QNotes, April 16, 2021


The isolation caused by COVID-19 and social distancing has made people feel lonely and depressed. Perhaps those most at risk for feeling this way are seniors, who must be particularly cautious. We take a look at several organizations who are here to help LGBTQ elders and improve their quality of life. For maintaining a good quality of health, we have an article on how to stay active and healthy as you age. We also have current local, regional, and national news, along with other pieces, that will serve to enlighten and entertain our readers.

April 16- 29, 2021 qnotes 1

2 qnotes April 16- 29, 2021

April 16-29, 2021

Vol 35 No 26






contributors this issue

L’Monique King, Jack Kirven,

Jesse Monteagudo, David Aaron Moore,

Julianna Peres, Terri Schlichenmeyer,

Gregg Shapiro, Sarah Shariff, Trinity

front page

Graphic Design by Natasha Morehouse

Photography: Hector via Adobe Stock


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a local news partner of

The Charlotte Observer

inside this issue


8 Gay, Gray and Dealing

With the World of Today


6 LGBT Chamber Offers

‘This is Your Shot’ COVID

Vaccine Clinic

6 North Carolina’s ‘Youth

Health Protection Act’

Targets LGBTQ Youth

6 CBP Names Ali Steele

Fund Recipient

7 GLMA Launches Listserv

7 Four Proposed N.C.

House Bills to Protect

the LGBTQ Community


12 Out in Print: From

Archie to Zack

13 Tell Trinity

14 Screen Savor:

She Kissed a Girl


10 Fitness in the Silver Years

15 Our People: Sandra



4 Coronavirus Journal:

The Quest for the

COVID Vaccine

5 Perspectives on Arming

the Community

11 What is Yours is Mine


For event listings, visit


Our People: Sandra


The gifted storyteller enjoys a number

of artistic pursuits, with writing being

her main passion. Hamlin-Rivers

provides insight on her past and future

projects, as well as her experience as a

Black lesbian in the south.



Four Proposed N.C.

House Bills to Protect

the LGBTQ Community

The bills would help shield the

community against discrimination

and violence. LGBTQ people in

North Carolina would gain better

access to housing, education and

legislative representation.


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April 16- 29, 2021 qnotes 3


Coronavirus Journal:

The Quest for the COVID Vaccine

Jesse’s Journal

The last time I wrote my Coronavirus

Journal, it was still 2020, an “awful year”

that I compared to Barbara W. Tuchman’s

calamitous “14th Century.” When I wrote

that essay, I realized that I was starting to

repeat myself and that I could not continue

writing this series without risking repeating

myself more often. I vowed that I would

continue my journal if I (1) caught COVID-19

(perish the thought) or (2) acquired a

COVID vaccine, which at the time was still

being developed. Thankfully not having the

virus invade my system (that I know of), I

hoped to write about my experience taking

a vaccine that would save my life. At the

time this article was written, two anti-COV-

ID-19 vaccines were approved by the U.S.

Food and Drug Administration: the Pfizer-

BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (tozinameran)

and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (mRNA-

173). A third vaccine, Ad26.COV2.S, is now

being developed by Johnson & Johnson.

After the vaccines were developed and

approved, the next step was to distribute

them to those who wanted them, in

other words, practically everybody. Since

demand vastly outnumbered supply as

far as COVID-19 vaccines were concerned,

government agencies had to decide who

was going to get their shots first. Most

agreed that healthcare personnel and longterm

care facility residents should get the

vaccine first, which they did. After that, vaccines

were to be given to essential workers,

senior citizens and people with underlying

conditions, depending on the state where

they live. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis

decided, perhaps for political reasons, that

essential workers are not as vulnerable

as seniors and that preference be given

to Floridians over 65, almost 4.5 million of

them. This is where I came in. Like many of

my friends, I am over 65 and thus eligible to

receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it

is available. But when?

As supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna

vaccines made their too-slow way into

Florida (and other states), seniors who were

mostly confined to their homes for almost

a year did everything they could to get

their liberating shots. They signed up for

appointments online or by phone, queued

for hours in the hot sun and did everything

short of highway robbery to get a vaccine.

