LGBT Oral History 005: John Barns

Number of Pages: 
December 16, 2015

John Barns was born in Perry County, Pennsylvania. He comes from a family of farmers and is Pennsylvania Dutch. He grew up on a farm, joined the military during Vietnam, and then worked for the Pennsylvania government for 30 years. He discusses his experience of being gay in a small farm community and the conflicts that arose within his family because of his sexuality. He discusses the gay community in Perry County, Lancaster, and Harrisburg, as well as relationships that developed in each. The most prominent relationship that he discusses is his relationship with Walter Lear, the Regional Health Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. He also talks about Dignity, a Roman Catholic organization that was a refuge for gay Catholics and/or gays of any religious background in the Harrisburg area. He discusses the impact that Dignity had on the gay community in Harrisburg and as well as on him. Also, he touches on certain people in his life that helped him come to terms with his sexuality.

Time Period: 
Gift of John Barns
LGBT Oral History - Barns, John - 005
Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections