Kari Pilcher and Ashley Pilcher
Summit Coffee Co., Asheville, NC
Sunday, February 24, 2019
Interviewed and Transcribed by Libby Ward
LW: Thank you for sharing your time and the gift of your stories. I've set asidetwo hours for our interview, but at any point we can take a break or end the interview. My name is Libby Ward and I am a UNC Asheville student working with two other undergraduates and faculty mentor Dr. Amanda Wray to record oral histories from elders and representative members of the LGBTQ community. Our goal is to document alternative histories and foster intergenerational connections; collected data will be used to develop a needs assessment and asset map for LGBTQ+ people in Western North Carolina. With your permission, all stories will be archived with Special Collections at UNC Asheville. I have an oral history release form for you to sign that gifts your oral history (and other archives you may have) to Special Collections with or without restrictions. Research participants can remain anonymous if they prefer to 00:01:00select a pseudonym.
How long have you lived in Western North Carolina? What brought you here?
KP: We moved down October of 2016--
AP: Yep, end of October.
KP: We moved down because of my job that I had when we lived up in New York--Buffalo area. It was auditing gas stations, and they opened up a new division down here and I applied for it, they gave it to me, and I said, "Let's go, we're moving out of New York state."
AP: "Promoted!" And I didn't have anything moving down. My family's business hadjust closed and I was given a contract to merge the family business into another company, and that's what I did under contract for about two months, and then moving down here, I literally--we paid off all of our debt, just so when we came down here we didn't have anything to worry about. It took me about a month and I started working for Red Bull, actually. And I still work for them currently. 00:02:00That's what I ended up doing coming down here. It was a rough month.
LW: Describe where you guys grew up.
KP: Well, it's actually called Grand Island, New York, and it's a little islandright in between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Right in between two great lakes: Erie and Ontario, and if I had to compare it to a town here -- What would you say? Grand Island's probably like the Arden area.
AP: Yeah, maybe.
KP: It's got a lot of different types of families, types of people, I wouldprobably call it like a South Asheville kind of vibe. Families, lots of kids, we have, like, three different schools on the island. And that's where I lived from 00:03:00the time I was five until we moved down. So, twenty-nine, twenty-eight years.
AP: And I was born and raised about forty-five minutes east of her in Rochester.That's where I was born and raised, grew up, and family life was no different. It was like a suburban family life, you know, a house, we'd run around as kids. Technology was never a thing. Like, we grew up in a time where street lights were the time you came in and, you know, it was awesome times for sure--. Then my parents started the family business when I was nine and that's when I started working for the family, around nine years old, until we moved down here.
LW: What's your most memorable childhood/general memory?
KP: Probably any of my family trips. My dad was real big into history so any of00:04:00our family trips were always somewhere, like Philadelphia, D.C., Williamsburg, Virginia, just a lot of historical places, so I would say probably most of mine were those because we'd be able to learn. Then they'd throw in random theme parks that were in the area. Those are most of mine. Anything that's gotta do with my family. I'm a huge family person. Always have been. My family's big. My mom's side of the family--my grandfather was the oldest of eleven, and then each of those eleven kids had three or four kids, and so on and so on. We're a big 00:05:00family and it was always something that my grandfather stressed was always spending at least one day out of the week with each other. So when we were able to take vacations, it was always great. Weekends were always family get togethers, cookouts, and whatnot. My parents actually just left yesterday to go back home. They were visiting us for the whole week, so it was nice to have them even though it was rainy. Yeah, anything family-wise for me.
AP: Definitely the same. I think that's what makes Kari and I very compatible.It was more of a family setting. So the summers with the family, we'd always be doing something. Being outside, it was a big neighborhood collectively. Everyone would pick a different backyard to sit in, drank beers, have a campfire while the kids ran around crazy in the neighborhood. That and Christmases at my grandfathers. Those were definitely, out of everything, probably my favorite. It was something I looked forward to every year was going to his house for 00:06:00Christmas Eve. And that brought my dad's entire side together, and there's twelve cousins-- I mean, it's not half as big as hers, but--
KP: Yeah, there's seventy-five of us--
AP: But campouts in the summer and being in the neighborhood, and then ChristmasEves with my family. That's what's the most memorable out of all of that.
LW: If you could ask your ancestors anything, in general, what would you ask?
AP: My god.
KP: Probably why they came over. Like, what made them want to leave overseas andcome live in America.
AP: Yeah, explain your family history a little bit.
