LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Dominique Morgan

Title

LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Dominique Morgan

Subject

Queer Omaha Archives
Sexual minorities -- Nebraska -- Omaha
interviews
oral histories (document genres)

Description

Click here to access the interview, LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Dominique Morgan

Ms. Dominique Morgan, Omaha community activist and musician, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on April 10, 2018 in Omaha, Nebraska. Morgan shared information about growing up poor in North Omaha as the oldest of 4 children, feeling alienated as a young gay kid, her experiences in group homes as an adolescent, her love of music and performance, her significant romantic relationships, surviving an 8-year incarceration, and rebuilding her life and becoming one of Omaha's most celebrated R&B recording artists and community activists.
Biographical Sketch

Ms. Dominique Morgan, born in Omaha, Nebraska, is a Black trans woman, community activist, educator, organizer, musician, and the Executive Director of Black and Pink. Morgan earned an Associate's in Restaurant, Culinary and Catering Management from Metropolitan Community College in 2007, and a BA in in Public Health from Southern New Hampshire University in 2015.  

After the end of an 8-year incarceration in 2009, Morgan emerged from prison with a renewed sense of passion for life and fighting oppression, and according to Omaha Magazine, is now one of Omaha's most celebrated R&B recording artists and community activists. Morgan has composed over 400 songs, headlined at Baltimore Pride in 2015, opened for Grammy-nominated artist Ginuwine in 2017, and is Vice President of recording company Icon One Music.  

In 2015, Morgan founded Queer People of Color Nebraska, and is a member of numerous task forces and boards, such as Friends and Family of Incarcerated People, NAACP, Nebraska Urban Indian Health Center, GLSEN, Queer Nebraska Youth Network, City of Omaha's LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, Omaha Entertainment Arts Awards, and formerly Heartland Pride. As a 12-time nominee at the Omaha Entertainment Arts Awards, Morgan took home a win in 2018 as Best R&B Artist. In 2016, Morgan was the recipient of the NAACP's Freedom Fighter award, and in 2017 she won both the Greater Omaha Young Professionals Change Maker Award, and the Young, Black and Influential Award for Advocacy.  

As of April 2018, Morgan works part-time as an Adolescent Health Educator at Charles Drew Health Center, and an Evaluator at Terra Luna Collaborative. In December 2017, Morgan was named the new Executive Director of the country's largest prison abolitionist organization, Black and Pink, which works to support LGBTQ+ and HIV-positive prisoners through advocacy, organizing, education and direct service. 

Interview Summary

Ms. Dominique Morgan, Omaha community activist and musician, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on April 10, 2018, in Omaha, Nebraska. Morgan was born in Omaha in the early 1980's to parents Troy and Colleen Starks and is the oldest of 4 children. As a child, Morgan grew up poor and felt secluded within the confines of her North Omaha neighborhood, and wanted more than what was in her "bubble," but had no idea how to get out. She felt different than her peers and friends, which led her to rebel. 

Morgan's father, Troy, was a former Marine and worked on the maintenance crew for the Metropolitan Utilities District. Troy and Morgan's mother, Colleen, married and began having children shortly after graduating high school. Troy was exhausted and overworked, managing the pressures of a family and career at a very young age. Morgan's mother, Colleen, was intelligent and funny, and Morgan saw her as a superhero. At age 11, Morgan's mother abruptly left the family to attend rehab for an addiction to cocaine, which forever fractured her trust in her parents.  

In grade school, when Morgan's best friend got a girlfriend, she felt sick and realized this was because she had a crush on him. Morgan was dealing with feeling alienated, alone and misunderstood, and wanted to escape everyone around her. At age 12, Morgan was playing with matches in her bedroom, accidentally dropped one, and started a fire that eventually damaged the entire house. As a result, Morgan was committed to a psychiatric hospital and her family moved into a one-bedroom apartment. 

While at the hospital, Morgan felt free from her family and met other queer kids like herself. She was eventually transferred to a group home in Bellevue, where she was taught daily life skills and became more independent. When she was eventually released and returned to live with her family, there was considerable tension. 

Morgan began singing and writing songs at a very young age and felt soothed by music. She would loudly sing by herself in her room to Whitney Houston tapes, but never performed in front of others. Morgan suspects her family knew she was queer from her mannerisms and effeminacy, but growing up as the oldest “boy” in a Black family, there were certain expectations of her and her masculinity. 

Despite being effeminate, Morgan was never bullied or ostracized at school because of her gender expression or sexuality. She was popular, funny and could "read" her classmates, so they knew not to mess with Morgan. Morgan publicly came out at age 14 while at the Boys and Girls Club in South Sioux City, and to the other boys in her unit, she was seen as a girl and called "she." Morgan didn't mind and enjoyed the fluidity of her gender, as she saw femininity as power. When she had to return home, she was forced again into the role of a boy, because the outside world only accepted her being masculine.  

