Kim Grubbs was born in 1955 in McComb, Mississippi. When he was about nine years old, his dad purchased a pharmacy in Harlandale, a town of 3,500 people in the Mississippi Delta. Kim began working at his father’s drugstore after school and on Saturdays. Working behind an old-fashioned soda fountain, he got to see friends, but he also had the chance to get to know the people of McComb personally. Listening to their stories, he came to understand the depth of social injustice in the town – especially racism. He wasn’t yet at the age when he could challenge racism head on – but he knew it was wrong. He learned to value each person individually, and that  everyone has a story to tell. He learned that the stories of seemingly disparate people are actually quite similar, in both profound and heartbreaking ways. He felt like an archeologist of sorts, trying to piece together a customer’s life story through his interactions with them. He developed the capacity to store and hold the details of people’s lives. He learned how to hold seemingly competing realities at the same time – like the fact that in the South, people can be both very gentile and quite savage. These abilities would serve Kim well when he eventually decided to become a psychotherapist.
Before reaching that point, however, Kim struggled. He spent most of his twenties high on alcohol and drugs. In his early 30’s, Kim’s close friend Melanie lay in a hospital, dying of breast cancer; she was 33 years old, with an 18-month-old child. After two days of unconsciousness, she awoke to find Kim sitting at her bedside. She asked, “When are you going to start loving yourself like everyone else loves you?” Kim took this as a sign that it was time for change. Soon after, with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, he stopped drinking. He also has been part of the world of gay men recovering from eating disorders, and appeared in the documentary film “Do I Look Fat?”, directed by Travis Matthews.
Having experienced his fair share of life’s joys and sorrows, Kim is grateful for the opportunity to take what he has learned and pass it along to his clients, one person and one session at a time. He is also an exquisite storyteller about his home state of Mississippi; an exquisite interpreter of the eccentric ways of the South that are so hard for non-Southerners to grasp. 
Mason Funk: [00:00:00] Okay.
Kim Grubbs: Another Mississippian, by the way,
Mason Funk: Oprah.
Kim Grubbs: Yeah, Kosciusko
Mason Funk: What's it called?
Kim Grubbs: Kosciusko.
Mason Funk: Kosciusko, Mississippi. Where's that in the state?
Kim Grubbs: It's about, so they talk about counties here more than they do towns. Like you're from Washington County. You're if you're up in the Northern part of the state. So she's from, that's in, I can't remember which one
Kim Grubbs: [00:00:30] it's probably about 60 miles North from here going up on 55 toward Memphis. And then you go off to the East and it's just out in the country.
Mason Funk: Wow. I don't know the first thing about her [inaudible] in terms of was her family like a poor family
Kim Grubbs: Very and she didn't live with her. Well she lived with her mom in Mississippi until she was about eight, I think. And then she just acting out and her mom sent her to live with her dad. And I think he was in Chicago or Milwaukee maybe.
Kim Grubbs: [00:01:00] And that's kind of where she became a teenager, you know, she was raped by a family member and some She got this rough.
Mason Funk: Wow. Wow.
Natalie Tsui: So just one thing is, can you, your chair is actually higher than his chair, right? If you could just sit a little forward to me that would just solve a lot of our
Mason Funk: Right.
Kim Grubbs: That's the same chair do you want yet?
Mason Funk: [00:01:30] Well, the thing is, it's so big that it makes it harder for me to get near the camera, but this is not going to be, I'm not going to be, I'm not going to be comfortable.
Natalie Tsui: You don't have to lean that far back. Just like a little bit back.
Mason Funk: Well, I'd rather be
Natalie Tsui: In the right size chair.
Mason Funk: I spotted a little stool outside that I might grab.
Natalie Tsui: Speeding.
Mason Funk: Okay. so do me a favor, start by telling us your name and spell it out.
Kim Grubbs: Kim Grubbs. K I M G R U B B S
Mason Funk: Okey-dokey. And what year and what date and where were you born?
Kim Grubbs: [00:02:00] I was born in McComb, Mississippi on August 1st, 1955.
Mason Funk: Okey-Dokey great. So tell us a little bit about your, who was in your family and just paint us a picture of your family.
Natalie Tsui: Sorry. It's yeah, you're right. I gotta redo stuff just a little bit there.
Mason Funk: I love those words, "You're right".
Kim Grubbs: Aren't they rare?
Mason Funk: I think I heard it all that's about 15 years ago.
Natalie Tsui: [00:02:30] Okay. Look over
Mason Funk: Here we go again.
Natalie Tsui: Keep on looking at him [Inaudible]. We're going to just lose that painting in the back.
Mason Funk: That's probably because I think we were just seeing such a small piece of it. You've got through the toughest part of the interview.
Mason Funk: [00:03:00] It's all downhill from here. I always wonder what people say. It's all downhill. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Like if you say it's all uphill, that sounds bad. When you say it's all downhill that ...
Kim Grubbs: I guess, I mean, it depends if you're walking downhill as a good thing, I guess if you're skiing as sort of the, I mean, it's the, the action, but the anti-climax cause you, and I'll downhill in some way. Sounds like you're nearing the AM's and taking exactly.
Natalie Tsui: [00:03:30] Yeah, it's gone.
Mason Funk: Okie dokie. So I was going to say, paint us a picture of your family. Who were your mom or your dad? What kind of work did they do and who else was in the
Kim Grubbs: Okay. My mom and dad were my dad was a pharmacist. He and my mom actually met while he was in college and pharmacy school. He had already been in the service. She was young 15,
Kim Grubbs: [00:04:00] so she still lived at home with her parents. He you know, began to come and visit her regularly and I think they dated exclusively for a couple of years. And then they married. I was born the next year in August after they married in June. And then I have a brother two years younger than me, a brother, four years older in the million, a sister, eight years younger than me. We lived in Natchez, Mississippi until I was eight years old.
Kim Grubbs: [00:04:30] And then my dad was preparing to move to Jackson to attend medical school and he got an opportunity to buy his own business. And so that's when we moved to Harlandale Mississippi, which is in the Mississippi Delta. I lived there until I was 17.
Mason Funk: Oh. So tell us a little more about your parents' courtship. It sounds charming and Southern in a way.
Kim Grubbs: Yeah. because of their age.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Cause your mom was so young, like what did your parents, what did your grandparents think?
Kim Grubbs: [00:05:00] I think they really liked him and he was the youngest in his family. And so he maybe, emotionally was a little bit closer to my mom's age and that way though, he was a grown man. Then she was mature for her age. So I think in some ways it was a really good fit for them. And you know, they courted my whole life. They used to sit next to each other in the car when cars still had bench seats until I was grown. So, you know, they have, I describe it sorta as sort of as an insular relationship.
Kim Grubbs: [00:05:30] It really is all about the relationship between the two of them. Other people had never really been able to penetrate that very much. And so it makes for an interesting dynamic and they're still that way at 80 and 88. So,
Mason Funk: Wow. Now you mentioned your dad was, he became a farmer, he was a pharmacist and then he bought his own business. And you said that had that kind of a formative influence on you, just working in his pharmacy. Can you tell us about that?
Kim Grubbs: [00:06:00] Right? Yeah. I started working. There was when I was about,
Mason Funk: Do me a favor, when you say I started working there instead say I started in my dads pharmacy.
Kim Grubbs: At the store. Okay. All right. I started working at my dad's drug store when I was about nine or 10 years old. I would just go after school and work with him on Saturdays and just, I enjoyed spending time in our downtown, such as it was. And I worked behind the soda fountain, which was still there and very active.
Kim Grubbs: [00:06:30] And I liked that cause my friends would come after school, so I would get to hang out with them, but yet I still had a job. And I, he was paying me a little bit of money. I had no idea at this point. It wasn't much at all. I'm sure, but I had my own spending money. So that was kinda nice to have. And it, it allowed me to know everybody in town. So my peers, mostly their parents were not professional people. They were farmers.
Kim Grubbs: [00:07:00] And so what, what they knew of, you know, other people in town besides white people, was that they worked for their parents. They worked for their dads on their land. It was different for me cause my dad was a merchant. And so people would come in there to get their medicine and you know, any other things that they needed like come to the soda, fountain, those sorts of things. So I knew everybody in town personally, and the town was about 3,500 people. So it wasn't that hard to remember who people were.
Kim Grubbs: [00:07:30] And you know, I was interested in who people were. I wanted to know their stories and you know, I knew a lot of it was social injustice. I was really aware of that at a very young age, there were still colored and white signs in the water fountains, the doctor's offices, the laundromat. And that was really, it was really painful for me as a little kid. I just, there was something about me that knew that was so wrong. But there was no, there was nothing I could really do about it. Or, and I couldn't say anything about it, but
Mason Funk: [00:08:00] Why couldnt you say anything?
Kims Grubbs: Because it was the, that was the norm. And it just, I didn't, I don't know. I just knew I couldn't, it was a felt sense that, you know, that's not something you talk about. It's certainly not anything you challenge is just, that is the way that things are right now. I was a kid. I didn't have any way to do anything about that. So, but I remember what that feels like. It was really difficult and,
Kim Grubbs: [00:08:30] but my dad was very gentle and his clients adored him and he was respectful of everyone. And you know, I remember things that he, if somebody didn't have the ability to pay for their medicine, he would not let them go without. So he was generous in that way. And you know, they really cared about who he was and when I go there now somebody recognizes me because I look like him. They'll still ask me about, you know, how is he and what's he up to,
Kim Grubbs: [00:09:00] so that's nice. I appreciate that. And not that this is a nice legacy, I think for him, especially just that he was, you know, that well thought out.
Mason Funk: Yeah. a couple of questions. When you say a drug store, like paint a picture for us of what that establishment ... What was sold there? What all the, yeah,
Kim Grubbs: Well, I mean everything,
Mason Funk: Tell me what youre talking about
Kim Grubbs: Okay. So ...
Mason Funk: My dad's
Kim Grubbs: [00:09:30] Drugs and things that go along with the medical supplies,
Mason Funk: Sorry, start off by saying at the drugstore.
Kim Grubbs: In the drug store, there was a pharmacy. So he sold drugs and medical supplies. Insulin. Things that were, you had to sign for certain things at that time that were controlled substances. I don't know if you've ever heard of Paregoric, but that was you know, liquid opiate.
Kim Grubbs: [00:10:00] You didn't have to have a prescription for it, but you did sign your name for it. And I know there were people that were addicted to it. Though I didn't know what that was at the time, but they were in there regularly and I paid attention to things like that. I mean, I think that that helped me develop a way to really be a person that pays attention to the details of people when they're around me and kind of what they're up to. And I don't feel like I make up a story about them. I feel like I kind of do archeology.
Kim Grubbs: [00:10:30] I want to know what they're still, I want them to tell me what their story is. So that's probably where I developed a skill to do that. And, you know, eventually as a psychologist, that became just the way I am. I just am curious about what's going on with other people. So they sell those pharmaceuticals. There was a gift shop and my mom kind of did that when she began working there. And at first I don't think she, she didn't work in the store
Kim Grubbs: [00:11:00] when I worked in there, which was until I was 17, about eight years, nine years. But she came to work there after I graduated from high school, but she always did that part of it. My parents went to gift market every year, cause there wasn't any other place in the town to buy wedding gifts and things like that. So that was, you know, they played to their market. And then, you know, everything from Windex to things that people may charms and potions out of.
Kim Grubbs: [00:11:30] That was always really interesting to me. And some of the things that I remember the names of, I've gone back as an adult to find out maybe what that was used for. But, you know, there was a little voodoo quality to that and I knew that was going on and I would see people that wore charms around their necks that were made out of fabric, tied around a cord or something like that. And, you know, I knew the things that they bought to put in those, but I didn't really, I didn't pry, I didn't want to make them feel uncomfortable about it,
Kim Grubbs: [00:12:00] but I would ask questions, you know, what's that far. And you know, they might say my love life or money or something like that. So they would give me a little information about what was going on with those sorts of things. But it was, you know, it was really interesting to me. I really liked that. And the soda fountain, I said, which is where I worked and we had, you know, 15 flavors of ice cream and milkshakes and fresh lemonade. And, you know, it was a great thing for me to do.
Kim Grubbs: [00:12:30] I have really strong hands still from dipping that hard, frozen ice cream all the time. And there's no telling how many scoops of ice cream I did. I couldn't even speculate and magazines, paperback books, makeup, fragrance. We didn't sell furniture, that seems like about the only thing that we didn't sell in there. [crosstalk] but it really was. Yeah.
