When asked to describe herself, Diane Moten says: “I’m just a simple person. I work with the homeless. I’m a part time nanny. I like to bike, I like to run and walk. Actually, I’m also a minister. The church ordained me last year. I say that in some situations to be helpful to folks when I do jail visits or hospital visits. I’m a pretty outgoing person, and I’m the type of person, if you’re willing to ask me a question, I’ll answer any question anyone wants me to answer.”
Years before the city of Louisville offered legal protections to residents based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, Diane Moten was working at a daycare center when coworker asked her if she was a lesbian. She answered yes, and was fired within a week; her employer said she could no longer be trusted around children.
She told her story to the Board of Alderman and was part of the Fairness Campaign in its infancy.
Diane Moten spoke with WFPL’s Phillip M. Bailey and Laura Ellis as part of our Defining Fairness series. You can listen to the interview here, and find extras below. Diane begins by reflecting on how her role in the community has changed.
On the Evolution of Fairness
“I’ve seen big changes in Fairness. I know when I was on the board of Fairness, I was the only black person on the board, and sometimes felt like any time an issue of race came up, you know, is that for me to answer that question? But great conversations came around that. There were other folks on the board that said, wait a minute, if we, as an organization, are saying that we’re out here and we’re gonna be doing this, we have to be having these conversations. And the conversations happened.
Fairness did some tremendous and still continues to do wonderful tremendous dismantling racism workshop sessions. I think those conversations need to continue to happen, so when things are happening, it’s not always the same faces you’re seeing out there. Even though there’s an ordinance, I can personally say with some folks that I know, that are either not out or they’re not wanting to be on the front lines about it. It’s not that, I’m not wanting to be an out queer of color, it’s just that, I also have my family to think about, and even in some instances, the church.”
On Religion and Faith
“I was so afraid of God, growing up, that it’s like, whatever you do, God’s always gonna see you. And it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, God’s gonna strike me down because she made me mad and I called her a bitch under my breath,’ or something.
I started going to church with some neighborhood kids, and I was a very, very shy person. I was constantly listening, and just watching how all the people interacted in church, and how they prayed, and how they talked about their relationship with God. And that was, for me, what helped me to kind of be like, oh. There are things that happen in your life and it’s okay for you to say you’re mad at someone else, and it’s okay to even say you’re mad at God. I finally figured out, God’s gonna love me regardless. God made me who I am.”
“That was a big thing for me: not getting mad. Not being angry at anybody or anything. There was a lot of anger. And I got to thinking that if I don’t get rid of this anger, it’s always gonna be with me, and I don’t want that to always be with me, so I need to just figure out how to get rid of it. Sometimes I look back, way back, on my life, and the person I was, and I’m so not that person any more. And I’m very thankful not to be that person any more, and very happy to be who I am and being able to really even talk about it is just… huge.”
Advice for People Coming Out
“I would totally advise them to find someone that they trust, and have conversation with that person. Build up yourself a network of support. Because that’s what’s going to get you through. Being with folks that you trust, and they trust you, and sharing who you are. Then when you do have that conversation with your family, if it doesn’t go well, you have that support to go back to. That is so very important.”