Title: Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838.
Interviewer: McGinnis, Chris
Interviewee: Baker, Quinton E.
Abstract: Quinton E. Baker reflects on how his identity as a black gay man influenced his social activism, especially his role in the 1960s civil rights protests. He begins by describing his childhood in the segregated South, noting that he had little contact with whites while growing up. He knew at a young age that he was different from most other boys, as did his father, who tried to make him adopt a more traditional masculine identity. After graduating from high school, Baker enrolled at North Carolina Central University, where he became active in civil rights protests. He also taught nonviolent protest in Chapel Hill, where he befriended Pat Cusick and John Dunne, two student activists. A short time later, Baker began a sexual relationship with Dunne. Baker hoped to find acceptance within the white gay community, but he says that race affected those relationships, as well. Baker was arrested multiple times during the Chapel Hill protests, and the judge, who was frustrated by how little prison time he could give the students, used court time to further punish the activists. Baker and Dunne ended their relationship before going to prison. The few months Baker spent in prison changed his life's trajectory. He eventually graduated from the University of Wisconsin. After living in Boston for a while, Baker decided to return to North Carolina, where he became involved in community affairs again. At the time of the interview, he continued to fight for social justice in the arena of health care.