North Carolina News Notes
CHARLOTTE — Pride Charlotte will be held on July 25 at Gateway Village. Currently the Pride Charlotte Committee is actively seeking volunteers for a variety of positions, including Partners in Peace.
Partners In Peace exists to keep conflict from occurring between protesters and the Pride Charlotte participants. Partners In Peace organizer Susan Cummings says, “It is my belief that everyone has the right to peacefully protest. It is also my belief that we have the right to the pursuit of happiness. Our goal as Partners In Peace is to curb and temper any extreme or uncivil behavior.”
To lend a hand for 2-4 hour shifts in order to make this year’s festival a safe place zone, email Su@pridecharlotte.com.
For other opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teen center on radar
GREENVILLE — Kevin Boyette, a recent public relations graduate of East Carolina University (ECU), has a plan. And, if he is successful, it will create a much-needed asset to this eastern North Carolina town.
He wants to open up a teen center. His motivation is to battle as a gay teen the isolation he experienced growing up.
According to Carlton Purvis, a reporter with The East Carolinian who wrote in his story, “From Stonewall to Greenville,” “Greenville’s gay community is using formulas reminiscent of the civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s. The 20-something crowd is the catalyst and there’s no shortage of public demonstrations.”
In recent times, Boyette led the April 17 March on Silence from College Hill to the campus mall. This practicing Christian is more worried about the school board and radical Christian groups and how they might become a stumbling block to his dream. He feels that the climate at ECU is becoming more open.
Facebook has become a vehicle for Boyette to get his message across. He is soliciting community-based ideas there. Already there are over 200 on the list. He hopes to have a gay rights movement books section at the center. There is also an online forum set up for ways to secure funds. Grants and contributions from supports and the community is where he hopes to get the lion’s share from.
Purvis reported, “‘As a person who grew up without anyone that was LGBT to talk to, I felt alone, but strived forward with my life to figure out who I was as an individual,’ [Boyette] said in an online statement about the project. ‘We want to give visibility to the history, culture and diversity of the LGBT community.’”
Author tackles LGBT suicide rate
DUNN — On April 15 the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Youth Advocacy Store opened via Cafepress. The online store sells T-shirts and accessories meant to spread awareness about the high suicide rate among LGBT youth, as well as encouraging teenagers to choose life.
The store was created by author Stephanie Silberstein, who is also writing a young adult novel to bring awareness to the issue. Silberstein nearly lost a close friend to suicide over his sexual orientation last summer. After doing some research, she learned that her friend’s situation was not uncommon. Thirty percent of completed youth suicides are related to sexual orientation. “He chose not to be a statistic,” Silberstein says. “I’m reaching out to others like him, both in gratitude for his continued life and in hopes of making a difference.”
The primary product offered is a black T-shirt inscribed with, “30% of suicides are LGBT related. I refuse to be a statistic.” Silberstein also offers T-shirts and hats supporting other issues important to the LGBT community, such as school safety and answering religious condemnation of homosexuality.
The shirts are sold for $15-$30 each. Ten percent of profits will help The Trevor Project Suicide Hotline, the only national suicide hotline targeted specifically towards LGBT youth. The rest of the proceeds will be used to support the independent publication of Silberstein’s LGBT teen-oriented novel, “Shades of Gay,” in May 2010.
Silberstein is planning several events intended to lower the suicide rate among LGBT adolescents. A candlelight vigil and dinner in honor of Harvey Milk’s birthday was held in May.
“Whether or not you are participating in an event, please buy a T-shirt today and wear it with pride,” Silberstein says. “Chances are that there’s a young person in your life who needs to see its message. If each of us can just encourage one person to keep living, the day will come when there are no more people killing themselves because of who they are.”
For more information, email email@example.com or visit www.cafepress.com/shadesofgay, www.squidoo.com/shadesofgay and/or www.thetrevorproject.org.
Local awareness raised
CHAPEL HILL — On June 12, Chapel Hill students came together to show their support for LGBT rights in the first ever Boomtown showcase at Rooftop, reported Equality NC (ENC) intern Graham Hunter. The rock and hip-hop concert, organized by college students Alison Bryan and Jonathan Gedney, was designed to spread awareness of important social issues (this year’s theme being LGBT rights) as well as promote local musical talent. Ticket sales from the concert were donated to Equality NC and Lambda Legal.
