OSU Queer Archives Oral History Collection, 2015-2016

Overview of the Collection

McConnell, Kiah.
OSU Queer Archives Oral History Collection
2015-2016 (inclusive)
74.70 gigabytes, including 21 sets of video files
Collection Number
OH 034
The OSU Queer Archives Oral History Collection is a growing repository of interviews and event recordings that document the experiences and perspectives of members of the LGBTQ+ community who have spent at least portions of their lives at Oregon State University and/or in Benton County, Oregon.
Oregon State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives Research Center
Special Collections and Archives Research Center
121 The Valley Library
Oregon State University
Corvallis OR
Telephone: 5417372075
Fax: 5417378674
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Jaqc Allen. At the time of the interview, Jaqc Allen was a third year student studying Public Health, Health Promotion, and Human Development. Allen worked at the Black Cultural Center, and was later appointed as a leadership liaison for SOL. Allen holds many identities that are important to them, including being queer, lesbian, gender nonconforming, and Native American Black. A nontraditional student, Allen came to Oregon State in their mid-twenties.

Judy Ball. Ball was born in 1952 in West Virginia, and adopted by parents Clyde and Nelly Ball. Raised as an only child, and living in a rural, isolated part of West Virgina, Ball and her parents were very close. She grew up in a lower middle-class and racially homogenous area, and because of this was not even aware of LGBTQ identities until much later in life. In her early childhood, Ball’s mother was a factory worker, while her father worked as a truck driver. However, due to financial difficulties and lack of job availability, both of her parents worked odd jobs for much of her youth, doing whatever was necessary to put food on the table. Interested in history and public policy from a young age, Ball escaped poverty through education, earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Although she has had relationships with both men and women, today Ball is happily single and is very involved in the local Corvallis community.

Adrian Borycki. At the time of the interview, Adrian Borycki was a third year student in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Oregon State University. Prior to majoring in WGSS, Borycki studied both engineering and pre-med. Borycki’s parents have resided in Corvallis for over five years, and they were already familiar with the town and OSU before attending. Borycki has been involved with the Pride Center since the winter of their freshman year, both as a volunteer and later as the center’s Publications Coordinator.

Jo Ann Casselberry. Casselberry was born on Long Island, New York in September 1954. Her family soon moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, where Casselberry spent most of her childhood. In high school, Casselberry was an advocate for girls’ rights to wear pants to school. She graduated high school in 1972, and began her college years at Wilmington College in Ohio, before dropping out and returning to Oregon in 1974. Once in Oregon, Casselberry worked for a while until deciding to return to school, this time attending Oregon State University, where she studied Interdisciplinary Studies and Political Sociology. Notably, Casselberry was very involved in the SAW (Society for the Advancement of Women) at OSU, and was one of the first two students to earn a minor in Women’s Studies. After graduating in 1979, Casselberry began volunteering through Linn-Benton Association for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and eventually took a job at the Rape Crisis Center, two organizations which soon merged to become what is today the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV). Casselberry began working at Oregon State University in the early 1980s and has remained there since, totaling more than 30 years spent at OSU. She now works in one of the business centers as the Grants/Contracts Technician. Casselberry has long been active in fighting for gay and lesbian rights, and was co-founder and treasurer of After 8, an advocacy and education group. The group was founded in Benton County in response to the passing of Measure 8 in 1988, an emotionally devastating measure for members of the gay and lesbian community. Casselberry acted in the demanding roles of treasurer and fundraising coordinator of the Political Action Committees, fighting a series of anti-gay ballot measures. Although After 8 is no longer active, the work of Jo and her co-workers has had a lasting impact on the community.

Martha Cone. Dr. Martha Cone, Ph.D. was a Post-Doc and teacher at Oregon State University for several years while simultaneously spending much of her free time advocating for women’s rights on campus. After earning her Ph.D. from University of Texas at Austin, Cone moved to Delaware to work at DuPont & Company. Dr. Cone then moved to California, where she met women travelling to Women’s Land in Estacada, Oregon. After a little over a year, Dr. Cone moved to Corvallis where she wrote Letters to the Editor for the Barometer and was an outspoken activist for women’s rights. Unfortunately, decades later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unable to continue work fulltime after her cancer treatment, she decided to officially retire. Currently, Dr. Cone works as a Braille translator for science textbooks while living with her partner in a floating home on the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest.

Tara Crockett. Crockett is a fourth-year student at Oregon State University majoring in women, gender, and sexuality studies. They identify as trans and mixed race, and currently serve as a Student Leadership Liaison for the OSU Pride Center.

Qwo Li Driskill. Dr. Driskill is a Cherokee poet, scholar, and activist raised in rural Colorado. Driskill earned a BA from the University of Northern Colorado, an MA from Antioch University Seattle, and a PhD from Michigan State University. Driskill has taught at Antioch University Seattle, Texas A&M University, and Oregon State University, and currently serves as Director of Graduate Studies in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) at Oregon State University.

Malik Ensley. Ensley is a fourth-year student at Oregon State University studying human development and family sciences. In addition, Malik serves as president of Omega Delta Phi fraternity at OSU and has collaborated on projects with a number of on-campus organizations, including the Lonnie B. Harris Black Culture Center, the Pride Center, and the Oregon State Queer Archives (OSQA).

Robin Frojen. Valerie “Robin” Frojen was born on October 14, 1966 in Los Angeles, CA. Two months later she was adopted by Colleen Baker Frojen and Robert Charles Frojen. She has two brothers named Jon Collin Frojen and Antonio Ezkauritza. She attended a Catholic all-girls middle and high school, where she found respite from bullying experienced in elementary school. Frojen pursued higher education in Syracuse, New York from 1984-1988. Yearning for a new path in life, Robin moved to Scottsdale, Arizona to enroll in culinary school. In 1990, she completed culinary school which opened several doors for her in the culinary world. Frojen and her first wife had a son together in 2000, Colin Lee Frojen-Andersson. She subsequently remarried, to her current wife Searainya “Sea” Bond-Frojen.

