LGBT Oral History 030: MJ Dougherty

Number of Pages: 
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. At the age of 24, MJ got married and was with her husband in Harrisburg 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. She decided to free herself and claims that her marriage of 19 years is a testament to the lack of acceptance of LGBT in our society. She moved as far up the ladder as she could until she hit the glass ceiling. She quit and found a better job, at a fortune 100 company, Marsh and McLennan. MJ elaborates on her successful career path, which led her to a meeting at the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. She had dinner with some of the 290+ members of her company the night before the first plane directly hit their floor on 9/11. She provides a detailed narrative of her harrowing escape in a moving. But her return to work was worse because she was outed while coming home and her boss was enraged at her. Although she met and exceeded the company’s goals she was given a poor evaluation, which she appealed. Because there was no anti-discrimination policy at the workplace, she could not even bring up the issue at the appeal hearings. She left the job and has had a few successes with job opportunities. Her partner that she married before the Supreme Court’s ruling left her a month ago and MJ has just taken a job in Chester. MJ is a new member of Lesbians over 50, but still not out at work at her current job. She will check her company’s orientation policy and follow up if it does not have one. She said she would be an activist. Her 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.

Time Period: 
Gift of MJ Dougherty
LGBT Oral History - Dougherty, MJ - 030
Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections