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Time to wrap it up
Carolinas LGBT leaders reflect on 2007

“Good morning, and welcome to the award winning Rainbow Radio — The Real Gay Agenda.” That’s how my co-host and I have opened our weekly half-hour radio show since October 2005 — a program “By gay and straight people, for gay and straight people.” We thought we would last six weeks. However, with our show airing the end of December, we will have done 116 shows.

We are “award winning” because of being honored with the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Award in 2007. We are “award winning” because of our “award winning” guests. Some of these have been authors/writers Mandy Carter, Edmund White and Keith Boykin, along with entertainers Margaret Cho, Leslie Jordan, Lily Tomlin, the gay singing duo Nemesis and Akil Wingate, just to name a few.

In 2008, we are planning more interesting shows with more “award winning” guests. We will be on the air as long as we have your support. If you would like to support us either with a donation or by sponsoring a show, or if there is a guest you would like us to interview, please contact us. You can contact us and listen to all of our shows through our website,
www.rainbowradiosc.com.

Bruce Converse
Co-host and Writer
Rainbow Radio — The Real Gay Agenda
Gilbert, South Carolina

The board and staff of Equality North Carolina are very grateful for all the extraordinary support we received this year, from our volunteers as well as our donors. Our 6,500 dedicated online activists and 2,000 dedicated donors helped us get our anti-bullying bill passed by the N.C. House, marking the first time in our state’s history a bill has been passed that protects people based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. We also managed to hold back an anti-marriage, anti-LGBT constitutional amendment for the fourth year in a row — the only state in the Southeast to do so — and we launched our groundbreaking Equality Conference & Gala at Duke University in Durham, attended by more than 300 people from across the state.

We hope people will join us next year as we expand the conference & gala and work to get the anti-bullying bill passed by the Senate along with the House. We also have a goal to raise $100,000 or more for pro-LGBT candidates through the Equality NC Political Action Committee.
To the readers of Q-Notes who already follow and support our activities, we say thank you! To find out more about our work, please go to www.equalitync.org.

Happy new year!
The Board and Staff
Equality North Carolina

I don’t know exactly when the LGBT rights movement began in South Carolina. What I do know is that on May 16, 2007, my son Sean was murdered and my life and that of my family would never be the same. His violent death threw me into unfamiliar territory. The original charge of murder has since been reduced to involuntary manslaughter and his murderer has since been released on bond. This has made me realize the discrimination that so many people endure on a daily basis. This is why I’ve been forced to become a part of the movement. In the seven months since his death, I’ve traveled South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia speaking about my son and what I will do to educate and challenge the public to join me in my fight to improve and protect the lives of all groups & minorities and to ensure equality for all.

In Greenville, the movement has resurfaced, perhaps stronger than before with the assistance of Sean’s Last Wish (SLW), PFLAG, the Metropolitan Community Church, UpstateUnited, the S.C. Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement, the South Carolina Equality Coalition (SCEC) and others like Faith in America, HRC, GLAAD, etc. People are taking notice of what the movement for equality can do. In our local paper, The Upstate Beat, I was voted one of the favorite local heroes; Scott Young, board member of SCEC and SLW was voted favorite community activist; and one of the top reasons for leaving the Upstate was intolerance and homophobia.

Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights took place for the first time in downtown Greenville. Faith in America’s “Call to Courage” campaign educating the upstate about religious bigotry was a great success.

Looking forward to 2008, this will be a year for equality not just for the LGBT community, but also for other minorities who do not have equality. We will accomplish this by building coalitions with different groups in South Carolina. I’m very excited about the upcoming year and proud to be a part of this ongoing movement for equal rights.

Elke Kennedy
Mother of the late Sean Kennedy
Sean’s Last Wish
Greenville, S.C.

For me, 2007 has been both exciting and heartbreaking. I have personally stepped up my volunteer work on behalf of the LGBTQ community with HRC, Meckpac, Ujamaa and The Lesbian and Gay Fund and the highs and lows of service work has been emotional.
I had an opportunity as the National Diversity Co-Chair of the Human Rights Campaign to work with an amazing local and national steering committee who either suggested our attendance and participation or support on the following:

• Equality Forward launched in October 2007
• Steering committee diversity trainings
• HRC Foundation spreads the word about the Dirty Laundry premier
• HRC announces support of “Jena 6;” Donna Payne represents HRC at Rally in Jena, La.
• Youth organizing at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)
• HRC holds empowering HBCU Student Leadership Summit
• Successful Gospel & Soul events held in Atlanta and Detroit
• Partnerships with national organizations in people-of-color communities to build a broader notion of civil rights issues.
• Transgender town halls with Susan Stanton
• Political organizing at people of color pride festivals
• HRC support of HIV/AIDS funding
• Corporate Equality Index featured in Black Enterprise
• The clergy lobby day at Congress and the Clergy Call for Justice and Equality, attended by over 200 clergy members
LaWana Slack-Mayfield
Charlotte, N.C.

In 2007, I was blessed to visit London, Cape Town, Vienna and Budapest. I changed companies, participated in the Desmond Tutu Habitat for Humanity build in Cape Town, was selected as the Outreach Officer for the Wachovia Women’s Employee Resource Network (ERN), was appointed to the Belmont Community board and founded the N.C. chapter of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). It is, however, the passing of my father and his legacy, as well as the inspirational trip to South Africa, that has me motivated to make a difference.
In 2008, I will travel to five more countries — Belgium, Amsterdam, Morocco, Senegal and the Philippines. In addition to traveling, I will work with the N.C. NBJC steering committee to develop robust short and long-term strategies. We will start the year by understanding the needs of the black gay and lesbian community and identify solutions to meet their needs. We will also be very involved in the 2008 election.

In my role as outreach officer for the Wachovia women’s ERN I will partner with several community groups to make a difference in the lives of young girls and women within the communities that Wachovia serves.

Dianna Ward
National Black Justice Coalition
Charlotte, N.C.

With 2008 on the horizon, I am hopeful for the first time in the three years I have lived back in South Carolina. 2007 was a difficult year filled with tragedies, triumphs and a series of firsts. Our communities united to demand funding for our AIDS Drug Assistance Program and Gov. [Terry] Sandford approved a measure to provide $3 million annually, as well as a one-time grant of $1 million, to provide increased access to HIV/AIDS treatment. The tragic death of Sean Kennedy helped to re-unite the LGBT community after the loss of the marriage amendment in 2006. In the Upstate, Soulforce came to Bob Jones, Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights was held in downtown Greenville and Faith In America’s “Call to Courage” campaign was a huge success. Elke Kennedy has started Sean’s Last Wish and she has become an extension of my chosen family. More corporations in the Upstate offer domestic partnership benefits than in any other part of the state. Pro-LGBT legislation was introduced for the first time in the history of the state.

While I am hopeful, I also realize there is a great deal of work to do within my community. If our slogan continues to be “diversity is our strength”, we must learn to nurture our differences and create a place at the table for everyone.

“You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.” — Edward O. Wilson

Scott Young
South Carolina Equality Coalition
Board of Directors
Vice Chair, Public Policy
Columbia, S.C.

— Editor’s Note: Individual’s organizational affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.


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