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DADT flashback: Greensboro 2006

Today Congress will hold the first hearing on the anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy since its passage in 1993.

The hearing is at 2 p.m. and can be watched live via the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network website.

Until then, let’s take a trip down memory lane, to Sept. 21, 2006, Greensboro, N.C. (Click pic for PDF)

Click here for other media coverage

Seth Crawford, a junior at Northwest Guilford High School in Greensboro, NC, wrote a great student journalism article and profile on me and my activism as a part of a multicultural journalism workshop with the Greensboro News & Record.

His article appears in today’s paper:

UNCG student fights for gay rights
June 26, 2007
Seth Crawford, Northwest Guilford

This article was written as part of a Multicultural Journalism Workshop at the News & Record.

The numbing cold handcuffs constrict his wrists.

A firm hand tightly grasps his arm.

An attentive man guides him to the sporadic blinking lights of a police car.

As he is placed in the back seat, confidence builds up inside him.

Unlike most college students, 21-year-old Matt Hill Comer has been battling adversity his entire life.

Comer, a UNCG junior, realized he was gay when he was 12. But he grew up in a strictly conservative Baptist home, where he struggled with a decision to make his sexual orientation known. He would sit in church on Sundays, listening to his pastor — who seemed to point him out — condemning gays as despicable, vile creatures that would inevitably burn in hell.

Comer struggled with his sexual orientation. Maybe he didn’t feel the way he thought he did, or maybe it would pass. After two years of wrestling with himself, he finally came out to his parents at 14.

“My dad just sat on the couch. He didn’t really say anything,” Comer said. “My mom gave me the typical conservative Christian reaction saying, ‘You’re going to hell.’

“I cried myself to sleep.”

After he told his parents, he built up enough courage to confide to a friend in his Boy Scout troop and another friend from school, who told everyone else. It wasn’t the way he had planned. But there wasn’t much he could do about it, except grit his teeth and take the verbal abuse that followed.

Comer remembers being teased by the kids in his Boy Scout troop. That eventually turned to violence.

“They tied me to a tree and threw rocks and sticks at me and hit me with wet towels,” he said.

His father confronted the Scout master, who simply replied: “Boys will be boys.”

Read the full article by Seth

I emailed Seth this morning, told him he did a great job and gave him just one correction in his article. Besides that… I think his little bio at the bottom of the article – “Seth, a junior, wants to write for Sports Illustrated.” – might be right on cue with his talent for writing.

It’s that time of year, when the world falls in love every song you hear seems to say…

Boy am I glad this year is over.

2006 was full… chock full of issue after issue, controversy after controversy, work, work and more work.

But it was a good year, too.

So now… the top stories of 2006. They aren’t ranked in any order, they’re just listed, beginning with January 2006 all the way through December:

1. The Alternative Resources of the Triad (OutGreensboro.com)/Graffiti Ads advertising controversy
Near the end of January, and continuing through early February, news broke right here on this blog of a controversy surrounding Alternative Resources of the Triad (OutGreensboro.com), a Greensboro, NC-based LGBT organization, and its problems with an advertising company which refused to work with it because they thought their customers and viewers would be offended due to the gay nature of the organization. At the time, I was on the Board of Alternative Resources.

The story was never quite resolved, except for the fact that the Winston-Salem, NC-based Graffiti Ads continued to refuse business with the LGBT organization. After an official statement had to be made by Alternative Resources, the story finally made its way to the local press (here & here & here) and a media-frenzy ensued. In the end, or so I’m told, Graffiti Ads ended up losing some customers because of their fear of anything “too gay.” I’m sure their reputation of fearing gay business will follow them; even know, if you Google “graffiti ads winston-salem” posts regarding the anti-gay discrimination pop up. Click here for all the relevant posts.

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2. Governor’s School Turned my Son Gay & the Susan Wiseman/Winston-Salem-Forsyth County School System controversy
In February news broke of a mother of a gay high school boy, who claimed that an optional seminar at the NC Governor’s School discussing a book on gay teens made her son “choose” to “turn” homosexual. Later, another controversy which seemed to be quite separate from the Governor’s School controversy popped up: An openly lesbian teacher at East Forsyth High School, Susan Wiseman, was accused of improper sexual misconduct with a student she taught.

