Toni A. McNaron

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1980


For the first eleven years I taught at the University of Minnesota, I stayed in the closet I'd fled to within the first month of recognizing my lesbianism. During those years, I was awarded tenure quite early (the end of my third year); I won both a collegiate and an all-University award for outstanding teaching; I almost got a book on Shakespeare's last plays published; I was active in my regional professional organization. During those years, I experienced increasing pain at the dislike my immediate superiors [sic] had for me, no matter what I did. I learned quickly that it was not helpful to talk of my devotion to teaching or about my hard-working, enthusiastic students. So I tried a variety of ways to win approval.

One year I spent over $1,000 throwing cocktail parties and feeding people elegant dinners; the next I was hardly ever seen at social functions. One year I served on numerous departmental committees; the next I refused all nominations. One year I went to every department meeting and spoke vigorously to the issues; the next I sat silent at those few meetings I attended. One year I frequented the faculty coffee lounge daily; the next I stayed inside my own office except to go to class or check my mail. Nothing worked. I was confused, angry, hurt, and exhausted.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.