Appendix 9

Transcript of April 11, 2019 Community Panel

Beth South

LGBTQ Community Panel, April 11th, 2019 Transcript

 

Travis Rountree:

Beth South

Abbie Sliger

Ethan Scott

Samantha Shockley

Lisa Marling

JR Ridgeway

Scott Tucker

Ben Guard

Sue King

Brent Walsh

Melissa

Clayton

Frances

Mikayla

 

Travis Rountree: Glad to see so many faces in the audience to celebrate diversity; to celebrate diversity of Richmond, as well. And so, I have a little script, so I don’t circle around and start talking about Game of Thrones on Sunday.

(Laughter)

Yeah. Let’s put it that way. So first off, I want to …give thanks, like you should for everything that everybody has contributed this semester. So, I’m going to kind a go through a sequence of folks and have them speak for themselves, as any good… you know, gratitude person should do.

So, first off, I’ll have… Actually, let me just read this first. I want to take the time obviously, of course, to first thank our sponsors: IU East School of Humanities and Social Sciences, especially our Dean [of HSS) Daren Snider, in the back. The English Department Composition Program, Diversity Inclusion Committee, where’s Frances [Yates]?, Strategic Initiative, Safe Zone, and the Alliance Group. Without their support these events would not have happened this semester. I’d also like to thank Abbie Sliger for  her tremendous work this semester. She’s not only been available to our students, but has also been incredible in helping put together artifacts and with the written components. She was my TA this semester. Without her positive opinion, critical eye, and positive attitude this project most certainly would not have happened and I have to stop talking about Abbie in here or I’m going to tear up.

So, would you like to stand?

 

Abbie Sliger: Well, just that I mean I’ve been with Travis for a really long time. So, it’s just kind of been coming  and this is great and I’m really glad that people could do this and put this together. And glad you all here, so thank you.

 

TR: Yes, very good. Thanks Abbie. Next, I’d like to thank my students for their tremendous efforts this semester, we still got a week to go, so you’re not off the hook just yet. Pump the breaks for a minute. Alright when I first started this I thought that my students would choose the easy route and choose small objects, just little simple things that I was so wrong. You all have gone out done this tremendous research you’ve chose places, you’ve chose high school clubs, you’ve chose other first interview . You’ve done so much for this project and I just want to thank you right now for all of your work, for doing that because that has been a tremendous work and it’s tough and we talked about in class, it’s tough to interview people. Yes absolutely. The research has been fast aid and empowering for all of us, I’m truly grateful impactful work they have done this semester. Many have overcome personal obligations that has happened to them throughout the semester and have persevered.

I would like to thank them obviously for their work and give the opportunity for two of them to talk. And as I said we are all friendly here; this is low stakes; this is a conversation. I want to reiterate that tune. This is a conversation we’re all going to have. So, I would like for Sam to come up and just talk about your project, what you did with the archive. I’m going to have Sam and Ethan come up and tell us what they did real quick.

Samantha Shockley: I interviewed my best friend Jamie.  She was the vice president for the first LGBTQ+ Club ay Union County High School in Liberty, Indiana. And when the club first kind of came to be, they had a lot of backlash. Their posters were torn down off the walls, a lot of name calling. But they persevered, they made the posters brighter and put them everywhere.

(Video starts playing with audio)

SS: That’s her! Awe. She’s awesome! She’s the best person ever. Well I took.. She… They put the posters everywhere and made them brighter. The greatest thing ever. But, they persevered, they pushed through and the club lasted 2 years. And it made an impact on the future grades to come because even though there weren’t very many members of the LGBTQ community in our grade, there were before us and after us. And it was awesome we made it a sacred place and I took the interview I had with her and did my research paper over hate crimes in Indiana and the legislation that they’re lacking to protect the LGBTQ+ community. And how, as individuals and as a community, we can fight against hate crime.

TR: Okay, thank you.

(Clapping)

Ethan Scott: Hey, I’m Ethan. So, what I did was is one of my best friends here, his name is Alex Hakes, he is a homosexual Hispanic from Puerto Rico and I decided to interview him. I asked him things like you know “What was it like coming out here vs in Puerto Rico?” and “Do you feel accepted here?” He was just like, “Everybody is so accepting especially in Puerto Rico” and then I talked to him like does homosexuality and religion correlate, he said, “Yes they do.” What I decided to do was first like put [the interview] into the archive and then Travis suggested  that since I interviewed someone that is Latino, that I do a Latino/Hispanic gay help groups in Indiana. Now that narrows it down quite a bit since we’re in Indiana, but I think I pulled it off and there’s a lot of help. And if I couldn’t find it, I found other help groups like Los Amigos. Felix over there recommended me to it, it’s great and then I also did like HIV help centers that help Latino population to get HIV help. And that’s it.

TR:  Ethan also created this huge poster, that’s amazing, if you were at the celebration for IU East Student Writing yesterday.  Ethan made the poster and members from our class are going to sign the poster and have it hung up as well. Because that serves a big thing to have as a presence there and that will be on the website on the digital archives and also material stuff there as well. So, I want to talk about the actual press book for just a second. If you notice we do have an introduction written by Abbie, myself, and Beth.

Here also with lots of stuff about the archive, stuff about the events that happened this semester. I would like to just address those really quick. So we had two film showings, one was called Southern Comfort about a trans community in rural Georgia; the second one was Love, Simon which is just like amazing and angsty  and beautiful and after you took this all in, you’re like okay let’s have a discussion, oh no, we’re all so emotional, let’s leave. So, we had those two.

