Taylor DeBartola tells the story of his upbringing in Peachtree City, Georgia, a town he describes as “very conservative.” He discusses the competitive relationship he had with his younger brother who is close in age, as well as the role that religion played in their early life. DeBartola reflects on the way that he revealed his sexuality to his family, and the period of time where things between them were rocky, discussing the ways in which he had to be patient and allow his parents to “take their time” to accept him. Taylor then talks about his “chosen family,” and the way they all met at Dudley’s, a popular gay bar in downtown Charleston. He details the ways he sees gatherings with gay men changing in recent years, moving from public spaces to more private locations such as personal residences. Taylor also discusses gay married life in the South, later noting that he and his now-husband were “engaged when it was not going to be legal,” and stressing that young people should educate themselves on gay history, especially the HIV/AIDS crisis, which he stresses is far from over. He also talks about the ways that particular books shaped him and his desire to learn more about gay history, mentioning Harlan Greene’s Why We Never Danced the Charleston. DeBartola then describes the impact that artist and activist David Wojnarowicz has had on his life, and the ways that he has tried to trace Wojnarowicz’s and his partner’s time spent on a trip to Charleston. Finally, Taylor talks about his experiences being an openly gay College of Charleston student.
Ron Plunkett discusses his experience as an Irish-American in the South. His Irish family background is largely derived from County Meath, County Louth, and County Dublin, and the first ancestor of his to come to the States was Captain Peter Plunkett, who arrived in Virginia around 1690. Ron was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. His background is Welsh, German, and French Huguenot, as well as Irish. Ron was raised in the Episcopal Church. Of anti-Irish or anti-Catholic sentiment, he states that he feels such discrimination or prejudice wasn’t a part of his experience in Atlanta, and that religious or ethnic background didn’t seem to be as big of a deal as it might have been in other places. He also discusses his time in the service during the Korean War. He first visited Ireland in the seventies on business and returned several times through his job with Sealand/Maersk Line, speaking of his experience as a visitor in the best of terms. He is a member of the Hibernian Society of Charleston and the St. David’s Society, a Welsh organization. To him, being of Irish descent in America is about celebrating one’s heritage and knowing one’s history, to share pride in the contributions of one’s ancestors.