Later, as more information became known, the two controversies became intertwined, as it was none other than Susan Wiseman (along with high schooler Wes Nemenz, an active member of East Forsyth’s Gay-Straight Alliance) who had led the optional seminar at the Governor’s School. Wiseman, considered to be one of only a handful of openly gay teachers was, with no doubt, the only one brave enough to actively and publicly work on issues relating to the safety of LGBT students and the hostile atmospheres which high schools in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County afforded them.

Although it was clear to many, many people that Wiseman never did it and never publicly admitted to it and was never charged and never put on trial, she took the brunt force of a Board of Education all but too willing to get rid of “gay agitator” in their midst. Questions lingered in the case against Wiseman, especially considering the mysterious connection between the timing of the misconduct accusations and the revelation of the “turn my son gay” seminar at Governor’s School. John Railey, a columnist for The Winston-Salem Journal, admitted as much and left us all with a scary quote from Vic Johnson, one of the members of the Board of Education: “Being openly gay is “something that this community doesn’t approve of,’ he said. He added, ‘as long as you’re openly gay and not accused of being with any children, I think you can get away with it.'”

When Wiseman was fired by the Board of Education (a board including members who compare gays to murderers & rapists and justify their unwillingness to protect gay students with beliefs of homosexual “sin”), it took nothing more than a “recommendation” from Superintendent Don Martin (the same man who encouraged school system employees to attend a workshop at First Presbyterian Church featuring a speaker from an ex-gay ministry). The Board of Education, without discussion and without offering any questions, asking for evidence or more information, simply approved Martin’s “recommendation.”

One student told me: “I never really like W-S and now i know why. Will will this end…? It makes me feel unsafe in my own school. What can they do to be because im gay? I dont know but i dont want to find out.”

As I said then, in response to that student: “The Board of Education and the administration of the WS/FCS has handled this case completely in the wrong way. While doing so they have managed only to invoke even more fear and trembling into the hearts of LGBT teachers and students.”

Later, in December 2006, Doug Punger, the attorney who defended this anti-gay Board of Education in Winston-Salem, retired after more than 30 years of “service.”

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3. A foray into journalism
In Mid-February I made my first entrance to the world of print journalism – well… more like print opinion writing. In Massachussets In Newsweekly, I was published first online on February 8th and in print on February 16th, with my guest column, “Letter from a Red State Activist.” The column dealt with a variety of topics, comparing LGBT activism work in the South and in North Carolina to that of “liberal,” “blue state” Mass.

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4. Jerry Falwell, Liberty University, My first arrest & the Soulforce Equality Ride
On March 8th, 2006, I was introduced to the world of civil disobedience and relentless non-violent resistence to religious & political oppression by two new friends, Cris Elkins and Gene Hammond. I travelled with them to the very first stop in the very first Equality Ride: The Reverend Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. We only attempted to step onto campus and speak to students and faculty, but the moment we crossed that invisible line between public sidewalk and university campus (a.k.a. holy, non-gay ground, per edict of Falwell) the 24 of us were arrested. Throughout the remainder of the Equality Ride, I followed their actions across the country (past posts here w/ screen caps of the MTV News Special here).

Cris and Gene’s friendship would introduce me to a wonderful organization full of bright, tallented and committed youth activists. Later I’d be involved with Soulforce’s Right to Serve Campaign (official site & local Greensboro organizing site). Now, I find myself tagging along (with Blog Contributor Brandy Daniels) as a Rider in the second, larger Equality Ride this March and April, a journey I’m sure that both Brandy and I will write extensively about on this site.

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5. Straight student/gay film-maker expelled
In March, we learned of high school student Brandon Flyte. His school attempted to censor one part of his film, Brokeback High, yet he showed the film, without the censorship, anyway. For this, he was expelled. The result was a long, public and media-driven battle over students’ rights and the courage of a straight allied teen willing to stand up for education and awareness on issues affecting LGBT students.

The shot in the film for which he was censored (pictured right) was not graphic and showed only two boys in bed doing nothing but talking.

His film, which I have yet to see in its entirety, was rumored to be superb… and it taught, I’m sure, many lessons on LGBT equality and the respect and dignity we all deserve to have, regardless of our sexual orientation.

Flyte was later allowed back into the school and while the school never fully apologized, it hinted at some wrong-doing on its part.

It was, for a short time, rumored that the whole controversy was a hoax, a belief fueled by what many saw to be untruthful, “cover our asses” statements made by Flyte’s school. In the end, we knew the whole story: Flyte was punished, improperly, for resisting the improper censorship of his film and his student rights.

