LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Karen Granberg

KarenGranberg.jpg

Title

LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Karen Granberg

Subject

Queer Omaha Archives
Sexual minorities -- Nebraska -- Omaha
Interviews
Oral Histories (document genre)

Description

Click here to access the interview, LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Karen Granberg

Ms. Karen Granberg, psychotherapist and LGBTQ+ advocate, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on July 17, 2019 in Wayne, Nebraska. Granberg shared information about her upbringing in New Sweden, Maine, discovering her bisexuality, her marriage and two daughters, working for more than 30 years as a Licensed Counselor at Wayne State College, advising Wayne State College's LGBTQ+ student group "Pride", and living in a small town as a bisexual woman.

Biographical Sketch 

Ms. Karen Granberg, born in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a white, bisexual woman, psychotherapist and LGBTQ+ advocate. Granberg grew up as one of 13 children in the small town of New Sweden, Maine, and attended New Sweden Consolidated School (1956-1965) and Caribou High School (1965-1967). In 1967, Granberg’s family moved to Meriden, Connecticut, where she attended Maloney High School (1967-1969). After graduation, Granberg went on to earn a BS in Psychology and Math from Bethel College and Seminary (St. Paul, Minnesota) in 1974, and her M.S.Ed in Counseling from Wayne State College (Wayne, Nebraska) in 1986. 

After completing her education, Granberg worked at Wayne State College as an Adjunct Instructor and Licensed Counselor from 1986-2018. During her time there, Granberg was an essential resource and support to LGBTQ+ students on campus. She helped co-found Wayne State College’s LGBTQ+ student group PRIDE in 1994, where she served as an advisor until 2018. Granberg supported students in hosting panels, educational programming, drag shows and other LGBTQ+ campus events. After her retirement in 2018, Granberg formed Q-Chat, a social group for LGBTQ+ community members in Wayne to connect. Granberg also opened her own private practice at Pearl Street Counseling in Wayne, where she offers part-time counseling services. 

Granberg is a member of the American Counseling Association, National Education Association, and received the Dr. Ron Holt Professional Staff Civic Engagement Award in 2018.  

As of August 2019, Granberg lives in Wayne with her husband, Gordon.

Interview Summary 

Ms. Karen Granberg, psychotherapist and LGBTQ+ advocate, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on July 17, 2019 in Wayne, Nebraska. Granberg was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in the early 1950’s and shortly thereafter moved with her family to New Sweden, Maine, a town of roughly 600 people. There she attended New Sweden Consolidated School (1956-1965) and Caribou High School (1965-1967). As a middle child in a family of 13 children, Granberg was introverted, loved to spend time reading alone, and was very independent from her siblings. Her father, Robert Dischinger, was a minister in the Swedish Baptist Church (Baptist General Conference) while her mother, Virginia Lundholm Dischinger, was a homemaker.  

From a young age, Granberg rejected the strict gender roles and patriarchal hierarchy of the Baptist religion. While other girls in her class were obsessing over their crushes on boys, Granberg was puzzled and uninterested in this behavior. She had attractions to both boys and girls but was not aware that this was “different” or seen negatively within society. There was no information at the time on sexuality at all, and she had never heard the term “bisexual”.  

In 1967, Granberg’s family moved to Meriden, Connecticut, where she attended Maloney High School (1967-1969). After graduation, Granberg enrolled at Bethel College and Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she earned her BS in Psychology and Math in 1974. It was during her time in college that Granberg began to think more about dating and relationships, but only in the context of feeling she wanted to become a wife and mother. The administration at Bethel College sent students the clear message that homosexuality was prohibited at their institution, and this was the first time Granberg realized that her feelings for women were “different” and not socially acceptable. At one point, Granberg was called in to the Dean of Students’ office for suspicions of being a homosexual, but since there was no evidence, nothing came of it. 

Granberg married Gordon Granberg in 1974 and they moved to Sioux City, Iowa, where Gordon took a job as Pastor at Morningside Baptist Church. During this time, Granberg was a homemaker raising her two daughters, Sara and Erin, and began the process of trying to reconcile her faith and sexuality. In 1981, Granberg moved to Wayne, Nebraska, to begin graduate school at Wayne State College while her husband worked as Pastor at First Baptist Church. This marked another shift for Granberg in figuring out her sexuality, as she began seeing an affirming therapist, discussed her attractions to women with peers, and read literature on LGBTQ+ topics. She eventually discovered the term “bisexual” and felt this identity fit her best. Granberg came out to her husband sometime in the late 1980’s and he reacted with acceptance and support. 

After earning her M.S.Ed in Counseling from Wayne State College in 1986, Granberg worked at Wayne State College as an Adjunct Instructor and Licensed Counselor from 1986-2018. During her time there, Granberg was an essential, outspoken resource and support to LGBTQ+ students on campus. When First Baptist Church, her husband’s employer, found out Granberg was affirming of LGBTQ+ students, they pressured her to adopt the church’s anti-LGBTQ+ stance. When Granberg did not bend to their will, the conflict could not be resolved, and the American Baptist Church put out a national resolution condemning homosexuality, her husband Gordon formally resigned from his position at the church.  

During her career at Wayne State College, Granberg co-founded the LGBTQ+ student group PRIDE in 1994, where she served as an advisor until 2018. Granberg supported students in hosting panels, educational programming, drag shows and other LGBTQ+ campus events. After her retirement in 2018, Granberg formed Q-Chat, a social group for LGBTQ+ community members in Wayne to connect. Granberg also opened her own private practice at Pearl Street Counseling in Wayne, where she offers part-time counseling services. 

Granberg is a member of the American Counseling Association, National Education Association, and received the Dr. Ron Holt Professional Staff Civic Engagement Award in 2018.  

As of August 2019, Granberg lives in Wayne with her husband, Gordon Granberg. 

In this interview, Granberg also discusses the difficulty of living as a married bisexual woman in a small town, her desire to become a therapist and help students, and her daughters Sara and Erin.  

Interview Notes 

None.

Creator

Luke Wegener

Publisher

University of Nebraska at Omaha Libraries

Date

2019 July 17

Relation

LGBTQ+ Oral History Collection finding aid available at https://archives.nebraska.edu/repositories/4/resources/604

Format

mp3

Language

English

Type

audio

Identifier

UNO-0240_Karen-Granberg

Interviewer

Luke Wegener

Interviewee

Karen Granberg

Duration

2:10:06

Citation

Luke Wegener, “LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Karen Granberg,” Omaha Stories: Oral Histories of Omaha, Nebraska, accessed November 29, 2021, https://omahastories.omeka.net/items/show/276.

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