, Reverend Jill McAllister begins by describing her upbringing in St Louis, MO and her subsequent education at Duke and Washington Universities. McAllister briefly worked for the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC, before relocating to Corvallis, OR. It was in Oregon that she discovered the Unitarian Universalist organization, and was exposed to LGBTQ rights for the first time. While studying to be a minister, McAllister discovered that "love was just love," and soon started using her position to encourage others to be more tolerant or supportive of LGBTQ communities. In the interview, she describes the forward-thinking nature of Unitarian Universalists, who performed LGB marriages before they were legally binding, and taught physically accurate and comprehensive sexual education courses. Following seminary, McAllister spent a decade in Michigan, working with the congregation to receive a "Welcoming Congregation” certification. This certification was awarded to congregations which went through a series of acceptance classes, but her community in Michigan felt that they were accepting enough already. However, McAllister was eventually successful in finishing the process. During her time in Michigan, the sexual education curriculum was updated and transgender rights became a topic of discussion. McAllister emphasizes that she believes a healthy sexual identity is an essential component of a healthy person. After participating in adult sexual education classes, she realized that many people were never formally taught about sexuality, and this propelled her involvement. The Unitarian Universalists' curriculum was so successful that community members from outside the congregation often enrolled their children in the class. The interview concludes with McAllister explaining that the local Unitarian Universalist building does not have gender-specific bathrooms, and that their national convention has designated some gender-inclusive bathrooms as well. She views this as a positive, explaining that it even makes sense from a building design standpoint—if there are not that many bathrooms, it would be better to make each one accessible to everyone. Interviewers: Zachary T Barry, Chad Lee, Khalaf Albaqawi.
Brooke Collison, May 23, 2017 1:03:35
The interview with Brooke Collison ranges from topics such as discussing LBGTQ issues with those uneducated on the subject to the importance of counseling and creating stronger community outreach. Professor Collison discusses his Midwestern childhood in which the size of the small towns he lived in never gave him the chance to meet and learn about those within the LBGTQ community. Also during the first decades of his life, as for many during this time, Professor Collison observed little to no activism regarding the LBGTQ community. Professor Collison describes that for years, there were only “whispers” about men who seemed effeminate and thus must, in the eyes of peers and adults, be gay. As activism progressed and events such as Stonewall occurred, it gave many such as Professor Collison the chance to learn more and do more for those around them. During his tenure at Oregon State University he took the first steps in creating an outreach program for LGBTQ folks at OSU. The importance of creating safe space and support for LGBTQ youth was matched by its risk. Professors and other parties at the time risked their jobs and careers for creating the Opening Doors Conference which included fellow professors, public school teachers, students, and counselors. During the 1990s, LGBTQ activism had started to reach national levels, yet for a small community such as Corvallis there were still risks for professionals who encouraged LGBTQ youth to discuss their lives openly and seek support. Social stigma, community backlash and lack of support would clash with the progressive ideals of aiding those who needed guidance for a better understanding of their true identity.
Professor Collison goes on to detail the importance of activism and the effort it took from all parties involved: students, parents, teachers, counselors, and administrators. In the interview, Professor Collison also outlines his previous and ongoing work with the Methodist Church. It is well known that the Methodist Church is one of the most accepting sectors of Christianity for groups in the LGBTQ community. Professor Collison explains that his work has not been confined to the United States, for he has done an enormous amount of outreach and collaboration in Kenya, specifically at the Kenya Methodist University in Meru. Interviewers: Alexa Huewe, Luke Van Lehman.
Leah Houtman, May 24, 2017 1:27:03
In the interview, Leah Houtman begins by providing a detailed description of her childhood as somewhat of a transient. Houtman describes what life was like in rural Indiana in the late 1980s and 90s, the tumultuous experience of her parents’ divorce and her mother coming out as a lesbian, and her varying experiences with both public and homeschool education. Houtman describes her childhood self as a bookish nerd who sometimes struggled in social situations, which was often exasperated by their many relocations. She speaks about the close relationship she had with her sisters, who were her only social life while they were being homeschooled. During this portion of the interview, Houtman also tells the story of her coming out, which she explains was in part prompted by a short stay at an inpatient facility when she was experiencing severe depression and suicidal thoughts. She also reflects on how her mother’s identity as a lesbian also made the identity more accessible to her at a young age. Houtman goes on to explain the complicated relationship she had with her parents during her youth, as well as the impact some of her mother’s partners had on her following the divorce. The interview then explores Houtman’s undergraduate studies and how she met her wife and explored a variety of different occupations at this time, before moving to Oregon and completing her degree at Oregon State. After talking about her college experiences, the interview shifts into more specific questions regarding LGBTQ+ issues and how they have affected her throughout various stages in her life. This includes a transition into questions regarding her wife and how they met, their marriages, and the journey to have children together. The interview ends with a discussion on the legal issues regarding Houtman and her wife’s children, as well as the support they’ve felt while living in Oregon, especially as compared to other places. Interviewers: Lily Waggoner, Clarice Gilray, Kat Dykstra.
