Partial Transcript: "A multitasking individual that has a big heart and cares about all people, but especially LGBT people. I just kind of try to live my life for the greater good, and irrespective of who it is. When I try to help people I never ask who they are, where they're from. I just want to help, and that's kind of the way I try to live my life."
Segment Synopsis: Rosie describes herself and her early days in Asheville, 1979-1983, when she was a teacher fresh out of college.
Keywords: 1951; 1979; 1980; Franklin, NC; Greater Good; Harrassment; Homeowner; LGBTQ Bullying; Macon County, NC; Teacher; Teaching; U.S. Army
Partial Transcript: Rosie Coates: We're talking '79 to '82. I went in the Army in '83.
Tina M White: Why did you go into the Army?
Rosie Coates: It was a career change because I had just become stagnant, and I felt like I was at my wits end, and I felt like it was an opportunity to become an officer for one thing, and both my brothers, one had served in the Navy, one had served in the Army, had both served, and I just wanted to be able to say that all three of us had served in the Army, I mean served in the Armed Forces, and at my momma's 50 year high school reunion they ask everybody what was they were proudest of in their life, and she said, she wrote, I got the copy of it, it said she was "Most proud that all three of her children had served their country."
Rosie Coates: So that's I guess one of the reasons I did it, and fulfilled one of her wishes whether I realize it or not.
Tina M White: Did you enjoy your time in the service?
Rosie Coates: I did. I enjoyed it. I was at Fort Polk Louisiana. I went in at 32-years-old. I maxed out everything in basic training. They called me grandma. I was the oldest one in the company.
Tina M White: At 32?
Rosie Coates: At 32. I was the oldest one. That was the cut-off age to get in. And they called me grandma but I was an assistant platoon guide. I was second in my whole platoon on all the physical tests, on all the firing your M-16 test, and I was slated to go directly to officer candidate school and they sent me to Fort Polk Louisiana instead. I ended up getting hurt down there the first two months I was down there. I got a ruptured disc out in the field lifting generators, which we weren't supposed to do but we were ordered to do.
Rosie Coates: And I had to have surgery so that stopped any process of me possibly becoming an officer, and they ended up medically boarding me out, because I was non-deployable, after they operate on you, you're not deployable anymore, so that means you can't go out of country, so they don't want you anymore, so they medically board you out and put you in the VA system.
Segment Synopsis: Rosie enlists in the U.S. Army in 1983 as the eldest in her troop. She and her brothers all served in the U.S. Armed Forces, which made Rosie's family happy. Rosie explains that she was injured and released into the VA system since she was "non-deployable," a back injury that was the result of "a stupid mistake." She was ordered to move something and as the "property" of the government, she felt she had to move the object, which resulted in her long-term injury.
Keywords: Fort Polk, LA; Humans as Property; Injury; Military orders; US Army
Partial Transcript: ". . . so daddy got me a pony he thought to keep me company and keep me doing something else on my own, so at six after they broke the pony ... His name was Trigger, and I rode him all over the mountains. I mean, at six-years-old on Saturday morning I'd get on Trigger, and pack me a little backpack with my boxer Jojo and we'd go. I wouldn't come back in until dark.
We'd be all over the mountains, riding in the mountains, riding trigger, and Jojo running along with me. I always tell people this day in time within an hour they'd have the rescue squad out looking for a six-year-old on a pony, but they didn't even think anything about it. I was gone every day after kindergarten, ever day after school, until probably I turned 16 when I started driving, and I started driving and that stopped me from riding. I got a horse later, Little Jo, and showed him. I was a barrel racer.
Tina M White: What is a barrel racer?
Rosie Coates: He was a quarter horse, and you go, there's three barrels in the lot, you take off at the corner, and then they run, and they time you to how you go around. You do figure eights around the barrels, and then you go around the last ones, and you come back, and they time you how fast you are. And I did that at the county fair and different horse shows and things like that, and worked at a horse barn. I was in charge of the tack room, and loved it because it smelled like leather when you walked in. All you could smell was leather and I guess that's what attracted me to chaps later, and we had chaps for horses. And I was in the high school band from the fourth grade on.
Tina M White: What did you play?
Rosie Coates: Trumpet. And when they started the band there wasn't enough people in the high school and so when you got in the fifth grade you were in the high school band, so I was in the high school band from the fifth, sixth, seventh, eight, so I was in the high school band for eight years. And while I was at my second year of high school I really got into sports, and I love basketball, and I went to my band director Mr. Harwell and I said "I want to play basketball but I don't want to quit band." And he was like "Okay, you can do that." Nobody had ever done it.
