Charlotte LGBTQ+ oral histories

Janice Covington Allison oral history interview 1, 2016 April 9
In this first in a series of interviews, Janice Covington, a transgender woman and political activist in Charlotte, North Carolina, discusses her formative years and her early adult life. She recalls her early struggles with gender identity, noting that her family doctor prescribed testosterone shots when she was an adolescent in the belief that she was not developing physically as a male. She also recounts her delight in discovering a magazine photograph of transgender people in San Francisco, which gave her insight into her identity as a female. Ms. Covington details her broader experiences growing up in Delaware with a father who served in World War II, as well as her own military service in the U.S. Army and her discharge after multiple bullet wound injuries in 1967. She recounts her experience living as a transgender woman in San Francisco where she located in search of community after leaving the military, and her move from there to Chicago around 1970. Ms. Covington relates that despite the wider gay community in Chicago, her gender identity prevented her from pursuing important life goals and she decided to live again as a male. After this reversion, Ms. Covington met and married her wife and moved to North Carolina where she raised a family and pursued a successful business career until the tragic death of her wife. Additional topics discussed in the interview include discussion of the work of the Imperial Court and the Lavender Panthers, and changes in the naming of transgender people over time.
Janice Covington Allison oral history interview 2, 2016 May 14
In this second of several interviews, Janice Covington, a transgender woman and political activist in Charlotte, North Carolina, continues to discuss her personal history and reflects on transgender experiences over time in the Carolinas. She describes her married life and her conflicting identities as a husband, father, and fire chief, and as a transgender woman. Although she characterizes experiences for LGBT people in Charlotte during the 1970s and 1980s as dangerous, she also describes how she was able to find a community to identify with in the city's various gay bars and establishments. Ms. Covington describes these LGBT venues in detail, including Oleens, Scorpios, the Brass Rail, the Odyssey, Cinema Blue, Daks, the Bar at 316 (formerly Liaisons), Tags, the Woodshed, Independence News, the White Rabbit, and others. In particular she describes the drag culture of Oleens bar on South Blvd where she performed as a drag artist, and her interactions with the co-owner Oleen Love, the manager Greg Bradford, other drag queens including Casey King, Boom Boom LaTour, Tiffany Storm, and Gypsy Star, and various patrons. Ms. Covington notes that at the time of the interview the transgender community in Charlotte had only been publicly identified for about four years. She relates the history of transgender support groups in the Carolinas, describing Phoenix in Asheville, Kappa Beta in Charlotte, and Tri Gender Association in Greensboro. In contrast to these early support groups, Ms. Covington relates how she founded TransCarolina in the early 2000s to address workplace rights and to serve as a social group with a public face. She relates how many hotels were welcoming of the group, which met around the state two or three times a month.
Janice Covington Allison oral history interview 3, 2019 September 18
In this third of several interviews, Janice Covington Allison, a transgender woman and political activist in Charlotte, North Carolina shares her political activist history, her role in the North Carolina Democratic Party, and her experiences as a transgender woman in North Carolina. Topics discussed include young transgender people; Ms. Convington's exit and re-entrance to politics; her coming out; the difficulties she faced in the Democratic Party; current transgender elected officials in North Carolina; House Bill 2, (HB2); Ms. Covington's relationship with Flip Benham; transgender people and bathrooms; House Bill 142; the transgender political caucus; Ms. Covington's issues with the LGBTQ+ Democrats; gender identity and sexual orientation; suicide within the trans community; and gender fluidity. Ms. Covington ends the interview by telling people to just be themselves.
Janice Covington Allison oral history interview 4, 2021 June 16
In this fourth of several interviews, Janice Covington Allison, a transgender woman and political activist for transgender rights in Charlotte, North Carolina shares her reflections on gender expression and identity, personal and societal acceptance, and her political outlook for the future. [All times approximate]. [00:00] Introductions. [03:00] Ms. Covington Allison discusses her lifetime journey to become comfortable with her gender expression. She talks about her underlying drive to connect with people in order to advocate for them. She identifies herself as gender fluid and defines what this means to her. [10:00] Reflects on major issues currently facing transgender people. Discusses politicization of gender expression and conservative Christian prejudice against transgender people. [13:58] Relays her own experiences of how white supremacists view transgender people. [17:30] Challenges transgender people to avoid making assumptions which may put them in a negative light. [19:51] Discusses violence against transgender people, and in particular against sex workers. [23:00] Discusses discrimination against transgender people in the workforce and particularly in certain professions. [28:40] Talks about the politics of re-asignment surgery and the significance of physical appearance to career success. [32:00] Discusses the importance of acceptance for transgender people, the different challenges that transmen and transwomen face respectively, and gives a message to transgender people to accept themselves. [35:50] Discusses non-acceptance within the LGBTQ community of transgender people and the tendency for other groups within the LGBTQ community to represent transgender people politically. [37:00] Discusses the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA). [32:16] Discusses House Bill 2 (HB2) and House Bill 142, and the impact of the Dillon Rule in North Carolina on restricting municipal powers. [44:40] Discusses her outlook on future progress for transgender rights in North Carolina and continues to discuss the complexity of HB2. [50:00] Details the incident in the Charlotte Government Center in 2016 when she was arrested during the City Council meeting to amend the city's Non-discrimination Ordinance after people complained about her (legitimate) presence in the women's bathroom.
Janice Covington Allison oral history interview 5, 2021 August 10
In this fifth of several interviews, Janice Covington Allison, a transgender woman and political activist in Charlotte, North Carolina shares her experiences with transitioning physically and emotionally. [All times approximate]. [00:00] Introductions and reflections on the complexities of transition for transgender people. [05:16] Discussion of options for making physical changes ranging from grooming to hormone therapy. Ms. Covington Allison reflects on changes in the availability of treatment during her lifetime. [12:36] She reflects on her decision to start taking hormones and the impact transitioning can have on relationships. [17:08] She discusses how hormone medications made her feel, and the long term effects of hormone therapy. [23:53] The interview concludes with a discussion of botox and injectable cosmetic fillers.
Sandra G. Bailey oral history interview 1, 2017 November 10
In this interview, Sandra Bailey, who has been active in the LGBTQ community in Charlotte North Carolina since the early 1970s, briefly discusses her childhood in Alabama, and her parents, Nila and Stokley Bailey, who were founding members of the Charlotte PFLAG chapter. This interview is continued in a second interview on 22 January 2018.
