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Jennifer Crossen was born in 1957 in Yokosuka, Japan, where her father was stationed as a  doctor in the U.S. Navy. At three, Jennifer’s family moved to a farm outside Lexington, Kentucky. Although parents’ marriage ended when Jennifer was 13, she remembers her childhood as blissful, surrounded by cats, dogs, and horses.

Jennifer’s parents were progressives. Her father was an early advocate for women’s reproductive rights; her mother was active in the Civil Rights movement. They modeled involvement and engagement with the pressing issues of the day. Jennifer didn’t know that one day, she would channel their activist spirit on behalf of the LGBTQ community. At 23, she married the first man who asked her; they soon had a son named David. After seven years, the marriage fell apart. Soon after, Jennifer met Joan Callahan and, over time, they fell in love. With Jennifer’s ex-husband out of their lives, Joan effectively became David’s second parent.

In the late 1980s, there was no way for Jennifer and Joan’s relationship, or Joan’s relationship with David, to be recognized and protected under the law. In due time, that would change. Meanwhile, Jennifer and Joan engaged in ongoing battles to repel anti-LGBT bills in the Kentucky Legislature. Jennifer helped pass an anti-discrimination ordinance in Lexington / Fayette County. She served on the board of Lexington Fairness for more than 20 years. Today, the organization presents an award every year called the “Jennifer Crossen Out for Fairness” award. Jennifer and Joan were also on the forefront of efforts to get the University of Kentucky to add domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples. And for 17 years, Jennifer and Joan hosted Lexington’s Pride festival on their farm. Jennifer dutifully mowed all 50 acres of the farm to make space for the event, which “grew and grew” as word spread of a safe and celebratory place for the Lexington-area LGBTQ community to gather. Eventually the festival outgrew the farm and moved downtown.

In 2013, Jennifer and Joan got married in Provincetown, Massachusetts. As a wedding present, Joan told Jennifer that she would like to legally adopt David, who by now was 30 years old. Around the same time, a federal judge named John Heyburn ruled that even though marriage equality had not come to Kentucky, the state was legally obliged to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. This paved the way for Joan to be able to legally adopt David, after 25 years as his mother. The same week the adoption went through, David and his wife announced they were pregnant, making Jennifer and Joan both legal parents, and future grandparents to boot. 

In June 2019, Joan lost a short battle with cancer. She was duly honored and celebrated a few weeks later at the 2019 Lexington Pride festival. Two state legislators sent proclamations. Joan’s memorial service filled the Lexington Unitarian Universalist church to standing room only.

Jennifer continues to live on the farm that she and Joan called home. “She is with me everywhere on the farm,” Jennifer writes. “I talk to her all the time. How can I not, after being together for 32 years?”
Kate Kunath: [00:00:00] This is 30 seconds of room tone.
Kate Kunath: [00:00:30] That's the end of 30 seconds with room tone and a bar with rain outside. This is 30 seconds of room tone with stronger rain.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:01:00] But I put the Christmas lights up there to encourage him to
Kate Kunath: Inspire them.
Jennifer Crossen: Inspire them. Yes. First I had to check to make sure that wouldn't hurt them to give me the eggs in the winter.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:01:30] Cause usually they just take a break in the winter. And I said, I've missed the eggs too much because it's hard to buy eggs when you don't know how well they're taking care of them. I know mine are happy hens.
Kate Kunath: Yeah [inaudible]
Jennifer Crossen: If you hear all that noise over there, I put a swimming pool over there for them to, with dirt and shavings and hay in it, so they can ... That's what they, that's what they do. That's why I don't have a lot of plantings because they just go through everything. But I love em. So we put rocks down.
Kate Kunath [Inaudible]
Jennifer Crossen: [00:02:00] Yeah, that's right. That's right. Yeah. Cause I like the eggs, so I don't mind eating mine cause they're I know they're good eggs. They don't mind giving them to me and I spoil them rotten as you can see, so. Yep.
Kate Kunath: All right. Well, let's get this party started.
Jennifer Crossen: Okay.
Kate Kunath: Im gonna start with your name and how will we spell it.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:02:30] Okay. Jennifer, J E N N I F E R - C R O S S E N.
Kate Kunath: Im gonna need your name, where you were born and what year?
Jennifer Crossen: Jennifer Crossen.
Kate Kunath: Say my name is.
Jennifer Crossen: I'm sorry. Oh, sorry. My name is Jennifer Crossen I was born in Yokosuka, Japan in 1957.
Kate Kunath: [Inaudible] Japan?
Jennifer Crossen: Yokosuka yeah, it's right outside of Tokyo. My father was in the Navy for two years as a doctor.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:03:00] And he, my mother, and my two older sisters were there as well. They went for two years and they had their first fight in Japanese and I was not supposed to be born there. In fact, I was supposed to, they were on their way home. When well, do you want the whole story?
Kate Kunath: I do.
Jennifer Crossen: The first time, the first time the plane had engine trouble and they had my first mom, my grandmother came to help my mother pack up the whole house they've been living in for two years to come back home
Jennifer Crossen: [00:03:30] and they got on the plane and the plane had engine trouble. So they had to come back to Tokyo. They spent the night in the airport and the next morning when they were just about to get on the plane again, my mother's water broke. So I was six weeks premature and my father was an OB-GYN and he decided that he didn't trust the only other doctor who was available. So he delivered me himself and I was in an incubator for less than 24 hours.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:04:00] Cause he said I was looking fine and picked my head up and turned it over. So he said, okay, she's fine. So, we had to stay there for six more weeks because Japanese law was, you couldn't travel with a newborn. So we were there. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know all the details about how in the world they did that for six weeks, but at least my grandmother was there to help my mother. And so then they came back home and we moved here in 19 ... I moved to Kentucky in 1960, so I was three. So I consider myself a Kentuckian.
Kate Kunath: [00:04:30] Wow! Thats amazing. Could you be Japanese if you wanted to?
Jennifer Crossen: No. I looked into that if you could have dual citizenship and they said, no, not if you have American parents.
Kate Kunath: Yeah. So what was ... You obviously don't have any memories of Japan. What was your childhood like here? Tell me a little bit more about your family situation, your socio-economic situation.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:05:00] Okay. Well, we lived in Lexington for three years and then while we were in Michigan, which is where my parents met, they both, both of their families had cottages on a Lake in Michigan. And so they met there. And so we go there every summer and while we are up there, my father was here and bought a farm. My mother was not happy about it, but I was, and we all had all kinds of animals
Jennifer Crossen: [00:05:30] when we were younger. And then and I always thank them when they got divorced and we had to move away from the farm. I knew exactly then that I had to get back to a farm. So that's, that's what helps. They were divorced in 1970. And I kept, you know, going back there for a while. Then, then when I went to start my business, I asked my father if I could start it there. And I did that for four years before I bought a farm on the Eastern side of Lexington.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:06:00] So we were there, I was there for almost 30 years before I got to retire, which
Kate Kunath: Okay. Youre [Crosstalk]
Jennifer Crossen: I'm way ahead. Okay, sorry. Sorry. You're right. So my, my father was a doctor. So we had this very cool house on the farm that I really enjoyed. And I'm just so bummed out that I can't show my partner and my son, this house. Cause it was just so cool. But when my father sold it, they tore it down, unfortunately. And but so we lived in Lexington for a while.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:06:30] My mother and my sisters and I all lived in Lexington in down, not downtown, but close to UK for awhile. And I started working at Keenland racetrack, cause I knew I wanted to work with horses and realized very soon I did not want to work with thoroughbreds. That's a very different kind of horse and I hated the way they were treated. So I went to a school in West Virginia called Meredith manor. I'm very lucky that I had a father who could pay for that for me.
Kate Kunath: [00:07:00] What kind of school was that?
Jennifer Crossen: It was a school of horsemanship. So it was, it was a two
Kate Kunath: How old were you?
Jennifer Crossen: Well, I actually graduated early so that I could work at the racetrack. And I also didn't like high school.
Kate Kunath: Tell me about high school. Tell me about elementary school.
Jennifer Crossen: Okay, elementary school.
Kate Kunath: Being a kid.
Jennifer Crossen: Being a kid, I loved being on the farm. I loved, you know, having the horses and you know, being able to play outside all the time. And I just love being outside.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:07:30] I knew, I knew that I just didn't know what to do, but I really loved, I loved being on the farm. The problem is my parents didn't get along really well. My mother didn't like the fact that my father made so much money. She felt guilty. I think about all those women that were supporting us, I guess. I don't know what it was. She was just a more frugal person than he was. So that was partly it, but I don't know, they were not very similar in lots of other ways. So they fought a lot.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:08:00] So that wasn't very good part of our childhood. So they had decided to get divorced when I was 13 and we moved. My mother moved us actually close to the farm the first time so that we could get back to the farm. So I actually, she didn't want me to ride a bike cause it was kind of dangerous on the road getting to the farm from where we lived. And so I walked and I, you know, I, I knew that I really, you know, really wanted to be around horses.
Kate Kunath: Your dad lived on the farm?
Jennifer Crossen: Yeah, he stayed on the farm.
Yeah. And I have a stepmother and, and step two step sisters and a step brother.
Kate Kunath: [00:08:30] Tell me about your sisters.
Jennifer Crossen: My sisters one lives in Colorado now. Shes my oldest and my next oldest lived in Indianapolis until she died this year. And my youngest lives in Cincinnati. So she comes down a lot too to help me with our mother. And they're all, we're all very, very, very close. And I'm the only one who stayed with horses, but there, there were all, Oh, real close.
Kate Kunath: So four sisters
Jennifer Crossen: [00:09:00] Right. Four daughters. Huh. Yep. And yeah, we always joke that my father was an OB-GYN. Didn't know where babies came from. That's not really ... What he wanted was his son, you know how that goes. So they kept trying. And Julie was the only one who was planned that nice little sister and she, they really wanted her to be a boy.
Jennifer Crossen: She disappointed them all. So anyhow.
Kate Kunath: Any other gays in the family?
