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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 >>

John Dunne's character

When Dunne later married a woman, Baker says, he was not surprised as he remembered Dunne's inability to commit very well. He describes Dunne's character in greater detail, and after this passage ends, he talks more about the affair Dunne had while they were together.

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

Were you aware of what John Dunne did later in his life?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yes, yes.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I was surprised that he later married a woman.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Oh yeah, [Laughter] Why would you be surprised?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I don't know enough about him.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
That's probably why—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Was he a bisexual, was it something that was—
QUINTON E. BAKER:
I told you when we started this that John Dunne was opportunistic. John slept with both men and women, his dominant sexual activity was with men, but he would marry because that was what he needed and he had, he has two, I understand, very fine young gentlemen now, his sons. But he married a woman and—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And she was oblivious, or?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Oh, it is painful, Chris, painful to think of what happened there because it was not until after he was diagnosed with cancer and he was dying that he told her all that he did. I mean, he would tell her things like, "I was in love with him, and I was constantly bothering him." Or something, he wouldn't tell the truth about the nature of our relationship. And he was going to, he would make trips to Boston, he would come from New Hampshire and places and he had a male lover that the would visit and see, but she knew nothing about any of this
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I see.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
—and so she didn't not know anything about this until the final days.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Until his final days. She might have thought that he did have relationships before they were married, she was not aware of the infidelity during the course—
QUINTON E. BAKER:
That's right. And he and I stopped talking to each other—it is probably petty, he came to visit me once in Wisconsin and he was gung ho to jump in bed with one of my friends or roommates and I had not seen him for years, I mean, we did not have a relationship at that time, but I was.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
The point was, he had come to see you. And he was trying to sleep with your roommate.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yeah, I thought that it still was kind of offensive. And then he invited me to his wedding. [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Did you feel like he had sold out to be marrying and mainstreaming like this? Or did that bother you?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
[Quinton sighs uncomfortably] I didn't think he had sold out.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Because you knew that he didn't really prefer women.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
I just knew it was—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It was just a continuation of the general personality of John Dunne.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
If it was to his advantage, he would sleep with his mother. [Laughter] Okay? But I as annoyed by the fact that I was invited to his wedding, but I wasn't invited to participate in any way in his wedding, and people that he knew less than two or three years, were asked to be the best man, to be the ushers, what have you. And so, I said to myself, "Why am I going to spend all of this money to go to Boston from Wisconsin to sit through his wedding? Nah, not doing it."
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, does it bother you that this was a heterosexual wedding?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
No.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Did you consider John bisexual?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
I considered John a hypocrite, a phony.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Because he was basically a gay man.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
He was still basically a gay man, he was still sleeping with—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
He just wanted the privilege of having a wife.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Right, but he was never able to be—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
The Privileges which came with having a wife.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Right, right, he was never faithful to anyone. So, it didn't, these were just patterns of John.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Was John a Brian Kenny?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
[pause] No, because John had the capacity of making you think that he loved you. I mean, part of his charm was that he would make you very special in his world. It would not be obvious that you were being used in a way as with Brian. John was much more than that, but John would also make you think that it was the right thing to do. I can remember one of the kids that he had, that he was sharing an apartment with in Boston while he was doing some other things, came home and found John with someone else, in their bed.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
One of his children came home, and it was a male, I take it?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Not one of his children, no, this is the guy that John was staying with in Boston, came to the apartment.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, one of the kids that he was dating.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yeah, one of the young guys, one of the kids that he was dating, came home. John had picked somebody up and was in the apartment with that person and John's response was to invite the kid to join them.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
To come join them.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
With no, no clue—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
He didn't miss a beat.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
He didn't miss a beat, and I thought, "God, he is terrific." So, that was John.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, he was pretty Machiavellian.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yes, yes. But, he could be a very sweet, charming, man, but he was very Machiavellian. I don't think that we would have ever. It is interesting, John and I didn't have a relationship, we started off and then John met someone at Central that he liked and found more charming, and he was trying to balance the two of us, and at the time I was traveling for the national NAACP and I was going away and I said to him, "When, I go away, I am not coming back, I don't want to see you. I don't want to have—" And that was when I got the commitment from John.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I see, because then it would be a competitive thing, and you were running away, so the chase was back on.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yep, I was saying, "See ya."
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And he knew that that was a line in the sand drawn.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yes.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Did you think that would happen, that statement? I don't want to see you again?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Nope, I just knew.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You just knew that was the best thing for you.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
I knew that I didn't want to play the game that he was playing. I knew that I didn't want to try to figure out a weekend that we would get together. I got tired of hearing, "Well, I don't know if we can get together, Clinton may be coming—"It is interesting, because the person's name was Clinton [Laughter]