Sara Gelser. Senator Sara Gelser was born in Las Vegas, Nevada as Sara Ann Acres on December 20th, 1973. Gelser is the eldest of four, with three younger brothers. In middle school, she established a group called Teens for the Prevention of AIDS in collaboration with friends from the LGBTQ+ community. When Gelser’s family moved from Nevada to Oregon, rather than finishing high school, she decided to apply to college early, at the suggestion of her mother. At sixteen years of age, she was accepted to and began her studies at Earlham College in Indiana. Gelser chose Earlham, a Quaker school, because of its inclusivity towards the LGBTQ+ community, and its commitment to social justice issues. Gelser participated in student government, studying history and education with the intention of becoming a teacher. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History in 1994. That same year, Gelser moved to Corvallis, Oregon with her husband Peter, whom she met and married in college. After starting a family, Gelser returned to school, earning a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Oregon State University in 1999. Gelser worked on the Corvallis school board from 2001 to 2005, and was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2005, following the resignation of a Democratic incumbent. After being re-elected for four terms, Gelser was elected to the Oregon Senate in 2015, where she continues to serve. In this position, Gelser has supported bills that include nondiscriminatory outlines for business and insurance companies, stricter punishments for child abusers, standards for modified diplomas toward financial aid, medically accurate sex education, and resource-building for LGBTQ+ veterans.

Stina Goetter. At the time of the interview, Stina Goetter was a fourth year undergraduate student at Oregon State University studying math. In addition to her studies, Goetter also worked as a leadership liaison for the Pride Center, and was involved with the center and with Rainbow Continuum since her freshman year. Goetter is a self-identified lesbian, a genderfuck/genderfluid/genderqueer individual, and a self-described nerd and accidental activist.

Ish Guevara. At the time of the interview, Ish Guevara was a third year undergraduate student at Oregon State University studying Apparel Design and Management. Before coming to OSU, Guevara started the LGBTQ club at his community college. When he transferred to Oregon State, Guevara was offered a position at the Centro Cultural César Chávez, and later with SOL, the LGBTQ+ Multicultural Support Network, where he worked for two years.

John Helding. John Helding was born February 11, 1958 in Portland, OR, and grew up in Gresham, OR on the east side of Portland with his family, including his parents and two older sisters. Both of his parents were born and raised in Montana. His father worked in the timber industry; his mother was a stay-at-home mom during Helding’s early years but then received her elementary teaching degree and taught elementary school in the Gresham school district for 15 years. Helding lived in Gresham until he graduated from high school in 1976. He attended Oregon State University from 1976-1981 and graduated with a degree in industrial engineering. During his time at OSU he sang with the OSU choir all five years, was a resident assistant his junior year, and was an ASOSU senator during his fifth year. After graduating, he moved to Beaverton, OR to work for the company Tektronix for three years as an industrial engineer (1981-1984) – during this time he decided he no longer wished to be an engineer. He then attended Stanford Business School from 1984-1986. After graduating from Stanford, Helding began working for the firm Booz Allen Hamilton and worked for them until the year 2000. He worked as an Associate/Sr. Associate (1986-1990); Western Region Administrative Director (1990-1993); Group Director of Operations, Marketing Intensive Practice (1994-1996); and Senior Director of Global Recruitment (1997-2000). Helding’s other positions have included Chair/Member, Client Security Fund Commission, State Bar of California (1998-2002); Member, Founding Board, San Francisco Friends School (2001-2005); Senior Advisor, Great Place to Work Institute (2003-2006); Member, Board, American Friends Service Committee (2005-2012); Chairperson/Clerk, Board Audit Committee, American Friends Service Committee (2005-2012). As of 2016, Helding’s positions include Chairperson/Clerk, Board, Quaker Voluntary Service (since November 2011); Chairperson, Lopez Island School Board, Lopez Island School District (since 2009); Facilitator, Interpersonal Dynamics Program, Stanford Graduate School of Business (since January 2001); Member, Board of Directors, Marts & Lundy, Inc. (since 2013); Advisor, Helding and Associates (since 2008). After living in San Fransisco for a time, in 2005 he reconnected with an OSU choir alum, a widow with two teenagers, and he moved to live with his new family on Lopez Island, WA; they have been living there since 2006.

Jeff Kenny. At the time of the interview, Jeff Kenney was the Associate Director of Diversity and Cultural Engagement at Oregon State University. Originally from Nebraska, Kenney moved to Corvallis from South Carolina to serve as Coordinator of LGBTQ+ Outreach and Services. With an emphasis on queer issues, interracial dialogue, diversity education, and antiracism, Kenney was instrumental to outreach efforts at his previous position at Clemson University, South Carolina.

