Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rest In Peace, Joe Herzenberg

Joe Herzenberg, the first openly gay elected official in the history of North Carolina, passed away this week. His obituary, from The News and Observer, recounts the story of his life better than I can do.

I met Joe at dinner one night when he was convinced to join a gay men's dining club that had convened at Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill--apparently one of his favorite eateries. He was also frequently seen at Caffe Driade, reading as he sat among the students from nearby UNC-Chapel Hill.

Since Joe had been an early advocate of gays and lesbians in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, I asked him once if he remembered a cousin of mine who was out in the 1970s. He fingered his response as if playing bagpipes, one of my cousin's eccentricities. It is one thing to be out and gay, but an out, gay bagpipe-playing man leaves an impression. Joe indicated that he didn't care for my cousin's company, but then, Joe and my cousin both had reputations as curmudgeons of the community whose hearts were cast in gold once you got to know them.

Both men are now gone. May they both rest in peace. Hopefully, there are no bagpipes in the afterlife.



Blogger Friends of Joe said...

Ron, thanks for sharing your memories of Joe. We linked to your post at Remembering Joe Herzenberg, where more recollections about Joe's life are posted, including photos, audio interviews, and video clips.

12/05/2007 09:32:00 AM  

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