- Goldmine: Root
- Oral History Collections
- Charlotte LGBTQ+ oral histories
- Tonda Anne Taylor oral history interview 4, 2015 October 5
Tonda Anne Taylor oral history interview 4, 2015 October 5
In this fourth of four interviews, Tonda Taylor, long-time activist for LGBTQ+ rights and founder of Time Out Youth (TOY) in Charlotte, North Carolina, recalls the beginning stages of TOY. Ms. Taylor discusses her previous psychiatric work with Charter Pines Psychiatric Hospital and she reflects on the significant number of adolescents admitted to the hospital experiencing turmoil brought on by their sexual orientation. Throughout Ms. Taylor's psychiatric work during the late 1980s, she became aware of a void in social support for Charlotte's LGBT youth once they left psychiatric care. She discusses her own retreat back into the closet, as well as the retreat of some of her LGBT co-workers due to workplace homophobia and lack of institutional support. Alongside her professional experience, Ms. Taylor reflects on the social experiences that led her to found TOY, including pivotal interactions with LGBT teenagers, as well as inspirational experiences with local Charlotte LGBT organizations, Parents and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG), and One-Voice Chorus. With the financial inheritance from her brother Sam's early death of HIV/AIDS, Ms. Taylor founded TOY in 1991. Ms. Taylor attributes the support of her mother and local liberal congregations, such as Myers Park Baptist Church and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte, with great importance during the early stages of TOY. To solidify the longevity of TOY, Ms. Taylor organized TOY's first conference on supporting LGBT teenagers and she discusses at length the various processes of organizing, including finding a panel of LGBT teens, as well as inviting the keynote speaker Dr. Virginia Uribe, the founder of the Los Angeles LGBT support organization Project Ten. Ms. Taylor also discusses the daily functions of TOY, including handling phone calls from frightened LGBT youth around North Carolina, finding reliable facilitators, and organizing a board of directors. Ms. Taylor reflects on her surprise by the slow moving support for TOY from wider communities of minorities, specifically Jewish people and African Americans, as well as financially stable gay men, and she attributes a great deal of initial support for TOY coming from individuals. Ms. Taylor reflects on the enormity of fund-raising efforts, as well as the challenges of moving public education for youth in the direction of supporting LGBTQ+ youth.