Interviewer: Rachel Shaw
Interviewee: Amy Haggard
Summary: Amy Haggard was born in Tallahassee, Florida and raised in Sylva, North
Carolina. She currently lives in Tallahassee, while she pursues her PhD in
higher education. Haggard discusses being an out and gay Christin woman in the south.
START OF THE INTERVIEW
RS: Hello, everyone. Today's date is Thursday, July 1st, 2021. My name is Rachel and I'm talking today with Amy Haggard, who was born in-
RS: In what city, state area?
AH: Tallahassee, Florida.RS: Their preferred pronouns are-
She, her, hers.
RS: She has been living in ... You can either say how long you
lived in Western North Carolina or where you identify now where you live, for
AH: I lived in Western North Carolina from 1992 to 2007, so 15 years.
Then I lived in South Carolina from 2007 to 2018, so 11 years. Now, I live back
in Tallahassee, Florida at my birth place.
RS: Okay. Thank you for all of that introduction. I'm just going to jump right in with a couple of introduction basic questions that are pretty broad. How would you describe yourself?
AH: Just totally in general?
RS: Yeah. However, you want to describe yourself, go for
AH: I am currently a PhD scholar myself. I work full time. I am an out gay
woman Christian in the south, which is very interesting. I am a partner, a dog
mom, an aunt, a daughter, a sister, and I love to cook and eat. I very, very
much love to cook and eat. I really cherish education. The reason I'm getting my Ph.D. is because I want to work as a university administrator. That's about the most basic, broad description of me that you can get.
RS: Okay. That's great. Where do you usually like to start your story? I know, a very broad question again.
AH: I usually like to start my story as a young kid. I came out at 15, but
00:02:00the story began before that. I usually like to start early teenage years.
RS: Okay. Do you want to just jump right into it?
AH: Yeah.Rachel Shaw: Okay.
AH:Yeah. I was born a twin. I have a twin sister. She and I are fraternal. We were both very heavily involved in athletics, dance. We did dance for like 11 years.We played all the sports. We did all the music. We were very, very active. My father has always worked on a university campus. Right now, he works at UNC Asheville. He worked at Florida State, but then the reason we moved is because he got a job at Western. He worked at Western Carolina. My mom was a youth group director for the majority of my childhood until she became a teacher.
AH: I grew up always around individuals older than me. I grew up around college students and I grew up around high school students. I kind of think I have a little bit of an old soul when it comes to that. I think one of the great things about growing up being constantly surrounded by university students and high school students was the ability to be able to see people. I don't really know how to describe that, other than it was the '90s and early 2000s.
AH: There was zero ...Well, I say zero representation. Zero representation compared to today. You had to really seek out if you wanted to see what something was. As a kid, I didn't know what being gay was. I do remember our organist from our church in Tallahassee was a gay man. I remember somehow knowing that when I was like three years old. I think I knew that because my parents were good friends with him. He died of AIDS, actually. I remember that being something that, as I grew up, being different but not being weird.
AH: Since I was always on Western'scampus and involved in sports, when I would go to camps and stuff as a kid or something, it would seem like maybe an infatuation with athletic women coaches or something. I couldn't quite figure out what that was. I didn't know why. I was like, "Well, I'm just athletic." I was a kid and so I was like, "I'm just interested in that."
AH: I think the more I got older, I was like, "Oh. What
is this?" I'll never forget. I think I was 13 or 14 at the time, but I went on a
week-long mission trip. I remember on that trip that I missed somebody. Then I
00:05:00was like, "But why do I miss them? I should miss all my friends. Why do I miss
this girl?" It was kind of like, "Oh. Do I like her?"
AH: My sister was very ...I don't know. She was like the regulation popular girl with all the boyfriends and all that stuff. Going through elementary school and the beginning of high school, I had boyfriends, which is funny now. I had boyfriends, but I was never interested in them. I never could understand why I didn't want to hold their hand, or why I didn't want to kiss them. I just wanted to say they were my boyfriend and be my friend.
AH: When I started realizing that I was actually missing a girl or girls, then I just started looking everything up. It was the time when the internet was super slow. I would just look up gay music, gay artists, gay anything. It's funny because I was never attracted to I guess what you would say would be the gay women of my time, like the Ellen DeGeneres, or The Indigo Girls. Those are the out gay women when I was trying to figure out myself, and I wasn't attracted to them. I was attracted to the Julia Roberts,and the Meg Ryan, and all these women. I'm like, "I can't be gay then."
