speaker, author and editor has appeared on more than 500 college
by David Moore
are — if you’re a gay college student or a Charlotte resident — you’ve
probably heard of Shane Windmeyer. He’s the editor of four collected
books on LGBT college life — “Out on Fraternity Row” (1998), “Secret
Sisters” (with Pamela Freeman, 2001), “Inspiration for LGBT
Students & Their Allies” (2002) and his latest, “Brotherhood:
Gay Life in College Fraternities” (2005).
Windmeyer speaks to students on the Campus of Creighton University
in Omaha, Neb.
He’s also an expert speaker on LGBT college issues and has made a
name for himself on university campuses across the country.
Along with his partner Tom Feldman (the driving force behind Tyvola Design),
Windmeyer moved to Charlotte in 1997.
After initially finding resources for the LGBT community at the time surprisingly
limited, the two made a commitment to see their stay in the city through. “There
were actually a lot of other things about the city we liked,” Windmeyer
recalls. “So we decided to stay.”
Windmeyer’s journey to the Queen City began in the flat plains of
“I was born there, grew up there and went all the way through school
in Hiawatha. During my senior year of high school, my dad was moved to
Texas because of his job. My family didn’t want to uproot me after
all those years to spend my last year of school with people I didn’t
know, so I got to live with my grandmother for the last year of high school.
That was truly a wonderful experience and I’ll always cherish that
memory, because she passed away six or seven years later.”
Life changing events
After high school, Windmeyer went on to attend Emporia State University
in Emporia, Kansas. It was during this time that two pivotal events occurred
that would forever change the course of Windmeyer’s life: in 1993
he attended the March on Washington. The following year he would list his
name publicly in the Topeka Capital Journal for National Coming Out Day.
“I attended the March on Washington as an ally of the LGBT community,” Windmeyer
recalls. “But the whole event made me really come to terms with myself — there
were so many openly gay people. When I went back to school I came out to
all my fraternity brothers.
“The next year when I did the thing for National Coming Out Day,
I didn’t really think my family would see it — but my Uncle
Paul did and started asking questions. My mom already knew but just didn’t
want to talk about it. My sister thought it was cool to have a gay brother.
My dad also knew so it was just confirmation for him.”
Media renaissance man: Shane Windmeyer
Although Windmeyer concluded that it was best for him not to return home
during the Thanksgiving Holiday, he confirms that the controversy surrounding
his sexual orientation was short-lived because of another family scandal
of sorts. “So I became old news pretty fast,” he chuckles.
After Emporia, Windmeyer spent a brief stint in D.C. working on health
care reform. From there he went on to do his master’s work in Bloomington,
In 1995, he met Feldman at a suburban Chicago nightclub called Hunter’s.
Later that same year, the two would collaborate together on their first
effort: The Lambda 10 Project.
Now going on year 11, the Lambda 10 Project would later take off following
Windmeyer and Feldman’s initial efforts and gain national attention
as a clearinghouse for LGBT fraternity and sorority issues.
The organization, which continues to be housed at Indiana University in
Bloomington, works to heighten the visibility of LGBT members of college
fraternities and sororities through educational resources and materials
related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
Life in the Carolinas
By 1997, Windmeyer had taken a job at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte
(UNC-C) as the assistant director of student activities.
“That was a great time,” Windmeyer recalls. “We were
able to do some incredible things — we brought in Steve Gundersson,
Ryan White’s mother (Jeanne White-Ginder), Matthew Shepard’s
mom Judy Shepard and the AIDS quilt.”
While the job was rewarding for Windmeyer, he couldn’t resist the
lure of following his heart’s desire to make a living out of writing
and working as a public speaker on a full-time basis.
He left UNCC in 2001 and since that time has been successful with his endeavors,
including new websites, like www.campuspride.net and speaking engagements
at over 500 college campuses nationwide.
In 2005 he served as one of the co-chairs for the Human Rights Campaign
Carolinas Dinner and continues to serve on the HRC Carolinas Board.
His next book is a whopper — “The Advocate College Guide for
LGBT Students.” Says Windmeyer: “I’ve been working on
it for three years. I’ve interviewed 5,000 students. The book takes
a look at 100 top colleges with detail focused on the top 20. Working on
this project was incredible.”