LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Eris Koleszar

Ms. Eris Koleszar, Omaha community activist and musician, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on August 28, 2018, in Omaha, Nebraska. Koleszar shared information about her upbringing in small-town Indiana, her early Christian faith, coming out to her family and friends, working in the video game industry, her community activism, dating as a trans woman, and her music projects., Ms. Eris Koleszar, Omaha community activist and musician, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on August 28, 2018, in Omaha, Nebraska. Koleszar was born in Winamac, Indiana as the youngest of 3 children. As a child, Koleszar grew up in an extremely repressed, conservative small town, where she strove to be the perfect child and make her parents proud. Religion was a central part of Koleszar's early life, as her family was very involved in the local Baptist church. Koleszar did not have an early awareness of her trans identity, as she did not have the language to describe her feelings, and being trans was never presented as an option. As Koleszar grew into her late teenage years, hints of her trans identity became more frequent. In high school, she tested the waters by trying on the clothes of a girlfriend, but this behavior was immediately shut-down. In her third year at Greenville College, a private Methodist college in Greenville, Illinois, Koleszar took a rigorous theology class that transformed her religious beliefs and opened her mind to new possibilities of understanding life. After leaving Greenville, Koleszar and her then-wife moved to Omaha in 2007, where she worked at Whole Foods and took classes at Metropolitan Community College (2007-2012). Koleszar began having strange dreams during this time, and started talking online with other trans individuals. In 2010, Koleszar started seeing Omaha therapist Megan Smith-Sallans, and in 2010, she began the process of gradually coming out and transitioning. While her friends and community were supportive, Koleszar's parents have not been accepting of her identity, do not recognize her as a woman, and she is now estranged from most of her family. After leaving Whole Foods, Koleszar went back to school and earned a BA in Psychology from UNO in 2013. The next year, Koleszar began to work as a Lead Developer at SkyVu Entertainment, a local video game developer. During this time, Koleszar dedicated her life to community activism, speaking engagements, organizing, workshops, and teaching in Omaha. In 2016, Koleszar began a selfie campaign to promote acceptance of trans people in bathrooms, particularly trans feminine individuals, and push back against the anti-trans bathroom bills popping up across the country. The campaign was wildly popular, featured in Original Plumbing magazine, and quickly spread throughout Omaha's activist community with pictures on social media of supportive cis women next to Koleszar proclaiming her right to pee safely. Koleszar helped form Omaha Girls Who Code in 2016, and later co-founded Mystery Code Society, where she is Vice President, Board Member, and Instructor. Koleszar has been a member of numerous other organizations, task forces, and boards, such as Omaha Friends of Jung, Omaha Game Developers Association, Omaha Coding Women, Occupy Omaha, Slutwalk Omaha, Mayor Jean Stothert's LGBTQIA+ Advisory Committee, Omaha Girls Rock, and Omaha Equality Fund. Koleszar was a featured speaker at the 2017 Omaha Women's March, and is a two-time performer at Omaha Under the Radar. As a seasoned musician, Koleszar is frontwoman of beloved Omaha punk band The Boner Killerz, who won Best Punk Artist at the 2018 Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards, and has received praise from publications like Hear Nebraska and Omaha Magazine. As of September 2018, Koleszar is in the process of moving with partner Hannah to San Francisco. In this interview, Koleszar also discusses being a trans woman in the Omaha music community, her relationship with her ex-wife, dating as a trans woman in Omaha, and her hopes for the future of trans youth., Ms. Eris Koleszar, born in Winamac, Indiana, is a white, queer, trans woman, musician, activist, organizer, educator and game developer. After growing up in conservative, small-town Indiana and attending the private Christian college, Greenville College (2004-2007), Koleszar moved to Omaha in 2007, where she worked at Whole Foods and took classes at Metropolitan Community College (2007-2012). Koleszar earned a BA in Psychology from UNO in 2013, and the next year began to work as a Lead Developer at SkyVu Entertainment, a local video game developer. During this time, Koleszar dedicated her life to community activism, speaking engagements, organizing, workshops, and teaching in Omaha. In 2016, Koleszar helped form Omaha Girls Who Code, and later co-founded Mystery Code Society, where she is Vice President, Board Member, and Instructor. Koleszar has been a member of numerous other organizations, task forces, and boards such as Omaha Friends of Jung, Omaha Game Developers Association, Omaha Coding Women, Occupy Omaha, Slutwalk Omaha, Mayor Jean Stothert's LGBTQIA+ Advisory Committee, Omaha Girls Rock, and Omaha Equality Fund. Koleszar was a featured speaker at the 2017 Omaha Women's March, and is a two-time performer at Omaha Under the Radar. As a seasoned musician, Koleszar is frontwoman of beloved Omaha punk band The Boner Killerz, who won Best Punk Artist at the 2018 Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards, and has received praise from publications like Hear Nebraska and Omaha Magazine. As of September 2018, Koleszar is in the process of moving with her partner Hannah to San Francisco., UNO Libraries' Archives & Special Collections, 02:30:23
View this Object: https://library.unomaha.edu/_audio/UNO-0240_Eris-Koleszar.html
Abstract/Description: Ms. Eris Koleszar, Omaha community activist and musician, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on August 28, 2018, in Omaha, Nebraska. Koleszar shared information about her upbringing in small-town Indiana, her early Christian faith, coming out to her family and friends, working in the video game industry, her community activism, dating as a trans woman, and her music projects.
Subject(s): Queer Omaha Archives
Sexual minorities -- Nebraska -- Omaha
Interviews
Oral histories (document genres)
Date Created: 2018-08-28

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