|Columbia Mayor Bob Coble will welcome Pride attendees from the main stage for the second time since 2006.
A major supporter of the LGBT community, Mayor Bob Coble welcomes Pride participants to the Palmetto State.
Mayor Bob Coble is one of the city’s longest serving and most popular mayors, in office since 1990. Under his leadership, Columbia was the first city in the state of South Carolina to include sexual orientation in the city’s non-discrimination policy for municipal employees. In 2006, when Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Patrick McCrory refused to offer a welcome at the annual Human Rights Campaign Carolinas Dinner in Charlotte, Coble showed up to welcome attendees instead. For a second year, Coble will offer a welcome from the SC Pride Festival stage.
You know times have changed when a pair of openly gay twins can headline a reality show about pop music, family and coming out — all with sass, style and a catchy debut single. Meet Jacob and Joshua Miller, identical, openly gay twins and the stars of the hit LOGO Network series “Nemesis Rising.” As singers, known as Nemesis, the duo harmonizes perfectly with Jacob leaning more toward pop and Joshua a little more toward rock ’n roll. Though identical twins, they could not be more different. Joshua is a free spirit, a party boy and exceedingly single, while Jacob is focused, driven and involved in a long-term relationship. Born and raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses, they left their small town in Montana for Nashville after high school. Now living in Los Angeles, the twins find themselves at a critical crossroads professionally and personally, while breaking new ground in the pop music world. Curb Records has just released their highly anticipated debut album, “Rise Up,” which features their monster Billboard dance track, “Number One in Heaven.”
Betsy Pursell oversees the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) cutting-edge work for LGBT equality in the areas of religion and faith, family issues, workplace equality, research and coming out. Previously, Pursell served as HRC’s director of foundation relations. Prior to working with HRC, Pursell was a high school principal and career educator. Most recently, she was the executive director of a Washington, D.C.-based anti-bullying and violence training organization. She has a master’s degree in education from Harvard and has done doctoral work in organizational leadership at Columbia University.
The last of five children born to a Southern Baptist family in Greensboro, N.C., Candace Chellew-Hodge says she knew early on she would minister to others, but these options were limited for her since she was raised Baptist and further limited when she came out as a lesbian at age 16. She pursued a career in journalism for nearly 20 years. In 1996, she founded Whosoever (www.whosoever.org), the first online magazine for LGBT Christians. A graduate of the Candler School of Theology at Emory, Chellew-Hodge now serves as a minister for Garden of Grace United Church of Christ in Columbia. With Bruce Converse, she is co-host of Rainbow Radio, South Carolina’s first-ever gay and lesbian radio show which airs weekly on WOIC 1230 AM in Columbia.
Born and raised around Chicago, Bruce Converse earned his B.A. in radio and television from Southern Illinois University and a Master’s in Speech Communication from Northeastern Illinois University. After stints of part-time teaching and 29 years in the business world, Converse moved to Columbia with his partner, Michael Vandiver, in 2001, returning to the classroom to teach public speaking at Midlands Technical College. With Candace Chellew-Hodge, he is co-host of Rainbow Radio and is also the show’s writer. Active in gay politics, he helped to organize the South Carolina chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans. He and his partner serve on the board of the SC Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement (SCGLPM).
Longtime gay activist Tony Snell served as president of SCGLPM for several years. During that time he was one of the community’s most articulate spokespeople in the statehouse and public forums, organizing many initiatives and demonstrations over the years, including an infamous trip to the art museum at Bob Jones University, which had prohibited gay alumni from visiting campus. In 1998 Snell was interviewed along with Harriet Hancock by The New York Times in a ground-breaking story about gay and lesbian political organizing in South Carolina. A graduate of the University of South Carolina (USC) with extensive experience in commercial radio, Snell is also a club promoter and longtime fixture on Columbia’s nightclub scene.
The Rev. Bennie Colclough is a native of Sumter, S.C. A graduate of the Yale University Divinity School, Colclough has served as pastor to churches in Connecticut and South Carolina and he is currently the pastor of Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church in Kingstree. Colclough served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years with a tour of duty in Vietnam. He’s a Silver Life Member of the NAACP, a Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans and co-chair for the S.C. Progressive Network. He also serves as a member of the General Board of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
West Columbia nurse Angela DeBruhl will emcee for the Cabaret Kings and Company, a drag king revue. DeBruhl is the 2007 winner of SCGLPM’s annual Pride Idol contest.
