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.
Terri Wolff Kaufman, in this second of two interviews, talks about growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, where she was born in 1955 to Elsie Benenson and Louis Wolff. Louis, an architect, designed the large modern house in which Terri and her younger siblings, Frances, Michael, and Bruce, were raised. Terri notes instances of antisemitism that she experienced as a child and tells the story of how her father and his business partners at Lyles, Bissett, Carlisle & Wolff handled discriminatory treatment directed at Louis by the Summit Club in Columbia. Louis's awareness of prejudice against Jews and African Americans in Columbia was evident when he discouraged Terri from meeting a black friend out in public, knowing that the association would make life more difficult for Terri and the family. The interviewee shares stories about her siblings, describes her parents' social life and civic activities, and recalls the African Americans who worked for her family in their home. The Wolffs belonged to Columbia's Reform congregation, Tree of Life, and observed the Sabbath by lighting candles on Friday nights before going to services. While they did not keep kosher, Louis insisted that a couple of food restrictions be followed. Terri was studying to be an actor in New York when her father died suddenly. She ended up earning a graduate degree in media arts and working in the television industry in Los Angeles. Terri and her ex-husband, Jack Kaufman, raised their son, Alex, in the Jewish tradition in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The interviewee finds it more "comfortable" living as a Jew in large northern cities as compared with the South, where Judaism is not as familiar or well understood. However, she thinks Jews who live in places with smaller Jewish populations are more likely to get involved in Jewish organizations as a way to connect with other Jews, as she has since her recent move to the Charleston area. Terri is married to a non-Jewish man, Vernon Dunning, and they are members of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim in Charleston, South Carolina. See Mss. 1035-564 for Terri's first interview and Mss. 1035-212 for an interview with Terri's aunt Sura Wolff Wengrow. For a related collection, see the Wolff family papers, Mss. 1045.
Terri Wolff Kaufman, in the first of two back-to-back interviews, describes her family tree with a focus on her paternal grandparents. Henry Wolff, a Polish-German immigrant, opened the Henry Wolff Department Store in Allendale, South Carolina, in 1901. He married Rachel "Ray" Pearlstine, daughter of Rebecca Tobish and Louis Pearlstine, of Branchville, South Carolina, and they raised their children, Cecile, Sura, and the interviewee's father, Louis Michael Wolff in Allendale. When Henry, who was much older than Rachel, died in 1914, Rachel took over the business and adopted the name "Ray" after their regular vendors declared, "We don't do business with women." Sura's husband, Sam Wengrow, assumed control of the store upon Ray's death in 1936. Terri, born in 1955 in Columbia, South Carolina, shares her memories of visiting the store as a young child and refers, during the interview, to photographs taken when her grandfather was the proprietor. Louis Wolff married Elsie Benenson in 1952. Elsie, the interviewee's mother, hailed from Atmore, Alabama, near Mobile. Terri discusses her father's education and career as an architect. He received his undergraduate degree from Clemson College in 1931 and his architectural degree from the University of Pennsylvania two years later. Considered a modernist, Louis became a principal in the firm Lyles, Bissett, Carlisle & Wolff in 1946. An example of his work is the former Tree of Life Synagogue at 2701 Heyward Street in Columbia, South Carolina, completed in 1952. Terri briefly mentions other buildings in Columbia that the firm designed and her father's various jobs early in his career, including his stint in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Europe during World War II. See Mss. 1035-565 for Terri's second interview and Mss. 1035-212 for an interview with Terri's aunt Sura Wolff Wengrow. For a related collection, see the Wolff family papers, Mss. 1045.
Leah Feinberg Chase was born in 1938 in West Point, Georgia, the eldest of three girls of Norma Beryl Goldstein and Morris Feinberg. In this interview, she talks about growing up in the small Georgia town bordering Alabama, roughly eighty miles southwest of Atlanta, then home to West Point Manufacturing Company. Her father opened a shoe repair business in West Point, later switching to ladies' and children's ready-to-wear clothing. Leah was the only Jewish student when she was attending the public schools in town. She says she "never experienced outright antisemitism in West Point," and she had many friends. "We were very cliquish." Yet, she notes "I always felt I was different," pointing out that she spent her weekends doing very different activities than her Christian friends. She and her sisters, Helen and Ina, attended Sunday school in Columbus, Georgia, where her paternal grandparents, Jake and Ida Feinberg, lived. Other weekends she traveled to youth group functions, such as Young Judaea conventions. Leah married Philip Chase of Charleston, South Carolina, in 1957. For a year before their marriage, she studied journalism at the University of Georgia, while Philip finished his last year in college at The Citadel. They raised four children?Stephen, David, Benjamin, and Freda?in Charleston. Leah describes her career in journalism at Channel 5, WCSC-TV; Custom Video; and Charleston Jewish Federation, where she edited the Federation's newspaper, Charleston Jewish Journal, which won national awards at the General Assembly of Council of Jewish Federations. The Journal also attracted unwanted attention during her tenure at the paper. She received death threats, including a bomb threat to Chase Furniture, the family business, prompting police protection. Leah gives an overview of the local civic organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish, that she has belonged to and served over the past decades, in particular the Foreign Affairs Forum. She makes note of her advocacy for and regular visits to Israel. Thirty years prior to the interview, Leah made a career change and became a travel agent. Other topics discussed include how observant Leah is of Jewish traditions compared with her parents, and an antisemitic incident that occurred when she applied for a job at the Evening Post/News and Courier in the late 1950s/early '60s. The transcript contains corrections made by the interviewee during proofing.
Evaline Kalisky Delson relays her mother’s experiences as a Holocaust survivor. Dientje Krant, born in Bussum, Holland, in 1938, spent part of her early childhood in hiding during World War II. After the war, she rejoined her parents, who themselves were hidden by Dutch families. Dientje, anxious to escape her parents’ strict rules, left home right after graduating from high school and was hired to work on an ocean liner docked in Germany. There she met Evaline’s father, Leonard Kalisky, a Kingstree, South Carolina, native, who was stationed at a U.S. military base. They raised their three children in Isle of Palms, South Carolina, and then Holland, before returning to South Carolina. Evaline describes her childhood and the difficulties that arose from Dientje’s struggles with mental illness and memories of wartime traumas. She talks about how she copes with the residual effects of the challenges she faced growing up and expresses concern for the lack of progress made by mankind. “I don’t think we really learned from these tragedies. . . . I did not think in my lifetime that I would have to stand up like we do for gay rights, for women’s rights, for Jews, for Muslims, to have to have a march because a mosque is being bombed. . . . I thought we would grow. So to hear these stories and to see what’s going on right now in the world, it’s hard because a lot of my family died in vain.” Evaline feels that “it is our obligation, as this direct link to this atrocity, to stand up for these atrocities that are occurring now.” This is one of a number of interviews conducted by Ph.D. candidate Lucas Wilson for his dissertation, “The Structures of Postmemory: Portraits of Survivor-Family Homes in Second-Generation Holocaust Literature.” Wilson was awarded two Charleston Research Fellowships (May 2017, February 2019) by the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture at the College of Charleston. Note: Dientje Krant Kalisky Adkins’ oral history, Mss. 1035-145, is online at the Lowcountry Digital Library.
