On My Terms: Sharing a Story of Hypocrisy and Transformation

Caroline S. Clauss-Ehlers, William D. Parham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 4th interviewee for the Hearing Our Elders series is Mr. Bob Zellner. Mr. Zellner's experience growing up in the segregated South underscores a commitment to stand up to obstacles and societal norms, even when to do so was life threatening. His experiences remind us of a historical time not too long ago that, to hear, one might think could never happen. And yet, witnessing his experience in the context of modern-day struggles portrayed in the civil rights movement; the 2016 Tennessee denial of service law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals; and the 2016 Orlando shooting outside a gay nightclub reminds us that the historical events of Mr. Zellner's past are not too distant from the present. The interview captures 6 themes: being nonconforming in the face of punitive measures, living a purposeful life, pushing beyond comfort zones, early experiences as resilience building, self-evaluation as a cornerstone for commitment, and giving meaning to grief. El señor Zellner creció en una comunidad segregada del sur, y su experiencia subraya su compromiso para enfrentar obstáculos y normas sociales, aunque hacerlo pueda poner en riesgo la vida. Sus vivencias nos recuerdan un periodo histórico no muy lejano que hoy podría parecer inconcebible. Y aun así, contemplar sus experiencias en el contexto de las luchas actuales del movimiento por los derechos civiles (como la ley de 2016 en Tennessee que permitía denegar servicios a personas lesbianas, gais, bisexuales, transexuales y queer; y el tiroteo de 2016 en Orlando en un club gay) nos recuerda que los eventos históricos del pasado del señor Zellner no están tan alejados del presente. La entrevista captura 6 temas: el inconformismo frente a medidas punitivas, vivir la vida con decisión, salir de las zonas de confort, experiencias tempranas como factores de resiliencia, la autoevaluación como cimiento del compromiso, y darle sentido al sufrimiento.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-19
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Multicultural Counseling and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Applied Psychology


  • Bob Zellner
  • Hearing Our Elders
  • a purposeful life


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