Oral History with Jennie Boyd Bull

Special Collections at UNC Asheville
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00:01:33 - Introduction 00:06:40 - Living and Moving to WNC

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Partial Transcript: Well, I grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, which is where my

family settled. World War II did a lot of things to a lot of families and mine

have spread. I have very deeply Southern roots in both my mother's and my

father's family, but we settled in Knoxville.

Keywords: Knoxville; WNC

00:12:38 - Growing up in Knoxville and Baltimore

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Partial Transcript: Jennie Boyd Bul...:Up there, up there. Yeah, but it started off with, "Where am

I going to go to college?" And I really wanted to get out of Dodge. I was just

feeling very cramped by the expectations of Southern women, from both sides of

my family and my father saying things like, "Well, you're going to college, so

you can meet the right man and get married." Well, no. And I was not out at that

time, but I was aware that I wanted... And my mother had said, "You can do and

be anything you want to be."

Keywords: Baltimore; Knoxville; Wolfe County

00:27:36 - Understanding Her Identity and Sharing Her Identity in Baltimore

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Partial Transcript: Well, I wouldn't call myself a

professional lesbian for years., And then I came out and that was a small

community in Waverley. But then, we were out, I mean, we published a book of

poetry called Palm Of Your Hand. You can't really back. Well, this is where I

needed to... 1972, which is, poems by and about lesbians, and I have a poem in

it. We founded Diana Press, which was one of the first and more important

lesbian presses. They published Rita Mae Brown's first book of poetry, Songs To

A Handsome Woman.

Keywords: Baltimore; Feminist Movement; MCC; Poetry; Pride Day

00:38:02 - Her Family and Her Identity

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Partial Transcript: And they were, I would say cautiously accepting. They certainly didn't kick me

out or exclude me in any way, but my mother just really didn't get it. And I

explained to her, "Well, there's right-handedness and left-handedness and more

people are right-handed than left-handed, and then some people are ambidextrous

and that's all natural. So why this condemnation of ..." And she bit her lip and
accepted it. And they were good to me.

Keywords: Acceptance; Episcopal; Family Legacy; Minister

00:43:57 - Religious Influence

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Partial Transcript: We've

had our struggles, and will continue to, but because it's a smaller and very

diverse community, we learn how to work together and worship together.

So I was very active in MCC in Washington DC from I guess, let me see, '73. I

started from '73 until I moved to Baltimore in '82. And during that time, I

became student clergy. I was active with the congregation and we would fight

around inclusive language. Because I grew up with Father in the pulpit, I was

sick and tired of Father God, I would have none of it.

Keywords: Affirming; Christian; MCC; OLOC; Scripture; Western Culture

01:01:45 - 2001-2015 and Change in Her Life

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk about the years between 2001 and 2015 first.

Because that was a big shift for me. So what I didn't say is that there's a

whole spiritual path and unfolding here. So I grew up in this conservative

Christian church. Then I came to MCC and then revolution was my religion. And

then I came to MCC and expanded that understanding of Christianity. But I still,

I got past Father God and the Holy Spirit inside me was comfortable and real and

much more than comfortable, really important. But this Jesus was a man and I had

a hard time identifying with a man as, is this the person who's totally it for

me? And I know that Christianity has used the maleness of Jesus to exclude women

for years and the Catholic church still does.

Keywords: Books and Libraries; Catholic Church; Christianity; Feminist Christian Movement; Indian Spirituality; MCC; Trans Discrimination; Writing; Yancey County

01:15:43 - Activism and Community Interaction in WNC

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, and while I was up north with the ashram, just LGBT

was, it was part of my identity, but it wasn't something I worked actively with

in any way. Then when I moved back here, it was a shock, it was a real shock.

First off, the whole LGBT community had moved into a very different direction,

and I remember when I first got here in 2016, I think, I went to Asheville,

there was some forum that the local group, I think the Campaign for Racial

Equality did with the Department of Agriculture, or something, where they had to

do a forum, or training.

Keywords: Anti-Gay Legislation; Asheville; Conservative; Critical Race Theory; Discrimination; LGBTQ+; Mitchell County GSA; Weaverville; Yancey County