Karuna Neustadt. Karuna Neustadt was born in 1952 in the town of Brockton, Massachusetts. Brockton is a suburb of Boston, located about 30 miles outside of the city. Neustadt’s mother was an elementary school teacher, who was born in Germany, and her father was a personnel manager from Boston. Neustadt grew up in an idyllic suburban neighborhood. She had one brother and enjoyed a very close relationship with him. Neustadt graduated from high school in 1970 and decided to pursue a university education. Neustadt enrolled at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa in 1970. After two years of study, she left Grinnell College and returned to Massachusetts. Back on the East Coast, she obtained a position as a teaching assistant and stayed in Boston for the next year. In 1973, Neustadt felt ready to return to college and enrolled at the University of Michigan. After about a year, she withdrew from the university and returned home to Massachusetts once again. In 1978, Neustadt realized she wanted to obtain an advanced degree in Counseling Psychology, so she enrolled at the University of Oregon. She quickly finished her bachelor’s degree and in 1981, Neustadt obtained her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. During her academic career at University of Oregon, Neustadt enjoyed several jobs including one with the local school district and another at a local nursing home. After graduation, Neustadt returned to the East Coast to support her domestic partner, who was completing her studies at the Divinity School at Yale. Upon graduation in 1983, Neustadt’s partner was transferred to a position at Oregon State University, and Neustadt accompanied her. After returning to Corvallis, Neustadt accepted a position as a social worker at a nursing home, and later obtained a permanent position at the Area Agency on Aging in Corvallis. Neustadt remained with the agency for the next twenty-two years. In Corvallis, Neustadt became very politically active. In 1988, the Oregon Citizens’ Alliance (OCA) sponsored Ballot Measure 8, which repealed an executive order from Governor Neil Goldschmidt that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 1989, Neustadt co-founded After 8, an advocacy group focused on ending discrimination against all people, but with a particular focus on the LGBTQ community. After 8 was involved in campaign and election support, voter education and legislative lobbying. After 8 remained active until 2003. During this time, Neustadt helped to defeat several different ballot measures while promoting community education. Neustadt was instrumental in furthering the integration of the LGBT community in Corvallis. After fourteen years of activism, Neustadt passed the torch and retired to enjoy life in Eugene, Oregon, where she now resides.

Guillermo Rebolledo. At the time of the interview, Guillermo Rebolledo was a fourth year undergraduate student in Sociology, with an option in Crime and Justice at Oregon State University. As a gay and Mexican student, Rebolledo previously worked as the internal coordinator for SOL, the multicultural support network for the LGBTQ+ community at OSU. In addition, Rebolledo was a member of a Greek multicultural fraternity at the university.

Mary Renneke. Mary Renneke was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1956. When Renneke was two, her parents divorced and she moved to San Jose with her mother, sister, and twin brother. She discovered her identity as a lesbian in high school in the early 1970s, supported by the covertly gay-friendly environment of women’s softball that emerged during that era. Since childhood, Renneke has divided much of her life between Oregon and California, attempting to balance her love of sports with work and the pursuit of education. After working as a bus driver and trainer for many years, and earning her bachelor’s degree through OSU’s online education program later in life, Renneke now resides in Albany and works in Corvallis.

Lorena Reynolds. Lorena Reynolds was born in Rochester, MN. Because her parents were born in Canada, they returned to the country shortly after her birth, and Reynolds spent the first 10 years of her life in Vancouver B.C, Canada. Following this period, the family moved to Southern California where Reynolds completed high school. After graduating, Reynolds attended Lafayette College in Pennsylvania for a year and a half, then later transferred to the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she completed her undergraduate degree. Reynolds went on to pursue a law degree at the UCLA School of Law, which she obtained in 1997. After a brief stint in L.A., Reynolds moved to Corvallis, OR and established her own private practice in 2004, where she currently practices family law.

Tristen Shay. Shay is the Associate Director of Student Services for the College of Liberal Arts, a Student Diversity Liaison, and an advisor at Oregon State University. Shay holds bachelors degrees in art history and gender studies from Whitman College, and a graduate degree in College Student Services Administration (CSSA) from OSU.

Rylan Wall. At the time of the interview, Rylan Wall was a graduate student in the College Student Services Administration (CSSA) program at Oregon State, and a GTA at the Center for Civic Engagement on campus. In his sixth year at OSU, Wall began his involvement with the Pride Center. In his freshman year, he was the Social Director of Rainbow Continuum, a student-fee funded organization at the university. Wall was elected to the position of Co-Director of that same organization in his sophomore year, and then worked as the Internal Coordinator for the Pride Center as a junior—a position he held for two years. After returning from a study abroad program in Sweden, Wall worked full-time for Intercultural Student Services at OSU, collaborating on a project to assess experiences of queer international students on campus.

Katie Wicks. At the time of the interview, Katie Wicks was a recent graduate of Oregon State University’s Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and was working as a PROMISE intern at the school. Wicks was involved with the Pride Center since freshman year in a number of positions, including co-director of Rainbow Continuum, and office assistant at the center. Wicks has been involved in research efforts to foster greater inclusion for transgender-identified folks on OSU’s campus.

Julie Williams. Williams was born in Corvallis, Oregon, in 1962 to a Catholic family. Her father was the director of the laboratory at Good Salem Hospital and her mother was an insurance biller and nurse at the same hospital. Williams is the youngest of six children, and has been an athlete throughout her life. Born and raised in Corvallis, she attended the local elementary school and continued on to Corvallis High School, attending from 1976 to 1980. After graduating high school, Williams matriculated at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana (1980-1981) on a volleyball scholarship, but later returned to Corvallis to attend and play volleyball for Oregon State University (1981-1983). Although she received her bachelor’s degree in Pre-Therapy, Williams realized she wanted to be a teacher two weeks before she left for therapy school. For this reason, she decided to return to school to pursue her master’s degree in Education. In 1987, Williams became a teacher at Corvallis High School, serving first as the school’s volleyball coach, and later as a Physical Education and health teacher. As an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in education, Williams traveled around the Corvallis School District ensuring LGBTQ+ rights and policies were enforced and that such students could feel safe at school. In 1996, she became the advisor for the Gay Straight Alliance club (GSA) at Corvallis High School, the first club of its kind in Oregon. In 1999 Williams became the last recipient of the Harvey Milk Award, presented by the After 8 organization. Williams has recently taken up activism for sustainability and climate change, and now teaches Sustainability and Climate Change classes at Corvallis High School.

Vickie Zeller. Zeller is a fourth-year student at Oregon State University studying fisheries and wildlife. Zeller has been involved with Rainbow Continuum, a student-run club that seeks to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ students, from freshman year, acting as a member, co-director, and now advisor for the organization. In addition, Zeller has collaborated with the Pride Center to plan Pride Week and other events, and has co-hosted the annual OSU drag show.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The OSU Queer Archives Oral History Collection seeks to document the experiences and perspectives of members of the LGBTQ+ community who have spent at least portions of their lives at Oregon State University and/or in Benton County, Oregon.

