Timeless Pride, Part Two

A two-part history timeline of the LGBT Carolinas

Below is part two of Q-Notes’ exclusive Timeless Pride, covering events from 1987 through 2005. To view part one of the exclusive, with years 1971 through 1986, click here.

January 1987 — In an editorial published in Q-Notes, editor Don King makes one of the first public calls for a community center in Charlotte. His call goes unanswered until the establishment of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Charlotte in 2000.

June 16, 1987 — The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners vote to give a $33,000 grant to MAP. Then-executive director Les Kooyman says it is the first time he is aware of a county funding a gay, HIV/AIDS organization in North Carolina.

Feb. 1, 1988 — New HIV/AIDS and communicable disease control measures go into effect in North Carolina. They institute a voluntary sex partner notification system, rather than the more stringent mandatory notification system.

Sept. 22, 1987 — Robert Sheets, a president of Queen City Quordinators, runs against five other Democrats in a primary for Charlotte City Council at-large seats. While ultimately unsuccessful, Sheets is the first-ever openly gay man to run on a ballot for city office in Charlotte.

Nov. 21, 1987 — Durham expands its equal employment policy to include sexual orientation.

Jan. 5, 1988 — Activist Willie Pilkington and others successfully lobby the Raleigh City Council to pass an equal employment policy inclusive of sexual orientation. The council also appoints openly gay activist John H. Voorhees to the city’s advisory committee for community affairs.

March 1988 — Activists from across North Carolina meet on the campus of UNC-Greensboro to form the platform for a new organization created to repeal the state’s anti-gay Crime Against Nature statute.

April 17, 1988 — The Student Congress at UNC-Chapel Hill votes in favor of continuing student organization funding for the Carolina Gay and Lesbian Association. Earlier, two student congressmen sought to initiate a referendum and introduced a resolution to completely defund the organization.

Spring 1988 — First Tuesday, a local gay lobbying and political group, is established in Charlotte.

May 1988 — Q-Notes is published using a desktop publishing system for the first time.

July 15, 1988 — The board of Queen City Quordinators votes to dissolve the organization and authorizes Q-Notes to begin operating independently under the for-profit umbrella of the Charlotte Advocacy Network, Inc. (C.A.N., Inc.).

Fall 1989 — PFLAG mom Harriet Hancock begins organizing for a gay march in Columbia.

December 1989 — Q-Notes is bought by current publisher Jim Yarbrough.

April-May 1990 — The then-Human Rights Campaign Fund establishes its first field committee in Charlotte in an effort to organize against Jesse Helms.

June 23, 1990 — South Carolina’s first-ever Gay and Lesbian Pride March is held in Columbia.

1991 — North Carolina’s first student group for LGBT high school students is established as a support group at Chapel Hill High School with the assistance of English teacher David Bruton. In 1993, the group adopts the name Gay-Straight Alliance.

April 1991 — Time Out Youth begins offering support group meetings under the direction of Tonda Taylor.

October 1991 — Charlotte hosts the international PFLAG convention.

Nov. 3, 1991 — The Rev. Mahan Siler, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, requests permission from his board of deacons to officiate over a “Blessing of the Holy Union” of a male couple at the church, who also request to use the sanctuary for the service. The board deliberates on the matter for the month before deciding to put the matter up to a congregational vote. On Feb. 27, 1992, the congregation votes 64 percent in favor of blessing the couple’s union.

1992 — St. Jude’s Metropolitan Community Church in Wilmington is founded.

April 5, 1992 — Chapel Hill’s Binkley Baptist Church votes to license openly gay clergy student John Blevins.

May 20, 1992 — The North Carolina Baptist Convention votes to disassociate with Pullen Memorial Baptist Church and Binkley Baptist Church.

June 1992 — The Southern Baptist Convention votes to expel Pullen and Binkley Baptist Churches.

Aug. 10, 1992 — Openly gay Chapel Hill Town Council member Joe Herzenberg pleads guilty to state tax evasion. He refuses to resign from his seat.

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Nov. 20-21, 1992 – Chapel Hill serves as host city of the 7th Annual Conference of Openly Gay and Lesbian Elected and Appointed Officials.

Nov. 23, 1992 — The Charlotte City Council votes down a proposal to add sexual orientation and other categories to the city human rights ordinance and public accommodations code.

January 1993 — Duke University president Keith Brodie asks the faculty compensation committee to examine the possibility of offering domestic partner benefits to university employees.

Jan. 1, 1993 — Durham’s YMCA offers “household” memberships to gay and lesbian couples.

April 24, 1993 — The North Carolina Pride Band is accepted into membership of the Lesbian and Gay Bands of America.