Though the powers that be promised that

vaccine distribution would be fair, those


seniors with more money and lighter skins

were more likely to get their shots than

those who were poorer and darker. In Palm

Beach County, where Publix Supermarkets

were given an exclusive right to disperse

the vaccine, seniors on the (mostly white)

beachside communities near a Publix were

more likely to get their shots than those

who lived in the (mostly black and brown)

western towns of South Bay, Belle Glade

and Pahokee, near Lake Okeechobee.

As for me, I kept trying to get an appointment,

by hook or crook, online or

by phone. Not known for my patience, I

bristled as my friends bragged on Facebook

that they got their first or even their

second shots. However, as the Trump

Administration gave way to the Biden

Administration, more and more Pfizer and

Moderna vaccines were manufactured and

shipped to the various states. It was only

a matter of time before I got a phone call

from Broward Health, giving me the good

news. Could I be at Broward Health North

Hospital the next morning? Could I? The

next day I was up early, rearranged my

schedule and drove across Broward County

in quest of the Holy Grail.

Having heard horror stories about feeble

seniors being stuck in their heated cars

for most of the day, I took a book with me.

Happily, my rendezvous with vaccine destiny

was a more pleasant experience. After I

parked my car at the hospital, I walked over

to the building where the vaccine was being

given. I gave the folks at the desk my name

and other pertinent pieces of information,

sat down with the other seniors and filled

out some more papers. Only a few minutes

went by before I was summoned to go behind

a screen, where a nurse was waiting to

give me the first of two Pfizer vaccines. With

the vaccine in my system and my right arm

bandaged, I was told to sit in the next room

and wait 15 minutes in case I suffered a reaction

(this is where my book came in). I was

then sent home, where I did what everyone

else does under similar circumstances: take

a selfie and post it on Facebook (excessive

modesty is not one of my virtues). Having

received my first vaccine and written about

it, I look forward to getting my second shot

while hoping that my friends who have not

yet been vaccinated (including my boyfriend

Ron, who is not yet 65) will soon get their

shots. A new chapter begins. : :

4 qnotes April 16- 29, 2021


Perspectives on Arming the Community

LGBTQ Folk Find Their Place in the Second Amendment


On one early Saturday morning in North Carolina,

and at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a

group of Black LGBTQ folks got together to take a

class and hang out. While most of the world had concerns

with how many rolls of toilet paper they’d be able

to secure, this group of friends had a different concern

that spoke directly to the second amendment.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security

of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms

shall not be infringed.

Loosely stated, it’s the amendment that gives citizens

the right to “bear arms.”

Keeping in mind that the constitution of the United

States was not originally written with the equality,

protection or success of Black folks in mind, let alone

Black LGBTQ folks, a challenge loomed to find a firearms

training facility that would empathetically and conscientiously

provide training to a group of mature individuals

— about 10 — ranging in age from their mid-thirties to


With that in mind, the event organizer set out to find

a training facility and instructor that would be able to

deliver a class that would take the group’s versatility in

mind. Fortunately, he found what everyone was hoping

for with Black Diamond Firearms & Training. Their website

explains the company’s mission of being “Dedicated

to Training and Educating Non-Traditional Consumers in

Regard to Their Home and Personal Safety Concerns” and

offers a host of services. Consumers can acquire multiple

certifications, concealed carry permit training and selfdefense


The company’s instructor taught the class with special

attention placed upon Black LGBTQ community safety,

and all the required rules and regulations for gun ownership

and safety were extensively covered. Added attention

was given to handling interactions with law enforcement,

how to handle overt scrutiny, racial and/or sexual

orientation bias, securing an attorney in the event of

having to utilize licensed weapons and the importance of

transgender weapons owners making sure identifications

match appropriately.

In case you’re wondering why all of this might be such

a big deal, scour any social media platform and peruse

recent (and not so recent) news events reporting the loss

of Black lives at the hands of law enforcement, countless

murders of Black trans women and a previous presidential

administration that seemed to fan the flames of hate,

fear and racial injustice.

Now think about what it might feel like to be an aging

Black LGBTQ person living alone or with just your partner

in such a climate. With such factors at play, it’s no wonder

individuals like these in this group of 10 would seek to

arm themselves.

Some in the LGBTQ community support the Second Amendment

and gun control measures. (Photo Credit: L’Monique King)

Cassandra, one of the group participants and a trans

woman in her late 50s, took the class to renew her concealed

carry permit license.

