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Meet Alum Kristen Henderson

If you think you recognize Kristen Henderson’s name or face, that’s probably because you do!  Henderson, with her wife, Sarah Ellis, was recently featured on the cover of Time magazine, to complement the story the magazine was covering on Prop 8 and DOMA.  Henderson, who graduated from Bucknell in 1992, is currently a singer-songwriter and has her own band, which is an all-female country rock band titled Antigone Rising.  Henderson currently resides on Long Island, NY, raising two four-year-olds with her wife.  

I was lucky enough to get in contact with Kristen and feel even luckier that she took the time to answer our questions! Kristen opened up to us about being part of Time magazine’s cover story, her family life, and her own Bucknell experience.

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Can you tell our readers a little bit about how you ended up on the cover of Time magazine? 

My wife, Sarah, and I wrote a memoir called Times Two about our dual pregnancies. The book came out in 2011. Since then, we often get calls from media regarding various LGBT issues. Most often, we get calls to talk about marriage equality. We were the very first gay/lesbian couple to be married in the Episcopal Church in the state of New York. That being said, Sarah has a friend who works at In Style Magazine, a sister publication to Time. And he asked if we’d be willing to pose for some photos for the cover story Time was doing on the Supreme Court Hearings regarding DOMA and Prop 8. We didn’t think our photo would land on the cover, we just thought we’d be inside the magazine as part of the cover story. 

 

Your children, Thomas and Kate, are four now. Do they understand that they are part of a family that is not considered “conventional”? How do you plan on explaining this to them? 

We explain to our kids that all families come in different shapes and sizes. Some families have two moms, or two dads, or one mom, etc. We are not the only two-mom family in our town, so our kids see families that look like their own all the time. Granted, a majority of our kids’ friends have parents who are heterosexual. I find that our kids and our friends’ kids are very adaptable. For the most part, we live by example and every once in a while someone’s 4-year-old might ask, “Why do Kate and Thomas have two moms?” We launch into our “families come in all different shapes and sizes” routine and before long, they’re all back to running around the playground and not listening to us anymore! 

 

What was the last book you read? 

I’m a mother of two four-year-old kids. So the last book I read was Pigasso and Mootisse, a children’s book where Picasso is a pig and Matisse is a moose. I haven’t read a novel or seen a PG or R rated movie in quite some time. 

 

What is your dream vacation? 

I’ve got two dream vacations. One is taking the kids to Europe when they’re a little bit older. I love watching them discover things and want to be with them in an art museum in Paris when they realize Picasso is not actually a pig and Matisse is not actually a moose. The other dream vacation would be anywhere remote and tropical where cell phones don’t work and the kids are back home with their grandparents (a very short vacation, of course)! 

 

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?

Wow, I’m so surprised no character is jumping out at me with this question. But if I could come back as anything else in another life, I’d want to be a professional hockey player, or a gold medalist at the Olympics would be a real dream come true for me – as a member of the US Women’s Soccer Team or Hockey Team. I regret not continuing to play team sports during my college years. 

 

What was your favorite drink while at Bucknell? 

My roommates and I drank a lot of Keystone Light, if I’m being totally honest. 

 

What were you like at Bucknell? Did you ever feel pressured to conform during your time here? 

I think I was pretty outgoing at Bucknell. I was definitely extremely social. I was the president of my sorority (Pi Beta Phi) and I do feel like my experience as a Pi Phi helped shape who I’ve become. I realized I was gay during my junior year at Bucknell. I was definitely afraid of people finding out my secret. It was 1991, though. So I don’t think it was Bucknell’s fault. I think society was at a different stage of acceptance 22 years ago. And so was I! Beyond that, I had friends, roommates in different sororities or who were independents. And if I was conforming socially by wearing LL Bean moccasins or paisley sorority letters, I certainly wasn’t aware of it!

 

What is one piece of advice you would give to a senior who is about a month away from graduating?

The one piece of advice I would give a senior a month away from graduating would be to enjoy every single second of your time on campus. I can remember those last weeks at Bucknell so vividly and I miss that time so much. Have fun. Keep it light. Don’t be stressed about finding a job. I’m not saying don’t study. Just do it in the academic quad with your best friends around you because life changes and you will miss those moments. 

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For further reading on Kristen, check out a feature on her and her wife from Real Simple magazine here or check out her blog, Hangin’ With Hendo.  To learn more about Kristen’s Time magazine photo shoot, you can read about it in out.com’s article.

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