Interim leader seeks to make an election-year difference for North Carolina’s LGBTQ+ community
Eleazar Posada readjusts the gray hat he wears on his head as he talks about going out to visit his mother as she returns home after coffee in 2013.
Posada, now 31, was a sophomore at Campbell University, working full-time while studying political science and government. He knew in middle school that he was gay, and his older brother knew, but he waited to tell the rest of his conservative family.
“She started the conversation by saying, ‘I thought I had a son,’ and ended by saying, ‘I hope I can be proud of you someday,’” Posada recalls.
“It was 47 minutes of that,” he said, staring through the clock in his Chevy S-10 pickup truck to maintain his composure.
Since then, his mother has “turned things around a bit”, adjusting her expectations that he would have a traditional marriage and children.
“As a parent, you have to go through your own grieving process for the person you thought (you knew), and I kind of understand that,” Posada said. “So, from one moment to the next, what you thought was going to happen with your child, or who your child was going to be… that has changed.”
This month, Posada was named interim executive director of Equality North Carolina, following the departure of previous executive director Kendra Johnson. His term is currently six months, while the nonprofit LGBTQ+ advocacy group seeks a permanent appointment.
Posada, who was born in Florida to immigrant farmworkers from Mexico and grew up in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, said it was not a step he planned to take. He considered studying law after graduation, but took a year off due to expenses and volunteered with the nonprofit El Centro Hispano In Carrboro.
Like his mother, who advocated with ranchers to ensure fellow workers had what they needed, Posada has built a career focused on service and advocacy, first as an organizer for El Centro Hispano in Carrboro and Raleigh, and later as the group’s executive director.
In 2022, he won a seat on the Carrboro City Council, making him the first openly LGBTQ+ Hispanic person elected in the state. He left El Centro to avoid conflicts of interest and created a consulting firm focused on helping nonprofit organizations. A friend shared a job posting at Equality NC for an organizing director, and he got the job in May 2022.
In November, he was re-elected to a four-year term on the Council.
At Equality NC, he is now responsible for fundraising, lobbying donors and politicians, and leading work to implement strategy and policy. Posada and his staff are now drafting the nonprofit’s nearly $1.6 million budget, with an eye toward the 2024 election.
“My time here is really looking at how do we move that needle in our work? How do we make sure we’re preparing to reach as many voters as possible? We’re reaching out to our legislators on both sides of the aisle,” Posada said.
Posada spoke with The News & Observer about what lies ahead for North Carolina politics and his future. Here are excerpts.
You have never expressed interest in state politics. Why are you making this move now?
I’ve always tried to make a difference for the community I’m trying to serve, and it wasn’t until I started working with local government and working on policy that I started thinking about how much local government really impacts people’s lives. .
We need to strategize and make plans so that we are not in this situation (with conservative white leaders targeting minorities) again, but we are in this situation now and change does not happen overnight.
That’s not going to happen when we’re tweeting about how much we don’t like Joe Biden, and how much we don’t like Republicans. That will happen when we actually go out to vote, organize people, talk about the issues, and put people in elections or in different positions of power that we want to see ourselves represented.
How important are these elections?
We are looking forward to some very important elections this year. We’re looking at a lot of work that needs to happen with school boards across the state, like SB 49 ( Parental rights law) Underway.
Note: The Parental Bill of Rights gives parents more control over their children’s education, health, and privacy in the classroom. The most controversial provisions require teachers to notify a parent before calling a student by a different name or pronoun, and prohibit K-4 instruction related to gender identity, sexuality, or sexual activity.
With (Lieutenant Governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate) Mark Robinson on the ticket, with some of those The terrible anti-LGBTQ things he saidtargeting LGBT youth and targeting LGBT people, we realize that we need to combat that, and we need funding for that.
We have to fight all these different laws, but one party will not be our savior. We need to talk to everyone. It’s not a very popular strategy by a lot of people in our movement, and I understand that, but at the end of the day, I’ll talk to anyone who will talk to me.
what is your opinion of Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board decision To refuse Rule of informing noun and pronoun in Charter of parental rights And its ban on sex or gender education in grades kindergarten through fourth grade?
Our Director of Education Policy (Rippie Kern) has worked with many school boards, including Chapel Hill-Carrboro, on how to actually combat this terrible law. It takes a lot of courage (to oppose the law), and I understand that and I want to acknowledge that the people on the school board have some real chutzpah. We need more of that.
I was one of the people who led the fight against it in the General Assembly, so I worked with the representatives to either make adjustments or make it less egregious, or help them with the kind of literal questions that were being asked in committee. The legislation is very vague, because I don’t think they actually thought they would be able to pass it, because Republicans didn’t have a supermajority at the time.
I want to see more school boards across the state…people elsewhere who see this and say maybe we can join this fight. we will see. After all, we are in North Carolina in the South. There are school boards that are more conservative than progressive ones.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I proposed to (his partner) Humberto last year. We’re saving enough for the wedding (and) looking forward to the last weekend of October, and the first weekend of November in the mountains. We will then begin the process of considering adoption.
I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series, so it’s just mind-numbing stuff and I don’t have to think about anything else. …I just read this book called “Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa,” which is a personal story of a young immigrant, a queer kid, growing up in Texas and navigating that, and then I also started, “How is the word ‘passed.'” It’s Really great book. It’s heavy, but it really delves into deep areas of U.S. history (and) kind of explains a lot of these places that we see revered in the U.S.