She shared her feelings about gun control and

citizen’s rights: “I feel like gun control is important in

terms of machine guns like MK44s and automatic rifles.

Those are important for the army to have, but, as a private

citizen, I don’t think we need to have those types

of assault weapons.”

“I do believe citizens should be able to carry personal

protection weapons like a Glock 19, a semi-automatic

and revolvers,” she continued, “When you find yourself

in a situation of being an assault victim like I have been,

sometimes hand to hand combat — like I’m also trained

in — is not enough.”

With mass shootings and neighborhood murders

frequently in the news, community organizations and

Political Action Committees (PACs) like Pride Fund to End

Gun Violence (PFEGV) have advocated for and seek stricter

gun legislation.

The proposed legislation is generally aimed at access

to assault weapons — with the idea of quelling

mass shootings. However, what actually constitutes

an assault weapon is as hotly debated as the second

amendment itself.

According to CNBC News, the gun industry’s traditional

definition of an “assault rifle” is a weapon the military

generally uses and has “select fire capabilities,” or the

capability to switch between semi-automatic and a fully

automatic mode.

The civilian AR-15s, which are routinely mentioned

in these debates, do not have select fire capabilities,

only semi-automatic settings. It’s because of these

details that the firearms industry insists they are not

actual assault rifles and should not be considered

assault weapons.

PFEGV was seemingly organized as a response to

the mass shooting at Florida’s Pulse night club in 2016.

Over 50 people were injured and nearly just as many

died of gunfire.

The PFEGV website describes themselves as

America’s only LGBTQ organization solely focused on

gun policy reform to ensure safety for all, with a platform

of expanding background checks to cover all gun

sales. They work to prohibit suspected terrorists from

purchasing guns, restrict access to assault weapons and

large capacity magazines.

Supporting federally funded research on gun violence

and preventing individuals convicted of committing

hate crimes from purchasing guns is also at the top

of their agenda.

Not stated is how they feel about the LGBT community

arming themselves within those constraints.

The 10 people who took the Saturday morning class

at Black Diamond Firearms, however, know exactly where

they stand.

They seek to be able to arm themselves within the confines

of the law and needed the education, knowledge and

skills to be able to do so effectively. With classroom education

and a visit to a gun range completed, they’ve met their

goal and vow to practice regularly and safely while staying

abreast of gun laws regulating licensed weapons carrying

and usage.

Through their efforts and others who choose to do

so, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not

be infringed. : :

April 16- 29, 2021 qnotes 5


Drive-thru vaccines will be available April 22.

(Photo Credit: Ivan Diaz via Unsplash)

6 qnotes April 16- 29, 2021

LGBT Chamber Offers ‘This is Your Shot!’

COVID Vaccine Clinic

The Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce (CLGBTCC) will host a drive-thru COVID-19

vaccination clinic on April 22 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., onsite at the Chamber’s office

located in the Hearts Beat as One Foundation at 3520 DeWitt Lane. Working in conjunction

with the chamber, the Mecklenburg County Health Department will provide the vaccinations.

On hand at the clinic will be Novant Health employees, who will ensure individuals seeking a

vaccine are hydrated, healthy and react well to the dosage.

Participants must be over the age of 18. The CLGBTCC confirms the drive-through is open

to all, with a primary focus on the LGBTQ community.

“In partnership with our strong network of strategic partners, we have established a track

record of supporting our community in meaningful ways,” says Chamber chair, Ciara Lilly.

“This is just one more example of how we work diligently to connect our community to valuable

resources that will help during this challenging time.”

“The vaccination clinic is an extension of our efforts to assist those within our community

who are vulnerable during this pandemic,” explains Chamber CEO Chad Turner. “We are excited

to partner with the Mecklenburg County Health Department and thank Novant Health

and Hearts Beat as One Foundation for their efforts to make this a great success.”

Per their announcement, the CLGBTCC’s current goal is 300 vaccinations throughout

the operation. Should the need exceed that number, the chamber will work closely with

Mecklenburg County Health authorities to provide more vaccinations so that everyone who wants the treatment can have one.

Says CLGBTCC member and Mecklenburg County Commissioner-At-Large Pat Cotham: “The county has a critical goal of vaccination

equity. The result is we are not waiting for residents to come to us, we are going to them. The data shows we are making progress, so we

are on the right track.”

