Dr. Marilyn Mehr is a professor, psychologist, writer and social activist currently living in New York City. Dr. Mehr earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1972 and has spent her career in adolescent behavioral psychology and teaching. She visited with members of the Encircle community on April 2nd to share her story.
Dr. Mehr grew up in southern California in a Latter-day Saint family, attended Brigham Young University and was the first woman in her family to graduate from college.
In her formative years, Dr. Mehr had little exposure to the fact that LGBT+ people even existed.
She remembers socializing with a group of women in the evenings, thinking that they were all just friends, but at one point they had to clue her in that they were lesbian. Eventually Dr. Mehr realized that she, too was gay. Dr. Mehr and her spouse, fellow psychologist and professor Dr. Betty Walker, began dating in graduate school and have been together for over 40 years.
Dr. Mehr didn't come out to her parents until she was in her 40s. She was terrified and almost didn't go through with her plan to tell her parents over a dinner, but Betty prodded her. She remembers the reaction of her father, who was born and raised in rural Utah, as incredibly loving.
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Since her graduate school days protesting the Vietnam War, Dr. Mehr has always been an active participant and leader in various human rights organizations. Her most recent roles include Co-Chair of the East End Gay Organization (EEGO) and President of the Board of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO).
Dr. Mehr has also authored multiple books. Her most recent publication, Such Charming Exiles: How Two Gay Women Learned to Love Openly and Love Fiercely (Booklocker) was released just this year. It was written in partnership with her spouse, Dr. Walker, about the struggles they have faced within their relationship and how their love has transformed them as people.