Sandra G. Bailey oral history interview 2, 2018 January 22
In this second of three interviews, Sandra Bailey discusses her childhood and college years in Jackson Mississippi and Memphis Tennessee, her adjustment to her sexual orientation during her adolescence, her experiences living as a lesbian in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Charlotte, North Carolina, and her parents' profound influence on her life. She reflects significantly on her mother and father, Nila and Stokley Bailey, who were founders of the Charlotte chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). Ms. Bailey also talks extensively about her Hollywood experience in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and her singing career.
Sandra G. Bailey oral history interview 3, 2018 March 15
In this third of three interviews, gay-rights activist Sandra Bailey discusses her involvement in the LGBTQ community in Charlotte North Carolina. Ms. Bailey talks about working as a singer for the Freese family (publishers of Charlotte Free Press) at Josh's restaurant on East Boulevard in Charlotte, the AIDS epidemic in Charlotte, PFLAG and her parent's foundational role in the Charlotte chapter, local protests in support of LGBTQ rights, and her experience in the choir One Voice. She ends the interview with an observation of the political climate of Charlotte and North Carolina as a whole.
Robert L. Barret oral history interview 1, 2014 October 1
In this first of three interviews, Dr. Robert L. Barret, professor emeritus in counseling at UNC Charlotte, practicing psychotherapist, and LGBTQ activist, discusses his life and career changes that led up to his involvement as an advocate for LGBTQ+ people in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Barret describes his early life and his family background in Dyersburg and Memphis, Tennessee and how he became aware of racism and social injustice. He discusses his involvement as a member of the student government at Rhodes College, including efforts to collaborate with African American colleges in student events in the late 1950s. Dr. Barret explains that although he had an intuitive feeling that he was attracted to males from a young age, he had no same sex relationship guidance or gay role models. After leaving college, Dr. Barret followed a heternormative path of marriage. Dr. Barret describes the various career paths that eventually led him to pursue his Masters degree in Counseling from UNC Charlotte in 1974, under the mentorship of Sister Mary Thomas Burke, and his Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Georgia State University in 1979. Dr. Barret explains that an internship brought him back to the UNC Charlotte Counseling Center, and that he started volunteering to help people with AIDS in the mid-1980s. Dr. Barret describes how he started working with the Metrolina AIDS Project, Charlotte's first AIDS service organization. He relates how his community work influenced his professional interests, and he describes his national and international work in Psychology dealing with AIDS. Dr. Barret also discusses the breakup of his marriage, his realization about his own repressed sexuality, and his personal experience with the process of coming out.
Robert L. Barret oral history interview 2, 2014 November 11
In this second of three interviews, Dr. Robert L. Barret, professor emeritus in counseling at UNC Charlotte, practicing psychotherapist, and LGBTQ activist, discusses his experiences and perceptions as a gay man in Charlotte, North Carolina during the 1980s and 1990s. Dr. Barret reflects on Charlotte's history as largely conservative regarding LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS issues, culminating in great fear and closeting among LGBTQ communities. When Dr. Barret returned to Charlotte from Atlanta in 1985, he recognized the need for organizational support of LGBTQ communities, including HIV/AIDS patients. He recalls feeling a desire to serve this community even before he was out as a gay man. In particular he details his work with the Metrolina Aids Project (MAP), which involved educating the public and gay men about safe sex, as well as fundraising for MAP in a hostile political environment. Dr. Barret describes his discomfort seeing so many openly gay men die from AIDS and his concerns that he himself was not living with integrity. He relates how he came out to friends and family in Charlotte, and subsequently moved to San Francisco for a year, where he lived openly as a gay man and explored gay communities and culture. He recounts moving back to Charlotte in 1991 in response to a feeling that more needed to be done there for LGBTQ rights, and he reflects on his attempts to rectify Charlotte's media representations of LGBTQ communities. In addition Dr. Barret also talks about his work at UNC Charlotte, pay discrimination, and his efforts to unite LGBTQ students and faculty.
Robert L. Barret oral history interview 3, 2015 February 24
In this third of three interviews, Dr. Robert L. Barret, professor emeritus in counseling at UNC Charlotte, practicing psychotherapist, and LGBTQ activist, discusses at length the reactions and ramifications of coming out to his family as a gay man during the mid-1980s. Dr. Barret recalls his strained relationship with his wife, Diane, and their decision to separate. He also discusses his post-coming out relationships with his three daughters: Laura, Amanda, and Ashley. Dr. Barret's oldest daughter, Ashley, came out as a lesbian. Amanda and Laura entered hetero-marriages and adopted Christian lifestyles that Dr. Barret explains were often at odds with his own lifestyle.
Keith Gaston Bernard oral history interview 3, 2023 March 6
Keith Gaston Bernard discusses in-depth his experiences working on the first board of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center Project in Charlotte, North Carolina when it came into being in the early 2000s. Topics discussed include the early days of the Community Center Project; the management of finances and a physical space; key members of the board and volunteers who were involved in the project and their contributions; and Bernard's involvement in other LGBTQ+ groups in Charlotte including First Tuesday, a politically forward nonpartisan advocacy group for LGBTQ+ citizens of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, and One Voice Chorus.
Keith Gaston Bernard oral history interview 1, 2017 June 24
In this first of two interviews, Keith Barnard, long-time gay-rights activist in Charlotte, North Carolina, recalls his life experiences as a gay man in the American South. He reflects on his upbringing in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and his experience in Charlotte where he moved as a young man. Topics discussed include the impact of Catholicism on his life; his realization of his sexual orientation and his experience coming out in different aspects of his life; misconceived ideas about the LGBTQ community that are commonly held; interest in Greek society and culture; his experiences at gay bars in Charlotte; and his involvement in various nascent Charlotte LGBTQ groups including Dignity (which later became known as Acceptance), and the Queen City Quordinators.
Keith Gaston Bernard oral history interview 2, 2017 September 9
In this second of two interviews, long-time gay-rights activist Keith Bernard recalls his experience in Charlotte, North Carolina as a gay man. Topics discussed include the rivalries between LGBTQ groups in the Triad, Triangle, and Charlotte area; spirituality among gay men (with reference to the Radical Faeries in Asheville and the Gay Spirit Visions group who met at The Mountain, a Unitarian retreat and camp in Highlands, North Carolina); music performances sponsored by LBGTQ groups in Charlotte and the influence of the arts on social change; the local gay and lesbian political action group, First Tuesday; protests launched by First Tuesday against Cracker Barrel after the company fired an employee for being gay; the impact of the HIV-AIDS epidemic on Charlotte; the catalyzing effect that attacks on the gay community by religious and political groups had in stimulating LGBTQ activism; and local LGBTQ political activity in general.
