- Goldmine: Root
- Oral History Collections
- Charlotte LGBTQ+ oral histories
- John C. Quillin oral history interview 1, 2017 March 14
John C. Quillin oral history interview 1, 2017 March 14
In this first of two interviews, John Quillin, founder and managing artistic director for the Gay Men's Chorus of Charlotte, discusses his involvement in numerous gay and lesbian social and cultural organizations in Charlotte, and his role as a political activist for LGBTQ rights since the 1980s. Mr. Quillin moved to Charlotte in 1981, after attending The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he majored in music theory. He describes how he first became engaged with the gay and lesbian community in Charlotte through the social group Acceptance, which met at Park Road Baptist Church during the 1980s. At Acceptance Mr. Quillin learned about other LGBTQ groups that were forming at the time. He also met leaders in the gay and lesbian community, including Billie Rose Stickell and Don King. He became involved in manning the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard (later incorporated as the Metrolina Community Services Project, MCSP) and attended Queen City Quordinator (QCQ) meetings. QCQ was an umbrella organization for other LGBTQ groups in Charlotte and served a fundraising and organizing role. Mr. Quillin describes the work of the Switchboard, which provided peer crisis counseling and referral services to local and visiting LGBTQ people. He talks about the devastating impact of HIV AIDS on his close friends and acquaintances. Although he was not affiliated with the Metrolina AIDS Project (MAP), Charlotte and Mecklenburg County's first AIDS service organization, Mr. Quillin observed the work of MAP through close friends, and through his work with the United Way of North Carolina. He discusses the challenges that MAP faced, both within the organization between the governing board and staff, and in their relationship with the County Commission and County Health Department. He also discusses the group Concerned Charlotteans and their spiritual leader, fundamentalist preacher Joseph Chambers of Paw Creek Church of God (later Paw Creek Ministries) He describes how the group was vehemently opposed to gay and lesbian activities and picketed many LGBTQ events. Mr. Quillin suggests that Concerned Charlotteans inadvertently provided a rallying point to unite gays and lesbians in Charlotte in the 1980s and 1990s. Through his work as a funds distributor at United Way, Mr. Quillin became very familiar with the work of his colleague, Donna Arrington, who oversaw the Regional AIDS Consortium. He describes the consortium as resulting from collaboration between the United Way and the Foundation for the Carolinas, which removed the necessity for local AIDS service organizations to rely solely on the County Commission for funding.