HIGH POINT, N.C. — Tamara Boynton’s entry into the blogosphere came not as a result of a need to speak out to a worldwide audience, but instead as a need to speak to people near and dear to her heart.

Darnita Howard, sitting, and Tamara Boynton hope to win scholarships to this year's Netroots Nation in Las Vegas.

Just two years ago, Boynton had only come out to her mother. One day, Boynton discovered her mother was working to help pass Florida’s Proposition 2, an anti-LGBT, anti-family marriage amendment in that state. In discussing the issue, and defending her position on marriage, her mother turned to age-old anti-gay arguments.

“For me it seemed like she was hiding behind the fact that only she knew I was gay,” Boynton said. “Her ammunition against me was that nobody else knows so ‘I can say what I want to say.'”

That’s when Boynton decided: “Well, I’m going to tell everybody.”

In September 2008, she wrote her thoughts in a blog post she set up at Google’s Blogger and sent it to her mother, friends and other people close to them as her unique way of coming out.

“I sent it out to just a few people, but the internet has a mind of its own,” she said. “It got forwarded to a lot more people. At that point, I couldn’t just not blog anymore. People were reading.”

So, she continued. Boynton’s partner, Darnita Howard, noticed all the activity. She dipped her toes into blogging a few months later.

“I felt like I wasn’t confident enough to talk to people face-to-face about how I was viewed as a lesbian or my experience being a lesbian in North Carolina, but I am good at writing letters — So, I thought, ‘I’ll start a blog,'” Howard said.

After two years of blogging — on personal likes and dislikes, religion and faith, politics and equality — both Howard and Boynton are now in the top 10 finalists for a contest that could land them free trips to this year’s Netroots Nation, a national convention for bloggers, citizen journalists and other new media types. The event is set for Las Vegas in July.

Boynton said she heard about the “Blog 4 Equality” contest, sponsored by Freedom to Marry and OpenLeft.com, in May. She decided to take a stab at it, and convinced Howard to go along for the ride.

“At first I was hesitant because when I think about this blogging contest, I was thinking that you had to have 10 posts a day or something,” Howard said. “I am a person who blogs only every once in a while. Tamara, she said just give it a try and I submitted some of my posts.”

The couple were surprised when they both learned they’d been accepted into the top 10 finalists. But, how are they do they feel competing against each other?

“We don’t look at it like that,” Boynton said. “We’re competing against everyone else.”

The contests finalists were selected by judges from Americablog.com, Bilerico.com, the Courage Campaign, DailyKos.com, OpenLeft.com and Rod 2.0 (rodonline.typepad.com). The final winners are being chosen by a public vote at freedomtomarry.org/page/s/vote4equality. Voting ends June 25.

The top three vote-getters will win the scholarship.

“I’m really excited about it,” Howard said. “I don’t know what to expect.”

The two say are hopeful at least one of them will be among the top three. It’ll be even better, they say, if both of them are chosen.

Boynton looks forward to the opportunity to attend the convention. She said she wants to learn more ways to continue to be involved.

“Really, I’m just a blogger and I want to help do my part,” she said. “One of the things I can’t stand is for a cause to go on and only a few people are working on it when everybody will benefit from it. I don’t want marriage rights to come to North Carolina and I just jump at the front of the line to get married — I want to be helping in the process.”

info: Visit Boynton online at thatgaygirltamara.blogspot.com. Howard’s blog is located at ladybugsmile.wordpress.com.

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