Saturday night is the latest edition of the That’s What She Said show, where women share their stories at the Virginia Theatre. Today, we bring you the tale of two Chambana moms/grandmas who will take the stage on Saturday to talk about the right to love who you want. Meet Kathie Spegal and Lynn Sprout:
The similarities in Kathie Spegal’s and Lynn Sprout’s bios are remarkable: both come from families where they were one of eight children. Both were married to men for 13 years, and both had three children of their own (although Lynn informally “adopted” her late partner’s five children). Both have experienced discrimination on the job, having both been let go from employment due to their sexual orientation. Kathie Spegal now works at WILL as coordinator of the Radio Reading Service. She has been an active member of Amasong since 1996, and is in the choir and on the board of the McKinley Foundation. Lynn Sprout has been a nurse in Champaign County for more than three decades, for the likes of Carle, Swann Care Center, Frances Nelson Health Center and two nursing homes. She fought one of the most famous local employment discrimination cases in local memory — and won. She plans to retire next year. Together, the pair has 11 children and 18 grandchildren.
See why we think Kathie and Lynn are Chambana moms to know.
Q: How did you get involved in the She Said show, and how are you feeling about getting up on stage and telling your story on Saturday night?
A friend passed my name to Kerry and Jill and I went in to talk to them. I felt like Lynn had more to offer so they decided to talk to both of us. We don’t mind sharing. Since coming out of the closet it’s been much more beneficial to be who we are rather than living a hidden life.
Our story is much like anyone else’s except that we are the same sex. Love knows no bounds.
We had so much in common and appreciated what each other brought into the relationship. It hasn’t always been easy but it’s been worthwhile.
A reality for something we had fought for for so long. We had circulated petitions, marched in parades, spoken at large gatherings in Chicago and Springfield and defeated the proposed Constitutional amendment. We never thought it would happen in our lifetime and now that anyone can be married, it’s no big deal. The earth didn’t move, the skies did not rain brimstone and we still go to work everyday just like the neighbors. Our anniversary is June 14 so I wish the law had been enacted a little sooner.
No one can fight alone. Our friends and family were always there to support us by picketing Carle, attending the hearings and working behind the scenes. Our church family has been there for us and many attended both our Holy Union and our Civil Union ceremonies.
Kathie: I just thought I would always teach school and raise my kids with my husband. I never dreamed I would end up here with 17 grandkids and loads of supportive friends. Since the word “lesbian” wasn’t in my lexicon, it never occurred to me that I was one.Lynn: I am just surprised that I survived. I learned how to fight for what I believed in and to be who I was.
Crazy. We started having a family get-together the Sunday before Christmas in the church basement. Twenty-seven people in Lynn’s family is more than this house will hold. My son has us to his house for Christmas breakfast and then we host “orphans” for dinner that night (those are friends that have no family nearby). Easter is a day-long drop-in for a picnic-style lunch and Easter baskets. We always pray for sunshine so most can be outside.
We love to eat out with friends. A movie every once in a while or head to Huff Hall for a women’s volleyball game. We both like Destihl and Panera’s.
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