James Madison University
Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project
Oral History Interview With: James Madison University Professor
Interviewer: Ellen K. Donnelly
Place: James Madison University
Date: May 1, 2006
Return to Finding Aid | No Interview Guide, Journal, or Transcript
General topic of interview: The gay and lesbian community of Harrisonburg; overview of community and influences on the personal life of the professor with regards to; living in Harrisonburg with a partner of 25+ years, teaching at JMU, his religious involvement in the community, and changes within his social life in Harrisonburg.
NARRATOR: JMU Professor
DATE: May 1st, 2006
INTERVIEWER: Ellen K. Donnelly
PLACE: James Madison University
Spouse: Partner of 25+ years, name unknown
Occupation: Instructor at JMU
This JMU Professor has chosen to keep his name anonymous. He left England after school with a Fulbright Scholarship and never thought to end up in southern Virginia. He grew up in Detroit, Michigan and thought he would end up at UVA for a PhD program. Having found a partner, he settled down with him in southern Virginia working for a metal company in New Market, Virginia. Then he taught at a military school in Harrisonburg in 1968 for a while before becoming fully certified to teach English. He then taught English at a public high school in Augusta County. He met his current partner will attending JMU’s PhD program and has been living with him for over 25 years.
Having lived in the Harrisonburg area for over 25 years, this JMU Professor has seen quite some change within the Valley. He learned early on to not live where you worked so as to not make your private life public. He emphasizes that homosexuality is not a ‘lifestyle’ like many people say it is as well as how gender roles play a part in the view of sexuality. He talks a lot about his first relationship of 8 years and how that affected him and how the stability of his second relationship has been a beneficial aspect of his life. Living a life of an average couple was something that he and his partner strived to attain. In his point of view, there are many more threats now than there were over 30 years ago to homosexual couples. He also goes into depth about being gay in the public, the community’s reception to homosexuals, and how homosexuals tended to isolate themselves from the public. This professor is a very open and honest individual that was able to easily offer general as well as personal insight into being gay within the Shenandoah Valley.