Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Greg Feeney, October 29, 2018

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

 

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00:00:00 - Introduction and overview of life

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Partial Transcript: This is Adriana Sisko and the date is October 29th.

Segment Synopsis: Greg Feeney is introduced. A brief overview of his life is given, including small snippets of how he grew up, his choices to go to college and graduate school, a brief marriage to a woman, and his coming out as a gay man.

Keywords: Academics; American Red Cross; Chicago (Ill.); Coming out; El Paso (Ill.); Farming; Gay; Gay lifestyle; Kentucky; Marriage; Middle class family; Northern Illinois University; PhD; Queer; Volunteering

Subjects: Closeted gays.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay community; Gay men--Relations with heterosexual women; Gay men.; Gay youth; Gays--Identity.; Homosexuality.; Sexual orientation.

00:04:47 - Early childhood and elementary school

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Partial Transcript: And so let's start--we're gonna go through all of that in detail, right? Um, but let's start at the beginning.

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses his early childhood and the experiences he had growing up in a small farming town in rural Illinois. He explains some of the childhood games he played with his peers, and talks about how happy he was at the time, with no concern for his sexuality.

Keywords: Changes; Childhood; Childhood games; Culture; El Paso (Ill.); Elementary schools; Happiness; Neighborhoods; Parents; Rural; Rural lifestyle; Schools; Small town; Small town culture; Trust

Subjects: Childhood; Friendship.; Gay youth; Heterosexuality; Neighborhoods.; Peace.; Rural; Rural families; School and social drama

00:08:16 - Experiences in middle school

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Partial Transcript: And how about middle school, how would you sum that up? Did your general experience change in any way?

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses his experiences in middle school and beginning to understand his sexuality, mainly the feeling that he was different from everyone else. He discusses issues of homophobia, both from teachers and other students, stemming from gender roles and expectations of how he was supposed to act.

Keywords: Athletics; Awareness; Bullying; Expectations; Exposed; Femininity; Gay; Gender roles; Homophobia; Homophobic teachers; Masculinity; Middle schools; Queer; Sexual roles; Sexuality; Slurs; Teachers

Subjects: Closeted gays.; Gay culture.; Gay men--Relations with heterosexuals; Gay teenagers.; Gays and sports; Homophobia.; Homosexuality and education.; Homosexuality--Religious aspects.; Parents of gays.; Rural families; Sexual minority students.; Sexual orientation--Religious aspects.

00:16:06 - Religion growing up and high school

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Partial Transcript: And looping back slightly, um, what role did religion play in your household growing up?

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses how religion influenced his life as a child and teenager, elaborating on going to Sunday school and how church impacted his life. He also discusses high school and trying to date women so that he felt "normal."

Keywords: Academics; Bullying; Christianity; Churches; Dating; Education; Friendships; Gay; High schools; Homophobia; Insecurity; LGBTQ+; LGBTQ+ students; Love; Queer; Relationships; Religion; Sunday schools; Women

Subjects: Christianity.; Closeted gays.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay community; Gay men--Family relationships--United States.; Gay men--Relations with heterosexual women; Gay teenagers.; Gay youth; Homophobia.; Homosexuality and education.; Homosexuality--Religious aspects.; Rural families

00:21:26 - Awareness of LGBTQ+ people during his youth

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Partial Transcript: And what was your awareness, at that point in time during high school, being a teenager, what was your awareness of like the existence of LGBTQ people?

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses his awareness of LGBTQ+ people during his youth and the negative media portrayals of LGBTQ+ people at the time. He also talks about a specific situation where someone he knew came out to him and he reacted negatively, discussing the regret he feels about the situation.

Keywords: Awareness; Coming out; Fear; Gay people; Gay people in media; HIV/AIDS crisis; High schools; LGBTQ+; LGBTQ+ people; Media; Queer people; Rejection; Taboo; Violence

Subjects: AIDS (Disease); Closeted gays.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay community; Gay high school students; Gay men--Family relationships--United States.; Gay men--Relations with heterosexual women; Gay men.; Gay teenagers.; Gays--Identity.; Homophobia.; Homosexuality and education.; Lesbian and gay experience; Mass media and gays; Parents of gays.; Rural families

00:28:13 - Graduating high school and experiences in undergraduate education

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Partial Transcript: And so it wasn't that long after that that you graduated from high school then, right?

Segment Synopsis: Feeney touches on his experiences with graduating high school and the joy he felt that it was over. He goes on to discuss his anxiety about coming out to his parents due to their homophobia, and the homophobia he dealt with while in his undergraduate years, especially from fraternities.

