Donald Charles Lawson

As Interviewed by Stella Tatum, April 14, 2019

D.C. Lawson: In His Own Words

Growing up in Columbus, Indiana did you feel uncomfortable letting people know about your sexual orientation?

Yes, I was afraid that they would call me a sissy, which they did and I was afraid that if I didn’t fit in just like everybody else that there was something wrong with me. And if somebody was a homosexual it wasn’t really discussed or talked about. I've been called names that are derogatory terms for homosexuals.

I had friends and family that supported me. And I always thought that they were gonna react negatively to my sexuality, but they didn't they all acted positively once I talked about it to them.

When I got to college I was kind of closeted, I didn’t really tell anybody that i was a homosexual, but the friends that I had were very loving and caring, and accepting.

The people that treated me differently tended to be people that -- when I was in a social situation or when I was walking down the street -- that they would call me and my friends names.

Indiana, they don't have any minorities there to speak of. So everybody is pretty much the same. They are white, they are middle class, they are conservative -- so when somebody's different they don't embrace that or try to learn from that, or appreciate the difference. They feel threatened by it. There were several times when I was called queer, faggot, homo -- and I didn’t really want to talk about it... I felt alone, and I felt a little scared.

I also remember times where I would be walking with a friend of mine, a male friend. And cars would drive by and yell things out the car window like faggot, queer -- that kinda thing.

I think acceptance has improved due to the AIDS crisis. And by that I mean that people realized that they had friends and family that were gay, and it was so close to home and they loved the people so much that they had to, review their beliefs about homosexuality, and learn to love the person for who they are, and not because of some characteristic or trait that they have.

I was ashamed of the fact that I was gay. So I didn’t really want to tell them. I was afraid that they would disapprove, and that then their love for me would not be as deep and strong as if I was straight. So I waited pretty late in my parents' life to tell them that I was gay. And My mom was very loving and caring and said: "We love you and you just have to make your way in the world." My father had a disease called Parkinson's -- he was at a stage in the Parkinson's that he wouldn’t always respond to you if you said something to him. I sat right in front of him and said, "I'm gay," and I said, "Did you hear what I said?" And he said, "Yes." I said, "Then I only have one question: have I disappointed you?" And he said, "No."

I think that the current presidential administration is breeding hatred toward minority groups and I disagree with that, and I think we need to constantly treat people the way you want to be treated. To just be as aware as we can about how we treat each other.