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00:00:00 - Involvement with Western North Carolina's LGBT Elders Community

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Partial Transcript: Judy Rudolf:So I met with Bob Thomas Sulo and we talked about how difficult it is because especially older LGBT people are terrified of the system, of the man, people, because they've been so badly treated by the system. So that's a concern, sort of at a professional level as well as personal. So when I retired, Susan and I became more active with the group here. We've been to several of their outings. And it's funny. I walked in to the picnic the first time I went, "Oh, I know you and I know you." Because there were a lot of people that we've known over the years. So it's not a group that ... It's just part of the community. They're not a group that's an outlier is what I'm trying to say. It's a group that's integrated into the LGBT community and it's really great that we have this because older LGBT people have some pretty discreet legal problems and other problems.
Judy Rudolf:Housing is big for everybody, but it's particularly big for older people. LGBT people are not welcome in a lot of nursing homes and senior housing. They're mistreated. We are mistreated. And so that's one issue. Social security issues are the same for older LGBT people than anybody else. Healthcare, all of that. All those are the same kinds of problems. So getting together as a group like this, it's really important to share what our problems are and what solutions that we've all found.

Keywords: 1980s; 1990s; AIDS; AIDS Quilt; Elders; Gay Mens Chorus; Gay Parents; HIV; Health Care; LGBT Community; Legal Aid; Lesbians; PFLAG

00:09:43 - Judy's Introduction: Early Life and Moving to Asheville

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Partial Transcript: Judy Rudolf:So when we came to Asheville I'd come from this background of clear discrimination and negative things. Susan hadn't really had that. So, but for me, this community was so open at that time. I mean, the folks I ran into were so open and opening and welcoming and it was great. So we became involved with a lot of things in Asheville. And it seemed like nobody blinked an eye. The legal community, people said, "Oh, stay in the closet, don't talk to anybody." And we didn't. We just were who we were. And the legal community, they may have behind closed doors talked about us, but to our face, they were fine. They treated us as any other attorney.
Judy Rudolf:So we found Asheville to be really a great place for us. It was a great place to raise our son. The school was fine with us co-parenting him. So we really, it was just a perfect place for us to be. And then also the church was a perfect church for us. Still is.

Keywords: All Souls Episcopal Church; Asheville, NC; Atlanta, GA; Black Mountain, NC; CLOSER; College; Education; Law School; Parents; University

00:20:00 - First Marriage Ceremony/1990s Church Dialogue on Sexuality

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Partial Transcript: Susan:And different denominations had different groups. They weren't called integrity, they had different names. But ...Judy Rudolf:It was the Episcopal one. [crosstalk]. Right. And when those discussions were going on, we made a very conscious effort to be a part of those discussions. And because everybody was breaking off into small groups, we made a point of having at least one of our members in each one of those groups so that when discussions happened, and when discussions happened around human sexuality, LGBT, all of that, that we would let them know that there was somebody from that community who was there and we couldn't speak for the whole community, but we could speak about our experience and we would answer questions so that in a sense, the propaganda around why you needed to be afraid of LGBT people was just amazing.
Susan:I had a friend who later came out as gay who went to First Baptist Church in Atlanta, which was the Reverend Charles Stanley's church. And Charles Stanley was a big wig in the Southern Baptist conference. And one day when my friend was in church, he walked up to a couple, picked up their {00:24:00} young child and said, "We need to keep these children safe because LGBT people are coming for your kids."
Well, thanks. I got enough of my own to raise. And it was disheartening that there really was somebody who felt that way. But part of why we wanted to be visible and why we wanted to be a part of these discussions and not remain hidden or only associating with our own kind was because we were not going to be able to move forward until people got to know LGBT people and realize that we were just people.