Then we had Stephen Mills come talk to us and he was a local poet and award-winning  from Richmond, Indiana. He lives in New York now, so he came to our class and actually read the poem he had about Richmond, Indiana and his poem about his coming out. And he kind of told us his coming out story. So, we had him here and he also did a campus reading as well. And we do have some of his stuff, especially the talk he did in class we have that on our archive as well too. So, while this is sort of a repository for stuff to we also see this as sustainable as changing, which I am going to address in a minute. But I do want to acknowledge, we’ll do this all together. So… I have your introduction give me a second…

Lastly, I’d like to thank Beth South and the Campus Library, specifically Frances and KT too, for helping us do this. I went to them and talked to them about doing the primary source research grant. I was so excited, had no idea, I’d done some work at Google with the archives and I was like, “what could we do.” And they really helped to guide the way. We had an early meeting, you know with… KT and Frances and  then Beth stepped in and actually came to Bloomington, and were like okay, this is a great idea. Now how the hell are we going to do this? So, we talked about how we were going to do it. And again, and make it happen.

And I just like to give Beth a minute or two to talk about like you know what, what she did with this project. How she worked it.

 

Beth South: Hello, I’m Beth South. I’m the archivist here and I work at the Campus Library and I just really want to say the Campus Library and the Archives as a whole, we are very welcome and excited to always collaborate with faculty and classes and students. This has been a really great project especially for our archives, we are always trying to build, to make it more inclusive, more diverse, and to feature more student research. So, this was a dream project for me.

Travis and I went to the primary source immersion program in Bloomington this last summer, which really worked to pair faculty with special collection librarians and archivist, in order to introduce more primary research to classrooms. So, Travis and I flipped it a little bit in terms of we are having the students actually not go into the archives to look at stuff, but to bring stuff to the archives.  To go out to that community  to find what is historically, socially, and culturally important to us as a campus, as a community, and to really grow our research out of that. So, it was/been really great to work with him and, like Travis said, as you have heard a little bit already, there is a lot of great research that came out of this.

So, I just want to say thank you students, thank you Travis. It’s been really great, and I also just want to point out, even though this project is small in scope right now, we are hoping to continue and add to it. We hope more community members that are a part of the LGBTQ+ community here in Richmond would like to reach out to us, who might feel like they can share their stories. It doesn’t have to be publicly online. [With online] more people can hear stories [but] we also understand it can be a sensitive subject, it’s tough for some people. So, we can keep that restricted and a bit more local to just inside the [physical] archives.  We hope to continue to build upon this, let it grow. So, thank you.

(Clapping)

 

TR: This kind of goes back to what Beth just said, but my hope is that this archive becomes an organic, sustainable archive that keeps going. And like Beth said, we’ve already had people come forward. And especially from this panel. So, that was so exciting once the word started getting out more and more folks started  sharing their stories. Which is so impactful. Charles Morris and Kay Jay Lawson at the Career Archives function as “bodies of evidence” and “to show that LGBTQ folks are entering community and exists .”

I hope that this archive does not only that, but that it also reaches out to the Richmond and surrounding areas and that folks use it in dynamic ways. Myself and folks of marketing have brought community members here… and activists as well, in many different ways to talk about their experiences and then the LGBTQ archive.

I ask that they introduce themselves and I am going to ask them to come up here in just a second. As they introduce themselves with their pronouns and then with their experiences here in the area. After that I’d like for us all to have a meaningful conversation about what events and/or support we can offer the LGBTQ folks here. So, I’d like for them to start coming up now. If you would please. Take a seat up here. If you could introduce yourself, again, I see this as a very organic conversation. So, introduce yourselves, pronouns, and maybe perhaps your history here in Richmond.

And then I thought you after you introduce yourself you could just kind of talk about what we can do. Right? In the community. Also, there is a little prize under there [chairs]. S orry, it’s not a car.

But…So, yes go ahead and we can start.

Ben Guard: Start at one end.

Lisa Marling: I am Lisa Marling and I see a lot of friendly faces out here. I have been an ally since I was a very little girl. When we start talking, I will explain that, and then as years went on I was one of the first people in Richmond to work during the AIDS crisis, the AIDS epidemic when it happened. When it started happening here in Richmond, people started opening up and no one would take care of AIDS patients, there was two of us that would go in and do home health care with AIDS patients. And I have some very strong stories from my childhood and I’m already getting emotional. And so very strong stories from that, as we unfold here, I will share with you.

JR Ridgeway: Hi everyone. I’m JR Ridgeway, I pretty new to the Wayne County area. I moved from Ohio. Mostly what I can say is I came out as gay after I graduated high school. I came out while I was in the military and I am still currently in the military, the army to be exact. I actually came out when “Don’t ask Don’t tell” was still not lifted, but as you can see, I am still in, it’s been almost 8 ½ years now.

As soon as I moved here, I got picked up to be a Wayne County patrolman, so I work for the county sheriff’s department. My short time here… there is not much I have been involved with really, but I have not had any backlash or problems. When I do, I definitely speak up about it. I mean as anywhere else in the United States or the world you’re going to get that kind of stuff regardless of your profession or what you’re involved with. Just right now I can’t say much because I’m kind of new to this type of experience, but that’s me in a nutshell.

TR: And that’s what I want to hear, a gathering of everyone, folks who have been here for a while and folks who are new too. So, thank you.

Scott Tucker: My name is Scott Tucker. I grew up in the area at the time… I won’t say how old, makes me sound old…where it wasn’t as accepted, I guess, to be out. So, I didn’t come out until college. Growing up in a small town [it] wasn’t a great idea back then. I actually live in Indianapolis now and have a couple businesses there, but I still have a lot of friends over here, several clients, and some rental properties. So, I have been over here, involved in the community a lot, so I guess I am still part of the community.