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6. Duke Lacrosse, Collin Finnerty & the DC, anti-gay assault
As we know find the Duke rape case coming to a close and as more and more evidence pops up that the three boys originally charged in the case are, by almost all means, innocent of any wrong-doing, I can’t help but harken back to the day when I wrote a scathing little post on the “connections of hate.”

The post dealt with Collin Finnerty’s assault of a man in Washington, D.C. and although the assault was never officially considered a hate crime, it was one (in my personal belief) motivated by or at least including some anti-gay sentiment. Then, I couldn’t help but ponder on the connections between what I saw as an anti-gay assault and what was then being cast as a rape with various undertones of racism (at the time, the “victims” and others were claiming that racist slurs and other actions were committed against them – something that may not be totally true, given that we know the “victims” probably aren’t “victims”).

I took a lot of flack for my posts on Finnerty, especially from regular blog reader JoeT. Needless to say we had a few spats, some of them public. I’ve put most of all this behind me now… and as the year comes to a close and as the three Duke students will soon find themselves free of all accusations of wrong-doing, I offer this to JoeT: I apologize for my foolishness. I still, however, stand by my assertions that where one prejudice or bigotry comes, another is (more than likely, although not always) soon to follow (the original belief which spawned my “connections of hate” post).

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7. LGBT Youth, the schools, and gay-straight alliances
This year, more than any other I think, we’ve heard a lot about gay-straight student organizations within high schools and the legal fights or public media frenzies which have often followed shortly thereafter when school boards have attempted to shut them down.

We’ve dealt with the GSA ban in the Rowan-Salisbury School System after students first organized a GSA at South Rowan High School. We’ve heard about junior Danielle Smiley in Currituck, NC. The list of student heroes and high school activists goes on and on.

Click here for past posts on Rowan-Salisbury & Currituck.

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8. LGBT college students in North Carolina & the UNC Association of Student Governments
From winding its way through a long and painful legislative process, starting at the lower levels of a committee at UNCG’s Student Senate and ending up in debate at a state-wide General Assembly meeting of The University of North Carolina System Association of Student Governments (UNCASG), LGBT students found themselves being, unsurprisingly, let down in an attempt to recognize them and protect them from discrimination.

What originally started as a one-piece addition of sexual orientation to the consitution of the UNC System’s state-wide student government (an institution funded through tax-payer monies fees collected from every one of the more than 200,000 UNC System students and connected to the UNC System’s Board of Governors), slowly turned into a resolution asking for the addition of numerous categories. The resolution, originally sponsored by me and just a few other students, was finally presented as an amendment to the UNCASG’s constitution at an April General Assembly meeting. The amendment proposed adding sexual orientation, gender-identity/expression, gender & socioeconomic status to the state group’s constitutional equal opportunity clause.

2006 marks the year in which this progressive piece of student legislation for the UNC System was shot-down by approximately 90% of the Assembly members representing over 200,000 North Carolina college students, after numerous members of the Assembly (including one student who had told me the night before that I was not equal to him due to my sexual orientation) erroneously stated that the Constitution of the State of North Carolina wouldn’t allow it.

The proposal didn’t die completely, however (Bradley Ballou, the then-Student Body President of UNC-Wilmington pushed for the proposal to be tabled until the next year) and hope lives on that it may pass this year. Although no action has been taken, the proposal is tucked neatly under the arm of the UNCASG’s head officers and has been forwarded to the General Counsel of the UNC System. Hopefully, by the end of this year (or perhaps next year), LGBT students in The University of North Carolina System will have a firm and reliable constitutional protection that might have the possibility of pushing the UNC Board of Governors into officially protecting LGBT students.

As for now… students must continue to wait, work and hope. Click here for all the past posts.

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9. Election 2006
Yeah… I’m not even going to write much about this… I’m sure you all remember it well.

Here’s just a few, key names you should remember (whether these names are good or bad… past writings will fill you in):

  • Vernon Robinson
  • Pricey Harrison
  • Brad Miller
  • Sandra Mikush
  • Buddy Collins
  • Jeannie Metcalf

See Q-vote 2006 for all the coverage that was.

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10. The Soulforce Right to Serve Campaign
In the fall of 2006, LGBT and straight allied youth across the entire nation geared up to take part in what was to be the very first organized, national movement bringing attention to the discriminatory, anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of the United States Military.

In Greensboro, NC, I led the way as a City Organizer, assisted by my good friend Kimberly Krieg, national organizer Katie Higgins and participants Stacey Booe, Jessica Arvidson, Jackie Hernandez, Caitlin Stroud, Cris Elkins, Alex Barbato, Alex Nini, and Danielle Hoffman.