Gregg Brafford oral history interview 1, 2023 April 6
Gregg Brafford, who managed and owned several LGBTQ+ bars in Charlotte, North Carolina, including Oleens, the New Brass Rail, Central Station, and the Woodshed, discusses his formative years in Mint Hill, his college experiences at UNC Charlotte, LGBT people, places and spaces in Charlotte during the 1970s and 1980s, and drag queen culture at that time. [All times are approximate] [00:00] Mr. Brafford describes his family life growing up on a farm in Mint Hill, North Carolina, the Brafford family roots dating back to the Civil War in Mecklenburg County, and his grade school experiences. He discusses how he worked in various Charlotte restaurants from his teenage years, and his family involvement in Arlington Baptist Church. [09:30] He describes his experiences as a business major at UNC Charlotte between 1977 and 1979. Although not an active member, he describes his involvement with what he believed to be the first gay organization at the University and how he acted as a 'bodyguard' to protect vulnerable members of the group on campus. He discusses the impact that the organization had in raising awareness of gay and lesbian concerns. [14:00] He describes his early career as a salesman and his self-discovery as a young gay man in Charlotte. He relates the significant role of Charlotte's gay bars as places to meet other LGBT people in the late 1970s, in particular the Brass Rail and Oleens. He talks candidly about sexual freedom and experimentation with drugs in the 1970s. [21:00] Mr. Brafford describes Oleens bar and the mixed crowd that gathered there including lesbians, gay men, motorbike riders, sex workers, drag queens and others. [23:00] He discusses Don Robinson, the owner of Oleens and many other venues that catered to LGBT people in Charlotte from the 1960s to the 1980s. [29:00] He describes Oleen Love, Don Robinson's mistress, and the property on Lake Wylie where Don and Oleen entertained. [33:00] He gives a detailed account of the drag queens who worked at Oleens, many of whom were transgender women who lived in the Dilworth neighborhood close to the bar. [35:00] He describes notable drag performers in detail, beginning with Boom Boom Latour, and Randy Alexander. He reflects on the culture of local drag performance and how it became more professional over time. [44:46] He continues to describe other notable local drag queens including Toni Lenoir, Grand Prix, Casey King, Veronica Lee, Brittany Gwen, Tiffany Storm, and Kerrie Nichols, who won Miss Gay America. He shares his outlook on how and why drag is different in the Southern USA to other places. [50:49] Mr. Brafford reflects on the 1982 Miss Gay America competition, which was held at Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte. He describes his interaction with protesters at the event and the event's success. [53:11] He reflects on the difficulties experienced by drag queens in the 1970s in Charlotte. [54:40] He describes the evolution of Scorpios bar, and the owners Marion and Oakey Tyson. He describes how he came to manage Oleens, the challenges of the job, and the many lesbian customers who came to the bar. He outlines a typical day managing Oleens bar and how the area around the bar gentrified over time. [1:06:10] He describes the apartment where he lived in Dilworth at 331 East Blvd. on the corner of East Blvd. and Euclid Ave., and his neighbor activist Don King who ran the Friends Of Dorothy Bookstore from his living room. [1:08:37] Mr. Brafford notes that there were many gay and lesbian people who were also witches in Charlotte and that they ran a bar at Eastway and the Plaza called The Warlock. There was also a witches convention that was held at Oleens. [1:1140] He gives details of The Friends of Dorothy bookstore, Don King and his activism. [1:14:18] Mr. Brafford's partner Karl briefly joins the conversation and they talk about living together in the Club South bathhouse that was located on South Blvd. close to the junction with East Blvd. They describe the baths and how it provided a refuge for gay men who were without a home. [1:21:00] Mr. Brafford describes other locations in DIlworth that were popular with the LGBT community, including Josh's Restaurant on East Blvd., which was run by Robert J. Freese [Jake]. Jake and his brother John also owned and ran Mr. McGregor's garden center on East Blvd, in addition to R.J. Publishing that published the Charlotte Free Press [or Free Press] during the 1970s.
Gregg Brafford oral history interview 2, 2023 May 3
In his second interview, Gregg Brafford, who managed and owned several LGBTQ+ bars in Charlotte, North Carolina, including Oleens, the New Brass Rail, Central Station, and the Woodshed, continues to discuss LGBTQ+ bars and restaurants in Charlotte through the 2020s. [All times are approximate] [00:00] Mr. Brafford discusses his knowledge of early gay bars in Charlotte, including a bar on Wilkinson Boulevard where gay men gathered in a back room [the Casablanca?]; a bar on North Tryon called the Neptune which had drag performances and whose patrons met yearly at Oleens for commemorations; a bar on Kings Drive next to the Center Theater; and a pool room on East Blvd. He talks about early popular cruising locations in uptown Charlotte and Freedom Park. [09:00] He details the history of the original Brass Rail located on South Tryon and Morehead St. where waitress Oleen Love encouraged a gay clientele. He outlines how the New Brass Rail got established by Don Robinson on Wilkinson Blvd. He discusses other LGBT bars that followed, including Nikki's Express on East Blvd., the Odyssey [later Charades] that started above the original Brass Rail and eventually moved to the Plaza and Eastway. [19:20] Mr. Brafford discusses bartenders at Oleens and Scorpios. He describes the elaborate farewell celebrations at Oleens and the new Brass Rail when they closed. He explains how many gay bars closed due to competition, gentrification, and arson. [31:43] He describes Tags, a gay bar on the Plaza; Club Mix, a Black gay bar on South Tryon; Steven's restaurant on Rensselaer Ave in Dilworth [renamed Liaisons and later The Bar at 316]; Central Station on Central Ave., which he owned for several years; and the Woodshed on Queen City Drive close to I85, which he owned for twenty-two years. [46:30] Mr. Brafford discusses his membership in the Tradesmen organization in Charlotte, one of the oldest leather clubs in the nation and a local supporter of the House of Mercy in Belmont, North Carolina, and their fundraising efforts. He reflects on how Charlotte was known for its gay bars in the later twentieth century. [56:15] He reflects on local Baptist minister, Joseph Chambers who frequently protested against LGBTQ people and places. [59:40] He outlines the history of Chasers bar on the Plaza and his association with Nick Wilds, who owned Chasers, as well as Scorpios, the Joy Bookstore and other local LGBTQ businesses, and who brought the Miss Gay North Carolina America Pageant to Charlotte. [1:07:27] He talks about his most significant mentors in the bar business, Don Robinson, Jerry McManus, and Clark Gilleland, the lessons he learned, how he survived, and the contemporary role of gay bars
Gregg Brafford oral history interview 3, 2023 July 6
In this third of three interviews, Gregg Brafford, who managed and owned several LGBTQ+ bars in Charlotte, North Carolina, including Oleens, the New Brass Rail, Central Station, and the Woodshed, discusses the impact of the HIV AIDS virus on the local LGBTQ population during the 1980s and 1990s, his personal experience of loss, AIDS fundraising in the LGBTQ community, individuals affected by the disease, and AIDS care. [All times are approximate] [00:00] Following introductions Mr. Brafford relates his first experience of HIV AIDS locally and the reactions of fear, panic, and denial within the LGBTQ community. He talks about particular people who were early victims of the disease, including Lynn Cantrell, Jackie Carell, Mark Mather, and drag queens Toni Lenoir, Grand Prix, and Margo. [08:50] He discusses the role of the Carolinas Medical Center [later renamed Atrium Health], and how they generously flew AIDS patient Don Potter home to Kentucky to die. He notes other medical establishments who refused to treat AIDS patients. [14:42] He relates the escalating number of funerals he attended for a decade, including forty of his employees and countless friends and customers. [16:10] Mr. Brafford describes various fundraising endeavors that he was involved with, in particular the annual Carnival of Hope, a series of drag shows that were instigated by drag queens at Oleens. He recalls other AIDS fundraisers in Charlotte, including the Carolina Celebration, the Metrolina AIDS Project (MAP)'s Guess Who's Coming to Dinner event, and the Tulip Party that was held for several years in a private home with extensive gardens. [22:50] He elaborates on the essential services that MAP provided to people with AIDS, and how AIDS brought LGBTQ people together and broke down barriers between LGBTQ and straight communities. [24:45] He describes his connection to the House of Mercy which was run for AIDS sufferers by the Sisters of Mercy in Belmont, North Carolina. He also relates how the Tradesmen organization supported the nun's mission. [31:55] Mr. Brafford concludes the interview with reflections on the political climate for LGBTQ people at the time of the interview.
