LGBTQ+: Interview with Dr. Shelton Hendricks

Title

LGBTQ+: Interview with Dr. Shelton Hendricks

Subject

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

Description

Click here to access the interview, LGBTQ+: Interview with Dr. Shelton Hendricks

Dr. Shelton Hendricks, former UNO Professor of Psychology and researcher, was interviewed by Amy Schindler and Dr. Jay Irwin on August 20, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. Hendricks shared information about exploring his gay identity at bars in the 1980's, meeting gay men online in the 1990's, coming out after his wife's death in 2011, meeting and marrying his husband Andrew Stevenson, and his experiences while at UNO.
Biographical Sketch

Dr. Shelton Hendricks, born in New Orleans, Louisiana in the early 1940's, was a white, gay man, longtime Professor of Psychology at the University of Nebraska Omaha, and according to the Omaha World-Herald, an "inspiring teacher and brilliant researcher" in the field of behavioral neuroscience. Hendricks attended Tulane University in New Orleans, where he received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees, culminating in a Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience. Hendricks married Susan Swan Hendricks (1944-2011) in 1968 and together they had three children.

In 1969, Hendricks accepted a position at UNO, and taught as a Professor of Psychology for 43 years, until his retirement in 2012. During his time at UNO, Hendricks also served as Chair of the Department of Psychology, Dean for Graduate Studies, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Hendricks was a founding member of the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology (formerly the Conference on Reproductive Behavior) and an active member of the American Association of University Professors, First Unitarian Universalist Church, and Nebraska ACLU.
After his wife Susan's death in 2011, Dr. Hendricks retired, came out as a gay man and in 2015 married partner Andrew Stevenson. In 2014, Dr. Hendricks was diagnosed with metastasized melanoma, and after a long battle with the illness, he passed away in 2016.
Interview Summary

Dr. Shelton Hendricks, former UNO Professor of Psychology and researcher, was interviewed by Dr. Jay Irwin and Amy Schindler on August 20, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. Also present for the entire recording were Hendricks’ daughter Jennifer Hendricks and granddaughter Elinor Hendricks. Hendrick's husband Andrew Stevenson also briefly visited the room during the recording.

Hendricks was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana in the early 1940's. As a child and adolescent, Hendricks did not consciously grow up around any gay people, or have even a concept of what being gay was. He only began to discover and explore his sexuality after his move to Omaha, while he was in a heterosexual marriage with children. In the 1980's, Hendricks went to gay bars while on frequent work trips to Washington, D.C. One of Hendricks' first experiences at a gay bar was at The Max in Omaha, but he only went in for "about 10 minutes." He also visited the gay bar Flixx in Omaha, where he ran into a student and UNO English Department faculty.

In the 1990's, Hendricks used internet chat rooms and forums to further explore his sexuality and meet other gay men. In 2011, after the death of his wife, Hendricks began to come out about his sexuality. He gave a sermon as part of a "spiritual odyssey" at First Unitarian Church, where he spoke openly about being gay. This opened the door for him to be able to come out to his children and others.

Hendricks married Andrew Stevenson in 2015, after they had met online and fell in love. They had big plans for traveling the world, but things changed after Hendricks was diagnosed with cancer in 2014.
In the interview, Hendricks also discusses his brother Danny coming out in the 1980's, his research on sexual orientation and HIV, his experiences with same-sex marriage discussions in UNO's faculty senate, his love of his wife and children, and UNO Professor of Political Science Dr. Meredith Bacon coming out as transgender.
Interview Notes

Hendricks was in hospice care at the time of the interview, and his sense of humor is present throughout. Jennifer Hendricks is heard on the recording during the interview and also asked questions of her father near the end of the interview. A number of family members were in the house and background conversation and noise can be heard throughout the recording.

Date

2016 August 20

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

01:13:53

Files

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

Citation

Luke Wegener, “LGBTQ+: Interview with Dr. Shelton Hendricks,” Queer Omaha Archives, accessed November 22, 2018, https://queeromahaarchives.omeka.net/items/show/3279.

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