Thanks in part to the fight over gay marriage that began in 2004, a new era for the LGBT community has arrived, one where gays and lesbians are taking on more active roles in the political world. While we still may be a long way off from electing an openly gay president — heck, we haven't even elected a woman or an African American yet — there's no doubt that the LGBT community is a political force to be reckoned with. Join with us as we look at the role of gays in politics, profile local LGBT leaders, and discuss some of the issues affecting us all.
Keith Riddle of the StoneWall DemocratsBy Chris Haire Keith Riddle
Stonewall DemocratsAge: 51Charleston11 years out Unlike the Log Cabin Republicans, the Stonewall Democrats is a relatively new organization in South Carolina.
Family ManBy Nick Smith
Daniel J. Crooks III • We Are Family (www.waf.org) • Age: 24 • Charleston • Just came out Daniel J. Crooks is the new head of We Are Family (WAF), a youth organization that offers support and advice for 16 to 23-year-olds coming to terms with LGBT issues.
Back Off the RopesBy Greg Hambrick
In the days and weeks leading up to last year's vote on the marriage amendment, it was hard for anyone to avoid Charleston's Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA). Gay rights advocates distributed personal letters, mass mailings, newspaper inserts, TV ads, radio spots, billboards.
Walk the LineBy Nick Smith
Eric Buss • High Cotton • Age: 22 • Charleston • 7 years out Eric Buss is a line cook at High Cotton.
Breaking PointBy Stratton Lawrence
Peter Mitchell, pastor of Holy Trinity Episcopal CHURCH, believes homosexuality is a choice The Rev. Peter Mitchell is not gay, and never has been.
Just a ManBy Barney Blakeney
Some folks believe that if a man is gay, he is less than a man. Which is why Ken Hubbard felt he suffered a double whammy — he was black and he was attracted to men. As a result, he did a lot of hiding, from his friends, his family, and his God.
Things Left UnsaidBy Barney Blakeney
As Christian denominations across the country grapple with issues surrounding their gay and lesbian members, when it comes to the black church, the rule seems to be "don't ask, don't tell." According to the Rev. Theodore Lewis, pastor of Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, blacks familiar with other forms of hatred and discrimination are more tolerant and tend to hate the sin and not the sinner.
Food Is LifeBy Jason A. Zwiker
Mark Gray • Lowcountry AIDS Services • Age: 48 • Charleston • 33 years out Classically trained as a pastry chef and master confectioner at Greenbrier Hotel's Culinary Academy, Mark Gray gained national recognition for his work at Cacao's Chocolate Shop, a well-remembered part of King Street's not-so-distant past.
Profiles in CourageBy D. A. Smith
Admit it. Gay or straight, we all know the trepidations that can befall the luckiest of us as we grow up and start looking for mates, or a garden variety hook-up for that matter.
Operation EqualityBy Jason A. Zwiker
Sue Weller • AFFA Board President • Age: 33 • Charleston • 14 years out Born in Vietnam, Sue Weller came to the United States when she was one year old.
Bad ApplesBy Greg Hambrick
I don't know the first thing about Orange County. Never been there.
Clearly Fabulous By Nick Smith
Charles/Ava • Drag Entertainer • Age: 24 • Charleston It's Friday night at Pantheon, the central hub of gay nightlife on Ann Street.
Lasting WishesBy Chris Haire
For 17 hours, Elke Kennedy waited for the test results to come back. Only then would she know if what the staff at Greenville Memorial Hospital's Neuro-Intensive Care Unit had suspected was true — her 20-year-old son Sean had suffered a fatal head injury.