Jennifer Crossen: Actually my older sister, the one who died this year that's why I probably how I knew that I was a lesbian
Jennifer Crossen: [00:09:30] because she had two girlfriends when I was in high school and I was madly in love with both of them. So I should have known, but you know how that goes. At least for that time period, I, I was, you know, not encouraged. And that's why I say it in the society, you know, and one of the bad fights, please don't put this in there, but my father was a great guy, he just wasn't a good father. OK. We always felt jealous cause he treated my step family so much better than he treated us.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:10:00] But that's cause I think my stepmother made him, but anyhow, that's neither here nor there. But one thing he said, one time he was yelling at my mother saying you raised three lesbians. And that was because we all just loved my sisters, my little sister and I, and she's got some really good friends that are, that are lesbians too, but she's married to a man now. And so, and so did my other sister eventually. So, but, and so when my mother tries to call me a bisexual, I said, Nope, maybe Julie, Katie, but not me.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:10:30] I was just mistaken for a while. But because of that, I swear. I think that's why I married a man and realized very soon afterwards it was a mistake, but I did get a son out of it and that's the best part about it. So, and
Kate Kunath: Okay. So backing up a little bit. Did you, when did you when did you feel like it?
Jennifer Crossen: [00:11:00] Oh, since I saw Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.
Kate Kunath: Tell me about that, how old were you?
Jennifer Crossen: Oh boy. Oh boy. You know, I really don't know. I mean, I know that I know that looking back after having David and watching all those Disney movies again, I said, no wonder there were all these little, you know, heterosexual animals in Bambi. I said, no wonder you were programmed to be straight. It drives me. Yes. It drove me crazy. I said, no more Disney movies.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:11:30] Poor David, he doesn't get anything. He didn't get sugar, he didn't get Disney movies. Anyhow, so I probably knew it all along and again, falling madly in love with my sister's two girlfriends I'm sure had something to do with it. But then again, I said yes when some jerk, I'll just say it, asked me to marry him.
Kate Kunath: Why did your sister have two girlfriends? At the same time?
Jennifer Crossen: [00:12:00] No, no, no, no, no. She was with one for like five years and the other one for probably another five years. Yeah. I don't know why the first one broke up, but the,
Kate Kunath: She was in high school with these relationships.
Jennifer Crossen: She was in high school for the first one. Yeah. She was a senior for the first one. Yeah. Probably shouldn't say it, but it was one of her student teachers and she lives in Mount Sterling actually. Well, she has a farm in Mount Sterling. She lives in Boston. She goes back and forth. But anyhow, so I still see her. Unfortunately, the other one is the one who died of inflammatory breast cancer.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:12:30] So that's what kind of scared me when they told me what it was. So anyhow. But she, but yeah, I should have known and I know, I know, knew, and I know it was internalized homophobia. I really do understand all of that. And but then when I met Joan it all didn't matter anymore and she ...
Kate Kunath: Lets not go there yet. [Crosstalk]
Jennifer Crossen: [00:13:00] Okay. No problem.
Kate Kunath: Your parents, they were activists.
Jennifer Crossen: They were activists for sure. My, my father you can ask around in Louisville because they, they, some, I forget the name of the person who did it, but somebody did a book about him and another doctor in Louisville. They're the first doctors to perform abortions in Kentucky. And my father got death threats and phone calls. We weren't supposed to answer the phone because of everything he was going through. And he was just adamant about women's right to choose.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:13:30] And he was so, but he had to drive to Louisville for a while. Then he had to drive to Covington for awhile. It's just because there was no hospital in Lexington that would allow him to perform abortions. And so he was he was pretty good. And he, and he also, he also really helped me understand the, the concept of white privilege. And we did a lot of charity work together. I mean, he had us do that with them,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:14:00] which I never thought of it as him making us do it? But he, I mean, he was, it was his way of helping us learn about white privilege. And so we did a lot, he did a lot of charity work for women who couldn't afford to get care, prenatal care. So, and, and, and other things too. So like we delivered Christmas trees at Christmas, things like that. So
Kate Kunath: Did he put it in that context about white privilege.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:14:30] No, I don't think he ever said it never said it, but, but he, and he and my mother both were did a whole lot of, you know, anti racist work and they were downtown Lexington sitting at, at lunch counters and did a whole lot of things like that too. So we, we weren't there with, with that. He, he, they thought it was too dangerous for us, but they were there. So, yeah.
Kate Kunath: And you knew thats what they were out there.
Jennifer Crossen: Yeah. Yeah. I didn't know why we couldn't answer the phone until later. He didn't tell us until later.
Kate Kunath: [00:15:00] And was your mom supportive of his work as a doctor or the abortion?
Jennifer Crossen: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah.
Kate Kunath: So they were civil rights activists.
Jennifer Crossen: Yeah. Yeah. And Lexington, Kentucky was one of the first States that passed an anti I mean, supported the voting rights law and really was, and I mean, I mean, there's a Martin Luther King was here in Frankfurt, so it was a it's, you know, Kentucky was a really pretty progressive state in, in that respect.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:15:30] Not much for other things, but women's rights, especially. I mean, even in the Unitarian Universalist church that we belong to, since we, when we moved, we started going to, as soon as we moved here my mother did a whole lot more volunteer work and all this stuff, and my father got chosen for the president instead of, she was a little upset about that. But again, she didn't tell me till later.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:16:00] So, but found out later that the church was a little sexist, but it was the seventies. So, you know, a lot of that was going along and people had to start working toward changing it. And we now have a woman president. So.
Kate Kunath: And you were aware of the gay rights movement taking off?
Jennifer Crossen: Not at all, not really at all. I heard of Stonewall and I really, you know, but I didn't really know a whole lot except for a kid in high school that I hung out with just
Jennifer Crossen: [00:16:30] because I was terribly protective of him because he was so gay and I knew he was going to get picked on. And so I really hung out with him. Met him in art class, and so I hung out with him and he took me to a consciousness raising group for teenagers. And that's, you know, then I met some other gay folks, man. I'm not sure if they all were, but I, I was aware of gay and lesbian stuff, but I just, other than my sister, I really wasn't paying a whole lot of attention other than this,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:17:00] this kid that I was really protective of. I know. And and my stepbrother was actually gay for a while. And then, and then I don't know what he'd call himself now. He did marry a woman, but that didn't last either. So and he went to our high school for awhile too. So he was in this, this support group too. And I know I was very interested in, in a couple of the people in band that I know were lesbians and I just kind of watched them,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:17:30] but I just call myself very stupid or slow, shall we say?
Kate Kunath: So you had like, kind of a feeling, but you didn't think you needed to commit.
Jennifer Crossen: Right. Right. And and you know, I think, I know I was just scared. I know I, you know, I was scared of being an old maid and, you know, and all, all that stuff, the society had thrown on me and I'd already started my business. And I was working really hard at my business,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:18:00] started teaching and training and boarding horses when I was at, when I was 19 actually. And and, and, and it was going to UK too, cause of school. I went to had two years and then you could do two years to get a bachelor's. And so I did two years there and they really pushed you to do your own, start your own business. So I did, that's when I was working really hard at that. And I saw the sexism, you know, everywhere in the horse business, especially working at the track.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:18:30] And then I was teaching a ... Oh, I'm getting ahead of myself. Probably just trying to get Joan in there again. Okay.
Kate Kunath: [00:19:00] Has your family always been part of the Universalist church?
Jennifer Crossen: Yes.
Kate Kunath: Okay. Can you talk about how working for justice as part of that church and your family?
Jennifer Crossen: Well, again, I mean, I think that's what got them into sitting at the lunch counters. Cause that's what the Unitarian Universalist church was, was doing. And they also harbored,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:19:30] what do they call it? Oh, shoot. What's the word? Someone who was not wanting to go to Vietnam, what did they call that? Amnesty.
Kate Kunath: Dodger?
Jennifer Crossen: Yeah, but what, but they were, they were offering amnesty to, to a draft dodger. And that was back in the early seventies as well. And actually split the church as some people did not want to make that big a statement. And but we stayed with the church that granted amnesty to this draft dodger.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:20:00] And he's still in town. In fact, one of my friends was a Federal Marshall who had to arrest him.
Kate Kunath: [Inaudible]
Jennifer Crossen: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So
Kate Kunath: Were there any gays at the Church at that time?
Jennifer Crossen: Yes, there were, but I don't think I was really aware of them, but it was always gay affirming. It was you know, in fact, when I first came out, I said,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:20:30] I didn't know all this was here available to me cause they had a, a gay conference there right after I came out and, you know, and they were, are already working to becoming a welcoming, they call it a welcoming congregation so that, you know, anybody's, and, and I think they were, no, they probably weren't performing weddings then, but they were soon after that. So in the, by the late seventies, they were performing weddings.
Kate Kunath: [00:21:00] So what were some of the pressures that kept you from coming out or having a girlfriend early on? Was it your parents? Was it society?
Jennifer Crossen: I think it was partly you know, that comment that my father made I'm sure was part of it and I'm sure it was, but mostly I think it was society. I really believe it was society. And once I fell in love with Joan, it just didn't matter anymore. And in fact,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:21:30] I wanted to come out a lot more publicly than she did when we first, when we first got together. But after that, you know, we were all no problem, but yeah, it was, it was just, you know, I mean, I, I, and when I first met Joan, I knew she had a girlfriend and I said, well, I was assuming that, you know, it was a lesbian thing and I just didn't, you know, I just kinda didn't worry about it or it didn't, it didn't think about it much until, you know, she's, she started spending a whole lot more time. Am I getting ahead of myself again? Should I
Kate Kunath: [00:22:00] Dont worry about it, lets just go there. You cant help it. But well come back to the marriage.
Jennifer Crossen: Okay. Okay. To the?
Kate Kunath: To the man.
Jennifer Crossen: Oh, okay. Well, I can, I can do that. I mean, I'll, I'll again, it was, it was a mistake. I felt like I needed help cause I was again, running this farm and I knew I was going to have to move to because my father was selling that farm. So I knew I had to buy a farm. So I know that part of it is I thought I needed somebody to help me with the farm.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:22:30] So I'm sure that is part of it too. And, but I knew it was society's pressure more than anything else. And you know, my cousin who I was really really close with said she had just gotten married and she says, I want to have babies at the same time. So our cause it's so are our kids can grow up together. And I was against marriage in the first place because of my parents divorce I'm sure. And I, you know, and I thought, you know, that we got pretty messed up because of the divorce and I wasn't going to have kids and subject them to that.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:23:00] But you know, my cousin and I were born a week apart, we were very close and I said, okay, I'll have a baby. All the wrong reasons. Okay. And partly to make him be a better partner is probably another reason I had that baby too. And it's okay. David's fine. And that's okay. But all the wrong reasons, but I'm glad to have him in the first place. And actually, because of David, very soon after I came out, I've met some people at the Unitarian church
Jennifer Crossen: [00:23:30] who were having a lesbian parenting group and that was wonderfully helpful because of course, part of when I got divorced, I said, Oh no, I'm depriving David of a father, all this stuff. And then, you know, having the support group was really helpful. So that was great.