May 9, 1993 — Former Q-Notes editor Richard Epson Nelms succumbs to AIDS while living in Greensboro.

June 15, 1993 — The City of Columbia extends protections on the basis of sexual orientation to city employees.

July 1993 — Openly gay Mike Nelson announces his campaign for one of three at-large seats on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.

August 1993 — Openly gay Ran Lambe runs for the Asheville City Council.

September 1993 — Joe Herzenberg resigns his seat on the Chapel Hill Town Council after constituents gather enough signatures for a recall election.

October 1993 — NC Pride PAC chair Jesse L. White is nominated by President Bill Clinton to chair the Appalachian Regional Commission. He is confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Feb. 22, 1994.

Oct. 22, 1993 — The South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Columbia moves into its first permanent home.

November 1993 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force holds its annual Creating Change conference in Durham, attracting thousands of LGBT activists and leaders from across the nation.

September 1994 — Former Metrolina AIDS Project treasurer Stephen O’Shields is sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to repay nearly $118,000 he embezzled from the organization.

September 1994 — Students at Winthrop University establish the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Ally League (GLOBAL).

Sept. 13, 1994 — Carrboro creates a municipal domestic partner registry.

April 3, 1995 — Chapel Hill creates a municipal domestic partner registry.

Sept. 22-24, 1995 — Down East Pride, the first-ever Pride festival in Eastern North Carolina, is held in Greenville.

Fall 1995 — Triad Advocacy Network is established as a social and political advocacy organization for Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point.

Conservative pastor Joe Chambers led the religious call to stop Angels in America at a press conference on March 18, 1996.

Conservative pastor Joe Chambers led the religious call to stop Angels in America at a press conference on March 18, 1996.

Feb. 10, 1996 — The Human Rights Campaign holds its first North Carolina Gala dinner at the Greensboro Hilton and Conference Center.

March 18, 1996 – Anti-gay Charlotte pastor Joe Chambers begins his relentless campaign against the gay-themed play “Angels in America.”

May 23, 1996 —N.C. House Rep. James Forrester (R-Gaston) introduces a statutory Defense of Marriage Act. The bill prohibits recognition of same-sex marriages in North Carolina and is approved by the legislature on June 20, 1996.

June 1, 1996 — Q-Notes begins publishing bi-weekly at its 10th anniversary.

Oct. 10, 1996 — Members of N.C. State University’s LGBT student group are assaulted while painting pro-gay National Coming Out Day messages on the campus’ Free Expression Tunnel.

Dec. 17, 1996 — Mecklenburg County Commissioners defeat a proposal by conservative member Bill James which would have stripped county funding from any agencies providing information or support about homosexuality.

March 1997 — Carolina Lesbian News publishes its first issue in Charlotte.

March 1997 — Officials at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill cancel a gay-themed, interactive art exhibit after having initially approving the show.

April 1, 1997 — Mecklenburg County Commissioners vote 5-4 to strip the Arts and Science Council of $2.5 million in funding, an action stemming from the community-wide debate on the controversial play “Angels in America.”

May 1997 — Charlotte Pride Alliance for LGBT Equality, a political advocacy organization, is established in the aftermath of the Mecklenburg County Commissioners’ vote on public arts funding.

Rolfe Neill, then chairman and publisher of The Charlotte Observer, spoke in opposition to a County Board of Commissioners resolution to strip $2.5 million from the Arts & Science Council. At least 700 attended the April 1, 2997, commissioners meeting. Photo Credit: Chris Radock

Rolfe Neill, then chairman and publisher of The Charlotte Observer, spoke in opposition to a County Board of Commissioners resolution to strip $2.5 million from the Arts & Science Council. At least 700 attended the April 1, 2997, commissioners meeting. Photo Credit: Chris Radock

June 1997 — The debate over public funding for “objectionable” art spreads from Charlotte to Guilford County and the state House of Representatives. Guilford County Commissioners vote to cut allocations to community-based artists.

June 16, 1997 — Myrtle Beach resident Ron Daugherty offers testimony on hate crimes to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

July 9, 1997 — The IRS agrees to take a second look at a non-profit application from Greensboro’s Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Support System (GLASS). The original application had been held up by an investigator who wanted the group to submit procedures and safeguards that would “not encourage or facilitate homosexual practices or encourage the development of homosexual attitudes and propensities by minor individuals attending [GLASS] programs.” The group receives their tax-exempt status on Aug. 26, 1997.

Aug. 29, 1997 – Durham District Court Judge Elaine O’Neal rules that out-of-state adoptions by same-sex parents are to be recognized in North Carolina.

