RS: Hello, this is Rebecca Scofield with the Gay Rodeo Oral History Project, and I'm here today with Kelly Poorman. We are meeting via zoom because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I'm in Moscow, Idaho, and it's 10 a.m. on May 5th, 2021. Kelly, do you want to say where you are right now?
KP: I am in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, and it is 1:00 here and it's about 58 degrees. I don't know what the temperature is there.
RS: Today it's supposed to get up to 82 here, which seems aggressive.
KP: A little bit.
RS: A little bit for me.
RS: OK, well so if you wouldn't mind sharing, what year were you born?
KP: I was born in 1948.
RS: And where?
KP: Makes me seventy-two. And I was born in a hospital about 10 miles away from here. This is actually my hometown that I'm living in. And it's pretty neat. I'm in this small town called Boalsburg, as I said. And according to Pennsylvania, we are the birthplace of Memorial Day and I live on Main Street, which means I have the best porch to sit on when we had the Memorial Day parade.
RS: That's gorgeous -.
KP: If I'm not in it!
RS: And was it a pretty rural town when you were growing up?
KP: We were about three miles away from the home campus of Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, about 85 miles northwest of Harrisburg. When we had students in here, we go up to about 100,000 people living here. With the pandemic we're down to about 50,000 or so. When we tailgate the...I want to say arena, because we're talking about rodeo, the stadium holds 110,000 people. So during the football games, we we are the third largest city in Pennsylvania at that time. So, yeah. It's rural. Yes. I mean, five miles away from here, you can step in cow patties. But you can also see a Broadway show when they open back up over at the university, so.
RS: And the house that you're in now on Main Street, was that the house you grew up in?
KP: We moved here when I was 10 years old. Now I'm sorry, 5 years old. And it's a 12 room house and it's 6 down, 6 up. Upstairs has always been an apartment. It was on the... It was supposed to sell for $18,000 dollars and my parents said, "We can afford 15, so we'll counter with 12." So they countered with 12 and the lady was a friend of my mom's. And she said, "OK." So we got a 12 room house for $12,000. And 7 years ago, the house across the street from me sold for a half a million dollars. So my mom always said, "You're sitting on a gold mine." And I didn't realize it was the house she was talking about.
RS: Did you have brothers and sisters growing up?
KP: I have three sisters. I had three sisters and a brother who passed away when he was a week old. So I...he's in my heart, but I never really ever get meet him. I still have 2 sisters living. 1 of them passed away right after my mom did. I came back to...I lived in L.A. for 25 years and I came back to caregive or to see my mother. And I came for 3 weeks and 2 weeks into my 3 week stay, she had congestive heart failure and a torn rotator cuff on the same night. And my nephew was here, but he was sort of in a room and he never came out. And I really feel that if I hadn't been here, she would have been dead. So I stayed to be her caregiver and she was kind enough to give me the house I grew up in for a dollar. And she'd say to me, we'd be out places, she'd say, "You know, I haven't ever seen that dollar." I give her a dollar and say, "Here, take a taxi home." She was a character. I get my sense of humor from her.
RS: What birth order are you?
KP: I have 2 older sisters and they're both still living. And then me and then my younger sister passed away.
RS: And so you were a middle kid. Do you think that...
KP: I was the only...I was the only son and I used to get tormented a lot. You know, I would be out shoveling the sidewalk in the snow and my sisters would be at the window drinking hot chocolate and... And I was also a big old sissy, which didn't help at all and used to get terrorized at school a lot. So it was not a...it was not a happy life. I don't remember a lot of growing up.
RS: What did your parents do for a living or with their life?
KP: Well, my dad was an ironworker, and he was also an abusive alcoholic. And he didn't stay. When I was 10, he would beat my mom on a regular...regular occasions and then he started beating us kids and my mom put a stop to it, kicked him out. She worked three jobs. We'd go to a babysitter in the afternoon and we ate Chef Boyardee ravioli three or four times a week, so I can't even look at a can of that in the grocery store anymore. Ugh! But, you know, we always had clothes. They weren't always new. She was shunned at our local church because she divorced. Which I thought was very hypocritical, and I'm still a member of the church. Go figure. I'll tell you about that later.
RS: So you're the middle kid. You moved into town. Were you around horses or cattle at all growing up?
KP: I didn't get on a horse until I was in the military. Some friends of mine in the military had horses and I rode horses there. And I don't like...This is such a cop out, but I don't have the hips to ride horses because they're, you know, they're big and my legs don't spread that far and in that position. And the first time I ever rode was bareback. And we're going down this road or this path. And the horse started going faster. And I said, "Whoa." They said, "No, no. He knows, he knows what's coming up." And we turned the corner and there was this log and we went over the log and I landed and spoke soprano for about 3 days after that. So and then I had another problem with the horse. And I've not actually been on a horse at the rodeos that I've been to and I've been to 133 of them.
RS: So. Wow. So you're kind of a town kid. You had your sisters. Close, close friendships at all in middle school or high school?
KP: No, as I said, I was very heavy set. I was very effeminate. I had friends here in the little town, but no really close friends, you know. I went to a vocational school where we weren't integrated in with the high schoolers. So, we were in a certain, you know, clique, not...I mean, and that's a negatory word. You know, we were the Vo-Tech guys. We were the dummies. Yeah. And now the dummies are making forty-five dollars an hour as a plumber, you know. Yeah.
RS: So I absolutely understand that. Yeah. So how did you feel... So first of all, can I ask how you identify in terms of gender and sexuality?
KP: I, on the Kinsey scale, I identify [as a ] 5.2. I was married to a woman for 8 years. Don't be shocked. In fact, I have a little comedy routine about it. We married 8 years, 2 of the happiest years of my life. It was it was 15 minutes here and 20 minutes here. And then after 3 years, I found out she was bisexual. I had to buy things for before she'd have sex with me. And then after eight years, it was a different kind of bisexual: Bye, I'm not going to have sex with you anymore. So that's my comedy routine. And she lives in Texas, by the way.
RS: So I still get along with her.
KP: We do. We're Facebook buddies and. that's a whole 'nother story. I really think God put her in my life to save my life because we met at well before you were born. We met in 1978 and separated and in 1986. And by that time, that was right at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and I was monogamous and to my wife. And by that time, I knew what HIV AIDS was and I knew and I am still negative. I actually just went and had a test and still negative. So.
RS: And growing up, you said, you know, you sort of presented a little bit effeminate and that caused some bullying in school...
KP: A lot of bullying in school, and that was one of the reasons why my mom got divorced, because my dad would beat me when I wasn't...wasn't...masculine enough.
RS: And, you know, growing up, did you have any sense, maybe not just that you were different in terms of gender, but were you aware at all of your, like, same sex attraction or anything like that?
KP: Oh, yeah, from a very early age of. When I was 16, my mom, I was driving with my mom, I was learning how to drive, I was going to take my driver's test and we were coming to an intersection that wasn't an intersection, it was like a curve. And and there were trees. You know, if you didn't turn, you ran into a little trees, big trees. And she said to me, your sister told me you were a homosexual. Is that true? And I said in my mind, I'm going, "All I have to do is speed up really, really fast and hit that tree and I'm not going to have to answer that question." But I curved enough. And I said, "Yes, it's true." And she said, "I'm glad you finally figured it out." I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "I've known you were special since you were 5 years old." You know, and I figured it out when I was 7. So I was an early blossomer.
RS: And had you told your sister or had...
KP: Yes, yes, I had. I actually had a nervous breakdown. When I was 16, I was in the hospital a while and the doctor said, "Well, it's all in your head," and... This might be telling stories but she's not ever going to see this, she was pregnant at the time. She told me that and I said, I swear I won't say anything and then I told her I was a homosexual and she said, "I swear I will not tell anybody." And I left and my mom came in and she said, "Your son's a faggot." So as we were driving, you know, and, you know, my mom and I just finished that, she said to me, "Is your sister pregnant?" And I went, I could tell and really get back at her. Or I could just I could just be a human being about this. And I said, "I'm afraid you're going to have to ask her that question." And I pulled off the side of the road and I turned off the car and I said, "You need to drive. I have a headache I can't drive anymore."
RS: So do you think your family was pretty supportive?
KP: My mom has always been supportive. My dad, not so much. And he passed away a number of years ago, and I think it was early '80s from emphysema and he lived in Tucson, but my sisters would really care less. Now, both sisters are very, very, very supportive. They appreciated that I came back and caregived my mother for 6 years before she passed away, and you know, we're very close now. Thank God for cell phones because, you know, I have a sister in Florida that I talk to whenever I want to for free, you know, and my other sister lives real close here. So.
RS: So after high school, did you...you had mentioned the military. Did you go into the military or...?
KP: I went into the military, yes.
RS: Which branch?
KP: I went into the army. And as I said, I was heavyset, and I was very effeminate. And it did not fit right with me that I should be in the military. And I went to to the medic a lot. And finally, the medic said, "Are you homosexual?" And remember, this was back in the '60s, so it wasn't a don't ask, don't tell situation. I said, "Well, yes, I am." And he said, "It's not going to get you out of the army because we're at war." It was during the Vietnam War. And he said, "You're just going to have to, you know, not worry about it." And I said, "You're not going to tell anybody, are you?" And he said, "Oh, no, I won't tell anybody." And that was a lie. He told my drill sergeant. My drill sergeant was a little Hawaiian guy with an attitude and and and he was always on everybody's case, and he actually showed kindness to me.
