Herstory and Culture of Drag (Panel)


As part of Queer History month, the event “Herstory and Culture of Drag” featured a panel discussion and presentation on the history of drag culture and contemporary issues facing drag performers. And OSQA was there to record the event!

Panelists: Dharma Mirza, Brandi Douglas, and PJ Harris
Moderator: PJ Harris
Date: October 18, 2017
Location: OSU Memorial Union

Watch the full recording of “Herstory and Culture of Drag” available online

Starting with a presentation about the growth of drag culture and terminology, the panelists offer a useful introduction to the topic from the perspective of performers with varying levels and types of engagement with drag. Following their presentation, the panelists responded to a series of questions, mostly relating to the history of drag, the many complexities of drag performance, and the ongoing violence and risk affecting drag performers and their allies. The event is geared towards a general audience, but the panelists often spoke directly to people considering the possibilities of drag in their own lives.

PJ Harris: Currently under the performance name King Julian G-String, PJ has been doing drag since 2014 and was OSU Beaver Royalty in 2015. PJ is also a Student Success Peer Facilitator at the OSU Pride Center.

Miss Dharma Prada MacPherson: Mother of the Haus of Dharma and the recipient of numerous awards for her many years of drag performance, Miss Dharma is a self-identified legend within the drag community of Oregon and beyond and a member of “Queens of the Valley,” a group three well-known drag queens from Corvallis and the surrounding areas.

Brandi Douglas: Brandi is currently the Assistant Director of Outreach in the Office of Institutional Diversity. Their drag name is Petty Washington, and they are a member of the Haus of Petty. Their drag performances frequently raise money for causes important to them.


PJ Harris, Miss Dharma Prada MacPherson, and Brandi Douglas

This event was a part of OSU’s 2017 Queer History Month


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“Uprooted” exhibit at the OMA!

uprooted-01It’s finally here! Three years ago, the Oregon Multicultural Archives (OMA) booked the traveling exhibit “Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps during World War II” to come to OSU, and the exhibit is now here and open to the public!

The exhibit showcases the history of the Japanese American farm labor camp near Nyssa, Oregon, through the stories of the people who lived and worked in the camp. The labor camp was the first of its kind organized during World War II. It became operational in May of 1942 and at its peak it held 350 people. Through the exhibit you learn about the camp, Oregon’s plan for the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during the war, and the national need for agricultural laborers, specifically in the sugar beet industry. For more information about the exhibit, photos, and links to more resources, be sure to view the exhibit website: Uprooted Exhibit

Exhibit Information


Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Oregon State University
5th Floor of the Valley Library
201 SW Waldo Place
Corvallis, OR

October 9, 2017 – January 5, 2018
Monday – Friday 9am-5pm

Also, to learn about OSU’s story in relation to the forced removal and relocation of the Japanese Americans, check out the blog post OSU’s Japanese American Students During WWII

And lastly, here are some photos of the exhibit:





The last image is of a bonus exhibit on the main floor of the library, in the lobby area.


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The OMA Featured in Memoria


Memoria is The Society of American Archivists (SAA)’s Latin American & Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives Section blog, and the OMA was featured this month!

The OMA Featured in Memoria, October 2017


“LACCHA is a forum for anyone interested in the issues affecting Latin American and Caribbean Archives housed in United States archives, and archives created by the Diaspora’s communities from the Latin American and Caribbean region.

The mission of the Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives (LACCHA) section is to create a space to exchange ideas and provide support among US, Caribbean and Latin American archivists about the challenges and opportunities of acquiring, managing, preserving and giving access to those archival materials not only originating from Latin American & the Caribbean and housed in the United States but also archival collections created by groups from different Diasporas coming from these regions and living in the United States.”

~ SAA LACCHA Memoria blog about page

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The OMA Presents at the OSU TRIAD Club


Today, the OMA presented at the first meeting for the 2017-2018 academic year of the TRIAD Club at OSU.  The presentation, “In Their Own Words: The Oregon African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection”, gave information about the Oregon African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection, shared the collection backstory and details of the 2015-2016 grant project to make the collection accessible, and showcased some of the interview content within the oral history interviews.

The presentation was given by Natalia Fernández, the curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives, and associate professor at Oregon State University. Below are the presentation slides and notes:


As the curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives, I collaborate with LGBTQIA and communities of color to empower them to preserve, share, and celebrate their stories. My work includes collection development, instruction, exhibit curation, and public programming.


This collection is made up of 29 individual, multi-part, and group oral history interviews between film maker Michael Grice and African American railroad porters employed in the Portland area. Grice is an educator, a co-founder of the World Arts Foundation, Inc. and an advocate for the preservation of African American culture. These recordings form much of the background research used for Grice’s 1985 film, “Black Families and the Railroad in Oregon and the Northwest.”

Although the African American community in Oregon is relatively small (about 2% based on the 2010 Census), their social and economic impact on the state has been substantial and this collection will add to the community’s history. By preserving these oral history interviews and making them accessible online, the stories of these individuals can be used by researchers, students, teachers, and the general public. The information gained through the interviews can be used to deepen the level of understanding of how African Americans played a significant role in the social and economic changes to the Portland area and the state during the 20th century.

In 2015, the OMA received a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust to digitize, transcribe, and make accessible the collection’s oral history interviews. The website includes brief interviewee biographies and interview summaries, access to the interview audio files, and transcripts of all the interviews.


In January 2015 Michael “Chappie” Grice and his colleague, historian, and friend Bob Zybach, reached out to us regarding a collection of reel-to-reel tapes of oral history interviews conducted mostly in the 1980s regarding the experiences of African-American Railroad Porters in Oregon. The Oregon Multicultural Archives was a great match as the repository – the mission of the OMA is to assist in preserving the histories and sharing the stories that document Oregon’s African American, Asian American, Latino/a, and Native American communities. We do not have the in-house capacity to digitize reels – we needed a grant to digitize and transcribe the interviews.


The OSU Special Collections and Archives Research Center was awarded a $5000 grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust for our “Oregon Black Railroad Porters Oral History Preservation Project.” The funds were used to transfer twenty-nine oral history interviews from their current open reel audio format to digital form and to have the interviews professionally transcribed. The stories told in the interviews are showcased through a website featuring the oral histories along with contextual information about Oregon’s black railroad porter community. The collection was further highlighted through two open to the public community events: a book talk with Max Geier and a presentation by Michael Grice.


This project preserves oral histories that recount the work of Portland’s African American railroad porters in the early and mid-20 century, at a time when job opportunities for African American males were largely limited to service related jobs. The interviews feature the experiences of Oregonians and in addition to expanding the state’s historical record, the interviews will also add valuable information to the history of African Americans in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the historical experiences of black railroad porters across the nation.


To highlight the significance of these interview subjects, the following is a brief overview of the work of a selection of interviewees:

  • Otto Rutherford was involved in the Portland chapter of the NAACP and played an important role in the successful passage of the Public Accommodations Bill, also known as the Oregon Civil Rights Bill, in the state legislature in 1953.
  • E. Shelton Hill arrived in Portland in 1941 as a railroad employee, served as president of the Urban League of Portland from 1959 to 1973, and successfully advocated for the rights of Oregon’s African Americans.
  • James Brooks who served as director of the Urban League of Portland from 1974-1978, after heading several of the League’s programs.

Slide9Extra information: “Employment hierarchy and description of duties” i.e. cooks, waiters, porters, etc. vs. the jobs not available to black men such as engineers, conductors, brakemen, bartenders and “Variety of Perspectives” i.e. fond memories vs. very negative experiences working for the railroad.


Sample Experience: Vernon Gaskin

Vernon Gaskin was born in 1908 and raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming. His parents were pioneers in the state, being the only black family in the area for many years. He recalls moving to Portland in 1927 and discusses the racial segregation encountered there. He first visited Portland in 1925 after joining the Union Pacific. He went on a trip around the world as a waiter in 1926, then continued with the railroad. He discusses meeting his wife in church and his habit of going to the closest church in every town he stayed in on the railroad. Gaskin switched to the Southern Pacific in 1933. He describes the many unexpected duties of dining car workers, such as nursing sick passengers and dealing with emergencies, and the long hours and working conditions. Gaskin also talks about segregation on the train, both in physical spaces and in the types of jobs and wages available to black workers.

The transcript of the clip used is at the end of this blog post.


Sample Experience: Otto Rutherford

Otto Rutherford was born in February of 1911. His parents had come to Portland in 1897, his father and uncle coming to Portland as hotel barbers. Rutherford began working for the Union Pacific in 1934 as a summer job between school sessions. He describes the tall and short crews and uniforms on the railroad and relays an incident where a white woman temporarily lost her diamond ring and investigators searched the crew, but not the passengers. He noted that the crew was always seen as guilty, and defending yourself could get you fired. Rutherford was a member of a union of cooks and waiters that met secretly in Holiday’s Barbershop in Portland. He discusses the values of organizing and the fear of being fired for union activities. Rutherford also discusses work hours and income and describes several unpleasant incidents on the railroad, as well as the family-like bond among co-workers. Also in this recording he describes growing up in Portland when there were very few black residents.

