Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes

qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010


Nov. 27-Dec. 10, 2010

Vol 25 No 15


news & features

6 News Notes: Regional Briefs

18 Charlotte activist honored

18 Poll: Gays unwelcome in Charlotte

18 Civic Briefs

21 Community passings


life, positively

8 Magnetic attraction

13 Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina

14 Commentary: HIV our responsibility

15 HIV/AIDS resources

16 Concert builds bridges


19 Drag Rag

20 ‘White Christmas’ escape

23 On Being a Gay Parent

24 Tell Trinity

25 Out in the Stars

27 Q events calendar


opinions & views

4 Editor’s Note

5 General Gayety

5 TalkBack

14 QPoll


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contributors this issue

Matt Comer, Tyler DeVere, Kevin Grooms/Miss Della,

Don King, Charlene Lichtenstein, Lainey Millen, Leslie

Robinson, David Stout, Trinity, Brett Webb-Mitchell

front page

Graphic Design by Matt Comer & Lainey Millen

Photo: David Witt & Joe Kiser. Copyright 2010 Jimmy

Cobb, JC Digital Photography Works.

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represent the opinions of qnotes or its staff. qnotes accepts unsolicited editorial, but cannot take responsibility for its return.

Editor reserves the right to accept and reject material as well as edit for clarity, brevity.

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes


editor’s note

by matt comer

Cheat sheet:

Preparing for the mayor’s forum

On Dec. 9, the Lesbian & Gay Community

Center of Charlotte will hold a special, open

forum with Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx

(see “Civic Briefs” on page 18). The event, like

the recent forum with Charlotte-Mecklenburg

Police Chief Rodney Monroe, is historic and

marks the first time a sitting Queen City mayor

has held such a public, town hall-type event

with the city’s LGBT community.

That, in and of itself, deserves praise and

marks progress. But, like Foxx’s letter to Pride

Charlotte in October, such progress is merely

symbolic. It falls far short of the real, concrete

policy progress we need to see coming from

the dais. Words alone cannot be the only

measure of this city’s movement toward full

legal and civil inclusion for LGBT people.

Action always speaks louder than words and

action is what this city is missing.

When Mayor Foxx comes to his forum, I

hope this community’s leaders and citizens

will take it upon themselves to ask Foxx hard

questions and reserve their pats on the back

until after pressing issues are taken care of

and promises delivered.

Let this column be your cheat sheet and

come prepared to meet with Mayor Foxx.

There are several substantive policy issues

still unaddressed by this city’s leadership,

among them:

Employment non-discrimination

In a November 2009 Q&A with qnotes

following his election as mayor, Foxx said, “I’d

like to see the City Council move on the nondiscrimination

issue very early in the next term

and I’d like to see us do that in a bipartisan

way. I know there are members of City Council

within both parties who have expressed

support for including sexual orientation in the

non-discrimination ordinance. Given that, I’d

like to see action on that very early.”

Such city council action — also promised

repeatedly for years by many incumbent

council members — has yet to happen. In

March, City Manager Curt Walton amended

city non-discrimination policies to include

“sexual orientation.” His move, however positive,

is impermanent. The policy, as it stands

now, can be changed or amended by any city

manager current or future.

Additionally, the policy is incomplete, as it

excludes protections on the basis of gender

identity or expression. In fact, such gender

expression protections were specifically rejected

by city staff, namely City Attorney Mac

McCarley. In a memo, he advised Walton not

to add “gender identity” to the policy.

McCarley has also publicly defended

the city’s “right” to discriminate on the basis

of gender identity or expression. After a

lawsuit was filed in February 2009 by city

worker Anne Marie Clukey, McCarley told The

Charlotte Observer, “Transgendered individuals

do not have any rights under the federal

employment discrimination laws.”

As it stands, anti-LGBT employment

discrimination by the city is not only legal, it

has already alleged to have occurred. Such

past, current or future injustices can only be

correctly remedied by a public, on-the-record

vote of the city council for a fully-inclusive

ordinance — not merely a policy — prohibiting

employment discrimination.

City contracts, housing & public


As with city government itself, all businesses

contracting to provide services to or

for the city should also be held to a higher

standard. Currently, companies contracting

to do business with the city have to sign

a “Non-Discrimination Certification” that

prohibits any discrimination toward any “sub

consultant, vendor, supplier or commercial

customer on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender,

age, religion, national origin, disability or

other unlawful form of discrimination.” These

contracts and the city’s Commercial Non-

Discrimination Ordinance should be amended

— by a public, on-the-record vote of the

council — to include “sexual orientation” and

“gender identity or expression.”

And, if such a change isn’t possible — as

cities don’t have “home rule” in this state

— the city council, by a public, on-the-record

vote, should decide to add such a change to

their legislative agenda. The same applies to

amendments to non-discrimination policies

and ordinances affecting housing and public

accommodations. While such additions to

the city’s legislative agenda don’t create real

policy change, it is, at the least, a visible, onthe-record

sign that this city’s elected leaders

stand by all their citizens regardless of sexual

orientation and gender identity or expression.

Domestic partner benefits

In 2009, Mecklenburg County joined a

growing list of local North Carolina governments

extending health and other benefits to

the same-sex partners of its employees. After

the county’s decision — which was, by the

way, made through a public, on-the-record

vote of the county board of commissioners

— the debate over domestic partner benefits

shifted to the city.

Mayor Foxx addressed this issue of domestic

partner benefits in his November 2009 Q&A

with qnotes. He stated, “I have expressed a

willingness to move forward in the way I just

described. I think there will be support on the

council to do that.” Further explaining, Foxx

said the council needed to investigate the

costs of such a move and that “understanding

the impact of it is the first step but not the

last one.” Yet, that is all we’ve heard about the

benefits issue. There has been no movement,

at least in public knowledge, to investigate its

costs and the mayor and council members

have not addressed when or how they plan on

moving forward with such changes.

Political courage

In May 2010, Mayor Foxx spoke at the

Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund’s third annual

luncheon. There, he proclaimed:

“I look back at the history of this discussion

of a policy change that says discriminating

against people based on sexual

orientation is wrong and I have to say that

we had more courage to help propel our city

manager to make that policy change because

of changes that had happened earlier,” Foxx

said. “A few years earlier, the county commission

was embroiled in a heated debate about

saying sexual orientation-based discrimination

is wrong. They made the right decision

and their decision created the courage for the

city to do the same.”

Yet, any evidence of real political courage

is difficult to come by in this city. Despite

Foxx’s words to the contrary, he and other city

council members have shown zero political

courage and instead have relied upon

backroom, behind-the-scenes dealings by the

city manager to make (only a little) progressive


The mayor and city council need to do

more than come to our meetings, hold public

forums and speak niceties to our community.

They need to back up their words with concrete

action. When they do so, they will have

proven they have real political courage. Until

then, they’ll continue to give credence to the

culture of prejudicial, homophobic silence that

pervades this city and its political atmosphere.

Our own community’s leaders aren’t

blameless in this culture. For nearly a decade,

LGBT political insiders and activists, especially

with the Mecklenburg Gay & Lesbian Political

Action Committee (MeckPAC), have taken

these elected officials’ words at face value and

continued to endorse these candidates yearafter-year

despite a lack of results. I’m aware

of only one instance when MeckPAC refused

to endorse a previously endorsed candidate.

They should be more willing to hold these

elected officials and candidates accountable

and that includes releasing the full questionnaires

filled out by candidates when they seek

MeckPAC’s endorsement. If LGBT voters are

to make truly-informed decisions at the ballot

box, we must have access to the on-the-record

questions and answers of candidates.

Naysayers — even some among the

LGBT community — argue that anti-LGBT

employment discrimination and other LGBTrelated

civic matters affect only a small

percentage of city workers and citizens so

passing LGBT-inclusive policies and ordinances

shouldn’t be a priority.

I disagree.

City-county bureaucrats can’t even bring

themselves to say something as relatively

simple as, “No, we don’t discriminate against

LGBT people” (see “Why ‘what ifs’ are

important, and why CATS needs to clarify their

policy,” That’s indicative

of a problem and an inherent inability of city

or county government to be forthright in their

otherwise promised “guarantees” of equality

and inclusion. I happen to believe that inclusion

and equality are among this nation’s best

virtues. Such ideals should be embodied in

both law and practice.

Charlotte likes to fancy itself the “Queen

City.” Unlike a real monarch, however, Charlotte

rarely leads on any issue, particularly when

it comes to social equity. Until such a time as

Charlotte and its leaders are willing to move

forward on issues of inclusion and equality,

the city will remain nothing more than a small

Southern hamlet with delusions of grandeur. : :

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exp. date:


Meeting Date: Thursday, December 16, 2010

Program: Annual Holiday Event

Don King Community Service Awards

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, 420 S. Tryon St.

Sponsored by Frances Richter,

Time: Dinner, Refreshments & Cash Bar, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.


TBD, Advanced Reservations Appreciated

Accepting donations for Time Out Youth

To Reserve: Call 704.565.5075 by 12 pm

Friday, December 10, 2010

or email

to request tickets for this event

qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010

It was a North Carolina author, Thomas

Wolfe, who wrote “You Can’t Go Home

Again.” My partner Anne decided to ignore

him and go home to North Carolina anyway.

I decided to go along to help her clean out

the family home in Rutherfordton. Over four

grueling days we lifted and sorted an incredible

number of boxes. By the end of all that

heavy lifting, I’d mentally changed Wolfe’s title

to “You Can’t Stand Straight Again.”

In those boxes we found symbols of the

tension between Anne’s lesbianism and her

mother’s religiosity. And, when Anne and I went

into town, we discovered another tension, between

how we live in Seattle and how we felt

we had to behave in a small Carolina town.

There was a third tension regarding the

nutritional value of fried okra, but I’ll confine

myself to the gay bits.

When Anne was 14, her mother became

a fundamentalist Christian. That’s one way of

coping with a budding teenager.

Anne’s mom liked to hand out religious

tracts and in one box, along with myriad tracts


In response to our interview with new

Lesbian & Gay Community Center Chair John

Stotler (, readers say:

Congratulations to John Stotler and the other

members of the Board. You do not have an easy

task ahead of you in regaining trust and rebuilding

the Center into the vibrant heart of the LGBT

community it has been and should be.

I am hopeful that the change in leadership at

the Center will truly lead to a change in atmosphere.

For the last couple of years, the Center

gave the impression of being a clique in which

you had to be a member in good standing. Ruffle

feathers and you were gone. This was not lost

on the LGBT community and it seemed as though

the only time effort was made to include the

ENTIRE community was Pride.

Also, the flagrant lack of transparency with

regard to its operations, finances and the actions

of the Board served to further push away

the very LGBT community it is supposed to

serve. Until there is disclosure as to finances,

ALL finances, I will not contribute any money

and have heard this from several members of

the community.

One other suggestion for the new Board:

Would it be too much to ask for some sort of

actual and visable signage indicating the location

of the Center? That small, sad flag is far

from adequate. Many people attending Pride

were able to find the festival but unable to find

the actual Center. Perhaps this would lead to

an increase in attendance at events and overall

support. Why have you been hiding?

— Rita, Nov. 14, web

We are always looking for feedback and

ideas. We would love to have a program/event/

meeting/etc at The Center every day and night.

Please email The Center and those will get

passed to the appropriate board member or

committee to discuss.

As for signage, we are working with the NC

Music Factory on that. We will have limitations

based on their structure and policies as well

as agreements they have with the city about


general gayety

by leslie robinson :: qnotes contributor

Look homeward, lesbian

on accepting Jesus as your personal savior,

sat copies of “The Gay Blade.” An image of a

man with not one, but two limp wrists, graced

the cover.

Published in 1972, this tract proclaimed,

“Out of Satan’s shadowy world of homosexuality,

in a display of defiance against society,

they come forth.”