KP: I might need Kleenex because he took me in his room and he said, "You know, I talked to the medic, and I know you're a homosexual. If anybody gives you any problem about that, I want you to tell," which shocked me. And from that point on, I said, "I'm going to make the army a career." At least for the four years that I had signed up for and I did and I actually reenlisted and I was an openly gay soldier during my MOS (military occupational specialties) training, I was in ground control approach radar, which I didn't realize was the radar that they put into rice paddies in Vietnam. So about halfway through my training, which I was failing miserably because I'm not technically oriented. My commanding officer and his XO invited me into their office and the commanding officer said, "I understand you're a homosexual." I said, "Well, yes, I am." And he said, "We can't give you a security clearance because you're a homosexual. So you can't, essentially go to Vietnam and get shot up in a rice paddy." I was like, "ahhhh."
KP: So I went into the military photography and that changed my life. I love photography, number one. And I also met this guy named Richard, who was straight and and didn't...I grasped what photography was: we went in and we did all the all the chemicals and stuff. I loved that, in the darkroom and and the different things. And we had speed graphics. I don't know if you've ever seen a speed graphic? [RS shakes head] It's a big...if you've ever seen a Superman, old Superman thing where they have the big cameras and they pulled it out and put it, well, that's what we had. And so Richard said, "If you teach me how to be a photographer, I will teach you how to be masculine." And I went, "You can't teach me how to be masculine, I'm a homosexual." He said, "You can be anything you want to be.
KP: You just have to realize that what you're comfortable with." And so he did it through aversion therapy. Whenever I had a limp wrist and there was a lot of them at the beginning there, he would Indian burn me. You know how Indian burn. Yeah. And if I would sashay. He would thump me in the spine and I would be retching on the on the ground and he'd walk by going, "Watch what you're doing." And when I tell people, you know, he taught me how to be masculine, I skipped lesson 4 and 18, I can't remember what they are. But he, I really feel, saved my life. And in the military also, I learned about theater. Fort Riley, Kansas, had an incredible theater program that I got involved in. And on stage, I thought these characters were coming from outside me. And I realized at a certain point that it was coming from inside, and that's when the light came on that I could be anything I wanted to be, and that's it. I came up with this and I like it.
RS: So when you when you entered the military was that, do you remember what year that was?
KP: It was '67. It was a year after I had graduated high school.
RS: So big things are happening in America in '67.
KP: Oh, yeah, absolutely, yeah. And I reenlisted to go to Hawaii to work in my MOS because they spend $32,000 to teach me to be a photographer. And then they sent me to Fort Riley, Kansas, as a mail clerk. And I had nothing to do with photography whatsoever. So I reenlisted and went to Hawaii for four years as a photographer. They could not let me out of my MOS or they would void the contract. And then they said, "Hey, we'll give you a little bit more money if you come in for 6 years." And I said, "Sure, what could go wrong?" Well, I went to Hawaii for 4 years and then I went to Fort Hood, Texas. West Fort Hood, which is not even connected to Fort Hood. It's like 5 miles away. So it was pretty desolate. But I got involved in the theater there and I actually asked if I could go in to work for the theater there, and I did. And I and it was it was another wonderful experience. I have friends from Fort Hood that are still, I'm friends with them, so you know I'm godchildren, that I'm a godfather to 2 of the children that were born. So, you know. Wonderful Life.
RS: What was it like living in Hawaii at the time?
KP: It was the best. Schofield Barracks is in the middle of the island. I don't know if you've ever been to Oahu, but as a photographer, I got to do everything. They sent me to Maui on maneuvers as the photographer. They sent me to the Big...I was connected...our photography group was connected to the information office. So they sent me to the Big Island of Hawaii to go up on the on the mountain that had snow on it and take pictures of women in bikinis and men in shorts. I wasn't too impressed with that. But but this entire time I was openly gay and I and I worked with the theater there as well. I took pictures of hurricane disasters. I took pictures of dead bodies. I took pictures of Officers' Wives Club fashion shows. In fact, I was the first person ever to have a photograph of an officers' wife fashion show in the Army Times, which went all over the world. So it was pretty exciting. And whenever they...whenever I went to Texas and they wanted me to reenlist. They said, you know, "We'll give you a promotion," you know, and so and so forth, and I really prayed about it because....And. And the answer I got was, when you're in 19 years, they're going to "discover" that you're a homosexual and kick you out and you will have wasted 19 years. And so I got out after 8 years.
RS: And did you experience, you know, anti-gay sentiment? And was it did you experience any of that in different places or... Were people pretty, OK?
KP: It was actually, you know, for the most part, I mean, you know, in Killeen, Texas, I had an apartment in Killeen and I would walk down to get a drink down at the gay bar, which was nonexistent. But, you know, and one night I was walking back to my apartment and a car stopped and three guys came out and and I ran back to where there was a lot of people, some people that I knew because I knew I was going to get my ass kicked. Am I allowed to say that?
KP: Sure. Why not?
RS: Yeah. I'm sure there is some scary moment.
KP: Oh, yeah. There's scary things about anything, you know. But when I was some basic training, I, I somebody attempted to...three black men attempted to rape me. And I'm a big guy, I'm 6'1" or was before I turned 70, and I'm a big guy. I was able to to get them away from me. But you know, after that I was really afraid of black people. And then through theater, I met black people and people are people, you know. If you treat people with respect, they will treat you with respect and if they don't get them out of your life, you know.
RS: Did you have any romantic relationships with people in the military?
KP: Are you asking if I had sex in the military?
RS: I am.
KP: Yes. I had no relationships in the military. I had a lot of sex. My mom said, "We're going to send you to the Army to make a man of you." I joked when I got out of the military, I joked and I said, "It made me several men."
RS: So how did you meet your wife then, your ex-wife?
KP: Well, it was actually in Texas. I met her to the theater and...We were both actors, and in the first show, it was called Private Lives by Noel Coward and, in the end of the show, the characters got together. And then we were in a different show called Of Thee I Sing, and at the end of the show we were together. You know, I'm a bit of a smartass. I don't know if you could tell that so far, but I enjoyed her sense of humor. She was a dance teacher. She had a dance studio, right, and I had seen her like years earlier, she had been a senior in high school and I saw her as Guinevere in Camelot, but I didn't see her through the whole show because they had 2 women to play Guinevere. And one of them played the first act and one of them played the second act.
KP: So I saw her and it was really interesting anyway. You know, we're laying down during rehearsal where it's a break and we're laying down and...She said, "What side of bed do you like to sleep on?" I said, "Well, I'm pretty much on the left side." She said...I said, "What about you?" She said, "Well, usually the bottom," and that really... And it was very confusing to me. And it was also very confusing to everybody that knew me that I would be interested in a woman. When I told them that I was getting married to a woman, she almost hung up the phone thinking it was a prank call. But but like I said, we were married for eight years and we're still friends today. So no children. We didn't have any children.
RS: And did you get married as you were leaving the military?
KP: Ah no. I left the military and went home for a while and then went out to California. And I got married about 2 years after that. But see, it's funny how you are indoctr...indoctrin... It's funny how you believe things that you're told, OK, I knew I was homosexual. I did not...I was told that if I were a homosexual, I couldn't have physical relations with women. Ever. And she came out to visit me in California when I was staying with my best friends. And she was there for a week and we slept in the same bed and nothing happened the first 2 days, and then we sort of messed around the second 2 days, and then on the last night before she left, you know... I had been afraid earlier in the week that I wouldn't get hard; well, I got hard. Then I was afraid that if I put it inside her, it would get soft. And then the last night, we feared that it would never get soft again. [laughter] It was the light came on, the light came on. So it. You could use this, you can't use this, but anyway.
RS: I do think you're getting a little bit too, is that previously this had all been set up as a binary like you were either gay or you weren't gay, right?
RS: Where I think today we have much more of a spectrum. And I think younger people are understanding sexuality differently in terms of being openly bisexual or gender neutral or...
KP: Right. Yeah, well, it's like what I said earlier, on the Kinsey scale, I'm a 5.2. Obviously, I had relations with my wife and I'm also attracted to women that can kick my ass. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dark Angel. You know, women like that. I, yeah...
RS: That's wonderful. So while you were married, where did where did you all live and what were you doing for work?
KP: We lived in California. I was trying to be an actor and she was trying to be an actor out there as well. That didn't work out. I worked all kinds of stuff. Like I said, we were only married for a total of...we were together a total of 8 years and... By the time she left, she hadn't done...we'd done see a community theater, but not, you know, and she was a little excuse me. She was a little angry with me because, you know, we would go to auditions and I would get parts and she wouldn't. And she's gorgeous. I mean, and she's a dancer. She had legs that started at her armpits, just a wonderful dancer. And she still is.
KP: And she wouldn't get the parts that she wanted and she would get very angry with me. And, you know, I'd say I want to I want to go on a diet. And she said, OK, but I was going to make the chocolate cake. Yeah. But anyway, she left and so I did more community theater. I worked in a bakery out in Westwood for a long time and it was off and on. And it was...the lady was Armenian, I can swear at you in Armenian. And she was the baker to the stars. I mean, she had pictures of people up on the wall.
KP: Her co-owner was Barbra Streisand's stepsister. Barbara used to come in all the time and get sticky buns, Philadelphia sticky buns right out with it. I was just talking about this the other day. Olympia Dukakis used to come in all the time. Yeah, I know. And when I...the day she came in and I just found out that she had been cast as Anna and Tales of the City. I said, "Oh, my God, I can't see anybody else in that role." She said, "I hope I do her justice." And she was tiny. She was just this tiny waif of a woman. But she could act her way to heaven. Where she is now. Absolutely. I met a lot of people in there. A lot. Madonna. And Sean Penn used to come in, so it was a fun place to work.
RS: Yeah. Were you were you part of, you know, the kind of emerging gay scene at all, or was this when you were still married and pretty monogamous and...
