Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Mead Overbeck, August 30, 2018

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

 

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00:00:00 - Childhood in Miami, Florida

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Partial Transcript: My name is Adriana Sisko and the date is August 30th.

Segment Synopsis: Mead Overbeck is introduced. She talks about her childhood in Miami, including her tomboy-ish nature and her outdoor adventures with her friends. She talks about her family's social status which led to her being required to come out as a debutante at the country club.

Keywords: Activities; Affluent; Artists colony; Athletics; Boys; Brothers; Clothes; Clothing; Coconut Grove; Controlling; Country clubs; Debut; Debutantes; Dresses; Family; Friends; Houses; Lexington (Ky.); Mothers; Parents; Playing; Social classes; Society; Southern Miami (Fla.); Tomboys; Washington (D.C.)

Subjects: Childhood; Families.; Miami (Fla.); Recreation

00:07:17 - Elementary school / Religion

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Partial Transcript: And so let's backtrack slightly.

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck talks about her experience during elementary school during the 1950s. She talks about her family's religious beliefs and church attendance during her childhood.

Keywords: 1950s; Athletics; Choirs; Churches; Classmates; Congregationalist churches; Crushes; Deacons; Dresses; Elementary schools; Mothers; Parents; Socializing; Spiritual; Youth groups

Subjects: Childhood; Education; Families.; Miami (Fla.); Recreation; Religion

00:10:25 - Discovery of sexuality from middle school to college

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Partial Transcript: So moving a step forward, how about middle school?

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck talks about her experience at a girls' camp beginning in middle school which led to her first lesbian experiences and relationships. She talks about her mother's awareness of her sexuality, and her mother's own sexuality. She talks about the social stigma at that time which caused her to remain closeted. She talks about her experience with diet pills which led to her dropping out of college.

Keywords: Amphetamines; Appearance; Awareness; Camp counselors; Children; Diet pills; Dropping out; Drug abuse; Drug use; English teachers; Fathers; Fears; Girls camps; Married; Middle schools; Mothers; Relationships; Secrets; Straight; Supportive; University of Tulsa; Weight

Subjects: Closeted gays.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Lesbian teachers; Lesbian teenagers; Lesbian youth.; Lesbianism.; Lesbians; Lesbians--Family relationships.; Lesbians--Identity.; Lesbians--United States--Social conditions.; Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual minority youth; Sexual orientation.

00:17:44 - First marriage

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Partial Transcript: And so you also mentioned that you got married.

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck talks about her first marriage, to a man named Robert, which was arranged by her mother. She talks about moving to Wisconsin after getting married.

Keywords: Arranged marriages; Churches; Colleges; Controlling; Dating; Married; Miami (Fla.); Mothers; Weddings; Wisconsin

Subjects: Marriage; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Veterans.

00:20:17 - College

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Partial Transcript: And so a slight backtracking.

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck returns to talking about her college experiences, including joining a sorority, dropping out of the University of Tulsa, and re-enrolling at Florida State University. She talks about her dating life at the time.

Keywords: Chi Omega; Colleges; Dating; Florida State University; Friends; Higher education; LGBTQ; Labels; Relationships; Secrets; Sororities; Sorority; University of Tulsa

Subjects: Closeted gays.; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Education, Higher; Greek letter societies.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Lesbianism.; Lesbians; Lesbians--Identity.; Lesbians--United States--Social conditions.; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.; Universities and colleges.

00:22:42 - End of first marriage and beginning her homesteader lifestyle

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Partial Transcript: Uh, so your first marriage was with Robert, right?

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck talks about the abrupt end to her first marriage. She talks about beginning to become a hippie, living in a group house, and eventually starting an arts summer camp in Wayne County, Kentucky. She talks about meeting her second husband, Tom, at this time and their desire to start a school which led to the creation of the arts camp. She talks about their open relationship and her relationships with other lesbians during this time. She talks about her passion for teaching.

Keywords: Alternative; Art camps; Artists; Arts; Arts camps; Buildings; Children; Community-building; Depression; Divorce; Group houses; Hippies; Homesteaders; Kentucky Arts Commission; Kentucky Arts Council; Kids; Lesbian relationships; Liberal; Married; Military spouses; Military wives; Milwaukee (Wis.); Milwaukee Free University; Monticello (Ky.); Open relationships; Partners; Passions; Radical; Robert; Salons; Schools; Sex; Society; Summer camps; Teaching; Tom; Women

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation); Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Lesbianism.; Lesbians; Lesbians--Identity.; Lesbians--United States--Social conditions.; Marriage; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Veterans.; Wayne County (Ky.)

00:33:24 - Current views on religion

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Partial Transcript: Um, how would you characterize your current relationship with religion?

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck briefly discusses her current views on religion.

Keywords: 'Seeker'; Meditation; Mindfulness; Organized religion; Reincarnation; Spiritual; Unitarian churches; Yoga

Subjects: Religion

00:34:40 - Raising her son

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Partial Transcript: What was it like raising Will?

