- Goldmine: Root
- Oral History Collections
- Charlotte LGBTQ+ oral histories
- Ken Schell oral history interview 1, 2017 February 8
Ken Schell oral history interview 1, 2017 February 8
WARNING: This interview contains discussion of rape beginning at 25:13 and ending at 25:27 and discussion of a drug overdose beginning at 35:35 and ending at 36:04. In this vivid interview, Ken Schell describes his life as a gay man working and living in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1967, Mr. Schell accepted a teaching position in Huntersville, North Carolina with the Learning Academy, a racially-integrated progressive teaching and residential program for underachieving male students based at Torrence Lytle School. (The program which lasted three years was modeled after the Advancement School in Winston Salem.) Mr. Schell describes the late-1960s, 1970s, and 1980s in Charlotte in graphic detail, discussing his professional life as a teacher of multiple subjects, and his social and sexual activity. Topics discussed include the division he constructed between his public and private life in order to accommodate his need for sexual partners amid pervasive homophobia; his efforts over time to break this pattern; his trips to Washington DC and New York City to pursue gay male culture and sex; places in Charlotte that accommodated anonymous gay sexual encounters such as adult book stores and cruising locations; and the complexity of the gay relationships he eventually developed. Mr. Schell also mentions his experiences with African-Americans in Charlotte; his longtime work with the Teenage Parenting Services Program (TAPS); his involvement with local Charlotte LGBT organizations, including the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard of Charlotte and the political group First Tuesday; and his involvement with local ceramic and arts organizations in Charlotte, in particular Clay Matters.