Keywords: Anxiety; Colleges; Coming out; Dating; Dorms; Excitement; Fear; Fraternities; Graduation; Happiness; Homophobia; Internalized homophobia; Masculinity; Parents; Philosophy; Sex; Sex repulsion; Undergraduate; Women

Subjects: Closeted gays.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Fraternities; Gay community; Gay culture.; Gay men--Relations with heterosexuals; Gay men--United States--Social conditions.; Gay teenagers.; Gays--Identity.; Homophobia.; Homosexuality and education.; Stereotypes (Social psychology)

00:35:30 - First gay relationship

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Partial Transcript: And so tell me more about this person that came into your life during senior year of college.

Segment Synopsis: Feeney talks about his first gay relationship and the experience he had with it. He discusses the shame he felt during it, especially during sex, but also touches on how important it was to him and how happy he was. He talks about the heartbreak he felt when they broke up and how he thought it stemmed from the shame of it being a gay relationship.

Keywords: Colleges; Emotion; Flirting; Gay marriage; Gay men; Gay relationships; Heartbreak; Intimacy; Love; Marriage; Passion; Proposal; Relationships; Sex; Sex work; Shame; Students

Subjects: Closeted gays.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay couples--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States.; Gay couples.; Gay culture.; Gay men--Family relationships--United States.; Gays--Identity.; Gays--Mental health.; Rural families; Sexual orientation.

00:43:40 - Marriage to a woman

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Partial Transcript: And when did you two end up getting married, when was that?

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses his marriage to his former wife after his first gay relationship, discussing that it stemmed from a friendship and was his attempt to be straight. He talks about how he wasn't necessarily unhappy, but he had doubts. He discusses how it ended when he finally chose to come out.

Keywords: Coming out; Divorce; Ex-wife; Family; Friendships; Gay; Gay relationships; Healthy relationships; Marriage; Masters programs; Queer; Residence halls; Weddings; Wife; Women

Subjects: Closeted gays.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Divorce.; Gay men--Family relationships--United States.; Gay men--Relations with heterosexual women; Gays--Mental health.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Parents of gays.; Residence halls

00:52:09 - Divorce from his wife and coming out

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Partial Transcript: And so when things--when you s--when you all decided to go for the divorce and whatnot, um, tell me about how that impacted your relationships with the people around you.

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses his separation from his wife after he came out to her, and he explains that she was extremely supportive of his decision. He goes on to discuss coming out to his family who were not as supportive, threatening him with violence. He explains that later in life he has a good relationship with his mother, but simply a surface level one with his father.

Keywords: Choosing your family; Coming out; Disagreement; Divorces; Faith; Family; Fathers; Fear; Love; Mothers; Religion; Siblings; Sisters; Support; Threats; Violence

Subjects: Closeted gays.; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay community; Gay men--Family relationships--United States.; Gays--Family relationships.; Gays--Mental health.; Gays--Violence against; Homosexuality.; Parents of gays.; Rural families

00:58:57 - Dating after divorce / Graduate school

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Partial Transcript: Tell me more about your social circles in Lexington, like who do you choose to surround yourself with?

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses his social relationships within Lexington and the creation of his new, chosen family. He talks about beginning to date within the gay community after coming out and what that meant for him. He also talks about his experiences with graduate school and why he chose to go into it.

Keywords: Dating; Divorce; Faculty; Gay; Gay dating; Gay relationships; Graduate school; Love; PhD; Queer; Relationships; Research; Teaching; Volunteering

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay community; Gay couples.; Gay men--Family relationships--United States.; Gay men--Sexual behavior.; Gays--Identity.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Lexington (Ky.).; Sexual orientation.

01:07:20 - Teaching at Bluegrass Community Technical College

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Partial Transcript: --and so in my mind, I kind of thought I was gonna go to, or I was going to pursue, kind of your traditional four year research institution where that was a part of it, 'cause I kind of enjoyed both.

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses teaching at Bluegrass Community Technical College and his choice to go there and teach as opposed to a more traditional four year university. He elaborates on a specific student who he helped who was homeless and the impact it had on him.

Keywords: Bluegrass Community Technical College (BCTC); Community colleges; Education; Homeless students; Homelessness; Students; Teaching; Teaching philosophy

Subjects: Education, Higher--Kentucky; Education--Study and teaching; Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); School management and organization.; Teachers--Kentucky

01:12:08 - Being "out" in the classroom

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Partial Transcript: And so, uh, how have you navigated your level of like "outness" as a teacher over the course of your career there?