Rosie Coates: So I went to the basketball coach and said "I want to try out for basketball but I'm in the band." And she was like "Okay, what time do you get done with band." And I'm like "At four." And she goes "Okay, we start practice at 4:30, that's good." So what I thought would be a huge obstacle turned out to be a first time anybody's ever done this kind of thing, pretty easy, but it meant that I was in the band and on the basketball team, so I was gone all the time from home. I loved it. I loved it the whole time. I didn't get first chair until Susan Fisher who was first chair all the way through high school, she graduated, and I was first chair. I just received a CD of one of our high school concerts of she and I playing a solo together, which is pretty cool after 50 years to hear yourself playing an instrument that you hadn't play. Yeah, it was pretty good. I was pretty good.
Segment Synopsis: Rosie describes her young years in Franklin, NC, beginning with her daddy buying her a pony to keep her company (and out of her elder brothers' day to day). Rosie was in the band for eight years (trumpet) and played basketball in high school. She went to Western Carolina University and continued her musical interests.
Keywords: Band; Barrel Racer; Brothers; Childhood; College; Horses; Pets; Siblings; Trumpet; Western Carolina University
Partial Transcript: That's when I started hanging out with I guess women more, and I would still date a guy here, and along there, but there was never, ever any connection really. There was just never any spark. It was just what you were told to do and it's what you did, because back in '69 through '70, basically, I graduated in '69, and from the time I was in high school, '64 through '69, you would hear the name. There was two or three guys that were feminine in high school that they would call a faggot. And you did not want to be associated with that, because it meant that everything that you treasured was gone. And that's how fast it happened. If one of the football players calls somebody a faggot, queer, that was it. They were done. They were nobody. They got picked on all the time. And unfortunately, back then you went on your merry way and lived your life, and you didn't stand up for people, and we should have, but we didn't.
Rosie Coates: And basically, they hung together, two or three people and they knew they were gay. Years later, after I met some of them, and I met one guy especially I went to high school with and he's like "I knew from the time I was four-years-old." I was like "I didn't." And I was just like I think it was because I was sexual assaulted when I was little from six to 10 years old by several boys, and because of that I think in my mind I didn't have a sexuality. It was null and void as far as feelings and emotions went. So when I got to Western and started realizing that there were women like that, that lived and worked, and lived in the world, and they weren't out. There was nobody out at Western at that time. It happened with my friend Sherry, she got black balled because we all moved off campus and got either apartments or trailers close to each other, and we'd have parties and everybody would say "Well, why aren't you coming to our party? Why aren't you going to the frat party? Why aren't you going there?."
Rosie Coates: Well, I'm going to go to so and so's trailer. And then, it got around that, oh, that's where they all are. That's where they are. And we were dubbed those women, those women. And you would get black balled if they thought you had a partner, were with anybody. Everybody had to be super secretive. You'd see somebody, you'd go out of town, and go to a gay bar, and spot somebody across the room that you were either in sports with, or in the same department with, and you had to be super careful because nine times out of ten somebody see's you in a bar and they'd go back and tell somebody else they saw you going in. They would set themself up in a protective mode, basically essentially to be a snitch. Then everybody would talk about you, or somebody else, and they would leave them alone.
Rosie Coates: They're like "I'm not like that. I just saw them going in. I rode by and saw them going in." And they just left it at that. The thing was both our basketball and volleyball coach were together. Betty Peele and Betty Westmoreland were together the whole time they were at Western. They were lesbians, and both of them are Hall of Fame, everything at Western, but they never came out, out. The instructors knew it. It was understood. It was never talked about.
Segment Synopsis: Rosie describes the unsaid codes of living closeted in the late 1970s while she was in college at Western Carolina University. She also explains her coming to awareness about her attraction to other women.