Kate Kunath: What year was it when you were married? How old were you? What was [Crosstalk]
Jennifer Crossen: I was way too. I was way too way too young. I was 23 when I got married. Nobody should get married that early.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:24:00] I'm here to say it anyhow. And he's the one who kept telling you always side with the women. You always side with a woman. I said, yeah, I guess I do. He said he knew, I'm sure he knew, but anyhow and so and then 87? 87 is when I said, okay, this is enough. So, and, and it was actually right after David was born, he was born in 86 and I don't, I don't even remember exactly what happened.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:24:30] I just remember this feeling that came over me. I said, not only is he going to disappoint me the rest of my life, he's going to disappoint David the rest of his life. This is crazy. So that's, you know, it was partly, partly that I probably fell out of love with him very quickly. And also that I just didn't want him to be so disappointing for David. So, so that was my, excuse me, and he was an alcoholic and I was going to Alanon and that helped a whole lot too, for me, it took me awhile. And after I talking to my students, I said, well, we know your marriage was no good.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:25:00] Why didn't you leave him sooner? I said, nah, I thought I was, you know, hiding it so well, so anyhow, so I'm sure I was also trying to hang on to it cause I didn't want to be divorced like my parents. So anyhow, but I'm a slow learner as I told you before.
Kate Kunath: How many years were you married?
Jennifer Crossen: Eight. [Crosstalk] no, no, no. Seven, seven, seven. Sorry.
Kate Kunath: Yeah. Will you just say I was married for eight years?
Jennifer Crossen: I was married for seven years. Yeah.
Kate Kunath: I'm going to do that every now and then [crosstalk].
Jennifer Crossen: [00:25:30] That's fine. No problem. Okay, got it. Yeah.
Kate Kunath: Can I ask you something to try to remember to say [Crosstalk]
Jennifer Crossen: I use I okay, got it. Got it. I'm so glad this is going to be edited. Yeah.
Kate Kunath: Okay. So who took on city hall to protect Kentucky Farmland?
Jennifer Crossen: [00:26:00] They were trying to build this really huge church, which would have a K through 12 school and like a senior center, just down the road, like a mile and a half from where my farm was and all the neighborhood association that, you know, I was pretty involved in said, I can't believe they're going to do this on these. I mean, cause the roads were
Jennifer Crossen: [00:26:30] so narrow. I mean, I just couldn't believe that they were going to have all, all kinds of school buses and everything else. So we were, we all went to try to figure out what to do about it. So we even took a video. We borrowed one of my horse trailers and waited until a school bus was coming by. And then we showed how close the school bus came to the horse trailer. Cause it was very, very rural at that time. Unfortunately it's pretty built up now, but then it wasn't. And so we had the school bus and the horse trailer pass on these very narrow rows just to show. And then we went down to city hall and said, and of course we had some lawyers to help us and things like that.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:27:00] And said, you know, this is rural Kentucky, which we need to protect. And you know, we, we can't have this, this out here anywhere else. We'll be fine, but not in the middle of rural Kentucky. And we won, I was just so very pleased. And then not long after that, when we were fighting to get the fairness ordinance, they also were trying to change the size of the lots that you could sell from 10 acres to 40, again,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:27:30] to preserve more of the farms out there. So that actually passed on the same day, the fairness ordinance passed.
Kate Kunath: It is very farming.
Jennifer Crossen: It is very farming. You don't have to go out very far from Lexington, downtown Lexington to be in farmland. And that's one of the, I think the best things about it. And they, since then they've started purchase of development rights. And I actually was part of that, of my old farm so that nobody can, can build, can buy that and then build houses on it.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:28:00] It's going to be just agricultural. Cause again, the farm where I grew up is wall to wall houses and I can't show, you know, Joan or David, my, where I grew up. So it's really that, that way, at least David can show people where he grew up and it is a beautiful piece of property. I would hate to see it inundated with houses.
Kate Kunath: So when was David born?
Jennifer Crossen: [00:28:30] David was born in 1986, January.
Kate Kunath: And you were still with your husband?
Jennifer Crossen: Yeah
Kate Kunath: 86. Okay. So, you got divorced in 87.
Jennifer Crossen: Well I threw him out in 87. It didn't get officially divorced until 88 spring of 88.
Kate Kunath: What did the Church think of that, the divorce?
Kate Kunath: [00:29:00] No problem.
Jennifer Crossen: Was it, tell me about raising David as a single mother.
Jennifer Crossen: It was a little bit, a little difficult. I mean it was, I was a single mom, even before we got divorced. My, my ex did not do much to take care of him. And that was another reason, you know, and I was trying to get him to help. Cause I had to take a little bit more time off because of David and you know, it takes a lot of money to run a farm.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:29:30] So I couldn't take a lot of time off. So anyhow that, that was rough. And so he just, wasn't a very responsible person and I, you know, So I finally said enough is enough. And so I figured out might as well go it alone. So so February of 87, that was when yeah. So David is just over a year. That's right. Yeah. So I had David with me all the time.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:30:00] I look at all these kids in strollers and everything's a, David never had a stroller. He was on my back because I had to have two hands free to kit, to lead horses and, and help students up on their horses and things like that. So he was with me all the time. And, in fact, that I can tell you some pretty funny stories. And I had a little play pen set up in the corner of the arena so he could play. So while I was teaching and when he got a little bit too big for that, I had things, other things for him to play with. I have this big not quite like, like that muck tub,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:30:30] but big, big water pans. So he could play it in the summer time. I'm sure all my students thought I was a lousy mother, but he loved it. He just loved being outside and he loved being, he was with me and everything was fine. I'm sure my attention wasn't on them as much, but, and I would lead them out when I was having to ride a horse. I would lead them out on the horse and then put him down and have him play while I was training. And of course I'd be watching him while I was doing it. But he was with me all the time. And so it was a little rough.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:31:00] I would be teaching. And then after the lessons were over, then I would have to feed all the horses and then I would have to clean all the stalls and sweep the barn. And so he was with me out in the cold.
Kate Kunath: [Inaudible] a tough cookie.
Jennifer Crossen: He's a tough cookie. He doesn't have any allergies. Let me tell you that's right.
Kate Kunath: Eats mud pies for dinner
Jennifer Crossen: In fact, that's one of my favorite stories is one time I was, I was in the indoor arena and the indoor arena was sand at the base. But then I would put,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:31:30] I would dump the manure and shavings from the stalls in there. And believe me, if you fell, you bounced. It was really very soft. But one time he took a big old handful and went like this and looked at me and I said, I can't react. I can't react. Or he will keep doing it. So he took one taste and he didn't do it again. If I'd reacted to it, he would have kept doing it. So yes, he's had his Peck of dirt.
Kate Kunath: [00:32:00] And then he got old enough and he didnt have to [inaudible]
Jennifer Crossen: Right, right. Well, at that point, luckily Joan came along because it was getting a little bit harder to actually have him there while I was teaching. So she ...
Kate Kunath: How did you meet Joan?
Jennifer Crossen: She came and she came down the driveway to, we have a long driveway like this one. And she came down to take my equestrian science class. I was teaching that through adult education. And that would be after, after my lessons were over and I would teach people, not kids, mostly adults who wanted to learn more about horses.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:32:30] And she had, she had just moved to Lexington and really wanted to have a horse and decided to take this class first. And I said, that'd be fine. And she said, I want to take lessons. And I knew she hadn't ridden it all. I said, well, you should go to the Fayette County parks department has this great thing. It's like 10 lessons long. The first one you learn how to groom. And maybe by the 10th one, you might've trotted a little bit, but it's a great way to start beginners. Cause I knew she hadn't ridden. And again, it's, my lessons were more expensive. I said, let's just do a cheaper one.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:33:00] But while she was taking my equestrian science class, she decided to buy a horse. Cause this is the way she does things. She dives right in. She was, yeah, no, she was working at UK. She's a she, in fact that's one of the reasons she came, she decided to work to come to UK is flying into the UK, into the Lexington airport. You come over Claiborne farm. If you came past the airport, you'll see that youll know what I'm talking about. That beautiful, beautiful farm on the right there. Anyhow. so she wanted to,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:33:30] she really wanted to have horses. That's what she always wanted to have. So she got hired by UK as a philosophy professor by the philosophy department. And so she was working. So she would come every day after school, but I helped her pick out her horse. And that's when I tell everybody I probably fell in love with her. I only knew ... Only thing I knew about her, she had two big dogs. And when you're looking at a horse to evaluate them, you want to look at their conformation. So I had her lead him away from me and toward me. So I could see as if his legs were straight and all that kind of stuff.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:34:00] And I, and I, you know, knew she didn't hadn't had much to do with horses. And I said, just lead him like one of your dogs. And she was so cute, what can I say? Look. And I say, so I'm sure that's probably right.
Kate Kunath: Just take the thing you're watching her.
Jennifer Crossen: I was probably watching her, probably more than the horse. Yes. But anyway, but I did, he was a really wonderful horse for her, he was wonderful, but he hadn't been written much. So I, I didn't even let her ride him for awhile, but so, but she would come out every day after work
Jennifer Crossen: [00:34:30] and would groom him and love on him. And, and I would have, you know, I was riding during the day, but I didn't let her ride him. So she just was grooming him and forming a great bond with him. But you know, I hadn't ridden him for awhile. I mean, until I had trained him for awhile.
Kate Kunath: So she bought the horse ...
Jennifer Crossen: She bought the horse, was taking my equestrian science class and was coming out every day. And so she saw ...
Kate Kunath: Im confused, does the horse live with you?
Jennifer Crossen: Oh yeah, she brought the horse to board with me. Yeah. After she bought him, she brought him to board with me. Yes.
Kate Kunath: [00:35:00] Do you think she did it on purpose? Because I know you told me [crosstalk].
Jennifer Crossen: I don't know if she has, I'm going to have to ask her that question.