On September 21, 2006, four openly gay youth in Greensboro, NC, walked into the Army Recruiting Center, told the recruiter they wanted to enlist, while being completely honest about themselves. They were willing to serve their country, but they weren’t willing to lie and live in hiding and secrecy in order to do it.

In the end, nine persons were arrested that day, after sitting-in for the right to serve without discrimination based upon who they are as American citizens. We were charged with trespassing. In November 2006, we were given a deferred prosecution, with all charges being dropped after 90 days, given that no one return to the recruiting center or break any other laws.

The Right to Serve Campaign, which was endorsed by the national Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and named as number 5 on its list of the Top Ten “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” stories of 2006, brought the issue of government-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT Americans home to millions. Now, as we enter 2007, we are the closest we’ve ever been to seeing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy rescinded and replaced with one which will offer all American citizens, no matter their sexual orientation, the rightful respect and dignity they deserve.

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So… That’s it… Your year-end recap and top stories of 2006 from InterstateQ. I’m sure there have been many, many other huge stories and issues covered: The LGBT Center at NC State University, the “outing” of Representative Patrick McHenry (or, at least, the outing of the rumors of his gayness), Lance Bass & the HRC, the anti-gay ‘gay=pedophile’ Guilford County Republican Party Chairman, the establishment of my political action committee, the Thomasville & Davidson County anti-gay marriage resolution, the ex-gays, Ignite Student Outreach & Exodus International, LGBT youth homelessness and Gay Jesus.

For sake of time and sanity… I think I’ll stop. If I were to name all of the “top stories” I think I might go crazy (or, at least, without sleep for a night or two).

Do you have any more? Were there any stories that just spoke to you or stand out to you?

The archives are, always, open for permanent viewing. Looking into the past is always a good thing. You can learn a lot from the past. Reviewing each year as it comes to a close and a new one starts is always a great way to figure out where you are and how you’ve gotten here.

I thank ALL OF YOU who have become regular readers and commenters at the blog. Your support, your comments, your knowledge, your sometimes serious and sometimes hilarious shots at the expense of my pride (haha) have all been wonderful, exciting, humbling and memorable.

So… Cheers! To a bright, new and exciting 2007 to come!

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Right to Serve Wiki Page

Over at Wikipedia, I’ve created an entry for the Right to Serve Campaign… Head on over, help to edit and grow it. While I know a bit about Greensboro (considering I was the City Organizer and all), I don’t know much about many of the other cities. For that reason, I haven’t put up any specific information regarding any city in the Campaign, except for the inclusion of an arrest photo from Greensboro.

Check it out.

You can look up past posts and a smorgasbord of more info on the Soulforce Right to Serve Campaign, especially as it relates to Greensboro, NC, on this site’s Soulforce Youth page.

“First home-made movie” (with the horrible Windows Movie Maker) should be sign enough to know that it isn’t perfect, but I don’t think I did that bad of a job for a 20 minute scrape together project.

A couple days ago I wrote a little “campaign” piece for Soulforce, in Joe.My.God’s award for “Queer of the Year.” Soulforce quickly went up to number two, following Mike Jones. Soulforce is about to fall behind. It is still number two, but only by 20 or so votes. Soulforce is about 200 behind Mike Jones and about 20 above Lane Hudson.

So please Go Vote for Soulforce in the Queer of the Year awards.

Joe.My.God is holding his “Queer of the Year” awards and I’m urging everyone to vote for Soulforce. No offense intended to any other person/group on the list. Hester, Hudson, Jones and others are definitely deserving of the award, but I just can’t help from placing my loyalty with Soulforce (www.soulforce.org)

So here’s my bit of campaigning… (and here comes the full disclosure, lol) As the City Organizer for Greensboro, NC (details on our local NC action) in Soulforce’s Right to Serve Campaign on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” I ask you to give your vote to Soulforce.

In the past year this group has taken under its wing the LGBT and straight ally activists, leaders, and politicians of tomorrow… youth who, unlike so many our age, understand that there is something larger, something bigger to the world other than ourselves and our immediate surroundings.

In the spring, 30 youth put their personal lives on hold to go on the very first Equality Ride, bringing the message of “Learn from History” to religious and military schools around the country which do not allow the admission of openly gay students. The message was clear: Discrimination in the name of God has never been right and everytime it has been done, it has been proven wrong.