Sounds like a zombie movie.

“Their power structure is widespread —

they occupy all kinds of jobs.” Some are “even

hinted to be in high government positions.”

Yup, we snuck in right under the nose of

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover . . . oh . . . wait . . .

Most of the tract’s pages were devoted to

a vivid rendering of the Sodom story, suitable

in any decade for putting the fear of God in


Anne’s mom handed out anti-gay tracts

at the same time her daughter was feeling

lesbian stirrings. No wonder it took Anne

a bunch more years and a run at Christian

education before she became the openly gay

woman of her mother’s nightmares.

Letters to the editor and comments from

Web comments are not edited for grammar or punctuation.

And relative to financial disclosure, a 2010

Annual Report will be coming after the end of

the year with details about all of The Center’s

activities this year.

— John Stotler, Nov. 19, web

Speaking of Christian education,

we also uncovered one of Anne’s

grade reports from Moody Bible

Institute. Perhaps her mom kept it because

she was proud of Anne’s good

grades. Or, maybe she kept it, Anne

theorizes, as proof that her daughter

once had fine Christian intentions.

Anne’s mother is still living, still

handing out tracts to strangers. When we visited

her in South Carolina on this trip, I wanted

to ask if her stock included anti-gay treatises.

I refrained. I don’t want my picture on the next

round of tracts.

During The Great Purge, Anne and I occasionally

got away from the house and headed

to Main Street. There in the town where she

was born, where everybody still knows her

family, she found herself reluctant to touch

me on the street or in a restaurant. A natural

toucher restrained.

I felt the same. In that area of the country,

where you can’t throw a hush puppy without

hitting a church and where I twice heard

white people refer to someone as being black

“but good,” discretion felt nearly necessary.

A new feeling for me and I liked it as much as

barbecue sauce on a Moon Pie.

When we entered the antiques store, we

found Anne’s childhood playmate working

there. I heard Anne pause before introducing

me as her partner. That was not the pause

that refreshes.

The next day Anne saw her again and the

woman said she was sorry she couldn’t say

goodbye to me as well.

You just never know what you’ll find when

you go home again. In an old box or in people. : :

info: .


Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes


news notes:

from the carolinas, nation

and world

compiled by Lainey Millen ::

David Stout :: | Matt Comer ::


Clients have needs

CHARLOTTE — Regional AIDS Interfaith

Network (RAIN) is looking for donations for its

client services pantry, especially during these

economically-trying times.

Stop by Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5

p.m., and leave basic household necessities

to ensure that each person served does not

have to go without. Many of RAIN’s clients

may consider these items luxuries.

The wish list includes: toiletries (toothpaste,

shampoo, deodorant, etc.); normal

sized cleaning supplies; toilet paper and

tissue; and laundry detergent in non-bulk


For more information or to leave items, go

to First United Methodist Church, 501 N. Tryon

St., 4th Floor, call 704-372-7246, email info@ or visit

— L.M.

Job skills workshop slated

CHARLOTTE — Got the “need a job”

blues? Then march on down to The Lesbian &

Gay Community Center, 820 Hamilton St., Suite

B-11, on Dec. 4 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. for an LGBT

Employment Boot Camp.

This workshop is free and includes lunch.

Registration is required and space is limited.

The program includes coffee and pastry in

the morning, followed by resume writing and

interview skills training. Learn how to manage

stress during job-hunting while unemployed.

Lunch time is chocked full of tidbits on

working for the government and private business,

youth-specific topics and tip sharing.

Afterward get coaching on resume writing

from local human resources pros and leave

with a sound document for your search.

The day ends with role play to hone interview


For more information or to register, visit

— L.M.

Sport a shirt in support

CHARLOTTE — Want to show how much

you appreciate the talents of One Voice

Chorus? Then “jump on stage” and join the

Encore Circle as a way to keep the music and

mission of the chorus thriving through a convenient,

budget-friendly monthly giving program.

Chad Mackie, board president, said, “Every

year One Voice gives a face and voice to the

LGBT community by performing public concerts,

providing music to support Charlotte’s

other LGBT organizations and singing at social

justice events — most recently performing

as a sponsor of the ‘It Gets Better’ candlelight

vigil in response to anti-gay bullying.

“We’ll apply your monthly contribution to

the recurring costs required for our work to

continue to enrich and inform the community.

Plus, for donations of $25 or more each

month, we’ll send you two VIP tickets to every

One Voice concert while your recurring gift is

in effect.”

They count on individual gifts for its survival.

Everyone who participates will receive a

free T-shirt as a way of saying thanks.

To participate, visit tracking.etapestry.


— L.M.


Ring in the season


Foundation’s 1st Annual Holiday Social will be

held on Dec. 2, 5:30 p.m., at Finnigan’s Wake,

620 N Trade St.

Completing the work for 2010 will be an

open board meeting to be held on Dec. 21 at 7

p.m. at Celtic Cafe, 924 S. Marshall St.

The Adam Foundation promotes the

identity, strength, and well-being of the local

LGBT community and supports organizations

serving persons living with HIV and AIDS.

For more information, email info@adam or visit

— L.M.


Group seeks official non-profit status


youth-run and -led iNSIDEoUT is looking for

new adult board members. Now in its fifth year,

the group provides Triangle-area LGBT youth

social, support and activism opportunities.

The organization is working to file its

501(c)3 non-profit status with the IRS. To do so,

they need to assemble a board of directors.

qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010

The group said, “While the youth have

authority over the programming and day-today

activities of iNSIDEoUT, the adult board

may decide to take on additional projects that

aim to support lgbtq-a youth both in and out of


Positions sought after include a treasurer,

fundraising coordinator, public relations officer,

youth representative (between the ages

of 18-21) and a legal advisor.

Those interested should send a short

statement describing their interest and any

relevant experience or other information to Interested persons

should also indicate which position they prefer

to fill. The group notes that people of color,

transgender and transsexual people and

queer individuals are encouraged to apply.

For more information, visit

— M.C.

Center gets ho-ho-hopeful for X-mas

CHAPEL HILL — The LGBT Center of

Raleigh has been selected as the “Tip for a

Cause” for December by the Aveda Institute,

200 W. Franklin St. Visit the facility for any

service (i.e., hair cut, color, facial or nail

service, etc.) and 100 percent of all tips will be

contributed to the Center.

Haircuts start at $19, color starts at $40, facials

start at $35 and nail services start at $15.

Call the Institute to reserve your December

appointment at 919-960-4769. All services are

performed by supervised students.

Now that you got your “pretty” on, how

about nibbling on one of the goodies that

center volunteers will showcase at a holiday

bake sale on Dec. 4 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the

Institute? Bring individually-wrapped baked

goods to school the day of the sale or drop

them off at the Center, 316 W. Cabarrus St.,

on the day before from 1-7 p.m. A team will

deliver the baked goods the next morning to

Chapel Hill for the bake sale.

For more information, visit lgbtcenterof

— L.M.


ASO sponsors AIDS Day events

HICKORY — AIDS Leadership Foothillsarea

Alliance (ALFA) will partner with a host

of community agencies on Dec. 1 in observance

of World AIDS Day (WAD).

Awareness campaigns, as well as target

events will highlight the day’s activities and

will be capped off with a festive celebration

later in the week.

As reported in the Nov. 13 issue in News

Notes, ALFA will host a display of a section of

the AIDS Memorial Quilt from Nov. 29-Dec. 1,

8 a.m to midnight at Lenior Rhyne University,

Rudisill Library, 625 7th Ave. N.E.

Earlier in the day at 11:30 a.m., a free

continuing education for medical providers,

sponsored by Catawba Valley Medical Center,

will take place. Registrations may be made by

contacting AHEC, 810 Fairgrove Church Rd.,

by calling 828-326-3386.

From 5:30-6:30 p.m., a WAD reception will

be held at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, 629

8th St. N.E. A memorial service follows from

6:30-7:30 p.m., including performances by the

Lenior Rhyne University Gospel Choir, Exodus

Ministries Choir and Mount Sinai Praise

Dancer, speakers, reflection and candlelight


Light the Night will complete the day’s

observance at Lenior Rhyne University.

Luminaries, in memory of or in honor of a person

of one’s choice, are available for a contribution

of $10 for the first one, $5 for additional

ones. For more information, contact Rhonda

Bonfield or David Zealy at 828-322-1447, ext.

233 or email

On Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. at Youseff 242, 242

11th Ave. NE, a Winter Gala honoring Legacy

Award winners Mitchell Gold and Bob

Williams completes the observance. It comes

with a four-course meal and wine pairings by

Executive Chef Thomas Clayton. It’s in its 13th

year and has raised over $520,000.

Sponsors for World AIDS Day 2010 are

Catawba Valley Medical Center, Frye Regional

Medical Center, Lenoir-Rhyne University and

Catawba County Public Health.

For more information, email alfadev@ or visit

— L.M.


Champions to receive award

HICKORY — Mitchell Gold and Bob

Williams will be honored with the inaugural

Legacy Award at ALFA’s Winter Gala on Dec.

5 at 6 p.m. at Youssef 242, 242 11th Ave. NE.

The Legacy Award goes to individuals who

have made outstanding contributions in support

of HIV/AIDS services in the northwestern

North Carolina region that ALFA serves. This

year’s honorees are credited with providing

vision, strategic planning and passion for

ALFA that has insured free HIV/AIDS services

to the community.

Executive Director Rodney Tucker said.

“Thirteen years ago, ALFA was days away from

closing due to financial issues. Mitchell and

Bob are two community leaders who literally

came to the agency’s rescue. By giving their

time and resources, they insured ALFA’s doors

would remain open to serve our community.”

Special Reserved Seating is available with

a minimum contribution of $100 per seat. Gold

and Williams will also host a Legacy Table

with seating available for a contribution of

$500 per seat.

For more information or to reserve Winter

Gala seating, call Rhonda Bonfield at 828-322-

1447 ext. 223, email, or


— L.M.


Kirsch headed east?

SAN DIEGO — Dan Kirsch, the onetime visionary

behind OutCharlotte and The Charlotte

Lesbian & Gay Center, has stepped down as

executive and artistic director of Diversionary


The Wisconsin-native has been there

since he left Charlotte after helping to get the

Center on its feet at its Central Ave. location

six years ago.

According to SignOnSanDiego, Kirsch

hopes to relocate back east in March. Before

departing, he’ll help the theater plan for its

2011-12 season, as well as spearhead the

effort for a replacement for himself.

Diversionary, a 25-year-old venture, produces

plays with LGBT themes. Currently, it is

in the top 10 in local theater companies.

— L.M.

Hospital rules respect gays

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Centers for

Medicaid and Medicare issued new rules Nov.

17 that require all hospitals that participate in

Medicaid and Medicare to allow patients to

designate who shall be allowed to visit them

and make medical decisions on their behalf.

The order will allow for same-sex partners to

have the same rights as other immediate family

members. The new rules will be published

in the Federal Register on Nov. 19.

The rules follow a directive issued by

President Obama to the Department of Health

and Human Services (HHS) in April in which

he noted that LGBT people are “uniquely

affected” by being “unable to be there for the

person they love, and unable to act as a legal

surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.”

Upon announcing the rules, HHS Secretary

Kathleen Sebelius said, “Basic human rights

— such as your ability to choose your own

support system in a time of need — must

not be checked at the door of America’s


— D.S.

Gay bishop to retire in ’13

CONCORD, N.H. — Bishop Gene

Robinson, the first openly gay Bishop in

the Episcopal Church, has announced his

intention to retire from his role as Bishop of

the Diocese of New Hampshire in January

of 2013. He plans to pursue a greater role in

worldwide evangelism and expand his work

with LGBT advocacy.