Jennifer Crossen: I think she did. She said, she said she liked my smile. So maybe so, but during the, during the equestrian science class, I think so that ran like 10 weeks and she got in the fall and she got Buddy around November. And so she was coming out every day and I, you know,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:35:30] I was riding during the day, but she was coming out in the evenings and she was watching me have David with me during the lessons and sweeping the barn. And so she offered to sweep the barn for me so I could get David in, out of the cold, cause this was again, winter and a little sooner. And I said sure. And so that was one thing that David knew was coming. Cause he saw Joan with a broom and said, that's my mom's job. Then of course I would invite her in afterwards
Jennifer Crossen: [00:36:00] so that she could have dinner afterwards. And you know, I had been so isolated, you know, married to an alcoholic, you are so isolated. I didn't even know how isolated I was. So it was just great to have a friend. So we bonded very well over dinners every night. And she, and then she offered to take David and bring him in the house so he could not be out there in the cold. So that really blossomed into quite a friendship. That was my, I guess we were dating that year, even though I was completely unaware,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:36:30] but we would go out to movies on my day off and, and go out to dinner. We went, I went out to dinner for her tenure celebration. And you know, we just kind of just spent a whole lot of time together and she was still living. Go ahead.
Kate Kunath: I was going to ask if she had a girlfriend at the time?
Jennifer Crossen: Yeah. She was still living with her girlfriend, but they'd been split up for a while. They just were, hadn't figured out what to do about the house because they bought a house together.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:37:00] And so at that point, well hang on. Oh yeah. Her ex I couldn't remember where it, wasn't the story. Sorry that her ex actually saw us together and said, Joan, you need to say something to her. You know, those exes, you know, still ...
Kate Kunath: It was your ex?
Jennifer Crossen: No, no, no. Her ex no, my ex was long gone. Her ex-girlfriend well, yeah, she, she'd only been with one other woman and, and they'd been together for, I actually don't know exactly how long, but, but a while, cause she moved with her from Maryland to Louisiana and to Kentucky.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:37:30] So they'd been together, cause she was in Louisiana for four years and in Maryland, where at least a couple. So it'd been awhile. So they'd been in Kentucky for a couple of years together. And so she said, you need to talk to her. And so Joan waited until I was in Michigan and she had said, she would tell you it was going to take care of the dogs. And she called one night and said, cause again, I told you, this is how Joan does things. She just dives right in. She says,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:38:00] I'm ready to put our lives together. I'm ready to take on David. I'm ready to take on the farm. And I said, What? And there was all that internalized homophobia. And I was just petrified. I know I was just petrified. I knew I loved her. I knew. I mean, I've even written a letter to her telling her that I loved her. You know?
Kate Kunath: [Inaudible]
Jennifer Crossen: So Nope, not a thing. Just gone out for movies. Oh, I said, she said, I said, and her ex had said,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:38:30] she's either going to say yes or she's going to say, let me think about, so I said, Let me think about it. And there was up in Michigan with my mother who was helping me with, with David and cause he was two and saying, What am I going to do? What am I going to do? So when I came back and said, Joan, I love you, but I'm not in love with you. And she said, okay.
Kate Kunath: So wait, you tell your mom?
Jennifer Crossen: No. I didn't tell my mom. No, no. I was saying what I was just saying. I don't have anybody to talk to. I said, I don't really want to tell my mom about it.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:39:00] And even though she knew about my, my sister, Katie, so, but anyhow, it was again, all that internalized homophobia. It's terrible. It's just unbelievable. Unbelievable. This day and age still anyhow, but this was still the eighties. So I guess I've got a little excuse. Right? So I was just 30. I said, see, I told you a slow, slow learner. And she so she said, well, can we just be friends? I said, sure. That'd be fine. That'd be wonderful. Cause I didn't want to lose her as a friend
Jennifer Crossen: [00:39:30] because she was a wonderful friend. And she even went to my Alanon meetings with me and all this stuff.
Katie Kunath: She was all in
Jennifer Crossen: She was all in. And then, so finally one night we were coming back from an, from a Alanon meeting and she said, You know, I can't do this anymore. It's too hard on me. And I said, I was just thinking what it would be like to kiss you. That's as far as I could go, I tell you I was scared to death. So,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:40:00] so after that it was kind of history. All it took was one kiss and I was, I was completely smitten. And then I said, okay, I, and again, that's when I was ready to announce it from the rooftops, because I said, Oh, this is what it's supposed to be like. I should've known better. And my mother was the first person I told really because she said, I thought you had been awful happy lately.
Kate Kunath: [00:40:30] Tell me that story. [Crosstalk]
Jennifer Crossen: That was mine. I'm so sorry. I just said I heard it a minute ago and I meant to turn it off. Oh, can I, can we take a little break? This is, this is a call from my mother. Oh, okay.
Kate Kunath: We're going to talk about you telling your mom. Oh yeah.
Jennifer Crossen: Yeah. I knew my mother would be fine and my mother has always been so supportive of everything I've done. She's just the most wonderful person in the world.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:41:00] She's always been. Just say, you can do anything you want supported me even doing crazy things like horses and everything. Even though she's scared to death of em, she's been wonderful. So yeah, she was the first person I told and she had no problems. She says, I'm so glad you're happy. And she didn't because she knew I was very unhappy in the other marriage. And so she was really glad that I was with Joan. So
Kate Kunath: How did you tell her?
Jennifer Crossen: Oh boy, am I supposed to remember that. I just remember the look on her face. I don't remember anything else, except that I just told her that, that Joan and I were together, I guess.
Kate Kunath: [00:41:30] Did she know Joan?
Jennifer Crossen: She knew Joan because she'd been around again. We were dating really for a year and yeah. So she knew Joan she'd come around a lot. So yeah, she was with me all the time. She'd met her a lot, so.
Kate Kunath: And what was the look on her face?
Jennifer Crossen: Oh, just, just, just all smiles. She was so glad she was so glad that I'd found somebody. Yeah, no, no problem at all. Really my father unfortunately, was a different story again,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:42:00] because of that comment he had made, I was very worried about telling him, but David, we didn't hide anything from David. We are, I was never going to hide anything from David. I was never going to make him lie. And so I was worried that he would tell my father. So I got up my courage, my father and I unfortunately did not have the best relationship. But when I did tell him, I mean, so anyway, so I had to screw my courage up to tell him. And when I finally did, he says, David told us a long time ago
Jennifer Crossen: [00:42:30] and he liked, and he liked Joan a whole lot better than my ex because Joan was a PhD, had a really good job. My ex was not the best, what can I say? But you know, we all have to make mistakes. And actually he came out to his rather conservative family for me. He was telling everybody about Joan before we even got up to Michigan. So cause where she was going to be meeting everybody there, a lot of relatives up in Michigan.
Kate Kunath: [00:43:00] So I thought David was too.
Jennifer Crossen: He was okay. Yeah.
Kate Kunath: So when did he tell your dad?
Jennifer Crossen: Well we got together, but I didn't. Well, okay. It was 86, 88. Yeah. He was, he was very verbal. I tell everybody he was born speaking in complete sentences. He was very verbal. And of course I, I give a lot of that credit to Joan because Joan is so verbal.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:43:30] So no he has, Oh, believe me in the, I had a student coming in one time just to, just to tell me something and David and I were eating lunch or something and, and he, she says, Oh, I'm so tired. And he said, Oh, you can go take a nap on mom and Joan's bed. So he wasn't hiding it from anybody. I mean, I had to actually, you know, tell some of my students that I didn't want to lose. So they wouldn't hear about it, you know, by the gossip mill, you know, which are,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:44:00] which is always there with any kind of group like that. And only lost probably about one border and a couple students. But you know, at that, that was the first time Joan spent the night. I asked her to park her truck up at the end of the driveway because I was worried about the, and then after that I said, you know, everybody knows you've been here all the time. Hey, what's the big deal. So, so then that's when I said I was going to start announcing it from the rooftops, but my father is fine, you know?
Jennifer Crossen: [00:44:30] And, and I was just worried that, that my ex would maybe try to fight for custody when he found out, because at that time you could lose your kids for being gay. And I was worried about that, that he might go to my father and get some money from my father. Cause he didn't have any money, but maybe my, he would, my father would give him some money to fight. So that's the main reason I decided to go tell my father. And again, he was okay with it cause he liked Joan a whole lot more than my ex.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:45:00] And he probably evolved since then. I hope since the seventies.
Kate Kunath So did that ever happen?
Jennifer Crossen: No.
Kate Kunath: Okay
Jennifer Crossen: No. I didnt have to go to court, you know? I mean, well, the divorce was a mess, but other than that
Kate Kunath: Talk to me about battling anti LGBT bills.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:45:30] Well, when I first came out, I again immediately got immersed in the gay and lesbian culture in Lexington, which I had no idea. I mean, I know a little bit of it. I mean, I know about the bar. The bar is the big place in Lexington.
Kate Kunath: Whats the bar?
Jennifer Crossen: That's the main, Oh, sorry. The bar is the main complex in Lexington where people would meet.
Kate Kunath: What bar?
Jennifer Crossen: [00:46:00] It's called the bar. Oh, sorry. It is called the bar and it's right next to Kentucky theater on main street and it's been there forever and, and again, I can't believe Bradley. Didn't tell you.
Kate Kunath: I think it did, but I think it had a name. A different name, I think its changed names.
Jennifer Crossen: Well, maybe so. You're right. Cause there were lots of other, there were smaller bars first before this one. Probably, so yeah.
Kate Kunath: Do you remember the names of the [crosstalk]
Jennifer Crossen: LMNOP was one of them. Rosebud was another one I know there was another one on, out on the West end. I'm afraid I dont ...
Jennifer Crossen: [00:46:30] Again, I wasn't part of the culture. I didn't, I didn't have to go in the bar scene. Luckily since I don't drink, especially, it was really good and I am allergic to cigarette smoke. I'm really glad I never had to go to the bars, but anyhow, so what was I saying about the bar?
Kate Kunath: Well, I'm not sure, but let's talk enough. So where are you going when you first came out?
Jennifer Crossen: [00:47:00] Oh no, no, no, I wasn't. I wasn't, I would just say, but all of a sudden I met all these lesbians and again, the parenting group was the first one through the U U church. And again, there was a gay conference at the U U church. And so I just started meeting well, Sue Strong, I'm sure somebody maybe mentioned Sue Strong, but everybody would say, do you know, Strong. And that would be me. And you knew people in the gay community and the lesbian community. So she's the one who introduced us to so many different people and that's, that's where we kind of got in into the lesbian culture. And I forget why I started telling this story.
