For two decades, Susan Burgess was part-and-parcel of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s public life. First, as a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, and then as a member of the Charlotte City Council.

She was progressive. She loved her constituents. Overall, she’s among the best of Charlotte’s cadre of elected officials — hardworking, self-sacrificing, giving and caring. And, she was taken from us too soon.

On June 16, 2010, Burgess’ walk in this earthly world ended as she entered the next phase of her life eternal. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, whatever — I can’t bear to think life just ends and there’s nothing more. It makes me feel better knowing Burgess will be somewhere, some place looking down on her family and fellow Charlotteans and cheering us on. Hopefully, she can smile when she sees us carrying forth the flame of civic life she left burning in the hearts of her Queen City brothers and sisters.

Burgess’ service to Charlotte was great, and her special attention to this city’s LGBT community was appreciated and respected. In all the years she served as mayor pro tem, she really stepped up to the plate, speaking out for us when Mayor Pat McCrory wouldn’t. For LGBT Charlotteans, McCrory was never our mayor; Burgess was.

In this issue, we pay special tribute to Burgess and her service to this city and our community.

I am humbled to echo the thoughts and feelings of people like Phil Hargett, Roberta Dunn, Owen Sutkowski and past and current members of the Pride Charlotte organizing committee. Yet, in this time of reflection on Burgess’ life and memory, I also believe there is room to further honor this great woman and the legacy she’s left us.

The work to make Charlotte a community where all are treated, welcomed and respected equally and with dignity is not over. It’s not even anywhere near complete. The road before us remains long, even as Burgess’ progressive leadership lights our path.

As we pause to remember Susan Burgess, my hope is that her legacy reminds us to keep pushing forward to fulfill the progressive ideals she stood for during her time serving us and our community. : :

Matt Comer

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

One reply on “‘Our Mayor’”

  1. Well said Matt.

    You’re right. The work here in Charlotte is not even remotely close to being over. The LGBT community cannot sit back and wait for the next Ms. Burgess to emerge. WE must pick up where she left off.

    We CAN make changes individually and as a community. Imagine what our lives would be like had Stonewall never happened – 41 years ago this weekend a small group of people had had enough. Several years prior to Stonewall there were the riots at Compton’s. And what about Harvey Milk, Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny, Harry Hay, Larry Kramer, Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon and many others? Their actions helped to further open the closet door for us…but that door has yet to be knocked off its hinges.

    We can do this if we just get out there and get to work. Understand that we WILL meet with resistance. Change will NOT happen overnight. But if we do nothing that closet door will begin to close inch by inch. If you don’t believe me I have 2 words for you: Prop 8.

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