John Castle II is the final contributor to the LGBTQ: Voices of Butte oral history project.
By the age of two or three, John was aware of his attraction to men. Shortly thereafter, he realized this same-sex attraction was frowned upon by society and went into the closet until he was in his early 20s. When he finally came out to his family in 1992 the news spread quickly. With approximately 85 cousins living in Butte, it didn’t take long before it seemed like the entire town was aware of his sexual orientation. Life suddenly became harder.
Shortly thereafter, John moved to Missoula where he met his partner, whereupon they moved to San Diego, California and Portland, Oregon. Although he and his significant other parted ways after arriving in Portland, John remained in the city he quickly grew to love, because “you can just be yourself. No one cares if you’re gay, straight, black, white, they don’t care. Just don’t be a jerk.” During this time, he completed his masters in education and worked with students with extreme emotional behavior disorders.
Approximately five years ago, John and his current partner moved back to Butte to take care of his mother. Despite his nervousness at returning to a town that treated him ill as a young man, he experienced a completely different climate. The general population has little tolerance for homophobia and gay-bashing, and the passage of the non-discrimination act in 2014 further supports the ongoing acceptance of LGBTQ individuals in Butte.
Shortly after his return, John landed a job working at Farm in the Dell-Butte, a working home for people with disabilities. A job that fits well with his prior education and interests.
The 35-minute interview will be available in the near future through the Montana Memory Project.