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses being "out" in the classroom and speaking openly about being gay. He talks about the evolution that's taken for him and what it's taken for him to get to that point, and how it has benefited him in allowing him to speak openly and honestly about LGBTQ+ issues with students and explain to them how to discuss those issues.

Keywords: Advocacy; Colleagues; Coming out; Diversity; Gay; Homophobia; LGBTQ+; LGBTQ+ people; Queer; Teachers; Teaching

Subjects: Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gay culture.; Gay teachers; Gays--Employment--Law and legislation; Gays--United States--Social conditions.; Homosexuality and education.; Homosexuality in the workplace.; Lexington (Ky.).; Sexual minorities.

01:17:11 - Changes in Lexington, Kentucky / Relationship to LGBTQ+ activism

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Partial Transcript: And so how many years have you lived in Lexington now, it's been some years...?

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses how Lexington has changed since the time he moved here twenty-four years ago. He also expands on how LGBTQ+ activism has changed, and what he's done to be an activist in the community.

Keywords: Activism; Charity; Chicago (Ill.); Extroversion; Gay community; Introversion; Kentucky; LGBTQ+; LGBTQ+ activism; LGBTQ+ community; Myers-Briggs Test; Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); Progressives; Visibility

Subjects: Gay activists; Gay community; Gay culture.; Gay men--United States--Social conditions.; Gay men.; Gay rights movement; Gay rights--United States.; Gay rights.; Gay teachers; Homophobia.; Homosexuality--United States.; Lexington (Ky.).

01:23:51 - Volunteer work and political belief changes

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Partial Transcript: What was that like?

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses his volunteer work with HIV/AIDS prevention and what it meant to him, including talking about the issues that HIV/AIDS has on the gay community. He also talks about his shift in political views, moving from being a Republican to being a Democrat.

Keywords: AIDS crisis; Critical thinking; Democrats; Government; HIV/AIDS; HIV/AIDS prevention; Innocence; Medication; Politics; Prevention; Republicans; Ronald Reagan; Sexual behavior; Volunteer work; Volunteering

Subjects: AIDS (Disease); AIDS activists; Closeted gays.; Drugs, Nonprescription--Utilization; Gay activists; Gay couples.; Gay culture.; Gay men--Sexual behavior.; Gay rights movement; Gay rights--United States.; Gay rights.; Gays--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States.; HIV infections; HIV-positive gay men

01:27:24 - Marriage to his husband

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Partial Transcript: And speaking of your husband, tell me about how you all met.

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses how he met his now-husband and the relationship he has with him. He discusses getting married for tax reasons and because of legal obligations and not because he had any interest in actually getting married.

Keywords: Dating; Economics; Fear of death; Fears; Flirting; Gay; Gay men; Gay relationships; Legal protections; Marriage; Marriage equality; Money; Partners; Queer; Relationships; Taxes; Wedding ceremonies; Weddings

Subjects: Gay couples--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States.; Gay couples.; Gay culture.; Gay men--Identity.; Gays--Identity.; Gays--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Kinship.

01:32:05 - Having kids and experience of parenting

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Partial Transcript: And I believe earlier you mentioned kids?

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses his experience of becoming a parent after he found out his partner had triplets and what that experience was like for him. He discusses the difficulty of becoming a parent and the trials and tribulations of it, and how it helped him to become a better person.

Keywords: Children; Custody; Gay; Gay men; Gay parents; Gay relationships; Kids; Life changes; Parenting; Queer; Queer parents; Relationships; Step children; Teenagers; Triplets

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

01:38:29 - Current political thoughts and hope for the future

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Partial Transcript: And so I have my second to last question.

Segment Synopsis: Feeney discusses his current political views and thoughts, especially on the current administration under Donald Trump. He talks about the current anti-transgender rhetoric and how it has impacted the community. He also touches on his hope for the future of the LGBTQ+ community and what will change and make people's lives better. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Activism; Activists; Anti-transgender rhetoric; Democrats; Donald Trump; George H. W. Bush; Government; LGBTQ+ people; Politics; Power; Republicans; Transgender people; Transphobia

Subjects: Gay activists; Gay couples--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States.; Gay rights movement; Gay rights--United States.; Gay rights.; Gays--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States.; Government accountability; Homosexuality--Law and legislation.; Politics; Transgender people--Legal status, laws, etc.; Transgender people.