Joshua D. Burford oral history interview 1, 2014 October 2
Joshua Burford, Assistant Director of the Multicultural Resources Center at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, describes his work and efforts in collecting local LGBTQ history and the process of initiating the King Henry Brockington LGBTQ+ Archive, (a collection of the papers and records of individuals and organizations in Charlotte's LGBTQ community that is located in Special Collections and University Archives at UNC Charlotte). Mr. Burford describes the impact and success of a similar project he initiated with students at the University of Alabama, which made him realize how important it was to collect Southern queer history. He acknowledges that growing up during the time of the radical gay liberation movement affected his perspective and approach towards being a member of the LGBTQ community, his role in it and view of its history. He discusses how the archiving effort that he initiated in Charlotte became a grassroots initiative from the local LGBTQ community, and how his outsider perspective was beneficial to the process. He details how materials in the archive are considered to be the "cornerstones of the community," and he describes the criteria for the intake of materials. Mr. Burford also discusses his work collecting materials for Charlotte's first exhibit of LGBTQ history at the Levine Museum of the New South, the impact of the exhibit, and current challenges within the broader Charlotte LGBTQ community.
Joshua D. Burford oral history interview 2, 2016 March 13
Joshua Burford, Assistant Director of the Multicultural Resources Center at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, recalls his life growing up in Alabama and his passion for collecting queer history. He discusses the reasons for and process of coming out to his family, the tight community and family of LGBTQ people he had in his youth, and the experience of being queer in the South. Mr. Burford notes how growing up during a time when homophobia and "gay bashing" was at its height impacted him as a person and shaped who he is now. He also discusses his motivations, hopes and vision for his current work and projects, including the collection of history for a local LGBTQ history timeline, and continuing to collect materials for the King Henry Brockington LBGTQ+ Archive at UNC Charlotte.
Joshua D. Burford oral history interview 3, 2016 May 26
As a sequel to a previous interview, Joshua Burford, Assistant Director of the Multicultural Resources Center at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, discusses the progress, success and new efforts in collecting local LGBTQ history for deposit in the university's Special Collections. He reflects on the process of naming the King Henry Brockington Community Archive, and the national attention received when his work collecting and exhibiting a local LGBTQ timeline with the Levine Museum of the New South won the Allan Berube Prize, the highest award for public LGBTQ history efforts. Mr. Burford also details the gaps in documenting local LGBTQ history, including the era of the 1960s and in particular bi, trans and queer histories, and the history of LGBTQ people of color. He describes new efforts, including the Charlotte Queer Oral History Project, which had recently got underway in the community, and a proposed website that could connect LGBTQ history projects throughout the South and the United States in general.
Joshua D. Burford oral history interview 4, 2017 December 28
In this fourth of four interviews, Joshua Burford, Assistant Director of the Multicultural Resources Center at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, discusses his experience as a queer man living in Charlotte, North Carolina as well as his thoughts on activism within the Queer community. He compares what it was like to live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Charlotte and how he had disappointments when he first moved to Charlotte. Mr. Burford talks about why he started the Charlotte Queer Oral History Project and his vision of a queer community in Charlotte. Other topics discussed include civil rights, queer Southerners, and his interest in preserving Queer and Trans history.
