The last year has certainly been a busy one for community organizations and newsmakers across the region. Volunteers helped support their favorite groups as they grew and changed. Activists spoke up on important issues. New leaders stepped up. Below, we’ve compiled some of the top community news items from our year’s worth of regional news briefs. Journey back with us through the year on these community events, milestones and happenings.
The guys took to the stage in Charlotte to compete in “Dragging with the Stars” — an event that paired amateur drag newbies with a seasoned professional — with tip monies going to each of the five participants’ charities.
St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church in Raleigh, N.C., satisfied their building’s payout with a celebration marking its final mortgage payment. The church purchased the property 20 years ago.
The Conference Board of Church and Society of the North Carolina United Methodist Church announced its second Bishop’s Forum that addressed same-gender marriage. This came on the tail of the church’s adoption of a resolution recognizing LGBT members within the church.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina nixed plans by Thomas Hafke and Chad Higby to obtain same-sex couple health insurance. After applying for it, paying premiums and receiving their cards in the mail, they were told their policy was no good. Same-gender marriage was not legal in North Carolina at the time and the carrier would not cover individual applicants, but would provide for domestic partner coverage for large corporations or other group policy customers. The carrier, nonetheless, has historically been a supporter of the LGBT community. The policy was later reversed.
A Moral March was planned to converge on the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh. This was held as part of the Historic Thousands on Jones Street in support of the state’s NAACP. Equality North Carolina became one of the event’s participants.
Equality North Carolina also announced plans for #GetEngagedNC institutes across the state to focus on voter engagement and pro-equality issue education.
Philanthropist J.D. Lewis and his sons expanded their Twelve In Twelve initiatives to connect youth to humanitarian efforts worldwide. Six local schools were chosen for the pilot program.
Historic O.Henry’s in Asheville changed ownership. The bar was considered one of the longest running gay bars in the state.
The Charlotte Business Guild announced a new meeting modus operandi for its organization. It began its quarterly Exchange Series, along with networking socials and quarterly dinner meetings with speakers.
A benefit was held at the Green Monkey to raise monies for the family of 11-year-old Michael Morones. The boy was bullied at school for his affinity for Brony, boys who like My Little Pony. As a result he attempted suicide and was hospitalized in intensive care.
New Life Metropolitan Community Church hired Rev. Dawn Jennifer Flynn, who is transgender, as its pastor.
Tabatha Holmes set up an online petition to ask the South Carolina state legislature to reinstate funding to two colleges which had used LGBT-themed books for their reading programs.
The Charlotte Business Guild became an affiliate of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. The organization also established its Aspiring Leaders initiative, an internship and mentoring program.
College students from Central Michigan University came to Charlotte to offer volunteer hours to Campus Pride as part of its Alternative Break program.
Time Out Youth Center’s Micah Johnson rallied in support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act, asking the community to be part of a communication campaign to North Carolina’s congressional and Senate representatives asking them to be part of the initiative.
An “Angels in America” retrospective panel discussion was announced in advance of the Carolina Actors Studio Theatre’s re-staging of the iconic play this year. The play was ensconced in controversy in the mid-1990s when the Mecklenburg County Commission stripped public funding from the Arts & Science Council in the aftermath of the performances.
State Farm agent Pam Herndon was able to write a multi-auto policy for a same-sex couple, the first in North Carolina.
The Raleigh Business and Professional Network became another North Carolina affiliate of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
Public Policy Polling reported that voters in North Carolina were becoming more tolerant and that their attitudes on gay marriage had shifted.
Tamara Sheffield and Maryja Mee, a couple from Salisbury, were one of five to net $5,000 in the Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding contest from the American Civil Liberties Union. The duo were also treated to a free wedding.
A video promoting acceptance of alternative lifestyles created a stir with parents at Brevard High School when they discovered that a counselor has sent out an email and letter to students and parents sharing the school’s Acceptance Club project video. The video was shared as part of No Name Calling week during its Acceptance Week.