Keywords: Attraction; Bar life; Being Outed; Bullying; Coming out; Discrimination; Faggot; Homophobia; LGBTQ Community; LGBTQ Feelings; Lesbian; Living Closeted; Protection; Queer; Self Awareness; Sexual Assault; Sexuality; Social Isolation
Partial Transcript: There's no way in a college level psychology class this could happen, so I went to Dr. Hamilton who was head of my department and just said "Doc, can you help me out here? Can I come back?." And come to find out he lied to me. "Can I come back this summer and take this class, and still get my master's?." I'd had As in everything. The whole shabang. I'd been teaching classes like crazy. I started a handicap physical education class for some blind kids, taught them bowling. I was the first person to teach bowling to blind students at Western. He said "You're one of the most talented people I've ever known that's ever come through the doors of this gymnasium but you're just not exactly what I would like to put out there to promote as one of best students, so I'm not going to help you take the class over. No." So I just tucked tail and left, and that's when I really came to Asheville. And come to find out I could have taken the class. I would of had to of waited a year, and gone back in and taken three classes, but I could've gotten my master's, but as a counselor he did not counsel me correctly, and later people said "You should go back and make them let you take the classes now, because of the way you were treated." And I said "it's not going to do my any good now." It was another way to put me down because he believed I was a lesbian. It was a way for him to put me down, and say we don't want you, and you're not good enough.
You're the best. You're one the best. I had almost more awards, except for two other people that had gone to Western, than anybody else. As far as athleticism and things like that, and volunteering. I volunteered even back then, got my WSI, water safety instructor, taught water safety to handicap kids and volunteered. It was like three sheets of stuff, which most people end up with one. And he just said "You're a quality educator but I don't want you to be an educator. Not with your master's." Which meant I could've walked into any college and become a teacher, and he didn't want someone like me being projected as a professional, and that was his whole thing. And I was so embarrassed by the conversation I just walked out crying and left. I just got in my car, and loaded my stuff up, and came to Asheville.
Segment Synopsis: Rosie describes a range of discriminations experienced during college and the ways in which individuals lived closeted.
Keywords: Blind Students; Community Service; Disabled students; Discrimination; Embarrassed; Homophobia; LGBTQ Support; Master's Degree; Persona; Professional; Support; Teacher Education; Teaching; Water safety
Partial Transcript: Because I came to Asheville in '79, and I wasn't really out, because O. Henry's had just opened that year, and everybody before that we had come from Western and go to the after dark. We'd drive over, five or six of us in a car, and go to the after dark, and go in scared to death. I mean, you'd pull up and park in another parking lot, run over, have your ID out, and back then they wanted to keep your ID and we wouldn't let them keep our ID. We were like "No, you're not keeping my ID." And run in, and hope you weren't seen, and then go inside and that's the way it was from the 70s through the late 80s basically, mid to late 80s. O. Henry's was a sandwich shop at 59 Haywood Street. It was decorated in turn of the century Vanderbilt style with mannequins and antique dresses, antique lamps, and there were a sandwich shop and they played Billie Holiday, jazz, that's all they played. That's the only music they played all day long, so when you walked in it gave you a mystique. You were kind of walking into that era, and it was beautiful. It was a beautiful place, and not until about disco came in, after Saturday Night Fever, everybody started playing disco in the bars. And some of the bartenders that worked there, they'd go to California, and go to San Francisco, and they'd get copies of cassettes. The DJs would sell them back then for five bucks, and they brought them back, and then afternoon or early evening they'd start playing them.
And one of the owners J. Bentley was like "You can't play that. You can't play that in here. We're not a gay bar." And Tony [DeRose 00:25:01] the other owner was like "But all of our customers are after seven or eight o'clock. That's all it is." It was the Vanderbilt and Battery Park that'd come in for a cup of soup, and a half of sandwich, and a glass of wine, because they were the only place they could get beer and wine except for the City Club at the top of the BB&T building. Nobody else in Asheville sold anything alcoholic. And finally, Tony got Jay and he says "They won't play it until eight o'clock at night. They won't play disco until eight o'clock." And when they started playing disco, and everybody started finding out they were playing basically gay music, it just started filling up on the nights, and especially on Friday's and Saturdays.
Tina M White: And it was called O. Henry's then?
Rosie Coates: It was O. Henry's then. And then, The Cabaret moved across the street to 45 Cherry and so everybody would come in O. Henry's early on Fridays and Saturdays, and then at about 11:00 or 11:30 walk across the bridge, or drive across the bridge, and go to 45 Cherry to go to Cabaret Act Two and go to the drag shows, and Buddy Brendle owned it then. Chris Fisher and Buddy Brendle owned it then. They would bring people in from Atlanta. He did it top-notch, drag shows. And that's how I guess the community started building and more people started coming out and living out, but the only out that anybody really lived was in the bars. There was no I'm out at work unless you had the kind of ... If you were a psychologist, if you were a sort of professional type that wasn't a government job, or wasn't a city job, you could be out.