Registrations for the vaccination clinic are required; go to bit.ly/3uxD65O to sign up.

info: clgbtcc.org

— Julianna Peres

North Carolina’s ‘Youth Health Protection Act’

Targets LGBTQ Youth

Filed on Monday, April 5, the Youth Health Protection Act (Senate Bill 514) could out numerous LGBTQ individuals and deny many

more access to gender-affirming care. This bill would require every physician, mental health professional and North Carolina state agent

involved in the treatment of any trans individual under the age of 21 to report such action to parents, guardians or custodians.

The bill requires all persons under 21 to be treated as minors. Healthcare professionals will be heavily fined if they provide “unauthorized”

treatment to anyone included in the 18-21 age range, even though the state recognizes individuals over 18 as an adult.

Written by Sen. Ralph Hise and supported primarily by fellow Republican representatives, the bill states the following:

A medical professional who engages in any of the practices… shall be considered to have engaged in unprofessional conduct and shall be subject

to revocation of licensure and other appropriate discipline by the medical professional’s licensing or certifying board. The medical professional

shall also be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per occurrence.

“A person’s gender identity shouldn’t limit their ability to access health care or be treated with dignity and respect,” Rev. Jasmine Beach-

Ferrara, who is running for North Carolina’s 11th District Seat, said in a story carried by NBC news.

Not only would law enforcement and other legislative professionals be required to alert LGBTQ youth’s parents about their transgender

or non-binary identities, but state schools would have to do the same as well. This would include school counselors, coaches and teachers.

Under the purview of SB 514, coming out in any manner under the umbrella term gender-expansive would be public knowledge. As

such, it could be a negatively impacting experience for all under 21, but especially young adults between the ages of 18 and 21 who could

potentially be denied gender-confirming medical care based solely on the response of a parent, custodian or guardian.

info: bit.ly/3d3jtwJ

— Julianna Peres

CBP Names Ali Steele Fund Recipient

Charlotte Black Pride (CBP) has announced the recipient of their annual $250 reinvestment

fund: Ali Steele. This endowment is designed to provide aid to business owners who

are members of the Black LGBTQ community. Applications posted a short video describing

their vision for the future of their organizations, tagging CBP on either Facebook or

Instagram. The group/individual with the most likes was selected for the reinvestment fund .

Steele is a singer, songwriter and entrepreneur, juggling a music career along with

spearheading two organizations: EthnicByAli and Issa Vibe Adventures. “I created EthnicByAli

in 2015 when I got laid off my job, but it’s a total reflection of my culture through signs, symbols,

ethnic attire and wholistic remedies,” Steele said.

Steele went on to say that Issa Vibe Adventures was founded after seeing a need for the

community to reconnect to nature.

When asked what the CBP grant would provide for these enterprises, Steele replied, “the

grant will be used to continue to provide a platform for my community to network, learn, create

and reconnect to nature through events like the Healers Market and Issa Vibe hikes. I will

also use it to continue to make music that encourages love and hope.”

Issa Vibe Adventures has had its fair share of obstacles since its inception, primarily

that of properly training potential tour guides. Steele mentioned that the American Canoe

Association (ACA) kayaking certification is extremely important to the group. Accordingly, the

certification will allow Issa Vibe instructors to teach paddling and rowing techniques.

The local musician and entrepreneur received

a re-investment fund grant.

For those who want to get involved, events are constantly being posted on EthnicByAli’s account at bit.ly/3sRR8yz. To learn about upcoming

hiking opportunities, yoga and a chance to feed the homeless, follow the Issa Vibe Adventures Instagram at bit.ly/3dvK6Jz. Steele’s

music album, “I Can Only Be Me,” is available on all music platforms at amzn.to/3ulmbmL.

info: bit.ly/3rN1oXO

— Julianna Peres





On April 29, the organization will offer

group discussions and consultant-led

conversation from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00

p.m. Taking place online, this event will

focus on Pride in the Triangle’s LGBTQ+

Workplace Equity Toolkit. Training will

be moderated by Kathrine Turner from

Global Citizen, LLC, and Stan Kimer

from Total Engagement Consulting

by Kimer and RTI International, Inc.

Tickets and the downloadable toolkit

are completely free.

info: bit.ly/3fWcpUq



From 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on May

4, this interactive workshop is targeted

toward those in leadership or HR roles

within employee resource groups (ERGs).