KP: Well, on my grandfather's side, it's been found, records have been found,that on my grandfather's side, parts of my family actually came over on the Mayflower-- So I imagine I can figure out why for that part of the family, 00:07:00because everybody was just leaving at that point... And that it's a joke because my dad's side of the family has Native American in it, so on Thanksgiving it's an internal struggle... Yeah, that'd probably be it. Because my, well I don't know a whole lot about my dad's side. I know that my one cousin has been doing the ancestry thing, but my mom's side was the Mayflower and then they lived in Pennsylvania, so there was a lot of mining work. My mom's side is a very hardworking, earned everything, type of group of people. They're just always working, so yeah.
AP: So that's where you get it from.
AP: I can't even answer that question. I don't know too much about my ancestry.00:08:00I mean, I know we're from Germany and England. I still have family in England, and a bunch of family up in Canada. How we got here? I could not tell you. I have zero questions. Literally, no idea what I would ask them, just to be honest with you.
LW: So if y'all are comfortable with it, I was hoping we could talk about comingout narratives.
AP: That's the best part of this story, right?!
KP: Hers is better than mine.
LW: How would you character the relationship with your blood family?
AP: Good, strong. Yeah. I know the exact day I came out. It was August 1st,2004. I had already been dating my first girlfriend from high school, for God, 00:09:00maybe a few months at this point. Probably about six months. And, you know, the conversation--my mom was leaving for Connecticut to go see my aunt. I remember this day like it was yesterday. I was out on the porch with my dad chatting and I was like, "I've got something to tell you." Like, "it was time, I graduated high school, I'm moving on from this, it's time that he should know." He chuckled at me. He's like, "Kiddo, we've been talking about this since you were five. We've known. We just wanted you to come to us." He's like, "But you see, you're eighteen, we haven't done anything different. We haven't loved you any less. We haven't treated you any different. We've just let you be you, and that's the way it needed to be." I appreciate my parents. I feel very lucky, very fortunate, that I've had a very loving family. My sister, they were all weird about it, but they were kids, you know, it was what it was. I have an older brother and a younger sister. More my younger sister weird about it than 00:10:00my brother. He was already in the military and shipped off. Not even home anymore, but I think it was something that wasn't expected, but it was just, like, "Oh, I have a gay sister." But now, my sister, my brother-in-law, we love each other. There's a lot of love. There's really no different around the board. I consider myself very lucky for that. Very loving. Her [Kari's] family, extremely loving.
KP: It took a little bit, though. Mine was opposite. It wasn't horrible, but Iwas a late-in-life bloomer. I probably didn't realize until I was about twenty-five? And there was somebody, and I still have no idea, to this day who did it, but made a fake Facebook profile that sent a message that outed me to my mom. She wasn't super happy about it. Neither one of my parents have ever been 00:11:00mad, but it definitely is something still at times--
KP: Awkward. They love us. They realize nothing's changing.
AP: I mean if we were holding hands or making faces, or giving kisses, they'd belike, "alright, enough."
AP: Yeah, it definitely makes them uncomfortable, and that's fine, but I'm nothere to make anyone feel uncomfortable by any means. [To Kari] But, it's more your mom than your dad, for sure.
KP: I mean, they don't really have a choice because my sister's also gay.
AP: Well, I don't think Kasey's gay, but, her sister, was in a long relationshipwith this guy, had a child, and it was a terrible breakup.
KP: I don't know, her and Jay are still going pretty strong.
AP: Well, I think that she switched sides just for a little bit, maybe for aminute to just try it, I don't know. I don't really know about that relationship. I haven't really ever sat down and chatted with her sister about it.
KP: Jay's also one of my best friends. So that was kind of awkward at first.Like, this is going to be weird if you guys breakup. But they've been together now for a year. They're both doing pretty good. Personally, like she [Ashley] 00:12:00said, my sister came from a pretty bad breakup, but we both are super proud of her, because she works so hard everyday, she takes care of my niece--
AP: She focused on herself a lot after. She lost a lot of weight, and startedtaking care of herself. Just her mentality definitely changed for sure after that. But this isn't about your sister.
KP: But most of my family, I have two older half-siblings, and apparently theyalready knew, and were apparently taking bets to see how long it would take me to find out. I remember when I told my older sister, she was like, "Our brother owes me twenty bucks," and I was like, "What?"
