LGBT North Carolinians making history

Part Five of the Pride Series.

North Carolina certainly may not be like the hot-beds of LGBT community, life and activism like San Francisco or New York City, but we still have plenty of history makers and leaders to be proud of!

From politicians to activists, authors to bloggers and community leaders, philanthropists and community organizations, North Carolina has more in LGBT history, leadership and community than many outside of the state may realize.

Of course, this article is no where near exhaustive and I am sure that I have unknowingly left out a lot of worthy individuals. However, thanks and great gratitude is extended to those I have not listed, as well.

Julia Boseman (Wilmington, NC), politician
Julia Boseman is North Carolina’s first and only openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender member of the North Carolina General Assembly. Senator Boseman serves in the North Carolina Senate and was elected to her second term in the office in the 2006 elections. (Thanks to reader Hunter for keeping my airheadedness in check; I had originally said Senator Boseman was in the NC House. Don’t know what got into me today; perhaps not enough coffee.)


Mandy Carter (Durham, NC), activist
“Mandy Carter is a life long activist for women’s and queer rights and peace. In 1993, Mandy helped found SONG – Southerners On New Ground – to help build allies in Dixie – connecting peoples of different races, classes, cultures, gender & ual identities. Mandy has devoted most of her life to the social justice movement, educating audiences about LGBT rights. Mandy Carter is a member of the national steering committee of the Freedom To Marry project former board member of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and of the International Federation of Black Prides. Recently, Mandy was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize as part of the 1000 Women for Peace nominations! She lives in Durham, North Carolina.” (src)

Mandy Carter was also among the founding members of the NC Pride PAC, which later became a part of Equality North Carolina (see below in the “Organizations” section).


John D’Emilio (Greensboro, NC), author, educator, advocate
“John D’Emilio (born 1948, New York City) is a professor of history and of women’s and gender studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has taught previously at George Washington University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1982. […]

His most important and widely cited book, ual Politics, ual Communities (University of Chicago Press, 1983), is considered a definitive history of the U.S. homophile movement from 1940 to 1970. Therfore D’Emilio won 1984 the Stonewall Book Award.” (src)


Ed Farthing (Hickory, NC), advocate, attorney
“Activism was not new for Farthing on coming out of the closet. He has been active in the Republican Party since he was a teen, even serving as President of the North Carolina Teen Age Republicans in the mid 60’s. He served 2 terms on the Catawba County Board of Elections in the mid 70’s and early 80’s (one of those as Chair), and currently serves as GOP Precinct Chair in Greenmont Precinct. […]
In the LGBT community Farthing has served 2 terms on the Equality NC Board of Directors, resigning as Chair of the Equality NC PAC Board to work for Equality NC. He helped organize and served as treasurer of Catawba Valley PFLAG and also helped organize and helped facilitate the LGBT youth group Catawba Valley Time Out Youth. He was on the Board of Directors of NC Pride, Inc. and helped organize NC Pride events in Charlotte, Durham and Winston-Salem, as well as teaching several seminars on legal issues for LGBT citizens.

He has been active with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and served as local counsel in matters that arose in Western NC. Farthing has also been active with the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and attended candidate training in 2001. He is active in Soulforce, an LGBT activist organization for people of faith, and has been arrested twice in non-violent demonstrations protesting spiritual violence perpetrated by organized religion against God’s LGBT children.”

Ed is an Elder in the Presbyterian Church and a former Boy Scout. (src)


Dr. Kimeron N. Hardin (Rutherford, NC), author, medical professional
Hardin was born in Rutherford County, NC, and was the child of fundamentalist Christian parents. He came out at the age of 17 in 1977 and later attended The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he became a campus educator. Later, Hardin taught at other public UNC schools.