KP: Well, no, I...I was...I've never been part of the gay thing. I'm so not stereotypical of a gay person. I have a green screen so you can't see the mess behind me. But right about that time is when and it was well before Craigslist or any of that stuff. I met a guy named Steven who I dated for about 20 minutes. And part of that 20 minutes was we're going to go to the gay rodeo. And I'd been to the gay rodeo before. And because I was supporting this hairdresser that worked about three doors down who was dressed as a woman and miss, Miss L.A., Miss L.A. Rodeo, and I went to support him, her and it was like it was a lot of fun. And then when Steven said, we're going to go to the gay rodeo, I said, "Oh, shirtless cowboys and dancing." He said, "No, no, we're going to work in the arena." I said, "Not in these new boots, we're not." And when I went to support my friend, it was a Sunday night when he was entertaining and that's when they gave out the awards.
KP: And it was really interesting. You know, they had All Around cowgirls and All Around cowboys and they would call up the women for All Round cowgirls and they would shake hands. Right. And the guys would come up and they would go, "Oh, sweetie, girlfriend," you know? And when the guy won it, his name was Greg Olsen. This was a long time ago, so. He wept in his hands. He wept that he had won best All Around cowboy for the weekend, and I said, "This is a place that I need to be." And then I didn't think about it until Steven said, "We're going to work in the arena."
KP: And I went and I always joked that the first cowpile I stepped in, I was home. And I've never been around animals like that at all, you know, I'm from the middle of Pennsylvania. There are farms around, but I never got involved in any rodeo situation at all here. And it changed my life. The rodeo. Rodeo taught me a lot of things and one of the main things, I might get emotional, one of the main things is: we as gay people, all our lives have been told you can't love somebody for any length of time, it's all a sexual thing, you know. If you stay together, you're not going to stay together long. And I met couples.
KP: The first rodeo I worked in the arena, there was a couple from New Mexico that had traveled there, two men, that had been together for 35 years, 35 years, and there were other couples as well. You know, Carl and Dave were from San Diego and they had been together 17 years. You and it was such a mind-blowing thing to see this where you'd been told all your life that this was never going to happen. You know and if I'd seen this earlier in my life, I might have had a really totally different life. I'm still single. I have a cat that's about it, it's the longest relationship I've ever had. He's just turned 7.
RS: So what do you remember what year it was that you went to your first one?
KP: I cannot remember. I have...I have a...a bag. Then I got going to a rodeo one time, will you excuse me? I know right where it is. I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere. [long pause]. OK, so one of the great things about living in L.A. was you could fly anywhere in the country and even up to Canada for like one 100 bucks round trip. And I was in the Burbank Airport, and they just canceled the flight for 7 hours, so I was there for 7 hours. I couldn't go home, you know, and I found this. And it looks like the sidesaddle, right? So I started putting these you get tags whenever you go to the rodeo and you put them on your belt loop, or if you're too old to look at the belt loop, you hang it on a lanyard. But these are the first 25 tags that I had. And I don't know if they have the year on it or not. '95. I think I started in 1990, I think. But. It was just a really neat thing, and then I had so many of them because I've been to the 133 that I'd said, you know, this won't fit through the TSA at the airport didn't enjoy that too much. So I stopped putting any more on that.
RS: So you went to the first one and, you know, stepped in the cowpile and really felt at home. How did you...did you start volunteering with the arena crews? How did...what were your next steps?
KP: Well, the arena crews...when Steven took me there, I was in the arena crew, right, but there was no such thing as an arena crew. And I looked at the at the line up and I knew I didn't know even know what was happening on the line. And there was a lady named Casey Jackson, tall, good-looking woman, who said to me, "OK, this needs to go out next, be ready for that." And I said, "OK." So the first day it was rough because I didn't pole bending. You know, you need you need a tape measure. Oh, there's one right there, you know, so that was the first day and then they did it for two days, Saturday and Sunday. And then the second day, I got everything lined up and I got somebody to help me, Steven wouldn't help me because Steven was the gate guy. So Steven didn't last very long anyway. So the second day I had it all lined up. And the second day is traditionally a shorter day anyway. But it was a lot shorter because I had had everything lined up. And so. We finished the rodeo, it was it was a wonderful, wonderful two days, I was exhausted, and then the next year I didn't do any other rodeos until the next year.
KP: And when I showed up to be a volunteer, Casey was there and she said, you know, I said, what do I do wrong? She said, "I remember you from last year and you did a wonderful job on the second day. You're going to be in charge of the arena." And I said, "No, no." She said, "Yeah, yeah." And you didn't say no to Casey. You didn't. So I did it for the weekend. I had three volunteers to help me and everybody else had had. They had these vests on to denote where they were, except the arena crew didn't have any vests, so I didn't know who the arena crew was. So but we went through it. And at the end at the end of the rodeo on Sunday night, excuse me, Casey said, "I have never, ever run a rodeo as efficiently as they did with you working in the arena." She said, "Never, ever leave the arena." And with the exception of one time when I worked behind the shoots, I've always been in the arena or I've been an entertainment rodeo clown in the arena still and.
KP: I remember the first time that they actually called me an arena setup coordinator and I was the first of its kind and I bought some brand new jeans and they were white. How stupid was that? And I had a radio on and I wasn't going to have to get in the pens or anything. They said you don't have to get into the pens. And then a dear friend of mine was struggling with calves. His name was Carl. God bless him. He's passed away. And I got in I dropped the radio down. I got into the pen, and within two seconds I had a green streak down my leg on my white jeans. I never wore them again, ever. Not even the rodeos. But, you know, and then I got to go places they would invite me, places.
KP: I went to the first rodeo up in Calgary, Canada, Alberta. It was a wonderful, wonderful space. The arena was here. There was a campground here where we put up tents and trailers. And then on the other side was a building that had dance floors and kitchens and all kinds of stuff. And for the entire weekend, you never had to leave. It was it was like a bubble. You didn't have to leave. And there was nobody having problems with anybody else except late at night when people got really drunk. You know, and I got to go to several of the I went up to about 15 of them and then I got involved, really involved with my church. So I was not able to to go up to two once after that when they went to Strathmore. Yeah, I never went to the Strathmore when it is just at this at this ranch, which I loved, I loved. So.
RS: So as you're getting more involved with the gay rodeo, are you doing. Did you do any events ever?
KP: I've only done one event and that was calf roping on foot and I bought a new rope. And. I failed miserably. So I gave the rope away. So. I.
RS: That's amazing. So with your with your clowning, had you had were you just channeling your theater experience and what was what was the experience of clowning like? What was your routine like?
KP: Well, with clowning, I was the entertainment clown. When something was happening at one end of the arena, I was on the other end of the arena doing stuff like I had a six-foot PVC pipe that I could baton twirl. You know, and I had jokes, really terrible jokes, oh, my God. You know, and I made up a character. His name was Avis T-Bone MaGroin. And he was from Mooseanus, spelled the way it sounds, moose anus. And we weren't in any state because no state had Claimmus, in fact, that was on our town sign saying Mooseanus, no state will claim us. Our neighboring states were Arkansas, Texas, and Rhode Island because it was a long, long place. So, you know, so I give that give that to the people. And they would, you know, it was just all fun, you know, but I only did that I only did that about ten, ten or fifteen times. Not, you know.
KP: When we get to my book, I'll tell you one of the inspirations I got from the book and a life lesson when I was writing the book and Roman and Jules is my first book ever. And I wrote that when I was forty-five. No. It was 2000. So. I'm seventy-two now, so that would have been. Anyway, but it was my first one, people had told me all my life I couldn't be a writer and so I would write maybe. A page, two pages and then go, well, I can't be a writer because I can't spell. And so at a late age, I wrote a short story when I worked at the at the bakery and it was 14 pages, it was a short story. People read it and they were very affected by it. So I started writing this book about gay rodeo and I thought it was going to be a short story. And it's I'm not sure how many words it is, but it's not a novel. It's a novelette or.
RS: I have it right here
KP: With? Oooohh! Oh, wow.
RS: Maybe I would say I don't know. I know a lot of people have written about this link, you know, so in book format, it's about a hundred and sixty pages. Yeah. And it has a full story arc. So I'd say, oh, it's a novella and a novel,
KP: OK, novella and a novel, absolutely.
RS: So yeah. Why don't we talk about Roman and Jules.
KP: Excellent, well I've been to, I've been to sixty-five rodeos at that point and I'd written this short story and then I thought I'd write another short story about the rodeo and then it kept growing and growing and growing and growing and to the main characters, one of them is gay bull rider and a straight bullfighter who become really close friends. And I really needed the feeling. A bullfighter has when he's going in to save somebody. So we were in Ramona, California, and the wonderful and God bless him, David Pizzuti was our clown and I had known David for years and years. And I said, "David, what goes through your mind whenever you're in there saving somebody?" And he said. "Well, actually, nothing, because I just go in and my hands go where they need to be." I said, "David, you are so full of shit." He said, "No, no, really. It's like God directs me where my hands need to be." I said, "Yeah, whatever, David."
KP: So that day I was the latch puller. There are two people with bullfighting, bull riding. There's the guy with the rope that opens up the gate and there's the latch puller. And these were these were new shoots. So they were they were tough to get open. So I stepped in front because it wasn't coming up. And the Cowboy is going like this, you know. So I stepped in front and I opened it and I try to get back to the other side and the bull came out. And hit me in the ass and I went hit me in the wallet and when I carried it in the back pocket and I went up three feet. Landed on my feet, went to the top of the fence, went to the fence on the top of it, and I hadn't thought about it, it was like God was telling me where to go.
KP: And I looked up and I said, "God, if I ever need that lesson again, I'm going to I'm going to believe the person." Right. And I had always had a lower back problem. And I thought I was going to be crippled the next day. And when I woke up, I didn't have a back problem and I haven't had a back problem since. So whenever I hurt my neck, somebody said, go play with the bull again! And I went, eh, no. That's only going to work once. Ramona had, we had porta-potties, of course, and Ramona's porta-potty company had a picture of the guy on the on the door sitting on a toilet. Right. And their motto was, your crap is our bread and butter. I'll never forget it.