Kim Grubbs: [00:13:00] So, so everybody came there and the nearest town to buy that, you know, there was no Walmart or anything like that, but there were some clothing shops in town, but nicer clothing shops, we did have a movie theater, but the newer movie theaters, nicer restaurants and things like that, we're in a town that was 30 miles away Greenville. So part of the way of living there, which I still do it is to, you're constantly in the car driving. So you'd drive 30 miles one way and 30 miles back.
Kim Grubbs: [00:13:30] And he might do that twice in a day, sometimes go in the daytime and shop or whatever, go back at night and do something else. But that's where we went to do those sorts of things or to Memphis, which was three hours away. But that was like a trip, you know, an excursion.
Mason Funk: So when you said everybody came into your father's store. So even though there was pretty strict segregation, but were African American people free to come into the drug store and access, whatever was.
Kim Grubbs: [00:14:00] Oh, sure.
Mason Funk: So tell me about that. Just to someone who doesn't understand that there were, I guess, certain places and facilities that blacks and whites use separately, but in a store like this, everybody came in together. Could you explain that to me?
Kim Grubbs: I don't know that I can explain it to myself because I've always just taken that for granted, but that was not, there may not have been any social interaction, but there might've been, there was because there were people that recognized, you know, they recognize each other, cause it was a small town. So people did actually speak it wasn't as if it had
Kim Grubbs: [00:14:30] you know, a lot of that speaks to power, but I didn't experience people being unkind to one another. Now of course there were racists there, but they also, that County Mississippi in particular is a little bit more liberal than some parts of the state. And the paper was edited by Hodding Carter. His son went on to work in the, I think the Clinton administration.
Kim Grubbs: [00:15:00] So they were Democrats as were a lot of people in the South at that time. They were what was called yellow dog Democrats, but they were Democrats you know, racist. Yes, absolutely. But I never saw that many instances of racism. I, you know, as I got older and kind of understood what homophobia was, but I didn't have a word for it. I didn't grow up in a place where people said queer and fagot.
Kim Grubbs: [00:15:30] It just didn't happen. So I guess it's because people are genteel and things are dictated by decorum and manners. And so even if you think it, you don't say it. So on a social level, it would have appeared that everyone got along very well, but you know, it was so separate as far as just access to anything
Kim Grubbs: [00:16:00] that included money, education, you know, those sorts of things. It just where people were just stuck in a cycle of poverty. I'm sure they didn't make much money and you know, they did, they did the best they could. But I always experienced everyone behaving in a dignified manner. One place we never mixed was at church. And that, you know, because of course black people, that was the only thing
Kim Grubbs: [00:16:30] that really belonged to them was their spiritual life and their worship and that, you know, just a safe place to be together without anybody ever interfering with that. And I mean, it was interfered with in ways that you know about where churches were bombed, but that is why they were targeted. I think in a lot of ways, because that was the only place where people felt safe at that time and completely, they could completely be themselves and it always fascinated me.
Mason Funk: [00:17:00] Yeah. And I want to keep on going back to that, but I have a question. This is, I think yesterday you told us that one thing about the South is that people will tell you exactly what they feel. And then on the other hand, you just told us now that people are genteel and they sort of rules of decorum now on the surface, that seems like a contradiction, but I'm sure it's just part of the complexity.
Kim Grubbs: It is.
Mason Funk: Can you delve into that a little bit? Make sure, you know, make sure we know what you're talking about. So here in the South canvas, a little bit of a thesis statement. So,
Kim Grubbs: [00:17:30] Okay. So as I've developed in my professional career, I found out about duality and that two things are true at the same time. And if you ever talk to any of my clients, they would tell you that that's one of their takeaways, that you can hold to things that are completely oppositional sometimes, and both are true and both are happening simultaneously. So that I think may be where I actually learned that though.
Kim Grubbs: [00:18:00] I've never thought about it because what I said was absolutely true. People can be very straightforward and they can be very abrupt and harsh about such things.
Mason Funk: Sorry, Im gonna interrupt. [Crosstalk] you said was great, but I don't know that you're talking about the South. I just need you to say, I love what you said about duality. You set that up. I just need you to say, again, if my question is never heard about anybody here in the South that duality [crosstalk].
Kim Grubbs: [00:18:30] Okay. Alright. Okay. So the way that, the way that duality was played out in the South and your question about you said this, and you said that which appears on the surface to be contradictory, but they're not because both things happened. And so people would be genteel in public and they would be mannerly. And then they might also make a racial comment or a slur or say something that was cruel or mean spirited. But my experience was that that was not what I heard regularly. I picked up on people. That was one
Kim Grubbs: [00:19:00] I can think of one person in particular that would, he always volunteered to pray in church. And yet to me, he was the person that I would say I would think was the most cruel, and just abrupt and mean-spirited in a way in his daily life. So, you know, I paid attention very early to hypocrisy and that sort of thing. And I mean, that really used to irritate me. And I would ask my dad about it.
Kim Grubbs: [00:19:30] You know, why does he do that on Sunday? And he does this during the week. And he just, you know, my dad would say, you asked some very difficult questions. It's the way he put it. He wouldn't really try to answer it, but he just would note that I was probably thinking too much for my own good
Mason Funk: You know Flannery O'Connor the author. Of course she gained reputation as a southerner for exposing this,
Mason Funk: [00:20:00] what she saw as just blatant hypocrisy. And she believed it seems, or maybe that was just the old world. She knew that the South specialized in this kind of hypocrisy, do you agree with, do you think that's true in the South? Do people do hypocrisy in different, more elaborate ways than elsewhere in your experience?
Kim Grubbs: [00:20:30] I don't know. I don't know if that's necessarily true, but I think we've touched on something that is related to that. And that is the complexity of living in a place where there has to be duality all the time. Like you may behave a certain way in public and then you behave, which everybody does that, but maybe it's more pronounced here. People have had to go from within 60 years time, have a very clear delineation of race to a place now where there's not really that. I mean, there are in certain ways,
Kim Grubbs: [00:21:00] but there's not the same sort of segregation. Like there are, you know, diverse and mixed neighborhoods here. Schools are certainly that way in some ways. And yet we still have private schools that were designed to put white kids together, to keep them having to go to schools with black people. But now those private schools that were designed for that have got black students. And so it's very difficult to kind of think about that
Kim Grubbs: [00:21:30] and try to figure it out. I don't, I think a lot of things you just have to accept is that's how they are. And I said this to you as we were talking last night, even those of us that live here do not understand it. We are way more in a place of acceptance about it than an understanding of it. And we just say things like that. So Mississippi, because constantly, you know, there will be something that happens to me today that will be so Mississippi and I will not even ponder it.
Kim Grubbs: [00:22:00] It's just, well, of course, because that's where we live. I want to say something too, because I know that I'm doing this and I'm, you already did something differently. And I just want us to talk about it. And that is, I use the term black people to refer to people that other people now more would say African American. And I have done that, not of my own volition, I've actually questioned people about that in the South to understand how they feel about that
Kim Grubbs: [00:22:30] because I want to be sensitive to it and I don't want to, you know, do it just because I think I'm right. That's not the reason I do it, but my research has shown that most people here like to be referred to as black, they don't necessarily like to be called African-American and I've never really gotten into that. And I could, but I've just accepted that at face value and said, if that's what makes you comfortable and you know, that's, that's what I'm gonna do. So I didn't want to just make a comment about that
Kim Grubbs: [00:23:00] because I know that some one might re might see that and say, why does he keep, you know, why is this? So that's why, and I think it's important for us to ask questions of others, to find out what their experience is and not to use my own experience to try to have a container for that does not seem right to me. It seems backwards?
Mason Funk: Yeah. I'm a hundred percent in agreement that asking people and having conversations, anything else about the terminology, it's all more dialogue
Kim Grubbs: [00:23:30] It is. And anybody that you query about who they are, what their story is. They're all usually, always really happy about the fact that somebody is interested and we'll talk to you about who they are for as long as you want them to, or as long as they feel like they have your interest, they'll continue. And I really liked that, you know, and everybody is a storyteller, so it's a great place to live for somebody like me who loves stories. And I, you know,
Kim Grubbs: [00:24:00] everybody has one and most of them are dark and nobody got out of this, you know, unscathed, therapists often will say, we're the walking wounded. And there's a lot of wounds here. And it makes, you know, for a lot of, I think, acting out, it makes for a lot of addiction. You know, it makes for a lot of violence, but you know, people here are untreated they're, you know, we now do have, which has been refreshing to me to see in almost every town,
Kim Grubbs: [00:24:30] a big sign, somewhere in town that says mental health association or mental health clinic or something that would never have happened when I was growing up. Because you didn't admit that somebody had mental problems.
Mason Funk: Is there a reason why that you can identify why there's more of this? You said walking wounded, one more, more darkness, more grief here in the South it's untreated than elsewhere? [Crosstalk] say in the south.
Kim Grubbs: [00:25:00] I think just because yeah, in the South, because of our history, we've had we've, you know, we have a lot of generational shame about, you know, things that were done here that were racist that were, you know, clearly done because this group of people was disempowered owned at some point, literally. So that, you know, that's still here, but that's not ever going to go away. So you've got on the one hand, you know,
Kim Grubbs: [00:25:30] a group of white people who feel very ashamed about that, even though they will tell you that this is part of the rationale for maintaining the Confederate flag and monuments and things like that. That's our history. We don't want to deny our history, but our history is so dark and so awful that you also want to deny it at the same time. So that's just another complex duality that those things exist at the same time, you know,
Kim Grubbs: [00:26:00] we have an ongoing issue about our state flag because it still has the Confederate flag within it. And you know, it's gone before the legislature here several times and maybe not several, I know at least one time and you know, is defeated. But people are vehement about it. You know, they literally will fight for that. So it, that, there's that sort of thing that I think makes us wounded. You know, we're proud people in the south,
Kim Grubbs: [00:26:30] so we don't talk about our wounds that's way different in my generation. You know, our parents would never have copped to mental illness to problems, to, you know, addiction that many, they just didn't talk about their personal lives like that. My generation, your generation, we're the first ones really to address that, to say, look, this has been going on for so long.
Kim Grubbs: [00:27:00] Somebody has got to stop the madness. And it takes a lot of courage to be that generation and decide you're going to do that. We're not going to do it perfectly and we're not going to end it, but just to have it started, I think has been very brave. But it's hard work because you're not only doing your own work and the way you've been affected by it, but you really have to look back sometimes several generations to understand, you know, how did this actually get laid down? What's my part in this story that's been begun for me.
Kim Grubbs: [00:27:30] Am I going to do it the same way? Am I going to do it completely differently? And it takes a lot of courage to get out of here. And you know what? I was very rare in my peer group to leave Mississippi. And a lot of my peers that I grew up with are still here and many in my hometown, they, they've never, they went away to college and came back because their dads were farmers. And that's what you do. You did the family business, but you know,
Kim Grubbs: [00:28:00] lots of Mississippians have never gone away and many are coming home. So that's another interesting thing, you know?
Mason Funk: Yeah. I want to talk a bit more, you name something that nobody else has named so far. Granted, we only got here yesterday, but this generational shame, which of course reminds me of something that, you know, that the Germans of course is experiencing, grapple with, but I don't, I haven't heard it talked about very much here in the South. Most outsiders think negative things about southerners
Mason Funk: [00:28:30] and don't think about southerners internally grappling with their own sins and try to make peace with them. So can you just talk a bit more about what you call the generational shame.
Kim Grubbs: You used an interesting word, which probably is a clue to the fact that people do, I think reflect on their own sins. And that's how religious this place is. You know, there's a church on every corner. I make no judgements about that. It's just a fact of life. However, you know, sin is a very interesting construct.
Kim Grubbs: [00:29:00] And so to me, it makes a lot of sense that if you reflect at all on what you have done yourself or what your family has done, it probably comes up some and in some ways in that context, like that was really awful. Maybe someone has done and I know they have, because I know people that, that I grew up with who I felt like were probably really prejudiced bigoted
Kim Grubbs: [00:29:30] some older white women who were, you know, very social, never had jobs, you know, they played bridge, they lunch and they shopped, you know, they did those sorts of things. They entertained. That was kind of what their job was to make a beautiful home and do all the, have all the trappings that go along with that. Well, one of the times when I was home one time for a holiday, I heard my mom say something about a reading program at the black school in my hometown.