“He is now the Director of the Bay Area Pain Program in Los Gatos and San Jose California. Although Kimeron went on to develop a subspecialty within my clinical practice in the area of pain management and health psychology, he has continued to try to support the GLBT community through his writings which have included The Gay and Lesbian Self-Esteem Book: A Guide to Loving Ourselves and Queer Blues: The Lesbian and Gay Guide to Overcoming Depression, as well as GLBT book reviews, articles and workshops.” (src)


Kevin Jennings (Winston-Salem, NC), Executive Director/Founder, GLSEN
Kevin Jennings, a native of Winston-Salem, NC, is the son of a Baptist minister who grew up to become an educator, moving to Boston and then later New York City. In the 1990s, Jennings came at the forefront of advocacy for LGBT students in K-12 education. He founded the Gay and Lesbian Teachers Network, which later became the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network based in New York City. GLSEN is the leading national organization working on issues affecting LGBT students in K-12 education and sponsors the annual Day of Silence and No Name-Calling Week projects.


Armistead Maupin (Raleigh, NC), author
“Armistead Maupin was born in Washington, D.C., in 1944 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean and with the River Patrol Force in Vietnam.
Maupin worked briefly as a reporter for a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, before being assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. The climate of freedom and tolerance he found in his adopted city inspired him to come out publicly as homosexual in 1974. Two years later he launched his “Tales of the City” serial in the San Francisco Chronicle, the first fiction to appear in an American daily for decades.
Maupin is the author of nine novels, including the six-volume Tales of the City series, Maybe the Moon, The Night Listener and, most recently, Michael Tolliver Lives. Three miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney were made from the first three novels in the Tales series. The Night Listener became a feature film starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette.

Maupin lives in San Francisco with his husband, Christopher Turner.” (src)


Mike Nelson (Carrboro, NC), politician
“Michael R. Nelson (popularly known as Mike Nelson) is an American politician from North Carolina who currently serves on the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

A Democrat, Nelson is a former mayor of Carrboro, North Carolina and the first openly gay person to be elected as a mayor of a North Carolina city. Nelson was elected in 1995 after serving two years on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen. He served five consecutive terms as mayor from 1995 to 2005.

In November 2006, Nelson was elected to the Orange County Board of Commissioners.” (src)

Mike Nelson was also among the founding members of the NC Pride PAC, which later became a part of Equality North Carolina (see below in the “Organizations” section).


Bob Page & Dale Fredericksen (Greensboro, NC), businessmen & philanthropists
Bob Page and Dale Fredericksen, owners of Replacements, Ltd. are major community leaders and donors in North Carolina. Their philanthropy and leadership has helped to shape and create a visible and viable movement for LGBT equality in the Triad area of North Carolina and across the state. Page and Fredericksen’s philanthropy has led to the creation or sustainability of numerous organizations including the Triad Business & Professional Guild, the Guilford Green Foundation, UNCG PRIDE! and Equality North Carolina. Replacements, Ltd. is a national-level corporate sponsor of the Human Rights Campaign.


Gary Palmer (Greensboro, NC), advocate, educator
“I moved to Greensboro in 1983 when about the only things that existed in the gay community were bars. Fortunately, our community started growing shortly after that and I became involved with gay groups as they materialized. I became involved with ART in the late ’80s and was President of [Alternative Resources of the Triad] in the early ’90s, the first president of GLASS, the gay teen support group and one of the original board members of GGF.

Going to work at Replacements in 1992 was a huge blessing. I no longer had to worry about being openly gay. Bob Page was supportive of all my gay activist activities and instigated my involvement in the committee that created the Triad Business and Professional Guild. I have served on the board of [Triad Health Project] and the granting committee for GCAP. I founded the GLSEN [Greensboro] chapter in 1997, working to create positive change for LGBT students in high schools. I now lead the GSAFE group whose purpose is very similar.

One of the great pleasures of working at Replacements is that I have been able to incorporate my work, Vice President Community Affairs, into being a visible gay person in a lot of community organizations and activities. I was part of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce Class of 2000 leadership program, Other Voices and a member of the 2001 class of Leadership Greensboro. In 2003 I received the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Greensboro Medal and in 2006 the Chamber of Commerce Other Voices Change Agent Award. I now serve on the board of the United Way of Greater Greensboro, the board of the National Conference for Community and Justice – Piedmont and the granting committee for the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro. In addition I am involved with the Community Education Committee headed by the new Guilford County Schools diversity officer Monica Walker. This group is working to improve acceptance of differences in schools and works to address the issues of racism in our schools. I have served on the steering committee of the Bennett College for Women Chief Diversity Officer’s Forum since its beginning in 2004.” (src)