Marlene Massey, May 24, 2017 0:57:25
In the interview, Marlene Massey begins by describing her early life growing up in a middle-class New Jersey suburb with two siblings—a younger brother and sister. During this first portion of the interview, Massey touches on the highly visible pushback against sex education in New Jersey schools, and the complete lack of discussion surrounding “alternative sexualities” which occurred during her youth. Massey explains how she came to realize her sexuality through a crush on a female gym teacher, and by getting in trouble for being too close or “too much of a sister” to her fellow Girl Scouts in high school. Massey describes how neither she nor her lover Barb in high school identified as lesbians or used the term, they would sneak out of their houses at night to see one another. Massey moved to Oregon in the 1980s with a woman she had, funny enough, met at her Girl Scout camp.
Following a discussion of her youth, Massey describes an incident which occurred while she was teaching preschool in Oregon. She describes how the assistant director of the school attributed a student’s problems to their lesbian mother, and Massey disagreed. A year later, that same assistant director cut Massey’s hours, but no one else’s. When no one at the school came to her defense, Massey left to find another job, and says she decided not to pursue a legal case based on advice from a friend. Massey discusses why she joined the Benton County LGBT organization After 8, describing herself as not political but motivated by a desire to live a normal life with her partner. Her involvement with After 8 included doing the decorations for the Harvey Milk dinner, picking up trash for a sponsored highway section, and helping organize for the “Gay Games” event. Then Massey explains how her involvement with After 8 ended, when she was hospitalized for a rare brain injury, and discusses her experience with being hospitalized. Massey then explains how her involvement with After 8 planted the seeds for her current activism. Massey shares her views of the similarities and differences between advocating for disability justice and LGBTQ+ rights. Massey then discusses her work with the local public library and the Unitarian Church. Finally, she reflects upon changes she has seen in attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community both locally and nationally. Interviewers: Angela Dunham, Jessica Osborn, and Pedro Arenas.
Merry Demarest, May 25, 2017 1:07:08
In the interview, Merry Demarest begins by discussing her youth, including her many relocations during childhood and young adulthood, and a tumultuous family dynamic after her mother remarried. Following this portion of the interview, Demarest focuses on her social justice activism through the years, which began fairly early in her life. Demarest discusses her involvement with the National Organization for Women (NOW), her positions within the organization, and her campaigning for the federal Equal Rights Amendment. After this, Demarest proceeds to a discussion of her work campaigning for Hillary Clinton by encouraging constituents in Texas to attend party caucuses for the Democratic nomination. After 8 is the next organization she discusses, including her involvement with that organization in fighting Corvallis Measure 02-06, a homophobic measure written by the Oregon Citizens Alliance. She then talks about campaigning for Bill Clinton in the 1984 gubernatorial election in Arkansas. Demarest’s involvement with the Democratic Party of Oregon and her chairing of the Democratic Oregon State Fair booth for 12 years are the next topics she discusses. Demarest then describes the importance of Emily’s List to her extended family because of their early involvement. Demarest then outlines how she became the founding chair of the LGBTQ+ organization Basic Rights Oregon after being a co-chair of the anti-Oregon Measure 9 campaign, and what the organization’s goals were both when it was founded and at the time of the interview, in 2017.
In the latter portion of the interview, Demarest details her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and the award she and her husband Harry received from the organization. She then returns to a discussion about campaigning in Utah for the Equal Rights Amendment, and her interactions with the women opening their doors to her. One of the last topics Demarest spends time on is her work campaigning for Hillary Clinton, and then for Barack Obama in the 2008 election. Demarest gives her thoughts on the 2016 presidential election and advice for today’s young activists, and explains what her more recent involvement with the Benton County Democrats has been. Finally, Demarest discusses her current project: trying to encourage local music venues to refuse to book the Eugene, Oregon band Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Interviewers: Justyn Jacobs, Lucy Hillenbrand, and Meredith Bowers.
