In 2008, celebrated furniture designer Mitchell Gold turned his attention from sofas and side chairs to focus on compiling and editing submissions for a book, “Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America.”
Gold owns furniture company Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams with his namesake business partner, who is also openly gay. The business, established in 1989 in Taylorsville, N.C., is a mega million-dollar success, but Gold says shepherding the hardcover collection of essays, recollections, speeches and sermons to publication was a passion project that ranks among the most important things he’s ever done.
“I’ve often said, there are two things in my life that I am really happy I accomplished – extremely proud of. Over 10 years ago, against lots of odds, I created a daycare center at our factory. Today, we have 77 incredible children getting a great start on life. And second, and equal if not even moreso, doing ‘Crisis’ has been a most extraordinary part of my life.
“I’ve seen, heard and felt what it’s done to change people, all for the better. Several times a week I get some kind of a great note from someone who has been ‘transformed’”
When asked to share a specific example, Gold recalls, “One particularly wonderful note I received early on was from an 81-year-old woman who told me she never thought much about gays and lesbians, except to be judgmental. But after her neighbor lent her a copy [of ‘Crisis’] and she read it, she realized how she must change her attitudes.
“She went on to say that she thought ‘Crisis’ should be required reading in every school and church in America. The expression ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ – one which I’ve heard too often – is simply not true!”
One of the “old dogs” Gold most wants to engage is the religious community. He founded national faith-based, LGBT rights group Faith in America in 2006 to promote religious tolerance and feels “Crisis” is a key component to achieving the group’s mission.
“It’s one of the central parts of FIA. FIA’s mission is to educate people about the harm of religion-based bigotry. ‘Crisis’ is a document to support that mission. It lays out the harm in great detail.”
When Gold comes to Charlotte on Feb. 25 for a pair of public engagements, co-hosted by Campus Pride and Time Out Youth, he says he is particularly looking forward to meeting a local religious leader who is doing the work and getting it right: Rev. Dr. Stephen Shoemaker, pastor of Myers Park Baptist Church.
“Although I’ve met Rev. Shoemaker briefly, I’m particularly looking forward to having the opportunity to reinforce to him how he is literally saving kids lives with his intelligent, courageous and compassionate views.”
Looking ahead, Gold sees more untapped opportunities for creating positive change from “Crisis.”
“We are launching ‘Crisis’ electronically in April. This means it will be available at a significantly lower price to people who have the various new electronic book gizmos. I also think there is still so much more exposure we can get on ‘Crisis’ that rather than start something new I want to maximize this effort.” : :
info: Feb. 25 “Believe in Youth” Campus Pride and Time Out Youth present furniture maker and philanthropist Mitchell Gold. Myers Park Baptist Church, 1900 Queens Rd. in Charlotte, 6 p.m. Social gathering follows at Petra’s Piano Bar and Cabaret, 1919 Commonwealth Ave. 8 p.m.
[Ed. Note: qnotes editor Matt Comer contributed a chapter in “Crisis” and will appear at Petra’s with Gold on Feb. 25.]
This article was published in the Feb. 20 – Feb. 19 print edition.