AH: It was this really weird period of trying to figure it out. What I learned is that, first of all, growing up in a church family too ... I'm going all over the
place, but this is the point of the story. Right? Growing up in a church family
too, it was daunting at first to think about, "What if this is really how I
00:07:00feel?" I was never worried about it with my mom. I was never worried about it
with my dad. My maternal grandfather at the time was a retired Methodist
minister. Wasn't worried about it. I never felt fear.
AH: I think that that is something that gives me ultimate privilege in my gay identity, is that I never
felt fear from my immediate family, which is why I was just like, "Explore,
explore, explore." My parents let me staple pictures of women all over the back
of my door as a kid. Things like that. I realize looking back how privileged
that was to be able to have that opportunity to explore that.
AH: The reason I came out was because, unfortunately, I fell in love with my soccer coach, like anybody at that time. Like I said, there was not really representation. You couldn't turn on Netflix and watch a show with a same-sex couple. You couldn't watch sitcoms with it really. You had your music. Like I said, growing up around older people, I was attracted to older people. I think that I realized I was attracted to my soccer coach at that time.
AH: That's when I was like, "Oh. Okay. I need to say this out loud, because this is what's happening." I came out at 15 at Smoky Mountain in 2004, which I would not have advised anybody to do. What
was interesting was my best friend was gay at the time too. She was not out, but we had that. I had my family and I had my twin sister. It was not the most
00:09:00pleasant experience. When I look back, I think I made life harder on my family
than I made it on myself, especially on my mom's job, because at that point she was also teaching at the high school.
AH: I don't know what you want me to add. There's so much, but I can just stop there for now and then you can interject, or do you want me to keep going to today?
RS: Oh. I'll just stop you, so I won't forget some of the notes that I have, that I want to ask you. Just going back, since you mentioned this maybe five minutes ago, but do you remember any specific gay music/artists that really stood out to you while you were exploring that when you were 13 or 14?
AH: Oh yeah. I had like every Indigo Girls album.
Still do, to this day. Melissa Ferrick, Ani DiFranco. Oh my God, what's the
other Melissa that had cancer?
RS: Oh no. You're fine.
AH: Hold on. Hold on. Yes,
because I knew all of her stuff. Come to my window. Melissa ... No. Oh my God. What's her name? Come to my ... Oh, Melissa Etheridge. Come on, Amy. Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, Melissa Etheridge, Melissa Ferrick. Yeah. That's pretty much it. I was getting down and dirty with learning everything, all the music, because I didn't have any way to feel connected to something. That's how I would do that.
RS: Was that an outlet for you, for having a gay space? Were you able,
after coming out, to find one within the Jackson County community?
AH: There was not a gay space within the Jackson County community. No. I was able to find it that way. I remember Indigo Girls played in Asheville my junior year. Somebody that worked for my dad at the time had tickets and gave them to my dad. Then my dad gave them to me and my uncle and I went. I remember going to that. I was like, "Whoa." It was obviously in Asheville. I remember that being the first time that I saw so many gay women together.
AH: I will say, I knew of gay women in Sylva that were in relationships. I would find myself wanting to be around them as a safe space. I did have that, but no. My immediate friends were cool with me, so ideally that was safe, but if I wanted to explore what I was feeling or go on that, it would usually be music or trying to find a movie.
AH: There was one movie that came out, and it's Better Than Chocolate. I don't know if you've ever heard of that, but it's an old movie. It was like the only movie at the time with a same sex couple, that I knew about, that I could rent at the Blockbuster. I did that. You really had to look. You didn't have YouTube. You didn't have anything like you do now.
RS: Going back to the Indigo Girls concert, do you remember a specific emotion you felt just seeing all of those gay women at once, just being in a community with all of those people?
AH: I was like, "Oh. That is me. That is what I want to be."
RS: Do you just want to keep on going after your coming out? We can just go through a timeline.
AH: Yeah. I came out and that was rough. Then I kind of felt distant from my church community. I still went to church. Believing in God is still something very, very important to me. It didn't change my faith, but it changed the way that I felt safe in a community. I didn't have a girlfriend in high school. I got a scholarship to play soccer at Coastal Carolina University. I went. I remember the first thing I said to my team when I got there was, "I'm gay." Just like, "That's it."