The purpose of this training session is

growth and knowledge exchange between

ERG executive sponsors, Human

Resource Representatives in ERGs and

any other professional who is interested

in action planning in relation to intersectionality.

Ticket prices differ depending

on partner/non-partner position as well

as for-profit/non-profit status

info: bit.ly/2PEvGz1



Time Out Youth (TOY) is hosting a celebration

for the 30 years of hard work

that have been poured into the organization

since its 1991 inception. The party

will take place at the TOY center on April

17 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. LGBTQ

individuals between the ages of 11 and

20 are encouraged to sign up and partake

in the socially-distant festivities.

info: bit.ly/3d3XtSl




Planned Parenthood launched a

program on March 24 that will expand

upon transgender healthcare as well

as LGBTQ inclusive sex education.

Dubbed “TRANSforming Community

TRANSforming Care,” this project will

focus on those from lower-income

communities who are unable to afford

adequate and gender affirming medical

attention. The conception of this program

was by transgender and nonbinary

persons for those who are similarly

gender-expansive, including intersex

and genderfluid individuals.

info: bit.ly/31Z7Kcc



New Ways Ministry created a petition

titled “We Will Bless Same-Gender

Couples” as a direct response to the

Vatican’s March 15 announcement.

Over 3,000 people have put their names

on this pledge, including dozens of

Catholic theologians and church-goers.

Signatures have been made by those

around the world, and more continue

to pour in every day. The ultimate goal

of this petition is to garner the Vatican’s

attention as well as to provide proof

to LGBTQ persons that they have allies

within the Catholic church.

info: bit.ly/2QbEpZ3

— Compiled by Julianna Peres

GLMA Launches Listserv

Bisexual Health Awareness Month has been promoted by organizations such as

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Bisexual Resource Center

and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). GLMA (formerly Gay and Lesbian Medical

Associates, now Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality but retaining their

former acronym), rounded off

the month of March by announcing

the GLMA Bi+ Health

Professional Network listserv.

This electronic mailing list will

serve to strengthen connections

between the LGBTQ community

and current or aspiring healthcare


Potential participants of

the listserv may be students or

trainees, as well as researchers

within the mental health or

medical field who identify as

bisexual. GLMA has clarified that

these professionals may also be

pansexual, panromantic, queer,

fluid or sexualities that are

GLMA has created a bi+ health professional network.

(Photo Credit: Monkey Business via Adobe Stock)

similar to bisexual in terms of

multigender attraction. For this

reason, the listserv signup sheet

emphasizes that applicants must

be supportive of the LGBTQ community and experienced in treatment of patients who

do not identify as cisgender-heterosexual.

The idea for this listserv came about during the 38th GLMA Annual Conference

Bisexual Health Professional Networking Session. GLMA has released a statement

confirming there will be future opportunities for transgender healthcare professionals

as well as other LGBTQ identified persons. Interdisciplinary conversation by those of

all races and all sexualities can be seen in the mission statement of GLMA as well as

their Bi+ Health Professional Network announcement.

The upcoming GLMA Annual Conference is titled “Closing the Gaps” and will take

place Sept. 22-25. The focus will be on ways to improve healthcare for BIPOC (Black

Indigenous People Of Color) LGBTQ persons; especially transgender, two-spirit and all

other gender diverse individuals. For queries regarding the conference, direct emails

to annualconference@glma.org.

info: bit.ly/3wtIQ2n

— Julianna Peres

Four Proposed N.C. House Bills

to Protect the LGBTQ Community

House Bill 450, titled “Equality for All,” was filed in North Carolina by District 29

Representative Vernetta Alston on March 30. This bill is just one of multiple bills proposed

in 2021 that would provide protection for the LGBTQ community.

House Bill 449, titled “Prohibit Defense Based on Sex or Gender,” is one such

bill that will serve to prohibit individuals from claiming the “panic defense” in court.

Should this bill pass, perpetrators of violence against members of the LGBTQ community

cannot plead that they committed these harmful actions due to someone’s gender

or sexual orientation. House Bill 392, titled “Mental Health Protection,” has also

been filed and, if passed, would prohibit gay conversion therapy in North Carolina .

