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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Cecil W. Wooten, July 16, 2001. Interview K-0849. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Evolution of the Carolina Gay and Lesbian Association

Wooten describes how the Carolina Gay Association, renamed the Carolina Gay and Lesbian Association (CGLA), became less radical during the late 1980s and early 1990s, thus becoming slightly less contested on campus. Wooten describes some of the student leaders during that era. In particular, he describes how he helped student chairman, Mark Burniston, lobby Chancellor Paul Hardin to include sexual orientation in the university's non-discrimination policy.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Cecil W. Wooten, July 16, 2001. Interview K-0849. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

CECIL W. WOOTEN:
But, the group did becomeߞit sort of lost it's edge in the late 80s and early 90s and I think that it was sort of friendlier tooߞDoug Ferguson was a wonderful co-chair. He managed to do everything. I mean, it was more social, it was more friendly.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
He had a lot of energy.
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
It was more political, it was more effective. It had a huge group. I mean, it had hundreds of people involved in it.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Oh, yeah, I remember a lot of those. Well let's go down the list just a little bit [list of co-chairs for the Gay organization at UNC] Gregory Johnson, do you remember him?
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
Vaguely, but not real well.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Donald Bryan Suggs?
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
Yeah, I remember him well.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
What was he like, did he do anything in particular that stuck out in your mind?
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
He was a guy from Eastern North Carolina, I think, who had come out to his parents when he was seventeen. I don't remember anything in particular, but he was a good co-chair. He kept things going.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
How about Elizabeth Ann Stiles. According to this list in 1988 and 1989, she was the leader. There was no male co-chair that year?
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
[pause]
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
In the list that I looked up, there was only one name under co-chair and it was hers. That is why I was curious.
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
You know, I just don't remember. I was surprised, because there tended to be a male. And a female every year. Yeah, I remember her, I believe that she went to law school. Yeah, she was good.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
So, Mark Burniston.
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
Yeah, he was wonderful. In fact, I think that he may have accomplished the most in that he got the chancellor to add sexual orientation to the university non-discrimination policy.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Was that when Hardin [UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor from the late 80s to the early 90s] sent out this state which was officially a memo and not a part of the actual non-discrimination ordinance.
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
Yeah, yeah, but it'sߞMark came to see me, and he said that that was what he wanted to accomplish, that was to have sexual orientation added to the non-discrimination policy and he wanted to ask me what was the best way to go about doing it. So I talked with people, who were very nice, and everybody recommended just to go and see the chancellor. So, he and I went to see Hardinߞand Mark, the research that he had done, he had a file that thick about all schools that had sexual orientation as part of their non-discrimination policy and he was very articulate. I mean, I did not say anything, I just made the appointment with the chancellor and escorted him and he did all of the talking. Hardin did not say very much, this was in April, I think and Hardin asked a few questions, but basically did not say very much and then I saw Hardin at a fundraiser for Harvey Gant in August and he came over and said, "Do you read the Chapel Hill Newspaper?" and I said, "No." and he said, "Well, maybe you should tomorrow morning." And I picked it up and on the front page, it said that he had added sexual orientation to the non-discrimination policy. But, Mark really did a wonderful job. As you say, it is a memo.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
ߞApparently, it is not the board of governors, but it is the advisory board. There was the potential for political ramifications from the general assembly, so they were scared to make it an official policy.
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
Right, rightߞand when they were thinking about making it an official policy, I sent several letters to the chairman of the board of governors, or the board of trustees or whoever it was and they never replied. I sent one very long, four-page letter that was more like a memo, but they never replied.
CHRIS MCGINNIS:
Do they have a reputation of being much more conservative than the faculty or the administration of UNC?
CECIL W. WOOTEN:
Yeah. [very quietly]