Keywords: 1990s; All Souls Episcopal Church; Atlanta, GA; Baptist; Church; First Baptist Church Atlanta; Reverend Charles Stanley; Sexuality; Southern Baptist

00:27:00 - Meeting People in Western North Carolina and the Local Gay Community

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Partial Transcript: Susan:And it had been going for several years at that point.
Judy:Yep. Anyhow, when we came ... in a sense, it was a small community. Small LGBT community that we knew. But just really good people. A lot of whom have died, many of them died of AIDS. Some of them do die ...
Susan:Dooley died of stomach cancer.
Judy:Yeah. That was incredibly sad. But it was an interesting time. We were so poor, but we felt like we really had a good community, and a lot of people that were our friends. We stayed. We weren't going anywhere else.
Susan:And as I said, we were as active in other communities, whether it be women attorneys. We were involved when the Western chapter ... Western North Carolina chapter, the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys got started. I talked about the mediation center, that it was actually for lesbians that got that started.
Judy:And then there were four lesbians that got the family visitation centers started. You, [crosstalk], Janet.
Susan:Actually, the family visitation center was what I was thinking about the mediation center. Because that that wasn't true of them. I did volunteer work in the early days with [Helpmate], and there were discussions about, "Well, what about same sex domestic partner violence?"
Judy:You couldn't get a domestic violence protection order because of the same gender.
Susan:Because the laws specifically said it had to be-
Judy:Opposite sex people.Susan:And that left a lot of people vulnerable.

Keywords: 1990s; Bele Chere Festival; Downtown Asheville, NC; Health care; Lesbians; Minnie Jones Health Center, Asheville, NC; SALGA; WNC Health Service; WNCAP; Western North Carolina Aids Project

00:37:04 - Evolution of Asheville in the Past Decades

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Partial Transcript: Judy:When Susan ran against Nathan, Nathan didn't say anything. His people did.
Susan:Yeah. There were very coded things that were said.
Judy:They made a big deal out of Susan's sexuality, and that's probably one of the reasons that she did not win. And white Democrats voted for him, because they were afraid of this lesbian representing. She would come get their children or something. I don't know. Whatever their fear is.
Susan:Which is one reason why I'm so damn proud of Deb Butler, because she ran in one down on the coast-
Judy:I think that's one change that's happened here. I think there transgender person that got elected recently, too. I mean, elections across the state here as well ... but across the state have become more receptive to campaigns and more receptive to LGBT people running.
Susan:And there is a-
Judy:It's wonderful.
Susan:... an LGBT section of the democratic party in the state. That didn't exist before.
Judy:Yeah. That's the reason I wanted Susan to talk about politics, because I think that's one of the biggest changes that I've seen in our culture is that now when it comes to government, we are represented for the first time. For the first time, we are represented. We've got the gay man running for president. I'm not sure I'm going to vote for him, but that has nothing to do with his sexuality. He's a nice guy. I mean, we are now there. We are there. And that's never happened before. Ever.

Keywords: City Council; Conservative; County Commissioner; Democrat; LGBT Community; Local Government; Politics; Poltical Race; Transgender; Visibility

00:57:15 - Future Goals for Asheville

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Partial Transcript: Judy:Hope for the future.
Susan:Yeah. And that that is what I'm seeing is that ... My hope is that we will do away with discrimination. Locally, at least, if not countywide and nationally. Whether it be discrimination in housing, discrimination in
employment ... We've known people who got thrown out of their apartments because the landlord realized that these weren't just roommates. We know people who lost their jobs, because their boss-
Judy:They were too gay.
Susan:... realized that they were ... Yeah. The hope is that there will come a time when it won't matter at all who someone falls in love with, or what their gender orientation, or lack thereof ... meaning people who are asexual, or fluid, and don't particularly care to label themselves as one thing or another. Just kind of nobody gets upset or bats an eye. It's just okay. Where we have forms that you have choices other than male, female, don't want to disclose.Where we have other choices.

Keywords: Asexual; Discrimination; Education; Fluid; Gay; Implicit Bias; LGBT Community; LGBTQ+; Lesbian; Public Schools; Queer; Racism

01:02:29 - Personally Impactful Local Organizations

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Partial Transcript: Judy:The Episcopal church has had a huge impact on us, but that's because we feel like that it has grown. I'm not sure I would feel the same way about ... even if I was belonged to a small church where people were for open, the greater church, I would think I would feel that way about ... like, the Methodist church is still in the dark ages. I would say the Episcopal church is one organization.
Susan:I would say [inaudible] in particular, because we had a friend who was a deacon in a smaller church in a smaller town. When she asked if she could be married there, they said, "Hell no."
Judy:Not only that, but you have to leave. We don't want you anymore.
Susan:Okay. Any other organizations?Judy:Other organizations ... I think closer was very important to us. Which by the way, we connected up through the Episcopal church. I mean, initially. That's how we found out about it.

