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Oral History Interview with William E. White Jr., October 29, 2000. Interview R-0147. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    In this interview, William E. White Jr. describes his encounters with religion, race, and sexuality. Bored by the routines of his Baptist church, White sought something more energetic. He found this energy in the Charismatic Renewal movement, a fellowship of dissatisfied Christians seeking an intimate, powerful religious experience. White confronted his racial identity as a white student at Southern High School, one of the first high schools to integrate in the Durham, North Carolina, area, and at North Carolina Central University, a historically black school where his last name symbolized his outsider status. He also confronted his sexual identity as he struggled with being gay, but he eventually came to terms with what he calls his internalized homophobia. White discusses additional challenges, including his parents' difficult divorce, a turbulent relationship with his father, and his struggle with AIDS, a disease that frightens him but which, he says, has enabled him to take risks he would not have taken before. This interview is an intimate portrait of a man standing at the intersection of spiritual fulfillment, race, and sexuality.
    Excerpts
  • Seeking an intimate religious experience
  • Belief that Pentecostal worship is too wild
  • A gay man's family receives the news of his sexuality rather well
  • A divorce and a religious environment spark a mental breakdown
  • Moving from job to job in the Triangle region of North Carolina
  • Discomfort as a white student at a black university
  • A relatively smooth desegregation in an environment still in need of progress on race
  • A liberating atmosphere in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Wrestling with gay identity
  • Transforming his relationship with his father
  • Living with AIDS
  • The liberating potential of AIDS
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.