In the fall, THOUSANDS of youth around the country participated in the Right to Serve Campaign. Youth took a stand by going to Military Recruiting Centers and honestly, earnestly attempting to enlist as openly gay Americans. We were willing to serve, but we were not willing to hide our lvies or actively lie about who we are in order to do it. Those youth and their supporters sat in at the Recruiting Centers when they were denied. Standing up for a cause by sitting down and refusing to leave until out rights as American citizens were recognized sent a simple but strong message to the people of our country (and not just the politicians in D.C.): Lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans should be able to serve their country without oppression from government-sanctioned discrimination. Slowly, but surely, the rest of America is agreeing with us and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will soon be a thing of the past.

In January 2007, (full disclosure again), I will be fortunate enough to join with 50 or so other youth activists and leaders for our first meeting to plan the Equality Ride 2007 in March and April. In 2007, two buses, not one, will travel the country spreading a message of equality and love to our nation’s religious schools with anti-gay policies.

Please… cast your vote for Soulforce. This organization truly understands the power of youth in changing the possibilities and realities of the future. Soulforce should be our “Queer of the Year.”

VOTE HERE – and Vote for Soulforce por favor

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Queer of the Year – Vote for Soulforce

Joe.My.God is holding his “Queer of the Year” awards and I’m urging everyone to vote for Soulforce. No offense intended to any other person/group on the list. Hester, Hudson, Jones and others are definitely deserving of the award, but I just can’t help from placing my loyalty with Soulforce (www.soulforce.org)

So here’s my bit of campaigning… (and here comes the full disclosure, lol) As the City Organizer for Greensboro, NC (details on our local NC action) in Soulforce’s Right to Serve Campaign on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” I ask you to give your vote to Soulforce.

In the past year this group has taken under its wing the LGBT and straight ally activists, leaders, and politicians of tomorrow… youth who, unlike so many our age, understand that there is something larger, something bigger to the world other than ourselves and our immediate surroundings.

In the spring, 30 youth put their personal lives on hold to go on the very first Equality Ride, bringing the message of “Learn from History” to religious and military schools around the country which do not allow the admission of openly gay students. The message was clear: Discrimination in the name of God has never been right and everytime it has been done, it has been proven wrong.

In the fall, THOUSANDS of youth around the country participated in the Right to Serve Campaign. Youth took a stand by going to Military Recruiting Centers and honestly, earnestly attempting to enlist as openly gay Americans. We were willing to serve, but we were not willing to hide our lvies or actively lie about who we are in order to do it. Those youth and their supporters sat in at the Recruiting Centers when they were denied. Standing up for a cause by sitting down and refusing to leave until out rights as American citizens were recognized sent a simple but strong message to the people of our country (and not just the politicians in D.C.): Lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans should be able to serve their country without oppression from government-sanctioned discrimination. Slowly, but surely, the rest of America is agreeing with us and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will soon be a thing of the past.

In January 2007, (full disclosure again), I will be fortunate enough to join with 50 or so other youth activists and leaders for our first meeting to plan the Equality Ride 2007 in March and April. In 2007, two buses, not one, will travel the country spreading a message of equality and love to our nation’s religious schools with anti-gay policies.

Please… cast your vote for Soulforce. This organization truly understands the power of youth in changing the possibilities and realities of the future. Soulforce should be our “Queer of the Year.”

VOTE HERE – and Vote for Soulforce por favor

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Right to Serve makes number 5, out of 10

The Soulforce Right to Serve Campaign (past posts), which had its own action here in Greensboro, NC, has made the number 5 slot on SLDN’s year-end countdown of the Top-10 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” stories of 2006:

Photo caption: Supporters from local universities and schools staged a sit-in as Kamal Rashad Davis, Curt Peterson and Rhonda Davis attempted to enlist last Wednesday at the U.S. Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square. Photo: Eva Grenier/Pete Whinn. (The New York Blade)

For getting young people organized and visible, illustrating the wastefulness and heartlessness of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a big gold star and the #5 slot in our countdown go to the Right to Serve campaign.

Lynchburg, VA-based Soulforce seeks to achieve freedom from oppression for LGBT people via relentless nonviolent resistance. Their youth-focused programming kicked into high gear this year with Right to Serve, a coordinated effort of openly queer youth with military aspirations to demand repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

This fall, two of my friends from college (UVA — go Wahoos!) went into the Armed Forces Recruiting Center in Charlottesville, VA to enlist. They each made their queer identity clear when they spoke with the recruiter, and they were summarily denied a place in a military hurting for capable recruits. I know both of these folks well enough that I’m sure they would have gone to fight for our country had they been allowed. Soulforce organizers ensure that all Right to Serve participants share their sincerity in enlisting.