A Rural Pride campaign was launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. A kick-off summit at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C., was announced.
A same-sex military spouse, Jasmine Pollard, was denied in-state tuition at Fayetteville State University even though there was a federal military waiver of out-of-state tuition. In June, the University of North Carolina system made the decision to follow federal law and grant in-state tuition to same-sex military spouses.
The Guilford Green Foundation in Greensboro hired a new executive director, Brenna Ragghianti.
The Triangle YMCA in Chapel Hill was finally able to award employee and family health benefits to all families, regardless of sexual orientation.
The U.S. Census Department and the Department of Commerce released findings that showed that the Carolinas were high in HIV/AIDS rates in the South.
A National Gay Blood Drive was announced. Men who have sex with men in Durham and Winston-Salem participated by having someone donate on their behalf in protest of the nation’s ban on gay blood donors.
Community members attended a mixer where plans were shared about exploring the formation of an LGBT center in Durham.
The Rowan-Salisbury School System gave its permission to Gay-Straight Alliance clubs to meet after school, lifting an eight-year ban against them.
Neighboring East Tennessee’s Tri-Cities moved a step closer to creating a community center. It would be the third in the state, following Memphis and Nashville.
El Cambio and GetEQUAL joined forces to create its You Are Not Alone float for the annual Independence Day parade in Yadkinville spreading diversity, inclusiveness and community building.
Ryan Wilson, executive director of SC Equality, stepped down to take on the role of southern senior field organizer for the Human Rights Campaign.
North Carolina native the Rev. Carter Heyward, along with 10 other women, were recognized during a commemoration of their ordination to the Episcopal Church’s priesthood 40 years prior.
Local communities in Nags Head, Gastonia and Greensboro geared up for their upcoming Pride events in September, bringing LGBT and allied community members together to spirit the cause during multi-day celebrations.
Across the border, Pride festivities were also planned for Spartanburg.
Myers Park Baptist Church announced that they would hold inclusive programming during its church services welcoming as its guest gay minister the Rev. Cody J. Sanders.
A lawsuit was filed against the Division of Motor Vehicles in Anderson when they disallowed gender non-conforming Chase Culpepper from getting his license when he appeared dressed in girl’s clothing and makeup.
Winston-Salem tapped its heels together and worked toward bringing its Oz-themed Pride celebration in October.
The Metropolitan Community Church Winston-Salem reached a milestone when it marked its 20th anniversary.
The LGBTQ Center of Durham launched a formal fundraising campaign to help bring the organization closer to establishing a brick-and-mortar facility.
Liss LaFleur, a Davidson College instructor, showcased her MUM storytelling project that gathered LGBT and queer high school love stories utilizing the flowering mum as a backdrop to homecoming memories.
Davidson College established its first LGBTQ Resource Library & Lounge with an open house to mark the occasion.
Equality North Carolina Foundation announced its keynote speaker for its gala would be former NFL star Wade Davis who champions the You Can Play Project. The initiative helps to tackle discrimination in all sports.
A new logo, unveiled for the LGBTQ Center of Durham during NC Pride in September, was used on T-shirts and other clothing items to kickstart the first capital campaign.
Veterans were honored at a special tribute at the LGBT Center of Raleigh. A national VA representative, Jerome Sebesta, was on hand to share information on programs for LGBT veterans.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt was on display in Asheville and panels were presented from Western North Carolina AIDS Project.
Durham resident Henry Amador was named as a member of the Family Equality Council’s Southern Advisory Council.
Ashley Broadway was chosen as president of the American Military Partner Association. She is the spouse of Ft. Bragg-based Army officer Heather Mack.
Latta, S.C., passed a law protecting LGBT people against discrimination two months after the town swore in lesbian Crystal Moore as police chief. Moore had previously been fired by Mayor Earl Bullard because of her sexuality. : :