Kate Kunath: [00:47:30] So Sue Strong was part of the church?
Jennifer Crossen: She and her partner were were the ones who started the gay parenting group. Yeah. Okay. Lesbian paradigm.
Kate Kunath: [Crosstalk]
Jennifer Crossen: Okay. Okay. I met Sue Strong because she and her partner, Barb Scherrer were starting a parenting group cause they had to, they had just gotten together two years before Joan and I did and they wanted to do a parenting group cause Sue had two kids from a previous marriage. And so that's was very helpful for me
Jennifer Crossen: [00:48:00] because that assuaged some of my guilt of having of David not having a father. And even though Joan has been the best parent he could possibly have had and really known him since he was even before two, because she started coming out before he was two. And Oh shoot. What was I going to say? The parent?
Kate Kunath: The community?
Jennifer Crossen: The community. Oh, well that's right. We were to start talking about the so Barb Sue's partner was,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:48:30] now wife, was a working for this woman, Linda West, who started started this ad hoc group of people who would call it, they call, she was a phone tree back when we did, when we didn't even have cell phones, a phone tree, so that if there was a bad bill in Frankfort, she would, she would call her phone tree captains, and then they would call, you know, 30 people and let them know. So they could call their legislators to oppose these bills.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:49:00] And there were at least 10 every year in the legislature. You know, mostly trying to keep teachers from gay and lesbian teachers from teaching kids in school. No adoption, you know, all kinds of discriminatory bills. And we were trying very hard to fight them all. And then soon after that, as we got the anti sodomy law overturned and Ernesto Scorsone that's, the other person I mentioned is
Jennifer Crossen: [00:49:30] who is now a judge. He was a Senator at the time. No, wait a second. Was he a Senator then? I'm sorry. I forget. I don't know.
Kate Kunath: Whats his name?
Jennifer Crossen: Ernesto Scorsone was a Senator, was the first out Senator in Kentucky. He's now a family court judge and he helped overturn this, the sodomy law in Kentucky. And that was back in 89 possibly.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:50:00] I can't remember exactly the year, but anyway, Jeff Jones would know that and he's the archivist of, of all the Lexington history. But anyhow, so when, when that happened, you know, it kind of gave us a little bit more oomph. So we really started getting organized and we started something that has changed names over the years, but it's Lexington Fairness now. It was Bluegrass Fairness for awhile. It was Kentucky Fairness for awhile, but we started a activist group to again, keep all these bills from, from happening. We tried to spread out and get it all over the state, but it was mostly Lexington and Louisville
Jennifer Crossen: [00:50:30] who were the people who are coming to, to fight all these, these bad bills. And so then Louisville in 1999 passed a citywide ordinance to protect gay and lesbians from discrimination on housing, public accommodations and employment. So and so as soon as they did it, well, we knew it was coming down the pike. We said, okay, we've got to do it here too. So that's when we started working,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:51:00] we worked with Ernesto Scorsone and another lawyer in Lexington and Deborah Hensley, who I'm hoping somebody mentioned to you as well. Cause she and Ernesto really were the people who got it passed Ernesto cause of his legal knowledge. And Deborah had been on the city council. And she talked to all the city council people, even before we did, just to see where they are to see if we could really do this. And so everybody thinks we did it in 10 days. We really, really took us, you know, six or seven long months working on it
Jennifer Crossen: [00:51:30] because, and you can ask David because that's what David was in the hearing that when we were trying to get this passed and one of the council members said, well, why don't we just sit on this and wait till the next like six months? And David looked at me and said, does that mean six more months of meetings, mom? Cause he knew how many meetings I was going to get all this stuff done. So, but luckily it got passed and we were pretty happy.
Kate Kunath: So, Louisville has that and Lexington has that, any other city?
Jennifer Crossen: [00:52:00] So yeah. Yeah. Since then, again, content, well, Lexington fairness, Louisville fairness, and ACLU, and I know there's another group in there somewhere, have all formed a coalition now and we've got, I'm afraid. I can't even name them all. Now there's so many there, but it was Covington. This little bitty town where the mayor was gay. What's it called? I'm sorry. I can't remember the name of it. Vicco Berea Frankfort.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:52:30] Oh, I know they're at least five or six other ones other than ... I can look it up for you. And then I can say it, again, but anyhow, so they've been working really hard at getting, you know, fairness ordinance passed, but we've been beating our heads against the wall in Frankfort trying to get a statewide ordinance passed because places like out here, it's so rural and it's so, you know, I mean, it's, you know, you know, Joan was a little bit worried when we first moved out here. I said, I want to put a big gay flag out there.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:53:00] And she says, maybe not. I said, okay, we'll put a birdhouse. Instead they had an American flag, we put a birdhouse instead. Anyhow. So we, so I've been working at, for fairness, going to Frankfort, I don't know how many times a year just to talk to these people. David went countless times with me and we've luckily had a few really wonderful people there, but you know, there are an awful lot of people from rural Kentucky who don't want to get their constituents upset.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:53:30] And so they wouldn't, you know, so every year we would get a couple more co-sponsors, but we haven't still gotten enough people together to get a statewide ordinance maybe after 18. When we ...
Kate Kunath: How many states do have a statewide ordinance?
Jennifer Crossen: I don't know, I would assume California and maybe New York, I don't know.
Kate Kunath: What does it take to get it?
Jennifer Crossen: Well it takes the, I don't, it takes enough people saying, yeah, they don't want the discrimination and everybody say,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:54:00] Oh, there's no discrimination on. So we would have to have people, you know, call in and say, yes, I've been discriminated against. I mean, even Sue Strong was discriminated against once. She teaches at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. And she was at a meeting of the, of the gay student Alliance and they threw her out of a Red Lobster. So, you know, it happens and you know, and they knew what they were, you know, and I've had lots of people cause we had a hotline, and fairness had a hotline and you know,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:54:30] we would take turns answering the phone and all kinds of people would say they were thrown out of their apartment and fired from their jobs. So we had lots of numbers to support the fact that there is discrimination, even though people don't want to admit it. So we, so it was a huge part of my life and I just kind of eased off the board when we moved out here, just cause I didn't want to have anything more to have to drive into town for, into Lexington for.
Kate Kunath: And what about with gay marriage? Are you guys involved in that as far as legislation goes?
Jennifer Crossen: [00:55:00] Yeah. We hosted Evan Wolfson when he, when he came to town way back when, when Hawaii was trying to do it, what year was that? That was back in the nineties. Wasn't it? Yeah, I think it was. And that didn't go very far, unfortunately. And we hosted the, now I can't remember her name from Vermont who did the, the civil unions in Vermont. What is her name? Oh, well friends of ours were married by her in Vermont, went to Vermont to get married. And, but you know, I was,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:55:30] I was pushing for it and a lot of people in fairness saying, no, let's do one thing at a time. Let's get the fairness ordinance first. And and it, you know, a lot of people were saying, you know, marriage is way down the pike. And I said, well, if you do marriage, then everything else will fall into place. But, but we decided to really work for domestic partner benefits at UK. And Joan was a real big mover and shaker at UK and really had lots of pull and lots of influence. And so she really worked very hard to get that for UK
Jennifer Crossen: [00:56:00] and the person who was signing people up, wouldn't let anybody sign up until Joan and I went and signed up first when it finally got passed. They wanted us to be the first ones to sign up. And of course me being self employed, I had to pay a whole lot for insurance for not very good insurance, you know, personally. And so it was really nice to be able to get on, you know, Joans insurance. So that was, that was a great, great thing that we were able to do.
Kate Kunath: [00:56:30] Tell me that adoption story?
Jennifer Crossen: Okay. Well well first of all, we did get married in 2013. We ... Is that 13? Yeah. Yeah. Cause we've been together 25 years. Yeah. That's 13. So we've been together 25 years and Joan said she wouldn't marry me unless it made a difference. And so even though federally, they werent recognized. I mean, they weren't,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:57:00] they weren't recognized statewide here in Kentucky, but they were recognized federally. I said, does that count enough? And she said, okay. So we went to Massachusetts to get married. She spent some time on Cape Cod while she was going to school. So she really always loved Cape Cod. So I said, well, weve got to go to Provincetown then. So we went to Provincetown and got married there actually with our friends, the one who's the Marshall and her partner, wife. It's so hard to say wife after saying partner for so long, you know, anyhow. So so we got married and then ...
Kate Kunath: [00:57:30] Oh, who was at your wedding?
Jennifer Crossen: David came and we have some friends who live in Provincetown. So we had our wedding in their house and then Robin and Karen, Robin Maley is an ex Marshall and her partner Karen Hudson who works at UK.
Jennifer Crossen: So, and David that's about it and we, and a friend of theirs was a justice of the peace. So we, we, she came and that we got married in their house. It was very nice.
Kate Kunath: [00:58:00] It wasn't really to recognized you said 2013?
Jennifer Crossen: Yeah. Yeah.
Kate Kunath: When did that pass?
Jennifer Crossen: Obama did it in 12. I think.
Kate Kunath: 12?
Jennifer Crossen: Well, either that or 13, it was very, I mean, I said, can we do it now? And so one year, so, so for one year we just had federal income taxes that we could, could, could file together. And then the next year we could do state as well. So I think it was yeah.
Kate Kunath: [00:58:30] So Kentucky does have gay marriage?
Jennifer Crossen: Yes. Yeah.
Kate Kunath: Okay. So tell me that adoption story.
Jennifer Crossen: So during that period in 13, we, Joan had wanted to give me something special for our anniversary. Cause it was our 25th anniversary and she wanted to adopt David. And I said, and she said,
Jennifer Crossen: [00:59:00] well, I have to tell you about this because you have to do something so I can't just make it a surprise. I said, okay. And so we had, we've met with a lawyer in town whose husband was on the fairness board with me for many years. And so he really wanted to do it because at that time, the only law in Kentucky was about two women who split up and they were, you know, they were trying to figure out custody of the two of the kids.