RS: So as you're developing your story, how much of of the characters are coming out of people that you knew?
KP: Well. I changed the names to protect the guilty, except for one, and I kept his name in there, but there were a lot of things in there. The story about Seattle and what happened up there, there was not a shooting up there, but everything leading up to it, like like the SWAT team up there, that was all true. When I walked up and the guy handed me a target and said, put this on your back because they're going to there is talk. And this is how long ago there wasn't chat rooms. It was just boards. And in one of the boards, somebody had said, "My scope, we'll zero in on the pink triangle really well to shoot these faggots, you know, and so there was SWAT team up in the mountains in Enumclaw was it was funny because there were two ways to get to Enumclaw from the hotel where we were staying in Seattle.
KP: And I went the back way and it was real foggy. And I stopped in front of this house that had a Confederate flag and a white supremacist flag and the American flag. And it was foggy and there was an old goat sitting right underneath the flags. And I did not have a camera. If I had a camera, that would that would have been perfect. But it was really, really redneck things when one of the bed and breakfasts up close up to Enumclaw found out was a gay event, they canceled everybody's reservation, you know?
RS: Yeah, that was one of my questions. If if not, I mean, obviously, the book deals a lot with homophobia and transphobia, and violence. And I was wondering how much of that was based on your experiences or experiences of people you knew?
KP: Well. It's really interesting because. There is homophobia even in the homosexual groupings, you know, there were clicks inside of the rodeo and still is to a certain extent, I call them pretty horse people in my book, but other people have different names that aren't quite so kind as that because, you know, there there's a feeling of superiority if you're if you're a horse person. I'm not saying that everybody has that, but there is a certain amount of people, but they have grown out of it, I've seen, you know, when I've gone to the later ones. The shirt I'm wearing is is from the gay games that was in Cleveland seven years ago, Cleveland and Akron, you know, and just to see some of the people that came for that, that had been little snots growing up in the rodeo thing and had totally changed. You know, it was really great to see.
RS: And I think at the center of the story is this really beautiful relationship that, you know, I really enjoyed it because of its complexity and the way you're capturing human relationships that transcend those easy binaries. And, you know, I was wondering, especially with Roman being a straight man who has come to terms with his own homophobia and how damaging that had been in his own life. If you knew people like that at the gay rodeo who came as a self-identified straight, people who were working through their own sort of family traumas.
KP: Um, when you're when you're at the rodeo and like I said, it's a lot of a lot of ways it's like a bubble. But you get really, emotional when somebody is in the arena. You know, whether they're gay or straight or whatever, and their parents are up in the stands, you know, you just. I don't I don't think parents that had felt homophobic would show up like that, you know? And some people brought their kids that were, you know. Non-binary. Now we know it is non-binary to show them a different side of homosexuality. You know, I mean, Toddy from Victor Victoria at the beginning of the movie, he sings and at the end, everybody's applauding. And he says, “You're very kind.” In fact, you're one up every time. And that's what happens at a rodeo. You know, you have men that identify as big, strong men but happen to be gay.
KP: I ran into this straight cowboy that thought he was going to come and get all of the money because he was straight, you know, and it was this was just a damn gay rodeo. And he almost lost his life because he was being stupid and wasn't doing everything that he did in the straight rodeo. You know, you just and you just look at them and shake their head, your head at them. It's like, yeah, you may think that this is going to be a walk in the park, but. But it's not. It's not. I wanted to mention something about protesters, we were at Annapolis, Maryland, doing a rodeo for votes for D.C., but it was in Annapolis, and it was a beautiful, beautiful area. The protesters parked their cars in in our parking lot and then went out with signs and protested about homosexuality and how dare they? And we locked the door on them and they couldn't get back into the parking lot [chuckles] because they were protesting us.
KP: So we just closed their doors and they said, but we need to get well, no, you don't, because this is private property and you're not allowed on our property anymore. It was the best. And the story in Roman and Jules, about the nails and the church family that came in, that really happened. That really happened. And the preacher said, after Saturday, you know, these gay people that were protesting and saying they're going to hell came out and helped us. And I don't know about you guys, but I'm not coming back here tomorrow, and if I do come back, it's not going to be to protest. It's going to be part of their family because, you know, I mean, it's hard it's hard to hate somebody that is kind to you. You know, and I found that a lot in in all kinds of rodeos.
KP: So. Yeah, I miss my rodeo, I went to a lot of first rodeos, the first rodeo up in Chicago. It was in February, but it was an indoor arena. OK, but the ground that they use all the time was outside. So they brought it in and put it on the arena. And it was it was mud. Mud, and they have these and I'm not exaggerating. One-hundred and one-hundred and twenty-year-old carriages that they were going to bring out the drag queens in to go around the arena, and they got stuck in the mud and broke the axles [laughs]. And and and I'm going to mention Clarence. Clarence was the stock contractor and he stood about five foot one and was about that amount around. And he was a good old boy and I said, “You know, I understand, Clarence, that there are some women out there underneath the mud somewhere” - he says, "Don't make me no, never mind it now, if there are men there, I'll go out." And he came out to me right there on the arena. And it was and he was such a wonderful person.
KP: He would pick up hitchhikers and take them places. You know, he brought a lot of them into his into his ranch to help. One of them. Thought he could get a bunch of money him, killed him. Clarence was just the most caring, wonderful person in the world, and he died, and I and the guy said, "Well, you know, it was a he was a homosexual and I didn't feel comfortable with it, so I killed them because he was a homosexual." And luckily, if I remember correctly, he didn't get away with that defense. He was pretty much of a scumbag anyway, so.
RS: Well, I noticed that at the end of ruminant and Hillary Clinton is president, and I really enjoyed the epilog and had, by executive order, made gay marriage legal. And I'm wondering, you know, as you know, since you wrote this book, how the world has changed in ways that you maybe for, you know, for saw a little bit and maybe ways that that have been unexpected to you.
KP: Well, it was called. It was called. Projecting this is the way I wanted it to, you know, and if 10 years after that it would have been 2010, that would have been great, you know, and it and it came around that it just wasn't Hillary Clinton that that had to do with, you know. Yeah, it. I. To see people. That had been together thirty-five years, and if one of them died, the other one would have been kicked off the land. You know, just sickened me, sickened, and that happened, it would happen, you know.
RS: Do you think since gay marriage was legalized, that things have culturally have gotten better?
KP: Oh, yes, oh, absolutely, absolutely. You know. People are coming to the rodeo to get married now, you know, or they are married, you know, men and women as well. You know, I mean, lesbians and gay men are getting married and bringing their spouses into the rodeo community. I want to I wanted to share something with you early when I was doing rodeo. I'd never met a trans person ever and, I I met this woman at one rodeo and the next rodeo, I met him. And he was about to get married to a woman. And they wanted children and they had. They had a. A folder of men that we're going to be the sperm donor, and so they were asking what we all thought we were in in the arena crew, but who we thought would be a good one and you would have died at some of the comments, you know, we had to write down. Number three sounds good. Number five, not good for you, but just have him leave a deposit. It was just the funniest thing, d’you know, and that was my first experience knowing a trans individual ever.
KP: I had never known a trans individual and. And now I know a lot of them, and I just didn't know that I you know, they came out as trans, you know, men and women, you know, we just did a Calgary. Went from this little place and they just had a rodeo in 2019 at the stampede. One of the stampede arenas, which back when we first started the rodeo up there, there was nobody allowed to be in the arena if they if they define- themselves as gay. And now we had the whole gay event in Calgary, and that was wonderful. And one of the one of the instigators of the reboots is a trans activist female up there, you know. So, you know, it's just. It. It's interesting now when I look at people - especially non-binary - then you don't know if they were a man or a woman, you know, and it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.
KP: You know, I have buttons about beloved children of God, we are all beloved children of God. I want to show you a sash that was made for me. There's a whole thing about sashes in the rodeo that you can only wear a sash for so long and then you have to retire it to your to your closet. You know, I think there's like two years or something like that. I think they might have changed it by that. But I was down and I was down in San Diego and, I was doing, doing a line on the arena, and we're running a little bit late. It was a beautiful day, and I kept hearing my name being called on the loudspeaker. And I'm going, "I'm busy here. I'm busy here." And I looked around and all the contestants had lined up and they gave me this sash and it says, Miss Kelly girl. And they presented it to me.
KP: They stayed up till 4:00 in the morning, very drunk to finish it, and there used to be used to be glitter all over it. [chuckles] And it's so old that there's no glitter. But they have they have a lot of things that, buttons and pins and stuff, and so I collected a bunch of pins and put them on my sash and this will never go out of style. Whatever rodeo I go to, I can go to it. And I have a funny story. When I had a little bit of money, which was a long time ago, I used to get things for the people that work in the arena. And one of the things is this. And you might not. It says, Proud to be Kelly crew, and then I had a pink triangle, and so I hadn't seen a lot of the people for a long time because being in Pennsylvania, it cost a thousand dollars to go anywhere from where I live. And so, I went to the gay games seven years ago and I had this proud to be Kelly crew button on there. And this guy came up and this is a guy that had worked 30 rodeos with.
KP: He said hi, "Hi, my name's Chris." I said, "Hi, Chris," knowing full well who it was. And I had a big bushy beard at the time. He said, "How do you know Kelly?" And I said, "Um, I am Kelly." He went, "Oh, my God!" and jumped into my arms and his husband turned around and said, "What the hell's going on?" And Chris goes, "This is Kelly! This is Kelly!" And he went, "THE Kelly?" "Yah!" So he came over. The three of us are just hugging. And it was just the best, the best moment of my life. It was one of the best things. On your list, you wanted to talk about religion?
RS: I did. I wanted to especially bring that up since you had just mentioned your pins and how what role faith plays in your life.