Sandra Brett outlines her parents’ experiences during World War II. She responds to questions about her awareness of and reaction to her parents’ wartime stories, and how they have impacted her life. Raised in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, she describes home life for herself and an older brother and sister, saying they had a “pretty normal upbringing.” She notes that she was never interested in the Holocaust until she visited Theresienstadt, in the Czech Republic, about fifteen years ago, and was captivated by the children’s artwork she saw there. An artist herself, Sandra has worked with the Charleston Jewish Community Center and Jewish Federation of Charleston to teach Holocaust history through art, but not out of a sense of honoring her parents or the need to fulfill a mission of remembrance. She gives no more importance to her parents’ stories than to any other survivor, pointing to the large number of atrocities, past and present, worldwide. “I have trouble dissociating that horror from all the other horrors.” She adds, “I think my parents’ story is more important than any reaction that I have to it.” This is one of a number of interviews conducted by Ph.D. candidate Lucas Wilson for his dissertation, “The Structures of Postmemory: Portraits of Survivor-Family Homes in Second-Generation Holocaust Literature.” Wilson was awarded two Charleston Research Fellowships (May 2017, February 2019) by the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture at the College of Charleston.
Harlan Greene, one of four children of Regina and Sam Greene, talks about growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, with a focus on the effects his parents’ experiences as Holocaust survivors had on him and his siblings. Regina and Sam married in their native Poland in June 1939 and, sometime after the Nazis invaded Poland, were picked up by Russian invaders and taken to Siberian work camps. In 1943 the Greenes joined thousands of Jewish refugees in Uzbekistan to wait out the war. They immigrated in 1948 to Charleston, where Regina had relatives. Harlan recalls that his parents’ wartime accounts were “very contradictory,” and he speculates as to the reasons. At his prompting, his mother began telling him stories in bits and pieces when he was a young teen. Regina was not for memorializing just one holocaust or telling her story publicly, whereas, later in life, Sam became involved in Holocaust organizations and recorded his life story. Harlan describes his parents’ marriage, their home life while he was growing up, and his childhood, which he calls “claustrophobic.” He believes that his parents’ stories are part of his and his siblings’ stories—"their trajectory is my trajectory”—and that certain familial traits have filtered down to his nieces in the next generation. Harlan notes that he has a “run-away work ethic. I can see it in many of my siblings. If we’re enjoying ourselves, we kind of feel guilty.” He comments briefly on Charleston society’s social strictures and how he has embraced living outside its confines, being gay and Jewish. “Growing up in Charleston, you weren’t supposed to be Jewish. You weren’t supposed to be gay. Those were social strikes against you. . . I like whatever makes me different.” This is one of a number of interviews conducted by Ph.D. candidate Lucas Wilson for his dissertation, “The Structures of Postmemory: Portraits of Survivor-Family Homes in Second-Generation Holocaust Literature.” Wilson was awarded two Charleston Research Fellowships (May 2017, February 2019) by the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture at the College of Charleston.
Edie Hirsch Rubin is the eldest of two children of Miriam Braun and Sigmund Hirsch, Romanians who fled Europe in early 1939. Edie describes her parents’ emigration by ship to Palestine, where they joined her mother’s cousin in Kibbutz Dan in the Golan. A couple of years later, they moved to Haifa and, in 1941, Edie was born; her sister, Ronite, was born in 1945. Edie talks about conditions in Haifa while growing up. Housing and food were scarce, tensions ran high, and they often sought refuge in bomb shelters during nighttime shelling of the city. She recalls feeling sad and acutely aware, as a child, of having almost no extended family. Her father had encouraged family members to leave Europe, to no avail, and most were killed in the Holocaust. Edie’s sadness was compounded by her lack of knowledge about the relatives who were lost; her parents did not share their memories with her or her sister. In 1952, the Hirsches moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Edie discusses the move and how the family adjusted to a new country. She met her husband, Joseph Rubin, in Montreal, and they married in 1961. Joseph’s profession as a cardiothoracic surgeon brought the Rubins to the United States. They raised their four children in Augusta, Georgia, and retired in Charleston, South Carolina. Edie worked in special education. She has always tried to live her life the way her father taught her—give back to the community and be grateful for what you have. This is one of a number of interviews conducted by Ph.D. candidate Lucas Wilson for his dissertation, “The Structures of Postmemory: Portraits of Survivor-Family Homes in Second-Generation Holocaust Literature.” Wilson was awarded two Charleston Research Fellowships (May 2017, February 2019) by the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture at the College of Charleston.
Blanche Weintraub Wine and her daughter Dana Wine Johnson discuss how the experiences of Blanche's parents as Holocaust survivors have shaped their lives. Blanche, the oldest of six children, explains how Guta Blas and Leon Weintraub met in Wierzbnik, Poland, where they were incarcerated during World War II, and how they reconnected after liberation and ended up in Charleston, South Carolina. Central to Guta and Leon's story is sixteen-year-old Guta's brazen attack on a German officer just as she and other Jews, including her mother, were about to be shot. The force of Guta's personality is a recurring theme throughout the interview. Blanche recalls her mother telling her she was a replacement for her grandmothers, which she says didn't feel like that much of a burden, "but certainly, I knew there were certain things expected of me." She adds, "I was obligated to be the best I could be because . . . I was the product of two special people." Blanche describes how her parents introduced their memories to her as a young girl in an "age-appropriate" manner, providing greater detail as she got older. She became more emotional about her parents' experiences as an adult, when she was old enough to understand the "depth of suffering." Blanche acknowledges she had difficulty fitting in with Charleston's Jewish community and was lonely at times. She was aware that the other Jewish children were surrounded by extended family, something the Weintraubs were lacking. Dana says her experience is similar to her mother's in that she heard about the Holocaust from a young age and her sensitivity to it increased as she got older. She tells her grandmother's story whenever she is given the opportunity. She believes it's important to keep sharing stories so that the lessons of the Holocaust are not forgotten as the number of survivors diminishes. Blanche considers her negative feelings toward Poland and the Polish people, while Dana eagerly outlines her plan to visit Poland and retrace her grandparents' steps. This is one of a number of interviews conducted by Ph.D. candidate Lucas Wilson for his dissertation, "The Structures of Postmemory: Portraits of Survivor-Family Homes in Second-Generation Holocaust Literature." Wilson was awarded two Charleston Research Fellowships (May 2017, February 2019) by the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture at the College of Charleston.
Richard Weintraub was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the fourth of six children, to Guta Blas and Leon Weintraub, both Holocaust survivors. He relates some details of his parents’ story, in particular Guta’s daring attack on a German officer after being told she and a group of people that included her mother were about to be shot. Richard doesn’t recall his father ever talking about his wartime experiences. Guta, however, “could talk about it anytime, anywhere, to anybody.” Richard believes it was cathartic for her, but says “I’m convinced she never really got it out of her system.” He considers his response, as a child, to hearing his mother’s stories, noting he “never felt any residual effect of their experiences.” Richard describes his childhood as normal and thinks Guta was overprotective of him, more so than his siblings. He explains why he think it’s important to contribute to Holocaust awareness and to speak out against injustice. This is one of a number of interviews conducted by Ph.D. candidate Lucas Wilson for his dissertation, “The Structures of Postmemory: Portraits of Survivor-Family Homes in Second-Generation Holocaust Literature.” Wilson was awarded two Charleston Research Fellowships (May 2017, February 2019) by the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture at the College of Charleston.