Jennifer Crossen: [00:59:30] And it wasn't a really good precedent. He wanted to have a better precedent. So he, he, he really wanted it. I mean, and he was doing it for us for free, which is also a big plus. And so he says, And I really want to fight it all the way to the Supreme, the state Supreme Court, so that we can overturn this other thing and have this as a precedent. However, Judge Hayburn at that point had overturned something. And I'm so sorry. I really should remember all these details. Maybe you can look it up
Jennifer Crossen: [01:00:00] and put in all these other facts. Let me think about it real quick. I just know I've got Judge Hayburn on a refrigerator because it was around the Oscars time and this, and a friend of mine from church is a cartoonist. And he did this cartoon in the Lexington paper that said, and the, and the award for the most, I don't know, sensible and, you know, educated and enlightened person goes to Judge Hayburn. So he overturned, whatever Kentucky was trying was trying to fight.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:00:30] Do you remember? It's been so long? I don't remember. Okay. So, but so for that, and so while they were looking at it, we had this window of time where our, our marriage was recognized. It wasn't going to be recognized in Kentucky, but Judge Hayburn overturned something so that our marriage was recognized in Kentucky. Maybe that's what it was. People were trying to get marriages from other States recognized, and Kentucky was not recognizing any marriages from out of state.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:01:00] So for some reason we were that our marriage was recognized. So we, it was a, it was just in that little window that we had already planned on going to a judge anyhow. And there were four judges we could have gone to. One of them was one of my old students. One of them was Ernesto. And another one was my mother's neighbor for many, many years who was who was a representative first and then took Ernesto Scorsone. I'm going to his Senate seat when she, when he moved out of the Senate and the other one was, was this very,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:01:30] Oh, no, it wasn't Ernesto. So he must not be a family court judge. I'm sorry. So one was this very kind of on the fence guy that, that, that our lawyer thought that maybe he would be okay. And then we know that the one who was my student would be okay. And then we knew that our next door neighbor would be okay. And the other one was what used to be a Senator? His name was Tim Philpott, who, when they were thinking about the marriage amendment back in 97, 96, 96,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:02:00] we, they, they passed a marriage amendment then to disallow, any marriage, any gay marriage in Kentucky. And they were, this was a hearing in August before the legislature started meeting in January and Joan had just gone through breast cancer, was bald as a billiard ball and went, went to, you know, they asked us to go testify, and you can look this up,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:02:30] it's on tape somewhere. Joan said, Shame on you, Senator Philpott, shame on you. Actually wagged her finger and everything. So we knew we didn't want to really get him. Because he was the one who was really so very anti-gay. So they did pass it, unfortunately. So we, we, so we had not only had a constitutional amendment, but we also had a law on the books too. So Kentucky was not terribly gay except for Louisville and Lexington, gay-friendly I should say.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:03:00] Anyhow. So so we went, so we luckily got Kathy Stein, who was my mother's next door neighbor. And so David, it was, in 13, he was 30 something at that time. And so, you know, we didn't have to, we had, we had thought about doing it before, but we would have had to find his father, who we had no idea where he was and this way he's an adult, so we didn't have to go through all that. So, but, so we just had to go in and have a judge say, you're his parent now.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:03:30] So it was just very amazing. It was really amazing. It was just so cool because you know, when David was little, we had to have it, we went to a lawyer and spent thousands of dollars just to protect, you know, each other. But then we had to get a piece of paper, you know, that Joan would have to keep in her car if he was, she was taking him to school or whatever, so that if he got hurt, she could actually, you know, make decisions for him. And it was just, it just made me so mad because she was the only parent he's really ever known other than me.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:04:00] And so, you know, it was just terrible that we had to go through all this garbage when he, she really was his parents. So to have her finally being recognized as his parent has, his parent was great because he'll tell everybody that he, that he, she is his parent. And so it was pretty cool. And actually that week that she adopted him, he and his wife told us that they were pregnant. So actually that was 14. I'm sorry, that was 14.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:04:30] So it was 14. You were right. It was, it wasn't 13. Well, I don't know when we got married in 13, when he got, we get, we adopt a man or Joan adopt him in 14. That's right. Cause that's when the baby was born. So I know, I can't remember a lot of stuff, but I can remember when we were married and when he, when he was born. So So, so that, so, so it was, you know, she, she had all this, this whole shelf full of stuffed animals for the people.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:05:00] Usually they get adopted a lot smaller. So I said, David, you got to get a rainbow colored, that rainbow color thing and give it to the baby. So that was pretty cool.
Kate Kunath: What, what was it that prevented her from adopting David earlier? Was it the, was the big gayness or was it that you have to be married?
Jennifer Crossen: [01:05:30] You have to be married and since Kentucky wouldn't allow, since Kentucky wouldn't recognize our marriage, she couldn't adopt him because we weren't married. Yeah.
Kate Kunath: That just seems so odd, even for straight people or anything, why do you have to be married to adopt?
Jennifer Crossen: I don't know if it's the same for straight people.
Kate Kunath: Yeah. so why else was it important? Like what are some of the other circumstances around it being important to be able to adopt as a parent?
Jennifer Crossen: [01:06:00] Well, again for that, for the, for the safety of the kids, I mean, if you get in an accident and you can't say yes, this is my kid, and yes, I want you to treat him. They have to go and find the biological parent. And it's just, I mean, it could be life and death. That's another thing. And, and going into schools, he was ... I didn't put that in my questionnaire. I said, how do you put that in there? That was another big thing. Speaking of activism, I mean, David was fine all through elementary school, Joan and I came out to every single one of his teachers from preschool on up.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:06:30] And in fact, his kindergarten teacher said, Can I tell other people? I said, We would like you to tell other people. She said, Well, he's so good. And he's so articulate. And he, so I said, Sure, please tell everybody that we don't have horns and we can raise good kids. So I thought, I mean, again, that's why I said being out was just one of the biggest things of my life, because I didn't know how else to change things. If everybody knows someone who's lesbian, it won't be such a big deal.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:07:00] So we came out to every single one of his teachers, and we did the same thing once he got to middle school, but the first year middle school, you know, we came out to all his teachers, you know, no problem. But then for some reason, they came out with his directory, like middle of the year, right after Christmas break. And it had our names together in that. And all of a sudden, these kids who didn't know him in elementary school were picking on him something terrible. It was terrible. I can't tell you how many times I went to the school and said,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:07:30] your job is to protect my kid. He's getting picked on. He's getting things thrown at him during his classes. It was horrendous. I went to all my friends and said, what do you do when your kids hit middle school? And half of them, I hate to say, half of them said we hid. We, we completely went back in the closet. And I said, Well, I cannot do that. And I am not gonna make him lie. And I can't do that. What else can I do? So again, I went to all his teachers again said, Protect him. And then finally,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:08:00] one day he got really punched. And, and luckily a teacher saw him and I was furious. Usually any kind of violence, he's a third degree. Well, no, no. He, third degree at that point, he was at least a first degree, black belt in TaeKwonDo. He did not, he didn't do anything and he could have killed the kid. I'm kidding. He didn't. And luckily the teacher saw him. So it was not his, his fault, but it was automatic suspension and Fayette County schools. If there's any violence,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:08:30] the other kid did not get suspended. I went to the principal. I said, Why did he not get suspended? He said, Well, he's going through a divorce. And somebody told him that David said his dad was gay. And I said, You were pleased. Don't tell me this. I was furious. I went to the student decision making board. I went all the way to the head of the middle schools in Fayette County. I took my friend Robin with me, cause Joan couldn't come that day. And I said, he said, Well, you're the first person who's sat in front of me and said that you're a lesbian.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:09:00] I said, We're out there. I promise you that we're out there. We're having kids, were there in school now. You've got to protect these kids. And he still didn't do it. That principal did get fired. I don't know if it was because of that. I don't, I'd love to give myself credit, but I don't know, but I was just so furious and, and, you know, he just had a miserable time in middle school. And then luckily in high school, he got really tall and he was in band.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:09:30] He had a lot of band friends who said, Well beat up anybody who picks on you. So it was fine once he got to high school, but, but middle school was miserable. And I try to get a, you know, a student group started there and they said, Oh, we don't want that. And there's this great film by Deborah Chaz. Now, I don't know if you've seen it. It's called It's Elementary. And it's going to all these different schools and showing how teachers you know, just very age friendly and all the different ages, age appropriate ways of talking about different kinds of families. And it's so well done.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:10:00] And I said, Could we at least show that? And that's, and I went to everybody, the counselors loved it. The counselors wanted, I wanted to show it, but they couldn't get the school to say, yeah. So anyhow, I did a lot of fighting there. I didn't do a lot of good, but you know, at least, you know, and I just said, David I'll come in anytime. I want me to come in. And so it was, it was rough. He was, it was hard for him, but he, but luckily he had friends at the Unitarian church that, and a couple of the kids there had had gay dads
Jennifer Crossen: [01:10:30] or lesbian moms. And so that was the only place that he really felt comfortable. And he had one friend he'd had, since he was three. So, and who's who's whose mother was Sue's partner. Nephew. Yeah, no, no. His, his mother was hang on. Yeah. His, well, his aunt was, was that's right. Was Barb's was, he was Barb's I'll get it out. Sue and Barb were his, where his aunts. So he got a friend who was in the same situation. So they had, they were really great together, so, so.
Kate Kunath: [01:11:00] Did he know you were fighting?
Jennifer Crossen: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. That's what I said. He came to Frankfort, he heard, he heard some, these sleazeball legislators call me an abomination with David sitting right next to me, you know, I brought David to show them that, you know, and I went to one legislator and I said, Don't you have kids? And she said, Yeah. I said, Well, what would have happened if one of them would, would come up to you and tell me where they were gay? And she said, Oh, they wouldn't do that. I said, Yeah,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:11:30] they wouldn't, would they? So anyhow. So yeah, he was saying he was with me all the time. That's why I said he, he got up in front of city hall. He got up in front of the, he talked at one of the pep, not pep rally, excuse me, what do they call them? Rallies at Frankfort. This is what drives me crazy. I'm trying to say it's age. What do you call it? Press conference,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:12:00] press conference rally at the Frankfort that he would, he spoke a few times. In fact, even got quoted in the paper, These are my moms. They're the best parents I could ever hope for. So that was, that was one of his quotes.
Kate Kunath: That's great.
Jennifer Crossen: Yeah.
Kate Kunath: Did you ever feel like at some point overwhelmed by things and think, well, I would love to like to leave here or like? Why is it important to stay and change the culture where you live?