The transcript of the clip used is at the end of this blog post.


Public Programming – Event 1 of 2

In February 2016, the OMA and the OSU Press hosted a book reading and talk by author Max G. Geier about his book The Color of Night: Race, Railroaders, and Murder in the Wartime West. The book revolves around the 1943 trial of Robert E. Lee Folkes, a young black man and train cook who Geier argues was wrongly accused and convicted of the murder of Martha James, a young white woman, while both were aboard a train traveling near the Willamette Valley town of Albany, Oregon. Folkes’ trial, controversial conviction, and resulting execution provokes thought about race, class, and privilege in Oregon (more about the book later in the presentation). And I presented about the Oregon African American railroad porter oral history interviews collection grant project details.


Public Programming – Event 2 of 2

“Hear the Stories: Oregon African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection”, October 12, 2016. The second event featured Michael Grice sharing the stories of Oregon’s African American railroad porters, including his personal experiences. We had the collection materials available to view, along with i-pads that enabled event attendees to peruse the collection website. Notably, this event was recorded and the presentation is available online.


Earlier mention of the book The Color of Night ~ interesting side story…As part of my work is to acquire relevant collections for the archives, I spoke with Professor Geier to see if he would be interested in donating his collection of research files used for writing The Color of Night. He agreed, and after being arranged and described, the collection is now available for researchers. The research files include Geier’s research on the history of African Americans in Oregon and California, as well as the history of the Pullman Company; legal documents and other materials related to the Robert E. Lee Folkes case; and The Color of Night manuscript drafts and publication related documents. It acts as complimentary collection to the railroad porters oral history collection.

Max Geier The Color of Night Research Files, circa 1900s-2016

Slide15Slide16Thank you!

*** Transcripts of Interview Clips ***

Vernon Gaskin Interview 

VG: Why, I left the Union Pacific and signed in with the Southern Pacific.
MG: I see.
VG: And that’s — put in the rest of our railroading days there with the Southern Pacific.
MG: In the dining car?
VG: In the dining car, mhmm.
MG: You recall any interesting incidents in working in the dining car?
VG: Oh yes, yeah. Many of them.
MG: What comes to mind?
VG: Well, only thing about the dining car is that men in the Pullman cars would tell you it’s the heart of the train. Don’t care what happens on that train, they going to run right to the dining car with that problem. Yeah, that’s right. A woman’s raped, if she’s robbed, kid gets sick, a woman’s going to have a child, they run right to the dining car. I have assisted in bringing two children into the world.
MG: On a train.
VG: On the train, mhmm. Back in the [00:13:56 unintelligible]. That’s right, mhmm.
MG: It is like a hotel on wheels maybe, so to speak.
VG: Really, mhmm. And that same way with the—well, I’ll let the old men know, but the same way with the Pullman cars. You know, if you became ill, even though you had a coach seat they’d haul you back to the Pullman car because that’s where the bed was, see. Oh yeah, mhmm. And we were everything on the train, yeah. You’re a waiter, you’re a porter, everything. You’re a nurse. And it was rewarding, the job. Hard work.
MG: What would you say the hardest thing about it was?
VG: The hours.
MG: The hours. Long hours?
VG: Long hours. See, a normal day for a waiter was sixteen hours, and you were going that sixteen hours. Sometimes you’d have to eat your meals standing up, see. And even at that, our day was shorter than the Pullman porters, believe it or not. So I’ll let—I won’t go into their department. I’ll stay away from that, but it’s hard after being connected so closely with the Pullman service and the dining cars are all together on the train, and it’s hard to separate, you know —
MG: Sure, it was all one team, more or less.
VG: Friendship. Yeah, that’s it, all on one team, yes. And well, it’s we came a long way as black workers. I might add that when I hired out in 1925, the salary was fifteen dollars a month. That was your monthly wage. And you didn’t work on an hourly basis; you worked on a daily basis. We had no unions; unions were unheard of in those days.
MG: Okay.
VG: So you just had to grin and bear it, whatever they requested. Now I — well I’ll stay, let’s stay in the Dining Car Department.
MG: Alright.
VG: I worked in about every position; a cook, waiter, and the last seven years that I was on the road I was finally elevated to steward, I’m a steward. Of course that took place after the equal opportunity law came effective. They had to promote us. Those of us that worked in —
MG: Do you remember what year that was? Was that in the sixties?
VG: Oh yeah, let’s see, you know, because I retired in ’73. That’s been nineteen what, ’66?
MG: Well, it was ’64 the Civil Rights Act.
VG: Yeah, the law was at about that time but I didn’t get my promotion until about ’66, along in there.
MG: Yeah, because I remember I worked on the road ’66, ’67, ’68, and they didn’t — I never had seen a black steward.
VG: They were few and far between.
MG: Yeah, there were some, but…
VG: Mhmm. And so that was one of the highlights of my railroading career is to make that promotion to become a steward in charge of the dining car.

Otto Rutherford Interview

OR: I’ll tell you one thing that stands out so vividly in my mind, and I curse the Union Pacific till the day I die: one day between Pocatello and Green River, a woman, needless to say she was white, went to the lavatory early in the morning to clean up, and she swore she had left a diamond ring on the edge of the basin.
MG: The night before?
OR: Early in the morning. So when we got to Green River the special agents got on and searched the crew. Never a passenger. I knew, John Miner [spelling?] knew, and my workers, the fellas who worked with me, knew we didn’t see the woman’s ring. And so at lunch time the woman got ready to get ready for lunch, she looked in her purse and doggone it, there was her ring. I still resent it, that we as employees never had a word to say. We were always guilty, always guilty. And I’ll curse the Union Pacific and everybody else till the day I die.
MG: They didn’t give you an opportunity —
OR: But in those days, you see, we didn’t have this civil rights sort of thing, so all you had to lean on was to open your mouth and then get fired. So I — the Union Specific was great for that. They’ll bring on a special agent and search the crew; never search the passenger.
MG: They wanted to absolve the railroad of any responsibility.

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The Urban League of Portland’s 2017 Equal Opportunity Day Awards Dinner


We hear more often “you have the right to remain silent” rather than “you have the right to speak” ~ members of oppressed communities — stated by Cupid Alexander, a member of the Urban League of Portland Young Professionals.

Empowering communities, changing lives was the theme for the evening of this year’s Urban League of Portland Equal Opportunity Day Dinner (EODD). Each year, for over a decade now, the OMA has participated as part of the EODD – for each one, the OMA brings a sample of materials from the ULPDX archival collection for attendees to view. We showcase the archival collection during the reception prior to the dinner and awards ceremony. Attendees are always excited to see the documents we have available and are eager to learn more about the organization’s history.


The EODD is an opportunity for ULPDX and community members come together to celebrate the organization’s work to help to empower African Americans and other Oregonians to achieve equality in education, employment, and economic security. The event always includes inspiring speeches – this year especially – with speeches made by the mother of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Micah David-Cole Fletcher. Both were victims of an attack by a man yelling hate speech on a MAX train in May 2017. The man stabbed and killed two people who tried to intervene (Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Ricky John Best) and severely injured Micah David-Cole Fletcher. Both spoke about the need to defend the innocent and to “stand with love” – their words were impactful and incredibly beautiful.

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Max Geier The Color of Night Research Files


In February of 2016, the author Max Geier came to OSU to give a book talk about his recently published book, The Color of Night: Race, Railroaders, and Murder in the Wartime West – the OMA was in the process of making a collection of Oregon African American Railroad Porters oral histories available, and Geier’s new book was a perfect compliment to the rich content within the collection. In the spring of 2016, Geier donated the research files he used to write The Color of Night, and during fall term of that year, an intern named Cody Hess processed the collection, which is now available to the public!

Collection Finding Aid: Max Geier The Color of Night Research Files

Below is Cody’s reflection about his internship and the work he completed:

“One of the first things I did upon moving to Corvallis this fall was seek out an opportunity to work in the Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC). My interest in library science was piqued while an undergraduate and was nurtured throughout years of recreational research, stack scanning, and adventures in state, university, and county archives.

It was in Southern Oregon that I decided to gain practical experience in the library science discipline, and I soon began interning at the Special Collections and University Archives at Southern Oregon University. There, I helped create a finding aid for a collection of records and documents related to the Warm Springs tribe and other Native American communities within Central and Southern Oregon. Having enjoyed the experience and the subject matter, I was excited when an opportunity arose within SCARC and the Oregon Multicultural Archives to help process a collection.

