‘Out on the Outer Banks’ hopes to bring LGBT+ community together

By on June 17, 2022

Marshall Chappell is looking to increase the visibility of the LGBT+ community.

By Corinne Saunders | Outer Banks Voice

After spending a month in St. Petersburg, Florida this past April, Marshall Chappell returned home to the Outer Banks feeling inspired. “St. Pete has some similarities to the OBX — it sits on a chain of barrier islands, and it’s in a swing state where LGBT+ people may not always feel welcome,” said Chappell, who among other things, works at a restaurant and as a designer and photographer.

After searching for local LGBT+ events and seeing only the annual Outer Banks Pridefest in September, the soft-spoken 28-year-old decided to step out of his “comfort zone” of privacy and anonymity.

A native of Kitty Hawk who graduated from First Flight High School and moved back to the Outer Banks in May, Chappell launched a public Instagram account that same month called “Out on the Outer Banks.” The intent was to share the place he loves with the general public and to bring the queer community together.

Chappell notes that on the Outer Banks, geography plays a role with people “literally spread thin” with no central place to gather, and no local, explicitly LGBT+ spaces. The restaurants that had offered drag brunches in the past have closed.

The “Out on the Outer Banks” name carries multiple meanings, he explained. “Come out here on vacation, whether you’re gay or not. Come out of the house and do events and stuff. Come out of the closet if you’re ready and you want to.”

Chappell’s account garnered nearly 500 followers in its first month. He doesn’t intend to monetize the account, but if income is generated, he says he’d donate some to a cause like the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization focused on suicide prevention and crisis intervention for LGBT+ individuals.

One of the “Out on the Outer Banks” followers, Shree Fulcher, is a local business owner whose partner Kris is transgender. “When Marshall started his Instagram page, I was so excited just to see even who came out of the Outer Banks closet,” Fulcher says. “I’ve always wondered where the LGBTQ community is on the Outer Banks. I’ve always been like, ‘Where are we? Where do we go? Are we just in the closet because that’s a safer place for us to be?’”

“We all have a story of not feeling seen or not feeling accepted; not feeling loved without condition; or not being able to fully express ourselves or fully be who we are — even if you’re not on the queer spectrum,” Fulcher added. “I think we all have that story inside of us.”

Tara Stephens, a trans artist who recently moved to the area to work a summer job after having visited several times before, also connected with Chappell via his page. Stephens said they missed the regular events that were held in their former community in Portland, Oregon for the last decade, and wanted to find and build queer community here. So they began discussing ways to offer real-life meetups in the area.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of, ‘Oh, there’s just…the community’s really small here,’ [but] I refuse to believe that” Stephens, 32, said. For his part, Chappell notes that over time, attitudes toward the community have improved on the Outer Banks.

“Since I was in high school over a decade ago, the attitude towards LGBT+ people has definitely changed for the better; and so many people are out now,” he said. “Before my friends and I came out in high school, we only knew of one gay person.”

From her perspective, Fulcher believes that queer people are generally “accepted,” on the Outer Banks, which is basically the equivalent of being tolerated. “I prefer to honor rather than accept,” she added.

Fulcher is hosting a community-building Pride meetup at her business, Ascension Studio in Kill Devil Hills, from 12-4 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, co-organized with Chappell and Stephens.

June is Pride Month, and the month-long celebrations bring visibility to the community and honor the contributions LGBT+ individuals have made to our nation.

Fulcher said such events and celebrations are needed “because we have been brought up in a world where we need permission to be proud of being different — which is not different. It’s actually normal. Love is normal.”

Of his ‘Out on the Outer Banks account, Chappell said: “I hope it brings visibility to the existing LGBT+ community here and inspires spaces [and] events where queer people can gather. If it helps bring LGBT+ tourism and residents, then that is definitely a plus.”


Find Out on the Outer Banks on instagram at @OutontheOBX.

 

 

 




Comments

  • William Harrison

    This is so sad. This world is upside down. What a shame

    Friday, Jun 17 @ 7:21 pm
  • Zia Montesi

    I’m straight yet I’d love to have a place to socialize, good food, affordable drinks, go dancing, enjoy live music at a smaller venue that caterers to our interesting community.
    An advantage of the college town in Wilmington NC was the diverse community including LGBTQ community.
    ZZ

    Friday, Jun 17 @ 9:24 pm
  • Grandyguy

    this is a perfect example of why we need Jesus
    and why He’s coming back soon.