Keywords: After Dark; Atlanta, GA; Cabaret; Disco; Drag; Drag shows; Gay Bars; LGBTQ Community; Living Closeted; Living Out; Molested; O'Henry's; Pentecostal; Religion
Partial Transcript: And so, I was told just to keep my mouth shut and so that's what I did. I was told no matter what happened to me I should just take it and keep my mouth shut. So my spirit wasn't real strong when I showed up in Asheville, and when I got to Western I really didn't even know I could change the radio channel because I wasn't allowed to at home, and when I got to Western somebody was over there, and I remember I'm like "What are you doing?" And they're like "Well, I'm changing the channel. The college has a channel." And I was like "Wow. I didn't know that." Because I wasn't allowed to touch the radio. It was momma's and there was only one channel you could pick up in the car back then, in Franklin, WFSC, so I didn't know you could do that. I know that sounds crazy but in the 60s you had one TV channel, or two, if you went out and moved the antenna, or you had one radio station, and that was basically it. You went to one church and you followed the rules in that church or you were thrown out of your family, and you were told to leave. I mean, that's what happened to lots of people that were gay. Several friends that just disappeared, and then I'd find them later in life, and I was like "Where'd you go? And they're like "Well, I went to Atlanta so I could be who I was." Or I went to San Francisco, or I went to New York, or I went to Fort Lauderdale, so I could be who I was, who I really was. And I didn't have the courage to do that, and I always had guilt about that, but I always felt like there was something I had to do and then later I end up taking care of my whole family, and if I had come out I know that I would not of been allowed to do that.
Segment Synopsis: Rosie explains why she did not out her lesbian identity to her family and the guilt that she carried, in some regard, for not coming out.
Keywords: Abuse; Being Outed; Childhood; Developing Autonomy; Family Expectations; Guilt; Living Closeted; Living Out; Molested; Pentecostal; Self Actualization; Silence
Partial Transcript: I guess being head of security at Pride did that for me, because it put me out there in a safe spot in a sense, but it made me feel like I was protecting, and that's what security is. You're protecting the kids that show up that it's their first time to be able to be out, to be seen, to be a part of who they know they are, and you feel like you're their protector in a sense. That gave me pride I guess more than anything, and I'm still proud of that. And my niece and her friends showing up at pride the year before last that I was like, whoa, that blew me away, and I got a picture of all of them. I didn't get a picture of me with them, but I got a picture of all of them there at Pride, put it up on my Facebook, and I was like ... And she has many friends that are gay in my hometown and they're professionals.
I'm not going to disclose them. They're on Facebook and they're out, it's no big deal. They're all married to people, and I'm standing back going how are they accepted, and they're married to each other, and they're credible, respected people of the community, but we didn't get that. Even today we don't get that. Even at my 50 years high school reunion the attitudes ... One of my closest friends in high school in the band owns the factory, owns [Denet 00:35:04] and is a very, very religious person and he's still married to the same person. She played the clarinet and he played the baritone. And he came up and hugged me but she just was like ... She didn't want me coming close to her and I didn't. I stuck with the couple of my friends in the band but you could feel the negativity of the people that didn't even want you near them. And it's because of, one, the TV interview that I did that I stood up for people when the massacre happened in Fort Lauderdale. That wrote my name in sand forever with the Pentecostals, and the super religious, and the people that hate gay people.
Segment Synopsis: Rosie names her job as head of security at Pride Festival a few years back as a turning moment in her self acceptance and understanding of living out as LGBTQ. She describes continued homophobia at her high school reunion.
Keywords: Acceptance; Backlash; Generational Shift; Honor Blanket; LGBTQ Elder; LGBTQ Youth; Living Closeted; Living Out; Negativity; Orlando, FL; Pride; Pride Festival; Verterans
Partial Transcript: I believe it was '91. We were all sitting in O. Henry's on a Sunday afternoon drinking bloody Mary's, and it was Pete, and Steve, Ms. Green, Cousin It, it's the whole after the show crowd and then other people, and at that time John Griffin had taken over Trax, which was a gay bar before it was The Hitching Post, and before it became Hairspray, and he was over there, and we had heard about Prides. We'd seen Prides in other big cities, and all these guys had been out. They'd been out. And John was a member of The Elk's Club, or no The Moose Club, and he was out. And they all said "Why don't we have a Pride?."