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck talks about her parenting philosophy, sharing joint custody with her ex-husband Tom, and raising her son while in lesbian relationships.

Keywords: Arguments; Child-rearing; Children; Divorce; Joint custody; Lesbian relationships; Lexington (Ky.); Parenting; Sex; Sons; Tom; Will; Woman-identified

Subjects: Child rearing; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Lesbianism.; Lesbians; Lesbians--Family relationships.; Lesbians--Identity.; Lesbians--United States--Social conditions.; Marriage; Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.

00:39:51 - Obtaining her master's degree and teaching

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Partial Transcript: You used the phrase 'woman-identified' earlier.

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck talks about her interest in feminism. She talks about needing to obtain her master's degree in order to teach in Kentucky. She talks briefly about her teaching career.

Keywords: Behavior disorders; Employment; English; Fayette County (Ky.); Jessamine County (Ky.); Jobs; Liberated; Master's degrees; Special education; University of Kentucky; Woman-identified

Subjects: Feminism; Teachers; Teaching; Women

00:43:09 - Current partner and her son

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Partial Transcript: And that's where I met my current spouse.

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck talks about meeting her current partner while teaching and discusses their fear of being out in Lexington during their teaching careers. She talks about her son's awareness of her lesbian relationships and his opinion of them. She talks about how society has become more accepting over time.

Keywords: Acceptance; Accepting; Assumptions; Being out; Child-rearing; Childhood; Collaborative teachers; Conservative; Dating; Fathers; Fears; Fired; Friends; Homophobic; Janet; Male identity; Openness; Outspoken; Partners; Prejudice; Safety; Secrets; Sons; Substitute teachers; Teenagers; Wife; Will

Subjects: Child rearing; Closeted gays.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Homophobia.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Lesbianism.; Lesbians; Lesbians--Family relationships.; Lesbians--Identity.; Lesbians--United States--Social conditions.; Lexington (Ky.).; Marriage; Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.

00:50:40 - Safe spaces in Lexington, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: And what are--what spaces do you and Janet feel welcome in and safe in as two women in a relationship together?

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck talks about places in Lexington where she feels safe to be open about her sexuality.

Keywords: Affirming; Being out; Community; Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA); Genders & Sexualities Alliance (GSA); Neighborhood groups; Neighborhoods; Openness; Pride Center; Pride Community Services Organization (PCSO); Safe spaces; Supportive; Teaching; Unitarian churches; Welcoming; Women

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation); Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Lesbianism.; Lesbians; Lesbians--Identity.; Lesbians--United States--Social conditions.; Lexington (Ky.).; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.

00:54:19 - Importance of female and LGBTQ solidarity

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Partial Transcript: So why is important to you to have this feeling of solidarity and this feeling of being surrounded by like, like-minded women?

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck talks about why solidarity among women is important. She talks about her interest in supporting the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender youth. She talks about how she personally feels about being gay.

Keywords: Acceptance; Alternative; Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA); Genders & Sexualities Alliance (GSA); Happy; Hiding; Hippies; Like-minded; Males; Men; Pride Center; Pride Community Services Organization (PCSO); Secrets; Solidarity; Support; Transgender youth; Women-identified

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation); Feminism; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Lesbianism.; Lesbians; Lesbians--Identity.; Lesbians--United States--Social conditions.; Lexington (Ky.).; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.; Transgender identity; Transgender people.

00:57:39 - Changes in the Lexington community

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Partial Transcript: And so you've in--remind me, you've been in Lexington for how many years now?

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck talks about how the Lexington community has changed over time, becoming less conservative and more accepting.

Keywords: Being out; Careful; Changes; Character; Conservative; Jim Gray; Judgmental; Liberal; Mayors; Miami (Fla.); Open-minded; Pride Center; Pride Community Services Organization (PCSO); Secrets; Size

Subjects: Closeted gays.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Lexington (Ky.).; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.

01:00:19 - Current political administration / Hope for the future

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Partial Transcript: And so earlier you talked a bit about, um, the continued prevalence of male power.

Segment Synopsis: Overbeck discusses her views of the current political administration under Donald Trump. She talks about marrying her wife during the Obama administration. She talks about her hopes for the future. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: 'Helpers'; Acceptance; Active; Activism; Alternative churches; Barack Obama; Communication; Current administration; Donald Trump; Environment; Fears; Fred Rogers; Future; Gay marriage; Hopes; Janet; Male power; Marriage ceremony; Married; Men; Mike Pence; Mr. Rogers; Rights; Same-sex marriage; Scared; Sons; Supportive; Will; Women

Subjects: Discrimination.; Feminism; Homophobia.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Lesbianism.; Lesbians; Lesbians--United States--Social conditions.; Lexington (Ky.).; Marriage; Politics and government; Sexual minorities.; Sexual orientation.