Story+ 2022 | Our Day Out: A Story of Queer Resistance and Leadership in Durham

Story+ 2022 | Our Day Out: A Story of Queer Resistance and Leadership in Durham

On April 12, 1981, four men sunbathing along the Little River in north Durham were assaulted by a group of men and women in what was quickly understood to be an anti-LGTBQ+ hate crime. One of the men—Ronald “Sonny” Antonevich—later died from the injuries he sustained that afternoon, leading to the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of the two men who killed him. In the weeks and months that followed, the Little River assault and subsequent trial inspired LGBTQ+ organizers in Durham to launch the Our Day Out protest, which was the most visible public demonstration for queer liberation in Durham to that point.

Through archival research at the North Carolina Collection at the Durham County Library, the LGBTQ+ Collection at Duke's Rubenstein Library, and the Southern Oral History Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as new oral histories, this Story+ project team interrogated how the story was told at the time; what was erased then and remains silenced now; what aspects of the story have been concealed over time and are ready to be reclaimed, including the discourse of reconciliation and restorative justice that some of the organizers advocated; and what modes of leadership were at work in the Our Day Out protest.

Project Sponsor(s): Andrew Nurkin, Hart Associate Professor of the Practice, Hart Leadership Program, Sanford School of Public Policy

Graduate Mentor(s): Hooper Schultz, Ph.D. Candidate, in History at UNC-Chapel Hill

Undergraduates: Sophia Chimbanda, Adiv (Babu) Chatterjee, Staci Grimes