Stories like this played out in a total of 30 cities this summer and fall, thanks to Soulforce’s thoughtful grassroots organizing. At the Task Force’s Creating Change conference I met two young women who were proud to tell me that they attempted to join the Navy this fall and were arrested for peaceful protest following the recruiter’s denial of their applications.

Participation in the Right to Serve campaign has given young activists like these a strategic outlet for their sense of duty to their communities and to America. How can our Armed Forces continue to deny these talented, earnest young people the opportunities and responsibilities of military service, especially in a time of war?

America’s young people deserve better than “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The Right to Serve campaign this year gave young people a coordinated, amplified voice with which to distribute this message far and wide.

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Today’s press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact:
Matt Hill Comer
Soulforce Right to Serve Campaign
City Organizer – Greensboro, NC
336-391-9528
matt.hill.comer@gmail.com
http://www.soulforce.org
http://www.righttoserve.org

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ sit-in activists pleased with court agreement

Greensboro, NC, November 20, 2006 — The nine Soulforce Right to Serve Campaign activists arrested during a sit-in after four youth attempted to enlist in the Army as proud, able-bodied, openly gay Americans on September 21, 2006, at the Army Recruiting Center in Greensboro attended their scheduled court appearance this morning in Guilford County District Court. The eight youth and one adult supporter were charged with Class 2 misdemeanor trespassing and were originally scheduled to appear on October 23, 2006, but the matter was then postponed for a month.

Soulforce activists Jessica Arvidson, Alex Barbato, Matt Hill Comer, Cris Elkins, Jacquelyn Hernandez, Danielle Hoffman, Leslie Hughes, Alex Nini, and Caitlin Stroud each signed statements agreeing to not break any laws and not to return to the Army Recruiting Center for 90 days. District Attorney Doug Henderson has agreed to drop all charges after 90 days if the nine activists uphold their court agreement. The nine activists were represented by Greensboro attorney, Samuel Johnson. The Honorable Susan Bray was the presiding judge.

“We are extremely happy and grateful that Guilford County District Attorney Doug Henderson has been willing to recognize the right of citizens to challenge the actions of its government in non-violence and civil disobedience,” said Soulforce City Organizer Matt Hill Comer, “We thank District Attorney Henderson for recognizing the commitment these youth and supporters made in honoring the great American tradition of change through non-violent, civil disobedience, as set by four brave and committed NC A&T State University students right here in our own City of Greensboro more than forty years ago.”

The Soulforce Right to Serve Campaign is a national effort this fall in which openly gay, lesbian and bisexual youth in 30 cities across the country are answering the call to duty and challenging the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

In Greensboro, four youth attempted to enlist as openly gay Americans and were turned away because of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The nine activists staged a sit-in which attracted extensive local, state-wide and some national media and press coverage.

Activists across the nation and in Greensboro are hopeful that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy might be repealed when the Democrat-controlled Congress takes power in January. U.S. House Representative Marty Meehan has promised to re-introduce the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal the discriminatory law.

For questions or further comments: contact:
Matt Hill Comer, 336-391-9528, matt.hill.comer@gmail.com

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WUNC ‘State of Things’ Interview

Viola! Here it is. My time with the wonderful Frank Stasio of WUNC’s “The State of Things.”

Matt Hill Comer
Monday, November 13 2006

At age fourteen, Matt Hill Comer was on track to become an Eagle Scout, but a run-in with his local Boy Scouts troop over homosexuality took his life in a new direction. Host Frank Stasio speaks to Matt Hill Comer, now a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, about equality, politics and youth activism.

http://wunc.org/tsot/archive/sot1113a.mp3

The interview runs a total of about 48 minutes (it was an hour slot live, with breaks).

I haven’t made it back to my house in Winston, yet… I’m at UNCG for the rest of the evening (we have a Joint Senate/House meeting of Student Government tonight).

When I’ll get back I’ll update the side of the page here with the link to the interview as well as update the Media-Press page.

A big shout out and thanks goes out again to Frank and producers Katy Barron and Lindsay Thomas, as well as Executive Producer Susan Davis, Managing Editor Dave DeWitt and Broadcast Producer Robin Copley. Thanks for the opportunity, ya’ll; it was fun!