LGBT Oral History: Walter Heiliger

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Number of Pages: 
15
Date: 
March 27, 2015

Walter Heiliger was born in 1944 and grew up in rural Carroll County, Maryland, the second of three children. Walter, who describes himself as “severely hearing-impaired,” encountered difficulties in school and in connecting with others growing up, as he did not receive support for his hearing issues. Over the course of his career, Walter worked in a number of different positions at a variety of companies, including Head Ski Company and Black and Decker in Maryland and York Technical Institute and Freezing Equipment Sales in Pennsylvania. Now retired, he currently works part-time as a custodian at South York School District. Although he was aware that he was interested in men early on and had several relationships with men, he decided to marry a woman in an attempt to live a “normal” life. While the marriage was unfulfilling on many levels, Walter credits his wife for greatly improving his quality of life by getting him hearing aids and speech therapy, and it was through that marriage that Walter was able to have his three children. Walter came out in 1999, then in his mid-50s, and describes the varying levels of support he’s received from his family. Since coming out, he has slowly become more vocal in the LGBT community, joining PFLAG in Mechanicsburg for a time, attending programs for seniors through the LGBT Center, and working part-time at Altland’s Ranch in Harrisburg. In this interview, Walter shares stories from his life, including his relationship with Bill, his most serious partner since coming out, who passed away in 2006. He also discusses the importance of reaching out to seniors in the LGBT community, as well as married men, and the idea of LGBT rights as a human rights issue rather than a political one.

Organizations: 
Location: 
LGBT Oral History - Heiliger, Walter - 046
Origin: 
Gift of Walter Heiliger