Darcelle Interview

Bridge: A Portland Interview Series – Episode 1

Our country is more divided than I’ve ever seen, so I decided to do what I can to bridge the divide. This interview is the first of a series I’ll be doing with interesting people who are advocates, leaders, artists, and pioneers in the Portland area.

My first interview is with Walter Cole, someone you may know as Darcelle XV. I went down to Darcelle’s to interview Walter with my good friend Joe Cantrell to shoot the video. I hope to get the extended video interview out soon. The audio portion is about 28 minutes long.

I grew up in a small logging town in the mountains of Oregon, raised mostly by grandparents from another era. They were amazing people, but they lived in a different time, a time before Civil Rights, Gay rights, suffrage, and much more.

Growing up in a 98% white rural town, I have to admit, I was homophobic going into high school. I also have to admit to racial bigotry. I didn’t know any other way, and being an outsider I tried to fit in anyway I could, even if it meant laughing at a joke that used words like fag or queer. I feel ashamed as I write this because I have so many friends in the LGTBQ community now and I know the way the younger me thought was so wrong.

I think about the conditions that let me think like that. Sure, peer pressure and wanting to belong, but the biggest reason was ignorance. I just had never met anyone who was gay. As I started to travel the world I met gay people in Hawaii, New York, Europe, but I never really had any good friends who were gay until I moved back to Portland in 1999. I found they weren’t some different population of people. In fact, there was no “they.” I learned that we’re all just people.

My hope with this is that whoever listens will learn something. I hope that in some small way I can help someone who may not understand the hate or bigotry inside them. Darcelle is an amazing human being with the same problems, loves, failures, and successes as anyone else. I hope this interview, in some small way, can bridge the gap between hate and understanding, I hope someone will be inspired by Walter Cole’s life, and I hope this podcast will generate good in the world.

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