Title: Oral History Interview with Ian Thomas Palmquist, June 27, 2001. Interview K-0848.
Interviewer: McGinnis, Chris
Interviewee: Palmquist, Ian Thomas
Abstract: Ian Thomas Palmquist was a student at Enloe High School in Raleigh, North Carolina during the early 1990s. Palmquist begins the interview by recalling an event in 1994, around the time that he was coming to terms with his sexual orientation. After a group of students had hung posters throughout the school with messages of hate against gays and lesbians, Palmquist banded together with other students to hang up posters promoting awareness and tolerance. All students involved were ultimately suspended, but Palmquist describes how the event garnered media attention. With the help of the ACLU, Palmquist and his friends were later vindicated. Palmquist recalls how he was just beginning to "come out" to his friends and family during this event. For Palmquist, the process was generally positive and he was open about his sexuality during his last year in high school. In 1995, Palmquist became an undergraduate at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Palmquist describes what it was like to be a gay student at UNC during the mid-1990s, recalling how at first he did not feel like there was much of a gay community. Eventually, Palmquist joined B-GLAD (Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians, and Allies for Diversity) and soon became a leader in that organization. Palmquist describes the role of B-GLAD on campus, its activities, and its relationship with student government. In addition, he describes the structural changes the organization was undergoing during his tenure, focusing specifically on the decision to change the name of B-GLAD to QNC (Queer Network for Change) in order to become more inclusive for transgender students. In addition, Palmquist discusses how B-GLAD promoted cooperation amongst gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people, which he saw as a positive development. Palmquist concludes the interview with a discussion of the formation of Equality NC PAC in 1990 and his work with the political action committee beginning in 1999. Palmquist eventually became the director of Equality NC PAC; however, at the time of the interview he had only worked for the organization for two years. Specifically, he discusses the action committee's work towards supporting "gay-friendly" legislators and their efforts to raise awareness and promote tolerance.