Teen a national PFLAG scholar
BLUFFTON — On June 4, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) announced the winners of their national scholarships. Totaling more than $30,000, the 13 students from across the country and a U.S. military base in Japan have all made significant contributions to equality in their schools and community.
Among the recipients is Bluffton High School graduate Gloria Garcia, who received the Esera Tualo PFLAG Scholarship. Garcia has been an active player on her school’s basketball team, and an honor roll student whose schedule includes honor-level courses. She has been active in her school’s Spanish Club, and Challenge Day Club, along with participating in theater and music. She has also been active in community volunteering.

This marks the fifth year that PFLAG has awarded the scholarships, which are funded by the Palmer B. Carson Trust and other private donors, including the Gay, Lesbian and Allies at Dow (GLAD) Employee Network and the New York Gay Football League.

“PFLAG is enormously proud to recognize these exceptional young leaders and to salute their hard work, academic achievement and community service,” said Jody M. Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG. “Every day, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, and their allies, overcome unimaginable obstacles to succeed and prosper in our schools. These honorees have not only fought those obstacles, but have thrived and inspired their fellow students, teachers and families.”

Church becomes welcoming and affirming
SPARTANBURG — On May 25, members of the Unitarian-Universalist Church declared themselves a Welcoming and Affirming Congregration of the Unitarian-Universalist Association.

The unanimously approved resolution reads, in part, “With the passage of this resolution we declare our intent to be known as a Welcoming Congregation as defined by the Unitarian Universalist Association. We also declare our congregation’s desire and intent to expand our appreciation of and sensitivity to diversity by welcoming all people of good will into this community.”

The process to become a Welcoming and Affirming Congregation lasted more than four years and took the members through a series of explorations of their own unacknowledged prejudices and attitudes.

“I believe that the Welcoming Congregation program allows us to be more authentically Unitarian Universalist,” said Dr. Rebecca Stevens, chair of the task group that facilitated the church’s effort. “A goal of the workshops was to grow spiritually as we unlearned our biases and prejudices. We adamantly promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”

Of the approximately 1000 churches in the UUA, more than half have gone through this process and become officially designated Welcoming Congregations. The UUA’s Welcoming Congregation program is a voluntary effort. Congregations may or may not choose to participate.

The denomination started the Welcoming Congregation program after a committee, established in 1987, reported discriminatory attitudes among its member churches.

GOP turns against its own
COLUMBIA — The GOP primary challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is bringing more light to the legislator’s rumored sexuality.

According to the Gay Charleston blog of The Charleston City Paper, a radio show caller asked primary candidate Buddy Witherspoon, “Do you support Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — the policy that is allowing Lindsey Graham to serve in the military?”

Anti-immigration groups have also circulated a letter referring to Graham as “Lindsey ‘The Pink Elephant’ Graham.”

On Oct. 20, Q-Notes first reported on Graham’s re-election problems relative to his sexuality. In 2002, it was state Democratic Party Chair Dick Harpootlian who said that Graham was “too light in the loafers” to replace Strom Thurmond.

Gay performance shuttered at Spoleto
CHARLESTON — According to a short, documentary-style video posted at Current.tv, a performing troupe acting out a production inclusive of a gay character was shut down by organizers at the Piccolo Spoleto festival after a father complained.

In the video, members of the performance troupe relate their experience of being forced to apologize to the crowd for their “offensive” production. The father had threatened to have the entire festival shut down. An attorney for the City of Charleston backed up the father and festival organizers.

Church splits over gays
SPARTANBURG — An Episcopal congregation has split over disagreements on sexuality and the inclusion of gays in leadership.

Half of the 300-member St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church are unhappy with the election of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson and the direction of the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the global Anglican Communion.

The church’s pastor, Father George Gray also left.

The unhappy members and pastors were assisted in their leaving by Truth Ministries, an ex-gay organization based in the Upstate. Truth Ministries claims that the national church fired Gray and seized church property.
The Right Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson, Jr., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, told WYFF that the claims from Truth Ministries are not true.

“It was his resignation that prompted my action, which was not to seize any property. All property is held in trust in the Episcopal Church for the diocese,” Henderson told the TV station.

Henderson also added that Gray has 60 days to reconsider his resignation and that any of the unhappy members will always be welcomed if they return to St. Christopher’s.

In the May 31 issue of Q-Notes we incorrectly identified South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Business Guild Gala award winner Pat Patterson’s parents. His mother, former U.S. Rep. Liz Patterson and his father were present at the event. His father is not former South Carolina Treasurer Grady Patterson. In addition, it was City Councilwoman-elect Belinda Gergal who was present at the Gala, not City Councilwoman Anne Sinclair. We apologize for these errors.

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