Rosie Coates: And they're all sitting there going "Yeah, why don't we have a Pride?." And so, in a matter of a week we put together Pride and we planned for it to be behind where Hairspray was in the back parking lot back there, and invited all the bars in town, which would've been The Cabaret, O. Henry's, The Hitching Post. I think the After Dark had burned down by then. Any LGBT group. The P flag existed then. Any group that wanted to be a part of it. All Souls. And to have just basically a little Pride thing behind there, and we put together a Pride and had it on a Sunday, and it's like we probably had maybe two or three hundred people. People were skeptical. They would park in the front of the building, and walk around, and you'd see them peeping around the building to see if they saw anybody they knew because we blocked off the parking lot, and you could go in the bar and get a drink and stuff, but it was before they made you get permits for everything. It turned out to be a great thing, you know? And The Out & About was existing then. That was Tracy and Alfie's Hyorth's magazine The Out & About, and they did a little article about it.
Segment Synopsis: Rosie describes Asheville's first Pride festival, organized in 1991 by stakeholders from O'Henry's and other LGBTQ bars. She also explains AIDS activism that the bars engaged in to support individuals. O'Henry's did an auction for ten years. 1993 Protest March.
Keywords: 1991; 1993; AIDS; AIDS Activism; After Dark; All Soul's Cathedral; Auction; Fundraising; Hairspray; Hitching Post; Jerry Connor; KKK; LGBTQ Community; O'Henry's; PFLAG; Pride; Pride Festival; Protest March; Trax
Partial Transcript: At 59 Haywood Street. The first year it was open it was called the Skylight Room, and Tony DeRose and Karen Brickhouse, a lesbian, opened it. And Jay and Tony were lovers, Jay Bentley, Tony DeRose, and it wasn't working. Tony didn't know how to manage it. She ran the kitchen. The food was good. I've still got a menu. The food was really, really good but it just wasn't going anywhere, and I think their rent was ridiculous like $400 a month for a two-story building. And so, Jay came in and Jay was a school teacher. He didn't teach but he was a school teacher, but he was an English major. He said "okay, we're going to make it intersect with Asheville." And so, he had a book and he sat the book up on the self and it said "O. Henry." And that's where the name came from, the author O. Henry. And he said "We're going to call it O. Henry, and we're going to do it George Vanderbilt style." He said "That will pull in the richer gays." He said "That will make them come in. They'll have a place to come and eat lunch. They'll have a place to come and have a beer." I mean, we had Lowenbrau, and it was like, Lowenbrau, it's a dark beer. It was the only dark beer in 100 miles. And so, that's what had happened. It was very nice, and it was beautiful. When you walked in there you thought you had walked in part of the Biltmore House is the way it looked, because everything was authentic, antique lamps. They had three of the old telephone booths where you had to slide the thing around, and they turned them into two tops for people to sit in. And it was a place for people to come and that were professional to meet, and talk, and hang out with other people.
Tina M White: And what year was this when they opened?
Rosie Coates: That's '79.
Tina M White: Now, they describe themselves as the oldest gay bar in North Carolina, is that-
Rosie Coates: Excuse me. It's been 42 years and this is 2019, so it was-
Tina M White: '77.
Rosie Coates: '77. Yeah. '77. And it's the oldest bar in North Carolina. It's going on 42 years now.
Tina M White: I just assumed, and I guess it's because I came from wet states that the oldest bar must be 200 years old or something.
Yeah, right? There wasn't any bars because you had to have a private club license and that's how they got around it. They came from California, and Buddy Brendle, they knew Buddy Brendle in California, and that's where they knew ... They're like, well, if the BB&T building can get a private club license so can we, but then they said, well, if you put food in you don't need a private club license, so that's why they put the kitchen in. And so, they got around it, and it wasn't intent for it to ever be gay accumulating. It's just that because they were gay, and the owners, then of course that's going to attract ... they're like "Oh, two gay guys own that, let's go there. We can be ourselves maybe." And that's the way it was. Nobody touched anybody. You just come in, have a beer, have a glass of wine, have a sandwich. And it was a place for people to pre-meet. It was kind of like a grinder without the grinding. It was like a pre-date meet up to see if somebody likes somebody or not. A safe place to meet somebody.