James Finnegan discusses his family history and his experiences as an Irish American in Charleston. James? great-great-great-grandfather traveled to South Carolina from County Meath around the late 1840?s. He discusses his deep family history in Charleston, as well as his involvement in the Irish community in Charleston and various events such as the Charleston St. Patrick?s Day parade.
Sarah Davis discusses her experiences as an Irish American growing up in the Northeast. She admits that it is difficult to pinpoint her experience with Irishness, as her family background is made up of several different backgrounds, but states that she connects most with the community and hospitality aspects of Irishness. She also offers some comments on perceptions of Irish American vs Irish identities, and on the changing political and social environment in Ireland today.
Megan Smith discusses her experiences as an Irish American in the South. Her paternal grandmother and grandfather immigrated to Holyoke, Massachusetts in the early 1880s. Her maternal grandparents are from Kerry, specifically the Annascaul area. Megan explains that her family in the Boston area owned a blacksmith company and provided services for much of the city. Her other grandparents lived in northern New York and owned a grocery story in Massena, New York. Her father was in the Navy and was responsible for their move to Charleston. Megan is a teacher, and is very involved in the Irish music scene in Charleston.
Melanie McMillan DeHaven (b.1966) was born in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, during the time of the Troubles. Melanie lived in Newtonards until she was eight years old and still has family there today. She discusses her experience with emigration at a young age, and what the Northern Irish identity means to her. Violence during the Troubles had a personal impact on her family, and was a driving force in their emigration to America during the 1960's and 1970's, which she discusses in depth.
Cormac O?Duffy (b. 1950) shares his experience of being born in America, but being raised in Dublin. Cormac?s father was a well-known singer in Ireland, which provided opportunities for Cormac such as meeting De Valera. Cormac O?Duffy was raised to love music and spends his time writing music. He discusses pursuing higher education degrees in Ireland and coming to America for teaching opportunities. He also discusses key differences in life in America and Ireland.
Roseanne Keeley Wray?s parents immigrated to America as a couple in 1926. Prior to her parents moving together to the Bronx. Roseanne shares the experience her mother had with coming to Oklahoma as a single woman. Roseanne offers a wealth of knowledge of both life in Ireland as well as the life of an Irish individual living in America. She shares memories of living in the Bronx as a child and housing young, single Irish immigrants in her family home. She shares stories that her parents would share with her siblings during childhood that told them stories of life in Ireland. To this day, Roseanne?s family still owns a family farm in Ireland, which Roseanne plans on leaving to her children and grandchildren.
Brendan Dagg (b. 1981) describes his experience as an Irish immigrant living in Charleston. Brendan grew up in Tullamore, County Offlay. His parents owned a local grocery store in the community, and he describes his upbringing as ?typical Irish,? and very positive. He emigrated to the United States in 2011, after marrying his wife, who is American, and immediately settled in Charleston. The transition to living in the U.S. was ?fairly challenging? at first but got easier once the decision was made to make things permanent. Brendan comments that the only thing he really misses about Ireland is the relationships with family and being able to be a part of certain milestones, which is why he and his wife bring their two children over to visit with extended family as often as they can. Brendan is very involved with sports and is a part of the hurling team here in Charleston.
Brett Wadford was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina and has lived in Charleston for the past ten years. Brett?s family immigrated to America around 1787 and came from Antrim, Northern Ireland. Brad?s family has a history of Protestant beliefs and he has ancestors buried in a Presbyterian cemetery in the upstate. He has been involved with the Gaelic Athletic Association in order to connect with his Irish background.
In this second of a two-part interview, Anita Moise Rosefield Rosenberg describes her career after graduating from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She first took a job as music director at WPTF radio in Raleigh, North Carolina. When she and her husband, Ira Rosenberg, moved to Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1960s, she went to work at WKTM radio, owned by her cousin Ansley Cohen, selling advertising spots, and doing whatever else was needed. Anita notes that working at WKTM was exciting because it was FM, which "was coming into its own," and it was "Charleston's first rock station." After a few years, she went into "the advertising agency world" and was active in the local professional association, Advertising Federation of Charleston, and the national association, American Advertising Federation, which recognized her work with their Silver Medal Award. One of her clients was Pearlstine Distributors, who hired her to run its marketing and advertising department. Anita talks about other jobs she held and the various types of work she did in advertising. "Just every different avenue of this profession has been fun and interesting, and very rewarding to do." In Charleston, the interviewee has been involved in numerous Jewish and non-Jewish community organizations and events as part of her professional work and her personal commitment to giving back. She recounts how she met her husband, Ira, the son of Bessie Lipschutz and Alan Rosenberg. "Two different worlds met each other." Ira's parents, Orthodox Jews from New York, raised him in Richmond, Virginia. Anita grew up in Sumter, South Carolina, in a Reform temple. Anita and Ira's three children are David, Virginia, and Mindelle. Anita discusses how and why she and Ira were able to adopt Virginia in 1967 as an infant. The Rosenberg family belonged to Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE), Charleston's Reform synagogue. The interviewee talks about her children and grandchildren. Her son, David, and his wife, Marcie, are members of the relatively new Modern Orthodox Dor Tikvah in Charleston. Anita and Ira started keeping kosher years ago?something they did not do while raising their children?to accommodate family members who are kosher. Anita considers how practices have changed at KKBE: they have their first female rabbi and their first gay rabbi; the revised prayer books have English and Hebrew with transliterations and translations; the cantor's role has expanded and is more inclusive. She says, "Conservative and Reform are moving closer to each other in today's world," and adds "from a historical point of view, the ancestors were Sephardic Orthodox Jews who settled here. That's my beginnings. So I don't feel like this is so strange, it's just a part of who I am." Anita briefly covers a number of other topics, including KKBE's past rabbis; its present-day choir; how the influx of people from other states has changed the congregation; the current status of Charleston's Jewish congregations and how/why they get along so well; her opinion about the presence of Chabad in the area; Jewish-gentile relations; and her thoughts on the Temple Sinai Jewish History Center in her hometown of Sumter. In a postscript to this interview, Anita recalls Alfreda LaBoard of Johns Island, the African-American woman who "was our nursie" from the time the Rosenberg kids were small. "She raised my children. I could never have done all the things that I did in the community, as well as Ira and I both busy with our careers, if it hadn't been for Alfreda." Comments and corrections made by the interviewee during proofing have been added to the transcript. For part one of this interview, see Mss. 1035-554. For related interviews, see Anita's interviews with her husband Ira Rosenberg, Mss. 1035-452 and Mss. 1035-461, and with her son, David Rosenberg, Mss. 1035-175. Also see a 1995 interview with her mother, Virginia Moise Rosefield, Mss. 1035-007.