The collection I processed was one of research materials, court documents, and book drafts used by Professor Max Geier (emeritus, Western Oregon University) while writing his book, The Color of Night: Race, Railroaders, and Murder in the Wartime West. The Color of Night concerns the murder of Martha James on the Southern Pacific Railroad and the subsequent execution of Robert E. Lee Folkes, an African American dining car cook, who had been found guilty of her murder The collection is broken into three series; History of African Americans and Railroading, Robert E. Lee Folkes Case, and The Color of Night Manuscript Materials.

A relatively small collection – originally composed of only two boxes – the first step in processing Geier’s files was poring over and reading through the documents to see just what was there. Geier’s digital material, including back-ups of much of his physical collection, was reviewed as well.

geier-photo-02After getting an idea of what comprised the collection, I could begin re-organizing folders based on type, topic, time period, and subject matter. Summaries of each folder were written down for future analysis of content and reorganization of folders thematically and alphabetically in particular series. The amount of material used by Geier to study the Folkes case and to write The Color of Night was considerable. A majority of material within the collection are court statements and correspondence by everyone from Folkes himself to passengers on the train to the Pullman Car Porters who worked on the train. Once multiple subject series were created – separating Geier’s personal documents, such as his contract with OSU Press and book draft critiques, from the rest – I reviewed the folder summaries again to organize by subject and then alphabetize the folders for entry into Archon and creation of the collection’s finding aid.

Ultimately, three series were created, with each series featuring a general summary focused on the highlights of the collection. The next step was housing the documents and materials in new folders. Geier’s documents featured lots of Post-It notes, which he appeared to use in place of a highlighter. These notes were removed. Certain court documents, including statements, printed on legal-sized paper were removed from standard manila folders to legal length folders. Also, posters and Pullman Car diagrams were laid out separately for placement in other folders or boxes.

The entire process was personally very eye-opening, and my interest in library science and archival studies has certainly grown. Also, as a writer, it was informative to see how one local author went about collecting his sources, writing his drafts, and working with publishers. I very much enjoyed getting to work within the Oregon Multicultural Archives, and I look forward to learning about and working with other collections and continuing my efforts in other aspects of SCARC.”

~ Cody Hess, OMA Intern Fall Term 2016

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OSU Multiracial Beavers Oral History Project, 2016-2017

Focus Group, OSU Multiracial Beavers Oral History Project 2016-2017

Focus Group, OSU Multiracial Beavers Oral History Project 2016-2017

The OSU Multiracial Beavers Oral History Project, 2016-2017, was intended to capture the origin stories of the Oregon State University Multiracial Beavers initiative and share the experiences of Multiracial individuals at OSU. For more information, see the OSU Multiracial Beavers Oral History Project ~ Project Documents

The OSU Multiracial Beavers Oral History Interviews  

List of Interviews

  • Asian Pacific Islander American, Mixed Heritage Focus Group
  • African American, Mixed Heritage Focus Group
  • Charlene Martinez and Tara DeMaderios
  • Vanessa Johnson and Jonathan Stoll
  • Focus Group (general)
  • Kali Furman and Eric Pitcher
  • Sofia Baum and Kim McAloney

Link to All 7 Oral History Interviews

Interviewees: Asian Pacific Islander American, Mixed Heritage Focus Group: Charlene Martinez, Daniel Cespedes, Hevani Fifita, Delfine Defrank, Olivia Calrillo, Reagan Le, Stephanie Shippen, Makayla Bello, Marwah Al-Jilani, Jason Tena-Encarnacion, Aisha McKee, and Mackenzie Gipple
Date: March 17, 2017
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 01:18:32

Interview Audio and Interview Transcript

Bios: Charlene Martinez, associate director at Diversity and Cultural Engagement; Daniel Cespedes, an employee within the Office of Finance and Administration; Reagan Le, associated director of the Asian and Pacific Cultural Center; Stephanie Shippen, an employee within Counseling & Psychological Services; Hevani Fifita, Delfine Defrank, Olivia Calvillo, Makayla Bello, Marwah Al-Jilani, Jason Tena-Encarnacion, Aisha McKee, Mackenzie Gipple, all OSU students at the time of the interview.

Summary: The group discusses how they identify as multiracial people and how that has affected them in their lives as well as during their time on campus at OSU. They discuss how they are perceived and treated based on their race. They also discuss how connected or disconnected they feel from their cultures. Language is brought up often as an important factor in feel as if they belong vs not belong. They discuss some of the difficulties of bringing their multiple ethnic identities into interactions with other people who aren’t multiethnic as well as some of the privileges that are assigned to them based on skin tone. They also talk about how similar their experiences are and how grateful they are to have a space in which they can be multiethnic people. They end the discussion by writing down their name and a word they feel that they are on an index card which they share with the group.

Interviewees: African American, Mixed Heritage Focus Group: Charlene Martinez, Kim McAloney, Mackenzie Gipple, Keyshawn Davis, Breonna Keller-Robbins, Marwah Al-Jilani, Justeen Quartey, and Hevani Fifita
Date: May 16, 2017
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 01:01:33

Interview Audio and Interview Transcript

Bios: Charlene Martinez, associate director at Diversity and Cultural Engagement; Kim McAloney, a professional faculty member at OSU who works in the Educational Opportunities Program; Mackenzie Gipple, Keyshawn Davis, Breonna Keller-Robbins, Marwah Al-Jilani, Justeen Quartey, and Hevani Fifita, all OSU students at the time of the interview.

Summary: The group interviewees share their names and identities before talking sharing stories about belonging as people with mixed African American heritage. They discuss how they are viewed based on skin tone and how they are constantly perceived as either being not black enough or not white enough because of that. They also discuss the value of having a group to identify with. They move on to discussing the differences between where they grew up and OSU in terms both of ethnic makeup and how they were treated. They talk about micro aggressions they have experienced in their lives here as well. The group discusses how multiracially conscious different spaces at OSU are; the culture centers vs other places on campus. They close the discussion out by writing down messages on index cards and sharing them with each other.

Interviewees/Interviewers: Charlene Martinez and Tara DeMaderios
Date: November 22, 2016
Location: Skype Call
Length: 00:53:15

Interview Video and Interview Transcript

Bio: Charlene Martinez is the associate director at Diversity and Cultural Engagement at OSU who has worked with several multiracial organizations at various universities. She identifies as multiracial Asian and Latina.

Bio: Tara DeMaderios is a recent OSU alumna, now living in the Midwest where she is perusing a Master’s degree. She identifies as multiracial, mixed black and white.

Summary: Charlene Martinez and Tara DeMaderios discuss how they identify as multiracial women, how that identity has changed over time, and how other people interact with them based on their racial and ethnic identities. They discuss their relationship with activism and motherhood. Tara DeMaderios discusses her internship with Charlene Martinez.

Interviewees/Interviewers: Vanessa Johnson and Jonathan Stoll
Date: November 21, 2016
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 00:53:18

Interview Audio and Interview Transcript

Bio: Vanessa Johnson is a multiracial woman who worked at Oregon State University from 2014-2016 in the Student Affairs Research Evaluation and Planning office as a coordinator. In 2016, she decided to move back to Utah to be closer to family and to peruse further education.

Bio: Jonathan Stoll self-identifies as a “pigh” (Portuguese, Indian, German, Hungarian), who is multiracial and the father of two multiracial girls. He works at Oregon State University as the Director of Corvallis Community Relations and as the co-interim Assistant Dean of Student Life.

Summary: Vanessa Johnson and Jonathan Stoll discus how they identify as multiracial people and how this identity as affected them throughout their lives. They discuss how other people related to their identities as they grew up through to the present day. Vanessa Johnson discusses growing up as a multiracial woman and how separated she became from her mother’s native language, Spanish. Johnathan Stoll talks about his search for identity growing up and how disconnected he felt from his mother’s heritage. They both discuss coming to Corvallis and finding community there. They talk about how their identities of changed over the years.

Interviewees: Mixed Heritage Focus Group (general): Charlene Martinez, Tara DeMaderios, Vanessa Johnson, Kim McAloney, and Erich Pitcher, Facilitator: Kali Furman
Date: November 30, 2016
Location: Skype Call
Length: 01:15:00

Interview Video and Interview Transcript

Bios: Charlene Martinez is the associate director at Diversity and Cultural Engagement at OSU who has worked with several multiracial organizations at various universities. She identifies as multiracial Asian and Latina; Tara DeMaderios is a recent OSU alumna, now living in the Midwest where she is perusing a Master’s degree. She identifies as multiracial, mixed black and white; Vanessa Johnson is a multiracial woman who worked at Oregon State University from 2014-2016 in the Student Affairs Research Evaluation and Planning office as a coordinator. In 2016, she decided to move back to Utah to be closer to family and to peruse further education; Kim McAloney is a professional faculty member at OSU who works in the Educational Opportunities Program. She is currently a doctoral student in the College of Education. McAloney identifies as multiracial and black; Erich Pitcher works for Diversity and Cultural Engagement as an associate director for research and communication; and Kali Furman is originally from Idaho and is an Oregon transplant who is a PhD in Women Gender and Sexuality Studies student focusing on social justice education with a hope to be an instructor or a full professor in higher education that can center social justice, particularly racial and gender justice.