Segment Synopsis: Rosie historicizes O'Henry's as a hub for LGBTQ community and social activism. She shares the lineage of many LGBTQ bars in Asheville.
Keywords: Alcohol Sales; BB&T Building; Gay Bars; O'Henry's
Partial Transcript: I think when Pickett and [Emica 00:53:46], Emöke, everybody calls her Emica, but it's Emöke who owns Malaprop's Bookstore they opened Malaprop's on Lexington where Downtown Books & News is, which was their original used bookstore. And beside it was a little place that's a garden shop now. And I had a coffee shop in there years before, but Paula Dawkins started Jewels that Dance down there on Lexington Avenue in that little shotgun place that's got a garden in the back, and so they were there, and then all these thrift shops were down through there. It was like funky shops and coffee shops. It was very bohemian. Much more so than ... West Asheville's not bohemian in comparison to what Lexington Avenue was back in the late '80s, early '90s.
And so, they kind of set a precedent to downtown that these women know what they're doing, and they're out, and they're not going anywhere, and obviously not. They moved up top and got on the corner, Malaprop's on the corner, and then they had the space on the other side of O. Henry's, and then Jewels that Dance Paula rented that space, Paula Dawkins, and Jewels that Dance, the jeweler, I went to college with her at Western. She was an art major. Out of four or five buildings there's three gay businesses, and then across the street there was another gay business. So the upper end of Haywood Street probably had seven or eight gay-owned businesses down to the corner of where you go up where the Haywood Hotel is.
And it was like New York City at the holidays and stuff. And people would come into town, and Asheville was still thriving. You'd go to the mall but then you'd come downtown to hang out there. The bookstore, you had the bookstore then and the coffee shop, and then the bookstore and another coffee shop, and then it just started feeding more businesses, attracting the bohemian style, the more art related people, Wall Street opened up and it started becoming very upscale, and artsy. And so, the downtown was like, hey, this is starting to come back. And all those groups of women were college professors, because I can remember going to UNC in Chapel Hill to a volleyball tournament my sophomore year of college, which was about 70, or 71, and walking up to they had a big turnstyle. They had all the activities on a big turnstyle in front of the gym, and there's the Gay Owls, group.
Segment Synopsis: Rosie discusses the shift in Asheville's downtown from boarded up to upscale tourist destination. She credits several lesbian business owners with shifting the level of LGBTQ inclusion in downtown Asheville.
Keywords: 1971; Birkenstock Lesbians; Downtown Asheville, NC; Gay O.W.L.S.; Gender Studies; Haywood Hotel; LGBTQ Commerce; LGBTQ Entrepreneurs; LGBTQ professors; Lesbian; Living Out; Malaprop's; Personal Ads; UNC Asheville; UNC Chapel Hill
Partial Transcript: There were some people, Jeanie Kristie, who was also Elvis, Jeanie Christie lived transgender for years before Holly walked into O. Henry's and you know Holly started Phoenix. Jeanie Christie was one of the ones that lived in drag, and the only reason she didn't live in drag anymore is because she went to Vanderbilt, and she signed in as her boy name, ane would go in and out, and looked like Elvis, you know, slicked hair back, and they called him Elvis. Then she came in one day as Jeanie Christie, had been out on a Saturday night and somebody saw her go in her apartment, and they're like "He's not supposed to have anybody there overnight." Back then, if you had a single apartment you couldn't have anybody stay over. And then, the next morning they would knock on the door and there's Elvis again.
So they were like "Do you have a woman in here?." And Gene just kind of went "Well, some days I am and some days I'm not." The people that managed it, other people knew them, they were like they were laughing their butts off, because they were like Jeanie don't care. So Jeanie came in the bar and would sit down like this "Give me a beer." Dressed as Elvis. We're like "Jeanie, what's up it's a Saturday and you're not being Jeanie Christie, and she's like "I can't be. I'll have to bring her over here in a bag, and get dressed in the bathroom. Then I'll have to take her off at the end of the night to go back in the building."
When my mom and I went to see Elvis I got pictures of Elvis' grave and had to put it in a frame and she was just like "Oh my God." She was hoot. She lived out the whole time. She was the only person that I knew that lived back in the '70s and '80s and she was transgender, and she knew it, and she's like I got to do this at work, and that's okay. I got to pay my bills, but I am Jeanie Christie. That is who I am.
