Oral History with David Hopes (2020)

Special Collections at UNC Asheville
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:01:56 - Coming to Asheville, NC

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I ended up in Asheville, because I interviewed for a job at UNCA. It was the year I finished my dissertation and I'd taught for a year at my... I'd done a couple of other things and it was time to get a long lasting job, and so I interviewed and came here. This is the one I chose. I moved here in July of 1983, and part of the Literature and Language Department as it was. I came here to head the creative writing program, which I did for, I don't know, 10 years, and passed it off to Rick Chess, and lived out in Candler, out in the woods, which was an interesting beginning to things, and I learned about people I would not have met otherwise.

Segment Synopsis: David talks about coming to Asheville and his involvements with the branches of C.L.O.S.E.R.

Keywords: All Soul's Episcopal Church; Asheville, NC; C.L.O.S.E.R; College; Gay bar scene; LGBT Community; UNC Asheville

00:19:13 - Childhood & Teaching at UNCA

Play segment

Partial Transcript: No, It's the old one. I was walking into one of the classroom buildings and one student said to another, "Well, who do you have humanities?" And the guy goes, "Well, I had Hopes" and he did this big fag thing. And I'm thinking, Oh my god. You know, and he didn't see me. And so when I saw him the next day, I realized that there, he didn't really... Matter of fact, where the fuck did that come from? Cause I don't think I'm particularly a feminine. And that it's just people knew. And that was the first thing he had to say about me. So, it was that. That sort of thing.

Keywords: College; Homophobia; Religion; UNC Asheville

00:34:46 - Gay Culture in Asheville

Play segment

Partial Transcript: People would always have been fights at Old Henry's. It wasn't fights between gay people and straight people, it was fights between gay people. It would like lovers and stuff. So it was rich in familial. And if you were too drunk, they would call you a cab. It was really quite lovely, and downstairs where they finally opened downstairs, there will be dancing. There'll be country dancing, which was a big thing for a while. At first, you would get one of the best lunches in town, in Old Henry's because it serves sandwiches and stuff. And so you would go there to eat during the day, but they got past that.

Segment Synopsis: David talks about the gay scene in Asheville when he first arrived.

Keywords: Asheville Reperatory Theatre; Drag; Gay bar scene; O'Henrys

00:45:59 - On Being A "Gay Writer"

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Yeah. It might. I wanted to be the gay writer who assumes that being gay is perfectly ordinary. I will never write a coming out story. Never, ever. I will never ever have a character say, "Well, I'm this, that and the other, because I'm gay." But my characters are gay and do gay things without mentioning it. And that part of it is deliberate because I want to get past, I want the gay and lesbian section bookstore to disappear. And it just be contemporary fiction.

Segment Synopsis: David talks about his creative endeavors and how they relate to his gay identity.

Keywords: Career; LGBT Art; Writing

01:06:00 - Coming Out

Play segment

Partial Transcript: David Hopes:

It was not without trauma, but not a very bad transition, but the coming out was gradual, but it wasn't tumultuous. I didn't have to undo lies because I'd never lied, because I didn't know myself. I had no word to call it. It's sort of interesting that even though when I was in public school in Akron, people knew that I was gay and I didn't. Things that said that people said about me suddenly made sense.

David Hopes:

Oh, that's... I remember being at this girl's house and her boyfriend called and, "Who's there?" Well he was, "Look, don't worry, he's not a real boy."

David Hopes:

But years later I'd go, "Oh." She knew and I didn't. So I think my being oblivious about stuff, in my deliberately oblivious in my writing, comes from being accidentally oblivious in my life. Oh my god, I'm gay. Who knew? Well, everyone but you.

Segment Synopsis: David talks about his gradual coming out journey.

Keywords: Coming out; Hiding; Hometown

01:12:52 - The Asheville Gay Bar Scene and All Souls Episcopal Church

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So Joan Marshall could be attributed I think, the fact that All Souls was a pillar of gay rights and gay education because she worked very hard at that. She was there for every Closer meeting. She was there for every SAGA meeting. When AIDS hit Asheville hard, she was there to comfort and help people with that. So she quarreled with the Bishop, she quarreled with the Dean of the cathedral, wants to blame the cathedral. She fought very hard to make sure that gay people were accepted at All Souls. There were times my belief is, the only church gay person could go to in Asheville was All Souls. I don't know that that's true, but that's what we told ourselves.

Segment Synopsis: David discusses some of the pillars of the gay community in Asheville when he was young, All Souls Episcopal Church and the gay bars

Keywords: Aids; All Souls Episcopal Church; Gay bar scene; LGBT Community; O'Henry's; Religion

01:26:47 - Experiences with HIV and AIDs

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I first heard about AIDS when I was in New York and the first person I knew to die of it was the choir master. I sang in a group called ProMusica and the director in New York, the director of that got AIDS and died really pretty quickly. I don't even know it was called AIDS then. For one, it was gay cancer. You probably knew the history of all this, people wondering what it was. Some people thought poppers did it. Some people thought that if you were having a number of sexual context there was a magic number that your body started falling apart afterwards. I kid you not.

Segment Synopsis: David talks about reactions to HIV in the early days of its discovery, as well as continuing attitudes.

Keywords: AIDs; HIV; WNCAP