AH: I don't know why I wanted to say that or why I wanted them to know, but I just wanted them to know from the beginning. It was weird for a few of them. We had a team of 31 and I was the only gay person on the team, which today is weird. It was uncomfortable for some people, but I remember just being like, "This is not going to be it for me." I just want to start my college life being out, even though it's in South Carolina, in a pretty equally significant ... I would say
00:15:00Sylva, Western North Carolina is more accepting than Conway, South Carolina where I lived for 11 years.
AH: I was out. My sophomore year actually, I was the starting goalkeeper. I started every game. My sophomore year, one day they told me I wasn't playing. It turns out that my head coach found out I was gay, which I don't know why that would be a problem, and actually called my dad to out me, not knowing who my dad was, as an administrator, as someone who already knew I was gay. Told him that we could not have any gay people on the team. It would affect recruiting, and that I wouldn't be playing.
AH: I was benched because I was out. I remember at the time, we didn't do anything about it, because you didn't do anything about that stuff at that time. I think my dad gave me the option because he would have known what to do. I don't really remember specifics, but I remember him asking. I was like, "Please don't say anything," because at the time, I just wanted to play soccer. I just wanted to play, so I didn't want anything to be made worse.
AH: That was a crazy experience. Being told I couldn't do something because I was gay. That was a hard time. Finally,my senior year, we got another gay person on the team. I was like, "Yay. Two of us." That was a hard time too, because it's not that I didn't have an accepting group of friends, but the whole team wasn't accepting. Athletics is a weird conundrum anyway when you get to college. All the teams hang out with the teams,because you're on all these weird schedules. A lot of the male teams, they didn't get it. I had a lot of male friends that played baseball and football.
AH: They would support me, but there was not this overwhelming support. You did not see gay couples on campus like you do now, like the holding hands, the kissing, the hanging out. You just didn't see that at the time. There was a Pride network on campus, but it was very like, if you went to Pride, then you were saying you were gay. There was a lot of people that wouldn't do it. I never did it, because I felt like it would take me away from my identity of being an athlete, which I know is stupid. But here nor there.
AH: I never really had relationships in college either. I had two I guess you could call relationships, but they were with people my age. It just wasn't interesting to me. Then my senior year of college, I had a longterm girlfriend for about a year and a half. We lived together. That was the most normal thing that happened to me and it took ... I say most normal thing that happened to me in my sexuality. It took six years to get there, because I didn't get in that relationship until I was like 21.
AH: I actually never really thought it was going to happen. I don't know if that even makes sense. I never thought it was going to happen, because I was like, "I came out. I did what I was supposed to do. I'm out and I tell people. Why is this not happening?" Do you want me to stop before I keep going? Do you have any notes?
RS: How did you emotionally support yourself while being benched? How did
you cope with that? Do you remember?
AH: I just remember being very angry and I
was really embarrassed. There was an embarrassing thing. I didn't know all this at the time, because I was not as mature as I am now. The fact that somebody would call my parents to out me. Yeah. I don't know. I was just very angry.
AH: All I wanted to do was, I just wanted to play, because I felt like if I could
just get back on the field, it was all go away. I just remember sitting on the
bench for that game, not standing up, not cheering. I couldn't look my coach in
the eye. I felt shame. The only way that I could not feel shame was just to
00:20:00practice hard for the next week so I could play. As silly as that is, I just
started practicing harder. I ended up playing the next game. Yeah. I just
remember being angry.
AH: I wish counseling had been a thing. I mean, counseling
was a thing. It was there, but it wasn't talked about like it is today. Mental
health wasn't a priority like it is today. I think I needed it. I think I needed
it from 17 on, but I think especially after that, I needed somebody to talk to.
I just didn't know it at the time. I just wanted to put my head down and just do
RS: Okay. Yeah.
AH: Okay. You want me to keep going?
AH: Okay. Then I had my longterm relationship, and broke that off, and got in a relationship with an older woman, who I had known, She was 11 years older than me and she had two kids. We got into a relationship and I lived with her for six and a half, seven years. I lived with her for six years, raised her kids, got married to her, and divorced her after six months. Then moved to Tallahassee.
AH: There was a lot of control. She didn't want to be out, so we were hidden. As hidden as you can be when you live together and you're raising kids in a community. It was hard for me because I had been out since I was 15 and not afraid to be out. Then to be quieted and know people aren't going to know we're in a relationship, it really was a huge identity switch for me.
AH: It was hard to understand how I could put myself in a situation where I was with somebody that didn't want to be true to themselves. I'm all for people taking their time. I am a firm believer that people don't know who they are until when they know who they are. It doesn't matter if they're 40, 15, 62. They'll figure it out. The closeted relationship, being an out gay woman, was very, very, very hard.