Keywords: All Souls Episcopal Church; Asheville, NC; Attonery; CLOSER; Church; Democractic Party; Politics

01:07:56 - Work Place Discrimination as a Social Worker

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Partial Transcript: Susan:Actually, I was talking about this just the other day. Yeah. Child support is like the most conservative part of the department of social services for whatever reason. Many of the people who I worked with went to conservative Baptist churches. Not all Baptist churches are conservative, but these were, and when we would be talking at lunch, I mean, I didn't wear a sign that said "Hi, I'm your lesbian attorney," but I would talk about Judy and Nicholas like other people talked about their husbands and step children, or children, or whatever, or boyfriends. So, one young lady came in and sat in the chair in my office and said, "Do you consider yourself married to Judy?" Or "Is she your girlfriend?" I said, "Yeah, and I consider her son to be my step child." She said, "Okay, well I was just wondering, cause that always seemed to be the way you talked about them." And then she got up and she left.

Keywords: Attorney; Career; Child Support; Christianity; Faith; Lesbian; Social Work

01:17:18 - Family Relationships

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Partial Transcript: Susan:We found out - was it in 93? It was 92, I think, that my father had salivary gland cancer and prognosis was not good. And so, things that might've taken a lot longer to be resolved suddenly got telescoped in time. That was hard, as my father was being operated on to see if they could get all the cancer, I was sitting in the waiting room with my brother who basically said, "Your relationship threatens everything I believe in." Our relationship threatened his world, and it was a very, very hard conversation to have, but we got through it. We had a ceremony in 93 in part because I knew my father wasn't going to be around long and I wanted him to walk me down the aisle.
Judy:No, [inaudible] you wanted to marry me.
Susan:Well, yeah, I wanted to marry you since day one-
Judy:Yes. Yeah, I know.
Susan:[inaudible] And my sister had a very lavish wedding six months later with her fiance that she had known at that point 9 months, not quite a year. My brother would not come to our ceremony. My parents did. That was the first time my mother commented on, "There are so many heterosexuals here." "Yes. Mom, what? You thought that I fell in love with Judy and all of a sudden I cut off everybody else and every other... Yeah. No."
Susan:In 2003, we had a renewal of vows, my brother came. That was-
Judy:And took pictures.
Susan:And took pictures, and my sister had been involved with our initial ceremony as had her daughter and son and my friend Charles, and at a renewal of vows, my sister and her kids were involved. Judy's daughter and her kids were involved in, I think, Nicholas was too, but I can't remember where Nicholas was.
And my brother was there, which was a really big deal, and we had a couple of women lawyer friends were our attendance.

Keywords: "Dyke"; 1990s; 2000s; Family; Marriage; Marriage Cermony; Parenthood; Parents; Renewal of Vows

01:33:12 - Experiences Working in the Public School System/ Advocating for Change

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Partial Transcript: Judy:So I lived in Norfolk. The bar that we went to is called the Q Club, and this was, let's see. Katie was born in '71 so this was '71, '72, something like that, and if you were to drive by, you would not know it's anything. You had to You had to know that it was a bar. There may have been one light bulb over the door or something, but very dark, and Norfolk had a vice squad and the vice squad would... It was against the law for same gender people to dance together and so they would come to the bar every once in awhile and check, and so we had people at the door. They knew when it was vice squad and they would flip the lights and we would all immediately change partners, and so that time there was a beginning movement to change some of those laws, and I was barely involved.
Judy:I knew the people and I was friends with a lot of the people but I ended up leaving Norfolk and moving to Harrisonburg with the woman that I met, but so I didn't really get involved in it, but I was aware of it and part of the identifying the problems. So that was kind of my first awareness of a need for a movement of any kind. This was that. So, and I don't know, after that. I mostly tried to survive. [crosstalk]
Susan:And we had been involved with the campaign for Southern equality. Not as intensely as others in the area that we had been involved and been a part of that and I'm trying to think of some of the other... I don't know about movements per se, I guess.... Well, ALPS.
Judy:Oh gosh.
Susan:The Association of Lesbian Professionals. That was hilarious, how that got started. There was, and I don't remember her name. It's been a while. A woman who was either a therapist or a nurse wanted to start an organization for professional lesbians, but Jerry, God bless him, happened to be the editor of out and about, and of course only a man would come up with this name. He said that the organizational meeting of professional lesbian organization for women as opposed to the professional lesbian organization for men.
Susan:I mean we'd want an acronym that spells PLOW.
Judy:The first thing we did was change the name.

