Video by Kathryn Carlson, Mika Chance and Carter McCall for WhichWayNC.com
The morning after Amendment One passed in North Carolina and placed a constitutional ban on gay marriage, Randy Gillis went for a walk to clear his head.
“It felt like North Carolina had changed overnight,” said Gillis, who is gay. “I felt like I was an alien.” To symbolize his opposition to the passage of this amendment, Gillis decided to walk 96 miles from his front door in Sophia, N.C. to the General Assembly in Raleigh.
His journey began June 9 and he arrived in Raleigh five days later, bringing with him 23 letters from people whose lives were impacted negatively by Amendment One. The letters were written by residents from around the state, both gay and straight, and were given to Gillis for delivery. All the letters were addressed to Sen. Peter Brunstetter, one of the architects of Amendment One.
Gillis mapped a route along the backroads of North Carolina to avoid having to walk along major highways, but he still faced three dog attacks, turtles in distress, rain storms and bulging blisters.
When Gillis arrived at the General Assembly, wearing a T-shirt with “GAY” painted on it along with a handmade “GAY” banner covering his backpack, he was met by two police officers. Once inside, Lt. Martin Brock of the General Assembly police informed Gillis that Sen. Brunstetter would be in budget discussions for the rest of the day and would not be able to meet with him.