Robinson’s retirement will come at the

culmination of 35 years in the diocese, nine

of which will have been spent as Bishop, and

a career devoted to physical and spiritual

wellness — including immense work on AIDS

education and prevention.

“Bishop Robinson has been among the

chief spiritual leaders in the movement for

LGBT freedom,” said Human Rights Campaign

Religion and Faith Program Director Rev.

Harry Knox. “His courage, poise, and grace

in the face of vitriolic attacks on his humanity

and faith have made him a model by which

the rest of us judge our daily actions.”

— D.S.

Lesbian widow sues gov’t

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Edith “Edie” Windsor,

who shared her life with her late spouse,

Thea Spyer, for 44 years, has filed a lawsuit

against the federal government for refusing

to recognize their marriage. The lawsuit challenges

the constitutionality of the “Defense

of Marriage Act” (DOMA), a federal statute

that defines marriage for all federal purposes

as a legal union between one man and one

woman. Windsor and Spyer were married in

Canada in 2007, and were considered married

by their home state of New York.

Spyer died in 2009. Because of DOMA,

Windsor was not able to claim the estate tax

marital deduction that is available when the

surviving spouse is of the opposite sex. In her

lawsuit, Windsor is seeking to have DOMA

declared unconstitutional and to obtain a

refund of the federal estate tax that she was

forced to pay following Spyer’s death.

Windsor, a senior computer systems

programmer, and Spyer, a clinical psychologist,

met in the early 1960s, and lived together

for decades in an apartment in Greenwich

Village. Despite not being able to get legally

married, they got engaged in 1967. After more

than 40 years together, they were finally

married in Toronto in 2007. Their relationship,

which is recognized by their home state of

N.Y., is the subject of a documentary entitled,

“Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement.”

— D.S.

Aiken supports bullying bills

WASHNGTON, D.C. — On Nov. 18,

Senators Bob Casey and Al Franken and

Representatives Jared Polis and Linda

Sánchez were joined by N.C.-based singer

Clay Aiken, “Dancing with the Stars” regular

Louis Van Amstel, and Sirdeaner Walker and

Tammy Aaberg, two mothers who lost their

sons to suicide after they faced in-school bullying,

to stress the importance of two bills that

address bullying and harassment in schools.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA)

is a federal anti-bullying bill that includes

protections based on race, sex, national

origin, religion, sexual orientation and gender

identity/expression. The bill has bi-partisan

support and currently has 130 cosponsors in

the House and 15 cosponsors in the Senate.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act, modeled

after Title IX, would provide protections

to students targeted for bullying, harassment

and discrimination based on their actual or

perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The bill currently as 127 cosponsors in the

House and 30 cosponsors in the Senate.

— D.S.

‘Give a Damn’ about runaways

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The Give a Damn

Campaign, a project of Cyndi Lauper’s True

Colors Fund, has released its latest video during

National Runaway Prevention Month to

raise awareness about homeless LGBT youth.

Susan Sarandon, Alan Cumming, Rebecca

Romijn, Pete Wentz, Eden Riegel and Cyndi

Lauper speak up about the need to bring an

end to this epidemic.

Each year, between 500,000 and 1.6 million

youth in the U.S. are homeless or runaways.

LGBT youth make up an estimated three

percent to five percent of the general U.S.

population. Yet they make up more than 20

percent — and possibly up to 40 percent — of

all homeless youth in the country.

Family conflict is the most common cause

of all youth homelessness. For gay, lesbian,

bisexual and transgender youth, the conflict

tends to be over their sexual orientation or

gender identity. Half of all teens get a negative

reaction from their parents when they come

out to them resulting in many of them running

away. More than 1 in 4 are actually thrown out

of their homes by their parents.

— D.S.

LGBT aging conference held

NEW YORK, NY — Services and Advocacy

for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender

Elders (SAGE) held its first national conference

created by and for LGBT older adults

Nov. 11-13, at the CUNY Graduate Center.

“The Future of Aging Is in Our Hands” brought

together hundreds of older adults from around

the country to explore issues such as activism,

financial security, health, ageism and more.

Plenary sessions and workshops covered

topics such as reforming public policies to

address the inequities that harm LGBT older

adults; tackling ageism within and outside the

LGBT community; the unique challenges of

caregiving for the loved ones of LGBT elders;

overcoming the mental and physical challenges

of aging; and achieving financial and

legal security when discrimination is rampant

among LGBT older adults and their loved ones.

— D.S.


In the Oct. 30 iissue, we mispelled Coti

Collins name in the News Notes article entitled

“Pageant rated tops.” We regret the error.

info: Have news or other information? Send

your press releases and updates for inclusion

in our News Notes:

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes

Magnetic attraction

Charlotte, Greensboro couples navigate life in love and serodiscordance

by David Stout ::

Although it’s an accepted convention

that sometimes opposites attract, resulting

in dichotomous pairings like liberals with

conservatives, matinee idols with car park attendants

and Carolina fans with Duke fans, for

the most part this hasn’t been the case with

HIV-positive and HIV-negative people.

From the early days of the epidemic both

groups have largely chosen to look for mates

and sexual partners from within their own

ranks. This practice is known as sero sorting

— sorting individuals by their HIV serologic

status — and there are a variety of factors

that have made it commonplace.

Some of these antecedents are emotional

connectivity (such as the comfort partners

find when each knows what the other is going

through); altruism (the desire to limit the epidemic

to the already infected); and, of course,

sex (too often driven by the unsound notion

that individuals with the same purported HIV

status are free to engage in unprotected


As anyone who has ever been in love

knows, however, historical precedents and

guiding principles — or any other forces

for that matter — have no effect when the

heart decides to go its own way. Sometimes,

against all odds, opposites attract.

Drawn together

In medical terminology a couple comprised

of an HIV-positive individual and an

HIV-negative individual is a serodiscordant

couple. (Same-status couples are termed

seroconcordant.) In colloquial gay parlance

these couples are said to be “magnetic”

— positive and negative drawn together like

the poles of a magnet.

David Witt, 61, and Joe Kiser, 46, are a magnetic

couple who live in Charlotte. They have

been partnered for 14 years. Witt is a former

mental health and substance abuse professional

with Mecklenburg County. He was diagnosed

with HIV in 1986 and declared disabled

in 1997 due to related health complications.

Witt met computer programmer Kiser in

an online chatroom in 1996. He says he disclosed

his HIV status

right away.

“Before Joe ever

came over to have

dinner with me, he

knew my status. I’d already

lost a partner to

AIDS-related causes,

so I’d been out for a

long time and didn’t

really have any problems

telling anyone

about my status. On

the other hand, there’s

always a slight fear that you may be rejected

by somebody you’d like to get to know.”

Kiser says he “just had to stop and think

for a moment” before committing to the relationship.

His family’s reaction was cautious,

but not condemning. “There was concern

in the beginning,” he explains. “They were

mostly just worried about me. Now, my dad

is accepting and when my sister brings up

any negative conversation it’s about me being

homosexual, not about HIV.”

Through the years, Witt has endured a

string of health issues. He recounts them in a

matter-of-fact manner that is sobering.

“I have chronic sinusitis, candidiasis

— a yeast infection in my esophagus — and

congestive heart failure. I had a heart attack

in ‘99 that might have been contributed to by

years of HIV meds, as well as the HIV itself.

One real concern is kidney failure. My kidney

function is about 17 percent; at 10 percent

I would require dialysis. My diabetes is the

result of HIV. I have neuropathy, which has

caused me to have multiple falls and an

irritable bowel related to the HIV. There’s

also fatigue and anemia. The anemia’s what

we’re dealing with now. I’m not making blood

for some reason.”

Despite the extent of Witt’s health problems,

the couple tries to keep them from dominating

their relationship. It can be a challenge.

For example, in April, Witt spent the first four

days of a 15-day Key West vacation sick in

bed. After discussing it, the pair decided to

Lisa Waldman (l) and Martha Lang don’t sweat the little things and enjoy every moment they have

together. Similarly, Joe Kiser (l) and David Witt say they cherish each day.

stick it out. The cost when they returned home

was a seven-day hospitalization for Witt to

treat a bout of pneumonia.

Whatever the challenges, Kiser says

there’s no question that he’s been enriched

by his magnetic partnership. “It’s brought a

nurturing aspect out of me that was not often

there before and made me more empathetic”

he says. “And because HIV has affected

David so profoundly, he sees life as so precious.

He has taught me to see that too.”

Witt adds that the relationship has deepened

in turn. “I don’t think we’ve had an argument

were we’ve raised our voices. Because

we’ve had to sit and talk about such serious

matters of health, we can talk about any serious

issues in our relationship. HIV makes us

appreciate every day. When my time comes,

I don’t want to have any regrets about our

relationship. ”

Kiser sometimes struggles with his fear of

what the future might bring, but the presence

of Witt’s RAIN Care Team and friends from

Witt’s recovery group helps. And, at the end of

the day, no matter what lies in wait, he’s going

to be there to go through it and Witt knows it.

“We talk about what’s happening to us;

what’s happening to me and how he feels

about it,” Witt says. “He’s just a great partner.

Even though he can’t experience the panic,

fear and isolation I sometimes feel, I know

he’s there and all I’ve got to do is call him. It

helps to know you’ve got a true mate to help

you go through.”

Lesbians get it too

Lesbians are the invisible component of

the HIV-positive population. The U.S. government

doesn’t even bother to track infection

rates among them. This systemic lack of interest

led to a nightmare scenario for Martha

Lang, now a 45-year-old sociology professor

in Greensboro, N.C.

By the time she was diagnosed, Lang

had made numerous visits to doctors and

specialists in Richmond, Ind., where she was

then living. She was wracked with illness

and already in full-blown AIDS, suffering

from a life-threatening combination of pneumocystis

pneumonia, thrush and dementia.

She says no one thought to test her for HIV

for so long because she’s “white, over-educated

and a lesbian.”

Lang was placed on the AIDS drug cocktail

and her health was making a vigorous

rebound when she went on her first date with

Lisa Waldman, 43. (“I had 240 T-cells when

we got together,” Lang says. “At one point I

had 48. My latest count is 1,200.”) Still, she

expected the worst when she revealed her

status during that fateful Chinese dinner.

“It was very difficult,” she shares. “In my

see Couples on 17

qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes

10 qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes 11

12 qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010

Serving proudly, AAS-C focuses on care,

community and clients

Raleigh’s Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina: Mission & History

qnotes is pleased to partner with the

Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina in presenting

this special section, “Life, Positively”, in

recognition of World AIDS Day.

The mission of the Alliance of AIDS

Services - Carolina is to serve people living

with HIV/AIDS, their loved ones, caregivers

and communities at large with compassionate,

non-judgmental care, prevention,

education and advocacy. It provides a comprehensive

variety of programs and services

to individuals, organizations and communities

in the Research Triangle Region of central

North Carolina in order to achieve this mission.

These programs and services include:

direct emergency financial assistance;

individual advocacy to assist clients in getting

the services they need and are qualified for;

referrals to more than 180 other public and

private agencies; food pantries averaging

nearly 600 client visits per month; door-todoor

transportation for clients to medical

appointments and bus tickets for local and

regional travel; arrangements for respite

care; housing referrals; support groups as

needed and requested; Care Teams (groups

of 5-12 people from over 60 Triangle congregations),

Pastoral care and spiritual support

provided for Care Partners (clients who

have Care Teams), individuals, and families

affected by HIV/AIDS; a monthly volunteer/

client/donor electronic newsletter with a circulation

of over 4,000; operation of two Family

Care Homes licensed by the State of North

Carolina and housing a total of 11 low-income

people living with AIDS, many of whom are

dually-diagnosed; HIV prevention education

programs reaching over 25,000 people annually

(targeted populations include men who

have sex with men, women of child bearing

years, and youth), Congregational Education

(or faith-based HIV/STD education) is for both

clergy and congregations, volunteer program

with more than 1,000 volunteers who are

thoroughly integrated into every department

and activity.

