Foundation Spotlights

Board Member Gary Palmer

Gary:  My name is Gary Palmer and I work at Replacements Limited since 1992. I’m working on my 21st anniversary coming up in April. Love what I’m doing. I work as Associate VP for community affairs. Most of my involvement has been on the end of receiving grants. Because I worked with a lot of youth organizations which Guilford Green, made them viable and workable; so that’s where a lot of my big thanks, I guess goes back to the support for organizations. One of the grants that I liked the most was back when we were working with the youth and I figured it was [inaudible 00:00:44] at the time. There was a program called: Gay, Fine by Me. They were t-shirts that started at Duke. It just became all over the nation people were doing it.

We were able to get a grant for t-shirts to buy t-shirts for our high school gay-straight alliance students. I think it was 500 t-shirts. It made a huge splash in the community. You have to understand, this is when gay-straight alliances were really new and there is a lot of, “We are scared of that one,” type of thing going on. These students were proud of it and it got all the straight allies. Everybody out there wearing these shirts and it was covered by the newspapers and by the media. While that part is fun it did a lot of advancement for understanding, hey, we are just people. Get over it, don’t worry about it. I think of that grant as one of those things that really is a mile marker in making our gay students visible and allowing them to stand up with pride and saying, “I’m okay. I am and I’m proud enough I’ll wear this shirt and my friends are proud enough to wear this shirt.”

That’s one of the grants that I think that was the most fun and incredibly affective and I know that there are students out there, all the 500 students wearing these shirts, who are out there today remembering that one. When they stood up whether they are a straight ally or a gay person or a transgender person. They stood up and said, “Yes okay; gay, fine by me, it’s okay.” I love that grant. I guess the biggest thing is I really do feel a great deal of gratitude for this city, this community, this county.

So much of where we are today is a result of Guilford Green being willing to stand up and saying we are visible. Year ago I remember in organizations where so many of our gay people were afraid to be visible, to stand up and say that they were gay or lesbian or transgender. It was like: people may know, but let’s not say it. Now to see our community, so many people don’t even think twice about saying, “Oh yeah I’m gay; so?” That is such a huge gift for me personally to be able to see that and be able to bee that and to see our young people see that one. I’m sure for the rest of our community to be able to stand up and not worry about it that’s a gift for GGF.