Anita Moise Rosefield Rosenberg, born in 1940, was raised in Sumter, South Carolina, the eldest of two children of Virginia Moise and Herbert A. Rosefield. Anita discusses her family history, noting that on her mother's side, their genealogy reaches back "to Luis de Torres, who sailed with Columbus and was probably the first Jew to set foot on the North American continent." The Harbys, another maternal line, arrived in North America in the 1700s. Her grandmother Anita Harby married Harmon DeLeon Moise, who changed his given name to Davis to avoid being confused with another Sumter lawyer of the same name. Davis Moise was part of a South Carolina legislative delegation that traveled to Providence, Rhode Island, to recruit industries willing to move south. Frank Louis Rosenfield, husband of Leah Rachel Kleiger and a hosiery manufacturer, took the opportunity and moved his factory and his family to Sumter, changing their name to Rosefield. Anita's father, Herbert, met her mother in Sumter's Reform synagogue, Temple Sinai. Herbert was the South Carolina vice president for Ezekiel & Weilman Company, a restaurant supply business headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. Also a musician, Herbert served as Temple Sinai's cantor for fifty years. Anita talks about a few of her ancestors and their accomplishments, including Penina Moise and Rachel Lazarus, as well as relatives she knew, such as her aunt Nina Moise Solomons Phelps and her uncles Lucius Clifton Moise, Davis DeLeon Moise, and Marion Moise. Anita recalls that before Sunday school, Grandfather Rosefield treated her and her younger brother, Herbert Jr., to breakfast at Jim's Waffle Shop, owned by Jim Karvelas, a member of the Greek community in Sumter. Anita says in the interview, "My Jewish education was Classical Reform." She was confirmed and she belonged to Temple Sinai's youth group, Southeast Federation of Temple Youth, which was very active in South Carolina. Anita's father wanted her to get an education so she could support herself. Her parents expected her to work during the summers rather than be idle. Anita started working at twelve and, by fourteen, she "was on the air at WSSC in Sumter doing commercials, playing music back in the old days of being a DJ." The summer she was fifteen, she attended theater school at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the following summer she worked for the university's radio and television stations. Anita briefly describes her involvement in the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, serving as an officer locally, regionally, and nationally. The interviewee concludes by observing that "Sumter was a totally socially integrated city." Her parents were involved in productions at the local theater; Anita went to a Roman Catholic kindergarten; young Jewish ladies were invited to make their society debut alongside their non-Jewish peers; and Jewish and Christian professionals went into business together. "We were so southern, and we were so Sephardic, we looked down our nose at anybody who came from off." Comments and corrections made by the interviewee during proofing have been added to the transcript. This is the first part of a two-part interview, conducted on the same day; see Mss. 1035-555 for part two. For related interviews, see Anita's interviews with her husband Ira Rosenberg, Mss. 1035-452 and Mss. 1035-461, and with her son, David Rosenberg, Mss. 1035-175. Also see an interview with her mother, Virginia Moise Rosefield, Mss. 1035-007.
Terry Cherry (pronouns: She/Her/Hers), white police officer, discusses the path of her life from birth in North Carolina, to education in California and elsewhere, to her service, in a number of capacities, as an out LGBTQ person in the Charleston, SC police force. She was born in Pinehurst, NC into a Methodist family. Her parents were both professors and very accepting and loving. Identifying as boy, she felt constricted by what society demanded of her, and went into therapy as a child to help with her anger at the situation. She attended UCLA, and when studying abroad in Australia, she reached a crisis when she nearly died from influenza. At her recovery, she decided to live as fully and honestly as possible. She came out to her parents, at first assuming she would be a disappointment and "imperfect," something her family totally rejected. At the Church of Christ-affiliated Pepperdine University, getting an MBA, she stressed LGBTQ issues and after graduating, she worked in the private sector before asking herself, "What can I do to make a memorable impact?" Turning to law enforcement, she went through the San Diego Police Academy training and in 2012 returned, hesitantly, to the Lowcountry where she has family. Expecting to find herself in a more conservative environment, she nevertheless lived openly in her daily life and work for the Charleston Police Force. She first served as a patrol officer on James and Johns Island, where she made an "investment" in learning the culture and heritage of the community, becoming a valued friend to many. She was officer of the year in 2017 and was among the first on the police force to participate in the Pride parade. Throughout the interview, Cherry speaks of the need to be oneself, to always expect the best of all situations, and others, and to ignore stereotypes, while working for social justice. She also notes that the Charleston Police Department, where she has worked as liaisons to the LGBTQ and Latinx communities, and now serves as the head of recruitment activities, has become a leader in the nation in diversity and inclusion, while not necessarily advertising the fact. She also gives a few brief vignettes of her professional life, referencing working the Emanuel AME massacre, talking a young lesbian out of suicide, and other incidents. She also discusses the city of Charleston's hate crimes ordinance.
Narrator_042 (Pronouns: He/Him/His), who requested the withholding of his name from the interview, discuses growing up in a small town in South Carolina as part of a financially "pretty well-off" blended family. At a young age, he began to notice that he was different. Realizing that he identified as gay, the narrator encountered resistance and hostility from family members. He recounts his experiences of starting to embrace his identity. In the process, he experienced "a lot of acceptance from friends," but at home, he realized "things were kind of shunned away or seen as just wrong," or even "demonic." He details his family's denial of his sexuality, their attempts to rid him of what they viewed as a "demon," and their attempts to maintain a strict home life structured around religion and scripture. This included monitoring his activity to prevent exposure to what they viewed as corrupting content on television and the internet. Despite such opposition, he periodically came out to his family, first at the age of thirteen, again at fifteen, and for a third time as a College of Charleston student. He describes in detail the reactions of the people closest to him, the actions taken by his family, and the challenges he continues to encounter with family members and how they have progressed over time. Note: At the request of the narrator, his name and other identifying details have been removed from the transcript, and the audio file of this oral history interview is not available. In lieu of a proper name, the speaker is referred to as Narrator_042, and other deletions made to the transcript are denoted in brackets.
In this interview Crystal Denise Helton (pronouns she, her, hers), a white program coordinator at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), speaks of growing up in West Virginia, her awakening to her sexual identity, her experiences with friends, family and lovers, her marriage and divorce, her conversion to Judaism, and her reflections on herself and society. An only child growing up in with parents who were divorced, but still living together, Helton had a solitary youth, taking refuge in reading, offering escape from an alcoholic father, and a sometimes-inattentive mother. Closeted in high school, she nevertheless had a girlfriend who lived nearby and she avoided the censure of disapproving peers while attending a series of different churches and denominations. Helton first realized she was lesbian when she had a crush on a Sunday school teacher, and evolved a healthy attitude to her sexuality without the guidance or advice of others. Leaving home, near Princeton, West Virginia, Helton attended Marshall University and later lived in Lexington, KY where she switched from a PhD program in history to a masters program in library science, and where she was in a relationship with the woman who eventually became her wife. While she understood prejudice against gay people, Helton never felt much of it directed at her, commenting that her conversion to Judaism, completed at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE), in Charleston, SC, has sparked more of a negative response from others than her sexuality. Her ex-wife joined her in the conversion experience and there was much resistance to this religious change in her spouse's family. The breakup and divorce (the couple had three varying marriage ceremonies, including a very positive experience at KKBE), was difficult for Helton, who did not instigate it. Calling her ex-wife the extrovert, and herself an introvert, Helton discusses her family of choice, including a long-time friend, and new ones made in a bocce league and among "murderinos", fans of the "My Favorite Murders" podcast. She speaks of learning patience in a romantic relationship, and discusses the greater ease with identity and gender fluidity she sees in people younger than she. She believes that being a member of the LGBTQ community has brought her insight into privilege, power, and prejudice in the larger society.
