October 21, 2021

Thaden, Devlin Interviewed in The Free Lance-Star on LGBTQ Oral History Project

Executive Director of Alumni Relations Mark Thaden

Executive Director of Alumni Relations Mark Thaden

Executive Director of Alumni Relations Mark Thaden ’02 and Associate Professor of History and American Studies Erin Devlin were interviewed in The Free Lance-Star about Mary Washington’s LGBTQ Alumni Oral History Project. UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives just launched the oral history collection, made up of recorded interviews and transcripts by students in Devlin’s oral history seminar in 2019.

When Mark Thaden first arrived at the University of Mary Washington in the late 1990s, the campus LGBTQ group met quietly, behind closed doors, in an upstairs room of the campus center.

“It was a social group, but it was very much about support,” said Thaden, a 2002 graduate of UMW who is now the university’s executive director of alumni relations.

Thaden said he was not out when he came to UMW from rural Maryland and a small, Catholic high school. At the club carnival early his freshman year, he was excited to see that there was an LGBTQ campus group, but he was too nervous at first to approach members.

Associate Professor of History and American Studies Erin Devlin

Associate Professor of History and American Studies Erin Devlin

Luckily, a friend signed him up to receive the group’s emails and the meetings became formative in his journey toward self-acceptance.

“That’s where I started feeling more comfortable, being with people who were comfortable with themselves,” Thaden said. “That’s where I started feeling like it was OK.”

Thaden’s memories and those of two dozen other LGBTQ alumni were recorded and transcribed in 2019 by students in Associate Professor Erin Devlin’s Oral History seminar. Read more.