Of particular note is a set of eight interviews conducted by OSU student Kiah McConnell for her 2015 “OSU LGBTQ+ Community Film,” created as part of her honors thesis. An additional set of nine interviews was conducted by the students of the spring 2016 OSU course HST 368 Lesbian and Gay Movements in Modern America with Professor Mina Carson. The collection also includes two event recordings, "The History of Queervallis" and “Occupying Margins: A Panel Discussion on Gender." All interviews were conducted in Corvallis, Oregon.

All interviews and events have been recorded directly to digital video and are available online. Materials assembled in the process of developing interview topics, and permissions forms signed by interview subjects, are also held on site.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

OSU Queer Archives Oral History Collection (OH 34), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Interviews and other recordings are arranged chronologically.

Acquisition Information

Interview files were donated to the OSU Queer Archives by the interviewers beginning in 2015.

Future Additions

Additions to the collection are expected.

Related Materials

This collection is a part of the OSU Queer Archives (OSQA). Other collections related to LGBTQ+ history include the Pride Center Records (RG 236), Thomas Kraemer Speech and Blog (MSS Kraemer), and the OSU Memorabilia Collection (MSS MC). Other related interviews include Brenda McComb and Brent Lawrence from the Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Collection (OH 26).

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1:  Interviews, 2015Return to Top

Series one consists of eight oral history interviews, a documentary film, and a panel presentation on the LGBTQ+ history of Corvallis, Oregon.