House Bill 451, dubbed “Full Repeal of HB 2” will make it so that individual counties

can set their own standards regarding sexual orientation and gender identity

(bit.ly/3u7ifWO). HB 2 was, and continues to be, one of the most controversial

bills passed in North Carolina within the last five years. A facet of HB 2 was that

transgender or other gender

expansive persons would be

unable to use restrooms that

correspond with their gender

identities if they were not legally

recognized as said gender.

Essentially, the LGBTQ community

will remain legally unprotected

from discrimination if HB

2 is not repealed.

The reversal of HB 2 and

potential passage of HB 450/

Equality For All means that

LGBTQ people in North Carolina

would be afforded more freedom

and given less legal obstacles

than ever before and would

solidify housing, education and

legislative participation.

The bills would help combat discrimination against

LGBTQ people. (Photo Credit: yavdat via Adobe Stock)

“Too many LGBTQ people — especially those who are BIPOC (Black Indigenous

People Of Color) or transgender — experience discrimination and violence in

North Carolina law,” Alston explains, “Right now [that] leaves them vulnerable.

We need to pass strong legislation that gives people the best opportunity to

thrive” (bit.ly/3ugxOLW).

info: bit.ly/3fzcZXT.

— Julianna Peres

April 16- 29, 2021 qnotes 7


Gay, Gray and Dealing With the World of Today

From Socially Distanced Walks and Virtual Outreach to Welcoming Residential Centers,

Solutions to Improve Quality of Life for LGBTQ Seniors


According to a Gallup Poll previously

published in qnotes, Charlotte Metro

had an LGBTQ population of approximately

90,000 during the last decade.

Considering the rate of growth since that

time, it is likely that tally has increased

to somewhere around 104,000. Applying

the same informational chart used for the

community as a whole, the current over-

65 LGBTQ population in the Queen City

probably numbers around 12,000.

It’s true — seniors in general face a variety

of challenges. While there are issues

shared across the entire spectrum of the

65+ community, there are some that are

unique to LGBTQ seniors.

A report carried by PR Newswire

confirms key barriers to accessing the individualized

care LGBTQ seniors need range

from prohibitive costs to poorly designed

or discriminatory services. Additionally,

many participants experience poor quality

care, discrimination from service providers,

homophobia, transphobia, racism and

a lack of specialist HIV care.

Among the most-requested services to

meet LGBTQ seniors’ special needs: wellness

programs, adult education, in-home

support, recreation and transportation.

A recent study by the Department of

Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) indicates

LGBTQ seniors are four times less likely to

access aging services. Reasons include:

• One in five feel unsafe and/or unwelcome

• Nearly half have mobility limitations

• One in four report difficulty

accessing transportation

• One in six report lower quality

social activities.

Over the past year LGBTQ seniors have

additionally felt some of life’s less-pleasant

experiences amplified because of the

COVID-19 pandemic.

“The isolation, definitely,” says Susan

Owens, a 67-year old single lesbian who

lives in the Charlotte Metro area. “I moved

to the region about 10 years ago for work,”

she recalls, “I liked it here so I decided to

call it my retirement home, but I really

don’t know that many people and I don’t

have a huge support network. With everyone

in pandemic shutdown mode, things

have become exceptionally quiet.”

Owens also confirms that getting

around for things like shopping and doctor’s

visits has also become more

of a challenge.

State reports indicate the over-65

population of North Carolina make up

only 20 percent of recorded COVID-19

cases statewide. However, older folks

also make up 80 percent of deaths relating

to COVID-19.

While seniors are more likely to social

distance and quarantine, resulting in

prolonged isolation, they possess the highest

risk of fatal interaction with the virus

because of lowered immune systems. The

reports back up some of Owens’ assertions:

Isolation and subsequent loneliness

are some of the most harmful aspects of

COVID-19 for those that have not been

infected or for the infected that survive,

and they can lead to depression.

8 qnotes April 16- 29, 2021

While it is important for seniors to social distance during COVID-19, the prolonged isolation

can lead to depression. (Photo Credit: De Visu via Adobe Stock)

Multiple groups have taken necessary

precautions during this time and have

barred in-person contact, but now that

vaccines are more widely available, some

organizations are beginning to re-imagine

user-friendliness and outreach coordination

in an effort to provide solutions to

some of the challenges the LGBTQ population

has faced and will continue

to deal with.

An example of this is SAGE.