Alliance of AIDS Services - Carolina’s

history began in the late 1980s, when several

non-profit organizations in the Research

Triangle region of North Carolina serving

people with HIV/AIDS began collaborating

on various aspects of their missions, most

notably a major fund raising event called

Evening With Friends. These organizations

collectively served well over 2,400 individuals

annually who were infected and affected by

HIV and AIDS in the Research Triangle region

since 1988.

In November 1997 three of these agencies

(AIDS Service Agency of North Carolina,

AIDS Service Agency of Orange County and

Triangle AIDS Interfaith Network) created a

Joint Committee on Strategic Restructuring to

examine and recommend options for consolidation

that would meet current and projected

needs of people living with HIV/AIDS in the

Triangle and affirm the missions of each


In May 1998 the Joint Committee recommended

consolidation of the organizations

and in June 1998 the boards of directors of

these organizations formally agreed to consolidate.

The formal action that created the

Alliance of AIDS Services - Carolina occurred

on Oct. 18, 1999. Articles of Incorporation

were filed on Sept. 21, 1999. The IRS has

issued an Employer Identification Number

and granted 501(c)(3) non-profit status. After

the consolidation the Alliance successfully

integrated its formerly separate founding organizations

into one agency with 42 employees

and a yearly budget of over $1.8 million.

The Alliance of AIDS Services - Carolina

has continued to grow in the first decade of

the 21st century. Its clients in its four core

counties — Wake, Durham, Orange and

Johnston — have access to a complete

offering of client services. In April 2010, the

Alliance began an exciting new collaboration

with Wake County Human Services

to form the Access Network of Care. The

Alliance now offers North Carolinians living

in Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville,

Johnston, Lee Orange, Person, Vance, Wake

and Warren Counties a new way to access

healthcare. The Alliance’s now serves more

than 500 clients and it employs more than 50

people. : :

— For more information, visit

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes 13

‘Gay disease’ or not, HIV is

our responsibility

Feature commentary

by Matt Comer ::

The statistics are scary. In places like

Washington, D.C., and 19 of the largest U.S.

cities, the facts and figures take on new

meaning, as more and more people contract

HIV and are left to live with the disease,

the cultural and institutional stigma and

health disparities.

Like many epidemics, HIV/AIDS has

hit minorities the hardest. In the 1980s, the

disease hit gay men and intravenous drug

users. There’s no doubt many of the men and

women first affected by the AIDS crisis were

also either ethnic minorities or poor; perhaps

they were both.

But, now it is clear: the face of HIV/AIDS

has changed drastically. According to the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

(CDC), 49 percent of all people living with an

HIV/AIDS diagnosis in 2005 were African-

American. Among black men with HIV, 48

percent had contracted the disease through

male-to-male sexual contact; 22 percent

through heterosexual contact. Among black

women with HIV, almost three-quarters had

contracted the disease through heterosexual


Nationwide, male-to-male sexual contact

accounts for more than half of all HIV/AIDS

transmissions. And, just this year, the CDC

announced new study results showing 20

percent of all gay men in the nation’s largest

20 cities have HIV.

At the Creating Change conference in

January 2008, Matt Foreman, former executive

director of the National Gay and Lesbian

Task Force, took heat after he proclaimed,

“HIV is a gay disease.” I understand what he

was trying to do. Transmission rates continue

to rise among gay men and other men

who have sex with men. In a Bill Cosby-like

moment, Foreman was simply attempting to

deliver a wake-up call, no different from the

2006 “Own It. End It.” public service advertisements

produced by the Los Angeles Gay

and Lesbian Community Center.

In an interview following his controversial

remarks, Foreman told Between the Line‘s

Todd Heywood that his comments were only

meant to refocus the LGBT community’s


“HIV isn’t just a gay disease, but it is a

gay disease in the United States,” Foreman

told the Michigan LGBT newspaper. “I would

agree that we have separated HIV from the

gay community over the last 15 years. That

is why HIV/AIDS is not a priority for the vast

majority of LBGT (lesbian, bisexual, gay

and transgender) national, state and local


Some people agreed with Foreman’s

tactics; others didn’t.

Unfortunately, Foreman’s main message

got lost in the heat of debate:

“Over the last 15 years as people have

lived longer and the epidemic moved

predominately to effecting people of color,

we have lost our anger,” Foreman said. “Of

course this is not just HIV among gay black

men. It’s other African-American health

issues not being addressed at large … the

system is racist.”

He added, “I don’t blame our community

for the fact that MSM [men who have

sex with men] still account for nearly three

quarters of men living with HIV. I hold our

government accountable.”

“The system is racist.” And, so are far too

many LGBT people.

In the fall of 2007, Carolina Celebration, a

long-running fundraising group in Charlotte,

shuttered its doors. Their move effectively

turned off the annual faucet that delivered

tens of thousands of dollars to the now

closed Metrolina AIDS Project (MAP).

Beneath several layers of controversy,

hearsay and he said-she said accusations,

a kernel of truth slipped out from one of the

Carolina Celebration’s board members.

“We decided about two months ago to

discontinue servicing the Dennis Fund and

go with something else,” Ed DePasquale

told me as I interviewed him for a Feb. 23,

2008 article in qnotes. “We were going to go

through with changing the bylaws [and have

the money go to a different organization].

Personally, I said the best thing to do is shut

it down and start something else later down

the road.”

DePasquale told me how he remembered

the LGBT community rallying to confront the

AIDS epidemic in the early days of the crisis.

He said he hadn’t seen the same level of involvement

or commitment from communities

of color. “Why should the gay community give

their money to something when it isn’t going

to help the gay community?” he asked.

Ann White, then executive director of

MAP, responded sharply, “How can you put a

color on somebody’s pain?”

It’s hard to miss the inherent racism in

DePasquale’s statements. It is reprehensible

that a group of primarily white fundraisers

would pull their funds from an AIDS service

organization simply because of the skin color

of its clients.

But the “-isms” cut both ways. For the

same article, Bob Oltz, a former MAP associate

director, said, “Ironically, the African-

American community accuses us of being

nothing but a gay organization.”

Unfortunately, I fear that racism

— whether realized or unconscious — is

doing damage to the LGBT community’s

continued fight against HIV/AIDS. Instead of

seeing the human person in need of aid and

healthcare, many see skin color. At the same

time, some folks inside communities of color

aren’t seeing past sex, letting homophobia

and heterosexism — whether realized or

unconscious — cloud their view of HIV/AIDS

and who it affects.

When we allow ourselves to give into

racism and homophobia, we prove to be no

better than the absent federal government

officials of the 1980s, who ignored AIDS

because it primarily affected gay men. What

are people who are LGBT and of color to do?

These divisions hurt them, and in the long run

make everyone a loser.

DePasquale couldn’t see past MAP’s

clients’ skin. In doing so, he whitewashed

the LGBT community, failing to recognize the

countless African-American, Latino and other

communities of color who combine to create

our community’s rainbow of diversity.

The racism like that exhibited by

DePasquale and homophobia from communities

of color are as much to blame for

the continued HIV/AIDS crisis as substance

abuse, abstinence-only sex education and

the lack of safer sex practices. Why is that

the two communities most affected by HIV/

AIDS can’t seem to find common ground and

fight the disease together?

Rounds of applause are due to the countless

LGBT, African-American and Latino

leaders, visionaries, community non-profits

and health organizations that saw us through

the 1980s and 1990s. Much of their work

continues today, under the leadership of hundreds

of HIV/AIDS service organizations in

cities and towns across the country. Many of

them have taken bold and courageous steps

to reach out to communities of color, building

trust and bridging the racial divide that still

exists in gay communities.

But, our community needs to reawaken

the sense of urgency, anger and emotion we

felt during the 1980s and 1990s. We need to

push more of our community institutions to

speak out and take action on AIDS, racism,

healthcare disparities and poverty. We

need to push our elected officials to provide

more funding for HIV/AIDS research, testing,

education and prevention. We need to hold

government institutions like the CDC accountable;

they need to know that they can no longer

ignore LGBT people and people of color.

HIV is not a gay disease. Rather, HIV is a

disease that disproportionately affects LGBT

people and people of color. It is a disease that

kills us, taking away our chance to enjoy the

freedoms and equality we gain each day. It is

a disease that wreaks havoc on the already

maligned, impoverished and institutionally

underserved, underprivileged communities of

color in cities like Washington, D.C.

Our community’s leaders and mentors

need to once again instill in our youth a sense

of responsibility and seriousness. Safe sex

and condom use, testing and education need

to be messages LGBT youth and youth of

color hear on a regular basis. Unfortunately,

LGBT youth and youth of color don’t hear

these all-important, life-saving messages in

gay-inclusive and gay-positive tones from

parents, schools or society. Our government

and society has proven itself to be

utterly ineffective at combating HIV/AIDS and

reaching out to the minorities overwhelmingly

affected by it.

So, in the face of government failure, it

becomes our responsibility to stop HIV/AIDS.

It is up to us to continue and increase our

discussions about issues and problems like

substance abuse, sexuality health education,

safe sex, homophobia and racism. HIV/AIDS

may not be a “gay disease,” just like it isn’t

a “black disease” or a “Latino disease.”

But, whether we like it or not, LGBT people

(specifically men) and communities of color

do bear its greatest burden. HIV/AIDS is our

responsibility, and we shouldn’t forget it. : :

— An older version of this commentary was

published on Matt Comer’s blog, InterstateQ.

com, on May 8, 2009. Read it and other installments

from Comer’s 2009 “Fessing Up” series



Do you think the LGBT community puts enough focus

on HIV/AIDS education, prevention and advocacy?

See the options and vote:

14 qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010

Carolina HIV/AIDS resources

North Carolina is blessed to have a plethora

of community resources and programming

for those living with HIV/AIDS. Several groups

throughout the state work to keep the public

educated, provide testing and counseling

and support and case management to those

who test positive. Below are resources for

the Triad, Triangle and Charlotte. Find other

resources across the Carolinas in our online

QGuide at or


AIDS Care Service

206 N. Spruce St.

Winston Salem, NC 27101-2747

336-777-0116 .

AIDS Care Service provides housing, food

pantry services, client services, Ryan White

HIV case management and a variety of support

services for Latino and people of color clients.

Triad Health Project

801 Summit Ave.

Greensboro, NC 27405

336-275-1654 .

Triad Health Project provides case management

and other client support services, HIV

testing and prevention outreach, medical,

social service and legal referrals, food

pantry and nutritional resources and education,

support groups and education, art and

exercise programs.


Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina

324 S. Harrington St.

Raleigh, NC 27603

919-834-2437 .

Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina provides

case management, HIV/STD testing and counseling,

emergency assistance for rent and

utilities, transportation assistance, housing

information and referrals other other mental

health, substance abuse or support group

resources, referrals and programs. See story

on page 13.

Men United for HIV/AIDS Awareness

728 Marsh Grass Dr.

Raleigh, NC 27610

919-233-2044 .

Men United for HIV/AIDS Awareness is a

non-profit that provides community educational

programs and support services for

at-risk persons and their friends and families.

The group specializes in support to men of



Brother 2 Brother

P.O. Box 31101

Charlotte, NC 28231

704-295-1555 .

Brother 2 Brother provides educational and

support training services for men of color.

Workshops include those on HIV awareness

and prevention, sex education, dating and

relationship violence, empowerment and


Carolinas CARE Partnership

(formerly Regional HIV/AIDS Consortium)

7510 E. Independence Blvd., Suite 105

Charlotte, NC 28227

704-531-2467 .