Description Dates
1: Rylan Wall
(1:01:28) Rylan Wall begins this one-hour interview by discussing his time serving as co-director for Rainbow Continuum, delving into the issues the organization faced that year with a lack of gender diversity in the leadership and the non-inclusive decision-making that can stem from that situation. Wall talks about the different leadership positions available within Rainbow Continuum at that time, noting that there was a higher than normal rate of student engagement within the organization that year. In addition, Wall briefly discusses his mentor at the Pride Center and the important impact mentorship can have—a topic he returns to later in the interview. Wall details what a typical Rainbow Continuum meeting entailed while he was working there, including a facilitated introduction, and establishing a “safe” or brave space. Wall explains that what would follow was sometimes discussion questions centered on community issues or larger LGBTQ+ issues, and often an activity or game, led by the social director. Wall describes his experience with planning OSU’s Pride Week, including general highlights, again noting that the number of people involved and the number of programs put on was record-breaking that year. Following this, Wall briefly discusses how Rainbow Continuum came to be designated as a voluntary student organization, and the ways that this designation ensured a standard of student autonomy. Wall notes that in his experience, OSU’s administration, faculty, and staff have been supportive of student voices on campus, and seem to always be looking for student input. This conversation brings him back to the importance of mentorship, support, and role models—specifically highlighting the work Jeff Kenney did to improve the Pride Center as Director of Outreach, and how he helped them restructure the center to better fit the expectations of a cultural center. Wall ends by speaking on the importance of having a Pride Center on campus, and how the visibility and resources it provides impacted him in his early days at Oregon State. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell. Interview video available online.
2: Stina Goetter
(0:34:51) In the interview, Goetter begins by briefly describing her high school experience, and the lack of a queer community in that space. Because of this, she explains that she was committed to creating that space when she came to Oregon State, but was pleasantly surprised to find that a queer community was already firmly established at the school. Goetter details how Rainbow Continuum was beneficial to her, particularly in her early days at OSU, and how she fell into activist work. Goetter talks about the kind of work she did as web director for the Pride Center, and later as a co-director of Rainbow Continuum. After describing her early involvement at Oregon State, Goetter primarily focuses on the OSU drag show, its history, and its impact. She pinpoints the ways in which the show has created community, and created a space for playfulness and performativity. Goetter emphasizes drag as activist work that is both empowering and political. In the second half of this interview, Goetter describes a Corvallis Gazette article that ultimately prompted changes within the OSU drag show, thanks to input from Dr. Brenda McComb. Because of this, Goetter explains how she has worked to make the drag show open to a wider range of ideas, particularly in making the show more supportive and inclusive of transgender folks. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell. Interview video available online.
3: Guillermo Rebolledo
(0:07:22) In this brief interview, Guillermo Rebolledo introduces himself and speaks primarily on his experience as an openly gay member of an OSU fraternity. Rebolledo outlines the way assimilation, stereotypes, machismo, and Greek life culture have an impact on openly gay members of this community, including himself. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell. Interview video available online.
February 9, 2015
4: Katie Wicks
(0:11:42) In this short interview, Wicks talks about transgender inclusion efforts in which she has been involved at Oregon State, including a survey she herself initiated as an internship project focusing on OSU’s Pride Center, and another survey conducted by the graduate school and overseen by Dr. Brenda McComb. Wicks describes the ways in which both OSU and other land-grant institutions have made progress in transgender inclusivity, yet still have a long way to go in terms of resources, support, and policy. Wicks also speaks to her involvement at the Pride Center, describing Rainbow Continuum and what it achieves for the community, and detailing Pride Week events on Oregon State’s campus. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell. Interview video available online.
February 20, 2015
5: Adrian Borycki
(0:17:43) This interview with Adrian Borycki focuses primarily on their involvement in the Greek community as an openly queer-identified individual. Borycki paints a nuanced picture of Greek life at OSU, describing the ways in which it is both heteronormative and homogenous, but nevertheless supportive in their personal experience. Borycki explains that their sorority, Sigma Kappa, has been very supportive since Borycki came out to their sisters. Borycki explains that they have often felt like a “queer representative” in their sorority, supporting their sisters and having the ability to blend the two OSU worlds of Greek life and the Pride Center. Borycki details micro-aggressions they have experienced at Greek life social events, particularly from fraternities. Borycki ends by speaking about their work as the publications coordinator for the Pride Center, outlining their social media strategy for the center to create a stronger online presence. Borycki explains that the Pride Center’s social media presence is a vital way to keep the community connected, show that there is support, and create an “unassuming way” for students to get involved with the Pride Center—especially for those students who may not be “out” to friends and family. At the time of the interview Borycki used the first name “Sarah.” Interviewer: Kiah McConnell. Interview video is available online.
February 26, 2015
6: Ish Guevara
(0:12:11) In the interview, Ish Guevara offers his thoughts on the politics of queer and trans movements and support, both nationally and at Oregon State University. Guevara outlines his vision for stronger collaboration between SOL, the Pride Center, and the other cultural centers. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell. Interview video is available online.
March 15, 2015
7: Jaqc Allen
(0:25:23) In this interview, Allen details their coming out experience as someone who began to explore their identities a little bit later in life. They describe coming out as a process, and describe the way this process looks different with friends, family, teachers, and peers. Allen briefly explores the intersection of masculinity and race, and how this intersection has impacted them as a masculine-presenting person of color. In addition, they share their vision for the future of SOL (the LGBTQ+ Multicultural Network), the Pride Center, and the other cultural centers. Allen explains the ways in which the mere existence of SOL is indicative of a greater problem with inclusion amongst the cultural centers, and a lack of intersectional awareness in their resources and staff. At the end of the interview, Allen briefly discusses Project Social Justice and how it has impacted their life. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell. Interview video available online.
April 29, 2015
8: Jeff Kenney
(1:01:55) In this hour-long interview, Jeff Kenney discusses a wide range of topics relating to the culture and history of the Pride Center at OSU, and student affairs and outreach work more generally. Kenney explains that as Coordinator of LGBTQ+ Outreach and Services, his primary goal was to ensure the promotion and success of LGBTQ+ students. He details the responsibilities of this position, including serving as an active liaison to the Pride Center and partnering with other units both on- and off-campus; providing supervision, mentorship, and guidance to OSU students; and mediating pressures to serve both students and staff, to reach outside the OSU community or focus on campus issues. Kenney briefly explains the root of this conflict, detailing the ways in which queer and trans faculty at OSU can feel isolated, as well as face micro-aggressions or direct hostility from their colleagues, but have no significant support for this issue. In addition, he discusses the ins and outs of serving a diverse constituency, not only balancing the demands of students and staff, but also seeking to serve non-students from the surrounding community. Kenney suggests that another pull and tug is experienced by outreach coordinators like himself—being held responsible to both the institution as well as the student body, and having to sometimes represent policies that feel outdated or created from a place of fear. Following Kenney’s in-depth exploration of the many conflicting expectations for outreach coordinators in general, but particularly at Oregon State, he briefly discusses how the push for marriage equality during his time at Oregon State impacted the Pride Center. This part of the discussion details the ways in which marriage equality is important, but also homonormative, and often negates the more pressing needs (i.e. stable jobs, shelter, food) of many queer communities. Kenney concludes the interview with a more general discussion on the Diversity and Cultural Engagement Office at Oregon State. Kenney describes the changes he has observed in the relationships between cultural and resource centers on campus, as students and staff increasingly envision these centers as one consortium. He describes the ways his office has become a more complex organization in reaction to a complex student body, and ends by speaking on the emotional aspect of doing this kind of work. Interviewer: Kiah McConnell. Interview video available online.
May 13, 2015
9: OSU LGBTQ+ Community Film
OSU LGBTQ+ Community Film by Kiah McConnell, submitted to Oregon State University, University Honors College, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Honors Baccalaureate of Arts in Sociology, Honors Associate, presented June 2015. The film is available online.
June 2015
10: Panel - "The History of Queervallis"
(1:11:00) On Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, the OSU Pride Center organized the event “The History of Queervallis” with guest speakers Professor Qwo Li Driskill and Assistant Head Advisor for the College of Liberal Arts Tristen Shay who shared their knowledge of queer history on campus and in the Corvallis area. Professor Driskill discussed their research on queer history on both the national and local level. They gave context to the OSU Queer Studies program by talking about the connections between the feminist and LGBTQ+ movements, and spoke specifically about the intersections between gender, sexuality, and race. Shay shared personal stories of his childhood, his activism in high school and college in support of the queer community, and his journey to OSU along with his continued work here in Corvallis. Filmed panel available online.
October 29, 2015

Series 2:  Interviews, 2016Return to Top

Series two consists of ten oral history interviews and a panel discussion on gender from the perspective of three OSU students.

