Joseph Kelly (b. 1962) describes his experience growing up in an Irish American family living in New Jersey and Texas. The only background information he knows of regarding his family is that his paternal great-grandfather was from Roscommon, and that he came over to New York City in the late 1890?s. Both of his parents grew up in Irish neighborhoods in the Bronx and were the first generation in the family to go to college. The family moved from New Jersey to Houston in the late seventies, and he notes that there was not a real sense of Irish ethnicity in Houston, as compared to what it was in the Northeast. He also notes that the sense of Irish culture, and celebration of Irishness, is growing in Charleston as a result of the public outreach he has done as Director of the Irish and Irish American Studies program at CofC.
Thomas Horan describes his experience growing up in an Irish American family in Boston. The paternal side of his family comes from County Galway, his paternal grandmother having come to the United States when she was sixteen, before Irish independence. His maternal grandmother married a man of Scotch-Irish descent. He was raised in the Catholic Church, as a result of what he refers to as an insistence on ?middle-class respectability,? and his family was close with some of the priests from the area, however, he is no longer an active participant in the Church. Though living in an area with a lot of Irish meant that the family didn?t experience any particularly significant discrimination, there was a sense of wanting to assimilate and move up into the middle class. He moved to the South in 1999, first to attend graduate school at Chapel Hill, and then to Charleston. He states that, in terms of anti-Irish or anti-Catholic sentiment in the South, there seems to be more continuity in population here than in northern cities, which perhaps makes things harder for new ethnic populations to integrate.
Anne Owens speaks about her experience growing up Irish American, having Irish ancestors on both sides of her family. She spent her childhood in California but moved to Charleston after her mother remarried. Her maternal grandmother?s family came from Anglo-Irish roots in County Offlay in the 1860?s, entering the U.S. in Boston and making their way to Michigan. Her paternal grandmother?s family was from County Fermanagh and came to the U.S. in the early 1800?s, through Georgetown, South Carolina, and eventually settled in Cheraw. It is through this side of the family that Anne is related to Patrick Lynch, who became Bishop of Charleston in 1855. Her great-great grandfather, James Thomas Lynch, married a woman from the Pinckney family, so Anne has deep family roots here in Charleston, as well as in Colleton County, where her great-great grandparents owned the Ashepoo Plantation. However, Anne also has a familial connection with her stepfather?s family, who are native Charlestonians, as her research has led her to discover that her biological father and her stepfather are in fact cousins, due to their shared Charleston roots. She feels a deep connection with the Shannon River area in Ireland, where her maternal ancestors had lived for centuries as landed gentry. Though she sees ethnic identity becoming less prominent as the years go on, she likes ?seeing America as an amalgamation of many, many people.?
William McCann speaks about his experience growing up as part of an Irish American and Italian American family in New York. While his great-great grandparents came to the United States from Longford and Wicklow in the 1850?s and took up blue-collar jobs, the family has little knowledge of family stories or memories from that time, as William?s paternal grandfather passed away when his father was in his teens. Because he had more contact with older relatives from his maternal, Italian, side during childhood, the majority of William?s experience of Irishness has been through relationships with his friends in New York, some who have parents that are native Irish. He feels that Irish identity is less prominent in the South, that there is less of a culture built around Irishness.
Michaela Henderson talks about her experience growing up in an Irish American family in Connecticut. Her great-grandmother came over from Valentia Island in the late 1800?s/early 1900?s and the family settled in the New Haven area. Her family relocated to Charleston her freshman year of high school and has lived in the area since then. While her family was very involved in an Irish organization in Connecticut, she feels that there is less of a centralized Irish American presence in Charleston, and that claiming a Southern identity seems more important here than claiming a specific ethnic background, such as Irish. However, she is hopeful that the situation seems to be changing, with more emphasis on ways to celebrate Irish heritage here in Charleston.
Stephen Gilroy talks about his experience growing up in an Irish American family in New York City and New Jersey. His grandparents came from County Leitrim, County Longford, County Cork, and County Waterford from the mid-1800?s to the very early 1900?s. All of his grandparents were in the working-class, as cabinet makers, butchers, dock-workers, and other blue-collar jobs. There wasn?t much focus on Irishness in his family while he was growing up, though he did have a strong relationship with an uncle who told him about all of the Irish families in the area. He?s been to Ireland with his family and has been to the church in County Leitrim where his paternal grandparents are from. He feels a connection with Ireland, which he describes as a ?magical? place. He and his wife moved to Charleston recently to be near their daughter, and he states that there is less of an emphasis on ethnic identity in Charleston, and more emphasis on a general Southern identity.