Carolinas CARE Partnership provides free

HIV/STD testing and counseling, housing

assistance, peer training, case management

and other services, prevention and education.

Carolinas CARE Partnership also houses

the popular D-UP program, a peer education

outreach effort among young men of color

who have sex with men.

House of Mercy

701 Mercy Dr.

Belmont, NC 28012

704-825-4711 .

House of Mercy provides end-of-life nursing,

housing and medical care for persons living

with advanced AIDS. Services include physical

therapy and medication assistance.

Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN)

P.O. Box 37190

Charlotte, NC 28237-7190

704-372-7246 .

RAIN provides case management, peer

education, counseling and support services

and various programs for minorities, the faith

community and young people. RAIN is also

active in HIV/AIDS advocacy efforts and is

soon slated to open their full-service Center

City Health Clinic, which will specialize in

HIV/AIDS medical treatment and care.

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes 15

Gospel concert, attempts to bridge divide

Local HIV clinic plans concert with Southern Gospel’s Hoppers, Ryan White mother

by Matt Comer ::

The shelves on Rosedale Infectious

Diseases’ emergency food pantry were

getting empty. With a weak economy and

the holidays in sight, the HIV/AIDS clinic’s

manager, Dale Pierce, and Rosedale physician

Frederick A. Cruickshank decided it was

time to ramp up their fundraising efforts.

“We started thinking of a way we could

incorporate an activism piece, a holiday piece

and also fill the shelves for a good six to 12

months,” Pierce says.

And, that’s when it hit them: What about a


They’ve put their plans in motion and will

be presenting a special holiday benefit on Dec.

11 with North Carolina-based Southern Gospel

group The Hoppers and Jeanne White Ginder

— activist and mother of 1990 AIDS victim

Ryan White — for whom the pantry is named.

Pierce says he didn’t know want to expect

when he first reached out to The Hoppers.

Nationally recognized, award-winning and

Southern Gospel community favorites, The

Hoppers have also worked closely with

gospel legend Bill Gaither. Needless to say,

HIV/AIDS patients and LGBT people aren’t the

first groups of folks one might think of as fans.

“I reached out to

them and said this is

what we are doing,”

Pierce explains. “It was

a booking; they were

going to take it. But the

next thing I said was,

‘Let me explain. What

we are doing, this is

not your demographic.

There will be a lot of

gay and lesbian people

in attendance.”

Pierce says Claude

Hopper, the group’s father

and founder, took a

long pause and asked,

“Tell me, son, exactly

what the money is going


Pierce told Claude how his clinic’s pantry

shelves were getting empty, and how they

provided basic canned foods and dry staples

to those in need.

“If you came in with your family and

needed food, you would leave with a bag of

groceries to feed your family for the night,”

Pierce told Claude.

The Gospel singer’s response was enthusiastic:

“Son, we’ll be there,” he said.

Pierce sees the concert as an opportunity

to build bridges. To his knowledge, the holiday

concert and fundraiser will be among one

of the first times a Southern Gospel group of

The Hoppers’ caliber has stepped up on their

own and offered their talent for an HIV/AIDSrelated


“Most of them won’t touch it,” Pierce

says. “There is still that stigma with HIV/AIDS

and the Christian community. We’re breaking

down the wall a few bricks at a time.”

Since the 1980s, the anti-gay stigma attached

to HIV/AIDS has waned, especially in

recent years. Leading Christian evangelists

like Rick Warren and gospel groups like Jars

of Clay have reached out with their own efforts

targeting the disease and its toll across

the globe, particularly in Africa.

Pierce says such humanitarian efforts

are becoming more commonplace, even as

prejudice persists.

“I’ve been in the business for a long

time, and personally I’ve been positive for 13

years,” he says. “In those years, I’ve seen

a change in the tide, but we’re still in the

Bible Belt and there is still that stigma. We’re

hoping things like this will enable the message

from both sides to get across in a very

comfortable way for people.”

That message, Pierce passionately

explains, is vital, especially in a time when

younger generations unfamiliar with the

personal tragedies of the 1980s continue to

contract the virus at astounding rates. He

says more awareness and education, coupled

with courageous leadership and vision, is the

only way to end the crisis.

“Do we all need to dust off our ACT-UP

T-shirts and banners and get out there in

the street and start raising the flag again? I

think we do,” Pierce says. “Federal and state

dollars are getting cut. It’s not in the public

forefront anymore.”

Pierce, who will serve as the concert’s

master of ceremonies, is hopeful the concert

will strengthen Rosedale’s ability to continue

funding its food pantry. He also hopes it starts

a much-needed, community-level discussion

on prevention and education.

He says, “If we reach just one family that

goes home and around the kitchen table

starts a dialogue with their teens or in their

church or neighborhood and that that would

start to blossom into other groups, that will be

a greater event for us.” : :

If you go

An Evening of Hope and Inspiration

Featuring The Hoppers With Jeanne

White Ginder Sponsored by Rosedale

ID and Kerr Health Dec. 11, 7 p.m.

McGlohon Theatre 345 North College

St., Charlotte Tickets, $20. 704.372.1000.

16 qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010


continued from page 8

experience lesbians don’t do well with other lesbians where

HIV is concerned. So, I kept looking down at my Chinese food

waiting for her to freak out. That’s what had happened with the

last woman I’d dated and I was pretty traumatized by it.”

However, Waldman, a counselor for an after-hours crisis

hotline, took the news in stride. “I’ve been in the mental health

and substance abuse fields since college in Rhode Island. One

of the things I’d done there was HIV pre- and post-test counseling.

I just looked at her and said ‘how are you doing?’ and we

talked about it.”

Lang and Waldman became a couple in 2002 and married

two years later in Massachusetts. They are out to their families

about their relationship, as well as Lang’s HIV status. After a

period of education and adjustment, both families are supportive,

although Waldman’s elderly mother still hasn’t been fully

disabused of her misconceptions.

“It doesn’t get talked about anymore except with my

mom,” Waldman says. “Every time Martha catches a cold I

get reminded to not share glasses, towels or soaps because I

could catch ‘the HIV.’ I have to remind myself that mom’s 75 and

she’s doing her best to understand. She’s better now than when

we got together. I just have to keep reassuring her that I’m not

going to catch it.”

To make good on that promise, the couple practices safe

sex. “We used barriers in the beginning and we still use them

now,” says Waldman. “ We don’t have unprotected sex, period.”

The biggest issue is that lesbian safe sex is an amorphous

concept, explains Lang. “There’s not a lot of information on lesbian

safer sex. I went to an HIV doctor who is a lesbian and she

couldn’t give me an absolute answer. So, Lisa and I spent a lot of

time talking since there’s not a clear categorization of risk.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) basically

takes the position that lesbians can’t pass HIV to lesbians,

and, in practical terms, Lang and Waldman say they have

limited concern about sexual transmission. It’s another matter,

however, when Waldman occasionally uses Lang’s toothbrush

by mistake. “She lovingly yells at me and reminds me not to do

that,” Waldman teases.

Today, Lang says maintaining her health is “a balancing

act” between AIDS meds and the substantial dose of supplements

she takes to counter their side effects. “People think you

just take pills, but for me it’s a tightrope walk. I spent a good

two years basically sitting on the couch because [AIDS drug]

Sustiva just made me so stupid.”

Waldman’s steadfast understanding during that difficult period

held the relationship together. “We practice unconditional

love and she was so patient with me,” Lang recalls. “I was

working part-time at Brown [University] teaching one course

and struggling with the mental side effects and the gastrointestinal

nausea stuff. Lisa did more things, like managing the

housework and the household finances. Instead of 50-50, she

did more than her share.”

Though both women work full-time now, HIV still exacts a

significant toll on their finances due to the costs of the supplements

and medical co-pays for Lang. “We’ve been having to

have some blunt conversations about that,” Waldman reveals.

Despite the attendant challenges to health and livelihood and

the uncertainty of the future, which is exacerbated by Lang’s inability

to get life insurance, both partners believe their lives have

been enriched and their bond as a couple strengthened by their

magnetic relationship.

Lang says, “Having faced down death and knowing nobody

realistically knows how long you live with this disease, my

perspective is not sweating the petty or minor stuff. Just being

with Lisa and us being happy together is my focus.”

“This experience has taught us how to live simply and recognize

what is important,” Waldman adds. “People who know

us see that we have something pretty special here.” : :

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes 17


Charlotte activist among six

honored at statewide gala

Roberta Dunn receives ’Equality Champion’ award, joins CLT center board

by Tyler DeVere ::

Roberta Dunn has forged a path for herself as a trusted leader

and advocate for LGBT people in Charlotte. Yet, she says she never

intended or planned on becoming an activist, Dunn simply couldn’t

help herself. After years of work in Charlotte’s transgender and larger

LGBT community, Dunn’s activism was recognized by Equality North

Carolina among the work of five other Carolina LGBT and straight ally


The Equality Champion Award, presented for the first time this

year by Equality NC to six leaders across the state, seeks to recognize

the hard work of community activists and advocates working

for change in their local communities. Dunn received the Charlotte

region Equality Champion Award for her work with local organizations

and for successfully making

important inroads with

the Charlotte-Mecklenburg

Police Department.

Other award winners

included: Ellen W. Gerber

(Triad), the Rev. Joe

Hoffman and Noel Nickle

(Western), Aaron Lucier

(Eastern) and Joshua Lee

Weaver (Triangle). [For

more about each of the

award winners, see our

past coverage, “Equality

NC recognizes 2010

Equality Champions,”]

More than five years

ago, Dunn came to the

Charlotte area and soon

became active with Kappa

Beta, a transgender support and social group now known as Carolina

Transgender Society. She also later joined another transgender

group, the Charlotte Gender Alliance.

But what first started out as simple and occasional volunteer

work soon turned into full-blown political advocacy. The debate over

the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in 2007 was

the initial spark to Dunn’s political involvement. That year, legislators

in the U.S. House decided to cut language that would have

protected employees on the basis of gender identity. Dunn decided

to join Charlotte’s local Human Rights Campaign steering committee.

Following pro-transgender public restroom accommodations being

made in Washington, D.C., Dunn wanted to bring something similar

to the Queen City. She soon teamed up with the Mecklenburg Gay

& Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC). [Ed. Note – This

writer is a MeckPAC steering committee member.]

A three-year “Soul of the Community”

poll released Nov. 15 by the Knight

Foundation and Gallop has found that gays

and lesbians are perceived as the least

welcome social group in Charlotte.

The survey, conducted from 2008 to 2010,

sought to correlate community attachment

and loyalty with several factors, including

economic growth, civic involvement, openness

to various social groups and community

and social offerings like nightlife and


Residents rating Charlotte highly as

a community open to gays and lesbians

decreased slightly each year the survey was

conducted. In 2008, 16 percent rated the city

highly. That dropped to 15 percent in 2009

and finally to 14 percent this year. Gays and

lesbians were the least welcomed of all social

groups included in the survey each year.

18 qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010

“None of this would have been possible without MeckPAC,” Dunn


The work by the group and its members have led to many successes,

Dunn adds, but she also says there have been political

let-downs in Charlotte. Dunn says it was particularly difficult to deal

personally with the city’s decision to enact non-discrimination policies

excluding transgender people. More devastating, however, was

the murder of transgender Charlottean Toni Alston.

Alston’s April murder and the public follow-up by police and

media immediately shifted Dunn’s focus away from city policies. Her

passion for a woman she never met, but many believe was the victim

of a hate crime, is immediately apparent. Through advocating for

Alston, Dunn said she

has come to feel like she

knew Alston in life.

Dunn says she had

three goals related to

Alston’s murder. The

first was to educate the


Police Department

about the language they

and the media used to

describe Alston, including

usually derogatory

terms like “alternative

lifestyle” and “crossdresser.”