Description Dates
1: John Helding
(1:48:45) Helding begins the interview by sharing information about his family history and early childhood in Spokane, WA and later Gresham, OR. He shares some of his memories regarding the lack of open discussion about LGBTQ+ issues and lack of support for LGBTQ+ peoples within his communities growing up. Helding then shares his recollections of his time at OSU; he lived in Poling Hall, was an RA in Cauthorn Hall his junior year, and sang with the OSU choir for five years. Helding describes the campus climate in terms of LGBTQ+ issues. During his time on campus, he recalls the “Moral Majority” movement and Evangelical Christian organizations that promoted anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and practice emerging at OSU. Helding then begins the story of the 1981 ASOSU vote to fund the Gay People’s Alliance. The interview focuses on the April 28, 1981 meeting in which the ASOSU vote to fund the Gay People’s Alliance was discussed. As this was the second to last meeting of the year, this was the meeting that student groups lobbied for their organizations to be funded. Eddie Hickey represented the Gay People’s Alliance since the student fees committee had denied them funds and they wanted the senate to overturn that ruling. Helding says that he did not know who they were as individuals or as an organization and that the group of individuals were the first openly gay people with whom he interacted. He says that he was interested in the GPA request because it was a new request and thought it should be more seriously considered. Helding then describes the process of the debate on whether or not to fund the GPA – he goes into great detail explaining the discussion, which lasted over an hour, and the pros and cons to funding the GPA. The final vote was 18-13 in favor. Notably, Helding takes time to reflect on his interactions with the GPA members immediately following the meeting. Helding then describes the aftermath of the vote. The arbitration committee approved the entire proposed budget except for the funds for the GPA. Helding continues the interview with his post-OSU life story. He reflects on the importance of the ASOSU GPA vote and its impact on his career. Helding then shares his professional experiences. Helding notes that the oral history interview process has enabled him to reflect upon “touch points in time” throughout his life and how each of his experiences built on each other and helped him be more open and more supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. His last thoughts are about his positive experience of sharing his story as an oral history interview and expresses the power of people sharing their stories. Interviewer: Natalia Fernández. Interview video and detailed interview summary are available online.
May 3, 2016
2: Judy Ball
(0:42:46) In this interview with Judy Ball, she begins by describing her childhood, which primarily holds good memories despite the poverty she grew up in. She explains that early on in her life, she knew that school would be her only outlet to pursue a better life. For Ball, life in college was dedicated to her studies. After getting her master's degree from Syracuse University, she began working for the federal government. Ball discusses her busy life in Maryland, and her career as a healthcare worker with the federal government, which lasted over 30 years. During this time in her life, Ball was married for ten years. However, Ball explains that their love faded, and she describes the strong sense of independence that has always been an important feature of her personality. In 2008, Ball moved to Corvallis, and her relocation marked the beginning of her involvement with the LGBTQ+ community, as she had fallen in love with a woman and decided to follow her out to the West Coast. Ball admits she had never questioned her sexuality growing up and issues of alternate sexualities were never discussed in the household, which resulted in her finding the whole experience surreal. Although her relationship with this individual eventually came to an end, Ball continues to be very active in the Corvallis community, both serving on the school board and participating in local events. Ball discusses her sexual identity, and though she states that "the evidence would suggest" she is bisexual, she explains that she does not necessarily find herself aligned with this identity. Interviewer: Kristiane Width. Interview video available online.
May 4, 2016
3: Julie Williams
(0:46:37) In the interview, Williams first discusses her early years being raised in Corvallis, Oregon. Born in 1962, she attended school in Corvallis until leaving for Montana to pursue a college degree. Williams explains that there was little to no talk in her family of the LGBTQ+ community, and that she herself remained in denial of her sexual identity until her mid-twenties. Almost all of her life has been spent in Corvallis, and she offers some insight into the changes the community has experienced. Williams discusses her decision to become a teacher and what it was like to teach at her alma mater, Corvallis High School. Williams explains how her connection to the LGBTQ+ community has both positively and negatively affected her teaching career. She shares her own stories, as well as those of students and fellow faculty members, to showcase the LGBTQ+ -friendly atmosphere at Corvallis High School. The remainder of the interview focuses on the Queer-Straight Alliance club at Corvallis High School. As an integral member of its formation, Williams explains the goals of the QSA. She shares her hopes for the future of the QSA, her take on the community’s response to the QSA, and information on what the club offers for today’s student body. Interviewers: Alyssa Kauth and Kaitlyn Stephen. Interview video available online.
May 5, 2016
4: Jo Ann Casselberry
(1:19:39) Jo Casselberry gives an overview of her life in this interview, beginning with her childhood and high school years, and then moving on to her college and post-graduation experiences, including more than 30 years’ experience working at Oregon State University. Casselberry expands on her campus involvement during college, and her part in the organization After 8, an advocacy and education group founded in Benton County after the passing of Measure 8 in 1988. She recalls her work as treasurer for After 8 and the organization’s goals and accomplishments, as well as her work as treasurer and fundraising coordinator for the Political Action Committees formed to fight each of the Oregon Citizen Alliance’s anti-gay ballot measures. In doing so, she also gives an overview of ballot measures 8 and 9 and how they affected her life, as well as discussing the general atmosphere of OSU and the surrounding community during that time. Interviewer: Stefani Evers. Interview video available online.
May 11, 2016
5: Karuna Neustadt