Kim Grubbs: [00:30:00] And I was like, well, how long ago did they start that? And she said, that's been going on for years, 15 or 20 years. And I said, well, who does that? And she named some of these older women that were probably in their seventies or eighties at the time that were going there and teaching reading. And I was like, that is really, that makes me really happy to hear that, but it's still so surprising to me, you know, I have my own bias about having lived here and what all this is like, and I had to have that rattled a little bit by here and things like that.
Kim Grubbs: [00:30:30] And, you know, I'm glad, I'm so happy to hear that they're doing that. I wish they had done that 50 or 60 years ago. They couldn't and they wouldn't. So there's that, so maybe that's some sort of redemption, I don't know, we're talking about sin and trying to make things different. Maybe you do what you can in your own way to feel better about yourself and to make a contribution. I'm not saying that it's completely selfish, cause I don't think it is. If they were completely selfish. They would never do that.
Kim Grubbs: [00:31:00] So but there, there are ways to do healing, you know, comes in all sorts of ways. So with that, I hope that helped them.
Mason Funk: And I think, I think what you intimated earlier is that if people aren't able to find some kind of redemptive journey, if that's what I can turn dark in a sense of that shame, if that guilt never gets processed, that's the ...
Kim Grubbs: [00:31:30] Right? Or if it's completely unexamined, then it's going to be acted out. And I think that really is the, you know, things that we still experience here and the things that people want to hold on to their southerness, their heritage, those things like that. That's why they fight. So in such extraordinary ways to keep it because they don't know what's going to happen. I think that it looks something like this. We would love to have that back in exactly the way that it used to be. I think there are a group of people that feel that way. Old times they are not forgotten, I think that's a line from a song called Dixie land.
Kim Grubbs: [00:32:00] I believe there are people that really wish it could be that way. And really look at that and see that it worked better, worked better, was much less problematic. You know, but they don't look at any other thing, besides that it worked for them. Didn't work for everyone. Of course they would like for that to happen, but they can't say that. So, you know, political correctness has infiltrated every part of the culture now.
Kim Grubbs: [00:32:30] And I think that you just do not say that having that, you know, it's still okay to discriminate against LGBT people in Mississippi because we currently have a law that's just been rescinded by part of the fifth circuit. Well, we'll have a religious freedom law in the state where you today, if we went up here and they decided not to serve us somewhere because they perceived that were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, they could refuse it being absolutely within the law.
Kim Grubbs: [00:33:00] It's shocking, but no, hopefully it's going to be overturned at some point. So, you know, there's that part of we, we long for it being that way, but then you have so many other people here who are just really progressive and, you know, are just, that is just the most awful, awful thing that could have ever happened to us in the South. We are so ashamed about the fact that it still happens.
Kim Grubbs: [00:33:30] If we leave here, we try to be good emissaries for our state and you can't convince people of anything, but if they have curiosity such as you have, you can ask questions and you can hear that there are things that are so completely opposite of what you might've perceived as an outsider, that you wouldn't even have thought of it. And then, you know, there are sort of our institutions and things are all integrated now
Kim Grubbs: [00:34:00] and you just would never dream of not wanting to work with somebody because of their skin color. I mean, it just wouldn't, I just can't imagine that it would happen any longer and people still don't talk about things, but they act differently. So their actions are very opposite of what they were. They're not, you know, standoffish, they're not avoidant, it's just not that way any longer.
Kim Grubbs: [00:34:30] And I find this to be a much more ironically, a much more mixed culture, a much more diverse culture on a day to day basis than when I lived in San Francisco, which is a very segregated city.
Mason Funk: Yeah, yeah. That's one of those other,
Kim Grubbs: But you can never convince somebody, you know, who lives in San Francisco and maybe it's from there. And it is a diverse place. Cause their cultures from all over the world that lived there, but they don't live together. And here we have for a long time,
Kim Grubbs: [00:35:00] we've had to live together. Co-Exist, can't get away from each other. There are not that many people here, but that, that's another thing. I just, I look at it and I'm happy that it's that way, but I can't explain that to you.
Mason Funk: Great. This is all super fascinating. I want to kind of go back to some of your own personal events in your life, which was, you mentioned the death of your uncle when you were 12. So tell us who he was, how he was related to your parent
Kim Grubbs: [00:35:30] Hayes. My mother's. Oh, it's okay. Sorry.
Mason Funk: And just tell us what happened and how it affected you. Okay. So start with my uncle.
Kim Grubbs: My uncle's name was Lonnie Frazier. He was my mother's only brother. My mother's only 18 years older than me. And he was six years younger than her. So he was 12 years older than me.
Kim Grubbs: [00:36:00] So he was my hero. When I was a kid, he was, you know, a child of the fifties, you know, he was a rock and roller and he had a band. He drove a fair lane, convertible and slick his hair back and rolled his cigarettes up in his t-shirt sleep. He wasn't like thuggish. I know that that's not a great word, but that really would have applied to a group of white boys at that time.
Kim Grubbs: [00:36:30] He wasn't that cause he was privileged and his family had means, clearly, he had his own car, but you know, they, they mimicked that kind of street life and, you know, Jimmy Dean, it was that sort of a thing. He was really handsome. He was about the time I was kind of old enough to be aware of, to start being aware of things. He had gotten his girlfriend pregnant,
Kim Grubbs: [00:37:00] so that would, I'm not sure exactly when that was, but probably around 62 or 63. He was in college. He was at Ole miss when James Meredith was forcefully given entrance into Ole miss. And so I remember driving him by grandparents up there to get him before it really became violent and bring him home. And so when I was 12,
Kim Grubbs: [00:37:30] when I was 12, he was in a band Dan with two of his buddies and he was a pharmacist in outside of McComb, Mississippi. Summit was the name of the little town. He owned his own store and he, and two of his buddies had a band called the cellar dwellers. And several nights of the week, I don't know exactly how many, they had a gig in New Orleans, which was two hours away. So they would drive down there and drive back. And one night driving back the Pontchartrain Causeway,
Kim Grubbs: [00:38:00] which is the longest bridge, it was the longest bridge in the world at the time. It goes all the way, 25 miles across the Lake Pontchartrain. It was only two lane. And coming back, they had a head on accident thinking a very small car, like a midget. Who made those cars. I can't even remember the yacht that size EMG midget was the name of it. So he was not killed instantly. The other person in the car with him was.
Kim Grubbs: [00:38:30] He went to the hospital and he was about to be released from the hospital because he was recovering. His injuries were not that terrible. But what we now know is that he probably died of a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that he had crushed his knee. So it probably broke loose from that and went through his lungs and killed him. Devastating. I remember, you know, things that are frozen in my memory, like being in my classroom and the sixth grade,
Kim Grubbs: [00:39:00] the teacher walking back to my desk and telling me that dad was there, my dad had never come to the school. So I knew that, you know, I knew something bad had happened and knew what it probably was, but I didn't know. And I remember driving from Hollandale to McComb and I can still remember the colors. It was in the fall. I remember the colors of the light and the leaves and fall is still kind of, it can be eerie to me because of that. There's just a certain way that light looks on a certain day at a certain time.
Kim Grubbs: [00:39:30] That just makes me really melancholy. And it was devastating to my family. My mother never really spoke about it. It was, my grandparents never spoke about it. You know, it was just the most horrible thing that had happened in our family up to that point. And nobody had words, you know, this was in the sixties. So you didn't have ways to talk about that.
Kim Grubbs: [00:40:00] And there was no mental health support and you just dealt, you dealt with you, deal with it. I mean, that's what you do buckle down and pull yourself up by the bootstraps and keep going. But nothing was ever really the same in my family since then. And my aunt was left with this young child and I think she, I can't remember whether, I guess she was in school, but I can't remember, but she did go back to school.
Kim Grubbs: [00:40:30] She went and finished school. Mmm. I know in retrospect now a lot of things that got acted out in my family, toward my aunt and my cousin, because my grandparents sort of held them responsible and somebody had to be blamed, but of course he could have no responsibility in it. And, you know, my suspicion is that they were probably taken speed or whatever, keep themselves awake. And you know, he did have some responsibility in that and I've never really spoken to anybody in my family about it,
Kim Grubbs: [00:41:00] but I'm pretty sure it's true. My aunt, I asked, so I can't really ask her, her. My cousin was too young to remember anything about that. The remaining band member is still alive and he actually plays at a club down in Brookhaven, which is not very far from McComb. And my cousin goes, they in the, just the last few years had developed a relationship. She has so few touchstones to who he was and I've done what I can to fill in the blanks,
Kim Grubbs: [00:41:30] as far as I could, but it's just a huge void for her. They've grown up fatherless. And so, but anyway, she has reconnected with Charlie is his name. And so I know she's probably having, I hope she's having some healing around that. It seemed like she is. And I actually want to go and spend some time with him also. And just, you know, say what I remember asked the questions that I can ask of him and see what he's comfortable talking about
Kim Grubbs: [00:42:00] or what he stays away from, what he doesn't want to talk about. Those things were all fine. As an interesting aside. So they, this was a regular job that they had and I pretty sure that it was at the club [inaudible], which I was on Bourbon Street. I could point to you and tell you where it was at the time. Cause I know the building, that's not what's there any longer, but it was a fairly popular club for, you know, young bands like that.
Kim Grubbs: [00:42:30] They were all being influenced by the Beatles and the rolling stones. Of course, they actually wrote a song themselves. It was about a division of an army division that was in Vietnam, a green Beret army division. I don't, I mean, I could ask somebody this and probably find out from Charlie that they, you know, this song was actually recorded and you can hear it on YouTube now.
Kim Grubbs: [00:43:00] But so when they lost that gig, when that gig went away, because two of the band members were dead, they had to have a [inaudible]. And they called somebody that from, that was in school in Hattiesburg that I think had played there a few times before. And it became his first professional gig and he wrote about it in his autobiography, and it was Jimmy Buffett. And he says in there, you know, you never know what,
Kim Grubbs: [00:43:30] how you're going to be directed in the way that you're directed. So the greatest thing that ever happened to me was a result of the most horrible thing that happened to some other people. And that's always made me have like some sort of affection for, I do like his music, but I didn't know this for many years, but its also made me have some understanding of how he had to hold this duality and let both of these things be true at the same time for him. And maybe it's,
Kim Grubbs: [00:44:00] I think he is a really humble man who knows that may be where that came from, but I would love to have a conversation with him someday about that. And if that's meant to happen, it will, and our paths will cross somehow. And I'll get to talk to him about that, so that happened and then ...
Mason Funk: Before you move on, in case you were trying to move on. Oh, so many questions and it's also just such a rich, I also have to ask you about three names,
Mason Funk: [00:44:30] three people in Brookhaven, which we'll get to because it's not pertinent except three people that my husband, Jay knows who were from Brooklyn. See if you haven't known them since you brought it.
Kim Grubbs: And how does Jay know all these people? Where's he from?
Mason Funk: He went to college in Santa Barbara and after the year after he graduated, he lived in town and next door to him were these three girls from Brookhaven had seen the soap opera, Santa Barbara on television. They had to move to [crosstalk].
Kim Grubbs: [00:45:00] So they were grown. I mean, they were like, that's hilarious.
Mason Funk: I say the accent Brookhaven because [crosstalk].
Kim Grubbs: I don't know them, but I would love to, are they back here?
Mason Funk: One of them is back here in Jackson. Anyway, we'll talk more about Brookhaven. I was like that's
Kim Grubbs: And Hey, you're going to go through it today. You know, Hazlehurst is close to there too. That's where Lypsinka Apperson is his last name.
Kim Grubbs: [00:45:30] I can't remember. Right. That's where he's from. And he went to college here and that's also where Beth Henley's mother is from, who wrote Crimes of the Heart.
Mason Funk: Wow.
Kim Grubbs Yeah. And that's all dark, you know, her mother was murdered here, right around the corner. Actually, this, we talked about this last night, Woodland Hills is what this used to be called. And she lived around the corner.
Mason Funk: Really? Oh, that's all good because I haven't thought of that play crimes of the heart in decades now suddenly it's like, yeah.
Kim Grubbs: [00:46:00] Yeah. My kids that I, my friend that I stay with their kid, their daughter's an actress and she lived in Chicago for years and she was here last year. And did crimes at the heart steel Magnolias, and who's afraid of Virginia Wolf and she was Honey and Nick, was a guy that went to school here, but didn't live around here. He was an actor that they brought in and they are together now and fell in love on stage as Nick and Honey, you know?
