Triangle: Gay youth enters Chapel Hill race

News Notes: Carolinas

Gay youth enters Chapel Hill race

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — An openly gay youth and recent University of North Carolina graduate has announced he will run for a seat on the Chapel Hill Town Council.

Lee Storrow, 21, studied political science while a student and has been civically engaged on numerous issues both on and off camps. Currently, he surves as the managing director of the North Carolina Alliance for Health. He also serves on the board of directors of the American Legacy Foundation, which operates youth smoking prevention programs.

Last summer, Storrow interned with the American Heart Association in Washington, D.C. While in the nation’s capital, he had the opportunity to testify before the Health and Human Services Department’s Blood Safety and Availability Advisory Committee where he addressed the national policy banning blood donation by gay men.

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In an interview with Metroweekly’s Chris Geidner, Storrow said he felt his story needed to be told.

“I came out my first year of college, so I knew every time I would see that question — ‘If you’re a male, have you had sex with a male since 1977?’ — at some point [it was] going to make me ineligible,” he told the weekly magazine. “I wanted my story to be told because I think it’s powerful that I am someone who … would have been a lifetime donor — and could potentially be a lifetime donor — but isn’t eligible because of this policy.”

Though they declined to change it, the committee later voted unanimously that the policy is “suboptimal” and recommended more research.

As a student, Storrow was active in the campus’ Young Democrats, Campus Y, the UNC GLBTSA and was elected to Student Congress.

Protections top concern in merger

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A proposed merger between the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA and the YMCA of the Triangle has Chapel Hill Town Council and Carrboro Board of Alderman concerned, the News & Observer reported.

Triangle has 15 branches and facilities sprinkled over Lee, Johnston, Durham and Wake Counties.

It seems that they are worried that if a merger takes place that members of the LGBT community could lose the protections they have enjoyed thus far.

The rationale behind the merger is based upon expansion and improvement of services in Orange and Chatham counties, along with current facility improvements.

On June 14, the Carrboro Board of Alderman passed a resolution stating that if the merger with Triangle did not include favorable treatment of employees and members, that it should be abandoned.

“The Board of Aldermen is concerned that if the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA proceeds with this merger and is required to drop or modify its non-discrimination policies with regard to sexual orientation that this will be a terrible regression on this issue and the progressive policies of our Town and County,” the Carrboro board said in the resolution. “[We] urge the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA to not merge with the YMCA of the Triangle unless the YMCA of the Triangle passes a non-discrimination policy which includes sexual orientation, and implements a new appropriate membership policy.”

In related matters of inclusion, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA has recently taken a new step on meeting their guidelines for inclusiveness.

On June 22 their board decided to “extend its non-discrimination policy, which protects [LGBT] employees and members, to organizations that meet at the Y’s facilities,” said Jerry Whortan, executive director, The Sun News reported. For that reason, they have asked Boy Scout Troop 505 to vacate, giving them a year to find new quarters.

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In Boy Scouts of America et. al. v. Dale (2000), the U.S. Supreme Court, in overturning a New Jersey Supreme Court decision to readmit gay Assistant Scoutmaster James Dale, said that the Scouts were permitted to reject Dale as a part of freedom of association, by which any private organization may do so if they feel it is counter to the “ability to advocate public or private viewpoints.” The Boy Scout movement asserts in a position statement rendered in 1991: “We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts. … believes that a known or avowed homosexual is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath.”

Both in 1993 and again in 2004, they extended their stance by including those in leadership roles as well.
Since those early days, numerous accounts of discrimination have been recorded, including a 2009 lesbian couple who were prohibited from serving as volunteers for their son’s troop. Several openly gay youth across the country have also been turned away or booted.

LGBT-friendly Wild Goose Fest a success

SHAKORI HILLS, N.C. — From June 23-26, 1,500 Christians and others gathered in a tiny remote community as a way to interact with “justice, spirituality and art” through the Wild Goose Festival.

Although this does not sound on the surface as something remarkable, underneath it certainly is. According to promoters, it is “open to all regardless of belief, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, denomination or religious affiliation.”

Named after a Celtic metaphor for Holy Spirit, Wild Goose brought together a wide range of people from a plethora of disciplines. It was co-sponsored by the North Carolina Council of Churches.

This festival was non-conforming. On arrival, pales of water awaited visitors who were encouraged to baptize themselves. Buckets of earth were a reminder of “dust thou art.” Participants could spend time walking through a labyrinth, spend time in a beer garden while singing hymns and enjoy a tattooed female Lutheran minister espouse bluegrass liturgy, The Economist reported.

Among its attendees and leaders were Revolution Church’s Jay Bakker, fundamentalist critic Frank Schaeffer and Paul Fromberg from San Francisco who spoke about his 2005 gay wedding, among others.

“God is changing the church through the bodies of gay men,” Fromberg said in a session on human sexuality, The Economist reported.

A handful of conservatives who participated felt that there was not enough talk about more traditional topics like abortion.

Because of its success, organizers plan on hosting another Wild Goose Festival again next year, a positive outcome after taking seven years to mount it. The event was inspired by and modeled after the similar British event, Greenbelt Festival, in Cheltenham, which attracts about 20,000 annually.

For more information, visit wildgoosefestival.com.

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Posted by Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director. She can be reached at specialassignments@goqnotes.com and 704-531-9988, x205.