Ben Guard: My name is Benjamin Guard and although I have just begun here,  I might have a little bit of a hunch. One of my biggest struggles is that I am asexual, aromantic, which although I may not have horrendous stories that other people might have it’s definitely an interesting story where every time I come out to someone, I then have to spend 15 minutes with them explaining exactly what it is. And then you get questions “do you do this?”, “do you do that?” and it’s just something interesting to have. And of thing that I am doing in the community, I am co-founder of SAGA, which stands for Sexually Outed Accepted Gender Accepted, which is the first LGBT rights advocacy group in all of Ivy Tech, that is currently where I am a student at, and I am also organizing the first ever Richmond Pride Festival.

(Clapping)

Sue King: I am Sue King and currently I work at Morrison Reeves Library, been there for going on 20 years. I came to Richmond in 1997 out of the navy, I am one of those of late bloomers. I didn’t come out to myself until I was 30 years old and was in the navy. So, that was a little bit interesting. I have not had any trouble in the years that I have been here. I work in a library and libraries are for everyone, as we all know.  But I have not had any trouble with anybody. I’m not… it’s not a secret everyone knows that I am, it’s just not been an issue. So, I’m pretty lucky on that.

Brent Walsh: My name is Brent Walsh and I was just invited here. I am transgender, my wife and I live in Indianapolis and I teach… not teach I’m sorry, I’m administrative faculty at the Earlham School of Religion (ESR) here in Richmond. So, I graduated from that seminary in 2013 and most of my adult life I have been a truck driver and so there is quite a shift between driving trucks and going to seminary, but that’s what I did. And when I heard there was a new position opening at ESR, I was eager to apply and get back to work and have a tremendous sense of community.

TR: Great. Thank you, for each of you sharing your stories and so with this part, I just want to open it up. The way that I’ve done this is that, I noticed this room is not as, it’s like an auditorium, so it’s not like a round table. But I would like for folks to talk, ask questions… , but I want to see this as a conversation that all of us are having with each other. So, if you want to start with telling stories about nursing during the AIDS epidemic,  that’s fine. I do have a set of questions, too. I am sure my students have stuff to talk about, their research and things, but I think I want to open it up for everyone to talk.

LM: Yes

Audience #1: So how as a teacher here at IU East could we or instructor how could we best maybe to serve you and what your needs are that we are maybe not aware of?

BG: Well as a student my best advice to give and I most certainly am saying this with, I am a passible white male pretty much the symbol of entitlement with this and I recognize that. So, of any person whatever they identify as, if they have purple hair or three legs or whatever the best thing you can do is just allow them to be. You’re never going to step on toes just letting a human being be a human being.

LM: And following that I want to go back a little bit in time. I grew up in rural Indiana down by Boston, Indiana. Everybody here knows where that is? Okay. Out in the middle of corn country. I grew up in a very bigoted family, white male privileged type of family, and from the moment of awareness I could never understand how you could just dislike someone for the color of their skin or their sexual orientation of any kind. I could just not understand that.

I had a best friend, she… her dad had a farm up the road from us and I loved that woman like, I still do, like you… I mean she was my other half. She was my best friend and before we had language for being gay or for being homosexual or being an ally or any of those kinds of things. She was busy being beaten up and put in ICU by her brother because she had spoken to his girlfriend. She was fighting and I knew there was something different about her, you know she wasn’t out chasing boys. There was something different about her, but I didn’t know what that was and in that day and time in this area..and I think I am… yeah, I’m probably the oldest one up here. In that date and time in this area, to be anything other than white male was dangerous; was deeply, deeply dangerous.

Jumping forward a little bit when the AIDS epidemic started, and by the way 1.1 million people today, 1.1 million people are HIV positive in America and I pulled that stat up this morning. We have 1.2 million people in the armed services roughly. Think about those numbers and those are known cases of HIV positives. I am willing to bet you that sitting in this room, there are maybe 2, 3 of us, even if we don’t know it that may be carrying HIV. HIV, when I was going into the world and becoming an adult, the epidemic hit and it was big news. The problem is that it’s not big news anymore but it still exists so much.

People back then would not… I had a patient whose parents would not come in the house, they would stand outside the window and talk to their son. I remember one particular person and I can’t share names or anything like that, but one particular person the parents shoved the boyfriend out into the yard and started kicking him. It was a very different time. I want to think that we are more civil now and we have moved forward, but it was a very different time. The issue is that AIDS still exists, I looked at international development, people are dying in other countries from it daily. We need to keep HIV knowledge and education at the forefront of our news and that is so important to anyone and everyone who is ill.

TR: And I think going back to Ann’s point too is that this is something we can disclose and comment about to our students also. This has not disappeared, this is still… there are also certain stigmas that go along with that still now. Absolutely. In the queer community, but also the straight community.  S o, it will work.

LM: Absolutely and you know we always only have one talking day wherever anything happens we have a talking day. And the people stop talking and people go back to the shadows and go back to suffering.

BG: And with that I would like to say that there is nothing at all wrong with pursuing safer sex practices in your life. Even if you have been with that person for years or just meeting them today, there is nothing wrong with using proper protection for whatever activity you are pursuing.

LM: We just actually had that conversation in a class, I teach here- I teach here and I teach at Miami and I teach at New York University and we were just talking… one of the insidious things, going back to your question. One of the insidious things that I have always done in my courses, is I’ve somehow worked something in about the LGBTQ community. I’ve always worked in something, some creative way, something that we can then open these conversations and start those things.

TR: And Bret you had your hand up too.

BW: I was just going to say that one area that I recognize in working with students and with faculty is that there is, there is a growing need for all of us to recognize the genders are not on the binary. So, one of the perhaps most challenging things for some of our faculty is that we have at least one, perhaps more students, who use they/them pronouns instead of he/she pronouns. I think the hardest part that they experience is that faculty almost dismiss that this is a preference or that this is their identity and, so they just keep referring to them as she. They actually look very feminine and behave very feminine and so, the instinct for a lot of people is to refer to them as she, but that makes them feel very dismissed because it doesn’t seem that people are trying hard enough to actually make that shift.