Eric Sullivan (Pronouns: He/Him/His) describes growing up Easton, Maryland, moving to Charleston, SC to attend the College of Charleston, his graduate school training in Los Angeles, CA and his work as an LGBTQ therapist. One of five siblings, Sullivan knew he was different at "a pretty young age," and had a sense that he was gay before fully understanding what that meant. He "never got any messages growing up?about ? what the LGBTQ community was," but did have access to television programs such as Will and Grace and Queer as Folk. Coming out first to a friend, and then to his mother, he came out in "a public declarative statement" as part of a high school group project studying conversion therapy, realizing he could not just remain "a neutral party." He had experienced some negative responses before coming out, but very little afterwards. Sullivan explains his decision to attend the College of Charleston where he had his "first glimpse into gay culture" at a gay straight alliance meeting and at the gay bar Patrick's, and later Pantheon, both of which he describes. He notes with satisfaction how LGBTQ visibility has increased on campus since his years in school and recounts how a chance encounter working as waiter led him to graduate school in Los Angeles in the first LGBTQ counseling program in the country. He worked with homeless LGBTQ youth, adapted to the life there, was licensed and eventually moved back to Charleston, where, after some trepidation, he opened a practice specifically targeting LGBTQ clients. Responding to queries from people throughout the state seeking his services, he developed a successful on-line video practice before the COVID 19 pandemic. The interview concludes with Sullivan discussing the impacts of isolation, religion, and the lack of visibility on South Carolina's LGBTQ community, as well as other mental health issues.
Jack Sewell (pronouns: He/Him) speaks mostly of his life in Charleston, the various businesses in which he was engaged, and gay life, characters, and bars in the city. Born as a twin in Oklahoma, he grew up in Texas, was raised in a conservative Southern Baptist household and joined the Navy, which brought him to Charleston in 1966. While mostly closeted, to stay in the service, Sewell nevertheless visited many gay clubs, despite their being banned by the Shore Patrol, and he mentions the Navy investigating sailors for homosexual activities. In reply to questions, he names and describes many of the bars in town including The Wagon Wheel, The Ocean Bar and Grill, Pat's Lounge, the Stardust Lounge, the Bat Room, and "the Tiltin' Hilton" on Folly Beach, among others, including a gay bar he and his partner tried to open on Market Street, but which failed due to the curfew imposed by martial law during the 1969 Hospital Worker's strike. He also describes homophobia, vice squad raids, pay offs, cruising on the Battery and makes mention of the YMCA and bus station and other bathrooms. Out of the Navy, he first had odd jobs, including working as a debt collector, which led to visiting Dawn Langley Simmons. He and his partner began working as carpenters, building cabinetry for many businesses, bringing them in contact with many Jewish merchants and building owners whom he describes. The couple first opened "head" shops named A Different World, catering to a hippy clientele, in Charleston and Orangeburg and later opened a series of restaurants called The Hungry Lion in a variety of locations in the city, with the main location being near the College of Charleston on George Street. Sewell, who eventually bought out his partner, worked long days, often as the chief cook, as well doing numerous other tasks, eventually commuting from McClellanville, SC to where he retired in 2014. In the course of the interview he mentions? the Davis building, site of the Hungry Lion and the owners, a Jewish family in London, Jules Garvin, Bobby Tucker, Clifton Harris, Jr., whose murder on the Battery in 2006 is still unsolved, Joe Trott and other colorful gay characters. He also explains the coded vocabulary he and his friends used, mentions later bars such as the Garden and Gun Club, Les Jardins, and working at the Arcade Club and the restaurant Spanky's associated with it. He ends speaking of life in McClellanville and the man who means so much to him, Dewey Williams, a partner of 39 years, whom he married at the Lincoln Memorial in 2010.?