Second, Dunn

wanted the local police

to create an LGBT liaison

office, to serve as a

go-between for police

officials and LGBT community

members. Finally, she wanted Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police

Chief Rodney Monroe to hold an open forum with the community. All

three goals have been accomplished — the chief held his forum at

the Lesbian & Gay Community Center on Oct. 12. Dunn feels progress

with the police department is at least as good or even better than she

could have expected.

Despite her already many accomplishments, Dunn has no intention

of slowing down and expects to have a hand in effecting even

more progress in Charlotte. She plans on continuing conversations

with the police department and other city and county leaders — a

task that might be easier after her unanimous election to the Lesbian

& Gay Community Center Board of Trustees on Nov. 10.

Of the board’s decision to bring her on, Dunn says in her trademark

humble style, “It’s a phenomenal honor.” : :

— Matt Comer contributed.

Roberta Dunn (right) received the Charlotte region Equality Champion Award on Nov. 13.


Gays, lesbians least welcome group in Charlotte

Other social groups included older people,

racial and ethnic minorities, families with

kids, college graduates and immigrants.

According to results of the 2010 survey,

55 percent of respondents perceived

Charlotte as having a low openness to

gays and lesbians. Thirty-one percent said

the city had a medium openness. Only 14

percent rated the city as having a high openness

to gays and lesbians.

Katherine Loflin, Soul of the Community’s

lead consultant, said openness to each of

the social groups included in the survey

trended downward each year, but cautioned

those results might be caused by the way

the questions were asked.

“I think we are particularly specific

when we don’t ask about tolerance, we

don’t say, ‘Does this community tolerate this

group well?’” Loflin said. “We really ask, ‘Is

this a good and welcoming place for these

different groups?’ and I think that is a higher

level of achievement.”

She said survey respondents might

have a hard time honestly saying a community

is “welcoming” if it only happens

to be tolerant. “I think that helps to explain

some of the things we are seeing,” she said.

“Communities are being pretty honest with

us, saying, ‘You know, this is something we

can all do a little better at.’”

Charlotte’s downward trend in perceptions

of openness toward gays and lesbians

has occurred simultaneously with some

forward movement on official LGBT inclusion.

In 2008, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

passed a comprehensive anti-bullying policy

inclusive of “sexual orientation” and “gender

see CLT Poll on 21


Charlotte center to host mayor

CHARLOTTE — The Lesbian & Gay

Community Center of Charlotte has announced

it will hold an open forum with Charlotte Mayor

Anthony Foxx on Dec. 9. The event is slated to

begin at 7 p.m. at the center, 820 Hamilton St.,

Suite B11.

Foxx’s event with the LGBT community follows

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney

Monroe’s open forum at the center on Oct. 12.

Monroe’s presence there marked the first time

a local police chief spoke publicly to the LGBT

community. Foxx’s appearance marks a similarly

historic occasion. Foxx was elected mayor in

2009, succeeding longtime Republican Mayor Pat

McCrory. Many LGBT community members had

criticized McCrory’s lack of support for the local

LGBT community.


Advocates stress strategy at

statewide conference

GREENSBORO — Ian Palmquist, executive

director of the statewide LGBT advocacy

group Equality North Carolina, spoke frankly

with those attending his organization’s annual

conference on Nov. 13 at the University of North

Carolina-Greensboro. Usually, the event is a

time for celebration — Equality NC has been

largely successful on a host of pro-equality

issues, policies and legislation. But, the mood

was much more somber after this year’s election

gave Republicans control of both houses of

the state legislature.

Republican legislators might attempt to pass

an anti-gay constitutional amendment on marriage,

but Equality NC hopes they can appeal to

fiscal conservatives within the GOP who might

be uncomfortable spending $5 million in such a

tight economic climate.

Palmquist said the new political landscape

provides new opportunities to reach across

the aisle.

His group has spent years building relationships

with GOP lawmakers and constituents. A

former executive director of the group identifies

as a Republican, and the current Equality NC

Board chair, Dan Gurley, is a former executive

director of the North Carolina Republican Party.


United Way exec speaks to guild

CHARLOTTE — Jane McIntyre, executive

director of the United Way of Central Carolinas,

spoke to a couple dozen members of the

Charlotte Business Guild on Nov. 16. Her message

of inclusive community involvement is a

personal one she’s lived by for years.

In her opening remarks to the group,

McIntyre told the story of her Rock Hill, S.C., high

school friend, Charlie, who came out as a youth.

Her friends and his parents were supportive, she

said. Such a positive coming out was certainly

rare years ago, and especially so in small towns.

Nonetheless, Charlie eventually took his own life.

“Our high school class, none of us are over

it,” she said. “We’ve never gotten over it.”

Every time her high school class comes

together, she said, they take time to remember


McIntyre’s inclusive vision and leadership

began when times were incredibly different

from today. As the world has changed, LGBT

people have become more welcomed. Not all

change moves at the same pace, however. Poll

results released Nov. 15, for example, show

that gays and lesbians are perceived as the

least welcome of several social groups in the

Charlotte metro area. [See story this page.]



‘round, kiddies

— the


table, that is!

Let’s pour tea

about some contests that have taken place

recently, but I’ll also mention some shows

that I’ve seen, too. As time goes by, I still

keep thinking back to that trip to Chicago a

few months ago for Miss Continental. Our

reigning Miss, Mokha Montrese, is looking

to make a trip through NC soon to entertain

and be with the kids. I can hardly wait, but I

have to do my part now and get her in touch

with some folks, which is easy enough. I am

still in shock over the

big names that did not

make finals this year

— some usual heavyhitters,

like Sasha

Valentino, Tamisha

Iman and the dancing

diva, Josephine O’Hara

Andrews. There’s

always a surprise if

you’re paying attention!

I remember running

into Chilli Pepper,

your very first Miss, as

I was leaving town that

day — she proudly

showed me a pic of

her modeling this

gorgeous fur that cost

almost a half million

dollars and mentioned

that she’d recently

been to the White

House for dinner. Don’t

forget — Miss Chilli is

the toast of the town

and the Obamas did

call Chicago home

before moving to 1600

Pennsylvania Avenue.

Don’t hate — congratulate!

In local pageants, we have a new Miss

Legends — former Miss America, Luscious,

Her runners-up were Lindsay Starr and

Cierra Nichole. I forgot to mention in the last

Rag that Tia Douglas made an appearance at

this last Miss Hide-A-Way and was looking

great, I’m told, and also that Angelica Bauer

judged, which is somewhat unusual, as formers

do not typically sit on the panel. Glad they

had her there. Angelica is still stitching away

for the girls and her work is better than ever.

My friend Carmendy (or the artist formerly

known as) was in Charleston not too long

ago and tells me she saw a great show including

Patty O’Furniture, Chyna and former

NC U.S.ofA. at Large Coco Couture who now

makes her home in Atlanta.

I had a chance a few weeks ago to

attend Miss Oktoberfest at Babylon in

Salisbury and what a pageant it was. Rowan

County natives Jamie Monroe and Kysha L.

Wellington were in the show, in addition to

Cinnamen St. James. They were joined by

Brionna Davis, Devonte Jackson and a lovely

queen named Bella Jade (my first time seeing

her). Big Shirli “Painted As Ever” Stevenz

won. My little sis Brandonna Dupri was 1st

RU and Jayda Cline was 2nd RU. Many nights

later, I saw Brandonna in a show at Central

Station along with Janice Covington, Brooke

drag rag

by miss della :: qnotes contributor

Sure are a bunch of ‘pretty ladies!”

Divine LaReese, Danielle Nicole (visiting from

Buffalo), Ashley Jordan and Monica Lovette.

The very next day, a bunch of us had way

too much fun at brunch at Bistro LaBon on

Central Avenue — a new favorite on Sunday

afternoons. It was a Who’s Who, I guess

you could say — myself, Renee Rollins, Big

Mama B, Brooke, Brandonna, Shae Shae

LaReese, along with friends Richard, Drew

and Stephen. Shae Shae had flown in to

be in the show that night at Scorpio along

with Buff Faye and BethAnn Phetamine.

The famous costume contest was held in

between numbers. Speaking of Buff, that is

one busy queen, between her brunches at

Hartigan’s, doing the shows at downtown’s

Crave dessert bar

and getting ready

for another party

bus. All aboard!

Other contests

taking place

recently include

the first prelim to

Miss NC EOY, Miss

Dragula — Envee

Sinz won and

Rose Jackson

was 1st RU. Envee

also just won

the Warehouse

Witch contest with

Marina LaFeverz

as 1st RU. Paisley

Parque crowned

Dy’Mond Cartier

the second Miss

Global Glam Plus

with runners-up

Alexis and Neely

O’Hara. Jessica

Jade just recently

won the Queen

The newly crowned Miss Unlimited Arabia of Clubs contest,

also held at

Knight-Addams of High Point, NC.

Warehouse 29.

Her RU was Malaya Chanel Iman. In other

news, the Queen City NC U.S.ofA. prelim that

I mentioned that I’d be at last time has been

changed and Miss Della will have to miss

it, but I told the promoter that I would make

good on getting her news out — it will now

be at Gastonia’s Night Owls on Dec. 3.

In closing, it is with heavy heart that

I dedicate this column to a diva if there

ever was one — former Miss Continental,

Cherine Alexander. I never had the privilege

of meeting her before her recent passing,

but if you’ve seen the old tapes, you know

they used to beat the walls when she’d

come out, much like they do now for Erica

Andrews or Chanel Dupree. A fallen star, a

risen angel as the saying goes. Show owner

and founder Jim Flint shared with me that

Cherine was originally from Honolulu, HI,

where she was a graduate of McKinley High

School and captain of the swimming team,

moving to Chicago in 1975. She was one of

the greatest and admired entertainers that

had ever worked at the Baton Show Lounge

and certainly a former Miss Continental that

will be talked about forever. Cremation was

her request and her ashes were to be buried

with or alongside her partner, Phil, who

preceeded her in death. : :

info: Drop me a line, OK?

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes 19





‘White Christmas’ tapper Matthew Kirk

dishes on his training, his musical and its

holiday messages to audiences

by Matt Comer ::

The holidays are here. Thanksgiving is over and you’re still full of

turkey (or tofu), but that doesn’t mean you can stop. The holidays are

here! And, it’s time to get out and see all the beautiful, wintry sights.

That includes holiday classics like Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.”

The musical, based on the hit 1945 film staring Bing Crosby and Danny

Kaye, includes many of the Christmas favorites you’ve come to know

by heart. The production hits Charlotte’s Blumenthal Performing Arts

Center Dec. 7-12.

qnotes got the chance to speak briefly with “White Christmas”

ensemble member Matthew Kirk. In his 20s, Kirk has been performing

musical theater since he was child, and was cast in the original

Broadway production of the musical.

So, you’re in Hartford, Conn., right now?


And, you all started Nov. 9 in Greenville, S.C.?

Actually, we started the tour in Atlanta and previewed it in

Chattanooga. So, Greenville was the third city in the tour.

Where are you originally from?

I’m originally from Houston and Oklahoma City.

When were you first introduced to theater, and

when did you know this was something you

wanted for a career?

My mom put me into a performing arts academy

for kids when I was seven. She could see I had a

flare for acting and performing and it was what just

came natural to me. I loved it. I started taking voice

lessons and later on dance and put the all together

and decided musical theatre was really what I

wanted to do.

Did you go to college for theater?

Yeah, I went to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music

for musical theatre and graduated in 2004 and moved

directly to New York and started auditioning.

What was the first musical or show you auditioned for

and was cast in?

I auditioned for a lot of shows, but the first one I was cast

in was out of New York, a production of “Beauty and the

Beast” that played at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. It’s actually

the same producer who is producing this tour.

You performed with the North Carolina Theatre in

Raleigh. What for?

