Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jennifer Crossen, Joan Callahan, March 5, 2001

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Introductions

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Partial Transcript: Several mentions of my tales. Alright, it is March 5th, 2001. I'm interviewing Jennifer Crossen and Joan Callahan.

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan introduce themselves, discussing their upbringing, education, and how they first met.

Keywords: Catholicism; Children; Nuns; Sons

Subjects: Catholic Church; Convents; Religion

00:05:41 - Coming out

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Partial Transcript: Moving right on along. The next set of questions is kind of about how you formed your identity.

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan share their journeys in coming out to themselves and to others. They discuss how they moved from their respective individual discoveries of their sexualities to ultimately meeting and building a life together.

Keywords: Break ups; Closeted; Co-owning; Coming out; Coming out to self; Denial; Engagement; Graduate schools; Hiding; Home owning; Husbands; Nunneries; Nuns; Wives

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation); Convents; Divorce; Lesbians; Lesbians--Family relationships.; Lesbians--Identity; Marriage; Sexual minorities--Identity

00:19:41 - Chosen terminology for sexual identity / Terms of sexual identity in the community historically

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Partial Transcript: Have you used any other terms in your life, besides 'queer' and 'lesbian', to describe yourselves?

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan discuss what terms they prefer to use to describe their sexual identities. They also talk about words and slurs that are used to refer to LGBTQ people and how those words have changed over time.

Keywords: Gay culture; Gay relationships; Heterosexual relationships; Homophobic slurs; LGBTQ community; Same sex relationships; Self understanding; Slurs

Subjects: Bisexuality; Gender identity; Heterosexuality; Homosexuality; Lesbians; Lesbians--Identity; Sexual minorities; Sexual minorities--Identity; Women's studies

00:23:31 - Gay, lesbian, and queer spaces in Lexington, Kentucky / The difference between 'gay' and 'queer'

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Partial Transcript: The next set of questions are, um, about gay spaces. Are there any particular places in Lexington that you feel are gay, or lesbian, or queer?

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan discuss the difference between the word 'queer' and the words 'gay' and 'lesbian', as well as their preference between those words. Crossen and Callahan also share the spaces in Lexington that they feel are gay or queer spaces, including the restaurant Alfalfa. They also discuss spaces in Lexington that are less welcoming or even unwelcoming of LGBTQ people, and the class implications of those spaces.

Keywords: "Queer"; Alfalfa Restaurant; Being yourself; Bryan Station High School; Class distinctions; Comfort; Diversity; Gay spaces; Kentucky Theater; LGBT community; LGBTQ community; Lesbian culture; Lesbian spaces; Socioeconomic classes; The Vagina Monologues; Wealth

Subjects: Heterosexuality; Homosexuality; Keeneland (Lexington, Ky.); Lesbians; Lexington (Ky.); Neighborhoods; Red Mile (Lexington, Ky.); Sexual minorities; Sexual minorities--Identity; Social classes

GPS: Alfalfa restaurant in Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.047630, -84.495876
00:32:35 - Impact of the law on their lives

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Partial Transcript: What about the law? Has the law affected your way any way, positively, neutrally, negatively?

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan detail the various financial disadvantages they face as a same-sex couple living together and raising a son. They discuss insurance, marriage, and the failure of law to protect. In addition, they discuss homophobic bullying and speech, particularly in relation to how their son is treated for having two mothers.

Keywords: Bias; Compensation; Death; Gay culture; Inheritance; Marriage certificates; Open market health insurance; Prejudice; Pride flags; Private insurance; Protection; Quality of life; State laws; Surgery

Subjects: Breast cancer; Bullying; Chemotherapy; Discrimination; Gay parents; Harassment; Homophobia; Insurance; Insurance policies; Law; Lesbian mothers; Marriage; University of Kentucky; Wills

00:41:08 - The first gay or lesbian people they knew of / First 'gay place' they heard of

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Partial Transcript: Who was the first person you ever heard of as being a gay man?

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan share about the first gay and lesbian people they knew of, and they discuss some of the first gay/lesbian spaces they encountered.

Keywords: Closeted; Crushes; Elton John; Families; Friendship; Gay community; High schools; LGBTQ community; Lesbian community; Michigan Womyn's Music Festival; Mount Holyoke College; Rock Hudson; Sisters; Tates Creek

Subjects: Convents; Gay men; Gay parents; Jesuits; Lesbian mothers; Nuns; Unitarian Universalist churches; Women's music

00:55:48 - The significance of the word 'queer'

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Partial Transcript: Aright, well the next set I have are questions about community. These are the ones I find kind of juicy.