Aug. 30, 1997 – A Q-Notes sponsored fundraiser and event to see a Charlotte Knights baseball game sparks controversy. Media outlets flock to the story as some community members say the Knights are “promoting homosexuality.”

Sept. 4, 1997 — A court settlement allows Mitchell County (N.C.) Sheriff Vernon Bishop to keep his job after he illegally intercepted a high school football coach’s telephone calls to prove the man was gay and get him fired.

October 1997 — David Schwacke, the top prosecutor in Charleston and Berkeley Counties (S.C.), claims GOP officials outed him in an attempt to force him out of office.

October 1997 — Duke University officials apologize after painting over LGBT-positive messages painted in the campus’ Free Expression Tunnel by members of the school’s LGBT student group.

Oct. 27, 1997 — Tommy Windsor, a top investigator with the South Carolina Attorney General’s office, is forced to resign after emailing insensitive comments about gays and minorities.

November 1997 — Imani Metropolitan Community Church in Durham is founded.

Dec. 1, 1997 — New domestic violence laws take effect in North Carolina. The more inclusive language of the laws provide protections for “current or former household members” without mentioning marriage or gender.

Jan. 23, 1998 — Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, ex-Clinton advisor David Mixner and openly gay soap opera star Steve Tyler attend Time Out Youth’s first dinner-fundraiser at the Marriott City Center hotel in Charlotte.

March 9, 1998 — The Mecklenburg Gay and Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) is formed to unseat the infamous “Gang of Five” county commissioners who voted to strip funding from the Arts and Science Council.

May 1998 — Irmo High School (S.C.) principal Gerald Witt cancels a performance by the Indigo Girls because the two singers identify as lesbians.

June 1, 1998 — Mitchell County Sheriff Vernon Bishop is indicted on federal wiretapping charges. He later pleads guilty, effectively ending his law enforcement career.

July 30, 1998 — The North Carolina Supreme Court overturns an appeals court ruling giving custody rights to an openly gay father.

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Dec. 9, 1998 — Mecklenburg County Superior Court Judge Ray Warren, a Republican, acknowledges he is gay in press conferences in Charlotte and Raleigh.

Feb. 16, 1996 — Mecklenburg County Commissioners vote 8-1 to repeal policies prohibiting public funding of controversial art. The lone dissenting vote is cast by conservative Bill James, the last remaining “Gang of Five” member, after MeckPAC’s successful campaign to vote them out in November 1995.

April 17, 1999 — Openly gay businessman Andrew Reyes is elected chair of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party.

April 28, 1999 — Charleston’s Alliance for Full Acceptance erects its first LGBT billboard, beginning its first annual media campaign. In 2009, the group celebrates its 10th annual media campaign.

July 4, 1999 — The Winston-Salem Journal runs an anniversary announcement in its “Celebrations” section for same-sex couple Frank Benedetti and Gary Trowbridge.

September 1999 — Wake Forest University denies an initial request by Wake Forest Baptist Church to use the campus’ Wait Chapel, where the church worships, for a same-sex union ceremony for Susan Parker and Wendy Scott. The president of the school later says he will not stand in the way of decisions made by an independent congregation. The couple and the university chaplain schedule the ceremony, which finally takes place a year later.

Nov. 2, 1999 — Gloria Faley is elected to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education. She is the first open lesbian elected to any office in North Carolina.

August 2000 — PFLAG moves its annual convention out of Greenville, S.C., in acknowledgment of the NAACP’s boycott of the state after officials refuse to remove a Confederate flag flying atop the Statehouse.

Sept. 1, 2000 — Wake Forest University extends domestic partner benefits to same-sex partners of university employees.

September 2000 — The United Way of Forsyth County drops its funding dispute with the local Old Hickory Council of the Boy Scouts of America after receiving pressure from conservative city Alderman Vernon Robinson. The United Way repeals its partner agency non-discrimination clause, at the time inclusive of sexual orientation.

October 2000 — Salem College trustees vote to extend domestic partner benefits to employees.

November 7, 2000 — Julia Boseman, a lesbian, is elected to the New Hanover Board of County Commissioners.

December 2000 — Triangle Community Works returns its United Way donation in protest of their continued funding of a local Boy Scouts of America council. The donation from the local United Way totals 25 percent of the group’s annual budget.

Jan. 11, 2001 — The Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board votes to disallow Boy Scouts of America troops and Cub Scout packs use of public school facilities.

Jan. 14, 2001 — Unity Fellowship Church of Charlotte is founded by Bishop Tonyia Rawls.

March 20, 2001 — Long-time Charlotte activist Billie Rose passes away after a long battle with cancer. She was instrumental in establishing several early LGBT groups in the city.

April 2001 — Lesbian attorney Sharon Thompson declares her candidacy for the North Carolina House District 30 seat in Durham and Wake Counties.