Jennifer Crossen: [01:12:30] Oh, well, it's mostly my mother I'm staying here, but the other thing is if you're going to have horses, this is the place to have horses. When I was in, in high school, I really said, I think I want to leave Kentucky. And I actually, I took a bus ride all way back when that was, I could get for $75 on a Greyhound bus for a month and go anywhere I wanted. So my cousin and I went all over the country and I, and I swear, that was when I said, you know, if I'm going to do horses, I think Kentucky is really the best place.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:13:00] So that's part. And that's mostly why I stayed is for the horses, but now I don't leave because of my mother. And but, but and since David's here too, of course, so, and the grandkids. So ...
Kate Kunath: I think people don't understand how gay Lexington actually is. Does it feel like a gay place to you?
Jennifer Crossen: It is, it is one of the gayest places. I know. I mean, I was just totally amazed. And, and what we would do, we never had a gay Pride March,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:13:30] but we turned the 4th of July march into our own gay Pride March. We would always have a big old float and lots of rainbow flags. And, and that was part of what we did as Lexington fairness and as is to, again, raise awareness, let people know there are lots of gay people out there. And we got very upset with all the people sitting at the bar and not joining us, but we got big applause. We went by the bar, but there were plenty of people marching with us, which was great.
Kate Kunath: So there's a 4th of July parade?
Jennifer Crossen: [01:14:00] Every, every year. Yeah. So that's what we would do is do that. And so that was from, I think I'm the one who said Let's do it the 4th of July.
Jennifer Crossen: I don't know if I'm the one who said the float, but I said, let's March in it. I think it was the gay boys who did the float.
Kate Kunath: Is there still no Pride here?
Jennifer Crossen Yes. In fact, now that you bring that up, we had a Pride festival every year. Again, before I was out, I don't know how many years before that, but we would have, they were very small. They were in a couple of local parks
Jennifer Crossen [01:14:30] and finally somebody came to me and said, You know, people aren't coming because they don't want to be out in public. I said, Okay, we'll just have it at the farm. So for 17 years we had the Pride festival at our farm in Lexington.
Kate Kunath: Wow.
Jennifer Crossen: And it was a pain for me cause I had to mow and have it look all nice at once. So, you know, I don't mow the whole farm at once, but it's 50 acres. That's a lot to mow, but I would do it. And the only other thing I would ask is that nobody had alcohol. So I'm sure we've probably limited the numbers there a little bit too,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:15:00] just because it was not mine, just my horses. It was other people's horses that I was taking care of. So I would tell people what was off limits and what wasn't, but everybody was good. We had this big, I still call the picnic field, this big field that we would have vendors lining up around. And we would park everybody in the front field and David would drive the truck back and forth as the shuttle.
Jennifer Crossen: And so, so people wouldn't have to walk, they didn't want to walk. And so we, we had, we had a great time in the first year. It was, you know, maybe a hundred people. And I swear every year you know, it just grew and grew and grew. It was huge. And so then ...
Kate Kunath: [01:15:30] What was the first year? What was the year?
Jennifer Crossen: Oh, I would have to do some math. I think they quit doing it in 70. I mean, I moved here nine. I think the last one was, was either seven or eight. So 90, 92 to, Oh, no, no, no. Yeah. That would've been 2000 to 2000 to like,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:16:00] like 99 to 2000 something 16 or 17. I mean, not 16 or something. Hang on. I'm not good at math anymore. Okay. Nine is when I moved here. So, so if it was an eight minus 17, so yes. Middle of mid, mid nineties.
Kate Kunath: Thats when it started?
Jennifer Crossen: Yeah. Sorry. Yeah. And so then, and then in 2008, they said, I think we're ready to take it downtown. And I said, I was so worried. I said, I don't mind,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:16:30] I don't have to mow now, but I was so worried that nobody would show up. It was huge. And every year that's gotten bigger too. So, yeah, because I think we just had the 10th anniversary last year, so yeah, it's great. I mean, it's wonderful all these straight people. And of course, when they came to the farm, I said, where are these people coming from? I don't recognize half these people. And, you know, I mean, I knew a lot of them from, you know, fairness and all the rallies we'd have in the parades and stuff, but it was just so great to see all these people coming out to the farm. And then downtown, I just said, there are people coming from all over the state. It was just great.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:17:00] So it's just, so I said, that was, you know, that's when we really, that Lexington was much better that we could have a downtown and again, every year it's huge. So, yeah.
Kate Kunath: That's great. How much of that? Okay. Having it for 17 years, the Pride, on the farm, like what, what are some of the things after knowing what that has done for the town? Why was it important to have that?
Jennifer Crossen: [01:17:30] Why was it important to have at the farm or downtown?
Kate Kunath: Why was it important to have it in general?
Jennifer Crossen: Oh, cause you know, at that point, other than the bars, there werent other places that people could gather and, you know, celebrate. I mean, I just think that celebrating is such a big part when, you know, the rest of your life, you're kind of having to either be closeted or, you know, not really be authentic. So I was just really glad to have everybody able to be out,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:18:00] having a good time and, you know, listen to some music and buy some rainbow flags.
Kate Kunath: Do you think people were able to take that feeling like home or take it out of the farm, just knowing that what it felt like to be out around other people?
Jennifer Crossen: Oh, I think so. I mean, and again, with, I think that being able to take that feeling home is the most important thing part of that,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:18:30] as well as the 4th of July parade, being able to be out in public. And, you know, there were a few of my friends who were teachers and they said, I'll come, but I have to wear a bag over my head cause I'm not protected. And I said, That's fine. I think we need to show that too. And, and I know that it's very important because we go to, we did go to the Michigan women's music festival for well, since David was four. So, and that was a wonderful place to be able to be so authentic
Jennifer Crossen: [01:19:00] and be surrounded by so many people that are like you. And so, and yes, I know I took that feeling home with me for the rest of the year. So I was hoping that people would do the same thing with the festival. I mean, with the Pride festival at the farm. Yeah.
Kate Kunath: [Inaudible]
Jennifer Crossen: Yeah. And so the only problem with that is that everybody knew Joan and me and I didn't ever know everybody else's names. Cause they all knew us from that. So, hi, I don't know your name, but I'm glad you know me.
Kate Kunath: [01:19:30] What does David do for work now?
Jennifer Crossen: He works at UK. Joan was a philosopher by trade. She also was the chair of gender and women's studies for nine years before she retired. And but then when David was going to school at UK, he took a lot of philosophy classes and I blame Joan for that because when she was on sabbatical one year, all her, all her students said, but you have to help us. Have you help us with the I forget what the name of those exams were that they have to take?
Jennifer Crossen: [01:20:00] And she says, Okay, if you come to the farm, I'll, I'll do it. But I don't want to drive into school if I don't have to. So they all came out to the farm and David was probably nine or 10 and she was in there in the class with him and he loved to argue. So, so we, she taught him how to argue very well. So he took a lot of philosophy classes and and, and Joan said she she'd break every bone in his body. If she, if he did,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:20:30] it was a philosophy major. So he called me up one day and said, Mom, I'm going to major in philosophy. I said, Are you going to tell Joan or me? He said, I'd really rather you did it. But all along, he had been working. Cause we asked, you know, we asked him to, you know, work during his school years and his job was at the help desk for IT. So he, and he was, Joan gave him a computer when he was, I don't even know how we'll probably seven or eight and to take apart and put back together.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:21:00] So we knew he was going to be into computers too, for sure. So he really, really taught himself just about everything. So he's the IT manager at the college of fine arts at UK. He, when he got a job right out of school at another st Joseph hospital and he hated their policies toward women and of course gay people. So he wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. So he started applying for jobs at UK very, very quickly.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:21:30] So Joan said, You have to be there at least a year, so you can put it on your resume. And so he stayed there a year and then got a job at UK.
Kate Kunath: Hes probably very ardent feminist.
Jennifer Crossen: He is an ardent feminist. Yes. For sure. Couldn't help but being an ardent feminist. Yeah.
Kate Kunath: Now you have a grandkid.
Jennifer Crossen: Two actually, they just had another one in October, so I have two, we have two.
Kate Kunath: [01:22:00] I have four questions that I want ask, but Im trying to dig around a little more about Lexington culture. Do you see other people? I mean, you, you are now so well known in town that people are probably afraid to discriminate against you.
Kate Kunath: [01:22:30] But do you hear about discrimination? Does it feel like it's way or does it still feel kind of dark given that Trump is president?
Jennifer Crossen: I haven't heard of anything more since Trump was president in Lexington. I mean, I know, I know out in the rural areas, I think it's a little bit harder. I mean, out where we are, I have talked to just a couple of people out here. I mean, there's, you wouldn't believe rural Washington county where you're heading next.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:23:00] I mean, talk about it, talk about a community. I mean, there are huge, but a huge population of lesbians out there, but, but they've gotten harassed. They, in fact, the, the road where a bunch of them live is called Lawson Lane and somebody spray painted Lesbian Lane on the, on the thing. So I kind of liked it [crosstalk]. I think I said, we should, we should, we should change it to Lesbian Lane. You know, again, Ann and Kim are, are there and, and some other friends of ours live there and,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:23:30] and they, you know, they, I think they band together and they've, and we've, we've always had a really good community. And so, so some other, some newer, some younger, new, new people in our group have kids in the school system and in Washington County and they say they have to work pretty hard to do the same thing I did, you know, with David to protect them. So, so they're doing everything they can. So, so it's still there,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:24:00] but I think Lexington, I haven't heard about it that much at all. I mean, cause again, the pride festival, I mean, I supposed to be on just one block and it's spilled over into, you know, two blocks now. So it's really just I think that's, and we have a gay mayor, I guess you've probably heard that. So that, that might help too. There was somebody who tried, there's the one intersection, they have rainbow crosswalk instead of white, you know, that's rainbow and somebody in somebody tried to say, Oh, it's not up to code. You can't do that.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:24:30] That didn't go anywhere. So, you know, people are still going to be discriminatory, but they don't get very far, put it that way. So I mean, I feel, feel very good for people in Lexington and Fayette County because they are protected by the ordinance out, out in the rural areas. They're not. So that's why we're trying to get, you know, little town by little town, but it'd be so much easier if we could just do a statewide thing. Because even one town in a County that mean another town and the County would be covered.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:25:00] You know what I'm saying? So we're, we've been working well 30 years now because I started almost 30 years ago. Cause Joan and I have our 30 year anniversary is, is in we, we, we, it's not our wedding anniversary. We consider that first kiss our anniversary. So that's 30 years ago, this August.
