LGBTQ Community History

Dignity Siouxland image grayscaleSioux City PRIDE Roots is a project to preserve and share history of the LGBTQ community in Sioux City. The Sioux City Public Museum received funding in February 2019 from Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct, preserve and share oral histories and provide a public program with historian/author Neil Miller in June 2019.

Museum staff worked an advisory committee to select individuals to be interviewed and questions to be asked. While those who were interviewed were quite diverse in their backgrounds and history, most were 60 years of age or older. Former Sioux City Public Museum Curator of History Grace Linden conducted interviews with eight individuals (you may hear Linden's voice on the edited versions); each interview lasted approximately 45 to 90 minutes and followed a series of questions. 

This project allowed the Museum to focus efforts to collect and preserve LGBTQ oral histories and artifacts. Museum staff believe that it is vital to look to previously underserved communities – we have never focused a project aimed at gathering LGBTQ community stories before. By researching and shining a light on underserved populations, specifically the LGBTQ community, we recognize and hope to share the fact although their stories may have been unknown to the general public previously, these individuals have always been and continue to be important voices in our community history.

Sioux City PRIDE Roots was funded by Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The views and opinions expressed by these individuals do not necessarily reflect those of Sioux City Public Museum, Humanities Iowa or the National Endowment for the Humanities. Trigger warning: Some interviews include references to substance abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, the high rates of suicide for LGBTQ people, and and intense language. Listener discretion is advised.

Doug Federhart 2019-editDouglas Federhart was born in Sioux City in 1950 and grew up with his family on the West Side at 1906 West 19th St. He grew up playing in the Loess Hills and connecting with the many extended family members who lived in town. He attended Smith School, West Junior High and part of his sophomore year at Sioux City Central before the family moved to South Sioux City. He and his family were active attendees of Mayflower Congregational Church, where Doug trained and eventually served as an organist. Doug graduated from South Sioux City High in 1968 and began college as an architecture major at the University of Nebraska. In 1973 Doug met John Funke, who became a work and life partner. They began a homebuilding business, Federhart & Funke Builders, in 1974. In the late 1970s, Doug battled alcoholism, found his way into recovery and experienced a spiritual awakening. He was involved in the founding of Dignity Siouxland, a local chapter of Dignity USA which was a lay movement of LGBT Catholics. Dignity Siouxland served as a beacon of hope to both out and closeted LGBT individuals and their families. Doug left Sioux City in 1981 to begin religious studies at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (Minnesota) and completed his masters of divinity in 1984. Doug has continued residing in Minneapolis, where he now lives with his long-time partner and husband, Stuart Holland, and is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. PLAY INTERVIEW

 


Karen Makey PicKaren Mackey was born in Sioux City in 1956. She attended Longfellow and Whittier Elementary Schools, Hayworth Junior High and high school at “Old East High” and graduated from East High. She graduated with a B.S. in sociology from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa in 1990. In 1994 she was awarded a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law. In 1994 she graduated from the University of Nebraska Law School. Karen is an enrolled member of the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska. She is a member of the bar in Iowa and Nebraska. Upon her graduation from law school, Karen worked as a public defender for the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and later for the Fortune 500 computer manufacturer Gateway, Inc. She is currently employed as the Executive Director of the Sioux City Human Rights Commission, a position she has held since 2004. PLAY INTERVIEW

 

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Jeanne Calhoun was born at St. Vincents Hospital in 1952 (named after a nun at the hospital). She attended St. Josephs Elementary School and Heelan High School. She also attended Nettleton Business Training, Briar Cliff and WIT. In 1981 she and her partner Sue Emmons opened Rowdies Lounge, located at 4th and Iowa Streets, Sioux City’s first gay bar. Within a few months, it became known as a place where gay and lesbian individuals were welcomed and it remained open until 1990. PLAY INTERVIEW

 

Ryan stole-cropped Ryan Sommers Dowell Baum (They/Them/Theirs) was born in Albany, New York in 1983 and spent most of their childhood in the Gilderland, New York area. They attended West Mir Elementary, Farnsworth Middle School and Gilderland Central High School. They graduated from New York University with a degree in drama and attended seminary at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California where they graduated with a Master of Divinity. They were ordained through United Church of Christ in Oakland, California. In 2012 Ryan accepted an invitation to pastor First Congregational Church in Sioux City, which they served until December 2019. 

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Connie Jones was born in 1956 in Cherokee, Iowa. She attended Alta Community School (all grades) and Dana College, where she graduated with a degree in Fine Arts and Commercial Arts. After college, Connie lived in Alta, IA for five years before moving to Sioux City in 1983. She currently owns a sandblast art and design business and also does freelance work covering a variety of digital disciplines. Connie lives in Sioux City with Brenda, her partner of 29 (and legal spouse of 10) years.

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Tim Orwig was born in 1959 and grew up in rural Northwest Iowa. He attended Kindergarten – 7th grade at West Bend-Rodman School, 8th – 10th at Rolfe Community School District and 11-12th at Sioux City’s West High. Orwig attended Morningside College, graduating in 1980 and then completed a Masters of English Language and Literature at the University of Arkansas in 1982. From 1985 – 1999 Orwig worked at Morningside College in a variety of positions. In 1999 he moved to Wooster, Massachusetts. He completed a degree in Preservation Studies in 2001 at Boston University and in 2010 received his Ph.D. in American/New England Studies at Boston University. He married Alan Hesse (also from Sioux City) in 2004 and they have one son. 

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Michael Scott was born in Sioux City in 1945 and grew up in Sioux City with six siblings. He attended Immaculate Conception School and later Heelan High School. Scott earned degrees from Loras College in Dubuque, IA: and Creighton University in Omaha NE. He also was educated at Loyola University in Chicago, IL; St. Bernards Seminary in Dubuque, IA, St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, CO, the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA, United States International University and National University in San Diego, CA. He has degrees in English, Theology, Philosophy, and Counseling Psychology. Michael served as a priest for nine years in the Diocese of Sioux City. He co-founded Dignity Siouxland, a local chapter of Dignity USA which was a lay movement of LGBT Catholics. Dignity Siouxland served as a beacon of hope to both out and closeted LGBT individuals and their families. Scott moved to San Diego in 1979 where he still lives with his spouse, Paul. Michael works as a licensed psychotherapist specializing in marriage and family for over 30 years. PLAY INTERVIEW

 

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Vicky Whitmore was born in 1959 in Sioux City, Iowa. Whitmore had seven siblings and spent most of her childhood in foster care, left school in the 9th grade and later completed her GED. Born as Richard Bling Whitmore, Vicky transitioned from Rick to Vicky in 2005. Vicky has spent 20 years in recovery and now operates a sober living house for women transitioning from prison. 

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The interviews in their entirety are available upon request.