Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Julia Bennington, June 5, 2018

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


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00:00:00 - Her home life

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Partial Transcript: It is June 5th and this is Adriana Sisko.

Segment Synopsis: Bennington discusses being adopted and the type of home life she was brought into. She also talks about meeting and losing her birth mother, as well as her adoptive mother's jealousy towards her birth mother. She also discusses how her choice of college degree stemmed from the abuse she went through by her adoptive father.

Keywords: Adoptive parents; Adults; Alcoholism; Analytical; Angry; Balance; Bankers; Biological children; Biological connections; Birth mothers; Cincinnati Children's Home; Colleges; Contact; Diabetic seizures; Domestic violence shelters; Fayette County Public Schools; Females; Forgiveness; Home; Human beings; Husbands; Insecurities; Issues; Jealous; Jobs; Lafayette High School; Love; Mariemont High School; Master's degrees; Meanings; Orphanages; Parallels; Pregnant women; Protection; Providers; Psychology; Records; Relationships; Resentment; Roles; Rules; Schools; Screens; Siblings; Single women; Social workers; Society; Teenagers; Women

Subjects: Abuse; Adoption.; Cincinnati (Ohio); Domestic violence; Families.; Family histories.; Mental health.

00:11:09 - Her love for her friends in childhood

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Partial Transcript: So, you painted a picture of your home life.

Segment Synopsis: Bennington discusses the sports that she played in school to avoid being home with her abusive adoptive father as well as how she focused all of her attention on her friends, who she considered to be her family. She tells the story of her adoptive mother finally leaving her adoptive father after having an affair and how she, eventually, ended up living with her father and his new wife, Joyce.

Keywords: Adoptive parents; Affairs; Apartments; Arguments; Banks; Basketball teams; Catalysts; Cheerleading teams; Devastation; Divorce attorneys; Doors; Friends; Friendships; Front doors; Gardening; High schools; Home; Involvement; Joyce; Lawyers; Mariemont High School; Middle class; Middle schools; Minors; Moving trucks; Normalcy; Phones; Police; Popular kids; Popularity; Race car drivers; Railroad tracks; Relationships; Small towns; Soccer teams; Softball teams; Stability; Students; Swim teams; Terrace Park; Tickets; Towns; Upper class; Woman; Wonderful

Subjects: Child abuse; Cincinnati (Ohio); Divorce.; Domestic violence; Loudonville (Ohio); School sports.

00:21:02 - The love of her life

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Partial Transcript: It was during this time that I started--I, I lost my cheer-leading position.

Segment Synopsis: Bennington tells a story that spans across decades as she describes meeting the love of her life, being ripped away from her, and, finally, reuniting with her after decades of not seeing or talking to each other. Within the story, she discusses going off to college, meeting and marrying a man, as well as having children (both adoptive and biological) with him and then divorcing once she realized she was unhappy.

Keywords: Affection; Air Force; Awkward; Bedrooms; Beds; Biological children; Cell phones; Cincinnati Police Department; Colleges; Compassionate; Counseling sessions; Dates; Daughters; Feelings; Finances; Grandma; Grandmothers; Habits; Hope; Hospitals; Hotels; Ignorance; Information; Jokes; Letters; Liberal arts schools; LinkedIn; Love; Mailboxes; Money; Muscular; Pansexual; Paper; Partners; Paychecks; Psychology; Restaurants; Retirement; Reuniting; SWAT team; Sex; Sexuality; Social workers; Stressful; Summer; Symbolic value; Tan; Technology; Townhouses; Trauma; Weekends; Worry

Subjects: Attempted murder; Child abuse; Divorce.; Domestic violence; Lesbian teenagers; Lesbians--Relations with heterosexuals; Love.; Parents of gays.; Religion; Roatán (Honduras); Sexual minority parents.; Sexual orientation.; Transgender people.

00:39:19 - Her childhood awareness of the LGBTQ community

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Partial Transcript: Let's backtrack a little bit.