Summary: The participants of the focus group discusses their involvement in the creation of Multiracial Beavers at OSU as students, staff, and faculty. They talk about how their experiences in Multiracial Beavers changed their lives and what the most exciting part of forming Multiracial Beavers was. The group discusses what their experiences in Oregon as multiracial people were like and how it differed from the places they were from. They conclude by sharing their hopes for the future of Multiracial Beavers and multiracial work on college campuses.

Interviewee: Kali Furman
Interviewer: Eric Pitcher
Date: January 27, 2017
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 00:24:39

Interview Audio and Interview Transcript

Bio: Kali Furman is originally from Idaho and is an Oregon transplant who is a PhD in Women Gender and Sexuality Studies student focusing on social justice education with a hope to be an instructor or a full professor in higher education that can center social justice, particularly racial and gender justice.

Bio: Erich Pitcher works for Diversity and Cultural Engagement as an associate director for research and communication.

Summary: Erich Pitcher interviews Kali Furman about her involvement with the Multiracial Beavers Oral History project. She discusses how she met Charlene Martinez, and how their relationship developed. She also discusses growing up in a predominantly white and religious community as an outsider due to her parents’ marital status and atheism.

Interviewees/Interviewers: Sofia Baum and Kim McAloney
Date: December 12, 2016
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 00:43:31

Interview Audio and Interview Transcript

Bio: Sofia Baum is an undergraduate at OSU who identifies as multiracial person, specifically a Mexican Jew. She grew up in Junction City, Oregon, 30 miles south of Corvallis.

Bio: Kim McAloney is a professional faculty member at OSU who works in the Educational Opportunities Program. She is currently a doctoral student in the College of Education. McAloney identifies as multiracial and black.

Summary: Sofia Baum and Kim McAloney discuss how they identify as multiracial people and how this identity has affected them throughout their lives. They discuss how other people related to their identities as they grew up through to the present day. Kim McAloney discusses growing up in California and moving to Georgia as a mixed race black woman. Sofia Baum discusses her life as a Jewish Mexican. They talk about how they related to their identities as they have aged and how their identities have changed over the years.

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The OMA at SAA 2017


This summer the OMA presented at the annual conference of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) held in our very own state of Oregon!

The OMA presented “Oregon’s LGBTQ+ and Communities of Color: Community-Based Oral History Projects” as part of the session “Building Better Bridges: Strategies & Best Practices for Engaging.” The presentation showcased two oral history projects: one is the product of a collaboration with a history class that focused on the local LGBTQ+ community and the second is called Latinos en Oregón that has so far, expanded to the Latinx communities within four counties in Oregon.

The “Oregon’s LGBTQ+ and Communities of Color: Community-Based Oral History Projects” presentation slides and notes are available below, and a PDF is available online


Natalia Fernández is the curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives and is an associate professor at Oregon State University. Natalia collaborates with LGBTQIA and communities of color to empower them to preserve, share, and celebrate their stories. Her work includes collection development, instruction, and exhibit curation. Natalia will discuss two oral history projects: one is the product of a collaboration with a history class that focused on the local LGBTQ+ community and the second is called Latinos en Oregón that has so far, expanded to the Latinx communities within four counties in Oregon.


For communities who have been traditionally marginalized in both the historical record and in historiography, oral histories can be a form of empowerment, a way in which community members can literally add their voice to the historical narrative. In addition, the process of a community sharing its stories can be personal opportunities for self-reflection, an appreciation for the struggles endured, and a celebration of the community’s accomplishments thus far. My current work on two oral history projects are the results of collaborations that enable – in one case, university students and in another, community members – the opportunity to engage with their local communities by conducting oral history interviews with groups that are traditionally underrepresented within the archival record. These groups include members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as members within Oregon’s Latinx communities.


Based on these two projects, a few ideas for best practices that have emerged for me include: 1) building relationships with individuals who have pre-existing, strong, and trusting relationships with community members, 2) developing workshops to directly train interviewers and well as developing “train the trainer” workshops in order to build project capacity and sustainability, 3) providing online access to the interviews gathered and metadata about them, and lastly, 4) brainstorming and implementing ways to celebrate the stories shared.


For the OSU Queer Archives Oral History Project, I collaborated with an upper division history course in which students conducted interviewers with members of the local county’s LGBTQ+ community and its allies. One of the most fruitful class sessions was one in which I conducted a live oral history interview, and afterwards, co-facilitated a number of small group activities for students to brainstorm interview questions for their interviewees. Other successes within the class included students conducting pre-interviews with their interviewees, the use of an interview check list, and an end of the course reception in the archives for all the students and interviewees to gather and celebrate. In total, two course collaborations have resulted in 20 interviews added to the OSU Queer Archives.


For the Latinos en Oregón oral history project, due to it’s geographic scope of now being in 4 counties relatively far from my location, I needed to develop a model that would ensure project capacity and sustainability. This meant seeing myself more as an oral history consultant and project archivist who worked in collaboration with a variety of partners that together were the ones to lead the project efforts within their respective communities. Using the “train the trainer” model for this project has facilitated more project autonomy for the local communities as well as more time for me to focus on facilitating interview access and working on metadata creation. Another successful project component has been creating unique google drive accounts for each project team to share content such as training materials, as well as interview files for me to download and archive. Also, with each community determining how to showcase the stories gathered, communities are able to both celebrate the stories gathered thus far and encourage others to share their histories. Examples include playing interview clips as part of local events and curating exhibits within local historical societies.


With best practices come lessons learned:

  • first, when working with community liaisons and project partners, develop strategies to reduce potential biases in project participant selection – examples include: creating an interviewee demographics spreadsheet, establishing a diverse project advisory board, and developing a project promotion plan
  • when training interviewers, provide guidance regarding interviewing standards but also be open to the community’s specific needs – examples include sharing interview question templates that are adaptable to each interviewee, as well as determining recording equipment options that are user-friendly, affordable, and if possible, create archival quality
  • when providing access to the stories gathered, discuss and plan how to best share the interviews with the community itself to ensure the community’s benefit above that of scholars and non-community members – examples include the use of social media and content access through local historical society archives
  • and lastly, when planning for project celebrations, be clear about your role based on your availability and desire to participate, but of course, strongly encourage community celebration and promotion of the stories gathered – examples include curating exhibits within local community centers and/or organizing public programing featuring both project partners and interviewees themselves


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OSQA and History Course Collaboration: A Continuation of the OSQA Oral History Project


This spring term, the OSU Queer Archives (OSQA) once again collaborated with the history class HST 368 Lesbian and Gay Movements in Modern America with Professor Mina Carson. In the Spring of 2016, Dr. Carson, along with OSQA co-founders Natalia Fernández, Curator and Archivist of the Oregon Multicultural Archives, and Professor Bradley Boovy, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, had developed an oral history project for the students. Using Carson’s network of Corvallis area activists, in total, these students conducted 9 oral history interviews and added them to the OSQA oral history collection. This year, the HST 368 students of the Spring 2017 term have continued the project, adding another 9 interviews to the collection! We are so grateful for the outstanding contributions of these new interviewees, as well as the students who interviewed them.

The Interviews

Brenda McComb Oral History Interview

Brenda McComb

Brenda McComb

Date: May 17, 2017
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 0:38:15
Interviewee: Brenda McComb
Interviewers:  Evelynn Castillo, Madeline Mathewson, and Sami Quintero

Interview Video

Bio: Brenda McComb was born November 8, 1952 in a small town near Hartford, Connecticut. She comes from a rural, blue-collar family who were very vocal about their conservative views throughout McComb’s youth. This made things difficult for Brenda who, from a young age, did not identify with her gender assignment. However, due to her parents’ conservative views, and the general intolerance of the times, McComb kept all feelings related to her identity struggle to herself. After high school, McComb went to college at the University of Connecticut, earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in natural resource conservation. It was also at the University of Connecticut that McComb first heard the term transgender, though she did not relate to the concept at that time. Afterwards, McComb pursued a PhD at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where she met her wife. McComb continued attempts to conform to her assigned gender identity throughout this time, moving to Kentucky with her wife to teach in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Forestry, and even starting a family. However, she faced many years of depression, and after years of therapy, finally built up the trust with a therapist to break more than forty years of silence about her gender identity. While her therapist at the time was not an expert with that subject, the therapist referred McComb to someone who was. By this time, McComb and her wife had already divorced, and her oldest son was a senior in high school. At 49 years old, McComb took her first dose of hormones to begin her transition. At this time, McComb was working at the University of Massachusetts as a dean, following a 10-year stint at Oregon State University. However, after 13 years of work at the University of Massachusetts, McComb returned to OSU, and has remained in Oregon since. She has come to terms with her identity and is happier now than ever, blessed with an understanding family with whom she still maintains a close relationship despite the divorce.