KP: Oh, well, if it. It's the most important thing in my life. In in the book, you read about the blessing to the arena. And that actually came from - I read a book called Coyote Medicine, and it's a true story about a man that was half Native American and half white and how he was pulled back and forth between modern medicine because he was a doctor and shaman medicine. And, you know, and they talked about blessing of the Hogans and things like that. And it really touched a nerve with me. So one year I had this bag of cornmeal in a, you know, like a little plastic bag and did the blessing of the arena up at the Las Vegas in the ninety-five-degree weather. It was brutal and I had a black felt hat on. I was really stupid. And then it got so important for me to do that. It did centered me and I would do it both Saturday and Sunday morning is centered me the first thing in the morning to do that to, you know, whether it did anything or not. So a number of years ago my when my mom was still alive, we had the porch fixed and one of one of the guys had this really great pouch on his belt. And I said, "Wow, where'd you get that pouch?" And he happened to be Native American. And he said, "Well, I make it myself." And he actually made me a pouch. That. Opens and closed, and I said, "It needs to be really, really tightly woven so the cornmeal doesn't come out," and he made it for me and cost me one hundred bucks, I think. And it just and I have one of the important things is knowing north where the north is.
KP: So I have a compass in there and then I just go and get cornmeal at the grocery store wherever I go to. And when people see me headed out in the morning with my pouch, they, they come in, they walk with me or they want me to stop by their their horses stall with them being there so I can bless them. And as such it's such a. A spiritual moment in my life, I as I said earlier in my life, I was very effeminate and I had something very wonderful happen in my life right after Easter. I was in the choir loft and it was warm and there was a whisper down the alley, and when it came to me it said, take off your choir robe because it's too warm. And I said, "In my mind. Christ died on the cross for us, and we can't be uncomfortable for 20 minutes," and there was a window to my left and there was only a window to my left and I heard somebody sigh like you finally got.
KP: And I looked at it and it was God and he spoke to me and in just seconds he told me I was a perfect person. And that everybody was around that was around me was perfect. We just all had to realize that. And that was so profound for me that, needless to say, I was the only one that where the fire rope on the way out processing and I went to the pastor who I have trouble remembering his name because he profoundly hurt me and. I told him what happened, I said, "I felt the presence of God this morning in church." And he said, "What part of my sermon did you feel the power?" And I went, "Uh..." And I told him what happened, and he said, "So you didn't get it from my message?" I said, "No." He said, "Then it probably wasn't God." And. It crushed me. And I stepped away from the church, and right after that I went into the military, and I stepped away from God. And luckily, God had a bigger step, and he's always been with me.
KP: In fact, I didn't realize how, you know, people saw me doing the blessing of the arena. But they also, you know, I'm a very. I don't know if you believe empaths, I'm an empath, the one time that I worked behind the chutes, I couldn't stand it because I could feel everybody's emotion, you know, so I couldn't I couldn't be there. I had to be out in the arena. And then when I came back to caregive my mom about five months after I got back here, there was a phone call for me, and that was before cell phones. Somebody actually had paid to call me and it was one of one of the ladies she and her wife/girlfriend had adopted this son who had leukemia. And they wanted me to pray for him. And I didn't realize that I had affected people with my spirituality that much and that, you know, and then being back to the church, I've been very vocal about being openly gay. In fact, I wrote a book I wrote a play actually about some things that happened to me when I came back and they said, "Oh, we love you, we love you." And then they invited me to be a mentor for the confirmation class and then they uninvited me. And they had said, you know, we have enough people, but they told me the reason why I was being uninvited was because it was just boys in the confirmation class.
KP: So basically they were thinking that I was a pedophile. So we came out the other end of that. And, you know, I had written this book about rodeo. So I really felt that I could it would be very cathartic to make a play about it. So the play was about fifty percent to fifty-five percent. True. And the rest was made up and then it got produced at several different events. And I had such a wonderful response from it that I wrote a book based on the play. And they're both in the same volume and it's called All the Little Children. And. So I'm very spiritual, we are coming. We just celebrated our second year of becoming open and affirming, and that's to LGBTQA -plus everything else, disabled, you know, mentally handicapped, so and so forth, you know, and I wanted it done twenty-two years ago when I came back, but I would not have been able to do it without the people that did it this time, you know.
RS: Do you think when you came back was that, so you had mentioned it became harder to participate sort of in your rodeo life. Did a lot of that energy go into the to the church that you grew up in?
KP: I think it did, yeah, I think it did. And caregiving my mom to she you know, I think you have to have an advocate. You have to have an advocate and nobody advocated for her. When I started back when computers, I actually won a computer on a game show online. You know, if you were one of the top three people at this live game show, you got a computer and I got a free computer. Anyway, I looked up all the medicines and I said, this person that's dealing with her is not when I'm reading all this stuff, it's not helping her. It's counteracting another medicine. Right. So being an advocate is important. So. Anyway, you know, just being a caregiver for my mom and being a part of the church, I've had some really hateful things said to me and said I got a letter from this lady saying, I know you're part of council. The letter I sent has nothing to do with you. And the next night when I went into counsel, they read the letter and it was saying how terrible homosexuals were and you know, and of course, she had said to me, "Oh, no, it's not about you." Well yah, it is about I have to I have to leave the room. I sat and wept at the bottom of the steps. At one point, I wanted to leave the church and our pastor at the time, I went in weeping to her and saying, what do I do? I think I need to leave the church.
KP: And she said, "Talk to God about it." She didn't give me direction. She said, "You know, just put your put your faith in God and he'll give you the direction." And after a summer of going to different churches that were open and affirming already or, you know, different denominations without that specification, but a different name for it, I came back to the church because God said, "This, this is your family. You need to help your family open up to everybody." And now we have we have gay and lesbian people here that are proudly open. You know, my mother said to me one time when I came back, I said, hey, tomorrow's coming out today. What should I do? And she said, if you came out any further, we need to put a tether on your leg. I miss her every day. She was a character. She was just a character. I wanted I wanted to tell you one other thing. There's a curriculum called Our Whole Lives. The curriculum has to do with sexuality and spirituality. Have you ever heard of it?
RS: I have not.
KP: No? It's wonderful. It's put out by the United Church of Christ, which is the denomination I'm in and also, universal, you know, universalists
RS: Universal Unitarians,
KP: Yes, Unitarian, yes, right, and it's a combination and it talks about sexuality. And here I am being a media whore again. I wrote another book called And a Child and one of the characters, one of the substories, in that is about a transgender boy. And I thought, you know, it's not going to be affective in this really small area. And when the kids in the curriculum got to the LGBTQ, they wanted something more than the curriculum. So we went to the Gay Straight Alliance in State College and they sent over a panel of four people, four kids. And then the adviser was a lesbian. There was a gay boy. A straight ally, a bisexual girl and a transgender boy. So it was indeed something here. And I love talking about myself and I apologize.
KP: So the boy was talking and he's doing this and crossing his legs and everything. And then the straight girl was talking about being an ally and so on down the line. And I knew most of the kids in the group. There were 10 kids and there was the pastor female. And then it was a married couple that was helping with it. And I said, hey, you kids know me. You know, I've been around for a long time. I've yelled at you for running through the church. I've been openly gay. I've not ever been afraid of telling you that that God loves me no matter what. I used to be very feminine and very. Just queer and uh and I and I found out that that isn't necessarily who I have to be. I can be anything I want to be. So I have chosen to be this. And if you don't like it, too bad. Right.
KP: So the pastor said, OK. And I said, thank you. And Pastor started saying something and the gay boy said. Can I say something? She said, sure, and he said, I want to apologize because. I was being very effeminate because I thought that's what was expected of me. And I'm not traditionally that way and the other three went, he's really not. He said, I thought that's what was expected of me and I'd like to be my true self now. So and then we had a two hour conversation after that. It took me about three days to realize because of what I said, this boy realized that he didn't have to be anything but himself. And that made me feel so good. OK, I'm sorry. So.
RS: I know you said you've been really involved with your church even through this last year of Covid, and I'm wondering if you could talk about what this last year has been like for you both in regards to your church family and the rodeos and and just how you've navigated that as someone, you know, living in a small town in Pennsylvania during Covid?
KP: During Covid, yeah, yeah. Well, obviously, rodeos are off the board right now. I was I was honored to go up to the Calgary rodeo. And it was it was pretty much a nightmare going up there because my luggage got lost and so did I. And it was terrible. But it was wonderful. It just to be around like-minded people is just an amazing feeling. It's just. You know, and I got to I got to go around and bless the arena. You know, I had people come up to me on Friday and say, "You gonna bless the arena tomorrow morning?" And I said "Yah, I'll be here." I actually had to find cornmeal. There was no place around me. I said, "I need cornmeal." So they made sure I had corn cornmeal in the morning.
KP: So my church this Sunday, we are celebrating the first year of Zoom Church. In March, we went to other people's Zoom churches during Easter that that last year we were asked we asked if we could go to our past Preachers' Zoom churches. She and she is in Kentucky, Louisville, Kentucky. And they said that we could. And then we I work on the faith formation team and the faith formation team said, well, you know, we'd really like to do is in service ourselves. And who wants to do it? And I went. Well, I can certainly talk, as you can tell, and I said, we can put it together, you know, is there anybody that can do it technically? And one of the guys stood up and that that's been a year ago. And the first thing I said was and we were really worried about the seniors, you know, which I am one.
KP: But we're talking about people in their 80s and 90s that that would be very confused. And we started at 10 o'clock and at 9:25, one of the seniors got on the Zoom. And then another one came on and they've been there consistently every week except Holy humor Sunday didn't particularly like that. They thought we were going to have clowns on there and we did. But the first thing I said was, welcome to St. John's, where God is still speaking and where all are loved. I have done something that no other preacher in our two-hundred-year history has done, and that is I got everybody in the front row. [chuckles].
