Connie Winstead

“I don’t remember ever focusing on if someone was gay or not, or a lesbian or not. I think the idea was that we’re all women, and we’re all working toward the same thing. I just don’t remember there being any kind of focus or split between these groups.” ~Connie Winstead

Connie Winstead grew up in Dallas, Texas. She came to Durham to attend Duke University, where her father had gone to law school and her older sister went for undergraduate. During her first two years at Duke, she lived on the all-woman East Campus of Trinity College (Duke’s Women’s College). She joined a sorority as a first year, though she later quit due to her discomfort with the culture of it. She started getting involved with the women’s movement during the summer after her junior year while she was in Boston for a job and became good friends with a feminist.  She fell in love with her Boston-based friend and over the years had other relationships with women, something she feels was very much part of her feminist identity.  After graduating from Duke, Connie drove across the country to Berkeley; she lived there for almost a year. While in Berkeley she volunteered with the Berkeley Women’s Health Collective as a problem pregnancy (abortion, birth control) counselor and she was also active in a cr group. Her time with the Berkeley Women’s Health Collective helped her to realize she wanted to work in a counseling career. In 1974 she moved back North Carolina because she was tired of Berkeley. Once back in North Carolina she got a job as a counselor at the Chapel Hill Drug Action Group. The group had a subgroup that focused on women’s health counseling, with which she was also involved. She realized she wanted to start something in Durham, so she worked with the YWCA to create the Durham Women’s Health Cooperative. They mostly offered problem pregnancy counseling, similar to what she had done at Berkeley.  She also worked alongside other women during this time to try to bring an abortion clinic to Durham. The clinic finally became a reality in 1976 and she worked there as an administrator until 1979, at which point she went back to school to get her Master’s of Social Work.  She was also very active in the Women’s Health Teaching Group, a group of women who acted as models to teach medical students how to give proper pelvic exams to women.  Connie currently resides in Durham.

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