Harry Demarest, May 26, 2017 1:09:57
Description forthcoming. Interviewers: Hunter Murga, Nikki Bott, and Jordan Morrison.
Bradley Boovy, June 6, 2017 1:12:00
Description forthcoming. Interviewers: Dalton Holt, Ian Lipanovich, and Elizabeth Jung.
In spring term of 2016, the OSU Queer Archives (OSQA) collaborated with the history class HST 368 Lesbian and Gay Movements in Modern America with Professor Mina Carson. Carson, along with OSQA co-founders Natalia Fernández, Curator and Archivist of the Oregon Multicultural Archives, and Professor Bradley Boovy, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, developed an oral history project for the students. This work of this project was continued by a second group of Dr. Carson's students in spring term of 2017. Using Dr. Carson’s network of Corvallis area activists, in total, the students have now conducted 18 oral history interviews and added them to the OSQA oral history collection! To view any of the videos recorded by the students, simply click on the interviewee's name.
John Helding, May 3, 2016 1:48:45
Helding begins the interview by sharing information about his family history and early childhood in Spokane, WA and later Gresham, OR. He shares some of his memories regarding the lack of open discussion about LGBTQ+ issues and lack of support for LGBTQ+ peoples within his communities growing up. Helding then shares his recollections of his time at OSU; he lived in Poling Hall, was an RA in Cauthorn Hall his junior year, and sang with the OSU choir for five years. Helding describes the campus climate in terms of LGBTQ+ issues. During his time on campus, he recalls the “Moral Majority” movement and Evangelical Christian organizations that promoted anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and practice emerging at OSU. Helding then begins the story of the 1981 ASOSU vote to fund the Gay People’s Alliance. The interview focuses on the April 28, 1981 meeting in which the ASOSU vote to fund the Gay People’s Alliance was discussed. As this was the second to last meeting of the year, this was the meeting that student groups lobbied for their organizations to be funded. Eddie Hickey represented the Gay People’s Alliance since the student fees committee had denied them funds and they wanted the senate to overturn that ruling. Helding says that he did not know who they were as individuals or as an organization and that the group of individuals were the first openly gay people with whom he interacted. He says that he was interested in the GPA request because it was a new request and thought it should be more seriously considered. Helding then describes the process of the debate on whether or not to fund the GPA – he goes into great detail explaining the discussion, which lasted over an hour, and the pros and cons to funding the GPA. The final vote was 18-13 in favor. Notably, Helding takes time to reflect on his interactions with the GPA members immediately following the meeting. Helding then describes the aftermath of the vote. The arbitration committee approved the entire proposed budget except for the funds for the GPA. Helding continues the interview with his post-OSU life story. He reflects on the importance of the ASOSU GPA vote and its impact on his career. Helding then shares his professional experiences. Helding notes that the oral history interview process has enabled him to reflect upon “touch points in time” throughout his life and how each of his experiences built on each other and helped him be more open and more supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. His last thoughts are about his positive experience of sharing his story as an oral history interview and expresses the power of people sharing their stories. Interviewer: Natalia Fernández. A detailed interview summary for this oral history is available on our blog.
Judy Ball, May 4, 2016 0:42:46
In this interview with Judy Ball, she begins by describing her childhood, which primarily holds good memories despite the poverty she grew up in. She explains that early on in her life, she knew that school would be her only outlet to pursue a better life. For Ball, life in college was dedicated to her studies. After getting her master's degree from Syracuse University, she began working for the federal government. Ball discusses her busy life in Maryland, and her career as a healthcare worker with the federal government, which lasted over 30 years. During this time in her life, Ball was married for ten years. However, Ball explains that their love faded, and she describes the strong sense of independence that has always been an important feature of her personality. In 2008, Ball moved to Corvallis, and her relocation marked the beginning of her involvement with the LGBTQ+ community, as she had fallen in love with a woman and decided to follow her out to the West Coast. Ball admits she had never questioned her sexuality growing up and issues of alternate sexualities were never discussed in the household, which resulted in her finding the whole experience surreal. Although her relationship with this individual eventually came to an end, Ball continues to be very active in the Corvallis community, both serving on the school board and participating in local events. Ball discusses her sexual identity, and though she states that "the evidence would suggest" she is bisexual, she explains that she does not necessarily find herself aligned with this identity.