RS: That's a good joke. [laughs].
KP: Yah, yah. We've done is we've done this for a year. We have we have pastors that come in on Zoom from all over the country, you know, which is really neat. And I go down every Monday traditionally to sing the hymns because we worked out that singing on Zoom with an organ on the background didn't work. So two of us go down a man and a woman. Usually it's me, but we have another man that does it as well. And we do the hymns, you know, and everybody else is muted, you know. So I'm really involved in that, you know, and the children's sermon, you know, I get to do and just say I went to Cleveland the other day to see a friend of mine who is vaccinated, he and his partner that I've been talking to on Facebook for seven years. I've never met them. And I went to Cleveland and wasn't here. And on Monday when I got back, you know, for people that you really missed you in church yesterday, there was nobody to laugh at.
RS: Do you think that that's helped people get through this year of isolation?
KP: Say again?
RS: Do you think that having at least Zoom as an option has helped people get through the year of isolation?
KP: Yes, in a lot of cases, but in a lot of cases, you know, they say it's not the same. There are people that have every capability of being on Zoom and they choose not to because it's not the same, but you know what? It's never going to be the same. There there is not. There's not ever going to be a normal it's going to be a new normal, we will have we had a hybrid service where everybody was out in the parking lot last Sunday and there was some people on Zoom. You know, and then if in the Fall we have no air conditioning in our church in the fall, if we decide to go inside, you know, we will still have Zoom. Because there are people that do not want to come in the building, you know,
RS: We've seen the same thing just with teaching.
RS: It's never going to be the same. But there's also a really good opportunity to for people who have mobility problems or any sorts of things that would otherwise exclude them from being able to attend, let alone just illness. That I think you're right in that this is helping create a new normal and hopefully one that we can use to create even more inclusive spaces.
KP: Right, absolutely. Absolutely.
RS: And do you feel like it is getting better? Is the vaccine rolling out OK there? How does it feel right now?
KP: Yeah, it is. We just we just had a survey and out of the 42 people that responded, 80 percent have had have been fully vaccinated. You know, now we have 60 people that we sent that out to, but the 40 that you know, and we are still maintaining six feet. And wearing masks, so, you know, it's it will never be the same, you know, who would have thought? You know, in twenty nineteen that things would come to a crashing halt.
RS: Yeah, I think absolutely this is this is a good time to be recording oral histories because this is such a historical moment and, you know, do you think when do you think you would be comfortable or able to go to a rodeo again? I know they're planning on holding some, but is that something that that you think a lot of people are excited about or are still concerned about? And how do you feel about it yourself?
KP: Well, Pennsylvania has the Keystone. I think it's Keystone. They didn't let covid stop them last year, I preferred not to go, but for more reasons than covid. We did the farm. There's a farm…farmers complex down in Harrisburg that we did our first rodeo at. And we did really well, and then the second rodeo, we were at a smaller arena, it was really nice. But the people in charge of the money messed it up really bad and the contestant didn't get their winnings. And that really that really embarrassed me, you know, because, you know, when the money doesn't shouldn't be used for anything other than the winnings and it went into the bills that even didn't get paid. So it really it was an embarrassment to me. And I you know, it's unfortunate and I don't know how to vocalize that to them, so if they have something this November, I'm not going to be going. But, you know. I guess I guess Colorado's coming up in July. I, I think that's too soon. I really do.
KP: August I think New Mexico is having one. I, I think that may even be too soon, you know, and also I'm on unemployment, so I don't have the money unless they say here's a free paid ticket and we have your hotel. Just bring your appetite, you know, money for that. Oh, speaking of appetite, I want to tell you a story. In Phoenix, I haven't gone to Phoenix for a long time, the Phoenix rodeo there. So I went one year and being in the arena, you work late. So all the contestants had gone up to this steakhouse that they went to every year and they have a special room in the back. And there's like 40 contestants in the back there. And the staff in that room come up with a question that everybody at the table has to answer, and it's usually sexually oriented. Are you a top? Are you a bottom? Have you ever been in a three way? And you have to answer these questions.
KP: Well, luckily, we didn't have to go back to that because we were really late and there was me and two ladies and you walk in and there's this woman standing there and she has a six gun on her hip and a cowboy hat, and she looks, you know, she looks like Annie Oakley, except maybe one hundred years old. She's old. Looks like Annie Oakley. And, "So what are y'all here for?" "Well, we'd like to eat." "Just the three of you?" "Uh, yes mam." Looked right at me and she said, "Follow me, ladies." And we have the best dinner. I haven't eaten red meat for a long time. So. So they had really good chicken. But you could see them. You looked out the window and they were they were over a big fire pit. Cooking all this food for everybody, it was funny. But but the question that the contestants had was, are you a top or a bottom? And these questions didn't come from anybody in the audience or the contestants, it came from the staff, they wanted to hear all and people were shocked at some of the answers.
RS: I mean that brings -
RS: Go ahead.
KP: No, go ahead.
RS: Got to say, that brings up my follow-up question of relationships in the military. But did you have any relationships at the rodeo?
KP: Actually, I didn't. Uh, out of the 133 rodeos, I've only been laid at a rodeo once.
RS: Just too busy?
KP: And that was by accident. I meant I met this guy, we went to my hotel room and in the morning I said, Oh, I've got to get out of here. He said, so do I, I'm going to the rodeo. And I went [sharp inhale] and you know what? It's not because I didn't want to. Everybody thought I was a priest or something, that I didn't have sex. And I don't, [laughs] trust me. I'm not - at all. But, you know. But it was sometimes you just don't need sex and with rodeos, I was usually too exhausted anyway. I was talking to you about death at the rodeo before in in D.C. I, I saw two deaths Uh, there was, as I said, I'm a photographer and I had the camera and I was taking pictures. And. There was a guy in the last shoot on a steer and somebody who is supposed to be holding him, you know, so if you pitch forward, they could pull him back and the person wasn't strong enough and he hit his head on the bar and he died. And I and I almost took a picture of it, and I I mean, it's what I'm used to, you know, and I pushed the button and I had somehow turned off the camera. So God stopped my camera from doing that. And another time.
KP: They were doing barrel racing and. The woman came out with her horse and circled around. And the horse slipped and broke his leg and it limped out and they, you know, so no ghouls were around, they put up a fence and everything and the horse had to be put down. And. It costs like fifteen hundred dollars. And the announcement came out, anybody could help with the fifteen hundred dollars [cries] and in 15 minutes it was paid for. That's the kind of people these rodeo people are. It does not matter if you're a man or woman. If you can do a job, you're in the job. I worked mostly with women arena directors. I learned so much about the arena from women. Because they knew how to do the job. It you know, it's just such a wonderful family, a wonderful community. At. The riderless horse you read, read in my book, have you ever been to a rodeo, by the way?
KP: OK, so I mean a gay rodeo.
RS: Yeah, yes.
KP: OK, all right. The riderless horse is such an integral part of remembering who we are and who is past and to hear us talking in the early years about people that have died of AIDS and then going from AIDS to breast cancer to all the illnesses, you know, it's really such a spiritual, wonderful uh, family community, especially with the riderless horse. It is just. It's just a wonderful group of people, and I really appreciate being a part of it.
RS: Do you think a lot of other people I've interviewed have expressed concern that that, you know, people are aging in the association and there's not a lot of younger members coming in. And I'm wondering if that's something you're concerned about and what you think the future of the association is?
KP: Well, if we can get somebody to produce my book as a movie, I think they would pique a lot of people's interest. Hint, hint, hint, hint, hint. It you know, you've got to put that out in the universe, you know. I think it needs to be more publicized. You know, back in the 90s, you know, we were we were something of an anomaly, you know, and we were on new shows everywhere, and now it's Rupal's Drag Race that's the anomaly. And we need to become an anomaly again, you know. It's funny because. You see these big butch cowboys doing all kinds of stuff, and then at night they're dancing and prancing around and just being themselves and loving themselves and loving, loving their atmosphere. We need to we need to publicize it more. Absolutely.
RS: Do you feel like trans members and non-binary people, do you feel like they feel supported by the institution?
KP: Absolutely. Absolutely. Have you seen the movie Queens and Cowboys?
KP: Yeah, well, my friend Travis, you know, he was so brave enough to show before pictures of him, before he was transition. You know, I really I really feel the love. Through him, you know, and like I said, the trans I you know, the person came up and said, my name is so-and-so, but last year I was so-and-so I'd never remembered that. Before he transitioned. You know, in my mind, you know. So you just you just you, I think, non-binary. Would have a better chance at the rodeo than other places. I really feel that.
RS: So as an artist, you know, it's interesting to hear you've been in these spaces - military, rodeo - and you've been in them a lot of times as an artist, as a photographer or a writer, a teacher, all of the these sort of positions. I wonder how you this has affected your art, your approach to creating things. Is it your inspiration or how does that play into your artistic craft?
KP: Well. The old adage, you are what you eat. You know. I I wrote the rodeo book, and then I wrote the play and the book, then I wrote a book about Rose Parade floats, it's called the Long Pink Line. I should have sent all of them to you instead of just sorry about that. I mean, maybe they're on maybe they're on Kindle anyway. You know, I was involved. I mean -
RS: I'll check,.
KP: Oh OK. I, I had I was walking down the street in college or Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena with a friend of mine who is a florist. And there was a pink line down the middle of the street. And I said, well, what on earth? Is that doing there in the middle of the street? He said when the floats come down the street, they can't always see ahead of them. So they have somebody in the headset saying, slow down, speed up, but they can look down and they can see the pink line and they know they're exactly in the middle of the road. I said, OK, that explains the line. Why is it pink? And. And he said, well, they tried red, but it looked like blood on the pavement. And something in my mind said, I want to know more about this. And two years later, working for the same man, we worked on three rows for eight floats and I wrote about four paragraphs, but it was before I became a writer.