AH:I think that my job and career suffered at Coastal Carolina because I was gay. It wasn't widely accepted there for faculty and staff either. I never got promoted. Couldn't get new jobs on campus. Just was very stagnant. It was a very stagnant six and a half years of kind of being in a closeted relationship, not having a good job, and then just being unhappy. It was just a very, very, very unhappy time.
AH: Then when I chose that I wanted to get divorced, that was a whole other
thing because the state of South Carolina makes you stay separated for a year
before you can be divorced. That was tough, but I moved here. Kind of a joke,
but for the purpose of the research, in the state of South Carolina they have
not updated their paperwork. When I got divorced, I was divorced as the husband, because they just have not made inclusive paperwork even though it has been a law now for a few years.
AH: Now I live happily here in Tallahassee with a new
wonderful partner. I'm out here. We are out to our group of friends. I have a
great job. For the first time in my entire life, I feel like I live in a place
00:24:00that is the most inclusive and accepting place I've been. Even though it is in
the state of Florida, I live in the capital, the liberal bastion of Florida. I
feel like for the first time, there's an actual full community here.
RS: That's great. Was there a big contrast or a sudden contrast from moving from Conway to Tallahassee? Was it just an overnight, like you could see the difference there?
AH: Yeah. I vividly remember crying happy tears just driving into the
county. I don't know if it was because I was born here and I just knew that I
was not going to be in a small town. Even though there was a university where I Lived before, it was just small and small minded. I don't know what it was, but
00:25:00it was an overwhelming like, "Whew."
AH: I remember that first week I went to work, I noticed the people I worked with were in same sex relationships. There was not this heteronormative leading way of thinking. Everything is still white-centric, but for the first time, I didn't feel like I was in a heteronormative situation, where people were calling their wives and husbands partners. Just the inclusive language was there. I've never been in a work environment where there was inclusive language from the beginning.
AH: Yeah. It was incredibly overwhelming. Overwhelming in a positive way, but I would say I noticed it from the first week. It was something literally about crossing over into the county line, where I was like, "This was the right decision." I've said this numerous times to people. I know it sounds drastic, but I would have died very young if I had stayed in South Carolina, just from pure unhappiness and the inability to feel like I could be myself.
AH: Now, when I travel back to Western North Carolina, I can see so many improvements. I know that there's a lot of safe areas now. That brings me hope. My partner and I think about if we ever want a house in the mountains, that's something I wouldn't mind doing now. There's a part of that of taking that ownership back too. I don't want Western North
Carolina to be a negative place in my memory, because it was more positive than South Carolina. Didn't mean it was any easier. Yeah. There's been some strides, so that's good.
RS: What year did you move to Tallahassee?
RS: Okay. You work for the ... I don't want to say-
AH: No. It's okay.
RS: Which university do you work for?
AH: Florida State University.RS: Okay. I almost slipped up and I
almost said the wrong one.
AH: Don't say University of Florida. I don't work there.
RS: Since you are involved with university services, are there a lot of LGBT safe zone training or other accessibility options at the university?
AH:Yeah. There are.
RS: That stuck out to you or stood out to you?AH: Yeah. In my
first month there, I did our training. I can't remember the exact name of the
training, but they actually do it as a half day thing, where you're there and
it's like a four hour session. They have it tiered. We also have a student group
on campus that we can send our students to. We're in the process of creating an LLC, specifically for LGBTQ students, but there is an LLC for those students to go to. It's just not tailored to them specifically. We do have faculty staff and student training.
AH: I remember noticing, when I walked into my building for the
first time, that everybody in my building had the safe zone training decal on
their door to show that. A lot of people on campus lead with their pronouns,
which is nice because that was not the case at my previous institution. We also have a LGBTQ alumni network, which is really awesome. We foster that group and that identity after graduation too, to keep them engaged with the university. There's a lot of inclusive and safe spaces on campus.
RS: That is good to hear. Is there anything that you would really like from Florida to be brought back to Western North Carolina specifically that you've seen?
AH: I don't know. That's hard to say, because I don't think I've spent enough time in Western North Carolina to really be able to see what is needed. I think, from what I can remember, I would really love to see more outward inclusive I guess messaging for the churches in Western North Carolina. I noticed here, all the churches here this past year were very inclusive in their all are welcome type thing. Obviously, not every church, but a lot of the churches here. Some flew some Pride flags this month. Some did some messaging to try to get the LGBTQ community in church.