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 6:42 am
  • WBN

    This is just wrong. Why do they want so much attention given to their sexual preference? I am straight and feel no need to advertise it.

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 8:41 am
  • Dan

    How about just keep things to yourself. No one really cares if you aren’t out there pushing it in people’s faces and messing with children’s education. Go about your life and stop acting like you are special.

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 9:02 am
  • Scott

    This kid has obviously never heard of Morrison Grove.

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 9:32 am
  • Bill

    Grandguy :
    I think if Jesus comes back He’ll advise you to Love Thy Neighbor. We are ALL God’s Children.

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 9:33 am
  • Joan mcminn

    Yes there was a restaurant/bar in the outer banks mall and when the folks announced they were gonna share gay pride week with celebrations ect. The owner of that building where urgent care is now located sent notice to the folks that ran the restaurant to immediately close.. An some folks that lived in the link side village homes behind the mall were horrified of having “those” people walk around their streets. Good luck with your new adventure dude

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 9:45 am
  • Jenna

    Awesome story, Corinne! So happy to hear these plans for our community, and to help spread the word. Cheers to Marshall and Shree for letting your light shine and empowering other folks to shine with you. We support you with love!

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 9:59 am
  • BK

    Best wishes for success with this endeavor!
    Would be great if some leaders of religious and secular communities on OBX would post their support that ought to align with their religious and community messaging.

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 10:27 am
  • Michelle T

    Taking steps towards diversity and inclusion on the OBX is positive! I didn’t see anything in this article related to children. Some of these comments….wow!

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 10:45 am
  • Isn't this 2022?

    How can people be so closed minded in this day and age? It’s so shocking and sad.
    There are many groups that exist on the outer banks, i.e. church, political groups, even mommy and me..what is so wrong with the LGBTQ community bonding and socializing also? If you don’t belong, or even agree, then don’t go..it’s that simple.
    However I bet they would accept ANYONE, anytime. I think it’s great 👍

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 10:59 am
  • I've read a book for pleasure

    Hilarious that people don’t think they advertise being straight and gay people are in-your-face. Straight people dry-hump and snog on the beach all day long in front of children and dogs. They have their cute little tees and Biscuits-n-Porn, and Dirty Dicks, testicles hanging from the trucks, naked women mud flaps, But if a gay person just says they want a safe space, Damnation! If Jesus were here, he’d be at Pride — I know, because I’ve read the Gospel and that is what Jesus was like. If you don’t want gay people in your face, just leave them alone. The Gay Agenda is to be treated fairly and to get along with others.

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 11:44 am
  • Sandy

    The comments on this article are sad and depressing. This young man is doing something to create a better experience for himself and people like him. He doesn’t threaten anyone or anyone’s culture – I guess unless the mere mention of LGBTQ+ is somehow threatening.

    Our local churches seem to be doing a poor job of building people of faith who actually have the compassion of Jesus.

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 12:02 pm
  • Emma

    This is so great!! Everyone should feel they have a space place to be themselves. I thrilled to see people working toward positive change on the beach!

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 1:05 pm
  • E

    There will always be (hate this word, but) “haters” and complainers. Keep up the great work, Marshall!! The people that appreciate it greatly outnumber the few that are upset.

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 1:07 pm
  • Lover not a fighter

    Some of these comments prove the exact reason why certain communities NEED safe and supportive spaces to just BE…and why the LGBTQ+ population on the OBX has stayed so quiet/closeted, out of fear…until now.

    May God Bless some sense into anyone who thinks Jesus would agree with their hateful, bigoted, & ridiculously small-minded outlook.

    Jesus was/is a lover of ALL PEOPLE.

    Happy Pride, y’all 🌈

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 1:08 pm
  • Fat clemenza

    Florida is very welcoming.

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 1:12 pm
  • Revelle

    Excellent article! Love seeing people working for progress and social equality in our local community!

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 2:09 pm
  • Hugo

    I personally don’t care about your sexual preference…keep it to yourself, It’s nobody’s business…you’re not special.

    Saturday, Jun 18 @ 3:58 pm
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