Interview with Jonathan Crowley, Class of 2007



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Oral history interview with Jonathan Crowley, Class of 2007. The interview was conducted by Milner Library intern Paige Malloy on June 12, 2023.

Crowley, who grew up in Mahomet, Illinois, had a childhood characterized by a love of reading and involvement in community theater. Their high school years were marked by active participation in theater, music, and various extracurricular activities, which influenced their decision to attend ISU. Upon arriving at the university, they were struck by the beauty of the campus, having previously visited for theater and music festivals.

Initially a theater major, Crowley switched to communication studies, focusing on interpersonal communication, which aligned with their interests in leadership and fostering human connections. They also minored in women and gender studies, which related to their queer identity. Crowley fondly recalled their time in these departments, especially their relationships with faculty members like Alison Bailey and Jodi Hallsten Lyczak.

Crowley’s involvement with PRIDE at ISU was pivotal. Serving as vice president and president, they dedicated significant time to the organization, which provided them with a strong sense of community and fostered connections with other student groups. Key events organized by PRIDE included the Annual PRIDE Drag Show and the Day of Silence, which were aimed at raising awareness of LGBT issues and fostering inclusivity. The Day of Silence was particularly impactful, symbolizing the silencing of LGBT voices and culminating in a powerful “breaking the silence” event. Crowley also participated in National Coming Out Day and PRIDE’s Speaker’s Bureau, which involved sharing personal stories in classrooms to build understanding about LGBT issues.

During their time at ISU, Crowley was deeply involved in numerous activities and causes, including the fight for the legalization of same-sex marriage. They also partnered with the McLean County AIDS Task Force to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and were active in promoting sexual health through the G Spot. Crowley was also engaged with the Feminist-Led Activist Movement to Empower (FLAME), advocating for women’s rights and bodily autonomy. Reflecting on their involvement, Crowley noted that many of the issues they worked on remain relevant today. Their participation extended to the University Hearing Panel, where they dealt with cases of plagiarism and other violations, sparking their interest in the law.

Despite switching majors, Crowley also remained connected to the Theater Department by managing stage productions and joining the Illinois State Dance Theatre. They highlighted the influence of their stage management advisor, Deb Alley, whose mentorship was pivotal during their formative years.

After graduating, Crowley experienced a period of drift and burnout before rediscovering their passion for activism through law school and supporting organizations like Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign. They emphasized the importance of staying engaged and not fearing failure, which helped them reenergize and pursue new opportunities. Crowley expressed gratitude for their experiences at ISU, which provided a strong foundation for their continued activism and involvement. Reflecting on their undergraduate years, they were most proud of their contributions to PRIDE, citing the lasting impact of the organization’s work and the relationships they formed.

Interview Date



  • Introduction; Crowley’s background: 00:00-01:20
  • First impressions of ISU: 01:20-02:24
  • Selecting a major and minor: 02:24-03:26
  • Experiences in School of Communication and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program: 03:26-05:37
  • PRIDE activities: 05:37-09:38
  • PRIDE Drag Show and Day of Silence: 09:38-12:38
  • National Coming Out Day: 12:38-14:36
  • History of Pride Month: 14:36-17:34
  • Importance of speaking up for what you believe in: 17:34-22:00
  • Fostering acceptance through outreach: 22:00-25:33
  • Partnering with McLean County AIDS Task Force, G Spot, and FLAME: 25:33-27:51
  • Serving on University Hearing Panel: 27:51-29:08
  • Joining Illinois State Dance Theatre: 29:08-30:50
  • Mentorship of Deb Alley: 30:50-32:47
  • Relationships with other ISU faculty and staff: 32:47-38:07
  • Experiencing burnout and having difficulty finding purpose after graduation: 38:07-45:11
  • Finding safe spaces at ISU and feeling support within PRIDE: 45:11-51:45
  • Changes to ISU since Crowley’s graduation: 51:45-54:19
  • Proudest accomplishments as a student: 54:19-56:42

Interview with Jonathan Crowley, Class of 2007