KP: So I put everything in a box. And then when I was back here, I had the box sent to me and I brought it out there and I looked at the outline and two months later I had the book. And it is truly, truly a novelette because it's you know, it's really it's eighty-seven pages, you know, but it talks about there's murder and mystery. There's there's a presidential and vice-presidential story in it. There's the way to build a float. You know, that people didn't know and stuff like that, and there's two wonderful love stories, gay love story and a senior, two older people love story. And I already have them cast, by the way, Ellen DeGeneres as the as the lesbian vice president that they attempt to kill, Bette Midler as the mother of one of the gay guys. I already have it cast right here. I'm putting it out in the universe. Yeah.
RS: Yeah [inaudible]
KP: I'm sorry?
RS: Just put it out there.
KP: Absolutely. I, I work I used to work with seniors and special needs people, and there was this wonderful lady who had muscular dystrophy, who was non-verbal. But you knew when she was happy when she was sad. And one year, I must have seen her as a mermaid. For Halloween, because I had this vision of her that there was a mermaid trapped in her body. And there was, you know, and I just started writing that story, it's called The Birth of a Mermaid, if you want to look that up and you can. But, you know, it's just something that that connects with me. I have up here a sequel to my And a Child. When the boys - I'm sorry - And a Child was the story about two boys who meet in middle school, one being raised by lesbian parents, one being raised by two gay men. Did I tell you about that already? No. OK, and they become fast friends and they on down the line. They try to get a gay-straight alliance in their high school, and they run into problems, you know, and and the sequel will be shall lead them and that's when they go off to college, you know, and it's right up here. I just need to get it right here. You know, it's tough to do. It's tough to do and it's easy to do. You know, so I just need to do that. Maybe this will get me, get me going again.
RS: And when you came back to Pennsylvania, what have you done for for work outside of writing and doing those things and taking care of your mom?
KP: Well, writing has never paid for more than a cup of coffee. Unfortunately. I I worked at a like a 7-Eleven type thing for a while, I worked as a taxi driver. I worked with special needs and seniors for quite a while, for 10 years. And and now I'm unemployed, so. Until September and then I'll be seventy-three and everybody will want a seventy-three-year-old.
RS: I feel like a lot of people are experiencing this, particularly with the pandemic. You know, just trying to figure out the next thing.
RS: Everything has been hardened and also the way in which that people have sort of reconnected with their artistic selves as well,
KP: Uh huh, yah.
RS: Trying to -.
RS: To do something that feels good.
KP: Right, yeah, yeah.
RS: Everything feels hard right now.
KP: It does. It really does. And, you know, and, you know, I live with my cat, that's it. You know, I don't have anybody else to at least once a year before the pandemic, I had to clean up the house for Memorial Day because everybody came to my house for I didn't have to do that last year. I sat on Memorial Day on my porch waiting for people to walk by so I could call it a parade.
RS: Yeah, I mean, I really actually think the holidays were so hard this year, like the days, the days that we usually celebrate. Even I have two young kids and even then it was hard, like I had to really dig deep to, like, do something big for them. Yeah, because it was, it was hard.
RS: So I'm wondering if you want to show your pictures and talk about them a little bit?
KP: I was trying to figure out how to do that. Hold on. Hold on a second. [long pause] I think I got got it hold on. [long pause] Oh. OK, this thing. I told you I told you that I, I used to give little trinkets to people. And this is in the arena, we called it the Kelly crew and crew was spelled with a K. So I had reverse K's and then the pink triangle and the black triangle. And were you familiar with the Black Triangle before you read it in my book?
KP: OK. All right. So I did that. And then. So I'm sure that. Might take a few minutes, I'm sorry.
RS: No, I'm just really impressed how well versed you are in Zoom.
KP: I think the next one is. A group of people - you'll see, hold on. Oh, no [laughs] no, this happened to be. Just a silly picture that somebody took of me, I learned I learned early on that I really needed to have a sweat thing under my hat because I have no hair, obviously, and there's no hair up there to soak up the water. So I had something. So that was that was one of my entertainment clown things. I purposely skipped. Oh, sorry. I purposely skipped arena thirteen picture - hold on. Now, this this was at the farm place down in Harrisburg, and I was. I was the assistant arena director. Only because I had the biggest mouth [RS laughs] and it was a really bizarre space and I had to shout around corners to get the horses to come up, and that was me holding, holding the gate closed. And as you can see, I have a little belly, a big belly there. And I had a hat that said end hunger. So I did that. And they normally take a picture of all the women at, at rodeos. Oh, oh, I like this picture hold on. This is, this is my butch picture oh where'd it go, oh, there it is. That's up in Calgary.
RS: That is an amazing outfit.
KP: Isn't that great? Now this vest. See, I told you I was jealous about the vest everybody had. I made these vests for all the arena crew, and I made like 30 of them, OK? And everybody went, all these are so stupid. These are so stupid. And they took them home with them. So I don't have it. If you look really closely on this, it has a - hold on the second. It has a little horse things on it
RS: That's amazing. I feel like that's a shirt that Garth Brooks would have worn. It's great.
KP: Oh yeah. There's a shirt. I have a shirt here, you know. You know who Roger Bergmann is, right? OK, I have a shirt to sitting right here. I'm pretty sure this is the shirt. That Roger Bergman has. And when I saw him wear it, I wouldn't wear it again because, you know, that's so rude that somebody else would wear a shirt that you have. It's a vanity thing, you know. Let's see. Almost done, hold on. [long pause] No, that's. I, I have led such a blessed life. Meeting all these people and being surrounded now, this one. This one was. Oh, no, that's not right. Stop sharing. Oh, here it is. You can't see it very well, but these are all the people. At the gay games. And I'm the only one and I'm right here, can you see where my arrows pointing?
RS: Yes. [laughs].
KP: Without a hat on. There's a picture of David Pizutti that that I can't find anywhere in my computer. That. He was the most talented person in the world. He was a gymnast. I think it was a he was a nurse or a doctor of some sort. But he come in and came and did our rodeos. He was gay. He walked into a. An event. This right here is. The arena crew now has purple shirts, so that's an arena crew thing. I think that's I think that's me. Looks like my ass right there. [RS giggles] But um. So he walked into to an event where they had pro bullfighters and walked away with best bullfighter. He did he did a thing where he came out and he would put a lime in the dirt and then he would take off his pants and take off his shirt and put on a Nadia Comaneci wig, and he would go out and do a balance beam thing. And he would do a flip and land in a split. And he won with that. With that thing. See, that's me somewhere, I don't even know where that is, but that's me. I think that might be. Washington, D.C.. I think there's only one more. That I will cost you with, sorry. [long pause]
RS: And what year did you move back to Pennsylvania?
KP: I moved back in in 1998. We. And from then on. It costs an arm and leg to get anywhere, so. See you like this vest so much I'm going to show you another picture. And that's the shirt that that no, actually, I think it's a pink shirt, but but the shirt that I just showed you, that's the same shirt. I have to I have this black felt hat that I used to put pins on and the first rodeo they had at Palm Springs, I was running through the chutes where the calves came in and I hit a bar and all the pins scraped my forehead all the way back. So all weekend long, I couldn't wear a hat because I had these scabs [chuckles]. It was needless to say, I don't have any pins in my hat and ever again, so. So that's it.
RS: Were you ever sort of seriously injured at a rodeo, working on the crew?
KP: Nope. Thank God. Just getting hit in the wallet [laughs]. And I wasn't even hurt at all, it actually adjusted my back. I, I love telling that story because it was so unexpected, all of it, including getting my getting my lower back adjusted so.
RS: Well, I think I have exhausted my questions for now. Is there anything extra you want to add?
KP: Look at my list. You know, I think I've exhausted my list as well,
RS: So one thing I always like to ask everybody is whether you consider yourself a cowboy?
KP: I consider myself cowboy adjacent. I will demand the rights of any cowboy around me. But don't make me sit on a horse. But I love I, I actually I actually wrote a song that I - have you ever heard of a strum stick? A strum stick is, it's like a guitar, but it only has three strings. And I'm going to - I wrote that I have a love of my life, that, wouldn't have anything to do with me after a certain time because we weren't sexually attracted to each other, but we loved each other deeply. And he took me out on the dance floor one time. And I do you know about country dancing, slow dancing? OK, there's a lead and a follow. Well, I don't follow. And he said…He walked up and he said, “I don't… I don't follow.” And I said, “Well, I will let you lead. And I'll follow. But I'm going to have to close my eyes because I just want to take over if I see what I'm doing.”
KP: So, the refrain of it is, if you lead, I will follow, I will follow your lead and at the end of the song, in true life, he just left me on the dance floor. And we never saw each other again. And to this day, he's still around, he's still alive. He lives in San Diego. I haven't seen him in probably eighteen years, and I still pine for him every day. And you know, we're always told that you love somebody that you have sex with. You don't have to love - you don't have to love somebody just because you have sex with them, you love them because you love them, they're your heart and he could never understand that because he's a physical person. So he took me out of his life. And I think that dance was a dance that showed him that he loved me, but he couldn't accept it, and that's been 17, 18 years.
RS: Do you think that's a lot of where your book comes from? About that scared love?
KP: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. In fact, he was the inspiration of the love between Roman and Jules. And all I got to say, it's his loss because I have so much love in my heart. And I want a husband of my own, not somebody else's husband - although, there's a book out called Still Straight. And it's about it is probably a doctoral thesis that this guy wrote about 60 straight men in the, in rural situations. Let me let me get you the guys then it's called, Still Straight: Sexual Flexibility Among White Men in Rural America. And. I'm trying to get to. I think the last name is Silva. Still Straight. I found it on Kindle.
RS: That sounds amazing.