Julie Williams, May 5, 2016 0:46:37
In the interview, Williams first discusses her early years being raised in Corvallis, Oregon. Born in 1962, she attended school in Corvallis until leaving for Montana to pursue a college degree. Williams explains that there was little to no talk in her family of the LGBTQ+ community, and that she herself remained in denial of her sexual identity until her mid-twenties. Almost all of her life has been spent in Corvallis, and she offers some insight into the changes the community has experienced. Williams discusses her decision to become a teacher and what it was like to teach at her alma mater, Corvallis High School. Williams explains how her connection to the LGBTQ+ community has both positively and negatively affected her teaching career. She shares her own stories, as well as those of students and fellow faculty members, to showcase the LGBTQ+ -friendly atmosphere at Corvallis High School. The remainder of the interview focuses on the Queer-Straight Alliance club at Corvallis High School. As an integral member of its formation, Williams explains the goals of the QSA. She shares her hopes for the future of the QSA, her take on the community’s response to the QSA, and information on what the club offers for today’s student body. Interviewers: Alyssa Kauth and Kaitlyn Stephen.
Jo Ann Casselberry, May 11, 2016 1:19:39
Jo Casselberry gives an overview of her life in this interview, beginning with her childhood and high school years, and then moving on to her college and post-graduation experiences, including more than 30 years’ experience working at Oregon State University. Casselberry expands on her campus involvement during college, and her part in the organization After 8, an advocacy and education group founded in Benton County after the passing of Measure 8 in 1988. She recalls her work as treasurer for After 8 and the organization’s goals and accomplishments, as well as her work as treasurer and fundraising coordinator for the Political Action Committees formed to fight each of the Oregon Citizen Alliance’s anti-gay ballot measures. In doing so, she also gives an overview of ballot measures 8 and 9 and how they affected her life, as well as discussing the general atmosphere of OSU and the surrounding community during that time. Interviewer: Stefani Evers.
Karuna Neustadt, May 12, 2016 1:29:00
The interview begins with Neustadt talking about her childhood and describing what family life was like for her. She remembers playing in the streets with local neighborhood children and staying out as late as possible—until their mothers insisted they come in. She discusses the rather authoritative parenting style of her father, which was balanced by her mother’s nurturing approach. Neustadt describes the difficulties of middle school and high school, recalling the awkwardness she experienced during that time in her life. Neustadt proceeds to discuss her life after graduation. She moved to Iowa to attend a small liberal arts college, and although she enjoyed being young and single, Neustadt did not excel academically because she lacked focus. Aware of how much debt she was accruing, she decided to put her studies on hold until she was certain of her career path. Neustadt explains that she eventually decided to pursue an advanced degree in Clinical Psychology and moved to Oregon to do so. She speaks quite fondly of her time in Eugene. The interview then shifts to Neustadt’s discussion of her sexuality, and the expansive support of the women’s community in Eugene during her college years. Shortly after obtaining her master’s degree she moved from Eugene to Corvallis and co-founded an LGBTQ advocacy group called After 8. She describes the volatile environment in Corvallis that prompted her to establish such a group. For most of the interview, Neustadt details the specific activities After 8 was involved in. Many of the stories are difficult, while others have a humorous tone. Neustadt recalls the times when the group received death threats, but also details positive events experienced by the LGBTQ community since that time, including the group’s annual Harvey Milk Dinners, which took place from 1989 – 1999. The interview concludes with Neustadt’s reflection on the progress made and the work still to be done in regards to equality for the LGBTQ community. Neustadt ends by discussing how grateful she is for the support of other human and civil rights groups, who helped After 8 accomplish the goals they set out to accomplish. Interviewer: Esther Matthews.
Lorena Reynolds, May 13, 2016 0:21:59
In the interview, Reynolds briefly describes her upbringing. She then proceeds to outline her career in law and how she has contributed to resolving legal marriage issues and asset distribution challenges for both in-state and out-of-state same sex marriages. In addition, Reynolds describes her involvement in assisting transgender clients who must navigate legal changes to their documentation. She explains that in Oregon, transgender individuals who wish to change their name or sex on legal documents are required to undergo surgery, which can present numerous challenges. Following this, Lorena describes the challenges her family faced when her brother Tristan came out as transgender. In trying to find his true identity, Tristan, who is nine years younger than Reynolds, had to come out multiple times, first as a lesbian, and then later as trans. This process put a strain on Tristan and his familial relationships. Lorena explains that when Tristan came out, there was no framework for transgender folks, so it was hard for both Tristan and the family to process and adapt to the change. Lorena’s brother created a video called “It Gets Better” with the help of his family, where each member of the family agreed to be interviewed on their experience with Tristan’s transition. Interviewers: Francesca Lee and Trinh Duonier.