I would say it was probably about fifty-fifty. Most of my family, they knew andweren't surprised, and the other ones were like, "Oh. Okay." It's not like they were super negative, maybe because it wasn't as early in my life for them to get used to. It was my mid-twenties, early thirties when everyone was finding out. 00:13:00Yeah, I mean it definitely isn't some horror story like some kids have. I consider myself lucky that way.
LW: How has your experience changed over time in the LGBTQ+ community?
AP: You know, because I spent a lot of time in Buffalo with the LGBT community,I feel like it's a lot bigger than it is here. I haven't seen too much. I mean, I see that it's Asheville, it's a very "diverse" community, if you will. So it's not unacceptable. I mean, you do cross a few different lines though in the south. Just watch what you say, you know. You watch yourself. When I was running Red Bull, I was in those mountain areas, you see confederate flags, so you kind of watch what you say to everyone down here. I'm a little more on guard when I'm 00:14:00down here, to be honest with you. Even though it's very diverse, and I love this city, well, I don't love it, I like it enough to still feel comfortable in my own skin to be here, and it's definitely something you have to look at when you decide to move. We're moving again. We're going to get out of Asheville eventually and go somewhere else, but we've gotta find a place that's a little more acceptable. When we were looking for houses here in Asheville, there's some neighborhoods where they have those [confederate] flags everywhere, and you're like, "I don't care if that is the perfect house. We can't be here, because they're going to burn it to the ground."
KP: Back home is definitely a bigger community than it is down here. Our PRIDEparade runs for fifteen streets down. It's an hour and a half parade.
AP: It's huge.00:15:00
KP: It's a huge parade...It's nothing but food trucks and beverages--
AP: And stages. Stages for drag shows so they can do everything. I mean, youguys have that big one in Pack Square, or whatever you call it down there, but this stage is like where you would almost see like main bands go through. They make this a big deal.
LW: And this is in Buffalo?
AP: Yeah, Buffalo. Rochester has a big one that's pretty decently sized. It'sdone all over the main street of the city. It's pretty decent, but it isn't as big as Buffalo's.
KP: Yeah, ours is very big. I guess we're still learning where all of the gaysare down here.
AP: Yeah! There are no places! Which is what I told [Kari about meeting for theinterview] her. It had to be out in public. I know Summit is queer friendly. I was like, "if we're going to meet in public, we've got to find somewhere that is chill and very cool about it." But yeah, we went to a few bars when we first 00:16:00came down here and, oddly enough, you have to become members and you had to sign up.
KP: O'Henry's, I think.
AP: Something like that. But there's not many gay hangouts, if you will. It'sjust not like the designated ones we have in Buffalo and Rochester, where we know all the gay bars are.
KP: Yeah, they're just down this strip. There's like four of them.
AP: Yeah, and the flags are hanging all up and down the strip. You always knewyou were on the gay side of town. Which everyone was welcome, you know, like, come on down and hangout. It's a great time. Even the high school kids go to Tilt. That's one of our bigger nightclubs. It's a Thursday night party. Tilt Nightclub is one of the biggest. Thursday night parties and high school kids. As long as you were eighteen years of older, no matter if you're gay, straight, anything. They loved it. They all came out and we all just partied together. A lot of drama, but it was nice.
KP: I will say, though, you guys with the youth outright program is probably00:17:00something that I don't know if Buffalo or Rochester have. I don't think they've got that kind of resource back home so it's nice to see a place in a different city that has the resources for the younger kids and their generation.
AP: The vocabulary has changed. It's not just gay, straight, bi, it's not simpleanymore. They've changed it. Like, I hate this, but I don't know why people feel the need to put things in categories. That's what it's turned into. It's like, "You are a separate category from this, and so on."
Stop categorizing things, just leave it because we're all people, nonetheless.It doesn't matter how you--
KP: I feel like that older couple at that training felt the same. We went to ayouth outright and did training, because they worked with the Y[MCA] and did a safety around water for the youth outright kids. And for four or five Sundays in 00:18:00a row, we closed down at six, they [LGBTQ+ youth] came in at five, had a nutrition/food, fun, cooking hour, and then they got to use the pool for like an hour and a half.
AP: And this allowed them to wear what they felt comfortable wearing. Like, ifthe girls wanted to just run around in board shorts, then so be it. I mean, like, just do what you feel. It's just, it is what it is.
KP: It was great. Then we went to that training and there was, like, four pagesof vocabulary. And we're all looking at this and there's this older lesbian couple who were like, "What's wrong with the flag we made you guys?"