KP: It's amazing, you know, how people. Very, very straight, but need to be with a man. For a lot of reasons.
RS: Do you think? That pining for him made it difficult to find other partners?
KP: There's nobody around here, you know, when I first got back here for two or three years, the Penn State had potlucks for gay men. And I went to that and everybody had a partner. You know, and I was singled out, you know, I was all by myself single and I, you know. It's unfortunate and you know, I, I, I pined for him, but - I know you don't want to hear this, but I'm 72 years old and I'm still very sexually active, which is why, you know. I went and got tested again because, you know, last weekend I went to Cleveland, but, you know, and I was both vaccinated and, HIV negative, so.
RS: So do you think that the development of gay dating apps or hookup apps have have helped for rural men or rural women to at least, like, know who else is out there? You can check your smartphone.
KP: Well. I only slipped three times, four times during the pandemic. And two of those times was through a dating app, and it happened to be both of them on the same day [laughs with RS ] TMI, TMI, did you know Craigslist, you know, when they took that stuff off of Craigslist? You know, my sex life hit the dirt. You know, and and I and I feel like a snob now, but, you know. I was very biased against married men. And then reading this still straight, I realize what their impetus is, is that the right word? To having sex with a man and I and I feel that I've snubbed up in a lot of people because of that, you know.
RS: So do you use Grindr or
KP: Grindr and and the other one, uh Scruff? Hmm, that's what I have.
RS: Scruff, yeah.
KP: Yeah, Scruff. And then there's Doublelist. But that I haven't gotten anything from that.
RS: So, I mean, I'll be honest and say in a lot of my straight female friends feel the same way in rural America, just like any men who are here and straight, like our already paired off and face things. We're also in a college town and so they don't want to use the dating apps because their students will be on it. There's a lot of there's a lot of stuff to navigate. And it's interesting to think about in terms of the rodeo sort of offering a a place where you could be relatively assured of the person you're hitting on, you know, was gay and having some of those spaces die out in it, and these apps emerge. But sometimes even with the apps, you're still at a rural place you don't know.
KP: Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, I'm just praying somebody contacts me and then tries to blackmail me so I can turn them in because I feel like I'm all afraid and everything. And then when they when I bring the money, you know, I hand on the money and then the police come out and go, you're busted! [chuckles]
RS: Yeah. I mean, it has it got does it feel safer now using the Internet to find people than it used to?
KP: It's never been, it's never been the ultimate place to go, you know, I mean, I'd much rather be in San Diego with my friend Rick. By the way, in the book, I have to tell you a funny story. I talked about the glory hole. Right? And a friend of mine read the book when it first came out. And then I went to a rodeo up in Canada. And when I came back, my mom had some newspapers on my bed when I got back. And it had a story about a math teacher that had been arrested because he had sex with a 15-year-old in a bathroom. But the teacher didn't, and it was one of his students, but the teacher didn't know it was a student and, you know, and it happened a few times. And then when the teacher found out it was the student, he said no more. Right. So the students now 18 years old. Right. And out of school and the police come to him and say, "We're not going to arrest you, but we want you to go to, you know, witness against this guy," and the 18-year-old went, "You guys are full of shit. I mean, I was the one presenting myself to him.
KP: He had no clue who I was. So I'm not playing your game." So I, and it turned out that the guy, the guy's ex-partner that was pissed at him turned him in. So I had talked to my friends who had read my book. And I said, "How are you doing?" She said, "Well, I want to tell you, I want to thank you for something." I said, "What?" She said. "Have you read this story about the bathroom sex?" I said, "Yeah, I heard it on the news or read it in the newspaper." She said, "I want to thank you for me not being nearly as shocked as I would have been had I not read your book." [laughs] You know, you find out things, you know.
RS: You find out things. Now, I say, I think me being a young woman in college when the oh, now I'm going to forget his name. I'm from Idaho. And it was the, you know, politician from Idaho was arrested in a bathroom. And that was very much I was like, what's cruising? And many of my gay male friends had to explain the facts of life. Right.
KP: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know what I thought was funny? When whenever the pandemic first started and the CDC said, if you are going to have sex habits through a hole in the wall without saying gloryhole, have it through a hole in the wall. Well, if you insist,
RS: I give it CDC recommended.
KP: Absolutely. And this was while Trump was in office. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to swear in front of you.
RS: Oh, yeah? Do you think so? I started collecting oral histories right at the 2016 election.
KP: Ooh-ho [shudders].
RS: And people in gay rodeo were really split. You know, there were there are many people in gay rodeo who hold pretty deeply conservative beliefs and who would tell me off the record that they had voted for that administration. And then there were other people who were very concerned and anxious. And, you know, I'm wondering how you felt the last four or five years. How that changed the landscape politically, especially in rural America, for LGBTQ people.
KP: Well, I was, I was angry for four years, for six years, actually, because he started, you know. I was really, really, really angry. And on January 6th. You know, I was sickened. I mean, I was physically ill. You know, it bothered me and it scared me, you know, and, you know, thank God they didn't get in to any of the senators because, you know, they would have had blood in their eyes and they would have killed anybody, not just Democrats. They would have killed anybody. And then on the twenty-first. Lady Gaga sang and everything was all right. Garth Brooks sang, it even got better. Garth Brooks said the reason why he came out of jeans was because Lady Gaga had taken his first look. I love him. I love him.
RS: Tough not to love. I really think Garth Brooks is tough not to love. He's loveable.
KP: Oh, yeah. As you know, his sister is gay. Did you know that?
RS: I did not know that. Yeah. I actually went to a Garth Brooks concert up in Spokane and almost got into a fistfight with someone who used a slur that I did not appreciate. And it makes me happy to know Garth Brooks sort of supported my decision to.
KP: Oh, absolutely. Oh, yeah, absolutely. Whenever I hear the dance, which is what I what I talk about in the book, it just tears me up, you know, because that the last dance, you know, and you never know when the last dance is coming, so.
RS: So do you think with everything politically happening and obviously we're a deeply divided nation, are you hopeful that things are going to continue to get better? Or are you worried that there will be another backlash that will sort of keep pushing us backwards?
KP: I would hope. Especially with people being taken care of. That there's not going to be the backlash and also, and excuse my French, the motherfuckers that that are changing voting laws, they just signed something in Florida this morning. You know, I've already voted. We vote on the 18th. I've already voted, and it's already in there now, you know, I just. If you're going to create laws to have less people vote, then. You know, you're not in the right, and they just figured out, Georgia just figured out that it's actually going to affect the Republicans worse than it's going to affect the Democrats. From what I understand what I was reading this morning. It's like, oh, well.
RS: Yeah, America is one of the only democracies in the world that doesn't guarantee voting based on citizenship.
RS: Which I, I think that should maybe change someday.
KP: Well, and also, Doug Emhoff is that is that the second husband's name said, "Why did you feel the importance to be vaccinated?" And somebody said, "Because I'm in a country that doesn't have universal health care." You know? By the way, he's a cutie, isn't he?
RS: Sorry, I'm a big fan of Kamala. I'm sorry. I'm a big fan of Kamala Harris.
KP: Oh, me too. Me too. See, see, I would have sex with that. She could kick my ass, but she's married.
RS: Darn it. All the good ones are taken.
KP: Absolutely. Well, maybe they're not taking it all the way. Read get straight. No, straight. Still straight. Still straight.
RS: So, yeah, this has been absolutely wonderful. And so I wanted to ask if it's OK if we contact you, do you only want that to be about transcription or is it OK to reach out with other questions?
KP: Absolutely. As you can tell, I'm an open book. I've told you about my sex life here today.
RS: Thank you.
KP: And I'm not even sure I mean, I'm shy about nothing.
RS: That's wonderful.
KP: You know, it's you have to be an open book. I was I was never more proud than went two kids in in our church [cries] going to get emotional, thanked me from the pulpit after they graduated - one was a lesbian and one was an asexual - thanked me for guidance. I mean. I am an open book. I'm trying to think if there are any other books that I've read. Oh, I wrote I wrote a Christmas story called So a Preacher and Santa Walk into a bar [giggles].
RS: Well, I'll be reaching out to you for a list of all of your writings so I can
KP: Excellent, if you'd like me to send you some. I certainly will do that.
RS: Thank you so much. This is really just been wonderful. And I do hope we get to meet in person someday.
KP: That would be wonderful. I wanted to ask you. And you're married.
RS: I am married.
KP: What's your husband do for a living?
RS: He is an I.T. professional, so he works in. So we live in a small town called Moscow and right across the border in Washington, is a small town called Pulman, where Washington State University is. Oh. And I work at the University of Idaho. And and so he works at a manufacturing company out there. And yeah, he he's much more employable than I am with three degrees. Yeah. But yeah, we were very happy here. And as I think a lot of what you shared today is how important your work is for young people in your state, in your town. And that's a lot of what we're committed to here is just making sure, you know, young people in Idaho know that they're valued and they're loved and they're that we want them here. We don't want to lose them to [inaudible].
KP: No matter what. No matter what. Absolutely. I mean, when I was a child, I thought I was the only person that had the same sexual attraction.
RS: Yeah. And we just yeah, we want to make sure that that doesn't happen to another generation of Idaho kids, so, yeah.
RS: Idahoans. Oh, OK. Yeah, I think my children are the fifth generation of Idahoans?
KP: Oh wow!
RS: And on and on my spouse's side, they'd be the seventh generation. So.
RS: Oh WOW.
KP: It goes deep. So I really understand your story of going home and living, you know, being in the house you grew up in and being with your mom. That means a lot to me.
KP: Yeah. Yep. She was the finest kind of person in the world.
RS: She was lucky to have such a great, committed son.
KP: Oh, thank you. Thank you so much.
RS: Well, I'm going to end the recordings.
RS: And thank you so much for your time.