While more than a dozen high-profile LGBT invitees to a Democratic National Committee (DNC) dinner were pulling out in protest over the president’s and party’s sluggish movement on issues of equality, one North Carolina businessman and philanthropist instead chose a different tack to address his concerns with party leaders and politicians.

Mitchell Gold, CEO of the Taylorsville, N.C.-based Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture company, attended the DNC’s 10th Annual LGBT Leadership Council Dinner, held on June 25 in Washington, D.C. The dinner sparked calls for boycotts from bloggers and activists across the country. Thirteen invitees, including the Victory Fund’s Chuck Wolfe, the Task Force’s Rea Carry and the Human Rights Campaign’s Marty Rouse, dropped out of the event.

On the blog of Durhamite Pam Spaulding, Gold said his intention was to attend the dinner and be a visible voice for LGBT youth and others harmed by religion-based oppression and prejudice.

“I have decided to go as previously committed because I believe it will be an opportunity for many of us to communicate our disappointment,” Gold wrote before the dinner. “More importantly, it will give me and hopefully others a time to communicate some new messages that might resonate more effectively.”

Gold, editor of the book “Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing up Gay in America,” said he’d be giving away copies of his book.

The day after the dinner, Gold told Q-Notes he was pleased to have been able to speak directly to DNC chairman and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Vice President Joe Biden, both in attendance at the dinner.

“I basically said to each of them that the face of the LGBT civil rights movement is not just the people in this room, that it is important to understand what LGBT teenagers are going through,” he said.

When he handed his book to Biden, Gold says, the vice president remarked that he already knew the book — he’d seen his wife reading it.

Gold said he thought the boycott and protesting had an impact. “What it did was send a wake up call to the administration and to various leaders,” he said. “They got the message.”

Although $1 million was raised the night of the dinner, Gold said the real question was “how much would have been raised if there hadn’t been a protest or boycott.”

As for himself, Gold said his financial contribution the night of the dinner was “very modest” compared to what he’d given in the past. He said he’d continue to support candidates who “have proven they have the backbone to stand up and talk about our issues.”

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.