Around 60 attended the event.
In addition to fund-raising, the event provided a opportunity to spread the good word about ENC and its efforts with the School Violence Prevention Act. Many attendees had never heard of ENC, but were very supportive of the cause. “A few individuals were shocked that North Carolina did not already have such anti-bullying legislation on the books, which only goes to show the greater need for visibility and information. At the end of the night, we [ENC] had a few more postcards to add to our already expansive number and, hopefully, a few more allies,” Hunter commented.
The Boomtown showcase was a venue by the youth, for the youth. The most rewarding part of the night was to see youth actively confronting social problems and working toward greater understanding and equality. The notion of ‘change’ (like its conservative cousin, ‘maverick’) may be a hackneyed phrase by now, but I have to believe that its frequent use only highlights its necessity,” Hunter added.
“As the struggle for LGBT rights extends into the coming years, today’s youth must be willing to take up the mantle of their forebearers. The fight for tomorrow’s change starts today. Boomtown showed that a growing number of youth are becoming more involved in LGBT issues and are willing to fight for that change,” he concluded.
Take it, shake it, do it!
STATEWIDE — Campus Pride needs your input. They are currently conducting their National LGBT College Climate Survey online. Participate and win an chance at a free RSVP cruise or $500 cash. This is open to LGBT students, faculty, staff and administrators. It’s totally confidential.
The National LGBT College Climate Survey is a comprehensive assessment to document annually the experiences of students, faculty, staff and administrators who identify as LGBT at America’s colleges and universities. The survey is conducted through the Q Research Institute for Higher Education owned and operated by Campus Pride.The annual assessment examines emerging issues, trends and changing demographics of LGBT people in higher education. The Research Director is Dr. Susan R. Rankin of The Pennsylvania State University and Associate Research Director is Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld of The Iowa State University.
This project is approved by the Office of Research Protections at The Pennsylvania State University.
Visit www.campuspride.org/research by June 30 to join in.
Next, mark your calendar for the “A New Benchmark: Successful Policies, Programs Practices for Supporting LGBT Students” webinar on July 9 from 1-3 p.m. It focuses on how to create a welcoming and supportive college environment for LGBT students.
To sign up, visit www.innovativeeducators.org/retention_p/701.htm.
Campus Pride will host its third annual Campus Pride Summer Leadership Camp from July 21-26 geared toward LGBT and ally student leaders from colleges and universities across the United States. The five-day-long leadership camp, is the only national program of its kind, and will take place on the campus of Towson University in Towson, Md.
It will bestow a new award at Camp called surprisingly a “Campy.” This award recognizes special individuals and organizations that have demonstrated outstanding service and contributions to Campus Pride. This summer Shelly Weiss of OUTmedia and Patrick Davis of Patrick Davis Partners will receive a Campy recognizing their unique roles supporting the Campus Pride mission to give “voice and action” to LGBT and ally youth. In addition, five longstanding Campus Pride volunteers will be recognized for their ongoing support of camp: Christopher Bylone, C.M. Hall, Jessica Pettitt, Michael Shutt and Lisa Simmons.
Weiss is the owner and founder of OUTmedia, a leading queer cultural activist organization and social enterprise.
Davis is the owner and founder of Patrick Davis Partners.
The five Campus Pride volunteers Christopher Bylone, C.M. Hall, Jessica Pettitt, Michael Shutt and Lisa Simmons were on the original team who helped plan and implement the first-ever Campus Pride Summer Leadership Camp in 2007. Each individual has demonstrated volunteer service beyond expectations building Campus Pride programs and services over the last three to four years.
“Campus Pride has witnessed tremendous success with our programs and services, growing very quickly over the years with limited monies. The first ‘Campys’ are going to those individuals and organizations who believed in us and made this success a reality,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride. “We are fortunate, especially in these hard economic times, to have these volunteers commit their time and energy.”
Any college student 18 years old or above may attend camp. Registration is due by July 6.
To register, sponsor or for more information, email visit firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.CampusPride.org.
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