The Mary Renault Society was organized in Chapel Hill in the early 1980’s, largely to provide a way gay men could meet and socialize without resorting to bars. Originally devoted to reading and discussion, over time it has broadened into a personal information source for the intersection of life and being gay – topics artistic, legal, religious, poetic and literary, medical, political … whatever relates to the gay male experience. We have heard from lawyers, doctors, authors, lobbyists, ministers, poets, sculptors, travelers... We often hear about the fall's NC Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Equality NC lobbyists regularly brief the group on successful, current, and upcoming issues. In the winter we hold a holiday gathering, and the experience of a person of faith is a repeated focus. Among the recent presenters are authors Perry Deane Young (The David Kopay Story) and Jimmy Creech (Adam's Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor's Calling to Defy the Church's Persecution of Lesbians and Gays). Members have access to notes from presentations; the notes from our meeting about gay travel are fairly standard, but sometimes the notes are as involved as the ones for the presentation about redistricting in North Carolina.
The electronic age has brought with it access to a vast store of information – some of which is biased, and some of which is misleading or flatly wrong, like the almost universally-held belief that the Bible condemns gays as ‘abomination,’ an (intentional?) mistranslation that has had a prolonged, devastating effect on so many lives. What it has not solved is the matter of finding friends, people with whom one can be comfortable. MRS offers a way to meet people of like mind without having to hide a person's true nature and feelings. It also offers newcomers and young people examples of gay and successful, intelligent people who have broader interests in life than just their sexuality.
MRS meetings center on potluck dinners at members’ homes, usually on the fourth Sunday evening of every month. The gathering generally begins at 7:00 with dinner beginning at 7:30 and a presentation following the meal. You’ll be welcome; count on it.