And what I would suggest is if you find yourself struggling to make that transition from binary gender system to they/them or other types of identities, is if you find yourself making a mistake, don’t make a big deal about it, just be like I just made a mistake. I referred to the student as she and I just corrected myself by saying they and just keep moving on. So, the more you make of it “oh I’m sorry it’s just a habit and I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” all of that is making them uncomfortable, so just correct yourself and move on.

TR: I’d like to jump off that one too. I had several students in Louisville  that identified as gender queer or used the pronouns “they”. Yes, I would want to totally echo that back. Don’t make a big deal, don’t fall over yourself, and be like “oh my god, I’m so sorry!” It takes some getting used to and I think it’s critically important to the students too.

I know not all of us are teachers up here, but that same student, and I know if you all have taken Safe Zone with me before [would know this], that same student…for this creative narrative project that I had been doing… talked about their transition to us and how they drove up to Lexington to get hormones and how they came out to their parents. And [they] felt comfortable enough… I mean we talked about things we can do for our students. You know empower them; tell them they matter and that other students in the class know that they matter too.

So, it’s just an incredible narrative. You have that moment in class where you are like [gasping noise], “that was really emotionally.”  It’s powerful for teachers and students alike, that acknowledgment. Embrace the they, embrace the ze,  embrace the pronouns for sure.

Audience #2: On top of that, I think that as teachers/professors in a classroom, they are a lot of ways that you could signal that “Oh, I’m pretty friendly to these sorts of things,” like asking on the first day of class, “if any of you have any pronouns you’d prefer,” like that signals… “Oh, this person at least is friendly to this sort of thing or maybe this could become a more safe space so we can be more out and mutual.”

Audience #3: And I would make it known to the entire class that this classroom is inclusive.

So, and that you know, that it’s not to be tolerated for people to disrespect us for who we are.

Audience #4: Well, I was just going to say that when I came here in 2002 that this was a pretty… it wasn’t as open as it is now, campus. And we held an open forum and we found out that not only students, but faculty and staff felt invisible who were LGBTQ identified and so it’s not, we need to create a campus environment and a community environment that recognizes that. And I think being open and accepting, like you said, singling to your classes that your receptive, you’re also singling to the… to your employees that work in the environment, is also important.

TR: I agree. Just spread it all around. Yes.

Audience #4: I think another thing that instructors can do is a diversity audit of their syllabi. Or what departments can do is a diversity audit of their syllabi, which we did where I worked. So, it’s the only place that you have LGBTQ, African American, Latinas, etc. people in your textbooks when you talk about those topics. Or there is also a really excellent physics book written by a trans male or a Latino male, African American chemistry professor, but taking a look at the articles that you have, that you have your students read, taking a look at the text books that your students read, taking a look at the stories in your literature courses that you read to analyze, just do that diversity audit and… you know, are you presenting things to them that they can relate to or is it only those of us who look like the majority?

BG: Exactly. And on that note, homosexuality and gender identities, all of this have been around forever, so you just need to look hard enough to find stories . World War II was shortened drastically by the work of a gay man, Alan Turing…  saved tons of lives, yet by his own government was forced to chemically castrate himself and eventually committed suicide. Terrible story, yet we’re not celebrating the fact that great achievements, just because how numbers work, there’s gay people and lesbians and trans-gender anywhere at any form in time, they were just as great. Things that so many standard history books overlook. Just peek back behind the years of oppression and hatred and you’ll find something there. So, always keep an eye out for the truth.

TR: It’s like a hashtag, that’s great.

Audience #5: I’d also… I was a student here, started in 2003, and one thing that has always been clear to me in my years of living is that, lesbians and gays, not so much of trans, but we are good at hiding it out. Right? The longer you’ve been out the longer/easier it is to hide, so you’re being very careful. So, you may be surrounded with people who identify inside as LGBT, but it’s not visible because you can pass as straight. So, and I’ll give one example: so, my senior thesis here, I was challenging the English department to offer a LGBT literature course and I wrote the whole thing, its 43 pages and it has a syllabus, but I hesitated to bring it to the English department to say, “hey we need to have this course.” So, when I talk about it in class they never talk about the subject matter, they never talk about that type of literature.

LM: Interestingly … this was many years ago, a long time ago, after I first graduated, I graduated from here with my masters, I wanted to offer a LGBTQ course. Okay.

Audience #5: We’ve talked about that.

LM: We have. You and I have talked about that. And I was kind of stonewalled, excuse me for using that word. (Audience laughs) I was stonewalled and finally it got to the point where I was told, “Well, you can do that, but you have to do it in the summer time.” Because traditionally in the summer, low enrollment in the courses and oh it won’t fly and you know if you don’t get ten people at that time. I don’t know what it is now, but ten people at that time, [if] no one will [sign up] (less than 10 people), they’ll drop the class. So, lets pat her on the head, let her do this. Well, I offered the class, it was like summer 2, and I had a full class and a huge waiting list trying to get into it. I had a doctor from Reid Hospital who wanted to audit it, she came over and audited the course. I had mothers of LGBTQ children, I had LGBTQ people, I had a couple who wanted to cause trouble, but we got that handled quickly. And by the time we got to the end of that course they were going out to lunch with each other, they were all of a sudden… everybody was just the same and there was not this… this them and us kind of thing, but it’s interesting that you still had that issue after that success with that.

Audience #5: I was just saying it’s much easier for allies.

LM: That is probably true.