(1:29:00) The interview begins with Neustadt talking about her childhood and describing what family life was like for her. She remembers playing in the streets with local neighborhood children and staying out as late as possible—until their mothers insisted they come in. She discusses the rather authoritative parenting style of her father, which was balanced by her mother’s nurturing approach. Neustadt describes the difficulties of middle school and high school, recalling the awkwardness she experienced during that time in her life. Neustadt proceeds to discuss her life after graduation. She moved to Iowa to attend a small liberal arts college, and although she enjoyed being young and single, Neustadt did not excel academically because she lacked focus. Aware of how much debt she was accruing, she decided to put her studies on hold until she was certain of her career path. Neustadt explains that she eventually decided to pursue an advanced degree in Clinical Psychology and moved to Oregon to do so. She speaks quite fondly of her time in Eugene. The interview then shifts to Neustadt’s discussion of her sexuality, and the expansive support of the women’s community in Eugene during her college years. Shortly after obtaining her master’s degree she moved from Eugene to Corvallis and co-founded an LGBTQ advocacy group called After 8. She describes the volatile environment in Corvallis that prompted her to establish such a group. For most of the interview, Neustadt details the specific activities After 8 was involved in. Many of the stories are difficult, while others have a humorous tone. Neustadt recalls the times when the group received death threats, but also details positive events experienced by the LGBTQ community since that time, including the group’s annual Harvey Milk Dinners, which took place from 1989 – 1999. The interview concludes with Neustadt’s reflection on the progress made and the work still to be done in regards to equality for the LGBTQ community. Neustadt ends by discussing how grateful she is for the support of other human and civil rights groups, who helped After 8 accomplish the goals they set out to accomplish. Interviewer: Esther Matthews. Interview video available online.
May 12, 2016
6: Lorena Reynolds
(0:21:59) In the interview, Reynolds briefly describes her upbringing. She then proceeds to outline her career in law and how she has contributed to resolving legal marriage issues and asset distribution challenges for both in-state and out-of-state same sex marriages. In addition, Reynolds describes her involvement in assisting transgender clients who must navigate legal changes to their documentation. She explains that in Oregon, transgender individuals who wish to change their name or sex on legal documents are required to undergo surgery, which can present numerous challenges. Following this, Lorena describes the challenges her family faced when her brother Tristan came out as transgender. In trying to find his true identity, Tristan, who is nine years younger than Reynolds, had to come out multiple times, first as a lesbian, and then later as trans. This process put a strain on Tristan and his familial relationships. Lorena explains that when Tristan came out, there was no framework for transgender folks, so it was hard for both Tristan and the family to process and adapt to the change. Lorena’s brother created a video called “It Gets Better” with the help of his family, where each member of the family agreed to be interviewed on their experience with Tristan’s transition. Interviewers: Francesca Lee and Trinh Duonier. Interview video available online.
May 13, 2016
7: Sara Gelser
(0:43:39) The interview begins with Gelser discussing her upbringing and family life, traveling frequently between Las Vegas, where she was born, and her parent’s home state of Indiana, then moving to Oregon when she was a sophomore in high school. Gelser talks about applying to Earlham College in Indiana in 1990, and accepting due to their progressive environment and inclusive programming. She explains that Earlham’s values aligned with her own, having worked with friends in the LGBTQ+ community in a Teens for the Prevention of AIDS group. She notes the misunderstanding of AIDS at the time and how it contributed to her interest in LGBTQ+ issues. She mentions LGBTQ+ issues weren’t discussed at home and weren’t tolerated at schools in the late 80s, and notes the contrast between her own and her children’s experiences with LGBTQ+ issues in school. Gelser’s interest in politics grew in her interactions with the community, through non-hierarchical methods she learned at Earlham, and her experiences advocating for a son with special needs. This eventually led her to join the Corvallis school board in 2001 and later to become involved in Oregon legislature from 2005 onwards. Before participating in Oregon politics, Gelser attended OSU from 1996 to 1998, pursuing a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a focus in History and Women’s Studies. She explains that she focused on Interdisciplinary Studies in hopes of teaching high school students, but eventually expanded out of teaching into politics because she began to note important patterns in history and their correlation to present issues. In her political experience in the Oregon House of Representatives, Gelser talks about legislation that she helped pass, such as improvements to the accessibility of birth control, better structures for supporting domestic partnerships, making public accommodations for same-sex couples, and Karly’s Law on child abuse. In addition to these priorities, Gelser stayed true to her roots in education, and headed a committee on Oregon education. During her time in the Oregon Senate, Gelser talks about passing legislation on LGBTQ+ issues, including Senate Bill 946, a bill on veteran’s benefits for those discharged through Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a bill on preferred gender and name identification for students, and a bill concerning bullying in schools related to LGBTQ+ students. As for future pieces of LGBTQ+ legislation, Gelser mentions legislation on marriage statutes, clarification of language for couples in previous legislation, changes to identification for same sex couples, and talks about her experience with debating on the Senate floor over legislation about solemnizing marriages outside of churches. The interview concludes with Gelser talking about the untapped history of LGBTQ+ issues. Interviewers: Brett Bishop and Brittney Nicole Aman. Interview video available online.
May 16, 2016
8: Mary Renneke
(0:25:31) In the interview, Mary Renneke begins by discussing her childhood with her sister and twin brother. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1956, Mary was introduced to sports at a very early age, inspiring her passion for athletics. At age ten, Renneke began playing softball on a women’s team, and as she grew older she discovered that the sport was often a safe place for lesbians. Renneke jokingly claims that in the 70s, at least 80% of women’s softball players were lesbians. She notes that because her sister was also involved in softball, she suspected early on that Renneke might identify as lesbian. However, Renneke remarked that because there was no social media at that time, being a lesbian was something she knew little about, and did not discuss with her family until she turned 30. Because she enjoyed the community that women’s softball had to offer, Renneke continued to play softball into her 40s. However, she says she decided not to pursue a career in softball, either as a player or a coach, because there simply weren’t enough opportunities for women in sport in the 70s and 80s. Renneke briefly discusses Title IX, and the improvements it has made for women athletes. When Renneke was in high school and college, women’s teams were only just being introduced, and the teams she played for outside of college were self-funded. Although her tuition for community college in the 70s was a mere one-hundred dollars per year, she spent upwards of two-thousand dollars a season to play softball. Renneke describes her life after leaving college, explaining that work was merely a means to an end, allowing her to support herself while continuing to play sports. During this time, one of Renneke’s friends was a student at Oregon State University, and convinced her to come to OSU to play softball. Although Renneke agreed, receiving a partial scholarship from OSU at the age of 24, she did not complete her degree at the university and instead moved back to San Jose to work as a city bus driver. After ten to twelve years of this work, Renneke says she missed Oregon, so she returned to Corvallis and opened a coffee shop with a friend. At the age of 57, Renneke completed a bachelor’s degree through OSU’s online education program. Following this, she returned once again to California to become a job trainer for city bus drivers, but was laid off from this position during the recession. Renneke now lives in Albany and works at Natural Grocers in Corvallis. Interviewers: Suheng Chen and Hangyi Zhang. Interview video available online.
