The Battle Creek Queer Oral History Project is an opportunity to record the story of Battle Creek’s LGBTQ history.
In 2021, a committee was established to better understand Battle Creek’s LGBTQ history, including the documentation of Battle Creek Pride’s origins. After months of discussion and planning, the Battle Creek Queer Oral History Project was established as a method for cataloguing LGBTQ stories in Battle Creek, so that we can all gain a greater understanding of our local history.
Click here to read and listen to the stories of Battle Creek’s LGBTQ family that have been collected.
What is an Oral History?
An oral history is an interview process and resulting product from a recorded spoken interview. Oral histories are collected to preserve meaningful information about the past, often related to a particular historical subject or event—in this case, Battle Creek’s LGBTQ history.
Trained interviewers, mostly members of the committee, are in the process of collecting stories from individuals, called Narrators, who were identified as directly related to the origins and progress of Battle Creek Pride. All completed interviews, once approved by the Narrator, will be shared on a project website. We plan to include the audio, transcript, and any approved photos with each interview.
Will you share your story?
In order for this project to truly represent the whole Battle Creek LGBTQ population, it’s important that everyone has a chance to tell their story. Whether you were connected with BC Pride, or not, this project is an opportunity to capture the real experience of what it was and is like to be LGBTQ in Battle Creek.
If you identify as LGBTQ in Battle Creek, you’re over 50 years old (for now), and you’re interested in sharing your story with the Battle Creek Queer Oral History Project, please email email@example.com.
Jim Eldridge, 65 at the time of the interview, was interviewed in March 2022 by Larry Dillon at the Battle Creek Pride Resource Center. Jim Eldridge was born in Battle Creek, then lived in Delton, and returned to Battle Creek in his 20s. In this interview, Jim discusses attending Kellogg Community College, working for the City of Battle Creek making maps, his ongoing involvement in his church, and his experience coming out.
Kim Langridge, 67 at the time of this oral history, was interviewed in March 2022 by Lucy Blair at the Marshall Public Library. Kim Langridge is a life-long Marshall resident and a trans woman who transitioned later in life. Kim began participating in Battle Creek Pride in 2019 and wrote a poem about Stonewall that she recited at that year’s Pride Week celebration. Click here for the poem. Kim Langridge is now co-president of Battle Creek Pride. In 2022, after recording this interview, Kim legally changed her name. Click here for a photo Kim took in front of the courthouse afterward; about the photo Kim says, “I love the look on my face. It’s still one of my favorite ‘Kim’ photos.”
Larry Dillon, 77 at the time of the interview, was interviewed in April 2022 by Kim Langridge at Dillon’s home in Battle Creek. Larry Dillon is a Battle Creek native, involved in the Freemasons, and was a teacher and principal in the local school district. After his wife died in 2006, Larry began going to the Battle Creek gay bar Partners where he built community with gay folks, and was instrumental in creating Battle Creek Pride as it exists today. Larry Dillon died in April 2023.
Roger Ballard, 67 at the time of the interview, was interviewed in April 2022 by Lucy Blair at his home in Battle Creek. He moved to Battle Creek in 2007 to live with his now-husband Jim Eldridge and began serving as a Battle Creek City Commission for Ward 1 in 2022. In his interview, he discusses local gay practices in the late 70s, early 80s; the intersection of mental health, addiction, and true self; and his current interests in helping in the community, including the development of a local dog park.