AH: I would really like to see that from some of the
churches in Western North Carolina, because I think that a huge misconception is that all gay people don't like the church and all churches don't like gay people. That's not the case at all. I think that there's a huge opportunity to combine the communities. I know that there's already the melding, because I know of some gay couples that are going to church in Western North Carolina. There's no need to be afraid of having inclusive and open messaging to try and make sure that people know your church is open.
RS: Okay. Hold on. I had a question and it slipped my mind. I am so sorry.
AH: That's okay.
RS: Oh. What are some of the positive changes that you've noticed? You did mention that you have seen some changes in the area. Can you name any specific ones that you've seen over the past 10 years?
AH: I will say, I think I saw that there was going to be a Pride
event in Sylva. I saw that. I saw a couple of Pride flags, just driving through
town, which was nice. I've seen and I know of more gay couples that live there
now. I know people that come out all the time there now. I know that there is
community there. I don't know about the high school. I know my mom said
obviously, there's more people that are out than were out when I was there. I
don't know if they're doing anything there, like if they have high school safe
AH: I know a lot of LGBTQ friends who now live in that community and have
chosen to live in that community and feel safe there. That, to me, is progress
just by having space I guess. I will say that knowing that there's going to be a
Pride day in September is pretty awesome. Maybe it's my jaded mind, but I hope nothing bad happens. I do think that that's going to be exciting.
RS: Being part of the LGBTQ community, there's so many different people within that community of different classes, races, and different backgrounds. How has that impacted your circumstances or outlook for other people within the community or understanding their experiences as well?
AH: I think that that's a good question, because when I came out, there were not even that many ways to identify. I mean, there were, but there weren't means to understand all of the ways. I identify as gay or lesbian, but that's because that was what I knew at that time. When I was at Conway, Coastal Carolina, I did facilitate safe zone trainings. I would just remember how important it was for me to understand all the different ways that
individuals can identify, because I think that I have a lot of privilege in my
white identity, but I also have a lot of privilege in my gay LGBTQ identity,
because I think that people can understand that easier. They're like, "Oh, okay.
Okay. Got it."
AH: As to where some of my friends, who might identify as
transgender or queer, people don't really understand that as much. I say people outside of the LGBTQ community. They don't understand that as much. I can see where I'm learning from their courage, their strength, and their experiences on not being afraid to identify exactly how they want to identify, and trying to help others understand what that's like.
AH: I think one thing that I tried to really promote to my friends, to my circles, to students on campus is that just because we don't understand something, or just because we don't identify with what they identify with, doesn't mean that that's not a human identification and feeling. The more that we can educate ourselves personally on verbiage, terminology, the understanding of why somebody might choose that, is really important.
AH: I don't take it for granted that I'm learning. I will say, I learn something new every day, even though I am a member of the community. I think the community as a whole gives me so much strength and courage to stand in my own authenticity, because so many people choose a tougher path to their authenticity and to their self identification. It's incredible.AH: I think that there's always going to be ... I don't find this a lot here in, until I step outside of Tallahassee. A lot of places in Florida that are pretty derogatory to some ways
that we can identify. I just find it encouraging that we just keep pushing for
everybody to feel included and supported, no matter what that looks like or how somebody identifies.
AH: One of the first students that their pronouns were they/them, I will never forget that one of the students in the class is just like, "I mean, but why?" Literally said, "Why?" They're like, "Because those are my pronouns. That's what I want." It was very, very hard for that student that couldn't understand to address them by the correct pronouns. I just remember being like, "In this space, you will either have to not talk or address them by the correct pronouns, because they've taken a step and told you what those pronouns are."
AH: Again, I think I've said privileged a couple times. I do think
I'm privileged to be white. Well, I am privileged to be white. I also think I'm
privileged to be a white lesbian, because that is almost as secure as it can get
when it comes to people understanding. I think that all I can do is just try to
educate myself more every day and educate others around me every day, so that those who are being their true authentic selves can be accepted, just like gay men and women are more easily accepted now than some others. I don't know if that answers your question. I kind of went on a weird tangent.RS: No. It
answered it and that was a really great answer. Thank you. How do you choose to educate yourself on LGBT issues?