Summary: In the interview, retired Oregon State University faculty member and administrator Brenda McComb begins by describing her early life in a conservative, blue-collar family, and growing up on a New England farm. McComb details how she struggled with gender identity for most her life, not knowing who to talk to or how to articulate her experience. Having no one to confide in, McComb explains that she always preferred to share her time with her dogs and other animals, spending long hours in nature. McComb describes the many ways that gender expectations were rigid in the 1950s and 60s, and how the actions of her peers made it clear from a young age that it was not safe to reveal her true self.

McComb explains how and why she continued living under her assigned gender for most of her education and career, all the while struggling with severe depression and depending on coping mechanisms like throwing herself into work and abusing alcohol. Nevertheless, McComb did her best to maintain a “normal” life, marrying her wife Gina and raising two sons. Not long after their son’s birth, McComb and her wife decided to move to Oregon, where she taught and conducted research in the Department of Forest Sciences and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. After moving to teach at the University of Massachusetts, McComb explains that she finally began to seek therapeutic help for her depression and suicidal thoughts. She describes how this was a breakthrough moment in her struggles with gender identity, given that this was the first time she understood the cause of much of her unhappiness. In the interview, McComb describes the difficult situation she faced at this point in her life—to continue suffering with depression and risk suicide, or to begin the transition process and finally fell comfortable with herself.

McComb shares that she waited to “come out” to her colleagues and students until her oldest son had graduated from high school, as he had requested. When this time came, on a Friday afternoon, McComb sent an email to over 300 faculty and undergraduate students stating that on Monday she would like them to use she/her pronouns and referred to her as Brenda. After years of silence, depression and struggle, McComb was finally able to live her life openly and honestly.

Historical Context: The context of transgender issues in the late 20th century had a huge influence on not only the availability of resources for transgender individuals but also on access to knowledge about gender identity. Beginning in the 1970s there was increased activism for lesbian and gay people; however, this activism did not typically extend to people struggling with gender identity. Since transgender people were not commonly represented in mainstream culture, or even within the LGB culture of that time, many people struggling with gender identity often felt isolated.

In the early 21st century, transgender issues became more prevalent in mainstream media through movements like Transgender Nation, an early transgender organization that aided in bringing awareness to many people about the discrimination experienced by the transgender community. Increased awareness and public knowledge allowed more people to understand and explore their own gender identities.

In the 2000s, transgender visibility in the LGBT community increased markedly, and some transgender individuals entered public life. In 2003 Theresa Sparks was nominated and named “Woman of the Year” by California State Assembly, becoming the first openly transgender woman to be awarded this title. To be publicly recognized was a huge leap in transgender rights and recognition. While much activism has occurred in the last decade for transgender people, there are still leaps that we as a society need to make. Extreme discrimination continues to target transgender people, including job discrimination, housing discrimination, hate crimes, and so much more.

Searainya Bond-Frojen Oral History Interview

Searainya Bond-Frojen

Searainya Bond-Frojen

Date: May 19, 2017
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 1:11:00
Interviewee: Searainya Bond-Frojen
Interviewers: Brooke Wendland, Sanghyeon (Han) Yu, and Ariana Rabette

Interview Video 

Bio: Bond-Frojen was born in Florence, Oregon on October 10, 1971. Bond-Frojen’s mother, a radical activist hippie, named her Searainya because she was born by the sea, in the rain. Bond-Frojen’s father, a chef by trade, struggled with alcoholism, passing away when she was only 26 years old. Bond-Frojen has four half-siblings, but she only grew up with her half-brother Cassidy, who is four years her junior. Bond-Frojen attended K-12 schools in Florence, and discovered community and mentors through the Evangelical Christian church beginning in elementary school. Bond-Frojen attended Eugene Bible College, and though she took a break from pursuing her degree between ages 19 and 35, she ultimately earned a degree in Bible and Christian counseling. While on break from attending college, Bond-Frojen worked with developmentally disabled adults, and as a receptionist at Adventist Medical Center in Portland. After finally receiving her bachelor’s degree, Bond-Frojen went on to pursue a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. Although she had worked as a mental health counselor since completing graduate school, at the time of this interview Bond-Frojen was seeking new employment opportunities closer to her home in Corvallis, Oregon—where she lives with her partner Robin, and her stepson Colin.

Summary: In the interview, Bond-Frojen describes her atypical childhood in Florence, Oregon, under the care of an extremely progressive, politically active mother. Bond-Frojen explains that drugs and alcohol were prevalent in her early life, due to her “pot smoking” parents, and her father’s struggles with alcoholism. Although she describes her mother as a good parent, she also recognizes that drugs and alcohol sometimes interfered with consistency in her upbringing. In Bond-Frojen’s youth, she was heavily involved in the Evangelical Christian church and was extremely passionate about music—participating in both her school’s drumline, marching band, and jazz band. Bond-Frojen shares that religion and spirituality have played a large role throughout her life, and she forged many meaningful relationships with mentors through the church as a young person. Bond-Frojen did not identify as lesbian throughout most of her youth, and so experienced no conflict between her sexual identity and religious beliefs. Although LGBTQ+ issues were not discussed in her K-12 schools, Bond-Frojen recalls her mother using terms like “lesbian” and “gay,” and giving her the classic book Our Bodies, Ourselves to help her explore her sexuality. Bond-Frojen’s mother even told her that she knew Bond-Frojen was a lesbian and that she was supportive of it—even though Bond-Frojen herself was offended at the time, given that she did not yet identify as such.

Bond-Frojen describes how she continued to express her faith after high school, attending Christian universities for both her undergraduate and graduate education. Bond-Frojen earned her bachelor’s degree in Bible and Christian counseling from Eugene Bible College, after taking a 15-year break from her education. Bond-Frojen details how she spent her time during this break—working with adults with developmental disabilities for five to seven years, and as a receptionist at Portland’s Adventist Medical Center for almost a decade. Following this period, Bond-Frojen pursued a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from George Fox University from 2006 to 2010, even receiving a student-of-the-year award for her major. Bond-Frojen explains that it was during her time in graduate school that she came to identify as lesbian, though she did not feel safe “coming out” for fear that it would jeopardize her educational opportunities. In the interview, Bond-Frojen also describes the inner turmoil she faced when her spiritual and religious beliefs came in conflict with her sexual identity.

After much reflection, and while working as a mental health counselor following her academic career, Bond-Frojen found a way to reconcile this conflict. In the second half of the interview, Bond-Frojen describes her relationship with her wife Robin Frojen, whom she met online through the dating website OkCupid. This portion of the interview includes a lengthy discussion of Searainya and Robin’s relationship, including how it has evolved over time. In addition, Bond-Frojen briefly speaks about how the marriage equality act affected them as a couple.

Historical Context: Bond-Frojen joined the Evangelical church and for the next twenty plus years, she was an active and committed member of the denomination. During this time, Bond-Frojen was indoctrinated to believe that being homosexual, homosexual marriage, and abortion were all sinful and wrong. The leaders of the church actively supported Measure 9 in the early 1990s. Measure 9 was the anti-gay rights measure in Oregon that was supported by about 47% of the population. She remembered speaking with people about equal rights in the 1990s and being strongly against homosexual issues. Towards the end of her graduate schooling, Bond-Frojen had come to realize that she was a lesbian, which she knew would cause issues between herself and the church. After graduating, she did choose to separate herself completely from the group, with some negative responses from her past parishioners. When marriage equality passed in the Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote in June 2015, it proved that LGBTQ+ and other minority groups were well on their way to achieving equality under the law, which made it a very emotional experience for Sea. She was a domestic partner with Robin Frojen at the time, but Romer v. Evans meant that the couple was finally able to get married and have the wedding that they had dreamed of.

One defining event for Bond-Frojen and her partner Robin Frojen was the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016, when a mass-shooter specifically and tragically targeted the LGBTQ+ community. Omar Mateen entered the Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016, killing 49 people, and injuring 53 more. It really stirred the couple and they decided to start fostering youth who felt unsafe or threatened in their current living arrangement or community. Although they had to pause this endeavor recently, they still are taking in friends who feel unsafe in this current political and social climate and plan to continue fostering in the future. Her effort to support the LGBTQ+ community has been more as a social activist and as a mental health advocate rather than a political activist. Bond-Frojen has been active in the local Pride festivals, as well as other community functions, but would rather spend her time helping those around her. Bond-Frojen is an interesting person to interview for the queer archives because she was what one might classify as “questioning” for her whole life up until about ten years ago when she transitioned to “in the closet” and then became openly gay 5 years later. She is a good example of what people who belong to a strict religious affiliation experience when coming out as LGBTQ+. Bond-Frojen plans to continue her social activism by establishing a “intentional living community” of tiny houses that pools their resources and skills to coexist harmoniously in a world where they feel excluded and unsafe.