And I'm looking at them like, "You guys actually made it? Or was it yourgeneration that made it? Because if it was you guys, I need your autograph."
AP: Yeah, they came out with the rainbow, and now it's transgender, the bears,just so many other flags, and I just don't even know like half of them, to be honest. 00:19:00
AP: It's changed so much from when you just remember the rainbow flag, to now.
KP: I do feel bad, because I do want to know more so I'm not confused whenpeople talk to me...And then we've got the straight friends who are asking us questions like that and we don't even know.
AP: It's so confusing-- I'm just married to my wife and we're living life.That's really what it is.
AP: Like I said, I hate separation. "Community".
KP: It's a community, but you've got, like, eighteen different categories to putyourself into.
AP: It's nice to have the support system but either way, our straight allies areour support system, nonetheless. The ones that don't judge you just for loving 00:20:00another person. It doesn't matter what it is, it's just love. Why do we have to hate? There's a lot of haters out there, and that's what it's turned into. A lot of hate.
KP: I've always had a lot of gay friends growing up, in high school, and incollege before I came out. I'll occasionally see them post things like "what is going on? Why is this the new thing?" and I'm like "you guys were gay a lot longer than me and you don't even know? Alright."
LW: When were you first aware of your sexual identity?
AP: Young. I was young. Second, third grade? Oh, yeah. Absolutely...I was fullyaware. I knew it was different. I mean, at that age you aren't learning about 00:21:00straight, gay. You're not learning about anything like that. You just know something was off. Something was different. And I went through a good amount of depression around, like, fourth and fifth grade, because I'm worried, like, "what do I do?" I knew it was not right. I knew it was kind of setting me apart, because I tried to have boyfriends, but I didn't know how to act with them. I don't want to sound like a whore, but I had a lot of boyfriends. I've never had sex with them, but I had a lot of boyfriends. None of them were ever right. It was like, "you're missing something, and you're missing something,"
KP: Or something extra was probably what it was.
AP: But it was just not right. It just didn't feel right-- It was second orthird grade when I started having little crushes on some of the girls in class. 00:22:00I remember thinking like, "Oh, she's really pretty today," And then you sit there, and you're just staring at them for a minute. You're like, "damn!" I was aware very early in life, for sure.
KP: I was not. No. I went through high school and college, I had a lot of gayfriends. I hung out with the PRIDE group when I went to both colleges. I started at community college, then finished my last two years at Buffalo State, and there was just a bunch of us. That lifestyle never seemed weird to me...My first dating like "boyfriend" boyfriend that lasted for more than two months like in 00:23:00high school, I was like twenty or twenty-one. Relationships were never really something I thought about...I remember somebody asked me "Would you ever date a girl?" and I sat there and thought, "You know, I probably could. I haven't tried" and then, you know, one day i was like, "Oh. Okay. Yep, yep, this feels way better." I probably had about five boyfriends, and all of them like her [Ashley], it just doesn't feel right."
AP: It just doesn't feel right. It gets to that point where it doesn't feel right.
KP: Most of my relationships with the guys were at least six months, at least.One of them was, like, a year, maybe a little over a year. I just went along 00:24:00with it. Then finally I was like "I don't want to date you anymore. I don't like it."
LW: How would you define coming out? What influenced you to come out?
KP: Well, I didn't really have a choice. It was done for me-- On National ComingOut day, I posted about what had happened to me. It was more of, like, I want people to do it when they feel ready. If they know there's a good possibility, 00:25:00more than a fifty percent chance of it not going the way they want it to, then build up the support system first. If you've got aunts and uncles and cousins and friends that are super supportive, you know that they're not going to disown you, but you have a pretty good feeling it might happen with your parents--
AP: At least know you have a place to go.
KP: Yes. I always just want people to be safe. It always breaks my heart whenyou hear those stories where, you know, when kids come out and their parents just disown them-- It's just heartbreaking, because it just doesn't make any sense. That would be mine. When you're ready. Just make sure you've got that support system around in case the one person or two people that you tell it doesn't go the way you think it will go. We were both lucky. 00:26:00
AP: I mean, personally, I was just done lying to myself. It's like when my dadtold me he knew. I was just like, "Well, why didn't you tell me? Why couldn't you just tell me?" Now I know it isn't his decision to make, it's mine. I was just done lying to myself. I was done being scared. And I'll tell you what, it was the best weight lifted off my shoulder. Oh, my gosh.