I was in the ensemble of “Wizard of Oz.” I think it was the summer

of 2006. It was a quick gig, just three weeks.

Did you get a chance to go out and see any bit of Raleigh?

We didn’t get out that much. There wasn’t that much time and

we shared rental cars (laughs). So, it wasn’t easy to go out and

explore, especially with no one to lead me around or show me

where I was going.

So, life on the road isn’t always glamorous is it?

20 qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010

It depends on the city you’re in. If you’re in a city and you

have everything you need within walking distance and a good

public transportation system it can be great. But, if you are in

a city where everything is far away from your hotel and you

are sharing a rental car with four other people, it can be pretty


I’ve seen the film “White

Christmas,” and it is

great and wonderful, but

I’ve always thought of

it as quite dated. What

exactly drew you to the


It is dated (laughs), but I was mostly drawn to it because of

its choreographer, Randy Skinner. I’m a tapper, and “White

Christmas” is a big tap show. I’d seen “42nd Street” on

Broadway and I loved his choreography. I wanted to do it, but it

closed before I got to New York. I found out Randy Skinner was

the choreographer for “White Christmas” and that they needed a

tap dancers. I’m a tap dancer and I really wanted to be a in a big

tap show.

You are part of the ensemble, but have you played any other

roles or characters in your other tours?

I’ve always been in the ensemble of the show, but every year

my specialties change a bit. Everyone in the ensemble gets a

featured bit here and there, like a line or a feature dance part.

Every year, my role in the ensemble changes slightly but never

really drastically.

Is there a difference between being one of the main characters

and being part of the ensemble? Is one better than the

other, or just different in some ways?

I wouldn’t say one is better than the other. When you’re

playing a character, though, you have a bigger role and are

much more a part of the story telling. The ensemble does more

dancing and singing.

What do you think is special about White Christmas? Is it pure

entertainment or does it send another message to audiences?

I think the show has a spirit of generosity in its message and

story. I think it’s mainly a heartwarming spectacle. You enjoy

the songs and dances, but there is a heart to it and a message

of generosity.

With the economy so bad, and with the holidays rolling

around, a lot of people are having it tough. Do you think a

show like “White Christmas” gives people inspiration or gives

people an escape from whatever reality they are living?

I think “White Christmas” is pure escapist entertainment and it

is a way to get your mind off all the crazy things going on in our

world and just enjoy the beautiful music and dances.

What other shows or types of shows do you foresee doing in

your future?

I really feel like I fit well in traditional, classical musical theatre,

but I’m really wanting to play more roles and get into film and

TV as well. I’ve done musicals my whole life. I’d done some film

as a kid and I’d like to get back there and start as an adult getting

my feet wet again in film.

Well, if “Glee” is ever looking for tap dancers, will you


Of course! (laughs) That would be really fun. : :

Community passings

Media pioneers Robert Freese, Dean Gaskey and

community leader Vickie Williford

Robert J. Freese, Jr.

Robert Freese, who passed away at age 61

in October, is best remembered as publisher

and editor of Charlotte Free Press, the first

LGBT newspaper in Charlotte and thought to

be the first such paper in North Carolina. Free

Press, established in 1975, was published every

other week and documented early and historic

LGBT victories in North Carolina and nationally.

Sustained news coverage included candidate

and later-President Jimmy Carter’s promises to

and interactions with the LGBT community.

In the late 1970s, Robert and his brother

opened Josh’s, the city’s first gay restaurant,

which operated for nearly 10 years on East

Blvd. Robert later owned RJ Publishing and

McGregors, a garden shop. Robert also

served in the Army as a helicopter pilot during

the Vietnam War.

Friend Greg Brafford, owner of Woodshed

Lounge, said Robert was a good person with a

dry sense of humor.

“He helped out a lot of people who needed

help over the years,” Brafford said. “He did a

lot for Charlotte.”

A couple years ago, Brafford, who had a

CLT Poll

continued from page 18

identity/expression.” In 2009, the Mecklenburg

County Board of Commissioners passed domestic

partner health benefits for employees and

their same-sex partners. This March, Charlotte’s

city manager expanded city employment

non-discrimination policies to include “sexual

orientation.” In December, Mayor Anthony

Foxx is slated to hold an open forum with LGBT

citizens at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center

of Charlotte, a first for the city.

Despite those few progressive steps,

Charlotte remains behind-the-curve when it

comes to issues of LGBT equality when compared

to other North Carolina cities and towns.

Durham and Raleigh, for example, passed

“sexual orientation”-inclusive non-discrimination

policies in 1987 and 1988, respectively,

by public, on-the-record votes of their city

councils. Small towns like Bessemer City and

Boone have included at least “sexual orientation”

in their policies for years. Charlotte also

has yet to expand health benefits coverage to

employees’ same-sex partners. Several towns,

cities and counties across the state have

already made such moves.

Charlotte also ranked lowest in openness

to gays and lesbians when compared to three

other cities grouped with Charlotte as “very

high urban — large population” areas. Those

metro areas included Palm Beach, Fla., St.

Paul, Minn., and San Jose, Calif.

Loflin said survey conductors are often less

interested in city-to-city comparisons than are

most cities and community members. She added,

however, that concerns regarding openness

were among the top-most concerns among

all 25 participating cities. Other top concerns

included social offerings and aesthetics.

The poll randomly surveyed a total 43,000

residents by phone in 26 cities and their metro

areas where brothers John S. and James L.

Knight owned newspapers. Knight Ridder,

Inc., formerly owned The Charlotte Observer.

A total of 1,000 Charlotte metro area residents

were surveyed in 2010. Other cities surveyed

included Columbia, S.C., Detroit, Philadelphia

and Myrtle Beach, S.C. : :

copy of each of Robert’s Free Press editions,

donated all of his copies to the LGBT collections

at Duke University’s library.

Vickie Booth Williford

On Nov. 5, 2010, community leader Vickie

Williford lost a long battle with breast cancer.

A nurse anesthetist and employee of Carolina

Anesthesia Associates, Vickie was also

involved in the LGBT community, including as

a member of the Charlotte Business Guild and

Circle Up Team for Race for the Cure. Vickie is

survived by her partner, Sheryl Manning, and

mother, Dr. Jane Knight. Vickie, a mother, had

a son and a daughter.

Dean Alan Gaskey

Dean Gaskey, 57, died Nov. 17, 2010, succumbing

to a years-long battle with kidney

cancer. A native of Kannapolis and former

member of the National Press Photographers

Association, Dean was a former employee of

The Charlotte Observer and several Charlottearea

television stations.

During the late 1970s and most of the

1980s, Dean was a fixture in Charlotte’s gay

bars, offering a willing ear to anyone who

needed to share problems and joys ranging

from parental rejection to budding romance.

In the 1980s, Dean became a part owner of

qnotes. He served as the second editor of the

publication from Jan. 1988-May 1989.

A celebration and scattering of ashes will

be held on Dec. 5, 2 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran

Church, 3747 Trinity Church Rd., in Concord.

— Don King contributed.

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes 21

22 qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010

on being a gay parent

by brett webb-mitchell :: qnotes contributor

College application letter

It is the season for high

school seniors to begin thinking

seriously about applying

for college or university

admissions. Grades from

years’ past, all the activities

of students engaged in

— from student government

and plays, to sports and civic

service credits — are being counted. Credit for these activities

are neatly placed into application forms. SAT and ACT tests

are taken at least once, if not twice. And, letters of reference

are being gathered, proof of a student’s ability to relate well

with adults.

And, then there is the letter for application to the college or

university’s office of admission. Having worked in institutions of

higher education as a faculty member, I know that this is often

the “make or break” for many high school seniors: if the essay

is interesting and novel, standing out from among the pack of

other applicants, even students with lower GPAs have a shot in

some schools for high achievers…or, at least, that’s the hope.

This hope was recently discovered when I found out that

my son’s college-university essay is about growing up with a

gay dad. Like his sister before him, his essay is about the joys

and challenges of growing up with a gay dad. My daughter’s

essay detailed the interaction she had with a family member

who attends an evangelical church and is opposed to the ordination

of gays and lesbians in ministerial positions. In gentle

prose, my daughter carefully outlined the conversation, sticking

up for dear ol’ dad. She ended her letter with the acknowledgement

that she is a stronger person, a person whose very

character embodies both charity and honesty.

My son’s essay is different: he and I play the dance of male

egos in a culture that demands that we, who are men, are naturally

competitive and tout our masculinity in ways that keeps us

apart. Individuation is a must in order to survive and more importantly,

thrive. His essay speaks of the challenge of living with

a dad whom he loves, who happens to be gay, in a culture of

high school machismo, in which being gay is not a virtue among

his peers. An athlete, with charisma oozing from every pore of

his skin, a natural-born leader, active in student government,

a willing volunteer for those in need, high school culture has

been challenging for him with his gay dad. As he has said to me

numerous times, “You don’t know what it’s like to have a gay dad

in high school!” He is correct. The burden that he carries is not

one that I shouldered. I am quiet. I am learning from him about

the joys and challenges

of having a dad who is

gay. He is my teacher.

I am his student. And,

that has made all the


I think he’ll be fine

in college. Much of

what he has learned

that will bode him well

he learned not in high

school per se, but from

the great classroom

of life well and deeply

lived…especially with a

dad who is gay. : :

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blog posts

and lgbt




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qomunity qonexions u

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes 23

Dear DisConnected,

Living in a foreign

country often creates

cultural dilemmas.

But, in any country

meeting potential dates is still a

one in 10 “numbers game.” That’s right,

sweetie, even if nine froggies are shocked

off their lily pads because one American is

a little pushy about finding that one French

prince, don’t be afraid! Just be your good

ole, friendly American self. Hey, they have

free health care, they can handle it!

tell trinity

by trinity :: qnotes contributor

It’s all a numbers game!

Dear Trinity,

As an American living in Montreal, I’m

finding gay men not nearly as

friendly here as in the States. How do I

get these self-absorbed gays

to talk and/or eventually date me?

The French DisConnection

Montreal, QC

Hey Trinity,

My boyfriend’s great, but he is so needy, it’s

often overwhelming. How do I tell him that

sometimes he’s too much?

Too Much, Austin, TX

Hey Too Much,

Most men are needy! Maybe it’s the milk! So, lets have you

open a bottle of wine together, make a few toasts and then,

pumpkin, let him know that it’s time to hire himself a secretary,

a maid or a therapist because (repeat after me) “You are

my boyfriend, not my responsibility.” (My cartoon can

give you some guidance.)

Hello Trinity,

Recently, I dated a woman who introduced me to another

woman shortly before we broke up. This woman has now

been asking me out. I feel guilty knowing she knows my ex who

also introduced us. Help!

Guilty, Green Bay, WI

Hello Guilty,

If you both like each other and at least one month has passed

after the breakup, then as a single woman there’s no reason

why you shouldn’t go out with her.

Honey, it’s not like she’s your ex’s

ex…or is she?

Dearest Trinity,

My boyfriend of 11 months recently

dumped me via the phone. Doesn’t

anyone in the gay world realize just

how much work goes into a relationship?

Isn’t it unfair?

Unfair, Boulder, CO

Dearest Unfair,

You mean after 11 months on one

full moon the phone rings and he

says, “You’re not what I wanted.”

And, puff, you’re left alone to think,

“What, after all this you’re ending it on the phone?” That’s

when it’s time to send:

Trinity’s In-Your-Face Reasons Why You Must

Be Present With Someone When Breaking

Up With Them (Especially After A Month)

1. Because I waited patiently for your calls, emails, late

arrivals, early departures and your endless voicemails.

2. Because I cooked you dinner, lunch and breakfast and ate

15 of your weird concoctions just because you asked me to.

