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Issues and Voices that Matter June 9, 2011

On Being Gay in Central Florida

On Being Gay in Central Florida (photo - courtesy Felipe Hadler)

Dr. Michelle Stephan, a gay woman, discusses the satisfactions and challenges of life as a gay person in Seminole County. With her partner, Dr. Stephan has found a neighborhood of friends as they raised a son in Oviedo. Yet, she is also aware of the inequality and hostility that she faced being gay professionally and personally in Central Florida. Feature length – 24:33


Produced, reported and edited by Desta Horner, photo “Balões” courtesy Felipe (Aladim) Hadler.

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Dr. Stephan, a 40 year old middle school teacher with a Ph. D in math education, discusses her early career and the decisions that face gay couples as they search for employment in the same community. She also expresses concern for the legal inequality for homosexuals in society and the fight for rights such as gay marriage.

She and her partner, Chris, live in quiet neighborhood in suburban Oviedo, Fl. Stephan gave birth to their son 5 years ago after artificial insemination. Their son was legally adopted by Chris when Florida courts approved gay adoptions. Today, their son is the center of their life.

They have found that their neighbors and their son’s school have embraced their non-traditional family. Recently in the 2010 census, the data show child rearing among same-sex couples is more common in the South than in any other region of the country, according to Gary Gates, a demographer at the University of California, Los Angeles.

As a religious person, Michelle has found great support in her church but talks about the doctrines of other churches that reject homosexuality.

Additional Feature Information

Dr. Michelle Stephan (photo - CMF Public Media)
Dr. Michelle Stephan

Extended Interview & Pictures

Click on the picture(s) to enlarge.
Dr. Michelle Stephan (photo - CMF Public Media)
Dr. Michelle Stephan and Desta Horner
Extended interview (31:22)

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One Response to “On Being Gay in Central Florida”

  1. Dennis Hightower says:

    Michelle, thank you for sharing your life. I am very familiar with discrimination and other forms of negative communication. What your dad said about fear is true. The world has changed as you stated. People are more understanding and we are comprised of many mixed nationalities. I am a 57 year old blackman and have experienced racial indifference for many years and will continue either openly or behind closed doors. Listening to your interview it is obvious that you come from a loving home and you are a loving person. Having worked in Social services for many years in Los Angeles I spent a great deal of my work with a organization called GLASS. (Gay & Lesbian Adolescent Social Services)
    Often the kids would ask me if I was gay. When I told them I wasn’t they would ask why do you work with us. I would simply tell them it was my job and that I cared about their lives. I never thought it was important to tell them of my experiences being a black kid growing up in the sixties. It was important for me to tell them not to judge everyone by how a small minority of people treated them. Thanks to my beautiful mom who never said negatives about anyone I was able to put a lot of racial issues in their proper place. You are a very intelligent loving woman and you have the key ingredient in your life. “Love”, I really enjoyed your interview and i wish you and your partner & kids the best. Thanks for sharing…

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