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., 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 gay boys 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 gay from her mannerisms and effeminacy, but 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 her. 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 then 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 she was 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 her
    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 her 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 she was released. Her 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., Trigger warning for graphic descriptions of
    rape, violence, and abuse. Noise can be heard from adjacent room toward the end of
    interview., Ms. Dominique Morgan, born
    in Omaha, Nebraska, is a gay Black woman, community activist, educator, organizer, musician, and
    the National 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 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., UNO Libraries' Archives
    & Special Collections, 02:51:43
View this Object: https://library.unomaha.edu/_audio/UNO-0240_Dominique-Morgan.html
Abstract/Description: 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.
Subject(s): Queer Omaha Archives
Sexual minorities -- Nebraska -- Omaha
Interviews
Oral histories (document genres)
Date Created: 2018-04-10

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