May 21, 2016
9: Martha Cone
(0:56:01) Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1947, Dr. Martha Cone, Ph.D. begins her interview by speaking on her early life. Her father was an air traffic controller, a position that required the family to relocate frequently while Dr. Cone was growing up. She attended high school in San Antonio, Texas from 1961-1965; Dr. Cone describes this time in her life as devoid of discussion on LGBTQ issues, explaining many from this community were still in the closet, including herself. After graduation, Cone matriculated at the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied microbiology and ultimately earned her doctorate degree. Dr. Cone explains how she was married from the age of 19 until she came out at 27, when she left her marriage and moved to a forested 1900s utopian commune in Delaware. Following this, Dr. Cone moved to California with friends from Philadelphia, where she met some women who owned a big pink bus, “tricked out” with beds and a kitchen, and joined them on their journey to Oregon. Dr. Cone details how this experience brought her to a women’s commune near Estacada. Everything was done by consensus among the women, including farm work and class instruction. Dr. Cone lived at the commune for about a year and a half before coming to Corvallis in search of a job, and eventually accepted a position in the Oregon State University (OSU) Microbiology Department. Dr. Cone describes how in her time at OSU, she was a part of the ‘book scandal’ in the OSU Women’s Center, wrote a letter to the editor of the Barometer on the subject, and was even involved in a picket march. While working for the College of Science, Dr. Cone was good friends with a gay man and by a mutual agreement, they conceived a child together. The man is still very much involved in their daughter’s life. Dr. Cone commented that when she first came to OSU, the gay communities were closeted and activism was just beginning to take place on campus. She became involved in activism for women’s college sports at the university, which often involved Title IX issues. Dr. Cone admits that her work experience at OSU was somewhat of a "locker room" environment because not many women worked in her department. In part because of this unsupportive environment, and the general discrimination against women prevalent in the science department, Dr. Cone says she decided not to try for tenure. She instead took up a post-doc position working in a lab for 10 years until the professor left, and Dr. Cone was unable to attain grants for the project on her own. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, and ultimately using all of her sick leave, Dr. Cone officially retired. In 2002, she took advantage of an opportunity to learn how to transcribe textbooks into Braille, an activity she actively participates in to this day. At the time of the interview, Dr. Cone shared that she planned to move to Portland to live in a floating home on the Columbia River with her partner. Interviewers: Eugenia Rott and Jared Ziegler. Interview video available online.
May 24, 2016
10: Robin Frojen
(0:36:21) Robin Frojen was born in Los Angeles in 1966. In the interview, Frojen begins by describing the difficulties she faced in her youth, not caring for traditional gender roles or expectations, which led to bullying throughout her early life. Frojen cites a notable incident that occurred in elementary school in which she did not receive any valentine cards from her peers. Frojen continued her education at a Catholic middle school and high school. Ironically, the nuns at Frojen’s institution were incredibly progressive when it came to their acceptance of diverse personalities and sexualities. Her high school has more recently become a visible beacon, having graduated their openly first transgender student. Frojen recognizes this is an incredible accomplishment, especially for a Catholic school. Frojen maintains a close relationship with the high school and its faculty members. Frojen remembers her childhood outside of school affectionately, speaking about her parents with admiration, and recognizing how hard her father worked to provide for her family. Frojen describes her mother as a strong and supportive force, particularly when Frojen came out to her family at 22. Frojen explains that the way in which she came out to her family was not ideal. Afraid her sexuality would ruin her relationship with her family, Frojen agreed to have a good friend break the news to her mother over lunch. Frojen admits that her mother suspected she was a lesbian, so was not shocked by Frojen’s coming out. Her mother had refrained from asking her daughter outright, because she valued integrity and honesty and did not want to put Frojen in a position that would require her to lie. After Frojen came out, her mother proceeded to call all of their immediate family members to break the news and affirm her love and support for Frojen. After moving around the country, from coast to coast, Frojen eventually settled down in Corvallis, Oregon in 1997. In Corvallis, she rediscovered her love for food and made the courageous decision to pursue a degree in chemistry and food science. Frojen is now the manager of the Oregon State Creamery. Corvallis’s welcoming community has made it an amazing city to reside in for Frojen and her family. It has allowed her to become active in different communities throughout Corvallis. She has helped with the LGTBQ+ community by attending diversity panels held by Kathy Grieves. Frojen also helps with NAMI, a program that helps families deal with mental illness. Robin always expresses that she is available for anyone who needs help and lives by the motto, “Work hard at being yourself, not someone else.” Interviewers: Madeleine Selfors and Kevin More. Interview video available online.
May 25, 2016
11: Panel - “Occupying Margins: A Panel Discussion on Gender"
(1:27:26) As part of Trans Awareness Week 2016 on OSU’s campus, SOL and the Pride Center hosted an event entitled “Occupying Margins: A Panel Discussion on Gender” in which three OSU students—Tara Crockett, Malik Ensley, and Vickie Zeller— with moderator Samantha Wood, spoke about their personal experiences with gender, as well larger impressions of the topic. The description of the panel was as follows: “This panel aims to spotlight the lived experiences of non-binary/genderqueer/gender non-conforming folx who live beyond the gender binary.” During the event, the panelists answered pre-decided questions as well as queries from the audience. A wide array of issues were addressed, including South Asian poetry duo Dark Matter and their argument that if you are a person of color, queer, differently abled, neuro-diverse, low-income, etc. you already do not fit the definition of “man” or “woman.” The three describe their vision for working towards a society that cherishes these trans and non-binary genders and relationships, rather than just “accepting” non-binary people. In addition, the group explores the ways in which the definition of gender can be expanded and improved upon by acknowledging histories and legacies of slavery and colonization. All of the panelists stress the need for difficult conversations, and interventions that make others question their harmful assumptions. They explain that this includes talking to strangers, standing up for your friends, and fostering dialogue with family members. Filmed panel and a more detailed summary available online.
November 14, 2016

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Bisexual college students--Oregon--Corvallis.
  • College environment--Oregon--Corvallis.
  • Gay college students--Oregon--Corvallis.
  • Lesbian college students--Oregon--Corvallis.

Corporate Names

  • Oregon State University. Pride Center.

Form or Genre Terms

  • Born digital.
  • Oral histories (document genres)