KP: One of my other really good friends friends came out to me six months beforemy first girlfriend. He came over in Florida and he, we call each other Bubbie, he was like, "Bubbie, I have something to tell you." and I'm like, "alright," and he said, "I have a boyfriend." I looked at him and was like, "Okay, are we still getting ice cream?" and he was like, "This doesn't shock you?" and it was just like, no. 00:27:00
AP: I feel like with the boys it's easy to know. It's just no surprise. That'sthe case with a lot of the guys. Their mannerisms, you can just tell.
KP: Yeah, I got a nose ring and I chopped off all my hair to donate it-- Iremember telling my sister, "Hey I have something to tell you," and she said "are you going to tell me you're a lesbian?" and this was even before I met my girlfriend at the time. I was like "No. Why would you think that?" It was like, what, August? Maybe three months beforehand. I'm like, "where did that even come from?"
AP: It's because you chopped your hair off. I got the same thing when I choppedmy hair off. I got my senior pictures done and then two hours after and chopped all of my hair off. It was spiky. It was all over the place. I even put in some blonde. I was like "this is just awesome." I was so done with long hair. It was super long. My dad was just like "If you cut your hair off, you have to pay for your own senior pictures." 00:28:00
KP: I did it to mine just because I was sick and tired of having long hair. Butthat's what everyone thought. I was just like "Why does everyone think that?" And then a couple of months later, uh, yeah.
LW: Did you lose any family or friends after you came out?
AP: No, not that I can think of. I mean, I've had a few guys who were just nothappy, because I have some guy friends who are still close. We just stopped talking because they figured I was just going to be there forever. And I wasn't. I'm sorry...I mean, there are some I'm still close with, but there's one that I haven't chatted with in like a year now. They just kind of worked their way on. They thought we were going to be there forever, and it just wasn't. But no, not really any that disowned or lost friends. I went to a very open and fun high 00:29:00school Everyone was just super open and super awesome about everything. It didn't matter who you are...Everybody talked to everybody. I mean, you had your close knit of friends...everybody talked to everybody. It didn't matter what you identified as. If you were one of those goth kids, it didn't matter to me. I'll still sit and talk with you. I might not like all black like you do, but definitely never really lost any friends.
KP: I didn't lose any friends. I definitely had some guy friends who were like,"Wait, what? Really" and I'm just like, "Do you really think you have a chance? No." 00:30:00
AP: Yeah, it was definitely easier. Nothing crazy on this side. It's been a verysmooth ride, for sure, if you will. As far as growing up and coming out, then getting to this point, it's been a pretty smooth ride.
LW: How have your relationships evolved over time with your friends and family?
AP: I can't really speak for Dad, but it's not really what got the gay thingthat got relationships. With family, we all worked in the family business together, so we all hated each other's guts everyday because we'd see each other everyday. I worked with my mom, my sister, my brother, sometimes my brother-in-law, my dad when he showed up. That hurt us a little bit. Now I'd say since we got rid of the family company, we're stronger, so it didn't really have anything to do with the gay thing, because that didn't really bother my brother or sister or anybody. It was more of the family business that picked apart our 00:31:00relationship. I have no relationship with my father now but I talk with my sister just about everyday. My brother, more than once a week, which is surprising. It really never had to do with the gay thing. It was more of just family stuff as far as the business that really made or break relationships. My family is an Oprah Winfrey show/Dr. Phil show waiting to happen.
KP: Yeah, there really wasn't any change with ours. It didn't lessen it, itdidn't make it any stronger. I think finally just hitting a point around my late twenties, around the time I turned thirty, just asking my parents questions. I started working with my mom for the same company that moved us down here, and we worked together, and had to ride to work together. So I was like, "So, dad was 00:32:00married before you and had two kids, and I want to learn more about you guys, because I'm thirty now and you have never talked about it to me before." And then moving away has made it stronger, for sure. Mine wasn't anything with my orientation.
AP: Yeah, it definitely didn't have to do with orientation...because our parentssaw us as children, not just another thing that had to do with a different sexual orientation. It was never that, and I think it keeps people very open-minded. It keeps me open-minded. I really feel that upbringing has a lot to do with it. Whether you're open-minded or close-minded or shutting people out, I really feel like it has a lot to do with it.