Vanity Reid Deterville (she, her, hers), discusses her upbringing in Charleston, SC, college years spent in Atlanta, GA, and the challenges she faced as accepting herself and being accepted in society as an African American trans woman. Growing up in an extended religious family, Deterville knew she was different from most of her friends and family as she heeded the warning of her grandmother to not share her concept of her gender identity with most other people. Attending Morehouse College in Atlanta opened up new ways of expressing gender identity and sexual orientation for her, but conflicts with her family over these and other issues led to an unstable period in her life, when she experienced homelessness or near homelessness, financial problems and battles with drugs and dependency. She describes the various stages of self-expression she went through at Morehouse and the issues presenting feminine triggered at the all-male school and how over the years, there have been family rifts and reconciliations. She addresses what it was like to come out in Charleston, mentions the role the LGBTQ youth organization We Are Family played in the process and speaks a bit about the bar scene, articulating a stratification she noticed along class and racial lines._Deterville also speaks about local transgender issues, the segregated nature of LGBTQ life, and how many of her friends are more eager to attend Black Gay Pride events out of town rather than local gay pride events. She also notes the irony that people in the white community seem more empathetic on, and attuned to, transgender issues, than many in the people of color community. Yet white gay men tend to want to label and define her only as a drag performer and not accept her for her true status. She refers to a play "Sugar in the Grits" she wrote and performed for the local MOJA festival, a rare event that linked Gullah-Geechee heritage and LGBTQ life._In response to the question of what being LGBTQ has meant to her, she answers that it has led to "trailblazing," being constantly open to questioning normalcy, learning to love oneself, despite what one is taught, and being able to look at life in an a more nuanced and even more spiritual manner._
Robert Arrington (pronouns: He/Him/His), Black reverend of the Unity Fellowship Church, the only affirming church for LGBTQ people of color in the Charleston, SC area, discusses his personal life, his spiritual growth, and troubles and issues with his church and the larger Charleston, SC community. A native of Harlem, NY, Arrington grew up in an abusive household and due to a misdiagnosis, was sent to schools for the mentally handicapped. "My childhood was just about survival," he notes. Being different, he was the subject of contempt by others and sought solace in religion and the church, where he was told he was gifted. After being sent to a rigorous all male Catholic School, and his father's murder in 1974, Arrington and his family moved to a rural area near Durham, NC, where he graduated high school. In college, he married a woman "to make everybody happy," but that did not work out, and, moving to Fayetteville, NC, he became involved in a party scene, contracted HIV and nearly died. Back in Durham, facing family issues, Arrington rejoined the church, started an AIDS ministry, and could not be ordained as a minister in the Missionary Baptist Church as a gay man but only as "a non-practicing homosexual." To preserve his integrity, he joined the Unity Fellowship Church movement, and had a congregation in Charlotte, NC. Arrington then gives a brief history of the denomination, noting how he moved to Rochester, NY before coming to Charleston in 2010 and setting up a Pentecostal type church service here. Arrington describes the growth and decline of his congregation, mentions an ex-husband, and speaks of the prejudice he has felt in Charleston directed against him as an African American, and specifically against him as a reverend in and out LGBTQ church. While loving the area, he comments on the resistance of "gatekeepers" to change, feeling that racism is "in the air." He comments favorably on many working to improve the LGBTQ and African American communities, but concludes that many with power and privilege are halting progress.
Andrew Becknell, sometimes known as Andrezia (pronouns: they/them, but also she/her) describes growing up in the Charleston area as a bigender or two-spirit person. They grew up in a conservative Catholic family, moving from West of the Ashley to Mount Pleasant. Becknell's parents divorced when they were young, and they became close to their mother, and has only recently begun to renew ties with their father. Becknell has Tourette's syndrome, misdiagnosed early on as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), leading to bad reactions to drugs and an unhappy year at Blessed Sacrament School. Later attending Wando High School, Becknell, who always sensed they were different, began experimenting with high heels and other forms of feminine attire, eliciting a range of both negative and positive reaction, the former from his family and the latter from a church youth group leader. Attending Trident Technical College, Becknell served as Vice President of Gay/Straight Alliance, which they helped found and later had both positive and negative experiences in a different work environments. Now working as a car-detailer, a job much enjoyed, Becknell discusses being out, "blending in," and also moving into "survival mode." Becknell mentions attending some Charleston Area Transgender Support (CATS) meetings, notes being more attracted to women, describes the impact of certain albums and musicians on them, declares that "The binary must die," and speaks of their attraction to Norse Polytheism. They also muse on the rigidity of the older generation, both straight and gay, in viewing of sex and gender roles, mentioning a lesbian "takeover" of the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA), making the organization more accepting. Becknell also discusses work with a number of therapists, and how a gender therapist has been most helpful.
Cator Sparks (pronouns: he/him), white board president of LGBTQ youth organization We Are Family, discusses his life as a gay man and his volunteer and professional work. He describes growing up in a liberal family in Atlanta, Georgia, and his difficulties and successes in high school. Sparks attended the College of Charleston in the early 1990s and speaks of coming out in Charleston into an exciting and accepting environment, then detailing his experiences in the rave scene. Along with rave venues, he describes gay bars including Treehouse, A.C.'s, and The Arcade. He discusses his volunteer work with neighborhood associations in the Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood in Charleston and Harlem in New York City. Sparks performed in drag in Atlanta as Spectra Gramm, one of his performances during the Olympics being televised in France, where he soon went to study abroad. Back in Atlanta, he enrolled in American College, finishing his degree in fashion marketing in London. It was there he discovered dandyism, and he speaks of his conversion to it from rave fashion, defining what dandyism means to him, the effect it had on his life, and how it can educate others. He emphasizes how he values working with LGBTQ youth and his experiences volunteering with the Harvey Milk High School in New York City and with We Are Family in Charleston. Sparks describes the impact the 2016 Presidential election had on him, prompting his social action and recaps his professional life, including a description of working in Jeffrey, a high-end New York shoe store started by Jeffrey Kalinksy of Charleston, his freelance writing and his future plans of becoming a life coach. Photograph credited to Carolina Knopf.
David Cosgrove?s parents both came to America in 1964 and met in Elizabeth, New Jersey. David's parents are from rural areas in County Galway and County Mayo. Davd's father lived in Ireland until he was twenty two years old, when he moved to London with his brother, and David's mother came to America straight from Ireland at the age of nineteen. He has been to Ireland several times, as his parents regularly took him and his four brothers over to their hometowns during his childhood. David takes care to discuss similarities and differences between life and politics in Ireland and Charleston.
