I am deeply grateful to the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Business Guild for inviting Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home to be the program for their January meeting, the first monthly meeting of 2018. The Guild meeting was historic for the book, too, since it marked the first public appearance of contributors to discuss their participation in the project since the book was published at the end of December, 2017.
(l. to r. contributors Teresa Williams, Nekki Shutt, Ed Madden,
Harriet Hancock, Michael Haigler, Candace Chellew-Hodge
and editor Sheila Morris)
photo courtesy The Guild
An audience of more than 50 people listened intently as Candace Chellew-Hodge discussed her reluctance to move to South Carolina from Atlanta many years ago and the subsequent transformation in her life that led to community service; Michael Haigler’s description of three years in Africa in the Peace Corps and another 20 years in San Francisco that ultimately led him home to build community in his native state; Harriet Hancock’s remarks on the impact the civil rights movement had in her life of activism that took a different course when her son came out in the early 1980s;
Ed Madden’s story of his own journey home that began in Arkansas but took him to South Carolina where he found the experience of family that his own mother and father continue to withhold because of his sexual orientation; Nekki Shutt’s experiences as an attorney who faced overt gender discrimination in her chosen legal profession that couldn’t deter her from her dogged determination to have marriage equality in South Carolina; Teresa Williams who withstood family pressures and the fear of the loss of her son as she fiercely protected her role as mother and ultimately her role as a lesbian activist.
These are six real stories – intimate accounts – of the lives of ordinary people who became extraordinary in their commitments to stay home and move their home state from an oftentimes hostile environment toward a place of true equality for all of its citizens. These six people and their amazing stories take their place along with fifteen others in the book who shared their commitment to home and their courage to fight for change… twenty-one southern perspectives captured in one volume that supplies missing information in the overall struggle for queer rights during the turbulent 30-year period from the AIDS epidemic that characterized the 1980s through the realization of marriage equality in 2014.
I do believe that truth is stranger than fiction – and just as entertaining.
Our next public appearance will be on Monday, January 29th. at 4:30 in the afternoon on the University of South Carolina campus at the Russell House Theater. Panelists for this event are Harriet Hancock, Ed Madden, Alvin McEwen, Sheila Morris, Pat Patterson a/k/a Patti O’Furniture, and Nekki Shutt. Dr. David Snyder will be our moderator.
(Books will be available for sale and signing by contributors of books bought there or elsewhere.)
We hope you will join us as we continue to take this show on the road.