Interview with Greg Bourke, December 11, 2017

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:00 - Personal background

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Partial Transcript: Welcome Greg.

Segment Synopsis: Greg Bourke is introduced and gives a brief overview of his childhood in Louisville, Kentucky.

Keywords: Family; Kentucky; Proud; Roman Catholic

Subjects: Childhood; Families.; Louisville (Ky.); Religion

00:01:15 - Coming out

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Partial Transcript: So, um, we know for many LGBTQ folks, uh, the first time someone comes out is a significant life milestone.

Segment Synopsis: Bourke talks about coming out in 1976 and the process of coming out to people one-on-one. He talks about having to take time to 'come to terms' with his sexual orientation. He talks about the overall support he received from his family and friends.

Keywords: 1976; Acceptance; All-boys high schools; Attitudes; Catholic high schools; Churches; Comfort level; Coming out experiences; Coming out process; Different; Difficult; Family; Friends; High schools; One-on-one; Reactions; Rejection; Risky; Supportive

Subjects: Closeted gays.; College environment; College students--Social conditions; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay men--Identity.; Gay men--Relations with heterosexuals; Gays--Family relationships.; Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual minority college students; Sexual orientation.; University of Louisville

00:06:08 - Meeting his husband Michael DeLeon and their life together

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Partial Transcript: So a part of this, uh, right, coming out or growing process or, or milestones, uh, at least in your life, would involve, uh, your now-husband.

Segment Synopsis: Bourke talks about coming to Lexington, Kentucky to attend the University of Kentucky. He talks about meeting his now-husband Michael DeLeon at The Bar, and describes how their relationship developed. He talks about their decision to move in together, and their later decision to move to Connecticut for a few years before returning to Kentucky.

Keywords: 1982; 1987; Break-ins; Burglary; Careers; Commitments; Connecticut; Dating; Family; Graduate schools; Graduation; Houses; Husband; Jobs; Kentucky; Louisville (Ky.); Michael DeLeon; Moving in; Parents; Relationships; Stability; The Bar (Bar)

Subjects: Gay bars; Gay community; Gay couples.; Gay culture.; Lexington (Ky.).; Sexual minorities' families.; University of Kentucky

00:12:23 - Welcoming and unwelcoming places in Lexington for LGBTQ people

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Partial Transcript: So in, in thinking about, um, the, the first moment you all had together right here at, at UK--

Segment Synopsis: Bourke talks about places in Lexington where he felt comfortable as an out gay man, and places he did not. He tells a story about a bomb threat being called in at UK when an LGBTQ student group attempted to form. He talks about The Bar as a sort of 'community center' for LGBTQ people. He talks about being accepted at the Catholic church in Lexington.

Keywords: Bomb threats; Comfortable; Connections; Discrimination; Films; Harassment; Historic St. Paul Catholic Church; Kentucky Kernel (Newspaper); Kentucky Theater; Meetings; Roman Catholic; Student Center; Student organizations; The Bar (Bar); Welcoming

Subjects: Gay community; Gay couples.; Gay men--Relations with heterosexuals; Gays--United States--Social conditions.; Homophobia.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Religion; University of Kentucky

00:16:15 - Role of religion in his life

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Partial Transcript: So you, you mentioned, right, uh, you just talked a bit about the religious space, the Catholic church here in town that you, um, found to be...

Segment Synopsis: Bourke discusses the role of religion in his life as well as in his relationship with his husband Michael. He talks about their acceptance at their own church, but says there was still conflict with the higher Catholic Church officials.

Keywords: 1987; Acceptance; Arch bishops; Boy scout troops; Conflicts; Controversial; Difficult; Faith; Family; Impact; Involvement; Leadership; Marriage; Parishes; Pastors; Relationships; Roman Catholic

Subjects: Churches; Discrimination.; Gay couples.; Gay men--Relations with heterosexuals; Gays--United States--Social conditions.; Homosexuality--Religious aspects.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Religion

00:21:34 - Conflict with the Boy Scouts of America

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Partial Transcript: You, you mentioned, um, conflict around the Boy Scouts.

Segment Synopsis: Bourke talks about how he first became involved with the Boy Scouts when his son became a member. He talks about the Boy Scouts of America's position on LGBTQ members, and his decision to become a scout leader even though it meant going back in the closet. He talks about his decision to no longer hide his sexual orientation and the reaction of the Boy Scouts of America which led him to resign as a scout leader. He talks about his involvement in protests against the Boy Scouts of America's policies.

Keywords: 'In the closet'; Acceptance; Activism; Changes; Children; Churches; Conflicts; Cub scouts; Disbanded; Eagle coaches; Leadership; Membership; Michael DeLeon; Parishes; Participation; Pastors; Policies; Protests; Rallies; Religious organizations; Resignation; Schools; Scouting; Scouting activities; Scouts for Equality; Sons; Supportive; Witch hunts

Subjects: Boy Scouts of America.; Churches; Closeted gays.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Discrimination.; Gay couples.; Gay men--Family relationships--United States.; Gay men--Relations with heterosexuals; Gay men--United States--Social conditions.; Gays--Family relationships.; Gays--United States--Social conditions.; Homosexuality--Religious aspects.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Religion; Sexual minority parents.

