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On a rainy Friday afternoon from the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), a Biology professor talks to qnotes before heading to his next class of eager students. Dr. Stan Schneider was born in Austin, Texas, where he lived for the first eight years of his life. He then moved to Davis, Calif., where he received his PhD from the University of California Davis.
With sheepskin in hand, Stan relocated to Charlotte in 1984 and began teaching at UNCC a year later. He’s been at UNCC ever since as a professor in the Department of Biological Science. This warm gentleman, who prefers to simply be called Stan, speaks at an almost rapid-fire pace and is fully immersed with work, community affairs and his marriage to “the right person.”
You’ve been with UNCC for quite some time now. Why?
University life is a collaboration with other people. It’s positive and optimistic.
It’s a great life, I’ve always felt lucky and privileged to be a faculty member. I enjoy teaching and like working with students. It’s a wonderful life, you get paid to pursue your interest. It’s a wonderful learning experience for students and faculty.
After 36 years, do you ever think about retiring?
I’m now in what’s called phased retirement. It’s like semi-retirement, but I’ll be fully retired in 2023.
Once you fully retire, what will you do with your time?
Oh, I don’t know. I have a lot of interests. I’m also active in the community. The one thing I want to find out is how much I enjoy doing nothing. I’ve never done just nothing.
You mentioned being active in the community. What are you involved in?
The LGBT Elders Group, we recently became a 501c3. Initially Dan Kirsch, who passed away about two years ago, gathered together a group of LGBT elders to see if there was interest in starting an elders group, with the ultimate goal of starting a SAGE chapter. So, we began organizing ourselves and just as we began to gain momentum, COVID hit. So, we were halted because elders are at higher risk of contracting COVID. Every month we tried to have at least one event. One would be social, and one would be educational. So, we collaborated with Time Out Youth to meet with the youth so we could ask each other questions and learn from each other.
I have a soft spot for Time Out Youth. They’re a wonderful organization, and the city should be proud. Together, we were providing an outlet where people can tell their stories and share their accumulated knowledge; there’s a lot we can learn from youth, and there’s a lot they can learn from us. That was prior to COVID. COVID caused us to lose some steam. So, right now, there are only four active members, steering committee members trying to keep things rolling. At the start of the COVID pandemic, we had a monthly Zoom gathering where people could get together and talk and share experiences around how they were coping with COVID.
Why do you think it’s important to have an elders group?
There was just nothing in Charlotte for elder LGBT people. We were forgotten, as if once you reach a certain age, you become invisible. I was concerned about this. There was a whole group of people that not only needed recognition but possessed so much wisdom and talent.
Sounds like the group also provided connections and companionship. Speaking of which, are you partnered?
Yes. I’m married to Garry Justice. We’ve been together for 29 years and legally married since 2013. The vast majority of our gay and lesbian friends have been in long term relationship. Most of our friends are married couples that have been together for 30 years. This is another thing that the elders group is good for — because we have these long-term stable relationships and the world needs to know about them.
True. It’s still impressive that you’ve made it this far with your husband. How have you maintained 29 years of longevity?
When you find the right person, you find the right person. It’s listening, communication and compromise. A long-term relationship is endless compromise.
Tell us what you love about Garry.
He’s the finest person I’ve ever known. He’s incredibly honest and sincere. He’s passionate about other people and has a great sense of justice, and I trust him completely
That’s wonderful. What do you think he would say he loves about you?
I never like speaking for other people, but I think he’d probably say about the same things about me.
Sounds like a busy life with not much down time. So, when you’re not reading or grading papers, what do you enjoy doing?
I love to read, it’s one of my hobbies; I like gardening. I’m physically active and go the gym four days a week, and enjoy taking long walks
Teaching, giving back to the community, nurturing a loving relationship, that’s good stuff. Any uncomplimentary character traits? What’s your worst quality?
I’m impatient, and I have a bad temper.
Really? Would you like to say more about that?
No. I don’t have the patience to.
This conversation concluded with the interviewer bursting into hearty uncontrollable laughter and thanking Stan for his time and contributions to the Charlotte LGBTQ community and the world at large.
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