Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Sam Reid Gleaves, November 2, 2011

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Coming out to parents / being a gay teenager

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Partial Transcript: Alright, it's November 2, 2011. We're in Berea, Kentucky, with Sam Gleaves for the, uh, uh, Queer in Appalachia Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Sam talks about his relationship with his parents. Talks about coming out and his interaction with peers in high school.

Keywords: Attitudes; Fathers; Friendship; School; Support; Teasing; Upbringing; Whitfield (Va.)

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay teenagers.; Gay youth; Homosexuality and education.; Homosexuality--Religious aspects.; Parents of gays.

GPS: Berea, Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 37.576944, -84.293611
00:04:41 - Gay support in high school

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Partial Transcript: Um, did you have any types of gay groups or anything to fall back on?

Segment Synopsis: Sam talks about lack the gay community of his high school. Talks about having a supportive group of friends. Talks about student organizations concerning homosexuals.

Keywords: Friendship; GSA; Gay Straight Alliance; Glisten; Homophobia; Protests; Silent protests; Student organizations; Supportive; Teachers

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Gay activists.; Gay community; Gay teenagers.; Homosexuality and education.; Youth protest movements.

00:08:47 - Fear of acknowledging homosexuality

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Partial Transcript: Mmhm. Um, now, you talk about people who had, um, taken their own lives. Uh, did you know any personally or were there any in your school?

Segment Synopsis: Sam talks about his fear of coming out and homophobia in his high school.

Keywords: Acceptance; Shame; Suicides; Tolerance; Withdrawn

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation); Homophobia; Homosexuality--Social aspects.

00:10:26 - Community involvement

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Partial Transcript: Um, what about within your community, as you, as you roamed around your community, did you ever, did you feel any types of threats or were you generally safe, or?

Segment Synopsis: Sam talks about performing in local churches and keeping his homosexuality hidden.

Keywords: Fear; Intolerance; Performances; Religious; Safety; Threats

Subjects: Gays--Violence against.; Homosexuality--Religious aspects.; Music--Performance.

00:13:23 - Decision to not come out to grandparents

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Partial Transcript: But that whole, the small town notion where everybody knows everybody was a little bit, um, unnerving, sometimes.

Segment Synopsis: Sam talks about his relationship with his grandparents.

Keywords: Generational gap; Grandfather; Grandparents; Presbyterian

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gays--Family relationship

00:15:51 - Why Whitfield is more tolerant of homosexuality

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Partial Transcript: Um, so you talked earlier about Whitfield being kind of progressive. Or, uh, what exactly makes it progressive?

Segment Synopsis: Sam talks about what makes Whitfield an Appalachian town that has more progressive attitudes toward homosexuality.

Keywords: Diversity; Education; LGBT issues; Rural communities; Whitfield (Va.)

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Homosexuality and education.; Parents of gays.

00:19:20 - First boyfriend

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Partial Transcript: Did you have any boyfriends or anything like that in high school?

Segment Synopsis: Sam talks about experience with first boyfriend and harassment from a peer.

Keywords: Harassment; High school; Relationships

Subjects: Gay couples.; Gay teenagers.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Parents of gays.

00:22:22 - Gay community at Berea College

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Partial Transcript: So you've been here, you're a Sophomore at Berea now? So you've been here for a couple, or at least a year and a half.

Segment Synopsis: Talks about gay organizations on campus. Talks about involvement

Keywords: Berea (Ky.); Campus organizations; Coming Out Week; Discrimination; Fairness Rally; GSA; Gay Straight Alliance; Harassment; Harvey Milk Society; Rural; Tolerance

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Berea College; Closeted gays.; Gay community; Gays--Identity.; Homosexuality and education.

00:26:23 - Proposed Berea Fairness Ordinance / involvement in Fairness Rally

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Partial Transcript: And what about the, um, uh, surrounding community of Berea?

Segment Synopsis: Sam talks about his surprise at the community's lack of support of Berea's Fairness Ordinance. Talks about speaking for gay rights.

Keywords: Berea College; Discrimination; Fairness Rally

Subjects: Berea (Ky.); Gay activists; Gay community; Gay rights; Gay rights movement

00:34:14 - Building support for gay population of Whitfield

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Partial Transcript: So, having said all that about Berea, do you think that this is, that Berea is still more progressive than Whitfield, or...?

Segment Synopsis: Talks about returning to his hometown and establishing gay organizations in his high school.

Keywords: Activism; Appalshop; Berea (Ky.); Community support; GSA; Population; STAY; Whitfield (Va.)

Subjects: Appalachian Region, Southern--Social life and customs.; Gay activists; Gay rights movement; Gay youth; Gays--Family relationships; Youth movements

00:38:50 - Learning to take pride in oneself through music

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Partial Transcript: Um, how important is the media and, you know, resources like the Internet? Um, how important is that to, you know, a, a gay youth in Appalachia, like, forming their sense of identity?

Segment Synopsis: Sam talks about how music helped form his identity as a gay man. Talks about the lack of relatable gay role models in the media.

Keywords: Examples; Internet; LGBT; Media; Music; Songwriters

Subjects: Appalachian Region; Gay youth; Internet and gay men.; Mass media and gays; Role models; Stereotypes (Social psychology); Traditional music of southern Appalachia

00:41:05 - Pursuing a career in traditional music

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Partial Transcript: Well, um, I think that's all the, the major questions that I have. Do you have anything that you wanna wrap up with or anything that you were thinking about saying that...?

Segment Synopsis: Sam talks about being both a traditional musician and a gay rights activist. Talks about fitting into the traditional music community. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Acceptance; Musicians; Sheila Kay Adams

Subjects: Folk musicians; Gay activists; Gay artists; Gay musicians; Traditional music of southern Appalachia