Segment Synopsis: Bennington discusses what she heard about the LGBTQ community as she was growing up, as well as whether or not the church that she attended discussed the topic of homosexuality.

Keywords: Aware; Behaviors; Choirs; Churches; Comfort; Conversations; Denominations; Fears; First kisses; Hillsdale College; Home; Households; LGBTQ; Master's degrees; Memory; Priests; Schools; Sphere of knowledge; Strict; Students; Uncles; Words; Wrong

Subjects: Episcopal Church.; Homophobia.; Homosexuality.; LGBTQ people; Religion

00:46:29 - Coming out

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Partial Transcript: Um, so, at a certain point, you are reunited with Angie again.

Segment Synopsis: Bennington discusses telling her family that she reunited with Angie as well as the rejection she faced at first, but then the gradual acceptance. She also talks about the perpetual struggle of coming out and coming out to her co-workers. She also briefly discusses setting up a gay-straight alliance program at Lafayette High School.

Keywords: Acceptance; Acquaintances; Attraction; Audiences; Boxes; Conferences; Conversations; Decisions; Family; Family functions; Father's Day; Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA); Hard feelings; Healing; Help; Human beings; Labels; Lafayette High School; Legal transitions; Maturity; Medical transitions; Men; Mothers; Pansexual; Partners; Perpetual; Personal life; Perspective; Picture; Presentations; Principals; Resolution; Situations; Social circles; Social transitions; Statutory rape; Student panels; Teachers; Tenure; Text groups; Trainings; Walls; Women

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation); Education; Gay-straight alliances in schools; LGBTQ people; Roatán (Honduras); Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual orientation.; Social work with sexual minorities.; Transgender youth.

00:58:34 - Her career

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Partial Transcript: And your title at Lafayette--what is your specific title?

Segment Synopsis: Bennington discusses her career, including the title of her job, what her work consists of, and the idea of retirement. She also talks about her progress with not taking her work home with her.

Keywords: Advocates; Anxiety; Attention; Bikes; Boundaries; Child welfare; Classes; Coping skills; Counseling; Depression; Discussions; Domestic violence shelters; Emotional labor; Empowered; Family acceptance; Freshmen; GSA faculty advisors; Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA); Good grades; Home; Horrifying; Human service professionals; LGBT housing; Meetings; Mindfulness; Numb; Open doors; Parents; Positive affirmations; Pronouns; Relief; Rewarding; Satisfaction; School social workers; School work; Self-soothing techniques; Skills; Substances; Suicidal ideas; Support; Theory; Titles; Transitioning; Videos

Subjects: Careers; Education; Gay-straight alliances in schools; LGBTQ people; Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual minority students.; Social work with sexual minorities.; Transgender youth.

01:08:44 - Forgiving her adoptive mother

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Partial Transcript: Uh, in terms of you--this was mentioned, you know, several, several minutes ago.

Segment Synopsis: Bennington discusses how she came to terms with how her mother treats her and how she learned to forgive people. She also talks about having more time to herself after her divorce, and where her father is now.

Keywords: Anger; Compassionate; Counselors; Decisions; Diet coke machine; Drug problems; Expectations; Healing; Homeless man; Homeostasis; Husbands; Jail; Loving; Maturity; Money; Mothers; Pain; Peace; Pleasure; Profound; Quiet time; Reading; Self-help books; Story; Time

Subjects: Forgiveness.; Resentment.; Self-help.

01:14:50 - Religion and her life

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Partial Transcript: It sounds like religion played a strong role in your childhood, like we discussed earlier, but to what extent did it play a role in your life as you got older?

Segment Synopsis: Bennington discusses how she feels about religion now that she's older and has a better outlook on the world. She also compares her partner's views to her own and discusses why she disagrees with her.

Keywords: 'Things happen for a reason'; Baptism; Churches; Despair; Environment; Higher power; LGBT community; LGBTQ community; Moral compass; Roles; School shootings; Significance; Traumas

Subjects: Death.; Domestic violence; Episcopal Church.; Families.; LGBTQ people; Religion

01:17:56 - Her relationship with the LGBTQ community

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Partial Transcript: And what do you consider your relationship with the LGBT community to be?