Kate Kunath: What would your advice be for a young or old person ready to come out? Wanting to come out.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:25:30] Well, there, there are GSAs in every single one of the schools, high schools. I don't think they're in the middle schools yet. And that's very helpful. And there's that the other person from Lexington that I really was hoping that you would mention is Mary Crone, who is an activist long before I was. And she started the pride center, which is also downtown. They have all kinds of groups for people coming out and they,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:26:00] you know, and plus transgender groups and older, older groups, student groups, she's been so good about getting GSAs and all the schools. She's the one who really worked really hard. That's why I went to, when I was saying, how do I get a GSA in the middle school? And she said, well, you gotta get a teacher and I couldn't get a teacher. That was the problem. So anyhow it's just Lexington and Louisville, I think are, you know, just wonderful places because there's just such a large community there.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:26:30] So I don't know if, if there's a whole lot of advice, cause there's so much more out in the mainstream culture and the media, everything. So not saying that it's still not hard and I'm not saying that there's still not a lot of homophobia out there, but it's, if we could just get rid of half of those people in Frankfort, we'd be a whole lot better off. So I'm looking forward to the next elections.
Kate Kunath: What's your hope for the future?
Jennifer Crossen: [01:27:00] Oh boy. Number one, Trump outta here as soon as possible and not Pence to take his place. He's worse. I think he's probably more homophobic than Trump. I think Trump doesn't even think that much, so he doesn't even care, but Pence who he's scary. But I would really like there to be a federal law protecting everybody. That is what I mean, if I could dream big,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:27:30] that's what I would dream. I mean, having gay marriage is huge, but that does not protect someone from getting fired. And what's the, you know, if you get married and you don't have a job that doesn't help at all. So that's, that's what I really would hope is something really federal, I mean, the marriage went so much quicker than I ever thought it would. I mean really, and truly in 10 years we had legal marriage all over the country. I mean, that was just amazing. And yeah, from the first one to yeah, 14.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:28:00] Yeah, it was 14. That's what I said. I do remember. Cause it was 10 years. We were thinking 10 years ago. So yeah, because David graduated in 2004. So anyhow, so in 10 years we got gay marriage. I don't know how long it's going to take for something like that, to protect people from losing their jobs. I mean, losing their jobs, losing their housing. I mean, that's a huge, huge thing. If we could get everybody protected, that would be fantastic. That's what I would love to see because then,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:28:30] I mean, I don't want us to get assimilated cause I like being a little different, but it's also very important that you know, that we are not discriminated against in very important ways like that. But being, being able to be married and adopting kids is a, is a, is a huge thing too. I mean, cause there are so many kids out there that need to be adopted and I, you know, gay, gay and lesbian parents can't adopt. That's just wrong. Very wrong criminal. Yeah
Kate Kunath [01:29:00] Yeah. Why is it important for you to tell your story?
Jennifer Crossen: Oh well I'm, I'm not really going to brag, but I'm going to brag just a little bit. The Lexington fairness gives awards every year and they named an award after me and it's called Out for Fairness, The Jennifer Crossen Out for Fairness award
Jennifer Crossen: [01:29:30] and I am so proud of that award because, and I get to give it to somebody every year because I think that that is what made the difference. Melissa Etheridge, having two women dancing together on her video. I mean, Ellen coming out. I mean, all these things are important for, you know, the famous people, but for everyday people, they have to be out too. And that's why I said, if we could all get dyed purple overnight, that would be a wonderful thing because then everybody would really would see how many gay and lesbian people are out there.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:30:00] So it's very important to me to be out because it's the only way to change the culture. And it's the only way to get allies because we have to have allies to cause we are a minority. We have to have allies to change things. So it's always been very important to tell my, tell a story, because again, that's why I told everybody I'm going to Frankfort so those people don't think that we all have horns and tails. We are people that pay our taxes and pay our bills and worry about our kids
Jennifer Crossen: [01:30:30] and try to save enough money to go on vacation. I mean, we are just regular people and we need to be supported by with all the supports that other people have. So that's the main reason I want to be out all the time. That's why I told somebody one time, I said, she said, Are you still, do you still have to come out on national coming out day? I said, I have to come out every day of my life. Cause that's the only way to make, to make progress. So we came out to all our neighbors out here and
Jennifer Crossen: [01:31:00] because I feel like, you know, they have to know and I'm sure they say all those lesbians up there, but I don't care. It's important that you know, and everybody has been absolutely fantastic.
Kate Kunath: Do you still find yourself coming out? [Crosstalk]
Jennifer Crossen: Oh, Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
Kate Kunath: Like where?
Jennifer Crossen: Oh, well even, even stores, you know like when you know, well, like right now my wife has Alzheimer's and I've had to take over all her finances and stuff like that.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:31:30] So when I'm coming out, when I'm talking about why I'm doing this for her, I said, I'm her wife. I have to say wife and I have to do it. And they said, well, do you have power of attorney? I said, yes I do. Why is my not being your wife? Good enough. But you know, again, it's, it's, it's the same thing. So it's so yeah, I'm, I've been coming out a lot to, to banks and insurance companies and things like, and that's why I keep trying to tell myself to say wife and not partner. Neither one of us wants to be the wife.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:32:00] So we don't like to clean. So, but yeah, I mean, I really do feel like it's it's I do it all the time. I mean, like I just did it yesterday, two days ago, I went down to the County clerk's office to we knew all our licenses and I was doing Jones for her. So I said, yes, this is my wife. So, you know, I, I mean, I, I think that's the only way we can do it. Yeah.
Kate Kunath: [01:32:30] Do you still have to like push through, is there like a second day a pause before you like a little calculation [crosstalk]?
Jennifer Crossen: You know, I hate to say it, but yeah, there still is. It's not as long as it used to be, but yeah, there's a little thing saying, and I think it's partly the it's also when I'm changing from partner to wife, I say my wife, not my partner. So that's part of it too. Yeah. Cause partner, people can construe any way they want to. But that's why I said, I said, I got to say wife,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:33:00] which there was, I mean, I do say spouse sometimes. I wish there was another word, but
Kate Kunath: Yeah. It's like the wife and the husband, the tradition of that, just the history of it.
Jennifer Crossen: Exactly. It's so patriarchal and that, I mean, that's why Joan didn't want to get married. She says that's a such a patriarchal, I'm a feminist. I can't do that. I said, yeah, but you're going to do it because we get lots of perks. We want those perks. In fact, I was yelling at both my sisters for the longest time.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:33:30] I was like, you can get married, get married because they didn't want to do it for the same reason that the institution. And in fact, another funny story, my sister in Cincinnati her husband worked at a university and he worked really hard at getting domestic partners there because he didn't want to get married, but he wanted Julie to be covered by his insurance. And he got, he was so proud he was working and then they decided to just do it for him.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:34:00] So they had to get married so she can get insurance. I said, Hey it's okay.
Kate Kunath: [Crosstalk]
Jennifer Crossen: Right. So anyhow, so it was pretty funny. But yes, I, I just think if we don't and I, and I, but I, you know, and again that, you know, I, I used to really worry. I, you know, cause with my students because I was self employed, it was my business and I was so worried way back when,
Jennifer Crossen: [01:34:30] and I'm so glad in the last 30 years it has changed so much. But back then I was saying, Oh no, who should I tell? Who should I not tell? Even though I, again, like I said, I was really wanting to shout it from the rooftops because I was so, so amazed at how wonderful our relationship could be and how, you know, how right it felt and all that wonderful stuff. And I said, I should've known, and I did know Julie Andrews. I swear Julie Andrews.
Kate Kunath: [Crosstalk]
Jennifer Crossen: [01:35:00] I wasn't. Oh yeah. She was my first crush anyhow. And in fact we're going to go we were supposed to do this last year for my 60th birthday, but Joan had to have a couple of surgeries, so we didn't go. So we're going this year to Vienna to go to the Spanish riding school, which is where I've always wanted to go for my whole life. And while we're there, we'll go to Salzburg and take the sound of music tour.
Kate Kunath: Amazing!
Jennifer Crossen: [01:35:30] Yeah. So anyhow and there was going to do the sound of music and I said, no, I can't do it without Julie Andrews. It's not right. Oh, showing my dorkiness it's okay. Okay.
Kate Kunath: [Crosstalk]
Kate Kunath: Okay. So last question. Why do you think OUTWORDS is important, which is this project is archiving project. And it's a little bit of a promo question for us. So if you could use the word OUTWORDS, the answer.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:36:00] Okay, I think archiving the history of the gay and lesbian movement or is so important because I think kids these days have it so easy, no. But any kind of archiving and especially what OUTWORDS is doing is just very, very important because history is important in history is written unfortunately
Jennifer Crossen: [01:36:30] by the dominant culture and it's not us. So if we don't do our own archiving, nobody else will. So I'm just so thrilled to be part of what OUTWORDS is doing.
Kate Kunath: Great.
Jennifer Crossen: That good?
Kate Kunath: Thats great, thank you.
Jennifer Crossen: And again, Joan was doing the same thing with her project archiving, the earliest feminist philosophers, because philosophy was dead white guys for the longest time. And then feminism just turned it on its head and woo. The, the directions they've gone.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:37:00] It's just so cool though. All Joan's colleagues now are doing so many different things, so it's really amazing.
Kate Kunath: That's so cool. So they were doing I mean, obviously it's philosophers that are still alive. Are they feminist philosophers that were like in their prime in the seventies?
Jennifer Crossen: Oh, well they, yeah, they were starting out in the, I would say eighties. That really cause that's when Joan really started. And that's when I think fem feminism really. I mean, I think the philosophers started picking up feminism, so yeah.
Jennifer Crossen: [01:37:30] So I would say, I would say eight. Yeah. They were in their prime in their eighties. So she was trying to get them before they got too old.
Kate Kunath: I would love to see that.
Jennifer Crossen: Oh yeah. Yeah. Well you definitely have to meet her. I'm sure she's up by now that puppy can only sleep so long.
Kate Kunath: [Crosstalk] happy birthday.
Jennifer Crossen: Oh yeah. That's true too.
Kate Kunath: All right. Great. That was great.
Jennifer Crossen: Okay. Sure. No problem.
Speaker: [01:38:00] [Inaudible].

Interviewed by: Kate Kunath
Camera: ManSee Kong
Date: March 29, 2019
Location: Home of Jennifer Crossen, Lawrenceburg, KY