Segment Synopsis: Rosie tells the story of meeting Holly Boswell the first time at O'Henry's and of another transgender pioneer, Jeanie Kristie. Rosie describes how drag women and transgender women began living more out in public, within the bar scene and beyond.
Keywords: Drag; Drag Queens; Gender Fluidity; Holly Boswell; LGBTQ Inclusion; Lesbian Segregation; Living Out; Passing; Personal safety; Phoenix; Queer; Transgender Identity; Transphobia
Partial Transcript: No. I know when I told Derek, when I suggested that he ask Tony to work at O. Henry's I said "Why don't you ask Tony? He used to work at Hairspray." And he was the first black bartender in Asheville at Hairspray. Laura Donna hired him. And his lover was the manager, Sergi. He was Ukrainian. And Derek looked at me and he just said "What do you mean? What do you mean?." He was the first black bartender, and I said "In the gay bars he was the first black bartender. There were no black bartenders." And he just got tears in his eyes and he goes "I can't believe that." I said "Well, here we are 25 years later, and there's really only been three." And no Latinos. So yeah, I think people of color still have it hard. I mean, it's like they're accepted, because I know at least five people of color and we've talked about it. I was like "Do you think it's gotten any better?." And they've lived here 20 years. They're like "Not really." They're like "There're people that like us and there're people that not, because of the grinder thing." Of that thing, and then people will post no blacks, no Hispanics, no trans, no this. And then, they'll call them out on it and say "What do you mean? You're excluding the LGBTQT, you're excluding five of those options, so you're a racist." They'd call them out and call them a racist, so you get in between the battle of they're like "Oh no. This is just what I like. I know what I like and that's it, and I have a right to like what I like."
And they're like "Yeah, but you like somebody when you walk up and meet them, and you like them. You don't specifically go out, okay, I only want a white guy." They're like "That's racism." And I'm like "you're right. You're exactly right." And it has gotten better, and I think it's better in the younger crowds. I think people over say 40 are not as accepting. I think the kids anywhere from 18 up to 30 and 35 I think they're much more accepting, because you can see the pictures of them out, and it's people of color, and it's a whole mixture. It's LGBTQ, it's what it should be, and it's another melting pot.
Rosie Coates: But back in the old days they would call an offshoot, or they'd say an offshoot of the LGB ... It used to be just LG, and then LGB, and that's what I tell somebody when they were talking about this. I said "Originally, it was just LG, then it was LGB."
Segment Synopsis: Rosie describes the racial segregation in the LGBTQ Bar scene. She says only three black bartenders that she can recall across twenty years.
Keywords: Bisexuality; Generational Divides; Job Opportunity; LGBTQ Youth; Lack of access; Melting pot; Racial integration; Racism
Partial Transcript: Back in the '70s and '80s it wasn't really good. It wasn't good. I think the person that made the difference was Leni Sitnick when she was the mayor of Asheville. And she works over here at Harris Teeter. I go in every day. She does the little bread thing. She has the wavy salt and pepper hair. Her daughter was a lesbian but nobody knew that, but she's all of a sudden ... I was working for the city and that '90, '95, she had a precedent she set up that LGBT people could have their partners benefits, and it passed with city council. She was the first person to set anything like that up. And of course that made everybody want to go to work for the city of Asheville.
The police department, well, it was so funny because in the old days, in the '70s if they caught somebody in drag they'd say ... It was true. You had to have two articles of men's clothing on if you were dressed in drag. So most of the drag queens they wanted to tip around and talk to everybody after the show, so they didn't get out of drag until they went home, but they'd always have boy underwear on, and a tank top on underneath, so they could pull that up and pull that down and how them. But the cops would make them undress, some of them, not all of them. And there might've been some gay cops back then but they weren't out, because they would've been walking around a corner with no help.
Leni Sitnick really made a big difference in that, and it's because she stood up for the community and then somebody was like "She's got a daughter that's a lesbian. That's why she's doing it."
Tina White: What does she do in Harris Teeter?
Rosie Coates: You know when you go to the bread sampling section?
Tina M White: Yeah.
Rosie Coates: She's the little short lady with the kind of wavy hair. She's Jewish.
Tina M White: Yeah.