Audience #5: They… It’s probably because you have much more to risk and I just grew up in a time where… I grew up in the south, so you got to protect your butt. Right?

LM: Yeah

Audience #5: And so, you learn how to pass and you learn how to use the right word. The wrong pronoun at the right time. Right?

LM: Yup

Audience #5: Y’all have to use the word they, we, their, you, she because then that gets suspicious. So yeah.

LM: Yeah that’s a good point. That’s a good point.

TR: I feel like we have definite interest now. To come back and teach this course. But you know I think that this is absolutely something that we should continue to talk about. And continue, you know we have students now in ENG-W70. You know of folks here that may be interested in that course that would spread the word about that course and taking it that course as well. So, absolutely. I do want to shift the conversation because you know we’re talking about students and classrooms and things of that nature.

To the folks who are like from the community and maybe even talking about you know you have a lot of military experience, you have lots of experience about growing up here, and library work. So maybe with the three of you think of some experience here or use an experience from the military. Just telling your… You’re from Ohio, right? Yeah. Maybe over there I don’t know. I just want to show—From the school to the public.

RJ: I could say a lot about the military. So, coming up as a young soldier in the military being so young. I would say my second year I was in the military, that is when I decided to come out, I was scared just because the “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing was not lifted yet. I was also motivated because I was just tired of not being who I truly was and I just felt like people needed to know who I was. So, I wasn’t going to be fake or anything like that. I came out, another soldier, a female, she came out too with me. So, we kind of did it together. When I came out, I mean I was very surprised at the reactions that I got, everybody crowded around us and let us know that we were welcomed they had a lot more respect for us. Just because we were able to you know come out and be who we wanted to be and just let everybody know that we’re here and we’re not going to change because we’re in the military.

At first there was a lot of uncomfortable situations because, for instance, showering. People knew I was gay, so I wouldn’t shower with all the other soldiers that were showering. I would wait till it was really late and no one was around and I would go take my shower. And that’s because I have respect and I know that people know, “Oh. Ridgeway is gonna be looking at me” or this and that. First of all, I just want to put out there that army men are disgusting. (Everyone laughs) So, I will not go near them.

After a while, you know, people would… they would recognize what I was doing. They would ask “Ridgeway, why don’t you shower with everybody?” and I tell them that exact reason. I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable showering with me, you know. This is all so new. They just lifted the ban and everything at that point, too. It’s just one of those things. I was uncomfortable because I didn’t want any drama. Eventually my senior leadership was like, “you come shower with us, that’s an order. I don’t care what everybody else thinks.”

Eventually as time went on, I became more senior myself in the military. I’ve become a huge advocate for soldiers and whoever air men, sea men, who are scared to be themselves in the military. I am also a drill sergeant, so that’s kind of a big thing. I let young soldiers that I train know first thing, like right then and there, if you have any problems with the person across from you being another male or you know this person may be gay or whatever, you need to speak up now because there is no place for you in these ranks. It’s just one of those things that now [It’s] come to the point where if you have any kind of backlash on the LGBT community in the military, you can be shepherd out with a dishonorable discharge. It’s a big thing now. There has been a lot of scares, obviously, with this presidency and all this other stuff. You know a huge thing with the transgender community. Yeah, it’s just been one of those, it’s been an experience that I would never want to lose and deploying and everything like that. You know it’s just…there’s a lot that’s been going on with the military and our community.  I mean I wouldn’t ask for it any other way so.

And being law enforcement, I was also law enforcement in Ohio, never really got in anything. You know at first people would look at me, when I first moved here my partner at the time, we went to the fireworks over in…  Glen Miller, we were all on the hill and I have no problem with showing public affection, but what scared me most we when we were holding hands walking back to our vehicle and there was police officers snickering and smiling, laughing at us. I didn’t think anything of it, but it kind of scared me to go on with the process of becoming a law enforcement officer here. When I went to the academy and everything like that, everything was fine. Sheriff Cappa at the time and our new sheriff kind of pulled me to the side and just let me know that if you have any problems to let us know and they would do whatever it took. Other than that, everybody I work with here in Wayne County, everybody that I’ve encountered besides some people that I encounter and they do bad things (everyone laughs) have really supported, you know, and have always let me know that they would have my back in any type of matter like that.

TR: I think it’s worth saying to that our campus police did come, pretty much everybody came to our Safe Zone training, as well, so they are very much concerned about these issues, too, and actually I don’t know if you thought to meet them or not. They’ve been really super approachable and very like inquisitive about what they can do to help the community. So great.

ST: Gosh, I feel like I should have something profound and ludicrous to say following that. I don’t know.  So, I grew up in Winchester [IN], which is near here, a small town with 5,000 people. So, in the 90’s was definitely- there were very few out people at that time and especially in a small town. I remember the first time ever going into a gay bar and its, “Oh my gosh, there’s like more of me, you know.”

(Laughter)

Like a small number in the whole world and you realize, “Okay, this is normal. This is fine. This is good.”

So, I wasn’t out in high school. I didn’t really get picked on too much, probably more for being nerd then for being gay. But I stayed there a little bit in my early 20’s and bought a house with my partner at the time and the day that we closed you know we went back, worked on the house a bit. And that same evening went to the grocery or something and ran into somebody and you know as I was walking out “Oh yeah, I heard two guys bought that house.” It already went through the whole town. So, that was my experience of having to you know every little thing I did, or we did, was kind of under a microscope. Some people were fine with it and you know I also got, the you know, “QUEER!” someone screaming as they drive by which I don’t really understand why people do that because, like yeah, I already know.

(Laughter)

[Mocks yelling back] “Heterosexual!”