00:30:47 - Involvement in the Kentucky same-sex marriage case Bourke v. Beshear

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Partial Transcript: So your work with the Scouts certainly has, has--sounds like a, a significant part of your life and your activism and something that continues.

Segment Synopsis: Bourke talks about his and his husband Michael's decision to get married in Canada in 2004. He talks about how the Proposition 8 decision and the United States v. Windsor decision led to their decision to file a lawsuit in Kentucky to attempt to have their marriage recognized in the state. He talks about the initial reactions to their lawsuit and how that changed over time.

Keywords: 2004; Acceptance; Activism; Attitudes; Attorneys; Bans; Canada; Comments; Constitutional amendments; Decisions; Democrats; Governor Steve Beshear; Hate; Kentucky; Lawsuits; Legal challenges; Marriage equality; Married; Media coverage; Michael DeLeon; Out; Plaintiffs; Politicians; Prop 8 (Proposition 8); Reactions; Recognition; Rulings; Same-sex marriage; South; State; Supportive; United States v. Windsor; Voting

Subjects: Gay couples.; Gay men--Family relationships--United States.; Gay men--Legal status, laws, etc.; Gay men--United States--Social conditions.; Gay rights movement; Gay rights--United States.; Gay rights.; Gays--Family relationships.; Gays--United States--Social conditions.; Homosexuality--Law and legislation--United States.

00:41:05 - Family as motivation for involvement in Bourke v. Beshear

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Partial Transcript: So what--in, in all of this, what role did, uh, did family play in, in motivating and continuing to give you energy through that, uh, that legal process?

Segment Synopsis: Bourke talks about how his lack of rights as an adoptive parent were one of the motivating factors for filing the same-sex marriage lawsuit.

Keywords: Adopted; Children; Family; Kentucky; Lawsuits; Marriage equality; Motivations; Ramifications; Recognition; Roles; Same-sex marriage; Security; Single parent adoption; Supportive

Subjects: Families.; Gay adoption.; Gay couples.; Gay men--Family relationships--United States.; Gay men--Legal status, laws, etc.; Gay men--United States--Social conditions.; Gay parents.; Gay rights movement; Gay rights--United States.; Gay rights.; Gays--Family relationships.; Gays--United States--Social conditions.; Homosexuality--Law and legislation--United States.; Sexual minority parents.

00:44:19 - Day of the Supreme Court's decision on Obergefell v. Hodges

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Partial Transcript: Can you, um, what--can you recall sort of the, the day that the ruling came down in the Supreme Court and what that--where you were and what that felt like?

Segment Synopsis: Bourke recounts the proceedings and emotions on the day the decision on Obergefell v. Hodges was announced. He and his family were in the courtroom.

Keywords: Anticipation; Bomb threats; Children; Courtrooms; Decision day; Emotional; Family; Joyous; Judge Anthony Kennedy; Justices; Kentucky; Media; Plaintiffs; Restraint; Rulings; Security; Supreme Court

Subjects: Families.; Gay couples.; Gay men--Family relationships--United States.; Gay men--Legal status, laws, etc.; Gay men--United States--Social conditions.; Gay rights movement; Gay rights--United States.; Gay rights.; Gays--Family relationships.; Gays--United States--Social conditions.; Homosexuality--Law and legislation--United States.; Sexual minority parents.

00:48:53 - Involvement in activism and advocacy

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Partial Transcript: So in thinking about, uh, other things you're up to these days, what, um, what other kinds of activism and advocacy are you involved in?

Segment Synopsis: Bourke discusses other ways he is involved in LGBTQ activism and advocacy, including being a founding member of the Pride Network Resource Group at Humana, as well as his work with several LGBTQ alumni groups and his involvement with his church.

Keywords: Activism; Advocacy; Alumni groups; Careers; Catholic Church; Churches; Founding members; HRC Corporate Equality Index; Humana Inc.; Jobs; LGBTQ resource groups; Michael DeLeon; Notre Dame University; Pride Network Resource Group; PrideCats; Progress; Recognition; Religion; University of Kentucky; University of Louisville

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; Gay men--Relations with heterosexuals; Gays--United States--Social conditions.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Occupations; Universities and colleges--Alumni and alumnae.

00:52:23 - Final thoughts

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Partial Transcript: So to sort of wrap us up here, um, what do you want to share that we haven't asked?

Segment Synopsis: Bourke closes by discussing his outlook on being out in various spaces, saying "if we leave, they win." He talks about the change he has seen occur in his lifetime in these spaces. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Changes; Churches; Criticism; Jobs; Kentucky; Messages; Out; Religion

Subjects: Gay men--Relations with heterosexuals; Gays--United States--Social conditions.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.