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Dr. James D. Anderson | Profile

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Biography

James D. Anderson served as national Communications Secretary for Presbyterians for Lesbian & Gay Concerns from 1980-1999, when PLGC merged with the More Light Churches Network to form More Light Presbyterians. Anderson edited and published the More Light Update, beginning in 1980 until 2003. From 1980 through 2001 he served on the board of PLGC and MLP. From 1978-1980, Anderson issued the newsletter for PLGC in the Synod of the Northeast. It was this newsletter that became the More Light Update in 1980. In 1984, Anderson was named one of 400 leading activists in the gay and lesbian movement in the U.S. by The Advocate, a national gay magazine.

In 1977, Anderson joined the faculty at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, as assistant professor in the School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies. He became associate professor in 1979, associate dean in 1983, and Professor of Library & Information Science in 1997. He retired from Rutgers in 2003. His field has been information retrieval and the design of textual databases, with special emphasis on knowledge representation methods and on terminological thesauri for mapping and managing diverse vocabularies of information seekers and practitioners in professions and disciplines.

Prior to coming to Rutgers, Anderson taught at Queens College, City University of New York, and St. John's University in New York City and worked as a librarian in Alaska and Portland, Oregon. He earned his B.A. degree at Harvard and his master's and doctoral degrees at Columbia.

At Rutgers, he chaired the President's Select Committee for Lesbian and Gay Concerns. He was also chair (1990-1994) of the Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes, the university-wide effort to help the university community celebrate its diversity and its common purposes and to do away with all forms of prejudice, bigotry, unjust discrimination, and harassment. He was removed as chair and as a member of this committee by the Administration.

Since 1993, Anderson with four other faculty members has been suing Rutgers for equal LG partner benefits. In 1999, after prompting from the Board of Governors, the Rutgers Administration offered "3/5th" coverage, which Anderson promptly called "slavery benefits," based on the original U.S. constitution counting slaves as 3/5ths persons. He is currently boycotting all faculty governance (faculty meetings and committees) as a "second class apartheid professor."

In 1991, Rutgers president Francis L. Lawrence presented Anderson with a university public service award "in recognition for your more than a decade of work to educate and encourage your University and the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), to accord to Lesbian and Gay people the same rights and responsibilities enjoyed by all other citizens."

Jim kept a detailed daily journal spanning the years 1959 to 2021,  with some gaps in the earlier years, documenting his life as a gay man, and his partner since 1971, his career at Rutgers University and earlier universities, and his active participation in the queer liberation movement within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)  This journal is available in the James D. Anderson Papers in the Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives (along with the archive for More Light Presbyterians for LGBT Concerns).

Anderson retired from Rutgers in 2004 after 30 years of teaching, research, and administration there, in protest to their continuing refusal to provide equal benefits to LGBT spouses.  Luckily New Jersey's gay governor solved this problem for all state employees shortly after Jim's retirement.  He didn’t return, but did teach online for Rutgers for four years.  He much prefers teaching in person, face to face with students.  He received more complaints online than he ever did in live teaching for which he got used to rave reviews!

Although Rafael Catala and Jim have been married in the eyes of their families, their church, and their friends since 1972, they did legally tie the knot in 2013 in Baltimore, with gay pastor Donald Stroud presiding.  Don was a member pastor of That All May Freely Serve (An effort to encourage equal ordination rights for LGBT pastors in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)).  Since 1981, Rafael and Jim have jointly compiled the annual Index of American Periodical Verse. The last volume of this annual Index of American Periodical Verse covered 2006. 

 Jim reports on his life in retirement:

We bought a house in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2000 because Rafael wanted to be near ocean beaches and also his extended Cuban family.  His mother continued to live with us until her death at the age of 95, except for a short spell with Rafael’s sister in Miami.  We enjoyed her company for 35 years, and she took very good care of us all those years.  Thanks, Caridad Catala Gallardo!  I commuted monthly between Florida and Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ until my retirement in 2004.  In 2018 we continued south to Miami Lakes, on the edge of Miami, to be even closer to Rafael’s larger Cuban community.  I feel like I’m living in a province of Cuba, surrounded by Cubans and other Spanish-speakers from Latin American, with a few Brazilians thrown in for good measure.

There is no Presbyterian Church nearby so we attend a wonderful Congregational/UCC church in Miami Lakes.  It’s open and affirming in fact, though we are pressing them to make the formal commitment with the national denomination.  We told them we won’t transfer our membership from our union Presbyterian/UCC church in St. Petersburg until they take this formal step and remove the bushel from their flame of total inclusion.

I’m celebrating my 80th years with two new knees, still recovering from these gifts, with daily long walks with our dog Demitria and 20 laps in our apartment swimming pool.

(This biographical statement provided by Jim Anderson.)

Biography Date: October, 2002; rev. August 2021

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Presbyterian Church (USA) | Anderson, James D. | Author/editor

Citation

“Dr. James D. Anderson | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed September 25, 2021, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/james-d-anderson.

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