Segment Synopsis: Bennington discusses her relationship with the LGBTQ community and how she used the gay-straight alliance at Lafayette High School to bring LGBTQ youth together in order to connect. She also talks about the GSA at her school being nominated for an award by GLSEN, as well as her supportive colleagues.

Keywords: Colleagues; Drag performers; GLSEN; Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network; Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA); Guidance; High schools; Interview process; LGBT community; LGBT youth; LGBTQ youth; Lafayette High School; Organizations; Parents; Pride picnics; Relationship; Situations; Students; Supportive; Trainings; Vendors

Subjects: Gay-straight alliances in schools; LGBTQ people; Sexual minorities.; Social work with sexual minorities.

01:21:00 - Her involvement in pride marches

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Partial Transcript: So, remind me, what year was it when you and Angie moved to Lexington?

Segment Synopsis: Bennington discusses the pride marches that she attends with her partner, Angie. She also talks about the changes she has noticed in Lexington, Kentucky since she has come to live in the city, and some of the places that she feels safe, as well as her hopes for the future.

Keywords: Big picture; Capable hands; Cheering; Christmas break; Cincinnati Police Department; Cool; Cops; Events; Eye-opening experiences; Fun; Gay; Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA); Happy; Harassment; Healthy environments; Home; Increase; Kids; LGBTQ liaison officers; Lafayette High School; Organizations; Parents; Police; Police cars; Police uniforms; Population; Pulse nightclub shooting; Restaurants; Risks; Roommates; Schools; Sharing; Simple; Students; Tenure; Transgender; Vendors; Waving; Weekends; Welcome

Subjects: Careers; Change.; Cincinnati (Ohio); Future.; Gay pride parades; Lesbians; Lexington (Ky.); Police officers

01:30:08 - The Lafayette High School Gay-Straight Alliance

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Partial Transcript: Uh, this is my--probably my last, at least planned out, question.

Segment Synopsis: Bennington talks about what she had to go through to get the Lafayette High School Gay-Straight Alliance started and how she wishes to help the rest of the high schools in Fayette County, Kentucky to begin one for their students.

Keywords: Benefits; Dunbar High School; Friends; Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA); Hard work; Kids; Lafayette High School; Posters; Principals; Process; Ridicule; Safe; School years; Staff; Step; Support; Support groups; Volumes; Volunteers; Words

Subjects: Fayette County (Ky.); Gay-straight alliances in schools; LGBTQ people; Sexual minority students.; Sexual minority youth; Social work with sexual minorities.

01:33:28 - Helping her transgender students

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Partial Transcript: Uh, that brings us to the end of my questions, but I wanted to open the floor up to you in case there was anything you wanted to mention, or discuss, or elaborate on that maybe I skipped over, um, or didn't latch on to.

Segment Synopsis: Bennington discusses her daughter's friend committing suicide because of her family rejecting her for being gender non-conforming. She also discusses how she helps her transgender students to cope with their families, transitioning, and their teachers. She comments on how she advises teachers to ask the students what they want to be called rather than just not calling on them in class.

Keywords: Anxiety; Apartments; Bathrooms; Challenges; Communication; Coping skills; Counseling; Daughters; Depression; Effective support; Family acceptance; Family rejection; Focus; Fulfilling; Gender non-conforming; Halls; Happy; Healthy; Help; Home; Hospitals; Impact; Impressions; Interact; Intervention plans; Journey; Life journey; Middle schools; Names; Pansexual; Parents; Professional experience; Profoundly; Pronouns; Respectful; Roommates; School years; Shame; Significant; Stages; Suffering; Suicidal ideation; Support; Support plans; Support systems; Supportive; Transitions; Understanding; Unique

Subjects: Education; Families.; Suicide.; Transgender people.; Transgender students; Transgender youth.