Sara Gelser, May 16, 2016 0:43:39
The interview begins with Gelser discussing her upbringing and family life, traveling frequently between Las Vegas, where she was born, and her parent’s home state of Indiana, then moving to Oregon when she was a sophomore in high school. Gelser talks about applying to Earlham College in Indiana in 1990, and accepting due to their progressive environment and inclusive programming. She explains that Earlham’s values aligned with her own, having worked with friends in the LGBTQ+ community in a Teens for the Prevention of AIDS group. She notes the misunderstanding of AIDS at the time and how it contributed to her interest in LGBTQ+ issues. She mentions LGBTQ+ issues weren’t discussed at home and weren’t tolerated at schools in the late 80s, and notes the contrast between her own and her children’s experiences with LGBTQ+ issues in school. Gelser’s interest in politics grew in her interactions with the community, through non-hierarchical methods she learned at Earlham, and her experiences advocating for a son with special needs. This eventually led her to join the Corvallis school board in 2001 and later to become involved in Oregon legislature from 2005 onwards. Before participating in Oregon politics, Gelser attended OSU from 1996 to 1998, pursuing a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a focus in History and Women’s Studies. She explains that she focused on Interdisciplinary Studies in hopes of teaching high school students, but eventually expanded out of teaching into politics because she began to note important patterns in history and their correlation to present issues. In her political experience in the Oregon House of Representatives, Gelser talks about legislation that she helped pass, such as improvements to the accessibility of birth control, better structures for supporting domestic partnerships, making public accommodations for same-sex couples, and Karly’s Law on child abuse. In addition to these priorities, Gelser stayed true to her roots in education, and headed a committee on Oregon education. During her time in the Oregon Senate, Gelser talks about passing legislation on LGBTQ+ issues, including Senate Bill 946, a bill on veteran’s benefits for those discharged through Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a bill on preferred gender and name identification for students, and a bill concerning bullying in schools related to LGBTQ+ students. As for future pieces of LGBTQ+ legislation, Gelser mentions legislation on marriage statutes, clarification of language for couples in previous legislation, changes to identification for same sex couples, and talks about her experience with debating on the Senate floor over legislation about solemnizing marriages outside of churches. The interview concludes with Gelser talking about the untapped history of LGBTQ+ issues. Interviewers: Brett Bishop and Brittney Nicole Aman.
Mary Renneke, May 21, 2016 0:25:31
In the interview, Mary Renneke begins by discussing her childhood with her sister and twin brother. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1956, Mary was introduced to sports at a very early age, inspiring her passion for athletics. At age ten, Renneke began playing softball on a women’s team, and as she grew older she discovered that the sport was often a safe place for lesbians. Renneke jokingly claims that in the 70s, at least 80% of women’s softball players were lesbians. She notes that because her sister was also involved in softball, she suspected early on that Renneke might identify as lesbian. However, Renneke remarked that because there was no social media at that time, being a lesbian was something she knew little about, and did not discuss with her family until she turned 30. Because she enjoyed the community that women’s softball had to offer, Renneke continued to play softball into her 40s. However, she says she decided not to pursue a career in softball, either as a player or a coach, because there simply weren’t enough opportunities for women in sport in the 70s and 80s. Renneke briefly discusses Title IX, and the improvements it has made for women athletes. When Renneke was in high school and college, women’s teams were only just being introduced, and the teams she played for outside of college were self-funded. Although her tuition for community college in the 70s was a mere one-hundred dollars per year, she spent upwards of two-thousand dollars a season to play softball. Renneke describes her life after leaving college, explaining that work was merely a means to an end, allowing her to support herself while continuing to play sports. During this time, one of Renneke’s friends was a student at Oregon State University, and convinced her to come to OSU to play softball. Although Renneke agreed, receiving a partial scholarship from OSU at the age of 24, she did not complete her degree at the university and instead moved back to San Jose to work as a city bus driver. After ten to twelve years of this work, Renneke says she missed Oregon, so she returned to Corvallis and opened a coffee shop with a friend. At the age of 57, Renneke completed a bachelor’s degree through OSU’s online education program. Following this, she returned once again to California to become a job trainer for city bus drivers, but was laid off from this position during the recession. Renneke now lives in Albany and works at Natural Grocers in Corvallis. Interviewers: Suheng Chen and Hangyi Zhang.
