As February comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to note Black History Month. Any acknowledgment of minorities is particularly relevant to the LGBT community, simply because we're a minority group ourselves. What could be further marginalizing than to be a member of a minority group within a minority group?
February 7 was National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It's organized by several national organizations working in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's goal is "to mobilize communities and address specific issues in regards to local epidemics and best practices that are science-based and will influence the course of HIV in Black communities across our country."
I'm embarrassed to admit that I hadn't even known this day existed until this year. The first person I ever knew who had HIV/AIDS was a young black man named Donnie who was a friend and co-worker of my Mom's when I was a young kid. He acted as a mentor and Big Brother (tm) to me starting when I was eight. He was a great guy who spent a ton of time teaching me stuff, taking me places, and just generally being around for me. He died of HIV-related illnesses before I was 13.
I also wanted to use this opportunity to highlight people of color within our state's community. Black History Month is notable for LBGT North Carolinians because North Carolina is home to several nationally renown gay leaders who are people of color. Here are two names that you'll probably recognize:
Mandy Carter is a self-described "out, southern, black, lesbian, social justice activist" who has been working in multi-issue and multi-racial grassroots organizing for over 40 years.
She is a former Executive Director and one of the six co-founders of the Durham-based Southerners On New Ground (SONG). SONG was founded at the 1993 NGLTF Creating Change Conference in Durham, and its purpose is to build progressive movements in the South by organizing in ways that connect race, class, culture, gender, and sexuality identity.
Mandy has been a member of the Democratic National Committee, and a member of both the DNC Gay and Lesbian Caucus and the DNC Black Caucus. She is involved with The National Black Justice Coalition.
Pam Spaulding is on the cutting edge of new media, being the editor and publisher of Pam's House Blend target. The Blend was honored as "Best LGBT Blog" in the 2005 and 2006 Weblog Awards.
Pam is also a board member of The Institute of Southern Studies, which publishes the award-winning investigative journalism publication Southern Exposure, and the blog Facing South.
The Blend received credentials to cover the 2008 Democratic National Convention as part of the general press pool.
Pam works at Duke and lives in Durham, NC with her wife, Kate, (legally married in Vancouver in 2004) and their two dogs.
Mandy and Pam have both been amazing activists nationally and locally, and both have been great assets to Equality NC.