James Bouknight, MD, PhD (pronouns: He/His), white psychiatrist, speaks of growing up, family life, education and his personal and professional life. Born into a "close and loving family" in rural South Carolina, he grew up on a farm worked by others, his parents being teachers, and his maternal grandparents being a very supportive presence. He always knew he "wasn't like other kids", wasn't athletic, but excelled in school, attending Bishopville High School, as it was being integrated, calling off the junior senior. Aware of a flamboyant gay youth at school, and a gay man who was available for sex in Bishopville, Bouknight did not identify with them and was glad to start dating women when he attended Wofford, the fourth generation of his family to do so. Attending graduate school at Duke University was not a positive experience so Bouknight switched to the University of South Carolina where he had his first relationship with a man and earned his PhD in economics. He considers that relationship a "bad influence" since the man was closeted and engaged to be married. Bouknight then taught at Converse College, in an era when dating between professors and students was encouraged; he married the president of the student body, and their married life began well. He moved into the private sector and eventually became Chair of the Department of Business and Economics at Columbia College and his wife began law school. With time on his hands, Bouknight, keeping fit, began attending the YMCA in Columbia, SC, discovering it had an active gay scene, and his wife, learning of an affair he had with a man, demanded a divorce. It was a difficult time, leading to depression and financial straits. Finding a niche with happy, well-adjusted gay men in Columbia was a positive experience, and Bouknight began a relationship with Bob Stutts, another professor at Columbia College. At age thirty-five, he decided to enter medical school, realizing that the poor medical care his mother had received had led to her death. He attended the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, was out, and was friends with many other gay medical students. He did his residency in psychiatry at the Department of Mental Health in Columbia, SC, founding and running an AIDS support group; he eventually worked for a hospital and had a private practice, including many LGBTQ patients. When his relationship with Bob Stutts ended, he met Ramsey Still, whom he married in Maryland in 2013. He became board certified in geriatric psychiatry, one of the first in the state, and now, semi-retired, lives with his husband in Charleston, SC. At the end of the interview, Bouknight speaks of the illness and eventual death of his medical school friend, Olin Jolley, MD, of AIDS, and how those who are ill and dying are often put in the unfair position of taking care of those who visit them.
Alan Banov, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, tells the story of his great-grandfather Alexander Banov (Banovich), who was born in a Polish town called Kopcheve, modern-day Kapciamiestis, Lithuania, and lived in Nemnovo in what is today Belarus. Alexander, who immigrated to the United States in 1889, came to Charleston, where his brother Isaac Wolfe Banov had settled. Daughter Rebecca followed her father first, then came son Cassell, and finally, Alexander's wife, Sonia Danilovich, and their remaining children, Rachel, David, and Leizer, in 1895. Relying on information from his great-uncle David Banov's oral history, Alan recounts living conditions in Nemnovo, and the trip from Russia to Charleston, in particular, a segment of David and Leizer's journey. Because Russian border guards were likely to prevent young males from leaving the empire, the brothers, just twelve and seven years old, separated from Sonia and Rachel, and a hired smuggler led them into Germany where they were reunited with their mother and sister. Alan talks about Alexander's stores in Charleston, Georgetown, and Red Top, South Carolina. The interviewee's grandfather, Leizer, who assumed the name Leon, was in the first confirmation class at Brith Sholom, the Orthodox synagogue in Charleston. Leon became a pharmacist and opened apothecary shops at 442 and 492 King Street before earning his degree in medicine at the Medical College of South Carolina. Dr. Leon Banov, Sr., went to work for the city and county health departments and, after becoming director, oversaw the merger of the two entities. Alan discusses some of his grandfather's accomplishments as a public health director. Leon married Minnie Monash, whose father, Morris, owned Uncle Morris's Pawnshop in Charleston. Alan's father, Leon Banov, Jr., the eldest of three, became a doctor like his father and married Rita Landesman from Morris Plains, New Jersey. They raised Alan and his younger sister, Jane Banov Bergen, in Charleston. Alan describes his experiences at Charleston Day School and Gaud School for Boys. In 1967, after attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he began law school at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. To get a draft deferment during the Vietnam War, he took education courses and signed up to teach school. He was assigned to Abram Simon Elementary School in D.C., where he taught sixth grade for three years while earning his law degree. Alan recalls his early career as a lawyer working first for the National Labor Relations Board, and then the law firm Donald M. Murtha & Associates. He originally intended to work in labor law, but switched to employment law. He explains why that trajectory changed and talks about his work as an employment lawyer and, more recently, a mediator. Alan married Marla Needel in 1969. They raised two daughters, Jessica and Rachel, before divorcing in 2001. His partner, Sandi Blau Cave, whom he met in 2002, was present during the interview. The transcript includes comments and corrections made by the interviewee during proofing. For related materials in Special Collections, Addlestone Library, see the Banov family papers, Mss 1025; the Edna Ginsberg Banov papers, Mss 1039; and interviews with Leon Banov, Jr., Mss. 1035-240; Abel Banov, Mss. 1035-060; and Edna Ginsberg Banov, Mss. 1035-045.