Jill McAllister Oral History Interview

Jill McAllister

Jill McAllister

Date: May 22, 2017
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 0:30:52
Interviewee: Jill McAllister
Interviewers: Zachary T Barry, Chad Lee, Khalaf Albaqawi

Interview video

Bio: Jill McAllister was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1958, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. McAllister’s family was active in the Methodist church during her youth, which ultimately impacted her own spiritual journey. McAllister attended high school at Kirkwood High School, in the suburbs of St. Louis. After completing her secondary education, McAllister pursued a bachelor of science degree from Duke University, a master of arts degree from Washington University, and a master of theological studies from Mt. Angel Seminary. She married at 22 and moved to Corvallis in 1981. McAllister went to seminary while living in Corvallis and left in 1998 to act as pastor of a church in Michigan. From 1998 until 2013, she was the minister at the People’s Church of Kalamazoo in Michigan state. Her ministry there, according to her congregants, was transformational in many aspects of church life, including Sunday worship, community building, stewardship, and social justice. McAllister was also a key figure in the creation of ISAAC (Interfaith Strategy for Action and Advocacy in the Community), an interfaith group in Kalamazoo and an affiliate of the Gamaliel Network of grassroots, interfaith, interracial, multi-issue organizations working together to create a more just and more democratic society. In September 2013, McAllister was called back to Corvallis to pastor the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Fellowship. McAllister believes that in telling each other the stories of our lives, we can begin to understand our obligations to one another. The Reverend McAllister is now a minister in the UU Fellowship of Corvallis, and has received several honors for her ministerial work. She helped found and continues to work with the International Council of Unitarian Universalists (ICUU), earning their Founder’s Vision Award in 2011. With the People’s Church in Kalamazoo, McAllister received the UUA Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Social Justice in 2012. She previously served on the board of trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association, has been a member of the National Clergy Advisory Board for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and has held many other leadership roles.

Summary: In this interview, Reverend Jill McAllister begins by describing her upbringing in St Louis, MO and her subsequent education at Duke and Washington Universities. McAllister briefly worked for the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC, before relocating to Corvallis, OR.  It was in  Oregon that she discovered the Unitarian Universalist organization, and was exposed to LGBTQ rights for the first time. While studying to be a minister, McAllister discovered that “love was just love,” and soon started using her position to encourage others to be more tolerant or supportive of LGBTQ communities.  In the interview, she describes the forward-thinking nature of Unitarian Universalists, who performed LGB marriages before they were legally binding, and taught physically accurate and comprehensive sexual education courses. Following seminary, McAllister spent a decade in Michigan, working with the congregation to receive a “Welcoming Congregation” certification. This certification was awarded to congregations which went through a series of acceptance classes, but her community in Michigan felt that they were accepting enough already. However, McAllister was eventually successful in finishing the process. During her time in Michigan, the sexual education curriculum was updated and transgender rights became a topic of discussion. McAllister emphasizes that she believes a healthy sexual identity is an essential component of a healthy person. After participating in adult sexual education classes, she realized that many people were never formally taught about sexuality, and this propelled her involvement. The Unitarian Universalists’ curriculum was so successful that community members from outside the congregation often enrolled their children in the class. The interview concludes with McAllister explaining that the local Unitarian Universalist building does not have gender-specific bathrooms, and that their national convention has designated some gender-inclusive bathrooms as well. She views this as a positive, explaining that it even makes sense from a building design standpoint—if there are not that many bathrooms, it would be better to make each one accessible to everyone.

Historical context forthcoming…

Brooke Collison Oral History Interview

Brooke Collison

Brooke Collison

Date: May 23, 2017
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 1:03:35
Interviewee: Brooke Collison
Interviewers: Zachary T Barry, Chad Lee, Khalaf Albaqawi

Interview Video

Bio: Brooke Collison, now a professor emeritus of counselor education, was born in 1934 in Buffalo, Kansas. He is the youngest of three children, with one brother and one sister. Collison’s mother was a school teacher and his father was a farmer. His family attended the United Methodist Church every Sunday and practiced somewhat traditional values. He attended a small K-8 elementary school in Buffalo before transferring across the county to Yates Center, Kansas. His high school class had 84 people, which was a large increase from the class sizes in Buffalo. He continued on to college, completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Kansas. After graduating from college, Brooke had various teaching jobs before he decided he wanted to return to school and obtain his PhD. He went to the University of Missouri to follow his dream of being a counselor.

Following his doctorate degree, Professor Collison joined the American Counseling Association and became a prominent voice for the organization. Some of Professor Collison’s most influential work occurred through the American Counseling Association, where he led the group as president for a substantial amount of time. He did much work through a specific division of the association which is called Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling (ALGBTIC). Between the United Methodist Church and the American Counseling Association, Brooke has been a champion of social justice. His church was one of the first churches to take a stance on the acceptance of the LGBTQ community. This was a channel Brooke used to pioneer many organizations and events for the LGBTQ community here in Corvallis. He moved to Oregon with his wife Joan and became a professor of counselor education at Oregon State University (OSU). At Oregon State, Brooke and his colleagues were important advocates for the LGBTQ community and created various programs to aid students who were struggling with their identity. He still lives in Corvallis but is very active, frequently travelling all over the country. Brooke Collison has been a longstanding ally for the LGBTQ community, and continues to make great strides for this community.

Summary: The interview with Brooke Collison ranges from topics such as discussing LBGTQ issues with those uneducated on the subject to the importance of counseling and creating stronger community outreach. Professor Collison discusses his Midwestern childhood in which the size of the small towns he lived in never gave him the chance to meet and learn about those within the LBGTQ community. Also during the first decades of his life, as for many during this time, Professor Collison observed little to no activism regarding the LBGTQ community. Professor Collison describes that for years, there were only “whispers” about men who seemed effeminate and thus must, in the eyes of peers and adults, be gay. As activism progressed and events such as Stonewall occurred, it gave many such as Professor Collison the chance to learn more and do more for those around them. During his tenure at Oregon State University he took the first steps in creating an outreach program for LGBTQ folks at OSU. The importance of creating safe space and support for LGBTQ youth was matched by its risk. Professors and other parties at the time risked their jobs and careers for creating the Opening Doors Conference which included fellow professors, public school teachers, students, and counselors. During the 1990s, LGBTQ activism had started to reach national levels, yet for a small community such as Corvallis there were still risks for professionals who encouraged LGBTQ youth to discuss their lives openly and seek support. Social stigma, community backlash and lack of support would clash with the progressive ideals of aiding those who needed guidance for a better understanding of their true identity.

Professor Collison goes on to detail the importance of activism and the effort it took from all parties involved: students, parents, teachers, counselors, and administrators. In the interview, Professor Collison also outlines his previous and ongoing work with the Methodist Church. It is well known that the Methodist Church is one of the most accepting sectors of Christianity for groups in the LGBTQ community. Professor Collison explains that his work has not been confined to the United States, for he has done an enormous amount of outreach and collaboration in Kenya, specifically at the Kenya Methodist University in Meru. Interviewers: Alexa Huewe, Luke Van Lehman.

Historical Context: During the mid-to late 1990s, LGBTQ individuals living in Corvallis and/or involved at Oregon State University did not have the means to properly seek counseling, guidance, or community assistance. Activism was ramping up during this decade within Oregon, yet there were still voids that needed to be filled. Brooke Collison and his peers within the Methodist Church and at Oregon State University devised an outreach program that was built to fill in the void their community, for both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ members. This work involved local teachers, community members, students, parents, counselors, and allies. The high student turnout proved to many that there were those with questions and those that benefited from this program not only within the Corvallis community but also at Oregon State. It was considered risky at the time due to the fact if ill received, many administrators and professors such as Brooke Collison could lose their jobs. Gay and lesbian students now had an area in which to build bonds within their community as well as the greater Oregon State and Corvallis communities. The use of counselors and other guidance workers allowed not only LGBTQ individuals, but also their families and friends, to ask questions and seek information and support. The most influential part of this process was also the fact that those who may be skeptical toward the LBGTQ community and activism now had a conduit to ask questions and be guided to a better understanding. As time progressed, Oregon State University and the Methodist church that Professor Collison still attends have continued their goal of supporting and offering resources to those in the LBGTQ community.

Leah Houtman Oral History Interview

Leah Houtman

Leah Houtman

Date: May 24, 2017
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 1:27:03
Interviewee: Leah Houtman
Interviewers: Lily Waggoner, Clarice Gilray, Kat Dykstra

Interview Video

Bio: Leah Houtman was born on November 13th, 1983 outside Philadelphia, PA. Houtman is one of four sisters, and is the second-born child. Houtman’s mother was also born in Pennsylvania, but her father had grown up in Wisconsin. Houtman moved many times with her family throughout her youth due to her parents’ ever-changing employment, financial, and relationship circumstances—first from Philadelphia to Wisconsin, then to a rural town in Indiana where she and her sisters were homeschooled. When Houtman was eleven years old, her parents divorced and her mother came out as a lesbian. Following this, Houtman moved with her mother and sisters to Lafayette, Indiana where she attended public schools. Houtman relocated with her family at least twice more within Indiana after this, living in Indianapolis for a short time, and then moving to another rural town where one of her mother’s girlfriends was living. Leah herself came out as bisexual and then lesbian at the age of fourteen, and encouraged and supported her fellow students to come out regardless of the fact that they lived in a rural conservative area.