Cheryl Daniels was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. Both of Cheryl?s parents were also born in Jersey City and their parents immigrated from Galway and Cork. Cheryl?s grandparents initially immigrated to America for better job opportunities. She discusses their journey to Americanize themselves upon entering the country by changing their names. She discusses the influence of Catholicism on her family and her public school education experience in America. Cheryl has lived in New Jersey, Colorado, and South Carolina.
Jeanne Chirdon discusses her experience with Irish heritage and the journey of her family?s immigration from Ireland. After her great great grandparents immigrated from Ireland, they settled in Pennsylvania. Some of her family traveled through the port in Cork, Ireland and most of her family immigrated through Ellis Island, New York. One of seven siblings, Jeanne grew up Roman Catholic and discusses Catholic traditions and how they have influenced her life. Jeanne shares the role of Irish music in her life, which developed from her relationship with "the Toms" at the age of 16. Music, for Jeanne, influenced her sense of community and comfort in Irish culture. After living in Cork, Ireland from 2003-2006, Jeanne moved to Asheville for graduate school, and later moved to Charleston with her husband. She plays the banjo, and is very involved in the Irish music scene in Charleston.
Vivian Cleary, 64, was born in Dublin, Ireland. He shares stories about life in the Northside of Dublin. Vivian lived in Dublin until he was three years old when his parents moved to Birmingham, England, where he lived until the age of 17. Vivian shares experiences of family holidays in Ireland. Vivian came to Charleston twenty years ago and discusses how different life is in America. He discusses political issues with America during this time along with the process for applying for permanent residency. Vivian is also able to shed light on historical events in Ireland, such as experiences with the IRA, and separation of Northern Ireland and the Republic.
As part of 2019 Pride Week on the College of Charleston campus, local television journalist Megan Rivers moderates and interviews four speakers at an "LGBTQ+ Justice: The Road Ahead Panel Discussion" sponsored by the Charleston American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Ryan White Wellness Center. The panelists introduce themselves sequentially and then, slightly out of order, each one answers one question posed by Rivers. Cora Webb (pronouns: she/her/they/them), Program Director of We Are Family, addresses issues facing LGBTQ+ youth such as bullying; the failure of schools to stop it; bathroom access for trans students; and the state's "No Promo Homo" law prohibiting discussion of queer identifies except in a negative light. Michael Luciano (pronouns: he/him) speaks on HIV and AIDS as a Peer Treatment Educator at Palmetto Community Care, a member of the National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project, the Southern AIDS Coalition, the Southern AIDS Strategy Coalition, the Tri-County Sexual Health Awareness Prevention and Education Initiative (SHAPE Tri-County), and other councils and committees. He mentions living with HIV for decades and focuses on SC state laws that target, criminalize. and stigmatize people living with HIV. Jerry Evans (pronouns: he/him), introducing himself as gay lawyer passionate about First Amendment issues, then discusses "religious refusal" and court cases pitting religious objections on certain topics against equal protection under the law for LGBTQ+ and other people. The last to be introduced, Kenya Cummings (pronouns: she/her/they/them), the Opportunities Organizer for Carolina Youth Action Project, speaks of her organization that serves and educates for girls, trans youth and gender non-conforming youth. She advocates for comprehensive sex education and discusses the state's over reliance on School Resource Officers (SROs), law enforcement officers who apply police tactics instead of educational approaches in difficult situations in schools, creating more problems than they solve.
George Thomas Lamme (Pronouns: He/Him/His), discusses his early years in Nebraska, moving to New York City and Chicago, and then settling in Charleston, SC where he became involved in many LGBTQ related projects and businesses. Growing up gay and Catholic in Beemer, Nebraska, Lamme always knew he was different; engaging in cowboy and Indian games, he always played Big Ruby, "a bar girl". Attending a Lutheran college, he intended to be a priest, but eventually became a teacher in a Catholic school in his hometown instead. Pursuing some legal action against the school, he was threatened with being outed by the administration if he did not quit; it was recommended he move to New York City. There, he pursued his interest in theatre, working with H.M. Koutoukas and La Mama's avant gard theatre, among other things. Moving to Chicago, where he had worked in the box office of the Academy Festival Theatre, he met David Cardwell and Jeff Miller, who moved to Charleston, SC. In 1978, Lamme came to visit and never left. He was instrumental in finding backers for their bar Les Jardins, soon working there, writing, staging, and directing various musical spoofs and tributes. He also was befriended by Richard (Dick) Robison, whose Garden and Gun Club Lamme later joined as staff. He describes the small "quiet? beautiful" town Charleston was, its social structure and its class of closeted gay men. "Everybody knew that there were important people in the city? who had boyfriends," he notes. "But Charleston was such a polite city, you don't bring up that subject because? [t]hat person is a good person?." As a bartender and a door man, he was involved with selecting or rejecting those applying for membership, and got to know drag queens, society women, bar owners, other bars and bar patrons, many of which he describes. He also became active in the founding and running of Helping Hands dedicated to raising awareness of HIV and AIDS and raising funds for people with AIDS. He reflects on some of the earlier aspects of gay life in the city, speaks of attending local and national LGBTQ parades, describes the devastation of Hurricane Hugo, his work in hotel banqueting, as a guide at the Calhoun (now Williams) Mansion, and in the tourism office of the City of Charleston. He ends by affirming how satisfying it is to see LGBTQ people out in the community, describing how children and others realize he is gay, and how he loves "the fact that not a single person makes any trouble for anyone walking hand in hand in Charleston right now."
Jensen Cowan (pronouns: They/Them) was born July 4, 1997 in Brandon, Florida, and discusses growing up in Socastee, adjacent to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in an emotionally and verbally abusive home. They discuss chosen family and close friends, their relationship with their mother and four sisters in a blended family and what it meant to leave home to start a new life at the College of Charleston, with mentions of being in the Bonner Leadership Program there. Cowan describes the struggles of separating from their family financially and finding a method to pay for school. Working with We Are Family and attending functions of Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA), Cowan felt “discrepancies in maturities” in various groups, eventually finding supportive friends and neighbors to help with personal issues and the need for food. Cowan discusses identifying as queer, nonbinary, and trans, mentions a fundraiser they started to help pay for surgery and speaks of their capstone project to map all the gender-neutral bathrooms on the College of Charleston campus. Cowan notes a lack of response from College administrators on this and other LGBTQ oriented issues, describes the inconveniences and disruptions caused to their college studies by this lack of facilities and speaks to the insensitivity of some faculty and friends in using offensive vocabularies and inappropriate pronouns. Cowan and the interviewer discuss the lack of diversity within Charleston Pride, and the larger LGBTQ movement as a whole, while praising classes and faculty, such as Dr. Kristi Bryan, within the College’s Women’s & Gender Studies program and the positive effect it has had on them and others. The interview closes with a discussion of Cowan’s plans for the future after graduating in May 2019, having earlier mentioned a disinclination to return to working as an educator/camp counselor at Kids On Point (formerly Chucktown Squash), due to the fact that the students there would have known them under a different name.