During her time at Benson High School, Morgan's "safe space" was show choir, as there was not yet a Gay Straight Alliance. Her show choir teacher empowered and challenged her, and she felt a spiritual connection when singing and dancing in unison with her classmates.  

After staying at a few more group homes, at 17, Morgan began attending Proud Horizons, an LGBTQ+ youth group in Omaha. There she met Toby, a handsome boy who was four years her senior. Toby was truly an adult in Morgan's eyes, with a car, job, and the independence Morgan dreamed of. Her world soon revolved around Toby, and at age 17, she moved out of her parent's home to live with her new boyfriend.  

Morgan's relationship with Toby eventually began to go downhill, with Morgan finding out that Toby had been cheating on her with multiple men. Toby had anger problems, and became controlling as well as emotionally and physically abusive. The couple decided to move to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to live in Morgan's cousins' basement. After getting kicked out due to explosive fights, they moved into a hotel, where Morgan was extremely isolated and forced to tolerate Toby's cheating and abusive behavior. Things progressively became more violent, with Toby pushing Morgan out of a window. Toby began using meth and attempted to run over Morgan with his car. After this incident, Morgan checked Toby into Immanuel Hospital, but once he was released the cycle of abuse resumed. With no car and nowhere to go, Morgan left and walked downtown, where she began stealing and sleeping in valet cars. 

Morgan was eventually arrested and sentenced to 8 years in prison. Because she was gay, her first two years in prison were spent in solitary confinement, though the prison attempted to justify their isolation with other reasons. While isolated, Morgan wrote more than 300+ songs to cope with her environment. Morgan was eventually released from solitary with the help of Amy Miller of ACLU Nebraska. While with the general prison population, Morgan developed caring friendships and romances with some of the men. 

Morgan was released in 2009 and was forced to quickly adapt to a new world. She worked a minimum wage job and slept on her mother's floor while saving up for her own apartment. Morgan's mother was drinking heavily, and she died shortly after Morgan was released. Morgan’s youngest sister, Andrea, was only 13 at the time, so Morgan became her guardian and cared for her until she was 18.  

With a desire to get involved in her community, Morgan began volunteering with local organizations and making music with recording company Icon One Music. Over several years of performing and volunteering, Morgan, according to Omaha Magazine, is now known as one of Omaha's most celebrated R&B recording artists and community activists.  Morgan has composed over 400 songs, headlined at Baltimore Pride in 2015, opened for Grammy-nominated artist Ginuwine in 2017, and is Vice President of recording company Icon One Music.  

In 2015, Morgan founded Queer People of Color Nebraska, and is a member of numerous task forces and boards, such as Friends and Family of Incarcerated People, NAACP, Nebraska Urban Indian Health Center, GLSEN, Queer Nebraska Youth Network, City of Omaha's LGBT Task Force, Omaha Entertainment Arts Awards, and formerly Heartland Pride. As a 12-time nominee at the Omaha Entertainment Arts Awards, Morgan took home a win in 2018 as Best R&B Artist. In 2016, Morgan was the recipient of the NAACP's Freedom Fighter award, and in 2017 she won both the Greater Omaha Young Professionals Change Maker Award, and the Young, Black and Influential Award for Advocacy.  

As of April 2018, Morgan works part-time as an Adolescent Health Educator at Charles Drew Health Center, and an Evaluator at Terra Luna Collaborative. In December 2017, Morgan was named the new National Director of the country's largest prison abolitionist organization, Black and Pink, which works to support LGBTQ+ and HIV-positive prisoners through advocacy, organizing, education and direct service. 

In this interview, Morgan also discusses the sexual assault she experienced by a prison guard and subsequent trial, her relationship with ex-husband Jesse, and what motivates her to give back to her community.  

Interview Notes

Trigger warning for graphic descriptions of rape, violence, and abuse. 

At the time of this interview in April 2018, the narrator was using he/him pronouns. Currently, Dominique uses she/her pronouns. All written materials associated with this interview have been updated to reflect this change. 

Noise can be heard from adjacent room toward the end of interview. 

Date

2018 April 10

Creator

Luke Wegener

Publisher

University of Nebraska at Omaha Libraries

Relation

LGBTQ+ Oral History Collection finding aid available at https://archives.nebraska.edu/repositories/4/resources/604

Interviewer

Luke Wegener

Duration

02:51:43

Files

http://revelation.unomaha.edu/_bepress/omeka/asc-contentdm-128.jpg

Citation

Luke Wegener, “LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Dominique Morgan,” Queer Omaha Archives | UNO Libraries, accessed April 13, 2021, https://queeromahaarchives.omeka.net/items/show/3277.

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