Mason Funk: [00:46:30] Oh, Hilarious. But let's just, you know, I just want, maybe this is maybe this would be true anywhere, but you said that after your uncle died that basically everybody just shut down. And I guess I just wonder maybe that's just a human thing that, or is that, is that a Southern thing where it just, we're just why couldn't people, why was nobody able to talk about it? Wail, grieve mourn?
Kim Grubbs: [00:47:00] Well, I mean, my mother cried for years almost continuously after that. I mean, she really deteriorated mentally. I will tell you, we can talk about this. I don't feel comfortable talking about that. I may write about it one day when they're gone, but I don't really want to talk about her and in that way, but what I will say that happens. So are we where you want me to just continue to talk about this right now?
Kim Grubbs: [00:47:30] So the first thing that happens is you blame God because that's the easy one to do. And you know, that's so dark and twisted up and, and complex about, you know, you're being punished. You've always been a good Christian. You've done charitable things for other people. You've been kind, you know it, I know that that's the way that it's looked at. And why would you be punished? Well, then you have to use religion to explain that away because God is a punishing God and is vengeful.
Kim Grubbs: [00:48:00] And apparently you've done something that was so, you know, it's just messed up. So that's in there. Like my grandparents never went to church after that. And they were regular church goers. They, you know, my mother and my uncle played instruments in the church growing up. And, but that was the end of that. So they just stopped which is fascinating. You know, of course nobody would ever talk about that
Kim Grubbs: [00:48:30] and I loved it cause I hated to go to church down there. Cause there wasn't any air conditioning for many years. But yeah, that just came to an end. And then I'm just talking about this from my own perspective, what that year was like. So I think that happened in September/October that he was killed. I think the first time that we went to see my parents after that was the day before Thanksgiving.
Kim Grubbs: [00:49:00] So you used to get out of school at noon on Wednesday and my mother was driving us to see them. And we went into some smoke on the highway and there had already been a car accident that happened. So we ran into that accident and then somebody came from the other direction and there was a third accident and there was actually somebody that died in the car accident. I saw this man on the pavement, but it was not anybody that we knew.
Kim Grubbs: [00:49:30] And it wasn't the result of the accident that we, the first accident or the accident that we had, it was the last accident. So that was really traumatizing, awful. And I remember bits and pieces about that. My sister cut her nose. And so we had to go to the local hospital and we were only about 25 or 30 miles from home at that point. So we had to go back home, never made it to my grandparents. Nobody was ever attended to about that from a psychological perspective.
Kim Grubbs: [00:50:00] In the following January or February. It wasn't too long after that. My mother found out that she had melanoma and she went into the hospital pretty much immediately after they discovered that. And she was gone for a long time. I don't really even remember how long it was, but it was long for us to go and stay, I stayed with the neighbor across the street.
Kim Grubbs: [00:50:30] My brother stayed with another neighbor. My sister, I think went and stayed with my grandparents, but a lot of that is just vague. But all that is to say for a 12 year old and I had never put this together and wouldn't until I went and did some work on myself and did a workshop and I had to draw a timeline on a piece of paper. And so the way that that works is you do, you put all the bandstand that you can remember, and then you go back and you look at clusters and then you talk about how these events are related. So I had all this trauma in this same year
Kim Grubbs: [00:51:00] and it, that also led me to remember who my teacher was that year and how she attended to me. And she really did. And so I was able to, when that workshop was over, she is the first phone call I made. Like, I've never like put this together, but you know, I can't tell you that. I can't imagine what might've happened to me. Had you not been the person that you were?
Kim Grubbs: [00:51:30] And I can't, you know, cause I was just kinda out there by myself. I didn't, I couldn't stand the people that I went and stayed with. It was just all around terrible. My dad was broken up. I could see that I was still working with him, you know, going to school. And I really think that I had always, probably behaved as an adult in some ways before that. But I really felt like after that, I was just, I was grown, you know,
Kim Grubbs: [00:52:00] I had all this real life stuff thrown at me and I just had to grow up. I mean, and everybody around me was kinda not dealing. And so of course I wasn't either. But I found out a way to deal. Cause that's when I started drinking and I, you know, I drank like an alcoholic the very first time I drank, I could not wait. You know, I got drunk the first time I drank and passed out and had a horrible hangover.
Kim Grubbs: [00:52:30] And in the midst of all that, I was already planning how I was going to do it the next time, because it was an escape and that's what I needed to do. And there was, I had to go away. That's the only way I knew to do it. But you know, I'm so grateful to Carolyn Holland?
Mason Funk: Yeah. So tell, introduce her by name and tell us, you said she attended to you. So tell us a bit more about that.
Kim Grubbs: I think she probably was, she was young. I think her name was Carolyn Holland
Mason Funk: [00:53:00] Set us up. Like, you know, when I was in sixth grade, you know, I'm in the midst of enormous family tragedy. I had this teacher
Kim Grubbs: Now when I was in the sixth grade and all these awful things happened in my family. I had a school teacher named Carolyn Holland. So my hometown is actually named after her husband's family Hollandale, some of his people still live there, but they didn't stay there very long. But I think that was the first time, that was her first year of teaching.
Kim Grubbs: [00:53:30] So probably to my benefit she may have done some things that a more seasoned teacher wouldn't have done, but she would take me after school, to her house sometimes. And she was pregnant at the time. And so I think that she, you know, probably was anticipating what it was going to be like for her to have her own child and what this must be like for me, I'm making all this up. She doesn't live very far from me now and I've actually seen her husband
Kim Grubbs: [00:54:00] and I have not been to see her and I don't really know what that's about, but it's about something that has to do with me. And I don't know if I know I'm unsure about what's going to happen. I just don't know. Maybe I want to maintain my fantasy of her. I don't know. But I, you know, I've thought through all of this, but I still haven't done it and I've been home six years and I find that really interesting. So she did, you know, she would just like, really look after me and I just got, you know, special attention. I wouldn't say special. I don't want to say special.
Kim Grubbs: [00:54:30] I got different attention in the classroom. And I don't think that any of my classmates begrudged me of that or her, I think they just kind of got, this is really terrible. They couldn't talk to me about it. You know, nobody I, to tell you the truth, I have so little succinct memories of it. It's really, I think I just checked out. I think I've probably learned how to be out of my body at that time
Kim Grubbs: [00:55:00] and to just separate myself from what was real and what was going on. She did ask me if I wanted to help her choose a name for her baby, which I did. And I pretty sure that that is her daughter's name, Stephanie. So I will ask her about that when I see her and I'm going to
Mason Funk: Yeah, but it's interesting that, you know, you were in the midst of all this death here, you were going to get to participate in a way,
Kim Grubbs: [00:55:30] Which, you know, may have been my salvation, who knows that, you know, something had developed some hope around, you know, all this awful stuff, but this is a wonderful thing that's going on. And I got to participate with her in that in some ways. So, I mean, I have levels of gratitude toward her that I don't even understand for myself. But you know, it's, as I said, I just have no clue What if I had an awful teacher that year.
Kim Grubbs: [00:56:00] I certainly had awful teachers who had no compassion and, you know, were just worn out with teaching and couldn't, you know, hated it. And you could tell that they did. So I feel really blessed. I don't use that word very often, but I think in that situation its appropriate.
Mason Funk: That's fantastic. Oh, this is great. Let's take a little break.
Kim Grubbs: Alright.
Mason Funk: So tell us about your coming out process.
Kim Grubbs: [00:56:30] I never had one.
Mason Funk: Tell me what you never had. I never had what?
Kim Grubbs: I never had a coming out. I never had an official coming out. Of course, I had a coming out process, but it was pretty painless. I am kinda exactly the way now that I've always been, I feel like I'm really androgynous. I don't know how I'm perceived by other people, but I've rarely been asked about being gay
Kim Grubbs: [00:57:00] and I've had people actually ask me about my wife still and I'm older now. So maybe I pass in some ways because of having a beard or whatever, who knows, but it's kind of always been that way. I've never known how to do anything else except be who I am and being my authentic self. Like I had to work with people so much around that. It's kind of hard for me because I don't know how you don't do that because I don't feel like I ever had a choice
Kim Grubbs: [00:57:30] and it doesn't feel like I was exposed or vulnerable or anything like that. It's just like, this is who I am. I don't have any interest or understanding of making up a story about who I am or putting on airs or trying to present myself in any other way, except the way that I do it. I know I'm not for everybody. I put people off because I'm really flat spoken and direct, but I'm in a hurry. This is a limited time offer.
Kim Grubbs: [00:58:00] And I got stuff to do. I mean, I really do just get things done and going to the next thing. It's just the efficiency issue I think. But all that affects the way that I perceive myself and am perceived. I understood that men were attractive when I was really young, but I also thought women were just beautiful and sexy. And you know, I had an attraction to the way their bodies look. And so I didn't really ever have that thing about being repulsed or finding women repugnant.
Kim Grubbs: [00:58:30] I mean, I still think one of the sexiest, most beautiful images that ever was was Anne Bancroft putting her stocking zone in the graduate. I mean, that is just like, Oh my God, whoever conceived that particular scene was really an erotic thoughtful manipulative person that absolutely got what all that was so seductive
Kim Grubbs: [00:59:00] and obviously reduced by that. You know, so I never really had that. I had sex with men before I had sex with women, but I had sex with women. It was always more emotional to me than it was physical. Like I liked the intimate connection that I had with people and sometimes sex followed, sometimes it didn't. So when I was 26, I started going out to gay bars here in Mississippi. And you know, it was just the most fantastic thing
Kim Grubbs: [00:59:30] I could imagine because people were free above any other thing. I clearly, you know, liked the men at that point more than I liked the women. I started taking my friends there. I was like, I found this, we got to go, you have to come with me. And so, you know, they would, if they asked, are you gay? I would say, I think, you know, whatever, but it was just never, it was never a deal.
Kim Grubbs: [01:00:00] Ive had this huge party. And I actually owned a restaurant in Jackson for a period of time, a bad period of time, fueled by cocaine and liquor, never given an alcoholic and liquor license by the way, which they [inaudible] have to do. But we had a great time for a couple of years, I have to say, but the night that it opened, I had this huge costume party and invited everybody. I knew which included drag Queens and leather daddies and all this kind of stuff. My parents came, they were partiers. You know, they weren't going to miss it.
Kim Grubbs: [01:00:30] They brought their friends, but nobody ever was like, they, there wasn't anything extraordinary about that. And the other thing that you have to kind of think about is that everybody that lives around here and I will say in the Southeast New Orleans has always been the place that we go to misbehave and there are transsexual and drag bars, you know, everywhere. I always have been. So it's just part of the culture
Kim Grubbs: [01:01:00] that you don't really separate or make bad or any of that. It's just interesting. Its eccentricity, like everything else here, you know, people are odd, but they're just odd in that way. But to me, it was not a judgment. I know that's not accurate necessarily, probably from their perspective. They would not say that was accurate, but it is accurate for me. So
Mason Funk: [Inaudible]
Natalie Tsui: Can I do a little quick touch up?
Mason Funk: Sure. Absolutely.
Kim Grubbs: Im Glowing?
Natalie Tsui: [01:01:30] It's not that much. It's just like helps the light fall on your face.
Kim Grubbs: Any way you can improve that. Please do.
Kim Grubbs: Somewhere. And while we're talking about this, let's talk about the gender complexity and duality here. Cause this will apply to the question you're about to ask me
Mason Funk: That's the question I was going to ask you about fluidity in the south.
Kim Grubbs: Yes. Oh yes.
Mason Funk: [01:02:00] Okay. Thank you, Natalie. Are we still speeding?
Natalie Tsui: Yes.
Mason Funk: Okay. So my question was going to be, is that another sort of touchstone of the South? Is it kind of an easier way with what we might call today fluidity? Make sure you mention the south, whatever you want to talk about.
Kim Grubbs: [01:02:30] Yes. Yeah. So, I mean, this may be an artifact of the civil war where there weren't men around. Let's just imagine that that probably happened. And so, you know, farming was suspended. Women didn't have money, they were being invaded, you know, food was being taken away. But I imagine that those, I know those women were tough and they became tougher and it had to at least become survivalist. So they learn all sorts of things that they probably never dreamed that they would have to learn.
