We had a double interview day today! We woke up in Tennessee and headed into Johnson City. We found our way to East Tennessee State University where we had hoped to meet with the head of the LGBTQ group. Unfortunately, he was no longer available to meet with us. We had to find someone to talk to in Tennessee. We saw a car with the HRC equal sign bumper sticker and followed it around campus. I think the big, white, windowless van freaked them out because they lost our tail and took off before we could talk to them. We drove through campus and found a couple of women that looked nice enough to approach, so we asked them if there was an LGBT center on campus. There is no center, but they made some calls and helped us get in touch with the head of the multicultural department. We went to her office and pleaded our case, “We need someone in Tennessee to interview about LGBT equality!”
She was very busy, but was kind enough to help us out. She made some calls and found someone that was willing to meet with us. That is how we found Lettee. She is an amazing woman who works on campus. She is an out, proud, advocate for equality. We interviewed her outside on the grounds of the campus. We talked about LGBTQ life in Tennessee, being gay in the black community, and being in a 10 year same-sex relationship. It was a pleasure to meet Lettee and learn a little about her life. She is a courageous person who is fighting the good fight by being out in East Tennessee.
We left Johnson City around 2:00PM and headed toward Asheville, North Carolina. It was a scenic drive through the mountains. The interview we had worked to setup in Asheville fell through, so we scrambled to find someone to talk with. I made a few calls, sent out an email, and got an incredible response from the Asheville LGBTQ community. Special thanks to Monroe Gilmour from the Coalition for Equality for hearing my call and finding a ton of people for us to meet with on such short notice.
When we got into town I was exhausted and needed to take a nap. Potter explored the downtown area while I slept in the van. We met up again at 7:00PM and went to check out a meeting of a local LGBTQ group called CLOSER. This group has been around since the seventies! CLOSER is the oldest support, educational, and social group serving the LGBTQ community in Asheville.
We met some great folks at the CLOSER meeting, including Allen, who agreed to be interview for the documentary. We talked to Allen about the LGBTQ community in North Carolina and about the best way to advance LGBTQ equality. He believes that community unification is the way to win, and works hard as the president of CLOSER to achieve this in Asheville.
After the interview, Allen offered me a ride on his motorcycle. It was tons of fun! Thanks Allen!