Oral History with Amy Haggard (2021)

Special Collections at UNC Asheville
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00:02:06 - Growing Up

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Partial Transcript: "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."

Keywords: AIDS; Church; Florida State; Fraternal Twins; HIV; HIV/AIDS; Internet; Tallahassee, FL; Teacher; Teen; Twin; University of North Carolina at Asheville; Western Carolina; Youth Pastor; athletics

00:04:12 - Identifying Sexuality and Coming Out

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Partial Transcript: 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." 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 feel?" 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.

Keywords: Church; Coming out; Family; LGBTQ+; Mission trip; soccer

00:09:33 - LGBTQ+ Spaces and Gathering

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Partial Transcript: 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. 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.

Keywords: Ani DiFranco; Indigo girls; Jackson County; Melissa Etheridge; Music; Safe spaces

00:13:23 - College Years, LGBTQ+ Acceptance, Sports Culture

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Partial Transcript: 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. 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.

Keywords: Benched; Coastal Carolina University; Faith; God; Religion; South Carolina; Sports; Sylva NC; coming out; soccer

00:20:32 - Marriage and Divorce; Closeted Relationship; New Love Story

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Partial Transcript: 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.

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.

Keywords: Closeted; Coastal Carolina University; Divorce; Florida State University; Heteronormative; Job Discrimination; Love; Marriage; Tallahassee; Workplace

00:28:55 - WNC Impressions and University Inclusion

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Partial Transcript: 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.

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.

Keywords: Inclusive Messaging; Pride flags; Race Privilege; Religion; Self Identification; Sylva; Transgender; church

00:37:10 - LGBTQ Activism, Ancestors, and Advice to Youth

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Partial Transcript: 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. 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.

Keywords: Authentic self; Coming out; Drag; LGBTQ+ Programming; Safe spaces; Vocal activism; anti-LGBTQ laws; gay tourism