May 2001 — Binkley Baptist Church severs its ties with the Boy Scouts of America.

May 2001 — North Carolina mothers Patsy Clarke and Eloise Vaughn publish the acclaimed book, “Keep Singing: Two Mothers, Two Sons, and their Fight Against Jesse Helms.”

July 2001 — Openly gay Mark Kleinschmidt files to run for Chapel Hill Town Council.

December 2001 — The faculty senate at the University of South Carolina votes to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

April 2002 — Lesbian Nancy Petty is elected co-pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.

August 2002 — The locally- and independently-produced, gay-themed film “Camp” premieres in Raleigh.

August 2002 — Sixteen-year-old Lewisville, N.C., student Rachael Price is selected one of 12 student leaders of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network’s “Teaching Respect for All” conference planning team.

August 2002 — Out lesbian singer Melissa Etheridge appears in a televised PSA for Raleigh’s Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas sodomy law, snowballing into country-wide change in crimes against nature statutes.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas sodomy law, snowballing into country-wide change in crimes against nature statutes.

October 2002 — Missing since May 2001, Andrew Rayes is arrested trying to cross the California-Mexico border at Tijuana. He is indicted and held in federal prison on 15 charges of bank fraud, accused of diverting some $3.6 million of an accounting client’s money.

September 2002 — Dan Kirsch, a former Q-Notes editor, is hired as the first executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Charlotte.

Jan. 17, 2003 — The Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Charlotte opens at its first permanent location on Central Ave. in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood.

Spring 2003 — Duke University students launch the now-national “Gay? Fine by me.” T-shirt campaign.

April 2003 — The South Carolina Progressive Network honors three Palmetto State advocates, Harriett Hancock, Ed Madden and Charlie Smith.

May 7-11, 2003 — Raleigh hosts the 3rd annual Gay Men’s Health Summit.

May 10, 2003 — White Rabbit Books’ original Greensboro location closes after more than 20 years of business.

July 2003 — Anti-gay group Operation Save America begins to target LGBT events and organizations in Charlotte and across the Carolinas.

August 2003 — Charlotte magazine names Bishop Tonyia Rawls one of the city’s 50 Most Interesting People.

Sept. 2, 2003 — Durham County extends domestic partner benefits to employees, becoming the first county in North Carolina and only the fifth county in the entire South to offer such benefits.

2004 — The Metropolitan Community Church of the Upstate is established in Duncan, S.C.

Feb. 12, 2004 — Ed Madden and Bert Easter, along with four other couples, attempt to obtain marriage licenses in a national day of protest in Columbia.

Feb. 24, 2004 — The University of South Carolina student body elects its first openly gay president. Junior Zachary Scott receives 57 percent of the vote.

March 18, 2004 — The Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN) in Charlotte is awarded the international Community Peace-Building Award by Search for Common Ground. The award is presented in a ceremony at the Austrian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

April 16, 2004 — Jonathan Perry, a 27-year-old student at Johnson C. Smith University, appears on Oprah Winfrey’s daytime talk show to discuss the “down low” phenomenon.

April 26, 2004 — The American Civil Liberties Union steps in to assist openly gay, Wilson, N.C., Hunt High School student Jarred Gamwell, whose principal ordered the removal of his student body president campaign posters. Wilson County Judge Dwight Crawford denies an ACLU-sought injunction against the school.

October 2004 — After 13 years of service, Time Out Youth founder Tonda Taylor steps down as the group’s executive director.

Nov. 2, 2004 — Open lesbian Julia Boseman, vice chairman of the New Hanover County Commission, is elected to the North Carolina Senate. She is the first openly gay or lesbian member of the General Assembly.

Feb. 26, 2005 — Openly gay University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill student Thomas Stockwell, 21, is beaten in an anti-gay attack on Franklin St. in Chapel Hill.

October 2005 — Greenville Technical Community College in South Carolina adds sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy.

Information compiled from the public archives of The Front Page, Q-Notes and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill GLBTSA’s Lambda, as well as the book “Congregations in Conflict,” by Keith Hartman.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

2 Replies to “Timeless Pride, Part Two”

  1. Matt, thanks for compiling this list of milestones. I posted a guest essay on Bilerico Project-Florida earlier this week on the challenge of preserving LGBT history at the community level. Q-Notes is doing a great job of this. If posssible, be sure to share some of your materials with the Stonewall Library & Archives in Fort Lauderdale.

  2. question, is this”Sept. 22-24, 1995 — Down East Pride, the first-ever Pride festival in Eastern North Carolina, is held in Greenville.”

    the only pride event ever held in greenville, nc

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