Kim Grubbs: [01:03:00] This is less fast forward to now. So most men in the South are fabulous cooks because they've learned to cook game and whatever they hunted or fished, but they also, it's a social thing. You know, people get together and have cookouts, barbecues, but it's, you know, multifamily, sometimes it's a whole community, does that. You know, cause food is very important here as everybody. That's one of the things that people think about when they think about the South fried chicken and corn bread and turnip greens,
Kim Grubbs: [01:03:30] all the things that are not popular anywhere else, but people know that about here, but cooking and food and all that is,
Natalie Tsui: Is that the fridge?
Mason Funk: Oh, it's the AC. Oh, okay.
Natalie Tsui: There's the sound it just picked up. So now it's on. [inaudible]
Mason Funk: Okay. So just we don't have to repeat all that. Do we?
Natalie Tsui: [01:04:00] I mean like midway through that conversation.
Mason Funk: Yes. So
Kim Grubbs: So I'll just start with men. Most of the men know how to cook here. Most of the women know how to hunt and fish and dress game. So there is a lot of fluidity of social roles where gender is concerned. And then there are at the same time, very well defined social roles about who does what and, but delegation of responsibility in a household. I think Southern men,
Kim Grubbs: [01:04:30] especially has always been a little bit more nurturing in some ways they do pay attention. They don't just let their wife do everything that needs to be done in the house. And most women garden here. So they get outside and work in the yard and get their hands dirty. And you know, it does create some blurred lines that I don't even think would be considered lines here is just an that's our normal
Mason Funk: [01:05:00] It reminds me, Oh shoot. Oh shoot. What was the thought I had? You talked about. Oh, this may be a jumping off point because the other phenomenon, I know this is not quite the same, but as I told you last night, Brunson Green's mom said to him, why can't you just get married like all the other gay men around here? Is that another reflection of this? Is there more of a tendency for, for men to follow traditional roles in terms of marriage and family, but be gay whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, is that just more common [crosstalk].
Kim Grubbs: [01:05:30] I don't know that anybody here, I mean, his mother was very astute, but I don't know that people would actually talk about it in that. Well, they don't talk about anything. We have to always go back to that. So you just don't talk about it and then therefore it doesn't exist, but I'll tell you some phenomenal things that I remember. Well, when I became an adult and started looking back at these things along with a friend of mine that I grew up with who was another person that worked downtown.
Kim Grubbs: [01:06:00] And I think that that gave us a, we talked about this a little bit last night, we had a different perspective on the world just because we didn't have the luxury. If you want to call it that of only knowing our own kind of people, we got to know all kinds of people, but she's kind of, she's been my like touchstone to my growing up because of her experience being similar to mine for that same reason. And we've started talking probably 20 years ago,
Kim Grubbs: [01:06:30] we started talking about the things that we accepted as normal. That was our normal, you know, and there were so many people that were mentally ill in our town that were, you know, very eccentric, that word, many, many, many alcoholics and drug addicts. And that is kind of normalized there because everybody parties and not have, there was one person in my high school that didn't drink. And so that's extraordinary. I know because I talked to my friends that grew up in other parts of the country
Kim Grubbs: [01:07:00] and they were like, nobody ever talked about that as we talked about the person that didn't drink that was the thing that was unusual, not the fact that we were all drinking and, you know, saying drinking songs at school and everybody had an ice chest in their trunk. And you know, that was, that was just our normal. So she and I have talked about this particular thing, that there were two men in our hometown that never married that were brothers.
Kim Grubbs: [01:07:30] And they intermittently lived with their mom. They, I think one of them lived in Atlanta and one in New Orleans, but they would come back there and maybe stay for the summer. I don't know if they were school teachers or what, but they were, I won't say their name, but they were commonly known as the sisters. And that was sad with that irony. Like I never questioned that, you know, I knew they were effeminate, but it didn't seem like degrading or that it's just,
Kim Grubbs: [01:08:00] I can't even explain it. My dad had a fraternity brother whose name was sister. And, you know, I asked him when I was an adult, what's his real name. And he was like, Bill. And I was like, well, don't be irritated. I just never, I said, I thought his name was sister, but I didn't ask why they, why he was called that, you know, but he was a bachelor and they probably gay and just, you know, always been here.
Kim Grubbs: [01:08:30] Another thing that I think is part of that is the way men dress here. They're very concerned about their, everybody is, and it's changed since I've been away, but everybody's very concerned about their appearance because if you've got other stuff going on, you know, being obsessed with your appearance is a really good way to divert people's attention from anything real that might be happening. But people are very aware of fashion and the way clothing is put together,
Kim Grubbs: [01:09:00] women still wear lots of makeup here compared to other parts of the country. Hair styles are very, you know, important. And so I think in some ways that to pay attention to that puts you in a different perspective. You have a different perspective of the larger culture. If you're, if you're a man and you're really concerned about your appearance and you know, just a minute ago when we were outside,
Kim Grubbs: [01:09:30] I commented to a straight man about how pretty he cleaned up. And I, you clearly saw that there was nothing sideways untoward. You heard what his response was about the way a bath really helps, but there was nothing funky about that whatsoever. That was just as natural you know, comment between him and me that didn't bother him in the least. He knows I'm gay. It wasn't a come on to him or anything like that. So, I mean, I don't know how to, I don't know how to put that in a way that makes it make sense. Cause it really doesn't.
Mason Funk: [01:10:00] Hmm, great. That's all good. That's all really good stuff. And that reminds me of another question that I wanted to get to, which was in your questionnaire. You, and I've heard this from other people here in the South. The goal people. When they talk about the changes that we've seen over the past, say 50 years regarding queer people, LGBTQ people, they say people have begun to understand that we're just like everybody else and that our gayness,
Mason Funk: [01:10:30] our LGBT quality or nature doesnt. Isn't all of who we are. We're just like everybody else. And I noticed a distinct difference between that and saying, maybe we're not like just everyone. Maybe we're not just like everyone else, maybe we're distinctly different. And that is also okay. And then we have distinct gifts. So I wonder how you play with that tension between in a way defining slash defending ourselves by saying no, no, we're just like you versus being able to say, actually we're not just like you and thats okay.
Kim Grubbs: [01:11:00] Okay. Well, I mean, I think we're talking about what now is known. It had a heteronormative construct and do gay people aspire to that. Maybe that's the only way to ever try to normalize who you are and be accepted by a larger culture. I really don't think that exists here in the same way as it does in cities,
Kim Grubbs: [01:11:30] especially where you're trying to have power, recognition, have access to services, those sorts of things. It's completely different in that way. But I mean, I don't want to be like everybody else, but it doesn't have anything to do with my being gay. That's just another way that maybe I'm not like everybody else, but to everybody else. I don't really think that that matters that much. I mean, I just have never, you know, even the people, people that I grew up around
Kim Grubbs: [01:12:00] who I've never been in your face about it, but I've also never hidden it. So for instance, when, when 1523, which is the, the bill, that's now law in Mississippi for the time being when that was introduced, I wrote a thing on Facebook that was very pointed about the fact that this discriminates against a group of people, of which I'm a part and you know, hurts my feelings. And I know that too,
Kim Grubbs: [01:12:30] to present that in that way created compassion. And it wasn't my goal really, but well that others that know me and have known me all my life understood. Well, why would anybody want to be mean to him? No. So it's manipulative. Yes. I know how to do that, but it was also true. Like why am I being singled out? You know, why are my people being singled out and being discriminated against? And nobody's speaking up and saying that's okay.
Kim Grubbs: [01:13:00] And in fact, somebody I grew up with is a Senator now and voted for it. So that's where I started somebody that I have cared about. My whole life has participated in this hatred. And I don't know, I understand that. And that's sore. That's where I started and just was very honest about it. But you know, the comments that I got were that must be terrible for you. I'm really sorry that this has hurt you in the way that it has, but no comment about, you know,
Kim Grubbs: [01:13:30] you're a terrible, awful person and you're going to burn it. No, and I think that outside the South, that's what people might expect would happen. But in fact, I am somebody that they know and care about. And that is the way to me that we, I think that is what has changed is that I know people say about marriage equality is that now everybody kind of knows a gay couple and have affection toward them.
Kim Grubbs: [01:14:00] And that's, what's changed at not being different and not being the same, but be having it personalized. But I don't know how I feel about, you know, being like everybody else in that way.
Mason Funk: Hold on one second. My computer sound is, turned up. Keep rolling, Natalie. Okay.
Kim Grubbs: I do want to ask a question cause I want to know how you feel about it
Mason Funk: No, but Im not being interviewed.
Kim Grubbs: [01:14:30] I know, but I just, for some, there might be something else that I'm not thinking about around that so
Mason Funk: I just, when I hear people kind of basing their what I hear people saying, people need to understand that we're just like everybody else as a basis for acceptance. I just, I stumbled on that a little bit because I don't want to make that the basis of acceptability.
Kim Grubbs: [01:15:00] But isn't it also untrue. We're really not like everybody else.
Mason Funk: Thats exactly what I feel. [Crosstalk] unique gifts to contribute to the culture like, Hey, people, you all are doing things in secret that you don't want to talk about, and you're shaming yourself for your sexual preferences, for the things that make you really happy and excited [crosstalk] lead the way by saying, Hey, we're going to be as freaking sexual and not monogamous if we want to, we're going to have open relationships and Hey, you know, jump in the water. [Crosstalk]
Kim Grubbs: [01:15:30] But learn how to negotiate those things and tell the truth about it and talk about what's really going on for you. You know, most of the time when you start talking about that with anybody, they will tell you about their hetero, their homoerotic fantasies and things that they've done, you know, in secret and not necessarily feel ashamed about it. You know, I wish there was a way that I could have accessed that access that more regularly, because it was pleasurable.
Kim Grubbs: [01:16:00] And I had a bond with this person because it was another man or another woman, if you're a woman. And there was something that was so comfortable about that. Well, let's talk about that. And yes, we are different, but because we've had to resolve that within ourselves to some degree, and we're fabulous, we created all the things that you folks love and spend all your hard, earned money on big stuff.
Mason Funk: [01:16:30] Yeah. And maybe along with all that stuff, we've created a little bit more space. You know, like last summer I was driving around with a camera man - old guy and he was very, you know, he's a young guy. He was pretty open, but I mean, he was telling me everything. I think he just felt safe with me. Telling me he liked having his girlfriend put her finger up his butt. So he's like it [crosstalk]
Kim Grubbs: Pegging. I mean, I didn't even know it had a name until I had a client in San Francisco that came in and plopped down on the couch one day. And she said, so what's up with all the straight men in San Francisco wanting to get fucked in the ass.
Kim Grubbs: [01:17:00] I had never used any trite therapist response ever, but I couldn't do, there was nothing else I just said, could you tell me some more about that, and we had a great laugh about, and she said, yeah, there's this thing it's called pegging. And I was like, really? That's wonderful. If straight men discover their assholes. There will be no more homophobia that will shut that down completely, but it's happening, you know?
Mason Funk: [01:17:30] Yeah. Okay. Well, that's good. I like hearing all that stuff happened. That to me is where if it starts to feel too much, like just be nice to us. Cause we're really just like y'all just kind of go like ...
Kim Grubbs: Oh, don't be nice to me if you don't like me, but don't base it on that. There are lots of other things you can not like me about, you know, and I'm good with that.
Mason Funk: Yeah. And it also ties into a conversation I had in Texas in a small town with a guy who was allegedly open in his community, small town lived with his husband, separate bedrooms, which I thought was really interesting, but he was just so, he used these expressions over and over again.
Mason Funk: [01:18:00] Don't be too in your face. Don't be shoving it down people's throats. I thought, you are just mimicking straight cultures admonitions to us.
Kim Grubbs: But let me expand on that a little bit because I can, that is
Mason Funk: So tell me what youre talking about.
Kim Grubbs: Okay. When you hear somebody in the South say not in your face,
Kim Grubbs: [01:18:30] that does not mean of avoid being confrontational. What it does mean is be subtle, be discreet, have decorum, be polite and mannerly about this. It's not about hiding. It's about not being confrontational and it has nothing to do with your comfort. It has to do with your making sure that the person you're sitting across from is not made to be uncomfortable.
Kim Grubbs: [01:19:00] So I can, I could tell anything to anybody that I so choose, and I have no problem doing that, but I also am really conscious of my audience. And if it's one person and they attempt to draw me out about anything that they want to know about, I'll tell them anything as honestly as I possibly can, but I would never volunteer something that would make them squirm because that would be really unpleasant for me. I would have made them not feel bad or you know,
Kim Grubbs: [01:19:30] that it just, I don't want to have to see them do that. So does that explain it any differently than just like that's avoidant and not, and not being out?
