Interview with Gilda Wabbit (Sam Themer), April 5, 2017

Project: Outsouth: LGBTQ+ Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Drag queen Gilda Wabbit (Sam Themer) talks about her childhood in Kentucky, growing up in Louisville and Frankfort as the "artsy" "weird" kid. She talks about her connection to the Commonwealth through the arts, especially music. She talks about her process of coming out, first to friends, then her high school and family. She tells the story of coming out to her parents in high school after undergoing nasal surgery. Gilda Wabbit talks about her experience at UK, majoring in opera. She talks about feeling out of place even in the arts program. She talks about often being cast as villains and the trope that villains portray stereotypically homosexual qualities. Gilda Wabbit talks about her tense relationship with Kentucky, partially due to feeling discouraged by various parts of the community in regards to being her true self. She talks about religious conservatism in Kentucky, but also discusses her acceptance within her childhood church as well as the church she later joined, First Presbyterian. She talks about safe spaces within local bars and the kinship between queer people.

Gilda Wabbit talks about how she became interested in drag after she had moved to New York. She describes her first time performing drag. She talks about participating in competitions and the advice she received about drag as a career. She talks about the decision to change her stage name from Beverly Leslie Sills to Gilda Wabbit, and how she has made drag her fulltime job.

Gilda Wabbit talks about a photo that was taken of her on the subway sitting next to a woman in traditional modesty garb. The photo was posted on Instagram and eventually became a meme. The meme was originally meant to be a negative message about liberals, but was turned around into a positive message about diversity and acceptance of others. Gilda Wabbit talks about doing interviews with various media outlets about political issues surrounding the meme.

Gilda Wabbit talks about doing drag as her fulltime job. She talks about how the show RuPaul's Drag Race affected her life. She talks about doing speaking engagements and being grateful for the opportunity to speak to people about acceptance and being empathetic toward one another.

Interview Accession

2017oh232_lgbtq001

Interviewee Name

Gilda Wabbit

Sam Themer

Interviewer Name

Lance Poston

Interview Date

2017-04-05

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Wabbit, Gilda Interview by Lance Poston. 05 Apr. 2017. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Wabbit, G. (2017, April 05). Interview by L. Poston. Outsouth: LGBTQ+ Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Wabbit, Gilda, interview by Lance Poston. April 05, 2017, Outsouth: LGBTQ+ Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7vq814r13g


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