Terry Burris oral history interview 1, 2021 June 3
Terry Burris, whose stage name is Tiffany Storm, discusses her life, and her career as a drag queen, nightclub manager and proprietor in Charlotte, North Carolina. [All times approximate]. Ms. Burris introduces herself as the third owner of Chasers [a gay bar in Charlotte North Carolina], a transwoman, and a keeper of Chasers' thirty year history [00:30]. Describes growing up in a racially mixed neighborhood close to Brown Mill (part of Cannon Mills) in Concord, North Carolina, where her father worked in the mill and her mother owned a cleaning business [02:12]. Talks about her awareness of her sexuality as a young person, her early interest in Charlotte as a more cosmopolitan space than Concord, and her first visit to Charlotte's Scorpio nightclub and Oleens bar, where she experienced a drag performance for the first time in 1991 [08:09]. Describes meeting performer Casey King at Oleens, how she and Casey became roommates and close friends, Ms. King's position as the show director of City Lights [formerly and latterly the Visulite Theatre on Elizabeth Ave. in Charlotte] [11:55]. Coming out in the era of HIV-AIDS in the mid-1990s, fears related to contracting HIV, and the tragic loss of life in the local gay community [13:36]. Picketing of gay bars by protesters in Charlotte during the AIDS crisis, working at Oleens bar on South Boulevard, and the atmosphere, high quality drag performances and clientele at Oleens [16:12]. Drag queens who worked at Oleens, including Shasha Tate, Veronica Lee, Gypsy Star, Great Britain, Tina Terrell, and Boom Boom Latour [18:50]. Oleen Love, the original proprietor of Oleens who was elderly by the 1990s and no longer running the bar, her glamorous clothes, and her occasional performances and popularity when she visited the bar [20:36]. Managers of Oleens including Lincoln Terrel, Vern Ellis, and Greg Brafford, who was also the manager of the gay bath house on South Blvd in Dilworth [Club South], travelling entertainers at Oleens who would earn $25 - $50 per night plus tips and a room for the weekend at the bath house [22:05]. The Carnival of Hope that was held at Oleens and organized by Greg Brafford to support the House of Mercy which was a nursing facility for AIDS sufferers run by the Sisters of Mercy in Belmont North Carolina [25:18]. Suicide of prominent Charlotte drag performer Tony Green whose stage name was Toni Lenoir and who lived on 36th St in NoDa [formerly North Charlotte] [27:47]. Other Charlotte drag performers including Grand Prix, Electra (aka Jim Buff, a famous Bette Miller impersonator), and Elgin Kenner (Cher impersonator) [28:30]. Changes in the bar and drag scene with increasingly mixed audiences, reflections on earlier drag performance and how it differed from current drag performance, the exciting anticipation of weekly acts, and contrasts and rivalry between Oleens and Scorpio [30:07]. Working at Scorpio from 1994, changing shows at Scorpio over time, and the sale of Scorpio to Rick Wilds around 1991 [34:00]. Personal experience with drag performance at Oleens, Sunday night bargain basement shows, developing personal style of drag directly through performing, and the choice of Tiffany Storm as a stage name [37:40]. Sharing apartments with Casey King on the East and South sides of Charlotte, Casey King's ability as a seamstress to create her own outfits, storing drag costumes, and working at Ivey's department store as a display designer [44:20]. Family outlook on Ms. Burris' work, her mother's positive reaction to her success winning Miss North Carolina in 1997, Ms. Burris' outlook on reassignment surgery, and her own sexual transition [50:45]. Meeting Rick Wilds and becoming a bartender and then general manager at Scorpio, being offered the opportunity to purchase Chasers by Mr. Wilds' partner Donald Oshields after the previous owners, Brian and Basil, decided to sell the business, financial arrangements to purchase the bar, and subsequent success of the business under Ms. Burris' ownership [59:40].
Terry Burris oral history interview 2, 2021 June 17
In this second of several interviews, Terry Burris, aka Tiffany Storm, proprietor of Chasers Bar and Grill in Charlotte North Carolina, discusses her experiences as a contestant in the Miss Gay America pageant during the 1990s, and her success in winning the Miss Gay North Carolina America title in 1997. [All times approximate]. Ms. Burris outlines how winning pageants was important for drag performers to validate their value as artists, how pageants provided a means of garnering recognition and admiration, the prestige of the North Carolina America pageant, and how promoters groomed and supported potential contestants [00:58]. She describes how pageant coach Tom Gwen noticed her potential as a performer and approached her in 1995 even though she weighed 300 pounds at the time, how she won the Ms. Western North Carolina America preliminary pageant despite strong competition, and the elaborate talent act that Mr. Gwen devised for her using the comedic character of Bridget the Midget and incorporating Madonna's popular song, Vogue [6:30]. Ms. Burris describes her first pageant gown that was made by fellow drag queen Tina Terrell's mother out of velvet with solid rhinestones, the four-day pageant held at Scorpios nightclub in July 1996, and how she was pleased to come second runner up out of twenty-eight contestants for Miss Gay North Carolina America [12:30]. She continues to relate how work started almost immediately for the 1997 pageant season, the details of her $5,000 gown weighing forty pounds that was custom made in a design shop in Lancaster South Carolina called CB's Peach Tree, how she paid for the dress, and how she had to have the dress shortened at additional cost by a dressmaker in Charlotte who also created her sportswear [14:40]. She describes other outfits and elaborate sets that were custom made for the 1997 pageant competition when she won the Miss North Carolina America pageant, including a carousel prop that filled the whole stage at Scorpios, her statement to the judges during the question session challenging the tradition of pageant queens being petite and starting a trend for larger contestants [19:50]. She gives details of how the 1997 Miss Gay America pageant was organized, the stiff competition she faced in her group, and how she won the Lady Barbara award for placing eleventh [29:20]. Ms. Burris relates how she resisted going back to pageant competitions feeling that they were too costly in time and resources, how winning Miss Gay North Carolina America had established her reputation, how Scorpio's owner Rick Wilds took over the competition in the late 1990s, and Mr. Wild's influence in her life [33:22]. She describes how judges were chosen for the pageants, other honorary titles she has won, and the fate of her pageant gown that is still in the possession of Gypsy Star [44:20]. She remarks on the upcoming 50th anniversary of Miss Gay America pageant scheduled for January 2022 in Little Rock Arkansas, discusses various Charlotte drag queens who have competed over the years, including Kerrie Nichols (aka Jeff Capell), Tracy Morgan, and Blair Williams, and issues with burn-out and addiction among contestants [56:07] She continues to discuss various Charlotte drag queens including Veronica Lee (aka Bennie Purdue), Gypsy Star (long time seamstress at Morris Costumes), Great Britain (aka Brittney Gwynne and Dennis Love), Sasha Tate (aka Larry, and now Laura Young), Kasey King, Grand Prix (aka Erin Washington), Boom Boom Latour, Tina Terell, Linda Locklear, Ebony Devon, Ebony Delight, and also Jim Buff, and Elgin Kenner who both became nationally famous [1:02:00].
Ricky Carter oral history interview, 2015 November 6
Ricky Carter illuminates his life as a gay man and as a prominent drag queen known as Boom Boom Latour. As a young Charlotte North Carolina native Mr. Carter worked alongside his family in their barbecue restaurant, Hickory House, studied design at Gardner-Webb College and Central Piedmont Community College, and worked as a window designer for Belk and Ivey's department stores. He and his sister Christy Carter speak extensively about the importance of work within the tight-knit Carter family. Mr. Carter also describes in detail how he came to reinvent himself as drag queen Boom Boom Latour. On Halloween night in 1969 he was enthralled to see his first drag performance at a Charlotte bar. He reflects that this performance inspired his forty-year long career as Boom Boom Latour, who made her stage debut the following year at Oleens, a bar on South Boulevard that became famous for drag performance. He recalls that his comedic performance as Latour made him immediately popular, and that as Latour became profitable he was able to expand his female wardrobe with the help of Christy and a network of women and gay male admirers. As Latour's fan base blossomed, Mr. Carter's drag family also expanded. In 1991, a vital member of Mr. Carter's drag family named Tony Lenoir committed suicide after receiving an AIDS diagnosis. Mr. Carter emphasizes the isolation that AIDS sufferers experienced not only with heterosexuals and medical professionals, but also within Charlotte's gay communities. Mr. Carter and his sister explain that even during the height of LaTour's success, they remained in Charlotte to take care of their aging parents and Hickory House.
