Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Derron Coles Oral History Interview on the SOL Support Network, February 13, 2019

Oregon State University

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0:00 - Introduction

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Segment Synopsis: Derron shares pronouns of he/him/his. He is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, grew up in a Catholic family, and attended Catholic schools before entering into a pre-engineering high school. He remembers high school being a time when he was bullied for his sexual orientation and because he was overweight. Due to his experiences of being bullied, he created the SOL group at Oregon State University.

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5:57 - Social Justice Activism

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Partial Transcript: How did you get involved with social justice activism?

Segment Synopsis: Derron reflects on being bullied in high school, microaggressions, and being called the "N" word by a person who he thought was a friend. By the time he arrived to Oregon State, he felt like it was his time to make a positive change and make something good out of his trauma.

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14:10 - SOL

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Partial Transcript: Tell us about the process of founding SOL? Was there any resistance?

Segment Synopsis: Derron states that they were people in the LGBTQ community on campus that did not think SOL was necessary and that the Pride Center was enough but this was another white dominant space on campus that was filled with microaggressions towards people of color. The only real barrier was people questioning the project but these were people who did not understand the needs of queer people of color.

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22:41 - SOL activities

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Partial Transcript: What kind of activities was SOL developing when it was new?

Segment Synopsis: Derron shares that when the group was new they hosted film nights with discussions afterwards, civil rights movements workshops, and created advocate safe space training all around people of color & gender identities.

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27:45 - SOL impact

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Partial Transcript: What are you most proud of with SOL? What impact has it made on your life?

Segment Synopsis: Derron is happy that SOL still exists and that it did not get absorbed by the Pride Center. SOL has guided his career because he now works with organizations to create inclusive policies.

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37:23 - Inclusive Spaces

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Partial Transcript: How can we better engage white LGBTQ+ folks in making a more inclusive space for trans and queer POC?

Segment Synopsis: Derron believes that people need to be able to speak about their perspectives without shame if we are to bridge barriers of communication and inclusion.

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44:12 - Closing thoughts

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Partial Transcript: What advice would you give queer and trans POC student?

Segment Synopsis: Derron shares that internalized oppression was the biggest hurdle in learning self advocacy. He also states that people should not forget that you have much to learn about others.

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