Ian Palmquist (Raleigh, NC), advocate, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina
Ian Palmquist, the young Executive Director of Equality North Carolina, has quickly become a respected leader in the national movement for LGBT equality. After taking the helm of Equality NC as Co-Director with current Political and Community Organizing Director Ed Farthing in 2003, Ian became the sole Executive Director in 2006. Ian has served as Co-Chair of the national Equality Federation since 2004 and helped to organize the national Gay Men’s Health Summit and its conference in Raleigh, NC, in 2003. (src)


Jay Quinn, author
“Born in North Carolina, Jay, two-time Lammy finalist, is the author of Metes and Bounds and The Mentor. He is the editor of the Rebel Yell series of anthologies featuring the stories of southern gay men. Founding and Executive Editor of Southern Tier Editions, an imprint of The Haworth Press, Inc., Jay lives in South Florida with his partner of ten years, 2 Dobermans and a Weimaraner.” (src)


David Sedaris, author
“David Sedaris is an openly gay author who was born in Johnson City, New York, raised in North Carolina. David Sedaris began his career by reading his essays on radio, which aired in America and the UK in the mid-nineties. He developed a knack for making people laugh by humorously telling of his own stories throughout his life, such as his family, jobs, and relationships. His books include: , Barrel Fever, and Me Talk Pretty One Day. He still does essay readings on the radio, and also live readings of his books, which are very funny. Sedaris’ latest book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, was released in June of last summer and was the New York Times bestseller for Nonfiction. After an extreme adiction and a period of akward jobs (described in parts of Me Talk Pretty One Day), he’s somewhat settled down in France with his long-term boyfriend (husband?) Hugh Hamrick.” (src)


Pam Spaulding (Durham, NC), blogger/activist
“Pam Spaulding is the editor and publisher of Pam’s House Blend (, honored as “Best LGBT Blog” in the 2005 and 2006 Weblog Awards. The Blend, which averages 110,000 visitors a month, was launched in July 2004 as a personal response to the anti-gay state of the political landscape.

A regular contributor to the progressive blog, Pam has also guest posted at the national blogs Firedoglake, The Rude Pundit, and has written for The Independent Weekly.

With roots in North Carolina and the New York City, Pam considers herself to have “dual citizenship” status as a Southerner and a Yankee — and brings that perspective and voice to her blog, which focuses on current political events, LGBT and women’s rights, the influence of the far Right, and race relations.

Pam’s House Blend is ranked in the top 100 progressive political blogs. […]

Pam has spoken at national forums, and performed the first-ever live-blogging event for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s annual dinner in May 2006.

Spaulding has a B.A. in Media Studies from Fordham University and in the non-virtual world, serves as Information Technology Manager at Duke University Press. She is a board member of The Institute of Southern Studies, which publishes the award-winning investigative journalism publication Southern Exposure, and the blog Facing South. Pam is on the organization’s Media Advisory Group.

She lives Durham, NC with her wife Kate — they legally married in Vancouver in 2004 — and their two dogs.” (src)


Shane Windmeyer (Charlotte, NC), author/speaker, founder of
“Shane, – ited Out on Fraternity Row: Personal Accounts of Being Gay in a College Fraternity, in this book speaks candidly about his experience on coming out to his fraternity and how homophobia hurts everyone – gay or straight, Greek or non-Greek. [..]

Shane is considered one of the foremost educators on ual orientation issues in relation to greek life. A true champion for lgbt issues on college campuses, Shane recently founded and currently serves as coordinator of CampusPride.Net – National Online Network for LGBT Student Leaders and released his third book titled Inspiration for LGBT Students & Their Allies in October 2002.”

Shane is also the editor of The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students. (src)


Jo Wyrick (Greensboro, NC), LGBT advocate, Executive Director of National Stonewall Democrats
Wyrick, a native of Greensboro, NC, is the former Executive Director of Equality North Carolina and is the current Executive Director of the National Stonewall Democrats, taking her job first as the interim director in March 2006 and becoming the permanent director in July 2006. Wyrick is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (src)



Alternative Resources of the Triad (Greensboro, NC) 1988
“Alternative Resources of the Triad was established in 1988 by Katheryn Smith, former Executive Director of the Triad Health Project. Receiving help from numerous friends and acquaintances, Katheryn also relied heavily on John Quillan of the Charlotte Gay and Lesbian Switchboard and Greensboro attorney Ron Johnson for guidance in obtaining nonprofit tax exempt status.

