LGBT Oral History: MJ Dougherty

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November 22, 2014

MJ Dougherty was born on May 20, 1956 in Syracuse, New York. As a child of parents who traveled extensively for work, MJ had moved around quite a bit before settling into Williamsport, PA where she attended middle school and high school. Upon graduating from high school, MJ started her first job as a file clerk at Liberty Mutual Insurance. Throughout her career in insurance, MJ has been successful moving up the ladder reaching executing positions of Vice President at several insurance firms. A majority of MJ’s tenure has been in Harrisburg, PA. At the age of 24, MJ got married and was with her husband for 19 years, but divorced as she addressed her true feelings as a lesbian woman. In this interview, MJ discusses the fact that at the day of her wedding she knew she was a lesbian, but that she wanted to follow the tradition of her Irish Catholic roots. After 19 years of marriage and staying in the closet, she decided to free herself and live her life how she wanted to. She claims that her marriage of 19 years is a testament to the acceptance of the LGBT community and the need to hide. MJ further elaborates on her successful career path but also the tragedy she faced as being a victim of PTSD after witnessing the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center as she was preparing to enter the towers just before the planes hit. MJ further accounts the aftermath of the experience and downhill slope of those events as she faced possible discrimination for being a lesbian as well as for her PTSD condition. MJ’s narrative concludes with her success at being able to look at her life from a positive vantage and her ability to move forward to new opportunities.

LGBT Oral History - Dougherty, MJ - 030
Gift of MJ Dougherty