CHARLOTTE — A foundation supporting local LGBT non-profits and causes has announced the beneficiaries of its 2009 grants. The winners include local community organizations and a play exploring Charlotte government’s censorship of a gay-related play in the 1990s.

The Wesley Mancini Foundation will grant $4,000 to the Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte. In the spring, they’ll present “Southern Rapture.” The play is a fictionalized drama based on the real-life 1996 tale of “The Gang of Five” county commissioners who managed to stomp out public arts funding after a local theater group announced it was presenting the gay- and AIDS-related “Angels in America.”

The controversy over the 1996 play created a mini-culture war in North Carolina’s largest city. In the next election, LGBT and progressive activists managed to oust four of the five county commissioners. Republican Bill James, the last of “The Gang of Five,” still holds his seat today. The Mecklenburg County Gay and Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) was an outgrowth of that election’s political battles.

Other grant recipients include the Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte and Foundation for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Each received $2,000 each. Those funds will go to fund collaboration between the Pride Charlotte and Black Gay Pride festivals, a youth chorus program and a campus LGBT speakers series, respectively.

Since its inception in 2000, the Wesley Mancini Foundation has awarded 15 grants to 11 organizations. Projects funded by the foundation must benefit residents of Mecklenburg and surrounding counties.

Past grant recipients have included: Campus Pride, The Charlotte Coalition for Social Justice, Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Partnership Fund, Metrolina AIDS Project, One Voice Chorus, Time Out Youth and Unity Fellowship Church, among others.

Matt Comer

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