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This interview features Ellen McKenzie, an African-American lesbian woman living in Portland, Maine. Having lived in Portland for almost her entire life, Ellen can provide insight on growing up in one of the only black families in her community, the intersections between race and sexuality, co-parenting children from a spouse’s previous marriage and generally navigating the world and her career as a queer woman of color. Throughout this interview, we hear a lot about her childhood and her family’s history as civil rights activists in Maine, her relationship with her spouse and and co-parenting their children with both her spouse, and the children’s father and stepmother. This insight into LGBTQ blended families is insightful and interesting. We also hear about the loss of one of their sons to suicide. Lastly, she provides insight into her career as a social worker, and how to navigate the workplace as a woman of color and how she handles racism and discrimination.


Please cite as: Querying the Past: LGBTQ Maine Oral History Project Collection, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer+ Collection, Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine, University of Southern Maine Libraries.

For more information about the Querying the Past: Maine LGBTQ Oral History Project, please contact Dr. Wendy Chapkis.


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Publication Date

Fall 11-24-2018


University of Southern Maine


Portland, ME


Oral History, LGBTQ, African American, Civil Rights, Social Work, Family, More Than Petticoats, Maine’s Visible Black History, Black Literature, Maine Civil Rights History, Portland Freedom Trail, Lesbian, Portland Maine, Suicide, Puerto Rico, Co-parenting, Portland High School


History of Gender | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Oral History | Women's Studies

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

McKenzie, Ellen



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