Mason Funk: I think that was really, I think it is part of the cultural [inaudible]. The example I gave this gentleman was in a supermarket in Los Angeles, not too long ago. A 23 year old kid was checking out my groceries and he said,
Mason Funk: [01:20:00] it looks like you're going to go home and cook a really nice dinner for your wife. And I said, well, actually I am, I'm going to cook a nice dinner, but it's going to be for my husband. And this kid seemed to be fine with it. He's like, Oh, you know, duh, something like that. Although I know that it was a little bit of a shift for him, but the guy in Texas that he would never have said that.
Kim Grubbs: Okay. But I would, but let me tell you how I would do that. I would like, have ...
Mason Funk: So do me a favor, set the scene.
Kim Grubbs: [01:20:30] I'm in the grocery store and we're talking about being out. And so the cashier says to me, looks like you're going to go home and cook a lovely dinner for your wife. I would probably laugh and say, if I had one, that would be true. But what I have is a husband or boyfriend, whichever I said, but I would have gauged who my audience is before I said it. I would feel comfortable doing that with a lot of people here. And if I said that, for instance, if that was a black woman,
Kim Grubbs: [01:21:00] I will tell you exactly what she would probably say to me, go on baby, or, you know, all right then, you know. She would do something that would let me know that that was great. That she's happy about the fact that I reveal that to her, that I felt comfortable about that. If it was some old white woman that looked like she couldn't miss Church at any, probably had never missed church a day in her life if the door was open, Never. Because I don't want to have to deal with her. It doesn't have anything to do with how I feel about myself.
Kim Grubbs: [01:21:30] It's all about like, you know, no, that wouldn't be fun for me. And I would never do that. That just would, that would invite something that I have absolutely no interest in participating in at all. But I'm not hiding from her.
Mason Funk: You're just not going to waste your time.
Kim Grubbs: No. And if she said something to me like faggot or whatever like that, Ill be okay now, no. I wouldn't be offended by it.
Kim Grubbs: [01:22:00] I wouldn't give it any more energy than that. I wouldn't try to explain myself away. I'll tell you an example of the only person that I don't speak to now from my past regarding this issue. And I think it's important to talk about that. So I got a call when I lived in San Francisco from the first person I met, when I moved to my hometown, my new town, eight years old, she was the very first ... Was my next door neighbor. We'd been friends, all of our lives. I was almost 40 by the time, I may have been 40 by the time I got this phone call.
Kim Grubbs: [01:22:30] Bright and early one morning because people can't figure out the time between Mississippi and California. And so it was 10:30 in the morning. It was 6:30 in the morning, but anyway, whatever. So she says, I have heard the most disturbing news. And I was like, what happened? And she said, Kim, somebody tell me that you're gay. And I was like are you stupid? Of course, I am. I really was incredulous to the fact that this just now had,
Kim Grubbs: [01:23:00] that she had just now maybe even never thought about it. And somebody tells her and she was confronted with it. I was like, I was just shocked. And I was like, well, duh. I mean, that is what I said. And she said, well, I just don't know what to say about it. And I said, well, you don't have to say anything. Or you can say anything you want to about it. Oh what I want to say is, you know, God, and she started it on the Bible. And I just talked to myself, okay, lets see what she has to say.
Kim Grubbs: [01:23:30] And she quoted a few scriptures. And I said, cause I'm a mean queen when Im backed into the corner and have to be, I said, well, if we're going to do that conversation, let's be honest about that conversation. You weigh about 350 or 400 pounds. And as far as I can tell, looking at the seven deadlies, mine is not in there, but you're in there two or three times. So if this is the conversation you want to have about this,
Kim Grubbs: [01:24:00] let's have it. Dead silence. And I said, you know what? I think the best thing for us to do is to just not speak to each other. She said, about this? I said, about anything. I'm done. And as far, that was it for me, and that's maybe cold blood, but I just am not going to deal. That is just so stupid as far as I'm concerned. But you know, she cherry picked something that worked for her and probably didn't know that I had any knowledge of the Bible to be able to come back and say,
Kim Grubbs: [01:24:30] because I'm a Heathen in her mind. But you know, there wasn't really any place else to go with that. I'm just not gonna do it.
Mason Funk: That's, that's great. All of these anecdotes taken together. If someone's willing to listen to all of them, then it starts to paint a picture. Cause this there's like you said, there's no single answer. There's no single truth. Yeah. That's great. Hey, I'm going to, almost to the time where I'm going to ask Natalie, if she has questions and I have a little, in fact,
Mason Funk: [01:25:00] let me just check my list. Natalie, you can be thinking unless you have some already.
Natalie Tsui: No, I dont.
Mason Funk: Okay. tell us about getting sober. Who died?
Kim Grubbs: I'm sorry.
Mason Funk: You mentioned you got sober partly in the response to the death of a close friend.
Kim Grubbs: Yes. My friend Melanie was 33 and had an 18 month old child. When she found out she had stage four breast cancer. So, you know,
Kim Grubbs: [01:25:30] I was in my cups and I was called by another mutual friend that says, if you want to see her, you need to come see her now. And so I lived in Memphis at the time she was in Greenville. I drove down here and of course I'm positive. I drank all the way down here and probably took some tablets to calm my nerves and bolster my strength to go in there and do that. And so I went into her room and sat down. She was asleep
Kim Grubbs: [01:26:00] and she woke up at some point, maybe I was there maybe 30 or 45 minutes. And she didn't say but one thing to me. When are you going to, when are you going to start loving yourself as much as everybody else loves you? And I was so like, you know, that was just, it was like a force that came at me and then she went back to sleep and I walked outside after a few minutes, her mother was coming down the sidewalk
Kim Grubbs: [01:26:30] and she said, I'm really glad you came, you know, how are you doing? And I said, well, how are you doing? I mean, I'm fine. And I said, you know, I just can't believe that we're here. And she said, well, I'm really sorry you didn't get to visit. You know, she's been unconscious for a couple of days now. And I said, well, as a matter of fact, she actually said something to me. And she said, what was it? And I told her, and she's like, are you sure? And I was like, yes ma'am. And she said,
Kim Grubbs: [01:27:00] well, she really, she hasn't been awake or spoken in at least a couple of days. And I said, okay. So on the way back that day, I was like, you know what? I don't know what my belief in God is. I don't know about angels and any of that stuff. However, I know this particular thing happened and I know that I better pay attention to it. This is, this was to me, for me, I can choose to ignore it and act like it didn't happen. Like I can do,
Kim Grubbs: [01:27:30] or I can do something completely differently about this. And I had already, I had been dating a woman at that time that was in recovery, had taken me to my first AA meeting. Clearly recognize that I needed to, you know, attend to this. I had already started monitoring what I was drinking, which is miserable for anybody that wants to be, that is an alcoholic and knows they probably don't want to drink misery to try to balance all that out and do the right amount.
Kim Grubbs: [01:28:00] I was like horrible. And so I remembered that at work and I worked at the dog track in West Memphis, was a waiter and was going to school. I was a waiter at one of the private clubs at the dog track. I remembered a conversation that ... Cause I didn't know anybody that didn't drink. This was a problem. But I remembered that during work, one day I had said to Glenda, do you want to go out after work one day and get a drink?
Kim Grubbs: [01:28:30] And she said, I'll drink a diet Coke. And I was like, you're not going to get a drink. And she said, honey, I have enough of that stuff. And I was like, what does that mean? She said, well, you might find out one day. That was the only, that was the conversation. So that was on a Monday. I went back to work on Tuesday and I went immediately about Glenda and I said, Glenda I need to stop drinking. And I said, what do I need to do? She said, well, honey, the first thing you need to do is get your ass to a meeting. And I said to an AA meeting, she said, yes.
Kim Grubbs: [01:29:00] And she said, there are probably some gay and lesbian meetings in Memphis. And in fact, I know there are, is that what you want to do? And I said, that probably would work best. And she said, do you want me to go with you? And I was like, maybe sometime, but I really think I need to do this on my own the first time. And so, I mean, I went to my first meeting, I think the next Monday when I was off, there were four people there and I was like, Oh, this is going to be [inaudible], and one of them was from out of town.
Kim Grubbs: [01:29:30] So there are three gay alcoholics in Memphis and I'm one of them. This is horrifying, but I'm, you know, I'm going to do it. And so once somebody told me at the meeting that I said, come back on Friday, there'll be 30 or 40 people here. Don't worry about this. And so I started going to meetings regularly and never drank again. And I will be completely honest about it. I think I stayed sober for at least six or seven years out of spite, partly.
Kim Grubbs: [01:30:00] Because there were so many people that could not believe that I could do it. There was that component. And also that was about them. I threatened a lot of people when I stopped drinking because I loved to drink, I loved it. More than anything else in my life, it was my favorite thing to do. I was good at it. I could do it for a long time and stay upright. You know, I got sloppy every once in a while, but I was a pretty good drinker. But it got people's attention.
Kim Grubbs: [01:30:30] Like if he thinks that he's got a problem with alcohol, does he think we all have problems with alcohol and I've never looked at it that way? Like that wasn't really any of my business. I don't care what other people did. I just knew I didn't want to do it any longer. So I didn't. And the best decision that I ever made. Im grateful to Melanie or whatever, you know, the way she said that to me. Her child that was 18 months old then is a grown man.
Kim Grubbs: [01:31:00] He owns a restaurant in Greenville now. I actually do want to go and visit him one day that hasn't felt like that, that there's another thing that I haven't done. And I don't know exactly why, but it's really loaded and heavy for me in part. And I don't want it to be heavy for him. I think that's what that's about. But I did have the chance to tell her mother who also had breast cancer and died from it a few years after Melanie did. I did get the chance to tell her.
Kim Grubbs: [01:31:30] To the best of my ability, I'm going to make sure that something good comes out of that and I'm going to do what I can to make sure that I perpetuate something to help other people, because this is just too horrible. I can't take any of that. She's died at this age and left a child, you know? It's just, it's too much. And I hope I've kept my word.
Mason Funk: [01:32:00] I'm sure. Her mom appreciated hearing that
Kim Grubbs: She did, she [inaudible]. She took it in as best she could, but I think it was really uncomfortable for her, but that's okay. I was willing for her to be uncomfortable. That was for me. And, you know, sometimes we just have to do things that are self-preserving and selfish at the same time. And that was one of those things. But I didn't want to not do that. And just, I felt like that was the, I felt like I had to do that and just let her know
Kim Grubbs: [01:32:30] that at least something good did come out of it for me. One of the, actually the most powerful thing that could have happened for me in my life came from that situation. And I have payed it forward in every possible way that I could. So I've done well by Melanie. That's the way I feel about it.
Mason Funk: It's interesting that theme comes up again and again. That case you said something that, you know, made her mom a little uncomfortable.
Kim Grubbs: Yeah.
Mason Funk: It was like, okay, in this case, you know, I really need to do this. And so I'll deal with her uncomfortableness
Kim Grubbs: [01:33:00] Thats right.
Mason Funk: And you'll deal with knowing that you made somebody uncomfortable, but it was for a [crosstalk].
Kim Grubbs: That was worth it. Yeah. That did have higher, good attached to it.
Mason Funk: I just don't think people in generalizing and the rest of the country maybe think quite so much for better and for worse about whether they're going to make somebody else uncomfortable
Kim Grubbs: No, they don't. And you know, people in other parts of the country don't do something that we all do here naturally.
Kim Grubbs: [01:33:30] And you may have noticed that even since you've been here. So one of the things that used to irritate me to no end in California was people stopping in the middle of the sidewalk and talking to each other and maybe all the way across the sidewalk and not looking behind them when they go in a door to see if anybody, you know, people just in other, and this is a generalization, but you're not trained to pay attention to your space in the world. And the things that surround you that do affect other people.
Kim Grubbs: [01:34:00] And we all do that. It's like radar. I mean, we, we just innately are checking around for a variety of things to see if somebody needs something, you know, it's hostess duties in a lot of ways. That's where that's the training, that's where it comes in. But you always are cognizant of how you are, how your, whatever you're doing is being perceived and how it affects other people. And are they being made comfortable?
