by Shoshanna Carroll
June 4th, 2020
It’s July 1966, transgender people and transgender people of color are being targeted for gathering at Compton’s Cafeteria at 101 Taylor Street in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. Why? Trans women, and especially trans women of color, were unwelcomed in the neighborhood gay bars and other restaurants due to legal discrimination, and transphobia. Compton’s Cafeteria was open twenty-four hours and provided a public place for food, and to meet up with others, and just to come and rest. However, the owner of Compton’s in 1966 began to call the police for the gathering transgender women in the restaurant. In 1966, it was illegal to “crossdress,” and transgender women were considered “crossdressers” by the police and law. It was stated these “female impersonation” laws were aimed at those “perceived to be male that were dressed as female” because they were seen as a threat to women, and impersonating someone was carried out with an intent to “commit crimes.” These crimes, of course, were sex work, and homosexual acts were also illegal.
During our first meeting via Zoom, the Center saw that this tool has enabled us to extend our reach as one of the parent participants was from Boone, NC. Their child had recently come out and they expressed that there was a lack of local resources, so it was great to be able to provide a space for them to connect and ask questions. Amidst shelter in place orders, and a global pandemic the Center is connecting people far beyond Raleigh to needed resources to help them learn and better care for queer youth, what better news could come from these challenging times than a better equipped parent, and a more loved and supported child!
Our Center is using virtual programming to continue to provide three vital things to our community: connection, resources, and support. Make sure you join us for some of North Carolina’s leading programs in transgender care, elder community, and more this month.
Kris at the LGBT Center of Raleigh's Welcome Desk
Kris (they/ them) is a regular volunteer at the LGBT Center of Raleigh and a leader in the Trans Initiative program. Kris has had quite the journey to get to where they are, and now that they are living their truth, they are sharing the love.
Kris is from Zebulon, NC – a very conservative town in the easternmost part of Wake County. Kris describes it as “a whole different world.” Raised by their homophobic and transphobic parents, Kris dealt with mental health issues because of their identity. An idea they explored primarily online until a potential suicide attempt. This led to Kris being admitted to Holly Hill Hospital for addiction treatment and suicide prevention. While there, Kris’ therapist insisted they come out as transgender to their parents. While Kris’ parents were not accepting or supportive, it was safe for Kris to go home. And the final suggestion made by the therapist before Kris left was to visit the LGBT Center of Raleigh.
We all have a story.
This is hers…
Lisa is a regular Tuesday morning volunteer at the Center. She shares the time with another Tuesday morning regular. The two make a great volunteer duo, and their commitment to the Center is proven. But the two have not always worked together. Lisa was drawn to the Center through a whirlwind of events. Events that unfolded in the shameful aftermath of HB2, North Carolina’s infamous “bathroom bill.”
Lisa describes herself as a pleaser, one not likely to protest, but for Lisa, there was a breaking point. A point where she would choose to stand up and use her voice. A voice that would get her arrested. Following HB2, Lisa decided she would participate in Moral Monday. And with a clear head and a heavy heart, Lisa decided she was comfortable taking this all the way to the finish line. She decided that she would get arrested.
This past weekend the LGBT Center of Raleigh in conjunction with many other youth serving organizations across North Carolina came together and held our annual ASPYRE Youth Camp. ASPYRE stands for a ‘A Safer Place for Youth to Reach Excellence”… and reach excellence we did!
Tucked away at a quiet YMCA Camp in Greensboro, our team of youth, youth counselors, and adult administrators engaged in a three day empowerment camp: with the explicit goal of bettering the lives of LGBTQ Youth across North Carolina. Our group from OUTright Youth of Catawba Valley was especially eager to learn how to form and maintain GSA’s in their school systems!