A Political Family

Lane Rosen is a second-year student at Hyde Park’s Culinary Institute of America. They co-founded QueerNC in 2012. Lane later received the Point Scholarship for their work in LGBTQ youth organizing.

Everyone knows I’m gay. It’s just a thing people know about me. I think most people assumed it before I even came out. Not everyone knows my gender identity; I often have to tell them that I use they/them pronouns, and that’s totally fine with me.

People don’t know that my grandfather is the Deputy President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina General Assembly. When I tell friends that, they often think it’s a very cool fact, until I add that he’s a Republican. His being a Republican in North Carolina, combined with my homosexuality, do not make for very easygoing family gatherings. I never actually came out to my grandparents. My mom did it for me in an exasperated moment of “you know Lane is gay don’t you?!” which was met with complete silence. I wasn’t mad about it; in fact I was a little bit relieved. It was no longer a conversation I had to have. I didn’t have to explain why I was wearing a suit or why my hair was short. It just went along with the “gayness.”

When I was fifteen, my friend Brennan Lewis and I created QueerNC. We started getting more involved in political activism in Raleigh. I specifically remember one time going to talk to NC legislators about an issue affecting the queer community and I had a really hard time deciding whether or not I should go say hello to my grandfather and tell him what I was doing. Throughout high school, there were many times when it would have been amazing to introduce people to my grandfather because he was a politician, but I felt so uncomfortable because of his political leanings and the conservative climate of North Carolina. The fight for marriage equality in North Carolina was something that was personally really hard for me, because my grandfather was so against it with his public political voice. Even harder was the decision whether or not to attend Moral Monday marches. I was afraid that I would be caught on camera and I would have to talk about my relationship to an extremely conservative general assembly member. Finally, HB2 came around and I checked online to see whether or not my grandfather had voted for or against it, knowing full well what the answer would be. By this point I was no longer living in North Carolina; I had moved to Hyde Park, New York to pursue a Baking and Pastry Arts degree at The Culinary Institute of America. Although I was not living in North Carolina, HB2 quickly became a national conversation that even my friends here at the CIA were engaging in. I felt it was important to explain to my friends that not only did the law make me sad because of its discriminatory effects, but because my own grandfather had personally voted to enact it.

I’m a New York resident now. I vote here, I pay attention to local politics, and I’m a proud constituent of Chuck Schumer. But as a native North Carolinian, I pay attention to politics down South as well. I like to know what’s going on where I’m from, how my community is doing, and especially what the Senator representing North Carolina’s 7th district is up to.