After successfully completing high school, Houtman attended Earlham college, a private school in Indiana, for two years before taking a break and ultimately leaving Earlham indefinitely. However, Houtman met her future wife at Earlham, and the two moved to Oregon shortly after, wanting to get out of Indiana and inspired by Houtman’s girlfriend’s parents who were moving from Maine to Oregon at the same time. After relocating to the west coast, Houtman began attending Oregon State University (OSU), and additionally trained as a caregiver, herbalist, and doula. She graduated summa cum laude from OSU, and went on to earn a master’s degree in women, gender, and sexuality studies. At the time of the interview, Houtman was working towards her PhD in anthropology at OSU. She and her partner had three separate wedding ceremonies with varying degrees of legality, as she puts it. Their first baby was carried by Leah’s wife and was born in 2014; the second was carried by Leah and was born in 2016. Leah hopes to become a tenure track professor after receiving a PhD in applied anthropology, with a specialized interest medical anthropology and maternity issues. She also plans to train as a midwife.

Summary: In the interview, Leah Houtman begins by providing a detailed description of her childhood as somewhat of a transient. Houtman describes what life was like in rural Indiana in the late 1980s and 90s, the tumultuous experience of her parents’ divorce and her mother coming out as a lesbian, and her varying experiences with both public and homeschool education. Houtman describes her childhood self as a bookish nerd who sometimes struggled in social situations, which was often exasperated by their many relocations. She speaks about the close relationship she had with her sisters, who were her only social life while they were being homeschooled. During this portion of the interview, Houtman also tells the story of her coming out, which she explains was in part prompted by a short stay at an inpatient facility when she was experiencing severe depression and suicidal thoughts. She also reflects on how her mother’s identity as a lesbian also made the identity more accessible to her at a young age. Houtman goes on to explain the complicated relationship she had with her parents during her youth, as well as the impact some of her mother’s partners had on her following the divorce. The interview then explores Houtman’s undergraduate studies and how she met her wife and explored a variety of different occupations at this time, before moving to Oregon and completing her degree at Oregon State. After talking about her college experiences, the interview shifts into more specific questions regarding LGBTQ+ issues and how they have affected her throughout various stages in her life. This includes a transition into questions regarding her wife and how they met, their marriages, and the journey to have children together. The interview ends with a discussion on the legal issues regarding Houtman and her wife’s children, as well as the support they’ve felt while living in Oregon, especially as compared to other places.

Historical Context: In the 1990’s, Leah Houtman’s parents divorced due to her mother coming out as a lesbian. In 1992, one survey suggested that only forty-four percent of people claimed to know someone gay, so LGBTQ issues were not really a well understood and accepted topic. Living also in Indiana meant that her surroundings were very conservative. The LGBTQ+ community isn’t generally welcomed or liked by conservatives, at least judging by their response and refusal to accept gay marriage. Leah also mentioned that in her small town in Indiana most everyone was religious. Conservative religious thought was supported by the anti-gay political laws. Only three states over from Indiana in 1998, 21-year-old gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was beaten into a coma and tied to a fence outside Laramie, where he would not be discovered for 18 hours. Gay lynching was not seen as uncommon during this decade, as people that were part of the LGBTQ+ community in the 1990’s didn’t receive the level of protections that they do today. Not until 2009 was federal hate crime legislation finally extended to protect gay individuals. However, during the 1990’s, being gay wasn’t seen as taboo as it had been before. For instance in 1995, British actor Nigel Hawthorne became the first openly gay Best Actor nominee in the history of the Academy Awards. The LGBTQ+ community was gaining visibility. Leah married Rachel in 2008 in California. California, in 2008, actually had half a year of granting licenses for gay marriage only to take them away after the November elections. Leah and Rachel then moved to Washington where they got married with an actual license that they could keep. Oregon respected licenses from other states at the time, so they were accepted as partners legally. To solidify their union against any federal laws that might change in the future, they filed for domestic partnership in Oregon. Regarding both of their children, Oregon law allows the birth mother’s registered domestic partner or spouse to be added to the birth certificate without an adoption.

Marlene Massey Oral History Interview

Marlene Massey

Marlene Massey

Date: May 24, 2017
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 0:57:25
Interviewee: Marlene Massey
Interviewers: Angela Dunham, Jessica Osborn, and Pedro Arenas

Interview video

Bio forthcoming…

Summary: In the interview, Marlene Massey begins by describing her early life growing up in a middle-class New Jersey suburb with two siblings—a younger brother and sister. During this first portion of the interview, Massey touches on the highly visible pushback against sex education in New Jersey schools, and the complete lack of discussion surrounding “alternative sexualities” which occurred during her youth. Massey explains how she came to realize her sexuality through a crush on a female gym teacher, and by getting in trouble for being too close or “too much of a sister” to her fellow Girl Scouts in high school. Massey describes how neither she nor her lover Barb in high school identified as lesbians or used the term, they would sneak out of their houses at night to see one another. Massey moved to Oregon in the 1980s with a woman she had, funny enough, met at her Girl Scout camp.

Following a discussion of her youth, Massey describes an incident which occurred while she was teaching preschool in Oregon. She describes how the assistant director of the school attributed a student’s problems to their lesbian mother, and Massey disagreed. A year later, that same assistant director cut Massey’s hours, but no one else’s. When no one at the school came to her defense, Massey left to find another job, and says she decided not to pursue a legal case based on advice from a friend. Massey discusses why she joined the Benton County LGBT organization After 8, describing herself as not political but motivated by a desire to live a normal life with her partner. Her involvement with After 8 included doing the decorations for the Harvey Milk dinner, picking up trash for a sponsored highway section, and helping organize for the “Gay Games” event. Then Massey explains how her involvement with After 8 ended, when she was hospitalized for a rare brain injury, and discusses her experience with being hospitalized. Massey then explains how her involvement with After 8 planted the seeds for her current activism. Massey shares her views of the similarities and differences between advocating for disability justice and LGBTQ+ rights. Massey then discusses her work with the local public library and the Unitarian Church. Finally, she reflects upon changes she has seen in attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community both locally and nationally.

Historical Context: In 1986, a group called the Oregon Citizens Alliance, or the OCA, was founded. This group was a conservative political activist group that sponsored certain measures at both the local and statewide levels, from the late 1980s through the early 2000s. The OCA was best known for supporting anti-LGBTQ+ measures that would revoke protections against discrimination for the LGBTQ+ community. At the state level, these measures included Measure 8 in 1988, Measure 10 in 1990, Measure 9 in 1992, and another Measure 9 in 2000. However, Measure 8 was their only statewide success. Measure 8 was the OCA’s one and only statewide triumph. The objective of this measure was to overturn the executive order by Governor Neil Goldschmidt that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in the executive branch of the Oregon state government. This measure included a statute that not only made it legal for all state government officials to discriminate against state employees based on sexual orientation, but also banned them from requiring non-discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 1988, Measure 8 passed with a majority vote of 52.7 percent. In response to the passing of Ballot Measure 8, an LGBT rights activist group called After 8 was established in Benton County, OR in 1989. Marlene Massey was an active member of the After 8 organization in the early 1990s. The mission of the group was “To create conditions which ensure that all person are protected from any discrimination based on sexual orientation.” After 8’s activism mainly involved community outreach and education events, as well as community service, involvement in political activity, and involvement with the local school boards. One of the primary goals of the After 8 organization was to increase visibility for the LGBT community, as well as to educate the public about LGBT rights. In 1992, Harriet P. Merrick and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon took the law to court. Measure 8 was ruled unconstitutional, and was therefore overturned. The After 8 organization continued to do LGBT activist work through 2002.