An anonymous donation of $1,000.00 was giving and the seed that produced their first event was named “the Lesbian Health Fair” that same year. The legacy of ART “The Gay & Lesbian Hot line of the Triad” was initiated shortly after. This had become the foremost function of the organizations beginning and the Gay & Lesbian Hot line was placed in the spare room of a volunteer’s apartment at that time. Donated phone equipment lead to the first training of seven pioneers in Greensboro. The official opening of the hot line even received coverage in the Greensboro News & Record as well as two local television stations.” src)

Alternative Resources of the Triad now operates, a resource and referral site for the LGBT community in Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point, NC, and also operates “Greensboro, Out at the Movies.” In 2007, Alternative Resources of the Triad organized the Triad area’s first-ever, regional LGBT Pride festival.


Equality North Carolina (The NC Pride PAC & the North Carolina Human Rights Fund) 1979/1990

Equality NC got its start as NC Pride PAC, which was founded in December, 1990, by Joe Herzenberg, Mike Nelson, Ruth Ziegler, Mandy Carter, Jesse White, David Jones, Tom Warshauer, and Eric Rosenthal. Founded in the wake of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender mobilization for the 1990 Helms-Gantt race for U.S. Senate, this political action committee sought to use that energy to affect change at the state level.

Since then, the group has been active in state legislative races and other races of statewide importance. The organization also has maintained an active lobbying presence in the NC General Assembly, advancing issues including Crime Against Nature reform, hate crime, non-discrimination, HIV/AIDS funding and education, and others. In 1998, the group changed its name to Equality NC PAC and joined forces with Equality NC Foundation (then called Equality NC Project), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group, to do more public education and organizing work.

Equality NC Foundation was founded in 1979 as the North Carolina Human Rights Fund, an educational and charitable organization established to promote and defend the human rights and civil liberties of lesbians and gay men in North Carolina. In the early years, NCHRF worked to document antigay violence, to fight for repeal of the Crime Against Nature law, and to provide legal aid to gays and lesbians targeted for prosecution. The group also worked to foster local organizations across the state, and help fund the first NC Pride marches. In the late eighties, the focus shifted to providing education on lesbian and gay issues.

In 2002, the Board agreed that it was time to form a parent organization to link the PAC and the Foundation, and to manage the group’s growing lobbying and advocacy work. Equality NC, Inc. was created as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group.

From the 1979 founding of NCHRF to the 1990 founding of ENC PAC to today, Equality NC has been fighting tirelessly for equal rights and justice for all North Carolinians, regardless of ual orientation or gender identity. (src)


UNCG PRIDE!, formerly the Gay Student Union & Gay & Lesbian Student Union, 1974

PRIDE!, formerly known as the Gay Student Union, the Gay and Lesbian Student Association and the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Student Association, is among the nation’s oldest gay student groups. Established in 1974, PRIDE! is, to knowledege, the oldest, most continuously active gay student organization in North Carolina and has had a varied and interesting history as the GLBTQA student organization on the campus of UNCG.

The earliest records of any existence of a gay student group on the campus of UNCG dates from November 1974 through January 1975 in the form of historical documents including a flier, an interdepartmental memo, and a correspondence between the UNCG Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and the Office of the President of The University of North Carolina. One document within the historical archives of PRIDE! does date back to 1973; it is, however, unrelated to the original gay student group, but relates to the formation and recognition of “Gay Liberation on state-supported campuses.” The name under which PRIDE! operated during this time period is unknown but the letter written by the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs refers to the group as being a part of the “Gay Liberation Movement.”

