Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Lex Lawson, June 21, 2011

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:06 - Not fitting in while growing up in Berea, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Okay it's, uh, June twenty-first, 2011. We're in Lexington, Kentucky with Lex Lawson.

Segment Synopsis: Lex Lawson talks about growing up in Berea, Kentucky. They talk about not being able to make connections with their family, feeling different, and identifying with outcasts.

Keywords: Connections; Feeling different; Grandmothers; Identity; Margin culture; Not belonging; Not fitting in; Outcasts

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Berea (Ky.); Identity (Psychology); Rural families; Sexual minorities' families.

GPS: Berea (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.576944, -84.293611
00:03:54 - Discovering gender and sexuality

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Partial Transcript: And then--my parents--and I even remember--and as far as like gender and sexuality goes like, you know, I had a really strong sense that like I didn't have to be, you know, this girly girl.

Segment Synopsis: Lawson talks about feeling like a boy while growing up and about feeling attracted to both girls and boys. They talk more about feeling like an outsider in their community and their desire to leave Berea.

Keywords: Attraction; Being like a boy; Culture; Friends; High school; Ignorance; Not belonging; Outsiders; Playboy magazines; Rural life; Sexuality; Tomboyish; Traveling

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Gender expression.; Gender identity.; Identity (Psychology); Rural families; Sexual minorities' families.

GPS: Berea (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.576944, -84.293611
00:09:27 - Coming out as bisexual / mother's worries about public judgment

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Partial Transcript: As I became aware of like--more aware of my sexuality, I--my--like--by the time I was like thirteen, fourteen I was, you know, doing drugs and getting drunk and things like that and--

Segment Synopsis: Lawson talks about sexual experimentation during their youth and about the realization that they might be bisexual. They talk about their friends' reactions. Lawson talks about how people in the community may have been more judgmental about their style than their sexuality. Lawson talks about their parents' reactions to their style and their sexuality in high school. They talk about their mother's worry about other people's opinions of them and the gossip that would follow. Lawson talks more about not feeling like they belonged in Berea.

Keywords: Being out; Challenges; Conservative; Different; Disconnected; Drug use; Friends; Gossip; High school; Judgment; Lexington (Ky.); Liberal; Louisville (Ky.); Mothers; Not belonging; Others' opinions; Paranoid; Punk rock; Queer music; Returning home; Sexual experimentation; Small communities; Style; Understanding

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Bisexual high school students; Bisexual youth; Bisexuality.; Bisexuals--Relations with heterosexuals; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Identity (Psychology); Rural families; Sexual minorities' families.

GPS: Berea (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.576944, -84.293611
00:22:06 - Bisexual identity

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Partial Transcript: Well let's, uh, uh, fast-forward a little bit to--

Segment Synopsis: Lawson talks about going to Eastern Kentucky University and the freedom they experienced being away from their parents. They discuss identifying as bisexual and other peoples' perceptions of their sexuality during high school.

Keywords: Boyfriends; Crushes; Eastern Kentucky University (EKU); Freedom; Liberation; Parents

Subjects: Bisexual college students; Bisexual high school students; Bisexuality.; Bisexuals.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Richmond (Ky.); Sexual minorities--Identity.

GPS: Richmond (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.744722, -84.293611
00:26:06 - Not being able to make connections

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Partial Transcript: So, but moving to Richmond like I went to a Pride meeting at EKU.

Segment Synopsis: Lawson talks about not fully identifying with the LGBTQ community and instead looking for friends with similar musical interests. They talk about how their anxiety and insecurity prevented them from making connections and making friends.

Keywords: Antisocial; Anxiety; Connections; Eastern Kentucky University (EKU); Friends; Girlfriends; Insecurity; Interests; Pride meetings

Subjects: Gay community; Gay culture.; Gays--Mental health.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Identity (Psychology); Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual minority college students Bisexual college students

GPS: Eastern Kentucky University (Richmond, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.738142, -84.299083
00:31:37 - Being back in the closet while in Whitesburg, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Uh, so, so I, I, I did have, like I said I had some friends when I was a freshman that were bisexual.

Segment Synopsis: Lawson talks about one of their boyfriends and how they became interested in sociology. They talk about one of their girlfriends and going to Whitesburg, Kentucky with them. They talk about why their girlfriend felt the need to hide their sexuality and their relationship. Lawson talks about why they decided not to move to Whitesburg and instead moved to Louisville and Lexington.

Keywords: Being open; Boyfriends; Connections; Friends; Girlfriends; Hiding; Interests; Lexington (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.); Lying; Public judgement; Sociology; Threats

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Bisexuals--Relations with heterosexuals; Closeted gays.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay community; Rural families; Sexual minorities' families.; Whitesburg (Ky.)

GPS: Whitesburg (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.117778, -82.821111
00:40:39 - Queer identity

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Partial Transcript: So eventually you moved on to--where'd, where, where'd you go after Lexington?

Segment Synopsis: Lawson talks about moving to San Diego, California and beginning to identify as queer. They talk about the clash between queer culture and punk culture.

Keywords: Gay neighborhoods; Punk culture; Queer; Queer culture; Sexism

Subjects: Bisexuals--Relations with heterosexuals; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay community; Gay culture.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Identity (Psychology); San Diego (Calif.); Sexual minorities--Identity.

GPS: San Diego (Calif.)
Map Coordinates: 32.715, -117.1625
00:43:20 - Culture shock of moving back to Kentucky / genderqueer

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Partial Transcript: Well then you moved back to--

Segment Synopsis: Lawson talks about the culture shock they encountered when they moved back to Kentucky for graduate school. They discuss the term genderqueer and what it means to them. They talk about why they began to identify as genderqueer and about people's perceptions of them.

Keywords: Androgyny; Culture shock; Gender performance; Gender theory; Genderqueer; Graduate school; Kentucky; Parents; Perceptions; Queer culture; Social constructions; Trans culture; Trans*

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Gay community; Gay culture.; Gender expression.; Gender identity.; Gender issues; Gender.; Louisville (Ky.); Sexual minorities--Identity.; Transgenderism.

GPS: Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.25, -85.766667
00:51:14 - Gender variance and Berea

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Partial Transcript: Do you think that maybe other people around you, like when you come back to Berea, also care less and less about the way you look?

Segment Synopsis: Lawson talks about how their parents feel about their genderqueer identity. They talk about how their parents' opinions have changed over time. They talk about what it is like to go back to Berea now and about how people in Berea feel about gender variance and about Lawson.

Keywords: Androgyny; Avoiding; Comfortable; Concern; Gender variance; Internet; Judging; Judgment; Opinions; Parents; Queer; Stressful; Wearing ties

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Berea (Ky.); Gender expression.; Gender identity.; Gender issues; Gender.; Rural families; Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities--Identity.

GPS: Berea (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.576944, -84.293611
00:57:30 - Gender variance in high school

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Partial Transcript: Okay so we're starting back up ah--again cause you said you wanted to say something.

Segment Synopsis: Lawson talks about their experiences with gender variance in high school. They talk about how their parents felt about Lawson wearing men's clothes and expressing masculinity. They talk about one of their high school boyfriends and how he felt about Lawson's sexuality, gender performance, and about feminism. They talk about their group of friends being accepting. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Acceptance; Boyfriends; Comfortable; Feminism; Gender variance; Haircuts; High school; Masculinity; Men's clothing; Mothers; Peers; Punk rock; Sexuality; Tomboyish

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Gender expression.; Gender identity.; Gender issues; Gender.; Identity (Psychology); Rural families; Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual minority students.; Sexual minority youth Bisexual high school students