KP: I will say I'm very proud of my sister. She may have had a little bit to dowith it. She actually sat my parents down when she started dating Jay, and said, 00:33:00"Jay and I are dating. This is what's going on." I didn't get that chance to do that with my parents, so I think her actually having the courage--I didn't have that courage. I had been dating my ex at the time for maybe two or three months when I was outed by whoever it was...I was always trying to figure out how I was going to tell them, but Kasey sat them down and was like "this is what's going on, this is how it's going to be" and they were like "Well, that's that."
AP: God, I wish we had some Jerry Springer stuff for you.
KP: I guess my father may have cursed at my grandmother. She always told my dadgrowing up that he raised us like boys. We weren't girly enough for that 00:34:00grandmother. "You're raising those two girls up like boys." So when Kasey decided to tell them that she was dating Jay, according to my other cousin, he had like a moment where he wanted to throw my grandmother's urn out the back door. Other than that, nothing horrible.
LW: What was your first visit to a gay related place or event like?
AP: I think it was like walking into a familiar place. You were with others whomay have struggled mentally since they were children, or, I mean, you can't get everyone's story, because everyone's got a different one. But it was nice. Tilt 00:35:00Nightclub was my first gay event, and I went in there, seeing just a bunch of people. It was kind of like walking into a butcher shop and you're like "There's a lot of meat. Holy crap, there's a lot of them." It was kind of nice. It was really cool.
KP: I'd gone to Marcella's, which was the biggest gay bar/nightclub in Buffalo.I think I went before I was twenty-one, so I think I went there before I was of legal drinking age...I had a blast. I went in and was probably when I realized I was in love with drag queens.
LW: Aren't we all?
KP: They're the best.
AP: She's obsessed.
KP: I got her to watch Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time since she'd00:36:00never watched it.
AP: Yeah, we started watching and got halfway finished watching, so I've stillnever seen it fully.
KP: Yeah, I would say going to Marcella's. I had always hung out with gaypeople, so it didn't seem weird to me. And it was just a lot of fun. It was a night out with friends and we'd see drag queens and fall in love with them.
AP: Having a good time, for sure. It just wasn't awkward to dance with another female.00:37:00
LW: What did you expect to find or experience before those events?
KP: Honestly, I don't even know. I just knew that we were going out, having fun.My friends always talked about the drag shows, so I got to see them for the first time. A lot of dancing. I didn't really have any expectations. I just knew I was going out, and that's what I wanted to do, and have fun.
AP: You know, as far as expectations, I really just thought I was going to walkinto My Little Pony, like fairy-land. I didn't really know. I figured the guys were all going to be like dressed in girl clothes and all the girls were dressed in guy clothes. It was just the total opposite when you walked in the door. And it's not. There's people of all different [backgrounds]. The guys wanted to wear the skinny jeans, the bears, the macho, and you have your tomboy girls, you have 00:38:00"bois" that are more dude-like. You have your lipstick lesbians, who are bangin', man. They wear the heels, the makeup, and that's what I'm attracted to. The lipstick lesbians.
KP: Only when I feel like putting it on.
AP: Oh, yeah. When she puts on dresses and makeup on? Solid. Solid. She looksgreat all the time. But anyway, my expectations were changed when I walked in. I thought I was just going to walk into the opposite world. And it wasn't like that at all. People of all different backgrounds. They were all there just to have a good time. It was definitely different but it was cool to get introduced to it, finally. Just be with your people. That's what it felt like. You were 00:39:00just going to be with your people.
KP: I was apparently with my people all the time and just didn't realize it.
LW: Do you have any favorite stories from your dating life or life now?
KP: Well, she's never dated anyone but me. No. I'm just kidding.
AP: You know, as far as favorite stories from past dating, it's more of justlearning. Dating is learning what you like and what you don't like. As far as favorite stories, I don't have favorites, because obviously I'm not with them anymore. There's reasons I'm not with them. My first one broke my heart completely, because it was a first girlfriend. The second one was just, I'm not going to sit here and say a rebound but I went from younger than me, to older than me. And that introduced me to the college life. 00:40:00
KP: Oh, yeah. I have a few choice words about that one. But we won't swear onhere. Alright, she's a bitch.
AP: Okay, so my third ended up being my wife. So I'm already divorced once. Sothat was definitely a learning experience. I still have no good stories that weren't learning experiences. She's [Kari] my favorite story. We have so much fun together. I could tell you a million fun stories from her, not so much from my past because it was all learning experiences, and what else can you say about them?
KP: Well, I could say a whole lot about them.
AP: I know, I know, I know. Your ex was a troll, too.