Merry Demarest Oral History Interview

Merry Demarest

Merry Demarest

Date: May 25, 2017
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 1:07:08
Interviewee: Merry Demarest
Interviewers: Justyn Jacobs, Lucy Hillenbrand, and Meredith Bowers

Interview Video

Bio: Merry Demarest was born on March 17, 1949 in Casper, Wyoming, where she lived until she was five years old. Following this, Demarest’s mother moved them out of state without consent from her father. The family grew to include five more children when her mother remarried, and they moved often, throughout the United States. While living in Las Vegas, the family joined the Mormon Church. When the Mormon Church began funding politicians and organizations against ratifying the ERA, Demarest began to actively organize and protest in support of the ERA, leading to her later arrest (in Seattle) and excommunication from the Mormon church. After graduating high school, Demarest attended Reed College in Portland, where she met her husband, Harry Demarest. The two continued to be politically active and involved in organizations like Emily’s List, which supports pro-choice, female, Democratic candidates for office. Demarest also served as co-President of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and on the national board for 5 years. Since moving to Corvallis in 1979, the Demarest’s have been active within the Benton County Democratic Party, particularly in support of the ‘No on 9’ and pro-equality movements after the 1988 Measure 8 supported by the ultra-conservative Oregon Citizens Alliance. Demarest currently lives in Corvallis with her husband Harry, with plans to remain active in the local Democratic community. The two have one daughter, Joan, and two grandsons. Merry Demarest has inspired countless individuals through her encounters as an activist, and her role in Basic Rights Oregon and many other organizations. She and her husband were recognized with an award from Human Rights Campaign Fund for their efforts.

Summary: In the interview, Merry Demarest begins by discussing her youth, including her many relocations during childhood and young adulthood, and a tumultuous family dynamic after her mother remarried. Following this portion of the interview, Demarest focuses on her social justice activism through the years, which began fairly early in her life. Demarest discusses her involvement with the National Organization for Women (NOW), her positions within the organization, and her campaigning for the federal Equal Rights Amendment. After this, Demarest proceeds to a discussion of her work campaigning for Hillary Clinton by encouraging constituents in Texas to attend party caucuses for the Democratic nomination. After 8 is the next organization she discusses, including her involvement with that organization in fighting Corvallis Measure 02-06, a homophobic measure written by the Oregon Citizens Alliance. She then talks about campaigning for Bill Clinton in the 1984 gubernatorial election in Arkansas. Demarest’s involvement with the Democratic Party of Oregon and her chairing of the Democratic Oregon State Fair booth for 12 years are the next topics she discusses. Demarest then describes the importance of Emily’s List to her extended family because of their early involvement. Demarest then outlines how she became the founding chair of the LGBTQ+ organization Basic Rights Oregon after being a co-chair of the anti-Oregon Measure 9 campaign, and what the organization’s goals were both when it was founded and at the time of the interview, in 2017.

In the latter portion of the interview, Demarest details her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and the award she and her husband Harry received from the organization. She then returns to a discussion about campaigning in Utah for the Equal Rights Amendment, and her interactions with the women opening their doors to her. One of the last topics Demarest spends time on is her work campaigning for Hillary Clinton, and then for Barack Obama in the 2008 election. Demarest gives her thoughts on the 2016 presidential election and advice for today’s young activists, and explains what her more recent involvement with the Benton County Democrats has been. Finally, Demarest discusses her current project: trying to encourage local music venues to refuse to book the Eugene, Oregon band Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.

Historical Context: Merry Demarest has spent most of her life fighting for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and all the rights that went along with the amendment. The ERA was first introduced in 1923. The ERA was designed to create equal rights for women in conjunction with the 19th amendment and further its scope and power. While this amendment was passed by Congress in 1972 to this day the amendment has yet to be ratified by many states. Merry spent most of her efforts on this fight but her activism took many different shapes. Merry has participated in the National Organization for Women which was founded in 1966 and was back then, and still is, a cornerstone organization which fought for women’s rights. This organization was considered one of the first feminist organizations of its kind. She has continued her work to this day with Emily’s List. Emily’s List stands for “Early Money Is Like Yeast,” and is a pro-choice organization that raises money and support for pro-choice women in political officer, and has been doing so for 25 years. Her activism did not just stay in the sphere of women’s rights but expanded to all human rights, including LGBTQ+ and Civil Rights. Merry worked on both the After 8 campaign and the no on Measure 02-06 campaign in Corvallis, OR which were both pro-LGBTQ+ groups which fought for equality for all. Her activism would evolve into Basic Rights Oregon, which is still around today and is an organization that fights for all those oppressed.

Harry Demarest Oral History Interview

Harry Demarest

Harry Demarest

Date: May 25, 2017
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 1:07:08
Interviewee: Harry Demarest
Interviewers: Hunter Murga, Nikki Bott, and Jordan Morrison

Interview Video

Bio and Summary forthcoming…

Historical Context: As the 80s came to a close, the specter of President Ronald Reagan’s policies and ideals still loomed large over the discourse of US politics. Leaving office, Ronald Reagan was one of the most popular departing presidents in history, and his policies still have a significant effect on policy in the early 21st century. While the Moral Majority was not as significant a force as it was in the prime of Reagan’s administration, it had been woven into the fabric of the Republican Party. Much of the social activism of the Reagan administration continued after Reagan, and is the foundation of the Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA) in the 1990s in Oregon. The dominant discourse of perceiving LGBT individuals as immoral and sinful still carried weight during the 90s, and rather than couch this rhetoric in the language of morality and sin, as was the case during the prime of the Moral Majority, the OCA and other organizations such as the one in Colorado that passed Amendment 2 argued that their proposal wasn’t about morality, but rather “special rights”, a concept that, as time showed, would not pass judicial muster.

In any case, the OCA really came to the spotlight in 1988, when they successfully lobbied for the passage of Measure 8, which repealed Governor Neil Goldschmidt’s anti-discrimination ordinances. This statewide victory was short-lived, being overturned in 1992 in Merrick v. Oregon. This did not stop the OCA, which used this opportunity to attempt to pass Measure 9, which was defeated by voters. However, the OCA had arguably the most success on the local or municipal level. In the case of Corvallis and Benton County, however, they failed. This was due to the efforts of the Benton County Democratic Party, assisted by the likes of Harry Demarest, who both led the Democratic Party in Benton County and developed walking lists in order to better reach to voters to oppose OCA measures. The result: the proposals of the OCA were handily defeated by wide margins in Corvallis and Benton County.
It may be that the OCA became more active at the local level in the 1990s because of their state wide failures. The organization’s leaders reasoned that they could capitalize on the varying cultures of different regions of the state, focusing on the conservative areas of Southern and Eastern Oregon. Indeed, there was more success in these areas than in the Willamette Valley. However, the OCA faded into obscurity much like the Moral Majority did, and today they are no longer even a shadow of a political force in Oregon. In fact, it could be argued that their efforts led to the establishment of a vast acceptance of LGBT rights in Oregon, in an ironic twist to their goals.

Bradley Boovy Oral History Interview

Bradley Boovy

Bradley Boovy

Date: June 6, 2017
Location: Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Length: 1:12:00
Interviewee: Bradley Boovy
Interviewers: Dalton Holt, Ian Lipanovich, and Elizabeth Jung

Interview Video

Bio, Summary, and Historical Context forthcoming…


All of the interviews mentioned in this blog post, plus those from last year’s HST 368 class and many more, can be found in the Oregon State Queer Archives Oral History Collection by clicking here.

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Social Justice Tour of Corvallis III


For the third time, the OMA once again collaborated with the class Ethnic Studies 553: Ethnohistory Methodology taught by Professor Natchee Barnd. The course’s six students came to the OMA, and took a trip to the archives at the Benton County Historical Society, to conduct research regarding the histories of the OSU and Corvallis area’s traditionally marginalized groups. The class then wrote a total of 12 stories and complied them into a walking tour guidebook. This year, the OMA attended the tour given by the class – see below for information about the stories and photos from the tour! And, be sure to check out the blog posts regarding the 2014 Tour and the 2016 Tour.

The class consisted of six students who each researched and wrote about a different Corvallis area story. The students used a combination of archival sources and creative writing to create 12 beautiful pieces of historical fiction.

























The tour included 5 stops with students sharing stories at each one:

sjt3-backcoverAttending the tour was an incredible experience – see the pics below (note: not all the stories are represented via the photos):

Welcome by Professor Natchee Barnd

Welcome by Professor Natchee Barnd

A student created replica of a protest sign as part of the story "Wrestling with Apartheid"

A student created replica of a protest sign as part of the story “Wrestling with Apartheid”

A wall behind the Corvallis Beekman Place Antique Mall as part of the "Graffiti and Public Space" story

A wall behind the Corvallis Beekman Place Antique Mall as part of the “Graffiti and Public Space” story

A story about the "voice" of the Willamette River

A story about the “voice” of the Willamette River

The story "Hoops and Battles: Oregon Agricultural College vs. Chemawa basketball"

The story “Hoops and Battles: Oregon Agricultural College vs. Chemawa basketball”

The Victoria (Wishikin) Wacheno Howard story

The Victoria (Wishikin) Wacheno Howard story

"Aliens" - extra terrestrials and immigrants

“Aliens” – extra terrestrials and immigrants

The current struggle of the Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center

The current struggle of the Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center

"Welcome to OSU"

“Welcome to OSU”

The Social Justice Tour of Corvallis #3 participants walking back into campus at the conclusion of the tour

The Social Justice Tour of Corvallis #3 participants walking back into campus at the conclusion of the tour

The OMA looks forward to future collaborations with Professor Barnd and his students!

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