Campaign flyer from Joe’s first Chapel Hill Town Council race, 1979

About Joe

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Chapel Hill, N.C., United States
Joe Herzenberg was born June 25, 1941, to Morris & Marjorie Herzenberg. His father owned the town pharmacy in Franklin, N.J., where Joe grew up. After he graduated from Yale University in 1964, Joe went to Mississippi to register voters for Freedom Summer. He joined the faculty of historically black Tougaloo College, where he was appointed chair of the history department. Joe arrived in Chapel Hill in 1969 to enroll as a graduate student in history at the University of North Carolina, and, along with his partner Lightning Brown, soon immersed himself in local, state, and national politics. Although Joe’s first campaign for the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1979 was unsuccessful, he was appointed to the Council to fill a vacant seat and served until 1981. In 1987, he was elected to the Council, becoming the former Confederacy's first openly gay elected official. Joe died surrounded by friends on October 28, 2007. He was 66 years old.

Sunday, October 16, 1994

Post-Bag: Faulkner

Washington Post, Oct. 16, 1994


By Michael Dirda

LAST month a desperate Dorothy Stokeley cried out for help, plaintively requesting advice on how to appreciate the work of William Faulkner, especially Absalom, Absalom! Loyal Faulknerians have ridden, or rather written, to the rescue. Several, including William C. Slattery (Washington) and Joseph Herzenberg (Chapel Hill, N.C.), recommend Edmond Volpe's A Reader's Guide to William Faulkner.

Monday, October 10, 1994

Lecturer to argue against gay rights

The News & Observer, Oct. 10, 1994, Page B6

CHAPEL HILL -- Just last weekend, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance sponsored a conference at Chapel Hill High to promote greater sensitivity of the hardships and pressures faced by gay students.

Tonight, it's equal time for the conservatives. Bill Horn, who travels the country's Christian speaker circuit, will lecture on "The Gay Agenda in America and the Public Schools" at 7 p.m. at Phillips Middle School on Estes Drive. He wants to push gays back into the closet.

The Christian Coalition of Orange County invited Horn, a sportscaster who is more famous for his anti-gay videos than his baseball coverage.


"I think in this political climate in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and even the whole county, that sort of opposition is likely to backfire," said Joe Herzenberg, the first openly gay elected official in the state. "It offends people so much I don't think it's effective."

Horn's organization, The Report, produced "The Gay Agenda" last year.

The video consists of interviews with former homosexuals, medical experts and clips from gay pride parades showing men strutting half-naked down city streets or dressed up as women, gesturing obscenely.

The video drew national attention when conservative activists used it to build opposition to gay rights ballot measures and to President Clinton's proposal to drop the ban on gays in the military. Since then, Horn and his small production company, have produced several other anti-gay videos, including one
on the public schools.

"When you talk about homosexuals, you don't just get the attorneys and school teachers," he said. "You get the transvestites, the people from ACT-Up, the QUEERs, SLUTs. Unfortunately, the other ones are not in leadership positions. If you have such good decent people, why aren't they stopping the people going in those parades?"