KP: Oh, she definitely was. She was super toxic. I learned to finally stand upfor myself in that relationship, and I was at that point where I decided I was not going to take shit from you anymore. It's not a good memory, but it was 00:41:00learning nonetheless, like Ashley said. Our favorite memories or stories are from each other. How we met each other, etc.
AP: Yeah, so no fun ex stories, but we could tell you all the fun stories withus, but not so much from exes. Exes were just more of learning experiences. There were good times. I'm not going to sit here and say there weren't. Obviously I'm not with that person. My first girlfriend was for thirteen months. That's a long term. Second girlfriend was four years. Third was Emily and that was just under six years. So, the majority of my twenties were consumed by two women. Sam, my first girlfriend was from eighteen to nineteen. From about nineteen and a half to twenty on was with Kate til about twenty-three, twenty-four. And then from about twenty -three, twenty-four til twenty-nine, I 00:42:00was with Emily. I, literally, just went from one long term to the next. I was more long-term relationship-bound than short-term. I never did one night stands, because my heart was into it. I'm just not one of those people who will do the walk of shame the next morning and forget it ever happened. I was very safe in my relationships. Always cautious. I made sure that if I was going to sleep with someone, it's going to be the right way, and not one night and then gone. I mean, as far as fun stories, there were great times at Niagara Community College. That's where I learned how rugby was played. It was interesting and cool. All the times that they did their drink-ups. I learned how to drink a lot when I was in my twenties. It was terrible. So terrible-- 00:43:00
LW: So, let's move into your relationship with each other.
AP: Oh, my gosh, I love our relationship. We're such a fun story.
KP: We are.
LW: Tell me about it.
KP: So, April 29th, was our Beer Blast of 2015, so that's for softball...Weplayed in the Queen City Softball League, which is Buffalo's LGBT softball league that's been around for twenty-five years. I joined, that had been my 00:44:00fifth or sixth year, she knew a guy who had traveled over from Rochester every Sunday to come play--
AP: I had actually applied for a job that summer at the airport, and thoughtthat I would just go work, and then I got the callback about the job but my buddy's like, "Forget a job. You're not going to have fun at a job. Come out with me. " This was almost at the point where my marriage was falling apart. The relationship was falling apart, and I would spend every night trying to find something else to do instead of being home. I was avoiding it. I played kickball back in Rochester, so he was like, "Come with me to softball on Sundays and just check it out. Check it out. You're going to meet some awesome people, and I can't lie, you are going to be the talk of this year. You are hotter than any of the other girls in this league, just come out, play, and see what happens." Okay, fine. I just wanted to play softball. I'm not looking for anything, I was 00:45:00married. I still had my boundaries, but I was ready to play. I was ready to do something different. And at that Beer Blast, she was the first person I noticed walking through that door. Everyone else was dude-like. I mean, obviously. Everyone was super butch, stereotypical softball players. And I thought "alright, I'm going to be fine this season. There's no eye candy, there's no nothing, we're gonna be fine." Nah. She walked through that door, along with her troll girlfriend at the time, but she was just the only one I noticed out of the crowd. And I was like "Okay, we're going to be in trouble." But then she walked by with her entourage and then I thought, "Well, maybe not," because a lot of them looked like bodyguards, and I was not gonna deal with that.
KP: She was sitting against the wall in her light blue jeans and her maroont-shirt and a black zip-up. I remember. Hair slicked back, all hot-like. 00:46:00
AP: Well, when you walked by your hair was sticking up in the back and all Iwanted to do pat it down for a girl. Like, hey, come here, I got you.
KP: We said all of like two words to each other. May and June, we startedtalking a little bit more. That's when I was starting to realize what kind of toxic relationship I was in. My ex was getting just a little bit more ridiculous. I had my breaking point. I was trying to find an outfit for a wedding of a friend and I could not find anything. I started to break down in the fitting room. My highest weight was two hundred and thirty-three pounds. I remember thinking that I would never do this again, so I started to get healthy. I changed my lifestyle. I stopped drinking, I started eating right, I started 00:47:00exercising, and my ex wanted nothing to do with that. And if she did it, she did it for me because I wanted to do it. She realized I was starting to take care of myself and I stopped taking care of her, and she was always using the line, "Well, I'll kill myself if you leave me," and I don't want to be that person who's like, go for it, because it sounds horrible, but at the same time, I'm like, Well, you've said it four times now in the last three months, here you are.