Kim Grubbs: [01:34:30] Are they being made to feel welcome? Are they feeling like you're being generous with them? It's still, and that's still around. I would have suspected, and this generational, my generation and maybe one behind me are the last ones that really do that because the culture has just been affected because the world is in your hand now, we're not closed off, like we once were. So, yeah.
Mason Funk: How about now Natalie?
Natalie Tsui: [01:35:00] Okay. So I have ...
Mason Funk: Shes going to ask the question, but you're still gonna
Kim Grubbs: Okay
Natalie Tsui: It's kind of more like a general thing. Like, can you talk about just being like, just a couple of stories of being, you know, like maybe young love or something like that, or, yeah, that's really it. My brain isnt quite like being able to cohere into a sentence, but you know, a story about maybe your first love or perhaps a, you know, like you, you said that you haven't your coming out process,
Natalie Tsui: [01:35:30] wasn't that difficult, but did you have any close calls, any experiences
Kim Grubbs: And by close call, what, tell me what you mean by that specifically
Natalie Tsui: Like close calls with danger. Never
Kim Grubbs: So we had a conversation last night about ...
Mason Funk: Do me a favor, dont reference the conversation last night.
Kim Grubbs: Okay. So I think that by now you have been able to ...
Mason Funk: Dont reference me at all
Kim Grubbs: [01:36:00] Okay.
Mason Funk: [inaudible]
Kim Grubbs: It's probably easy to understand now that we are very rooted in discretion and decorum and that sort of behavior in the South. And so not rustling, not ruffling feathers is also related to the thing that you have to do to compensate for that. And that is to be underground, to be sneaky, to slip around and be undetected.
Kim Grubbs: [01:36:30] And so have I ever had a close column? No, because I'm really good at being sneaky and undetected and flying below the radar and knowing my circumstances and surroundings and not putting myself in a situation where I would be uncomfortable because that's important too. I don't have to deal with the aftermath of something that's going to perhaps blow up. So I'm sure there are lots of stories of people here that are different from mine,
Kim Grubbs: [01:37:00] but that is my story. So, no. I have only had what I would admit to, which I think is a true story, that I can say that I've only been truly in love one time. And it was with a woman that I knew in college, but when I moved to Memphis, she and I became very close and it was just symbiotic in the way that we were so alike and so attached. And we had had a long friendship,
Kim Grubbs: [01:37:30] which I think is always a great basis and foundation for any relationship. And it became a sexual relationship. And I truly opened myself completely up and reveal myself to her in ways that I never had, never knew I could or would, and never have since. Was completely in love with her. And she broke up with me and I was devastated for many, many years. I mean, it's the reason I went to therapy for the first time,
Kim Grubbs: [01:38:00] my alcoholism and drug addiction. This was in my early twenties. So that really is how I spent the rest of my twenties was in an alcohol and drug bog. And a lot of it was related to that rejection. And I did not have the courage to ask her until many, many years later why that was, and I'm gonna tell you, I'm going to say why, and then I'm going to say something else about that.
Kim Grubbs: [01:38:30] So her parents were both alcoholic and that's so at this, you know, we didn't have conversations about that certainly. And I don't think she was even really clear about it herself, but you know, there was no ACA or, you know, adult children of alcoholics or any kind of, there was no place to talk about that. But I think her response to me being a heavy drinker, which I was, and I didn't, she never really asked me not to. And she joined in a lot cause she liked to drink too.
Kim Grubbs: [01:39:00] But she told me many years later when I asked her about it, that terrified me so much, that I did not want to recreate what my parents had and the way it affected me. And I completely understood that. And further, what I have taken from that is if I speak honestly about everything in my life that has truly broken my heart, it can all be traced back to drugs and alcohol,
Kim Grubbs: [01:39:30] every single thing. I can't really think of anything that has devastated me, that if I keep going back and back, and sometimes I have to go pretty far back, but it's always there.
Mason Funk: So, I don't quite understand what that means when you say if you look at, if you trace it back.
Kim Grubbs: So I'll give you an example. My closest friend committed suicide eight years ago and he wasn't an addict or an alcoholic, but it ... So there's a twisted,
Kim Grubbs: [01:40:00] I'm not going to get into it, but a twisted story between him and his mom that had to do with when he was born. And his mom as a result of the trauma that happened to her around that time became addicted to barbiturates. And so his relationship with her, his lack of acceptance by her, around his being gay can be traced back. I think to her being an addict,
Kim Grubbs: [01:40:30] her never dealing with her, his birth trauma, the situation that happened to her as a result of all that, just never was dealt with. She projected all the things that made her unhappy and dysfunctional onto the fact that he was gay. That was not, that was not the issue. It wasn't an issue, but it was not the issue. The issue was with her. And because she never took care of her shit and didn't have any ability to, I understand it,
Kim Grubbs: [01:41:00] you know it's not really her fault. There's no fault or blame in it. It's just what was, and she didn't have the ability to do anything except what she did. And therefore he ended up not having the ability to do anything except what he did. And you know, brokenhearted over that, still angry about it.
Kim Grubbs: [01:41:30] I deal with it, how I deal with it at the time when it happened, one of my friends said what a waste was her response to it. That offended me so deeply at the time. But I understand now why she said that. I understand that for myself now, you know, but it is a situation where I can go back and say it, drugs in that situation had not been involved in that this might have been very different, but they were present.
Mason Funk: [01:42:00] You said that as an example of how ...
Kim Grubbs: Every single thing that breaks my heart is about addiction. My uncle's death, which I have spoken about. I'm certain that that was related to it. You know, maybe in your own life that you start thinking about the things that really hurt you and that you can't move past in a way that makes you feel not so heavy and dark
Kim Grubbs: [01:42:30] and awful about it. You might look back and see if that's cause I think it's cultural. I think that is. And you know, now, it astounds me, but the pandemic that we have in our culture right now is related to heroin who would have ever dreamed that in this day in time, that would be killing multiple people every day. And people still don't know what to do about it. It's astounding. I can't take it in.
Mason Funk: [01:43:00] Do you have another question?
Natalie Tsui: Yeah, I do. So you said you only fell in love once and you haven't fallen in love since
Kim Grubbs: I have loved people, I've had other relationships, but I'm a bad judge. I pick really bad people to like, cause I pick up on the things that are the craziest about them. And I think that has to do with just where I grew up because there's a lot of crazy, there's a lot of crazy here
Kim Grubbs: [01:43:30] and I know that's not a very politically correct term, but that's the one that I'm using because it's the most accurate. And so I see that, I feel that in other people I like drama and chaos in people cause I'm used to, you know, lots of that being present. So yeah, and I've picked, you know, unavailable people, probably on purpose. And the fact of the matter is I would not have been good in a relationship. I love a lot of people
Kim Grubbs: [01:44:00] and a lot of people love me and I know that and I've had the most wonderful friendships, long term people that are my family of choice. I have nurtured those relationships. I've taken the responsibility that it takes to have them still be around. And I have attempted to have partners in the past and they really can't deal with that. And that's fine. That does not speak about anything that has to do with them.
Kim Grubbs: [01:44:30] That's a lot of competition. And so I think it's best that I remained single. I actually love being single. I like being alone. I like quiet time. I like not being bothered. And I'm free to go and do what you know, and philosophically, I believe everybody should have their own room. I mean, I've every client I've ever talked to. I've encouraged them to learn who you are, learn to be able to be with yourself
Kim Grubbs: [01:45:00] because that's the hardest person to be with. It's also the person you're absolutely going to be in a relationship with, for the rest of your life, no matter what other relationship you're in and you need to like that person and you need to have your own space. And you know, I'm not talking about being separated, of course, I think the majority of people want to be coupled. I don't have a problem with that, but I also think that we should all do the work to know who we are so that we impact the impact that we make upon the world. And the footprint we leave
Kim Grubbs: [01:45:30] leaves the least amount of damage possible because you know, we're very complex beings and unexamined we're really quite dangerous.
Natalie Tsui: I have actually a follow up question, which is how, how did you come to this realization? And then I have another question after that and then that's it. I swear its really short.
Kim Grubbs: Okay. I'm not exactly sure how I, I don't think I had the realization until I had spent a lot of time by myself and a function of my ...
Mason Funk: [01:46:00] Do me a favor, tell us, in simple terms, what that realization was. So start over. I don't think I had the realization that ...
Kim Grubbs: Okay. I know how to say it. One of the byproducts of my career as a therapist is if you live in a place where it's pretty simple to be visible and what I mean by that it's small or the community that you're in is somewhat insular and small.
Kim Grubbs: [01:46:30] You have to be really protective of your clients in this way. You don't want to go out into the world at large and bring a lot of attention to yourself because that might make your reputation, might tarnish your reputation in ways that you're not aware of, but your clients will eventually know about that. But if you are more protective of who you are and who they are, and you have respect for your profession
Kim Grubbs: [01:47:00] and you keep your life fairly small and simple and don't have controversy, you're going to be a very safe person to go to. And I recall having a client in San Francisco, he was very, very visible. He was referred to me and he came in. The first question he asked when he sat down was about people. Do you know this person? Do you know this person? Do you know this person? He went through a list of about 20 people. And I said, I don't know any of the people that you're talking about. He's like, perfect. You're my therapist.
Kim Grubbs: [01:47:30] I was like, that's a very unusual interview. I like to be interviewed by a client, but that's very unusual one. He said, I need to know that I come here, you got to know all my business and you don't know anybody else that knows me. And there's no danger of them knowing my business. He said, I don't believe that you're going to tell my business, but I'm keeping myself as completely safe as I possibly can because I've had a bad experience in therapy before. And I said, that's a perfectly reasonable expectation.
Kim Grubbs: [01:48:00] And I can tell you with certainty that nobody will ever know your business. That's this is the place you come to do this. And so even if I know people that know you, they'll never know that I know you. And so that began to have me think about that. That's related to being, spending time on my own and by myself, because I really did not get out and do a lot of things in the city with other people that I could have done. I had a very small group of people that were my friends.
Kim Grubbs: [01:48:30] I spent a lot of time by myself, and that was a necessity for me just to download all the stories that belong to other people that were in me. And I just found for myself, it was really healing for me just to be in my own space, do my own thing.You know, learn solitary exercises. I learned how to knit. That's a very solitary thing to do, and I'm a producer. So I had a product at the end of spending all that time,
Kim Grubbs: [01:49:00] doing it. I got to do things, make things for other people that brought them joy. But you know, it's, it's, it's kind of an alone thing to do. I'd never really spent time, very social person, very gregarious, but I needed to do my own work around that. I needed to start seeing who I was and understanding my motivations and my drives and my defenses and things like that. I was doing a lot of therapy myself at that time. So I just kind of eventually fell in love with myself
Kim Grubbs: [01:49:30] and liked to be in there more than I wanted to be anywhere else. And I mean, that was a revelation to me and it was after that happened. And I thought it's a really good thing to do. I'm at peace with myself. I can go at any time and say, I kind of accomplished what I feel like a human being can accomplish if they're paying attention. And I think paying attention is the thing that most of us can work on.
Kim Grubbs: [01:50:00] And it really is about that thing that I've already talked about. How are other people, how are they doing, what's going on with them? Are they comfortable? I don't really have to caretake them for that to happen, but I can at least pay attention and, and be involved with them in a more active, conscious way. Ask questions, not do therapy with my friends. I don't do that, but I absolutely check in on them and see what's happening for them.
Natalie Tsui: [01:50:30] One more question. You mentioned yesterday. But can you talk about your eating disorder? Cause that question was left out during the ...
Kim Grubbs: Tell me what context and I will, I'll just be, I'll be completely honest about it.
Natalie Tsui: Im not sure what the context is [inaudible] really briefly.
Kim Grubbs: If you can come up with a way that relates to this and makes it pertinent to this, I want to talk about it. And especially if somebody else can relate to it and perhaps be
Natalie Tsui: [01:51:00] Eating disorders within the gay community or, you know, how that ties in with your own experience. I think you had mentioned.
Kim Grubbs: I don't want to be perceived to be exploitive about it. And I'm trying to think of a way to do that and I will hold on just one second. I'll come up with it. Ask me a question about being filmed before, you know, you can say, I understand you were in a documentary one time.
