Maria Hernandez-Peck – Discrimination

“People broke into their office and smeared feces all over the walls.”

We had a situation [at Eastern Washington University]. I don’t know which year it was. It was [in the 1980s], around the time that I started teaching the class. Then I was advising the gay-lesbian students; they had an office over in Monroe Hall. There was one Christmas [break] that people broke into their office and smeared feces all over the walls and stuff, and disrupted their files and stuff. They had all kinds of good records in terms of gay-friendly doctors . . . You know, who to refer to, and so forth. All the files, they were trashed. They pulled out the files; there was files all over the place and stuff. The PFLAG came, and they wanted to meet with the president, with George Fredrickson.[1] Fredrickson wouldn’t come. We were meeting at the Women’s Center. Ellen Dunbar—who is now a retired dean from California—she was our acting dean. She went and got Fredrickson, because the [PFLAG] parents wouldn’t leave until they talked to the president, to let him know that this was not acceptable to them, because it could be one of their children. Around the same time we had [a lesbian student] who got beat up. You know, this always happens before holidays. People break into offices, they steal things, and you know . . .

People around [EWU] are weird about—not the Social Work because we have an open lesbian person here on faculty—but the university. I remember being on a panel in terms of gay-lesbian issues, years ago. [After that] some of the older faculty started looking at me weird, wouldn’t talk to me. So I thought, “Well that’s their problem, not mine.”

[I’m friends with the Dr. John Mason.] I’d talk to him about my class and about my dogs. He has Chihuahuas. I would take my dog to see him. His partner, he’s Latino, and he’s like 20 years younger than Dr. Mason. When he came to interview, [in 2007] he kept talking about his “partner.” [Some people] were so naïve, that they didn’t even know that the partner was a male. Then here shows up Mason with a male partner, 20 years younger, and Hispanic! [When he came to my class,] he said whenever he went into an interview and disclosed his sexual orientation, he was never selected. He would make the cut to the last two or whatever. But if he disclosed his sexual orientation. Uh-uh. He was not selected.


[1]Fredrickson was president of EWU from 1977-87.


Source: Interview with Laura S. Hodgman on 3 June 2013.