AP: Even when we were first talking, we weren't living together. We'd see eachother with what started out once a week on Sundays then it turned into seeing maybe two or three times [a week] and then it was everyday. But, when we were seeing each other sporadically, here and there, I was in South Carolina for a wedding and she's like, "I've got to go save her. She's threatening to go jump off a bridge," and I said, "Go."I wasn't mad, I was sick of her [the ex] being selfish and close-minded, like just get over it already. If she broke up with 00:48:00you then this is over, this is it.
KP: Right around the time I had broken up with my ex, she [Ashley] had told herwife that she wanted a divorce, and started going through the separation process. It was nice to have someone who was from a different group of friends to talk to, and be like "Oh, this is what's going on in the relationship now, etc." We had an unbiased conversation, which was great. But it was immediate. We had one full day on July 27th, we spent like eight full hours together, we had a 00:49:00full day date together. We just got to sit and actually talk.
AP: It was amazing. I was so nervous getting together. It was on a Monday,because I left work. I told the family and said, "I need a mental day. You guys are fine, I'm leaving" because I was in between splitting up with the wife, the wife had a family member who died in a tragic car accident, I was dealing with that, and then knowing that we were falling apart, and I have to admit it, it was until August or September that I told her we were splitting up. We were still talking and kind of seeing each other before any of that happened. If I'm a bad person for doing that, that's fine, I'll take that. I wasn't doing things by the book or doing it the way I should've. I was seeing someone else behind my wife's back, and that's the way I have to look at it. I literally left work and drove to Buffalo for an hour, and the whole time I had butterflies. I got to a 00:50:00point where I finally got there and was like, "Do I sit down? Do I stand up? Do I sit down? Do I stand up?" Just not knowing what to do. I was so nervous. That whole day, it was just talking. Literally getting to know each other. It wasn't softball, there wasn't anyone else around us. We were at a bar and had that day together and just talk. Just talk. I think that was the most amazing part of the whole thing. And then I was pretty much done when we were walking through a garage to go to lunch, and eat lunch together. She took off her glasses, and she hadn't taken off her sunglasses since I had seen her that morning, I didn't get to see her eyes.
KP: Well, the sun was shining.
AP: I know, it was a beautiful day. Canal Side is our go to when we go back toBuffalo. That's the place. That's our place.
KP: I have a bracelet with those coordinates on it. That's our first thing that00:51:00we bought that I bought for us.
AP: Yep, and then everyday after that was just trying to spend as much time thatwe could together. Like I said, we went from seeing each other once a week to try to do it twice a week, then it turned into, once the exes were out of the way, she would come up for three to four days of the week. We would drive an hour back and forth. I would stay in Buffalo, drive back an hour to go to work, at like six a.m. It got to that point up until she got the job to move down here, and was like "Oh, my god, we're going to live together." So, we actually didn't start living together until after about a year.
KP: Til we were seven hundred miles away from home.
AP: Yeah, a year, year and a half into the relationship.
KP: Oh, yeah. We U-Haul'd it. We waited almost a whole year.00:52:00
AP: It was an experience, and honestly, and til this day, I pride myself withthis relationship. We don't fight, we don't cry, we don't argue, we don't raise our voices to each other, we have respect for each other.
KP: We realized that we can have a civil conversation and it not turn intosomething. Or if she is super angsty about something and it doesn't have to do with me, I give her five or ten minutes. I'm just like When you're ready, just come on over. Let me know. I'm here.
AP: Then we cuddle or get a beer, and I'm like, I have to tell you about thispart of my day. I come home angry, I've learned to channel it differently now. Because with my ex, it was throwing things, and yelling and slamming doors, and it was quite terrible. 00:53:00
AP: It's nice to have someone be unbiased, regardless. I want the honest opinionof what's going on. And I always get that.
KP: It wasn't a normal start to a relationship, but we both knew what we had todo in the relationships we were in, and I was actually the first one to say "I love you" in the relationships. It was always said to me in past relationships-- I knew this was my partner, this was my person. 00:54:00
AP: That was the day we first said it, and started. That was our day date. Thatwas the day we started being together was when those days were said...This year it'll be four years in August. And then married for two in June...We knew we loved each other, but we both knew it was something that couldn't be said until we did what we had to in the other relationships-- Those are really strong words to say to someone.
KP: I think it's funny when people see us together. They're like, "You guys havebeen together for how long? Seven, eight nine years?" and we're like "four".
AP: We're just that couple.