Originally from Kentucky, Leigh Havran-Burton has called Columbia home for the past 11 years. She was the first winner of SCGLPM’s Pride Idol competition in 2004 and she has participated in many fundraisers for the community, benefiting SCGLPM, South Carolina Equality Coalition (SCEC), Palmetto AIDS Life Support Service, HRC and the Sue Kuhlen Camp for Kids. She has been a bartender at numerous community bars, currently at The L Word, as well as showcasing her singing talents as one of the hosts of PT’s 1109 karaoke.
Jonathan Jackson is a five-year veteran of the United States Army and was deployed to Baghdad for a year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He returned to Columbia following his service and earned a degree in English from USC. During the campaign against the anti-gay Amendment 1, Jackson worked as a communications intern for SCEC and the Fairness for All Families campaign. He was also one of the subjects of “Real People, Real Pain,” the award-winning profile of gay and lesbian people that appeared in the Free Times.
Stand-up comedienne Jinx Kelly of Columbia started her career in comedy at age 13 and she has performed at comedy clubs and bars in South Carolina and Georgia. Kelly says her goal in life is to make everyone laugh. Back by popular demand, Kelly returns to the Pride stage for a second year.
Elke Kennedy of Greenville is the founder of Sean’s Last Wish Foundation, which was formed to raise awareness about hate crimes legislation and to combat prejudice and hate. Kennedy has lived in South Carolina with her family since 1985. She is the mother of three children and two step-sons. On May 16, 2007, her son Sean Kennedy was killed outside a local bar and his death is considered by most to be a hate crime, though South Carolina currently has no hate crimes laws. In Sean’s memory, Elke Kennedy and her family established Sean’s Last Wish Foundation. With her family, she has begun touring the Southeast to talk about bias-motivated crimes and the need for legislation that address hate crimes. For more information about the foundation and the work it is doing, see www.seanslastwish.com.
Known as South Carolina’s gay and lesbian community band, the Marching Pride is participating in its fourth South Carolina Pride. Formed in order to ensure a regular musical presence during the annual SC Gay and Lesbian Pride March and Festival, the band has since performed at Pride events in North Carolina and Georgia, including Atlanta Pride. The band thanks friends from the North Carolina Pride Marching Band and the Atlanta Freedom Marching Band for joining them again this year in Columbia.
Members of the Party Time Gals and the Cabarettes, female impersonation troupes from Columbia and their drag king companions, the Cabaret Kings, will perform at SC Pride this year, as they have in the past. The groups perform regularly in revues with other performers at their home bar, PT’s Cabaret in Columbia. For more information, visit www.ptscabaret.com.
The radical cheerleading squad reBELLEious was formed in Columbia in early 2005. The members dress in colors designed to mimic Homeland Security’s color-coded terror alerts. The group has performed at numerous rallies and political events, including SC Pride 2005 and 2006 and the Carolina Peace Resource Center’s annual Peace Picnic.
AJ Taylor is a poet and vocalist who has lived in South Carolina for the past year. She has opened for and performed with artists such as Malcolm Jamal Warner, Floetry and Margaret Cho. She produced and starred in the critically acclaimed poetry performance feature “Connectionship V Relationship,” which was performed at the 2005 Creating Change Conference in St. Louis. As an activist for equal rights for all — but specifically minorities and members of the LGBT community — she uses her poetry to “edu-tain” at universities, rallies and Pride celebrations across the nation. AJ currently lives in Sumter with her partner and their six-year-old son.
South Carolina Pride’s first Pride King in 2003, Susan Tex Green has been performing since 1969, winning her first title in 1971. Tex has won many titles since then. Also a professional female wrestler, Tex once organized a wrestling exhibition match as a fundraiser for openly gay S.C. House candidate Charlie Smith. She is employed by the City of Columbia as a park ranger.
The Rev. Nancy A. Zuckerman has long been a warrior in the fight for civil rights for all people. A Masters of Divinity graduate of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, she is the associate pastor of the Community Church of the Midlands, a progressive Christian fellowship.