(Laughter)

There’s no point. But this comes to…  you have to cross that threshold of not caring what people think. And that’s with anything. I think people stress way too much of what people think of [them], whether it’s your sexuality or whatever. So, I think once you get passed that, then I didn’t care. You know at that point, it was no longer my problem because I came out and accepted myself, it was their problem that they had a problem with it. But for the most part, I was lucky being supported and having a supportive family and friends. So, I didn’t really lose family members, like some people I know. Other people in our area weren’t as lucky. Some did not have supportive families and there was one guy, his father was a pastor, so that didn’t go over very well. Another friend actually got bullied a lot because he did come out in high school and actually tried to kill himself, but luckily, they were able to pump his stomach  and save him. But not everybody was as lucky.

I also think, too, one of my biggest things have always been for heterosexuals and allies, the importance of that role in general because things don’t change in this country from the minority only advocating it as to when the majority advocates for it. And you can’t be afraid to speak out because I’ve had people privately or message me on Facebook, “just so you know I don’t have any problem, but you know my uncle is running for republican or whatever, and I can’t post anything on Facebook.” And I’m like, okay, so you’re telling me that I should be happy that you’re afraid to support me publicly.

So, I think being able to stand up and say, “Hey, that’s not right or I support you,” or…we see people go and vote for a certain candidate that is anti-LGBT. You know that says a lot when it’s like, “Oh, I’m just doing it for the physical part.” So, I guess my human rights fall under physical responsivity. So, that’s kind of a thing that I think people should look at and also even when you say you are an ally, thinking about are you really 100% an ally. Because I had a friend that was invited to a similar speaking event like this for LGBT issues and one of his heterosexual friends [says], “Oh, I don’t know, what if [you] work with the public and what if some people don’t like that and they cause a problem with your job?”… to the point of scaring him into not doing it and I think, ok, but if you don’t have a problem with it, shouldn’t you be the one saying, “well, if anyone says anything, I got your back”. So, things like that. Maybe you think you’re helping them avoid a problem, [but] you’re actually making it worse.

Audience #6: I don’t know how many United Methodists are in the room: I am one, my dad was a minister. I just want to apologize…

(Laughter)

for this stupid, stupid vote that went through this February [2019]. I do want you to know being a little bit more on the inside, this did not go over well with a lot of United Methodist, particularly in this country its going up to the judicial court and, hopefully, will not actually take effect. The issue is that we do have wording in our book of discipline that at the-at… right now is discriminatory, and people have been ignoring it, and that was okay. But, the decision by the “traditionalist” was to enforce that pretty bad wording. Another proposal on the table was to get rid of that stupid wording and just make it very open church for everybody.

So, anyway we’re all hoping that it will sort itself out in a-in a very open way, but like I said I just want-. You spoke of your dad- uh no your friends dad being a minister, and I guess I just wanted to say that there are some very liberal ministers out there, my dad was one; very, very proud of that. He’s come around the 60’s, you know there’s a lot of very liberal ministers out there and hopefully you know people of faith can come together and fight this. Because it’s not every church that feels in such conservative ways about sexuality. So, I wanted to say that.

BG: On that note I would like to mention that April 16th over at Ivy Tech there is going to be a diversity talk on religion and LGBTQ+ issues 11:30-1:00 and it’s open to the public.

TR: And I just have to pass this to Brent. You just did a tremendous thing at Earlham, so can you tell us about what you all did?

BW: This year…we have an annual spirituality gathering where we pick a topic and have key note address and workshops kind of revolving around that topic. And this year the topic was LGBTQ+ spirituality, and so they asked me to share… to offer the key note address, which I was happy to do. And I felt very, very safe and very embraced in that process. I basically just told them my story of growing up in a very strict religious faith tradition. My family was Baptist and I was born female and, so I was expected to have certain gender roles. We weren’t allowed to wear pants or shorts or anything besides dresses, long hair, and all that stuff.

So, I kind of went through my story of coming out as lesbian and then eventually transitioning to male and the affect that that had on not only my family, but also my relationship with God, with the divine. And then working through all that, I’m trying to put it in a nutshell.

(Laughter)

It is kind of a 45-minute speech.  But then working through all that and finding myself in a place where I wanted to answer a calling of faith. So, I went to seminary, graduated from seminary, and now I work at the seminary. And on the note of saying there are very liberal pastors out there or ministers of faith, it certainly is true at the Earlham School of Religion. We have a really celebratory community in terms of various types of diversity in the LGBTQ diversity. So, we have some nonbinary students, we have some transgender students, we have- I’m on the faculty, so a trans person on the faculty… and gays and lesbians, probably about as many of them as straight people, so very inclusive, embracing.

TR: I think it’s worth sharing just in advertising for this, I went down into the Depot D istrict and sort of gave away flyers and many, many, many businesses were very accepting to the point where I went to the Firehouse BBQ place…a nd, also as a southern I’m like “hmmm, it’s okay.”

(Laughter)

The woman working there was like, “Oh my god this is great!” [She] immediately took a picture of the flyer, and I’m like, “Well, show up.”

(Laughter)

So, I also would like to say, there’s several churches here that have been very accepting, too. So, I think that is absolutely worth saying. Who do we have, Frances?

Frances: Yeah, I wanted to add to the faith aspect, there is an LGBTQ religious archives network and it’s a growing body, just like I hope our  archive will be. Going back to the sharing, and if you have professional archivist and students who are taking those stories, having them documented and shared, now that’s a body of research that people can tap into. I have the good fortune to interview Travis and his partner Caleb and their very different experiences and their interesting stories aside from everything else. They’re just fascinating stories about life. So, that’s a resource that can be tapped into as well.

LM: On the church note, we have Clayton here in the audience… I just called you right out.

(Laughter)

Clayton has come over from the library in Eaton, Ohio. They have started a LGBTQ program there, but they are getting a lot…of backlash.