Martha Cone, May 24, 2016 0:56:01
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1947, Dr. Martha Cone, Ph.D. begins her interview by speaking on her early life. Her father was an air traffic controller, a position that required the family to relocate frequently while Dr. Cone was growing up. She attended high school in San Antonio, Texas from 1961-1965; Dr. Cone describes this time in her life as devoid of discussion on LGBTQ issues, explaining many from this community were still in the closet, including herself. After graduation, Cone matriculated at the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied microbiology and ultimately earned her doctorate degree. Dr. Cone explains how she was married from the age of 19 until she came out at 27, when she left her marriage and moved to a forested 1900s utopian commune in Delaware. Following this, Dr. Cone moved to California with friends from Philadelphia, where she met some women who owned a big pink bus, “tricked out” with beds and a kitchen, and joined them on their journey to Oregon. Dr. Cone details how this experience brought her to a women’s commune near Estacada. Everything was done by consensus among the women, including farm work and class instruction. Dr. Cone lived at the commune for about a year and a half before coming to Corvallis in search of a job, and eventually accepted a position in the Oregon State University (OSU) Microbiology Department. Dr. Cone describes how in her time at OSU, she was a part of the ‘book scandal’ in the OSU Women’s Center, wrote a letter to the editor of the Barometer on the subject, and was even involved in a picket march. While working for the College of Science, Dr. Cone was good friends with a gay man and by a mutual agreement, they conceived a child together. The man is still very much involved in their daughter’s life. Dr. Cone commented that when she first came to OSU, the gay communities were closeted and activism was just beginning to take place on campus. She became involved in activism for women’s college sports at the university, which often involved Title IX issues. Dr. Cone admits that her work experience at OSU was somewhat of a "locker room" environment because not many women worked in her department. In part because of this unsupportive environment, and the general discrimination against women prevalent in the science department, Dr. Cone says she decided not to try for tenure. She instead took up a post-doc position working in a lab for 10 years until the professor left, and Dr. Cone was unable to attain grants for the project on her own. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, and ultimately using all of her sick leave, Dr. Cone officially retired. In 2002, she took advantage of an opportunity to learn how to transcribe textbooks into Braille, an activity she actively participates in to this day. At the time of the interview, Dr. Cone shared that she planned to move to Portland to live in a floating home on the Columbia River with her partner. Interviewers: Eugenia Rott and Jared Ziegler.
Robin Frojen, May 25, 2016 0:36:21
Robin Frojen was born in Los Angeles in 1966. In the interview, Frojen begins by describing the difficulties she faced in her youth, not caring for traditional gender roles or expectations, which led to bullying throughout her early life. Frojen cites a notable incident that occurred in elementary school in which she did not receive any valentine cards from her peers. Frojen continued her education at a Catholic middle school and high school. Ironically, the nuns at Frojen’s institution were incredibly progressive when it came to their acceptance of diverse personalities and sexualities. Her high school has more recently become a visible beacon, having graduated their openly first transgender student. Frojen recognizes this is an incredible accomplishment, especially for a Catholic school. Frojen maintains a close relationship with the high school and its faculty members. Frojen remembers her childhood outside of school affectionately, speaking about her parents with admiration, and recognizing how hard her father worked to provide for her family. Frojen describes her mother as a strong and supportive force, particularly when Frojen came out to her family at 22. Frojen explains that the way in which she came out to her family was not ideal. Afraid her sexuality would ruin her relationship with her family, Frojen agreed to have a good friend break the news to her mother over lunch. Frojen admits that her mother suspected she was a lesbian, so was not shocked by Frojen’s coming out. Her mother had refrained from asking her daughter outright, because she valued integrity and honesty and did not want to put Frojen in a position that would require her to lie. After Frojen came out, her mother proceeded to call all of their immediate family members to break the news and affirm her love and support for Frojen. After moving around the country, from coast to coast, Frojen eventually settled down in Corvallis, Oregon in 1997. In Corvallis, she rediscovered her love for food and made the courageous decision to pursue a degree in chemistry and food science. Frojen is now the manager of the Oregon State Creamery. Corvallis’s welcoming community has made it an amazing city to reside in for Frojen and her family. It has allowed her to become active in different communities throughout Corvallis. She has helped with the LGTBQ+ community by attending diversity panels held by Kathy Grieves. Frojen also helps with NAMI, a program that helps families deal with mental illness. Robin always expresses that she is available for anyone who needs help and lives by the motto, “Work hard at being yourself, not someone else.” Interviewers: Madeleine Selfors and Kevin More.