Kris Davis oral history interview 2021 May 29
WARNING: This interview contains a discussion of a racist word beginning at 25:38 and ending at 27:38. In this interview, Kris Davis discusses her childhood and early adulthood in North Carolina, focusing extensively on the topics of race, gender, and sexuality. Ms. Davis talks about growing up in the Charlotte neighborhood of Grier Heights, within a predominantly black community. Ms. Davis recollects her tomboy traits and behaviors in her early childhood. When Ms. Davis was in middle school, she began dating boys while also maintaining close friendships with girls that she found beautiful. Ms. Davis talks about her high school transition from Charlotte to Waxhaw, discussing racist encounters with white classmates as she transitioned from a predominately black school to a predominately white school. Ms. Davis discusses the importance of her 21st birthday, as she began a romantic relationship with her first girlfriend. She describes the exhilaration of becoming fully aware of and accepting of her lesbian identity. Near the end of her interview, Ms. Davis discusses her current community of female friends and she reflects on her personal goals for the future.
Ed DePasquale oral history interview, 2016 October 19
WARNING: This interview includes language that many may find offensive, including racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and anti-Semitic statements. Ed DePasquale discusses his life as a gay man in Charlotte, North Carolina for the past sixty years. Mr. DePasquale recalls growing up in a Roman Catholic, Italian-American family in a neighborhood in upstate New York during the 1930s and 1940s. In 1955, Mr. DePasquale moved to Charlotte, North Carolina where he worked largely in the retail industry, particularly for Family Dollar. Mr. DePasquale speaks at-length about his various management roles with Family Dollar, specifically spending time discussing his role as the manager of the North Graham Street location in Charlotte. Mr. DePasquale transitions to recounting his life as a gay man, highlighting his first sexual encounter with another man in 1956 in a restaurant bathroom in Uptown Charlotte. Mr. DePasquale acknowledges that his coming out was largely prompted by his dissatisfaction with his marriage. In 1970, Mr. DePasquale left his wife but didn't come out to her for fear of losing contact with his daughters. Mr. DePasquale discusses his involvement in Charlotte's gay male community, speaking at-length about the LGBT organizations Acceptance, Metrolina AIDS Project (MAP), and Prime Timers, as well as LGBTQ+ affirming churches New Life Metropolitan Community Church and Wedgwood Baptist Church. Mr. DePasquale also discusses his involvement with the civic organization Charlotte Junior Chamber (Jaycees). Other major themes that Mr. DePasquale discusses include racism against African Americans, HIV/AIDS, and gay marriage.
Steve del Vecchio oral history interview, 2023 March 27
Steve del Vecchio discusses his lifelong career as a gardener in the Charlotte area and his identity as a gay man since his family moved to the city in the 1950s. Topics discussed include the different clients Mr. del Vecchio worked for including Elizabeth Lawrence and Elizabeth Clarkson (whose properties on Ridgewood Ave in Myers Park, the Elizabeth Lawrence House & Garden and Wing Haven Garden & Bird Sanctuary, are historic and open to the public); Mr. del Vecchio's relationship with Robert "Jake" Freese, owner and publisher of the queer journal, Charlotte Free Press; his own contributions to the paper as a horticultural columnist; his experience and participation in the growing queer community of mid-twentieth Charlotte.
Sally Duffy oral history interview 2021 March 31
In this interview, Sally Duffy discusses her life as a Southerner, a Christian, a psychologist, and a lesbian. Ms. Duffy describes her Catholic upbringing in Charleston, South Carolina during the 1950s and 1960s, highlighting her experiences with school integration and race relations during the civil rights movement. Ms. Duffy also describes her higher education path to becoming a psychologist with a specialty in pain management. After receiving her Master's of Science, Ms. Duffy worked in rural Eastern Kentucky and she describes the challenges and rewards of this year of work. In 1990, Ms. Duffy moved to Charlotte for work and she describes her involvement in local LGBTQ+ organizations One-Voice Chorus and Queen City Friends. Ms. Duffy describes memorable experiences with One-Voice, including meeting her wife Linda Lawyer.
Shelley Earnhardt and Sheryl Manning oral history interview, 2021 February 8
In this interview, Sheryl Manning and Shelley Burton Earnhardt discuss their participation in the Charlotte LGBTQ+ chorus One-Voice. Ms. Manning and Ms. Earnhardt discuss the large impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on vocal practice, performance, and community building. Other topics discussed include: women’s music festivals, inclusion, diversity, and heterosexual allies.
D Evans oral history interview, 2018 May 7
In this interview, D. Evans, a founding member of One Voice Chorus, an LGBTQ choir in Charlotte North Carolina, shares her experience being a gay, biracial woman in North Carolina. Ms. Evans discusses her difficult childhood and the move from Long Island, New York to Burlington, North Carolina. She also shares what it was like to be Christian and gay and that she stayed "in the closet" for fear of discrimination from her grandparents and her community. Other topics discussed include coming out; homophobia; her career change to medical social work; HIV/AIDS; HIV/AIDS and black churches; The Agape Program, which educated the African-American community about HIV/AIDS and other diseases that affected African-Americans; the importance of safe sex; racism and homophobia in Gaston County; discrimination in the workplace; and Ms. Evan's life partner.