Rosie Coates: And everybody goes "Lini, are you going to run for mayor again?." She's like "I want to. I'm telling you." She said "They wouldn't vote me." And I said "Oh yes, we would. You're the best mayor we ever had." But she's great and she's a great person to talk to. We talk about politics when I go in. She goes "Did you hear what they asshole said today?." I'm like "Yeah." You know, talking about Trump. But she's just a wonderful person, and I think she made Asheville stand up and say, you know, the gay community, the LGBT community, are viable people. And that's my big thing. We get taxed. If you're going to tax us you've got to accept us. Yeah, we won't pay taxes, and then we'll go on down the road on our merry way, but if you're going to take tax money from us we have to have equality, step one, if no other reason than our constitution.
Segment Synopsis: Rosie reveals history about a gay man, handcuffed, being beaten up in the elevator by a Buncombe Co police officer. The individual sued and won. The cop resigned and joined the Asheville police department. This is a 1993/1994 incident following a Pride festival.
Keywords: 1993; Asheville Major; Asheville's Reputation; Discrimination; LGBTQ Inclusion; Leni Sitnick; Police Violence; Politics; Pride Festival; Public Policy; Trump
Partial Transcript: It changed to a different name. I think the group that did it ... Before it was just like all the bars owners got together and put it together, and then people like Jerry Connors, because Jerry was really a part of the very first one, and the '93 one. And I don't really know. You'd have to ask ... I don't know. Who would you ask, Jerry Connors, when it transitioned over to ... 2009 is when it really became, when Evon and all those people that were helping in 2009.
Tina M White: It's two women.
Rosie Coates: Yeah. That's when Amy and Amy.
Tina M White: Amy Huntsman.
Rosie Coates: She and her partner. And she was a lawyer and that's the first time a lawyer had been, because she knew the law. And then, there was six other women, which last year they all told me at Pride "You know Rosie, we're thinking about jumping back in next year and becoming a part of Pride." And I said "Do it. Do it, because you'd be very much welcome."
Tina M White: We'll pick that up after the interview.
Rosie Coates: Yeah. And it's just that they had a support, all these women were friends, all these women were in professional jobs and they each had a tool that needed to be for something like that, and they all sat down and said, okay, you do that, you do that, you're good at that, you're good at that, you're good at that. Let's do it. And they did it and that's why it was so easy the first time with them, because they already made all the decisions before they sat down with anybody else.
Rosie Coates: It worked out great. I think anything that's good it takes it run at good, and then things change, and people change, and then your needs to move, and to progress in different avenues change, and you have to have fresh eyes on it, and then you have to have the eyes that's been with you to accept those fresh eyes, and say, okay, I can see that, and not say that's not the way we did it. You've got to say, yeah, I accept those. I'll go along with that because you're probably right because you've got fresh newer eyes, and you've seen more, and that's one thing that I think a lot of people that don't volunteer don't accept, that it's not that we're saying you did something wrong, it's just that let's just go with this now. Start on this slate and go this way.
Rosie Coates: I talk to people about volunteering all the time and they're like, blah, blah, blah. "I just don't have the time." I'm like, "Well, it does take a lot of time, but you sure do like coming to it don't you." So that's what I tell people and they're like "Well, I don't know what to do." And I'm like "Just volunteer for two hours." That two hours takes the bulk off whoever's over the volunteering.
Tina M White: There're a bunch of things I'd like to talk to you about, but I think I'll turn off the microphone when we do that, so before I do that, and we can always have a follow-up interview, was there anything else that I haven't touched on or asked that you feel is an important part of your-
Rosie Coates: I think that right now especially with our political enviroment that people that have made it, and people that are sitting in a good spot in their life, should volunteer more and help the LGBTQ homeless. I think they should help the youth outright. There's probably three reasons people don't, but I think that we need to ... And I tell people I'm like "Go buy a pack of socks and bring them to O. Henry's. I'll take them over if you don't feel comfortable walking up with a bunch of homeless people standing around. I get that." I said "There's always a way to drop it off or to bring it to people." And I wish they would like go through their closets and get rid of stuff. I wish we would have yard sales together, if it's in the parking lot out from Scandals, if it's in the parking lot of O. Henry's.
Segment Synopsis: Rosie talks about the evolution of Pride Festival and organizational leadership in planning the festivals. She encourages more volunteerism and indicates that seems a shift in the modern movement, less community volunteerism. Rosie calls us to be more of a village than a city right now.
Keywords: 1993; Addiction; Donations; Elders; Homebody; Homeless; Intergenerational Conversation; LGBT Youth; Lesbian Gathering; Pride Festival; Privilege; Suicide; Village; Volunteerism; Youth OUTRight