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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Understanding his sexuality while growing up

As Baker was growing up, he understood that he was different, but he did not understand the contrast between heterosexuality and homosexuality as a strict division. Instead, to him it seemed to be more of a spectrum of choices.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

CHRIS McGINNIS:
When, as you were growing up in Greeneville, when did you start realizing that you were different and potentially a gay, a gay man?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Well, I guess realizing that I was different was very early. I don't know about putting a name on it.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Probably very early realizing that I was very different, but different for various reasons, it didn't have anything to do with sexual differences as much as what my interests were. I was more interested in walks, sitting by the river, reading—not interested in what most of the males were doing, during my period, which was more hanging out at the pool hall, that kind of thing, that was not my interest, and so that made me stand out, and I guess I realized that—well probably very young, I probably realized it when I was very young and I wanted to—I was in a dance recital and I wanted to dance, and my father was not going to hear of that, so those kind of things just kind of made it stand out for me.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I see, I see.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
But, you know, in terms of—I don't really know any difference in terms of sexual kinds of things because in that period, there were all kinds of sexual fooling around with young people, boys with each other, so it—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It was just common in everyone's growing up experience.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yeah, some people did, some people didn't, it was sort of a common thing, but no one made it, it wasn't, "This makes you one." One way or the other. Probably the point at which I realized that there was a difference in terms of sexual perspectives might have been high school.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I see.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
And that was probably because one of the people that was very openly gay and flamboyant in high school, and was always ridiculed by the principal and I was always befriending him, so. [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I see, where you scared to be associated with the flamboyant one?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
No. No, I was not afraid to be associated with him. I mean, I had gone through enough of being called various names, ‘sissy’ and other things that that didn't bother me. Obviously, it bothered me, it made me uncomfortable, but it didn't keep me from associating with—I never really liked to see anyone put down or hurt or ostracized and so the more that they would sort of taunt Lester, the more that I would try to be there to say, "You know, there are people who are not friendly, or who don't—"
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You extended a friendly hand to Lester.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Oh, Lester, you know, Lester was quite capable of [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Doing that on his own—
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Of defending himself [Laughter] But he was always, he was in need of someone to talk to, or someone to hang out with, and I would do that, yeah.