AH: This might sound silly, but I literally look at terminology all the time, first of all, to make sure that I know all the terminology and know why a woman might identify as queer or why a man might identify as queer. It could be two different things. I really just try to stay up on the terminology. I also always try to stay up on the state legal implications. Florida is not a very fun state for that.AH: I think I read this week that California has banned paid professional travel to the state of Florida, because of our ... Something like this. Because we have some anti-LGBTQ laws. I always try to make sure I know what those laws are, what's happening. I try to stay up on the legal, but I try to stay up on the terminology. Then I just try to use my voice and make same sex relationships as normal as possible in my circles. I just try to normalize it, by just including stories or
references, or whatever in the conversation. Not dominating, not pushing it, but just trying to keep it.
AH: I just think that the way I stay educated is stuff changes every day, representation and resources change every day, so knowing what those are and how to pinpoint someone in the right direction. Then I really try to stay up on what kind of laws are happening in the area that I live or the areas that I travel to, and what's good and what's bad about it.
AH: The other thing that's kind of not silly, but I try to research LGBTQ friendly places to travel. I've got to that point where, if I'm going to spend hard earned money on traveling, I'm going to make sure I go to a place where I feel like it's okay. I think all those are just really simple ways that I just try to stay educated,
because like I said, even though I'm part of the community, I don't know half of
what I need to know about the community.
AH: I'm fully aware of that. I think
that's a huge issue that I noticed with some of my friends, who are also in the
community. They think that because they're in the community, they got it.
They're good. It's like, "No. There's so much that we need to know and learn to
make sure that we're fostering the environment that we need to be for everybody else."
RS: How do you feel that the LGBT community encourages activism and
community involvement?AH: In which community? Just in general?
RS: Just in
AH: I noticed here, there's ... I don't want to say protests, because that might not be the right word. There's vocal activism here. There's community groups here. There was a Tallahassee Pride, but then we didn't do it this year because we were coming out of COVID. I have seen more in communities where those types of groups are starting to happen and form. I love it when individuals push resources, like the larger resources, like HRC and stuff like that, to get in the community and raise funds.
AH: I also think anytime you can raise money to
help the community too, but I like seeing community involvement where there's programming created in the community. There was drag show bingo here. Somebody just decided to do that. Those types of little programs and stuff give voice to the community. I think that's kind of a form of activism, because activism doesn't always have to be against the grain. Activism can also just be promoting the community by having positive programing and resources and availability.
AH: I like seeing that and I think I told you about some of the churches here showing their support. I think that's kind of activism in a little way, is to show that the community is welcoming of them here.RS: How are you personally involved in activism in your daily life?AH: Just on campus, I do the Pride network stuff. I push trainings for student groups that I'm affiliated with. I make sure that I continue to do any training that's necessary to do. I talk about it in my doctoral work. I think in my personal community, I fly a flag out front. I
encourage gay friends to go to counselors that I'm aware of that are gay
friendly, if they need a counselor. Mine is more a personal touch and not a
leading in involvement, if that makes sense. I'm more of a personal point here
there, when it comes to outside of work. At work, I stay involved with the
groups to make sure people are going to trainings and students know where to go for safe places.
RS: I think this will be my last question for you. Do you have
any advice for the younger generations of Jackson County, specifically for
students at Smoky Mountain High School, that are dealing with their sexuality
AH: Yeah. I think my advice would be to not be afraid to be who you are, because there are teachers and administrators at Smoky Mountain that are accepting. I think that if you have good friends, it's okay to lean on those
friends. I don't know what the guidance counselor policy is or if there's
counselors there, but I do know some of the guidance counselors there. I know
that they are accepting. I think one thing that I missed out on was valuing
adults who would accept me and hear me, other than my parents. I think that
there is an opportunity at Smoky Mountain where there are those adult leaders
there that you could go to for safe spaces, to communicate and have those
AH: I also think that it's okay to be your authentic self now today, no matter where you are, as long as you have somebody in your corner, whether it's a friend, or a family member, or a teacher. I think that when you... How do I want to say this? I just think Smoky Mountain is not as scary of a place anymore. I think that there are opportunities for you there to find your niche and to find a safe place. Sylva has a gay community. There are gay communities in Western North Carolina now. Even if you feel alone, or even if you feel like you can't come out because of your family, you do have a space there. You will find it.
RS: Okay. Thank you so much for your interview today and sharing your time and stories. Is there anything else you would like to add before we end the interview?
AH: I don't think so. Do I get to see the transcript of it or do you-
RS: Yes. We can send you one.
AH: Okay. Cool.
RS: Okay. I'm going to stop the recording.