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan discuss the word 'queer', and how best to describe and refer to the overall LGBTQ community.

Keywords: "Lesbigay"; "Queer"; Community; GLBT; Homosexual; LGBT; LGBTQ community; Offensive; Reclamation; Slurs

Subjects: Bisexuality; Gender identity; Homosexuality; Lesbians; Lesbians--Identity; Sexual minorities; Sexual minorities--Identity; Transgender people--Identity

00:58:07 - A unified queer community versus multiple communities

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Partial Transcript: Do you think there is a Lambdan community, or do you think there are communities plural?

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan discuss the multiplicity of LGBTQ communities, and how they define community.

Keywords: Gay community; LGBT community; LGBTQ community; Leather community; Multiplicity

Subjects: Lesbian mothers; Lesbians--Identity; Sexual minorities; Sexual minorities--Identity; Softball

01:00:57 - Lesbian separatism

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Partial Transcript: Well, let us actually skip down to this other--this question I have on this.

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan discuss their stances on the notion of lesbian separatism. They also discuss the benefits of minority groups having their own private space away from dominant groups.

Keywords: Adults; Children; Dominant groups; Safe space; Social positions; Subordinate

Subjects: Lesbian separatism; Lesbians; Lesbians--Identity; Women's studies

01:09:44 - Giving back to the community

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Partial Transcript: With what y'all have done with different groups and the work y'all have done in the community and so forth, was that something you intentionally set out to do or was it something that just happened?

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan discuss what they have done in and for the LGBTQ community. They also discuss activism, and how Callahan became the director of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Kentucky.

Keywords: "Queer"; AIDS community; Activism; Boards; Closeted; Committees; Community; Departments; Fear; Gender; Giving back; HIV community; HIV/AIDS; Hiring; LGBTQ community; Meetings; Ordinances; Policy; Race; Systems of subordination; Women's community

Subjects: Education; HIV-positive persons; Lesbians; Oppression; Sexual minorities; Teachers; University of Kentucky; Women's studies

01:18:38 - Hierarchies within the queer community in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: Are there types of hierarchies--speaking of systems of oppression, are there types of hierarchies in queer society in Lexington?

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan discuss the hierarchies they argue are present in the LGBTQ community in Lexington. They particularly emphasize class divides, generational divides, and the divide between the rural and the urban.

Keywords: Community; Exclusion; Fairness; Generational divides; Inclusion; LGBTQ community; Power; Private space; Public space; Race; Respect; Rural; Rural urban divide; The Fairness Campaign

Subjects: Class; Conflict of generations; Hierarchies; Middle class; Sexual minorities; Transgender people--Identity; Working class

01:27:11 - Leaders in the queer community

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Partial Transcript: Uh, who are some leaders in this community? Or communities?

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan identify different leaders in the LGBTQ community, and the qualities that make them good leaders.

Keywords: Communication; Contributing; Giving back; Leadership; Leather culture; Leather men; Social cohesion; The Fairness Campaign; The Gay & Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO)

Subjects: Leadership; Sexual minorities; Sexual minorities--Population

01:30:58 - Events that draw the queer community together / Typography and identity groups within gay men and lesbians

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Partial Transcript: Are there particular holidays or events that draw the community together?

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan list some of the events that draw the LGBTQ community together, including general holidays such as the Fourth of July. They also discuss the typography of different identity groups within the gay male community, and within the lesbian community.

Keywords: Butch; Circuit parties; Circuit party; Ecstasy; Femininity; Fetish groups; Floats; Gay culture; Gay pride month; Identities; Identity groups; LGBTQ community; LGBTQ culture; Leather culture; Masculinity; Parades; Parties; Pride month; Pride picnics

Subjects: Drugs; Fourth of July; Fourth of July celebrations; Gay pride parades; Gender identity; Halloween; Lesbians; Lesbians--Identity; Sexual minorities; Sexual minorities--Identity

01:39:03 - Presence of queer people historically

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Partial Transcript: Do you think there have always been people who identified as gay or lesbian or queer or they may have used a different word, or is an identity that is relatively recent?

Segment Synopsis: Crossen and Callahan very briefly discuss the presence of LGBTQ people historically.

Keywords: LGBTQ community; LGBTQ history; Past

Subjects: History; Sexual minorities.