In the 1979-1980 academic year the Gay Student Union was given official University affiliation. According to an October 30, 1979 article in the Carolinian, the first meeting of the newly affiliated Gay Student Union (called the “Gay Academic Union” in the article) was held on October 25, 1979. Many correspondences between members of the alumni, the Greensboro community and University administration detail the overwhelming anti-gay attitudes of the time period. The correspondences also reveal the vehement opposition from alumni to the affiliation of a gay student group to the University. Many letters to the editor within the Greensboro Daily News echo the same attitudes from Greensboro citizens. These letters are not only valuable to the history of PRIDE!, but also to the history of the entire LGBT Rights Movement. These letters are evidence of the intense anti-gay attitudes held by the vast majority of Americans during the 1970s and 1980s, a time in which the Movement had finally formed a somewhat unified and solidified effort. During this time, gay rights also began to become a more accepted topic within the debates of mainstream American politics. Although our group did not receive official affiliation until 1979 and although no mention of a group name appears before 1979 in the historical archives of our organization, outside evidence points to the fact that only one, continuous gay student group has existed on the UNCG campus since 1974.

Most likely in an attempt to be more inclusive of the LGBT community, the name of the Gay Student Union was changed to the Gay and Lesbian Student Association sometime in the mid-80s. In September 1993 our name was changed to the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Student Association and in a final push to be more inclusive, our name changed to PRIDE!, Proudly Representing Individuality, Diversity and Equality, in 1997. […]

PRIDE! continues to uphold its more than 30-year service to the UNCG community through weekly meetings, social events, educational and awareness programming and activities, and through the annual PRIDE! Week, usually held every April. PRIDE! also shows a commitment to healthy living by holding athletic and sports-based activities at our weekly meetings throughout the academic year, as well as offering information on safe , abstinence and other healthy living topics and issues. (src).

Previous Pride Series Posts

5 Responses to “LGBT North Carolinians making history”
  1. Joe T. says:

    Oh, yuck, Matt. Some of those people you mention are such overrated horrors. But……okay okay.. Anyway, I’ve often wondered if the Wright Brothers were gay. (Yes, I know they’re really from Ohio, but..) Both remained unmarried for life, and I’ve never read of any female attachments. Maybe not, but maybe.

  2. Matt says:

    “Oh, yuck, Matt. Some of those people you mention are such overrated horrors. But……okay okay.”

    Which ones? lol Some of these people on this list are near and dear friends and mentors. 🙂

  3. Dear InterstateQ

    I am a former north carolinian now living in San Francisco. Glad to heaR YOU EXIST. I found your website under “individuals philanthropists Rutherford County North Carolina? I am gay and I have a sister who lives in Cliffside, North Carolina who has been consistantly supportive throughout my 65 l
    year lifetime. Shirley is disaled and lives below the poverty line.

    She is in desperately in need of a grant for a heat pump. Her house is 45 years old. Her income from social security and is $750.00 per month. Seears estimates that it will cost $10,000.00 for cost and installation, since her house needs a duct system.

    She currently heats with kerosene–very inefficient and costly and unhealthy. Shirley is no lesbian, but due to support of me and others deserves some recognition for her loyalty to the cause. If you are awarre of such services in N.C… I would be ever so gayly grateful.


    Paul C. Davis

  4. Jessica Saxon says:

    Hi!, I am not sure this is the right route or medium to ask this question but I do not know who to contact in my community about it. As a member of the LGBT community I am interested in volunteering if there is indeed a hotline agency in my area to talk to LGBT youth or LGBT persons in general as my major in college is psychology (if that helps) but i would like to devote my time to something I feel would be of good use to my fellow “brothers and sisters” and offer them my “been there and been through it” perspective. I believe I could be of some assistance and of course I would take no payment for such. Thank you, my email is please contact me either way, if you know of a better avenue to get involved or if you yourselves could use a devoted volunteer.

    Yours Truly,
    Jessica Saxon

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  1. […] Wake Forest University Link to Article duke university LGBT North Carolinians making history » Posted at – LGBT activism news, views, opinions & more by youth activist/student Matt Hill Comer on Monday, June 25, 2007 LGBT North Carolinians making history June 25th, 2007 by Matt Part Five of the Pride Series. North Carolina certainly may not be like the hot-beds of LGBT community, life and activism like San Francisco or New York City, but we still have plenty of history makers and leaders to be proud of! View Entire Article » […]

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