Clayton: We are, we’re getting a lot of backlash, especially in the religious aspect. Yeah, lots of backlash, lots of trolling on Facebook. They are basically posting comments and causing… Yeah, there’s been lots of issues with that.

Frances:  Has there been any support though. I mean, have you had people commenting against that…

Clayton: Well, what we’ve done is that we’ve… We’ve had a certain past situation in Preble County. I don’t know if anyone here was aware to what happened in West Alexandrea. There was a trans student at Valley South named Maxwell, who actually took their own life.  This was on the 8th of this year, right after Christmas break. He took his own life at the bus stop and the bus driver found him.  This happening has kind of sparked…has made us more aggressive with our marketing of this program.

So, we actually sent out posters to the schools. At first, when we made the program, this was last year, actually when I was working at the actual library and not the office—When we put those posters out, we had people ripping them down. But when we reached out to the schools, some said no, completely said no or had no response, but after this happened, we had Valley South reach out to us to ask for posters and also Eaton Community School. And, for me, I’m a graduate of Valley South and this hit home, personally, and it actually happened in the lawn of my house. So, yeah it makes me reevaluate the whole situation in Preble County. I also think that it’s making other people in Preble county think about it, too. Because before we didn’t have any… no one at the schools wanted to hear us, but now they are. Now they are and… it was a gratifying moment to be able to send those posters to the school, in delivery, knowing that they are going to be posted. Some students would still post Bible comments next to them, but they kept them up. You know, if they ripped them down, they put them back up. So, there is change, but I find it a lot more backlashes with the religious portion of it.

Audience #6: I think there will probably be a lot- there will be a lot of backlash in this county as well. LGBTQ ministers are not exactly celebrated at the Ministerial Associations around town. And I think where as we celebrate people who haven’t experienced a trouble here…. as long as folks stay quiet, as long as you act right, as long as you don’t bring up any issues, but as it comes to more to the forefront and as people begin to speak, there may be more backlash. And so, I think that we need to know that.

Clayton: There is always going to be backlash, but just by letting it slide and letting it go, that’s not helping you.

Audience #6: That’s right. That’s right.

Clayton: So, someone has to put their neck out.

Audience #6: Right.

Clayton:  And that’s why the library, you know, we’re trying to do that.

Audience #6: Right.

Clayton: I worked with GLSEN in  greater Dayton [OH], years ago, back before they dissolved. Even then we tried to get something set up in the school and it was just a wreck. I think this is a good step forward. That’s the thing, being quiet about it, is not going to help. Right?

Audience #6: No. But, yeah. Yeah

Audience (next to Clayton): Resistant.

(few people talk at once)

TR: Let’s let Melissa  talk and then up here.

Melissa: So, I’m going to interject just a little about both right here. (laughing) When I started teaching in 2006… I teach a lot of freshman comps. So, I do a lot of first semester students. Taught a lot of 131 all this time. And one of the projects, a self-directed research project. I tend to be as non-political as possible and let students write whatever they want to write and research. In those [early] days, any papers having to do with LGBT, same sex marriage, was anti-{LGBT}. It was really hard for me to support that student through the work, but that’s who I am. So, I just kept my cool. I never outed myself in classes as a result because I didn’t want students to feel like now they can’t- now I’m inaccessible. So, I am just—been very careful.  What I’ve been noticing over the last 10-12 years, there’s been a change. So, in the last few years the same sex marriage papers are supportive, they- my students—do not seem to understand why there’s anti-LGBTQ. And maybe the students who are not supportive are just being quiet about it. So, now there’s been a change here. But yeah…my moment of hope.

TR:  I’m going to continue on the “Hope Train.” I have two students here, who actually talked to Richmond High School, and interviewed the GSA there at Richmond High School, the faculty instructor and some other folks. And talk about hope, I was like, “Oh my gosh,” and hearing from other students that I know there. So, there is a glimpse of hope. But, saying that I don’t want to discredit or ignore this awful tragic thing that has happened here and I think from that we grow out of this stuff. We grow and become more visible. Which I think is the biggest thing with this part of having an archive, the whole reason that I kind of started this, too.

Melissa: Just one very quick… You’re starting first rainbow… ok. I will tell you; it’s been underground we had [a group]. It was called Rainbow Richmond.

BG: Yes, I am well aware.

Melissa: So, you should talk with us because we have the banner. We used to do the 4th Street Fair. We would set up and one of the students from Richmond High School stopped by and we were the ones that talked to them about doing GSA at Richmond High School. So, I’ll just say stuff happens, and you may not realize when and where its happened. So, talk to us about it.

BG: So, my original plan was never to create a pride festival. That seemed like a lot of work and its most definitely turned out, but I’ve been challenged through mentors and great instructors throughout my life that, “In the darkness don’t hide your candle.” You must share it to get other people. Yes, it’s a great song too. The point is that every single step in the wrong direction, no matter how insignificant, no matter how impactful, they add up. Every single step in the wrong direction must be resisted, every bad thing that happens shows two good things that happen, every hate crime that’s committed has a pride festival that- the world may… I don’t know… I don’t have the scope to see whether it’s going better or for the worse, but I know that if I provide something that helps one person and then they help another and helps another then eventually, no matter how long it will take, eventually things will get better for everybody.

So, with that in mind I was like—well,  Columbus, Indiana got their first pride festival, Mike Pence’s hometown got their first pride festival.

(Laughing)

Great! I was like, well why doesn’t Richmond. So, as being president of SAGA at Ivy Tech, I reached out to IU East’s Alliance and Earlham’s Spectrum and working together and organizing the pride festival together using the college leadership because those are the people that are going to make the impact for tomorrow, today.

Melissa: The Rainbow Richmond, it was a bunch of older people.

BG: Right.