Samuel Cooper (pronouns: He/His) discusses his upbringing, life history and beliefs, focusing often on the topic of being a gay African American man of faith. When his father, minister of Centenary Methodist Church, Charleston, SC, joined the military to become a chaplain, Cooper and his family began a peripatetic life that took them to various bases in this country and in Germany. Knowing early he was gay, seeing his homosexuality as a "gift," Cooper nevertheless suppressed it, eventually coming out to his family who accepted him, partially, he believes, due to his father having had counseled many LGBTQ men and women in the military. He notes both the benefits and liabilities of being Black and of being gay and describes an episode of crisis at Clemson University. A homophobic comment by a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes prompted him to leave that group, come out, join, and become an officer of Clemson's LGBTQ organization, the Lambda Society. He faced near dismissal from Mercer University's Walter F. George School of Law for being an advocate of LGBTQ visibility, and later in the interview he discusses the impacts racial prejudice, both Black and white, and homophobia, can have on clients he represents as a personal injury attorney. In his return to South Carolina working briefly in the Fourth Circuit Solicitor's office, he traveled the state; Cooper, throughout the interview, gives many details of various bars in Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, describing their appearance and layout and the groups attending them. Once relocated permanently to Charleston, SC, he attended the Metropolitan Community Church and its off shoot, Open Door. He discusses his relationship with his husband, Stavely Edgar, recounts some failed homophobic attacks against him, and notes little or no pushback against Edgar and himself as an interracial couple. He speaks of his religious faith, the Black church, his opinion of historically black colleges possibly limiting experiences for their students, and the threats menacing minorities and democracy due to the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
Melissa Moore (pronouns: They/Them) discusses their personal life and the various roles they played in numerous social causes and organizations, many being LGBTQ related. Born in Mt. Pleasant, SC, they identified as male, and, denied that self-expression, Moore details the impact it had on their school years and the numbing escape made possible by drugs and alcohol. In passing Moore also describes a run-in with religious demands at Vacation Bible School, and being exposed to, and fascinated by, female impersonators at an early age. At the College of Charleston, Moore joined such groups as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, and the Women’s Forum, engaging intellectually and socially with new people and ideas. Coming to see that societal norms aid in controlling conformity and denying diversity, Moore was strongly affected by a billboard supporting LGBTQ rights put up by the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA). That prompted them to begin volunteering, and eventually working, for AFFA under the direction of Warren Redman-Gress. Moore later went on to work with Linda Ketner and SC Equality to attempt to defeat the movement within the state of South Carolina to define marriage as between a man and a woman. That was unsuccessful. In the process, Moore came into contact with other organizations such as Southerners on New Ground and worked with activists including Mandy Carter and others, creating opportunities to learn grass root organizing skills and to work with groups like Africa House in Orangeburg, SC. Moore notes the reluctance or refusal of national and other LGBTQ organizations to fund work in the South, assuming it “unwinnable” and also speaks to the lack of funding for social service agencies in lieu of political ones. Working with the Abortion Access Project, later called Provide, gave Moore further experience and they eventually became director of We Are Family, an organization in Charleston for LGBTQ youth. Moore details how under their management and planning the organization and its programs grew. They describe the plan to fund the organization through the creation of a thrift store and Moore notes how three LGBTQ organizations in town, Charleston Pride, AFFA and We Are Family recently moved to the same building in North Charleston. After touching on subjects like transphobia, the new management of We Are Family, and naming many people in the field they admire, Moore finishes the interview describing their new position with the city of Mount Pleasant, working on sustainable and equitable city planning.
Jamie Nadeau (pronouns: She/Her/Hers) describes her journey to self-realization as a lesbian trans woman and a successful business owner of a hand-press greeting card printing company in Charleston, South Carolina. Born in Nashville, Tennessee into a religious Church of Christ family, Nadeau attended religious schools. Her father, a member of the Potawatomi Nation, and her mother divorced when she was young, and she speaks of trying to reclaim and learn more about her native American heritage. Born intersex, Nadeau retains early childhood hospital memories and speaks of her conservative upbringing where LGBTQ people were seen as “cultural oddities” and trans people were thought “horrific monsters.” Trying to imagine herself as a lesbian in that conservative environment “broke my brain,” and she had to go through the “impostor syndrome” before claiming and becoming comfortable as her true self. Embracing technology and computers long before they were commonplace, she was a young hacker and researched gender identities in cyberspace when others perhaps were still using libraries. She attended Middle Tennessee State University for a year, where and when she first began to explore her identity; she then studied at, and received her degree from, the Savannah College of Art and Design. After her mother’s death, Nadeau vowed she would never wear men’s clothes again and began seeing a gender therapist. She quickly began sharing her status with friends, family and her wife Allison, meeting wholehearted support from the latter, and a variety of responses from others. Nadeau speaks to the various levels of acceptance from the religious community, and from her biological and chosen families. She speaks at length of her experiences in coming out, noting how “soul crushing” being “misgendered” in public can be, and praises the Charleston trans women’s community for being so accepting and supportive, affirming the importance of support groups and loyal friends. Nadeau also describes how she and her wife, Allison, friends since childhood, followed their fascination with printing and design and left their professions to become proprietors of their greeting card company, Ink Meets Paper. There is a brief discussion focusing on Charleston being a safer space for LGBTQ people than other areas of the Deep South, and in response to the interviewer, Nadeau suggest that LGBTQ people should not necessarily focus on otherness, but see the world as she does, a place of countless, diverse narratives, where people are to be encouraged for finding their own way and lauded for their strength in “occupying space” in a world of proscriptions and possiblities.
Emily Anne Boyter (pronouns: She/Hers) discusses her life as the daughter of missionaries, her religious upbringing and experiences with religion, coming out as a lesbian, reconciling “Christianity and queerness,” and many positive new experiences opening to her. She describes being born in Greenville, South Carolina, and being raised in Mexico City where her parents worked as Evangelical Christian missionaries, spending brief periods in the states. She left Mexico and attended college at, and graduated from, Liberty University, a private evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia. There, the strongly insular quality she experienced in the missionary world, continued, and many felt a great loyalty to the school and its President, Jerry Falwell, Jr. Identifying as straight during her time there, she nevertheless was aware of a “strong culture of homophobia at Liberty,” where close friendships could lead to questions about one’s sexuality and where being gay could lead to expulsion. In graduate school at Clemson University, Boyter began to meet, and form friendships with LGBTQ people, feeling on “friendly ground” for the first time in her life, among people who were unbothered by another’s sexual orientation or identity. Being in this open and accepting environment, Boyter began to come to terms with being “queer,” a word she embraces for its inclusiveness. Coming out in her religious community at Clemson was not a positive experience, so she eventually left her church. In the interview, she wonders if others would see her as a “Christian” at all, she having now found comfort in a feminine spirituality versus the strong paternalistic nature of many churches and religions. She recalls how many men in her religious milieu would weigh her (and other women’s) characteristics and traits, to determine if they would make good wives of ministers. After coming out to her family and on social media, finding support from some, but dismay and rejection from others, including a man who had been viewing her as a possible wife, Boyter is now in a committed relationship with another woman and they are considering marriage. Despite the difficulties faced by LGBTQ people in the upstate region where they live, Boyter, a resident of Easley, and her girlfriend feel rooted in the area, yet she expresses some misgivings at the possibility of raising children there. Her work at the Tri-County Technical College is rewarding; being “out,” she can serve as a mentor and a role model for LGBTQ students and others.