Tommy Feldman oral history interview, 2022 October 13
Graphic artist Tommy Feldman describes his life growing up in the Chicago suburbs, attending Columbia College in Chicago, meeting his husband Shane Windmeyer, moving to Bloomington Illinois, and setting up his business, Tyvola Design, in Charlotte North Carolina. [All times are approximate]. [00:00] Introductions. [02:00] Mr. Feldman describes his attraction to the South of the United States and to Charlotte. He discusses his formative years in Elmhurst Illinois and his love of art from an early age. He describes his experience as a young artist. [13:38] He describes his college experience, first at a community college and then at Columbia College, and his developing artistic style. [17:21] He talks about the challenges of his life after college as an emerging artist and the turning point in his life and his career after meeting his partner Shane Windmeyer. [21:38] He discusses coming out, the liberating experience of moving to Indiana University Bloomington, his admiration for Mr. Windmeyer's social justice goals, and the way that his artistic skills complemented Mr. Windmeyer's work. He describes specific projects they collaborated on in Bloomington. [27:56] He describes his move to Charlotte, and the continued synchronicity and mutual support in his relationship with Shane Windmeyer. [30:44] Discusses the AIDS Memorial Quilt, its extraordinary emotional impact, and his work assisting with bringing the quilt to UNC Charlotte in collaboration with the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN) which he continued to work with as a graphic artist. [34:32] He discusses his reaction to developing technology with respect to his art. He reflects on his design work with Campus Pride. [39:02] He describes how he transitioned from working for others to starting his own business, Tyvola Design. He discusses his work with clients, predominantly Campus Pride and RAIN, with various additional assignments including design work for drag performers. [42:52] He discusses the entertainment guide Pocket Rocket, a four year franchise with a company in Atlanta that had poor profitability. He describes the positive side of this experience as giving him an opportunity to focus on highlighting people in the community. [47:02] Further reflection on his relationship with his husband, noting the importance of being individuals as well as partners. He gives advice for young people to accept themselves. [51:48] He discusses his outlook on marriage and marriage rights. [53:23] Final reflections and gratitude for his life.
James Green oral history interview 1, 2015 September 29
In this first of two interviews, psychotherapist James Green, who settled in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1988, discusses his life, his work, and his activities with various LGBT organizations in Charlotte. As a boy, Mr. Green was one of seven children within a Native Ojibwe and Catholic family in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He describes how at the age of thirteen he became aware of his same sex attraction but remained closeted due to the stigma of gay identity in the 1960s. However, in 1969 Mr. Green was greatly inspired by the Stonewall uprising and subsequently became involved in activism as a college student attending the University of California at Berkeley. He details how he co-founded the Pacific Center for Human Growth, an LGBT community center in Berkley. Mr. Green traces his path from college student to novitiate, and eventually to counseling and psychotherapy work, a path that brought him to the Southeastern United States. He relates how he was attracted to Charlotte as a mid-size city with a developing LGBT community. Mr. Green describes how he became involved in local LGBT organizations Acceptance and the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard of Charlotte, and how he explored gay communities in the Dilworth and Plaza Midwood neighborhoods. By the 1990s, Mr. Green was engaged in his pastoral psychotherapy work, counseling gay men, Native Americans, and AIDS sufferers. He discusses his faith as a connection between Ojibwe tradition and Catholic spirituality, and he also explains how his unique intersectionality as a gay, spiritual man with experience in counseling made him better adept to support AIDS sufferers. During the interview Mr. Green also discusses his admiration for Father Gene McCreesh and his work at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Charlotte.
James Green oral history interview 2, 2016 April 23
In this second of two interviews, psychotherapist James Green discusses his nearly thirty year involvement with the Charlotte, North Carolina chapter of Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Mr. Green discusses the nascent Charlotte chapter of PFLAG in 1987, explaining that as Charlotte was growing into a bigger city in the 1980s, there was a population in Charlotte who had a need for PFLAG services. He also attributes the establishment of PFLAG in Charlotte in 1987 to the combined effect of more people coming out due to more publicized gay liberation, and more gay men being forced to come out by their HIV diagnosis. Mr. Green discusses the network of cooperation between PFLAG, the Metrolina Aids Project (MAP), and other local LGBT organizations to address community needs. Love, acceptance, and friendliness are the attributes of PFLAG that Mr. Green explains helped the organization navigate local opposition. He also suggests that the close work between PFLAG and faith communities helped build a more inclusive community. After recounting PFLAG Charlotte's history, Mr. Green discusses topical contemporary issues facing PFLAG, such as transgender acceptance and support--especially in the aftermath of North Carolina's divisive 2016 statute, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, popularly known as House Bill 2 or HB2.
Dona H. Haney oral history interview, 2017 May 24
UNC Charlotte School of Nursing alumna, Dona Haney, describes her experiences at Mercy Hospital where she was the infection control nurse during the HIV AIDS epidemic. Topics discussed include the lack of anticipation of the disease by the local medical community; her responsibility for establishing protocols for infection control following guidelines from the CDC; heightened fear and anxiety among hospital staff and how she handled this; the patient-focused approach to nursing at Mercy Hospital that was modelled by the Sisters of Mercy, in particular Sister Therese Galligan; the first diagnosed person with AIDS in Charlotte, who was one of Ms. Haney's patients; stigma surrounding the disease and how that changed over time; societal changes engendered by AIDS including more open discussion of sex and homosexuality; frequently changing protocols with respect to testing for HIV AIDS and confidentiality guidelines and the implications of this; the work of the Metrolina AIDS Project (MAP) and the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN) in Charlotte; the role of HIV AIDS in bringing the local gay community into the public realm to fight for civil rights.
Sue Henry oral history interview 2, 2016 August 19
In this second interview Sue Henry, the owner of the Rising Moon Books & Beyond bookstore in Charlotte, North Carolina from 1991 to 1997, and the first out lesbian to run for Mayor of Charlotte in 1995, discusses the process of opening and operating her bookstore. She describes how she used the feminist model of community shared space as a model for running Rising Moon Books & Beyond, and the impact the bookstore had on the local community. She details how the bookstore provided space for events, meetings, and organizing as well as offering emotional support for community members. There were three Rising Moon Books & Beyond locations, two in Charlotte, (the first on East Blvd in Dilworth and the second in North Charlotte --NoDa-- where the store shared space with St. Ruby's Java Joint), and one in Wilmington, North Carolina. The interview concludes with a discussion about the political climate of Charlotte in relation to the LGBTQ community since the 1990s, stressing the varying success of political activism.
Sue Henry oral history interview 1, 2016 July 30
In this interview Sue Henry, owner of Rising Moon Books & Beyond bookstore in Charlotte between 1991 to 1997, the first out lesbian to run for Mayor of Charlotte in 1995, and an active member of several political and social LGBTQ organizations, discusses her early life, her political involvements in the 1990s as a community organizer, and her work on the planning committee for the 1994 North Carolina Pride celebration. Ms. Henry details how this pride celebration, which included Charlotte's first ever pride march, significantly changed the local LGBT community and made members aware of their group capabilities. In addition Ms. Henry discusses how she was politicized and impassioned by being part of the October 11, 1987 March on Washington, her campaign for Mayor of Charlotte in 1995, her involvement in OutCharlotte (an artistic and cultural festival that began in the early 1990s), and how OutCharlotte led to the creation of the GayCharlotte Film Festival.