Melissa: Many of them had said their lot…

Someone in the audience: Fine!

(Laughing)

Melissa: …have spent their lives in fear. Teachers afraid to lose their jobs.

BG: And with that note, we were talking about people, like I heard this thing called Rainbow Richmond. We should really check it out and I tried looking for it, but honestly, couldn’t find anything. So, my assumption was that everyone had moved away or …

Melissa: No, no we’re still here.

BG: So, I’ll definitely get to talk to you later. But, the biggest struggle right now and I would like to say would be communicating with the city court house and Parks [dept]. No one has told me no yet, but I haven’t put an official application yet, because one of the biggest problems is insurance; that even for a private event, we need to have insurance. So, I am trying to raise the funds for that currently. I have $250 to go. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s not nothing either and having a bunch of broke college students trying to throw on something… we’ve been able to line up free music, entertainment, we’ve got some speakers who would do it for free. So, there’s still a need involved and our plan is to have it June 15th at Jack Elstro’s Plaza from 3-6 pm. We wanted some place that was in the open, that people knew about us, that we weren’t afraid to be who we are, that you may hate us, but that’s not going to mean we don’t exist. So, allow us to exist. So, that everyone can have a peaceful life.

Audience #6: Give his number at Earlham School of Religion because you’ve contacted people at the undergraduate side. And so, we have different telephone numbers and those kinds of things, but there may be some people that can help you out and get to your last part. So, get his telephone number before you leave.

BG:  Thank you.

(Laughter)

TR: This is part of the reason I wanted us to gather, to share information. A couple things, one I wanted to make sure everybody has talked and so, Sue do you have anything? I know we kind of… as I grow up Sothern Baptist, we testify in church. You don’t have to testify if you don’t want to, but…

SK: I guess just about to bounce off that side of the military, I was in the military in the early 90’s. And I was, I was stupid. I didn’t know that I was gay until I met the woman who “turned” me.

(Laughter)

But she was she was great. She was patient, she got me passed the….you know… and I actually did say this, I don’t like all women, I just like you. But the thing was she was, she was a prior enlisted so she already been in the military for 17 years and she was terrified that we would be found out and she would lose her pension. And so, I was still pretty young and stupid so, I wasn’t quite as tuned in, but very careful about pronouns all the time and so that was my, was my first experience.

TR: I also want to showcase a little bit of this archive real quick and talk about what our students have because I think that these stories are incredibly powerful.   If you notice in the back of the room, we do have a camera there. So, if you don’t what to be in a transcript or included let us know, let Beth know. I don’t know how technology works.

(Laughter)

But I do want to talk about just a couple other student projects that we’ve done here. So, I have a student working on drag in the Richmond area and surrounding areas. So, it’s wonderful. We’ve had drag shows, we’re having one come up with Alliance on the…

BG: 19th.

TR: 19th, yes.  Visibility is huge, so they’re wonderful. They throw on a hell of a long drag show, too. I have friends who do drag, but it’s fantastic. There was one at Earlham that was super fun. If there’s one within an hour, I’m there.

Also, we- I have a student who worked on the Teetor House in Earlham, which is a living learning community and talked about that place there. Mikayla, would you mind sharing really quick.

Mikayla: So, I’m from Oxford, Ohio. I found an article, which I’m sure he can show you, but I found an article about before gay marriage was legalized in the United States, couples would actually travel to Wayne County to get married. There’s like some statics and, there not like over whelming, it’s like 30 couples from Ohio all came here to get married. So, basically what I talked about is that since then, Ohio has embraced the [LGBTQ] community, in general. Like in Cincinnati, there is a huge…LGBTQ community and I talked about the switch, how Indiana was the [more] progressive [state]and then now Ohio is. And like what Indiana can do. I talked about Columbus, Indiana and I mentioned them in my paper and I talked about Rainbow Richmond. So, all that.

TR: Yeah so, we have great thing that are happening here and I’m glad that my students were able to find those wonderful things. And also, I want to give us time to just talk to each other make connections get them together with the originators of the Rainbow of Richmond. And also, for us to just talk to each other because I think there’s power in talking to each other. So, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank our panelist and also our students so. (Clapping). I’m going to leave the power point up if you want to mess around with it.

BG: Can you tell us how to get there? If we have access to a computer.

Beth: Yes, it’s available online. I will have the link on the Archive Libguide, it’s via IU Pressbooks. You can even Google it, if you do, the IU East LGBTQ archive. We are not the very top listing because there have been other events here that have kind of [override] it at the top, but if you scroll down a little bit, you can find us by Google. Like I said, I’ll have it up on the library website as well.

TR: There’s reception-

Beth: And a blog

Frances: And there will be a library blog about it.

Beth: Yes, so follow us, the [Campus] Library on Facebook, we’ll have links to it there as well.

TR: There is also going to be links to, there is an [LGBTQ] archive at IU South Bend.  The same thing happened at Louisville,  like someone was like, “I hoarded all this like LGBT stuff at my house and their partner said, “well, you have to get rid of those books. It’s like an episode of hoarders.” So, they dumped it all IU South Bend, the same with Louisville. But we are collecting this way. I sort of want to showcase exactly what Beth said; if you know folks who want to share their stories, who are from this area or really from any area that want to contribute to the archive, please, please, please let us know. She is going to be the one interviewing, since she is the archivist, but I am happy to talk to you as well. So, lets thank them [the panel], again and we have reception and food out there in the hall.

(Clapping)

Chancellor Kathy Girten: Just want to say one thing. I want to recognize that our IU Trustee Donna Spears, who is from Richmond, and it’s really great to have an IU Trustee here and we appreciate that very much.

(Clapping)

TR: Enjoy the food! Have fun!

 

 

 

 

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