Keywords: 1970s; ACA; Abortion Rights; Affordable Care Act; Attonery; Campaign for Southern Equality; College; Education; Law School; Law Student; Norfolk, VA; Planned Parenthood; Sexism; University; Virginia; Work Place Discrimination

01:47:04 - Mental Health and Addiction in the LGBTQ+ Community

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Partial Transcript: Judy:I think it's a hard... I don't think there's an easy solution to the whole suicide thing. I'm mostly, it's not like other people don't count, but I'm mostly concerned about teenagers because they are often in a very closed environment. Many of them, they have family and they have school and if they're getting the same messages from family and school about what terrible people they are, how do you impact that? How do you get to those kids?
Judy:I think it's easier in a sense to get to adults because you've got advertising and you've got counseling. Adults can say, I'm going to go to a counselor. Teenagers don't think that way. That's not something-
Susan:And unless a parent frequently is willing to take them, they don't have access. So I am a big believer in it gets better. You're familiar with that because my hope is that if we can get stories out there that say, it is
survivable. You will be okay. You just have to get through this hard part.
Judy:And you are okay. From my Christian perspective, you are a child of God and it was [inaudible]. You're a child of the universe, like the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here. You're just fine, but how to get that message to kids. It's not easy because they are surrounded so often with so many negative messages.

Keywords: Addiction; Alcohol; Domestic Abuse; Faith; Gay Youth; LGBT Community; Suicide

02:04:29 - Bullying in Childhood/ Improvements and Hopes for Asheville's Gay Community

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Partial Transcript: Susan:I think at one point there was an attempt to get a ... There was a gay fatherhood group that was here. I know that most of those men are now grandfathers.
Judy:It does happen.
Susan:I don't know if it's still going on, but ... And again, most of these were from the 90s and it was because they did not have access to their children, or if they did-
Judy:Very limited.
Susan:Right. There were discussions about how to deal with loving your kids and having limited access to your kids. How to still be a good father, how to do what needed to be done. There was a lesbian parent group that was here, because a lot of single mothers that needed support systems, and these were some of the support systems that people were looking to do.
Susan:Nicholas is 37. We're talking ... This was something when he was about eight or nine, so it's been a while. We have not been really involved in some of these groups, but these are groups that I think are especially important to LGBT families simply because there are still some things.
Judy:There is a family group through Campaign for Southern Equality. It's LGBT families or something like that, that gets together and they'll have a picnic or just a gathering.
Susan:Yeah, we've done that often.

Keywords: Asheville, NC; Atlanta, GA; Bullying; CLOSER; Campaign for Southern Equality; Childhood; Community Needs; Family; LGBT Community; Mental Health; Parenthood; Suicide; Support; Western North Carolina; Youth Outright

02:16:26 - Influential Community Leaders/ Closing Remarks

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Partial Transcript: Judy: Several of them have passed away, but they were always good friends, and many of them still are that are still with us. We've had friends who we knew when they were married and were raising their kids who later came out and said, "You know, I think I'm gay". We've had friends that were involved with same-sex people who then said, "You know what? This is not working for me," and then got an opposite sex partner. But it's the stories and how people get through the things that we all get through that I think are going to make a difference as to whether or not we can get the next generation there. Because until we started telling our stories, until we started being visible, we were nothing but pariahs, people to be despised. We were evil incarnate. We were by definition pedophiles.

Keywords: Asheville, NC; It Gets Better Project; University of North Carolina Asheville