Chase Glenn (pronouns: He/Him/His), white executive director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA), speaks about himself and his family, his life impacted by a growing awareness of the LGBTQ community and its issues, his transition, and his professional development that took him from church work to his current position. Growing up in Mt. Vernon, IL, an insular, small and rural community into a loving and giving Southern Baptist family, Glenn was "pretty naive to the world growing up." While he "felt like the other," he "didn't have the words or the real understanding" of his identity. In a world where "heterosexual sex was bad, then gay sex was not just not on the table at all," he did not have a frame of reference or knowledge about gay or trans people. Not until attending Belmont University in Nashville, TN did Glenn know gay people and there it was a shock to be told that women could never be ministers in the Southern Baptist denomination, despite Glenn's life-long "call" to the ministry. Never "feeling fully a girl," Glenn began a relationship with another woman, that being the "path of least resistance" and worked in churches. When outed as a lesbian at work in a church in Florida, Glenn was given the option to stop living that way or be fired. That prompted a 2006 move to Charleston, SC, where Glenn maintained a relationship with a lesbian, was married, came out successfully to his family, and worked for the Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church. After seven years he began to work for Blackbaud, and his awareness grew as to his true identity. His relationship ended; he discusses some of the lesbian and other bars in Charleston he attended, as he openly pursued his transition, sharing it online and on his dating profiles. He met a woman whom he married and now the couple has a son through invitro fertilization. Glenn discusses his fears of being an appropriate father and recalls his growing involvement in the LGBTQ community, doing the design and layout for the first Pride programs, serving on its board, that of AFFA, and working for SC Equality and the Trans Action Committee. Having gotten a master's degree in counseling and experiencing again the call to advocate for, and work with, people, Glenn, after discussions with his wife, left the safety of his corporate job to become the director of the non-profit AFFA. He describes the directions in which he took the organization, details the complexities of the community needs assessment survey AFFA and its partners undertook, discusses some of the results, talks about how race and racism affect the community and how society affords him "white male straight privilege" because of his appearance.
TZiPi Radondsky (pronouns: She/Her) speaks of her life and its many changes, her search for spiritual enlightenment and her work for a better world. Born into an "ortho-conservative" Jewish family in Boston, she grew up committed to Judaism, but cut herself off from it as a young woman. She attended college, got pregnant, married, and had two daughters. Her husband, a Catholic who converted to Judaism, joined her father in the women's sportswear business. When unionization prompted the transfer of the business to South Carolina, the family moved to Aiken, SC. She divorced, and began a friendship with a woman in Aiken, soon realizing it was love. She and her new partner were part of a closeted group of women in the area, and Radonsky felt frustrated that no one aided her in her pursuit to understand her evolving self. She attended a gay bar in Augusta, GA, began taking courses and was bat mitzvahed as an adult in Aiken. She "wasn't butch enough to be considered lesbian" and differed from most of her friends in having had children. Moving to Gainesville, FL, was "just like I walked into heaven," she notes. It was a liberating experience as she received a master's degree in occupational therapy, ran a women's bookstore and center, and lived in a women's only community. She then moved to Charleston, SC to work from 1984 to 1987 at the Medical University of South Carolina, where again, she found the community closeted. In Greensboro, NC, where she went to complete her PhD, she found a much more open community, wrote her dissertation on lesbians coming out, became a counselor, and began to reconnect with Judaism as she explored other spiritual avenues. A retreat in Taos, NM, prompted her to travel the world through the Servas International Program. As an out lesbian, she had positive, negative and neutral experiences. Mentioning Wicca, Gaia, and Native American religious traditions, Radonsky was ordained as a Rabbi in the Renewal Judaism movement by Mordechai Gafni, a charismatic leader who later lost his position due to claims of sexual misconduct. To take care of her aging parents, Radonsky moved to West Palm Beach, FL, despite her recovered memory of sexual abuse by her father. There she became friends with the early lesbian rights activists Connie Kurtz and Ruthie Berman. After her parents' death, Radonsky relocated to Beaufort, SC, to be near one of her daughters. She speaks of the conservative nature of the area, her work with the Unitarian Universalist Church, the lack of acceptance of her rabbinical degree by the Jewish community and her outspoken support of many causes and issues. She mentions marching with a daughter in Columbia, SC (at the first Pride March), and with her other daughter in Greensboro, NC; her two long-term relationships; and events she helped organize, including a Beaufort gathering to mark the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub and the first Pride March held in Bluffton, SC. She closes by noting that the LGBTQ community has much to offer society at large, and she will continue dedicating her life to total inclusivity.????
DeLesslin George-Warren (pronouns: He/Him/They/Theirs) speaks of his life as a queer member of the Catawba Indian Nation and his work for social justice, through both direct action and performance art. The son of a white father, who worked in health care and later became a private consultant, and a Catawba mother, an attorney working with the tribe for federal recognition, he was called "Roo" from childhood on. Growing up in Rock Hill, SC, he felt a "dual consciousness" attending a conservative Christian school while being part of a very liberal family in which he was expected to find his own truths. He started volunteering at the cultural center on the Reservation in high school, but did not reclaim his Catawba heritage or come out as a gay man until he attended college, eventually realizing that? "liberation as a queer person is tied to the liberation of my community." At Vanderbilt University, he pursued musical studies and also worked to establish gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. From 2014 to 2017, in AmeriCorps, he lived in Washington, DC. In museums there, as a guide and cultural interpreter, he often took patrons by surprise, sometimes making them angry, when he gave more nuanced and truthful version of American history as it involved indigenous people; being pale and blue-eyed, he defies cultural stereotypes. With a grant from Running Strong for American Indian Youth, he returned to the Catawba Reservation in 2017 and became involved in projects reviving the Catawba language and focusing on food sustainability. In the interview, George-Warren speaks of being accepted in the Catawba community as a gay man, despite its affiliation with the? Church of the Latter Day Saints; describes the "briar patch" nature of Catawba family relationships; notes the historical matriarchy of the tribe; sums up the impact of the loss of federal tribal recognition and then regaining it; mentions a "strain of queerness" in Catawba history; and discusses his identity. He recalls a PRIDE march in Washington, DC, wherein he and others protested the sponsorship of corporations, some involved in actions on Indian lands; and expresses gratitude for being born queer, beyond the norm, to free himself from society's expectations. It's "liberating to be Catawba and also be queer," he believes. He perceives a need for solidarity in the LGBTQ community and notes, "I've seen more anti-Native sentiment in LGBT spaces than I have seen explicit anti-LGBT sentiment in my Catawba community."??