Kim Grubbs: [01:51:30] Tell me about that. And then I can kind of say that and I can talk, I will talk briefly about my own. Although, as I said, I don't consider that an eating disorder. I consider it disordered eating. Anybody can relate to that. And that's what I mean by exploitive. I don't want to, I don't want to act like I have an eating disorder cause I don't think I do, but I'm happy to talk about it because it's still, you know, maybe it may be more important now to talk about it than it ever has because look around,
Kim Grubbs: [01:52:00] I mean, Americans are so body conscious and so fucked up about their, you know, their perceptions of their bodies and being in their body. So tee it up and I'll try to do my best.
Mason Funk: Ill go exactly how you suggested it. I do understand you were in a documentary.
Kim Grubbs: I was
Mason Funk: Called Do I Look Fat? it explored eating disorders and body image issues within the queer community.
Kim Grubbs: Yes.
Mason Funk: Can you tell us about that film?
Kim Grubbs: [01:52:30] Yeah. Good targeted to ...
Mason Funk: Tell me the name of the film is
Kim Grubbs: The name of the film is, Do I Look Fat? directed by Travis Matthews has gone on to have a pretty brilliant career in filmmaking. But he asked me to be a part of this film when he met me at the funeral of a client who had died from an eating disorder. I'd already been part of that world,
Kim Grubbs: [01:53:00] the recovery world around gay men, particularly with eating disorders. And he wanted to see if Ill be a participant as kind of an expert on the topic. He interviewed me for this film and I had, at that time, at least one group, I might've had two. At one time, I did I have two groups of eight men, eight gay men who had eating disorders. And it was, you know, process groups. So it's fascinating that there would be people that were compulsive overeaters
Kim Grubbs: [01:53:30] and bulimics and anorexics all in the same group and process work is when you work on the relationships in the room. And it was so powerful because they had such judgments about themselves, but it was really easy for them to make judgments about other people. And so it was really dynamic and I just, I loved doing that work because, you know, gay men can be isolators, were isolationists in a way, we want to make ourselves different from other people in our community,
Kim Grubbs: [01:54:00] for whatever reason, if it's cache or power position, whatever. And that was, that was going, that was present there. You know, the people that could control their eating, felt much more empowered and important than the people that couldn't control their eating like compulsive overeaters. You know, bulimics had a little bit more control. Anorexics had the ultimate control because if you can live on air and water, Oh my you're like God, you know?
Kim Grubbs: [01:54:30] And that is how a lot of people that have eating disorders proceed themselves. You know, I can do things that are beyond what normal people can do. So there's some sort of superhuman quality to it. And also it's the most terrifying thing in the whole world to know that you can't eat. And really they don't, they perceive that they can't and for a period of time. They really can't, they just cannot do it. It's fascinating.
Kim Grubbs: [01:55:00] And then the hierarchy that happens in the queer community about eating disorders also is related to body image. And whether you have an eating disorder or not, you absolutely, if you're queer, you're going to have body image issues. It's just impossible to escape it. Even if you are completely comfortable in your body, there are going to be times when you compare yourself to somebody else or you don't feel like you were able to date somebody or they weren't attracted to you because of your body. If you're a man and you're not [inaudible] And have the gym to talk about,
Kim Grubbs: [01:55:30] and that is a social situation. You don't have as much power and you know, that sort of thing. Women's, if you're extra large, you know, you're considered more Butch or you're considered out of control. If you're svelte and shapely and wear makeup and you're lesbian, you're discriminated, you know, we're, we're awful to each other. And that's one of the easiest ways to be helpful to each other. During the course of that experience, I was asked about my own eating disorder
Kim Grubbs: [01:56:00] and I never, you know, even though I was in recovery from drugs and alcohol, I worked in the recovery community. Okay. My profession was treating people that had substance abuse issues and eating disorders. And I had never been asked the question and more importantly, I'd never ask it of myself. And so my own version of it was I've always been thin
Kim Grubbs: [01:56:30] and I'm not that phobic about other people. Like I really don't judge other people's body size, but I have a thing about my own that I am committed to never being fat. It will never happen. And it kinda never has. But what I would do was do what's called restricting. So I would just not eat for periods of time. Sometimes it would be two or three days. And then what happens is you just like forget to eat and your body adjust to that and you actually get high from it.
Kim Grubbs: [01:57:00] And so after I was questioned about it, I started to look at it more carefully. And it's a way to get out of your body to not be connected to yourself, to not feel that really, if you break it all the way down, that's what it's about is just not being you, not knowing who you are, not inhabiting the vehicle that you have to live in this earthly plane. And so it was just a way to get out of that. Like this, I can't do this. I got to go somewhere else.
Kim Grubbs: [01:57:30] So restricting his way to do that. And you actually did get a buzz. I mean, your body starts to produce endorphins and it's quite pleasant. And the sickest part of me, which is wishes, I could still do it, but I can't, my metabolism has changed and I can't maintain it any longer. And anybody that's ever recovered from an eating disorder made peace with it or made adjustments so that they do healthy eating. Now we'll know exactly what I'm talking about. We all kind of long for that.
Kim Grubbs: [01:58:00] I don't know for drugs and alcohol ironically, but I do wish that I could maintain my weight by the thing that I used to do, but I can't.
Mason Funk: Why can't you?
Kim Grubbs: It doesnt work. I can only go five or six hours before. I feel like I'm going to collapse from not eating. So I'm forced into not, I'm avoiding it's, you know, up to blood sugar thing. You know, my metabolism is just not as fast as it used to be. So it, my body just says, no.
Mason Funk: [01:58:30] Say you wanna get that same endorphin high [crosstalk]
Kim Grubbs: No. As much as I wish I could. No, unfortunately it doesn't happen any longer.
Mason Funk: I really appreciate, Natalie, your question and you talk about it because it certainly sounds like something that would be relevant to talk about, you know, in general, but also thank you for your personal perspective.
Kim Grubbs: I really, you know, it's funny, I've, I'm going to tell you what happened. I immediately started bargaining when she asked me that question about how I wasn't going to talk about it.
Kim Grubbs: [01:59:00] So to me, that just says very clearly that as much work as I've done on myself, as much as I've helped other people with that, as much as I know about it, intellectually, all that, I still had got an issue about talking about it and that's okay. But I just want to say that I noticed that about myself. I own that. I admitted that I still long for that behavior. So I'm not, well, I'm doing the best I can. I'm another one of the walking wounded
Kim Grubbs: [01:59:30] and just putting one foot in front of the other and going through the day that's all I got.
Mason Funk: Anything else?
Natalie Tsui: That's it.
Mason Funk: Four quick questions to wrap up.
Kim Grubbs: Okay. Alright.
Mason Funk: First of all, just someone who comes to you and you've been in a situation millions of times probably and says, I think I'm thinking about coming out, and this is intended to be short, whats like a Pearl or a piece of wisdom or guidance that you just offered that person.
Kim Grubbs: [02:00:00] Why now? Because it gives it back to them, you know, which is the famous ways that therapist work is to answer a question with a question, but I don't have the answer. So I can't answer it. I have to know some more. And as you start telling me some more, then I can help to bring out more things about that and ask you questions that you wouldn't ask yourself. That's what therapy works. I don't know you. I don't know what to stay away from.
Kim Grubbs: [02:00:30] I don't know the topics that you don't want to talk about that you don't want to talk about or that you want to avoid. And so when I begin to discover those, I will say, you know, you're absolutely avoiding me about this particular topic that tells me that we really need to talk about that. That's the quick answer.
Mason Funk: Great. What's your hope for the future?
Kim Grubbs; I do not like the word hope because I think it's fantasy. And I have a really funny anecdote about it,
Kim Grubbs; [02:01:00] but I don't have to tell it right now, but it's just wonderful about somebody that was on a spiritual quest. And I'm just to give you the cliff notes about it. She really was looking for Providence. Like she wanted to sign and she found a beer huggy, Cousy. I think they call them now on a beach, washed up on the beach and she picked it up and it said ever since I've given up hope, I've been feeling a whole lot better. And I actually loved that. And because I do think that we get into a place
Kim Grubbs; [02:01:30] where we get disappointed by feeling hopeful, cannot affect to change today. Probably. Is there something I can do to go out and do help somebody else? Yes. Does that help me feel hopeful? I don't know, but it makes me feel better. So that's, that's what I feel about hope.
Mason Funk: Great. You're the only person who's, you're the second person who's basically given me a version of that answer. The other one was a guy, [inaudible] Clinton who said, I don't do hope. I do prayer, which I thought was everybody else has gone down the path of world peace.
Kim Grubbs: [02:02:00] World peace, Miss America. Which by the way, you know, you're in the land of Miss America, the only state that had two back to backs.
Mason Funk: No pride there.
Kim Grubbs: None at all.
Mason Funk: Pull that little cover just down. There we go. Next question. Why, why is it important to you to tell your story?
Kim Grubbs: I was asked to tell my story, which is the reason I did it. I don't volunteer my story very often.
Kim Grubbs: [02:02:30] And I think that, I don't know if this is a, I don't know which came first, but not many people are really very interested in my story to tell you the truth. And they don't ask me about myself very often. And I noticed last night after we had dinner, I checked myself because I realized I had talked about myself a lot and I do pay attention to that. And I'm a narcissist because I was raised by one. And if you're raised by one, you have to become one to survive, but I am well aware of it.
Kim Grubbs: [02:03:00] I try to watch myself very often and not take up too much space in that way. But my story is powerful and it has elements to it that many people can relate to. And I think to the best of my ability, completely honest about my story. So it is uncomfortable for me to share it, but I'm happy to do it because I do think somebody else can learn something from it about themselves, not necessarily about me,
Kim Grubbs: [02:03:30] but yeah, I, there's no reason for all this pain and misery and recovery and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent and time spent and all the, it shouldn't go to waste I'm somebody else should benefit from it. And I actually am happy that I learned kind of later in life. I was 38 when I went back to school and got my credentials that if you can turn your pathology into a profession, you should do that.
Kim Grubbs: [02:04:00] It's really brilliant. And everybody has always volunteered all of their business to me, unsolicited from the time I was a little kid and that drug store, I know the story of everybody in my hometown and things about them that I know nobody else knows. And I've never told any of it. I might write a book one day when my parents are gone because it's a fascinating, fascinating story. Just about 3000 people in this little dot on the earth in the Mississippi Delta,
Kim Grubbs: [02:04:30] there was some really powerful things that were going on there that nobody knew about each other.
Mason Funk: Last question. So this OUTWORDS just basically a traveling project to collect stories from queer people. What do you see as the value of that? And if you could mention OUTWORDS in your answer.
Kim Grubbs: The thing that I really like about the project OUTWORDS that you told me about, and I,
Kim Grubbs: [02:05:00] you know, maybe I changed the focus of it a little bit, because you were asking me if I knew elders. And I think that the kind of the cutoff you had in mind was 70 and older. And so we started talking about, you know, Mississippi's regressed where, you know, we usually say about our sales were 10 years behind the rest of the country. I'm not 70 yet, but I still think that the situation of me and the people that are my age here was dynamic
Kim Grubbs: [02:05:30] and a different way of being queer and a different way than other people think about queer in the South. Then I just think, I thought it was important to get outside my comfort zone. Talk about my experience, not be ashamed of who I am, which I'm not, and, you know, contribute to that in any way possible. And it's always, my thought is always, if somebody can hear one thing and that, that,
Kim Grubbs: [02:06:00] that resonates and makes them feel empowered to make some more discoveries about themselves or question something about themselves that they never may never have thought about before. That, to me is the value of any of us sharing our stories. And it creates empathy. You know, people can relate to something about you when they know it. If they don't know anything about you, all they can do is make up a story and it's never accurate. And, you know, that's what keeps us apart.
Kim Grubbs: [02:06:30] And we do that is what we do as human beings. We are constantly projecting the things that are unhealed and wounded in ourselves, on other people, and then making up the story about them based on something that's insane, it's a very bad way to be together. So I try to do that differently. And I'm really, I mean, honored to be asked to do this. I enjoyed the process and participating, and it wasn't nearly as horrible on me as I thought it was going to be.
Kim Grubbs: [02:07:00] But thank you so much for, including me and asking me and making the effort that you made to get here, to do this.
Mason Funk: It's our pleasure. All right. That's wonderful.
Kim Grubbs: Alright.
Mason Funk: We're gonna do 30 seconds of what we call room tone.
Kim Grubbs: Okay.
Mason Funk: Which is the silence in this room
Natalie Tsui: Room tone.

Interviewed by: Mason Funk
Camera: Natalie Tsui
Date: July 10, 2017
Location: Home of Susan Fontenot, Jackson, MS