Item 20.21-04 - Susan Dempsey

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Susan Dempsey

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CA JMABC A.1971.001-20.21-04

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  • January 8, 2021 (Creation)

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Born-digital audio (1:24:04)

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Interview with Susan Dempsey for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Susan (she/her) is a Jewish woman, born in St. Catharines, ON and living in Victoria. She identifies with the lesbian community, but confides the idea of a sexuality without boundaries is something she’s getting more used to. Susan shares about her parents’ and their respective upbringings and livelihoods as mostly assimilated Jews in Chicago and Toronto or Southern Ontario. She talks about chosen family like her klezmer bandmates in the Klezbians, coming out to her family, and when she realized herself that she was a lesbian. She reflects on her childhood and growing up aware of political events like the JFK assassination. She talks about eventually finding the field of psychology, studying in St. Catharines, working in peer counseling initiatives and non-profits. Susan talks about relationships and reconnecting to the Jewish community through feminist and/or lesbian Seders after negative experiences and ambivalence. She talks about the Klezbians and feeling valued to queer and Jewish communities, wondering about the place for young people in current Jewish community, and wishing she was more proud to be Jewish and out throughout her life.

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Interview has been transcribed. Interview also available as video.

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Name of interviewer: Carmel Tanaka

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Place of interview: Victoria, BC

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Birthdate: 9 May 1956

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Birth place: St. Catharines, Ontario

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