Documenting the American South Logo
Collections >> Oral Histories of the American South >> Document Menu
Oral History Interview with Joseph A. Herzenberg, November 1, 2000. Interview K-0196. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
Audio with Transcript
  • Listen Online with Text Transcript (Requires QuickTime and JavaScript)
  • Transcript Only (46 p.)
  • HTML file
  • XML/TEI source file
  • Download Complete Audio File (MP3 format / ca. 133 MB, 01:12:43)
  • MP3
  • Abstract
    In this interview, longtime Chapel Hill, North Carolina, city councilman Joseph A. Herzenberg describes his experiences as a gay man in a southern town. He remembers a life relatively free of discrimination first as a young man growing up in New Jersey, where his parents accepted that Herzenberg and his brother were both gay; then at Yale University, a homophobic place where nevertheless Herzenberg did not experience a great deal of direct discrimination; as a member of Chapel Hill's gay community, a community that flourished in the diversity of a college town; and finally in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area, where Herzenberg has enjoyed a long career in local politics. Herzenberg seems to be an active member of the gay community, helping found gay advocacy organizations, for example, or urging the president of the UNC system to respond to a homophobic threat. However, in this interview, he more often positions himself as something of an observer of, rather than a participant in, gay life in Chapel Hill, remembering parties he did not go to, romantic encounters he did not participate in, or homophobia he feels he rarely experienced. The result is a thoughtful interview that will be useful to researchers interested in the experiences of gay men in the South and the rhythms of the gay community in one southern town.
  • Experiences as a young gay man
  • The Southeastern Gay and Lesbian Conference
  • Gay-friendly political atmosphere in Orange County, North Carolina
  • Gay social life in the Triangle
  • UNC-CH cracks down on gay sexual encounters to protect property
  • A book warns of the threat posed by gays, Jews, and Communists
  • Homophobia at Yale and the ameliorative effects of co-education
  • Some gay men try to downplay their sexuality
  • A glaring exception to the rule in the form of threats against gays at UNC-CH
  • 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.