3. Because I helped move your old stove, old boxes, old tires

and old relatives, besides fixing your toilet, stove, air conditioner

and your hairpiece.

4. Because I woke up early, went to bed late, changed my

plans, my times and my own work schedule just to fit


5. Because I listened to your infinite complaints about work,

family, life and politics plus listened to your music, watched

your TV shows and went to your family outings, never mind

listening to you burp, fart, sneeze and snore.

6. Because I dealt with your smoking, drinking, shyness and

jealousy, besides your addictions to late-night eating, insecurity,

work and “Sex In The City.”

7. Because I went to bad movies, loud concerts, lousy plays

and boring art openings just because you asked me to.

8. Because I massaged your tired back, wiped your crying

eyes, cleaned your dirty house and washed your smelly


9. Because I tried tirelessly to say, feel and do the right thing,

wear the right clothes and sleep in the right position while

never complaining once!

10. Lastly, because I let you teach me, train me, manipulate

me and persuade me into believing how much you loved,

cherished and cared about me. That’s why you need to be

there when you break up with me! : :

— With a Masters of Divinity, Reverend Trinity was

host of “Spiritually Speaking,” a weekly radio drama,

and now performs globally.

info: .

Tell Trinity, P.O. Box 23861 . Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33307

Sponsored by: Provincetown Business Guild

800-637-8696 .

24 qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010

Welcome December

and the array of

planets that dance in

and out of Capricorn

and Sagittarius. Let

the energies flow as

easily as the egg nog. Santa wants to know

if you’ve been naughty or nice. Think before

responding — you know sometime naughties

get the better gift.

SAGITTARIUS (11.23-12.22) Can money buy

happiness? You’re tempted to buy gifts galore

now. Gay Archers may alienate partners with

their mercenary meanderings if they exceed

the spending limit. Demonstrate your devotion

in time for the New Year’s festivities or risk

spending that evening with your auntie instead

of your sugar daddy or red hot momma.

CAPRICORN (12.23-01.20) This is the perfect

time to reconnect with friends and get involved

in group activities. Pink Caps are going

through a transitional phase in their careers

and can gain great insight and direction from

others during this tumultuous time. Money is

a source of surprises and excess. Try to rein it

in so you have enough dough for some really

expensive champagne.

AQUARIUS (01.21-02.19) What’s mine is mine

and what’s yours is mine. Isn’t that the way

things work? Aqueerians learn the hard way

that the more they give the more they get.

Karmic compensation demands that you

dedicate holiday time to improving conditions

in our community. I suspect that all your good

gay deeds will be amply rewarded. No, not

with cold cash, dear.

PISCES (02.20-03.20) Guppies may experience

a spark of romance on the job now. But,

beware of hanging around under the mistletoe

at the office party. It may sweep you off your

feet and cloud your better judgment. There

are a few hidden things that demand inspection

and clarification. Look before you leap,

however. Then, if the world is still your oyster,

slurp it up!

ARIES (03.21-04.20) Gay Rams might be on the

verge of a major professional breakthrough.

Grab for the corner office as new opportunities

present themselves. Try to take a calculated

risk. You may experience a temporary

financial zetz in the process, but it is worth the

cost. Often, giving up a little on the front end

reaps bigger rewards on the back end, or so

they say.

TAURUS (04.21-05.21) Travel may have its

challenges, but don’t let these small bumps

in the road run you off the highway. The next

weeks promise to be a time to remember for

queer Bulls with a bawdy sense of adventure.

I predict either a randy Roman holiday with

a few young buckaroos or an unforgettable

evening with “roaming Randy” that costs a

few buckaroos. Whatta choice!

GEMINI (05.22-06.21) Pink Twins may be faced

with the daunting task of having to choose

between the tried and true or the new and

exciting in love. Which way will your heart

and your other parts go? The fates spur you to

an ultimate decision by electrifying your every

word and creating monumental changes in

your life with every slip of the tongue. Hmmm,

do tell!

CANCER (06.22-07.23) An old broom sweeps

clean for all meticulous gay Crabs. You

secretly yearn for changes in your home life

and are now ready to take action. Whether

this means a change of residential venue or a

frank discussion with a certain family member,

is up to you. Whatever project you undertake,

tackle it sooner than later. After that, it’s party

time and domestic harmony be damned.

LEO (07.24-08.23) Most of the upcoming time

period seems to revolve around your job, but

even plucky, proud Lions can’t concentrate on

the day-to-day for long. Finish up old projects

out in the stars

by charlene lichtenstein :: qnotes contributor

November 27 - December 10

and close out the old year. Then draw your

attention to mergers and acquisitions…in

partnerships. If you are still trawling for a big

catch, use this time to bait your hook and stick

your pole in the water. Feel a nibble?

VIRGO (08.24-09.23) Anything having to do

with creative pastimes should be pursued

with vigor. Transformative, personal changes

take place as your great, gay muse goes

into overdrive. Queer Virgins capture the

imaginations of millions, but may be reined in

by time constraints between work and play.

Remember that sometimes even divas must

scrub the bathroom and do laundry.

LIBRA (09.24-10.23) Even though your selfconfidence

might have taken a bit of a beating,

gay Libras are full of plucky holiday spirit.

Good luck is at hand throughout the month,

so ring Out with the old and chime in with

the new! Clear away the cosmic debris and

welcome the new year like a newborn babe

— with a bottle in your mouth and in need of a

change of underwear.

SCORPIO (10.24-11.22) Queer Scorps manage

to party hearty this party-hearty season.

You’re destined to make a big social splash so

dress appropriately (no cellophane underwear

unless requested…). At the same time,

there may be a few stones tossed in your job

path. Keep up on the day-to-day so you don’t

get bouldered over or dissipated. But, getting

stoned might be an option. : :

© 2010 Madam Lichtenstein, LLC. All Rights

Reserved. Entertainment.

info: Visit for

e-greetings, horoscopes and Pride jewelry.

My book “HerScopes: A Guide To Astrology

For Lesbians” from Simon & Schuster is

available at bookstores and major booksites.

Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes 25

26 qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010

Center forum with Mayor Anthony Foxx

Dec. 9 • Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte

Following the successful open forum with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe, Charlotte

Mayor Anthony Foxx comes to the center to speak to the LGBT community, take questions and address concerns.

The event, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. 820 Hamilton St., Suite B11. For more information,


Dec. 1-18 • Charlotte

Every Christmas story

Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte will host the

regional debut of “Every Christmas Story

Ever Told.” In the same vein as The Reduced

Shakespeare Company’s abridged plays, this

hilarious new classic crams a season’s worth

of stories, carols and TV specials into an evening

of never-ending laughs! Actor’s Theatre

of Charlotte, 650 E. Stonewall St. Various dates

and times. Various prices. 704-342-2251, x21.

Dec. 2 • Carrboro

HearNC awards

HearNC, a new arts organization, will present

the inaugural HearNC Music Video Award

Ceremony and Festival. In addition to awards,

the evening will include live performances by

powerhouse singer, Bibis Ellison and improvisational

dance troupe, Flashback. In honor of

the first music video played on MTV, there will

also be a reenactment of The Buggle’s “Video

Killed the Radio Star” video. Cat’s Cradle, 300

E. Main St.

Dec. 3-4 • Charlotte

Shine Your Light

Charlotte’s One Voice Chorus presents their

holiday concert, “Shine Your Light.” Kick off

the holidays in style with friends, family, fun

and song. Unitarian Universalist Church of

Charlotte, 234 N. Sharon Amity Rd. Dec. 3,

7:30 p.m., $20/general, $15/students. Dec. 4,

2 p.m., $15/general, $10/student. Dec. 4,

7:30 p.m., $20/general, $15/student.

Dec. 3-4 • Charlotte

Magic of Christmas

The Charlotte Symphony presents a concert

full of your traditional holiday favoritees, with

guest appearances from the Oratorio Singers

of Charlotte, Charlotte Children’s Choir, Ivey

Handbell Ringers and Noel Freidline Trio.

Various Times. Various Prices. 704-972-2000.

Dec. 3-5 • Charlotte

LeatherFET 2010

A weekend-long leather and fetish lifestyle

event with contests, classes, vendors and

parties. A silent auction to benefit House of

Mercy will be held. For more information or to

register, visit

Dec. 4 • Charlotte

Employment Boot Camp

The Lesbian & Gay Community Center

of Charlotte presents a special “LGBT

Employment Boot Camp,” with tips, tricks,

workshops and seminars for beating the

economic downturn and getting back to work.

Attendance and lunch are free, but registration

is required at

Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte,

820 Hamilton St., Suite B11. 704-333-0144.

Dec. 4 • Greensboro

Where the Heart is

Triad Pride Men’s Chorus presents “Where

the Heart is,” their annual holiday concert.

Greensboro Day School Sloan Theatre,

5401 Lawndale Dr. 8 p.m. $15/advance.

$20/door. 336-589-6267.

Dec. 5 • Durham

Warmest Wishes

Triangle Pride Men’s Chorus presents their

annual holiday concert, “Warmest Wishes.”

Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of

Durham, 4907 Garrett Rd. 3 p.m.

Dec. 8-19 • Raleigh

Art Tatum

Doc Hanley, a Harlem jazz club owner, reminisces

about the jazz greats who played his

hotspot including his good friend, Art Tatum.

As Hanley spins colorful yarns about the good

old days, a custom-built, state-of-the-art piano

performs more than a dozen Tatum songs

from one of the most revered jazz recordings

ever made, “Piano Starts Here.” This one-man

show is a time-travel journey back to the days

of smoky juke joints, cutting contests, and

blistering hot jazz. Kennedy Theatre,

2 E. South St. 919-831-6011.

Dec. 10-11 • Charlotte

All On A Winter Night

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte and

Charlotte Pride Band join forces to present

a special holiday extravaganza. St. Martin’s

Episcopal Church, 1510 E. 7th St.

8:04 p.m. $15.

Dec. 11 • Charlotte

Twirl to the World

Just Twirl hosts their annual “Twirl to the

World” dance party with DJ David Marc

returning for a second year. A portion of

proceeds will benefit Time Out Youth. Tickets,

event locations and other details available at

Dec. 11 • Charlotte

Men of Petra’s

Petra’s continues its ongoing Men of Petra’s

contests, this time narrowing the field from

the top eight to the final four. Petra’s Piano

Bar and Cabaret, 1919 Commonwealth Ave.

10 p.m. 704-332-6608.

Dec. 11 • Raleigh

Warmest Wishes

Triangle Pride Men’s Chorus presents a

second performance of their annual holiday

concert, “Warmest Wishes.” Unitarian

Qqnotes events

arts. entertainment. news. views.

Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh,

3313 Wade Ave. 8 p.m.

Dec. 11 • Winston-Salem

Where the Heart is

Triad Pride Men’s Chorus presents a second

performance of “Where the Heart is,” their

annual holiday concert. UNC School of the

Arts Watson Chamber Music Hall, 1533 S.

Main St. 8 p.m. $15/advance. $20/door.


Dec. 16 • Charlotte


The Charlotte Symphony and Oratorio Singers

present their annual production of Handel’s

“Messiah,” from “For Unto Us a Child is Born”

to the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Knight Theater.

7:30 p.m. Various Prices. 704-972-2000.

Dec. 16 • Asheville

Ave Maria

Asheville’s Cantaria presents their annual

holiday concert, “Ave Maria.” Location and

time to be announced. Visit cantariaasheville.

org or check back in with next issue’s Q

Events Calendar for more.

Dec. 21 • Charlotte


The Charlotte Symphony and Oratorio Singers

present their annual production of Handel’s

“Messiah,” from “For Unto Us a Child is Born”

to the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Knight Theater.

7:30 p.m. Various Prices. 704-972-2000.

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Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010 qnotes 27

28 qnotes Nov. 27-Dec. 10 . 2010

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