James Horton oral history interview, 2016, December 22
Dr. James M. Horton, former Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte North Carolina, discusses his career, and in particular his work and long association with treating HIV/AIDS in the Charlotte region. Dr. Horton describes the circumstances that first led him to Charlotte in 1984, when he began work as an infectious disease specialist at the Nalle Clinic. He recalls the fears, misunderstanding, and stigma that characterized HIV/AIDS, especially during the initial years when the disease was not understood and when there were no successful treatments. He stresses the frustration of not being able to help patients during this time, and he notes the contradiction between the reality of HIV/AIDS and the hubris of the infectious disease field of the late 1970s which considered that all infections could be cured. Dr. Horton relates how he became involved with the Metrolina AIDS Project, (MAP) Charlotte's first AIDS service organization, and his connection to the founder, Les Kooyman. In addition to treating patients and supporting the work of MAP, Dr. Horton also describes his involvement in clinical trials for HIV/AIDS drugs, and the success of the controversial testing of drugs to prevent babies from contracting HIV in utero. Dr. Horton reflects on the influence that religion had on the experience of HIV/AIDS in the Charlotte region. He notes that religion affected public attitudes in positive and negative ways. Certain religious beliefs led to condemnation and abandonment of AIDS patients by their families and churches, but other religious responses, as for example the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN), were compassionate and embracing. Dr. Horton also relates the conflicting ideas about sex education during the 1980s and 1990s, and his own conviction at the time that the local model of sex education in schools was insufficient to prevent young people from contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
Joseph G. Jemsek oral history interview, 2017 January 25
Dr. Joseph Jemsek, infectious disease specialist in private practice in Washington DC and former infectious disease specialist with the Nalle Clinic in Charlotte North Carolina, discusses his experiences treating HIV/AIDS patients in the Charlotte region between 1983 and 2010. He recounts how and why he chose Charlotte as a place to practice medicine in 1979, noting that the field of infectious disease was relatively new, and that the Nalle Clinic already had two infectious disease doctors who would become his colleagues. He describes how as a young doctor he was anticipating AIDS cases in the Charlotte area, but was not prepared for the crescendo of death that occurred during the early to mid-1990s, and which had a profound effect on him psychologically. Dr. Jemsek recounts the stigma and discrimination that AIDS patients encountered in Charlotte hospitals at the onset of the disease and admits to his own homophobia, but also notes that this negative attitude was short lived among most medical staff in the hospitals where he worked with HIV/AIDS patients, (Presbyterian, Mercy, and Carolinas Medical Center). Nevertheless few doctors would accept AIDS patients and Dr. Jemsek soon had a reputation as a "gay" doctor, despite the fact that he was heterosexual. Dr. Jemsek describes his extensive involvement in clinical trials that began in 1989, the good reputation his practice earned as a center for these trials, and the benefits that his patients had resulting from this. He relates the story of perhaps his most famous patient, LaGena Lookabill Greene, a beauty queen and actress who contracted HIV from NASCAR driver Tim Richmond and who became an advocate for women with AIDs. Dr. Jemsek describes how Ms. Greene was close to death when she was part of a clinical trial testing protease inhibitor ritonavir, which saved her life. Dr. Jemsek also discusses the many conferences he attended on a national and international scale, including the AIDS Clinical Trials Group meetings in the 1980s. He describes the AIDS foundation, the Jemsek Charm Project that he founded in Charlotte in 2003, and his independent HIV/AIDS clinic, Jemsek Clinic, (also known as Rosedale) in Huntersville starting in 2000. Dr. Jemsek concludes with a description of his work with Lymes borreliosis, and the controversial nature of treating this disease.
Brad Keistler oral history interview 1, 2017 October 25
In this first of two interviews, Brad Keistler, the co-founder of the Charlotte chapter of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) in the early 70s, describes his childhood in Mecklenburg County, his college experience at UNC Charlotte and UNC Chapel Hill, and his experience being a gay man in Charlotte in the late 60s and early 70s. Topics discussed include Mr. Keistler's head shop business called Asterisk, Crazy Horse Books, coming out to his friends and family, living at the Red Worms Commune [then at 1218 Myrtle Ave. in the Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte], the effects of the Vietnam War on his generation, racial relations and prejudice, vandalism of Crazy Horse Books, starting the Charlotte chapter of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) with his friends Greg and Charles, activities that GLF participated in, and why Mr. Kiestler decided to leave Charlotte and move to Los Angeles. Mr. Kiestler ends the interview by describing his life and the gay community in LA.
Brad Keistler oral history interview 2, 2018 March 30
In this second of two interviews Brad Keistler, the co-founder of the Charlotte chapter of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) in the early 70s, discusses the background to various documents that he donated to the J. Murrey Atkins Library archive. [All times are approximate]. [00:00-04:50] Mr. Keistler discusses what he recalls about the journal "Inquisition", which was produced in Charlotte in the "Big House" on Kingston Av. in the Dilworth neighborhood. The house had been invaded by local police several times. [04:50-15:12] He describes his involvement with the journal, the "Carolina Plain Dealer", of which he donated all but one (number eight) of the first nine issues to the archive. He learned about the publication through people who lived in the Red Worms commune where he lived in Dilworth, and also through his association with Crazy Horse Books, which was located next to his head shop on Sixth St. in downtown Charlotte. He describes the general content as including information about women's liberation, the anti-Vietnam War movement, and police brutality. His own interest was in contributing to a central spread with a focus on the gay rights movement. He details how he travelled to the Chapel Hill area to work with Clint Pyne on the centerfold of the December 3 1971 issue, which included advertising for a gay dance in Charlotte to be held at the Unitarian Church on January 28, 1972. Part of his donation was the mock up for this centerfold. [15:12-18:07] Mr. Keistler notes that there was also information in the Carolina Plain Dealer about the Red Worms Commune, the Charlotte Women's Center, and the Crazy Horse bookstore. [18:07-25:50] He discusses the October 1971 edition of the Carolina Plain Dealer, which contains an article about a protest he took part in as a member of the Red Hornets May Day Tribe in Charlotte. The group was united in opposition to the Vietnam War and he describes their protest at the Charlotte Coliseum during Billy Graham Day, when President Nixon was a key speaker. He discusses how they organized themselves and how all but one of the group was refused entry due to their appearance. The organizer of the protest was able to get entry and distributed leaflets after which she was also expelled from the building and joined the others protesting outside where some were arrested. [25:50-32:49] The interview concludes with a discussion about Christianity and Mr. Keistler's personal experience with the church. He describes one particular event when his mother took him to a Billy Graham crusade when he was a teenager and how this significantly changed his outlook on Christianity. He continues with his reflections on a newspaper article by columnist Polly Paddock of the Charlotte Observer which described the activities of the GLF chapter he co-founded.