SAGE is a national organization that

focuses on the aging LGBTQ community,

within which exists SAGECare. This portion

of SAGE is responsible for training staff and

clients in assisted living communities, long

term care facilities and any other persons

that may be involved in elder care.

Tim R. Johnston,

Senior Director of

National Projects

at SAGECare, is

responsible for

overseeing the

treatment of individuals

who live outside areas with sizable

LGBTQ communities.

Of the isolation that these elders are

dealing with, Johnston says, “Those who

are uncomfortable with the LGBT community,

especially with transgender people,

are often thinking about our community in

the abstract. But when they meet a transgender

or gender non-conforming person,

they realize that they are just human beings.

Of course, each interaction, whether

it be political, social or personal, requires a

different approach.”

While Charlotte remains without a

chapter of SAGE, there is the SAGE Central

chapter in Raleigh (lgbtcenterofraleigh.

com) and the Cape Fear Coast chapter in

Wilmington (frankharrfoundation.org).

Residents across the state and nationwide

are encouraged to take advantage

of national programs, like SAGEConnect,

even if there is no SAGE chapter in your

area. This program allows for elders to

speak with volunteers over the phone

about whatever they enjoy. It’s available to

any senior LGBT people across the country

who would like to participate. For more information,

go to sageusa.org/sageconnect.

In addition to SAGE, there are other

various types of organizations and groups

offering solutions for seniors to take advantage

of, such as:

Charlotte Primetimers


This organization is a nonpolitical group

aimed at the older

gay and bi male

population of the

Charlotte metro

area, although

members of all ages

from 21 and up are

encouraged to join to take part in social

and educational activities. At this time

events are being held virtually, however,

plans are in the works to host an event

with a speaker during April; and later in

the month, April 24, an area walk will take

place followed by dinner at a predetermined


LGBTQ Elders


This Charlotte based organization focuses

on the 55-and-up set and invites everyone

to participate in improving quality of life,

equity and affirmation for all members of

the LGBTQ community. Through education,

advocacy and the creation of inclusive

engagement opportunities, Elders

strives to create social networks and make

a positive impact with all pursuits.

WISE Project


Chapel Hill-based but aimed at the entire

state, the WISE Project aims to connect the

LGBTQ community across cultural, racial

and generational backgrounds. They offer

community receptions, peer support and

friendship outreach.

Guilford Green Center


Since the Center’s reopening in March of

this year, there have been less in-person

Gay and Gray events. However, organizers

have been able to implement a new

activity called “Walk and Talk.” This event,

which takes place on a recurring basis,

allow participants to social distance while

being out in nature and spending face-toface

time with friends and acquaintances.

And in case you’re looking for an

LGBTQ-friendly community, there is one

such facility in Charlotte. Aldersgate has a

stellar track record in reaching out to the

LGBTQ community.

Located on the grounds of what was

once known as The Methodist Home,

Aldersgate is an all-inclusive, multi-cultural

welcoming facility with employees

who are given sensitivity training aimed

specifically at directly benefiting the

LGBTQ community.

“We want everyone who is interested in

making their home here to feel welcome,”

Brooks Shelley, director of marketing and

engagement at Aldersgate, told qnotes in

a previously published interview.

“Gay, lesbian, straight, trans, Christian,

Muslim. Everyone is welcome here.”

Located at Shamrock Drive and

Eastway Drive in East Charlotte, it’s practically

a small town within a larger city,

boasting individual houses, apartments,

dining facilities, movie theaters, coffee

shops and more.

“You can choose to come here at any

point on the continuum,” he offers.

“We have residents who are perfectly

healthy individuals, some actually still

choosing to work, who live in the various

cottage, ranch style and apartment homes

we have.”

“We also have assisted living facilities,

skilled nursing care and memory care.”

You can learn more about the community

at aldersgateccrc.com. : :

qnotes is part of six major

media companies and other local

institutions reporting on and engaging

the community around the problems and

solutions as they relate to the COVID-19

pandemic. It is a project of the Charlotte

Journalism Collaborative, which is supported

by the Local Media Project, an initiative

launched by the Solutions Journalism

Network with support from the Knight

Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate

local media ecosystems. See all of our

reporting at charlottejournalism.org.

April 16- 29, 2021 qnotes 9


As we move through life, our DNA begins

to literally unravel at the ends.

This is what leads to the symptoms

and indications of what we call aging. Our

nutritional patterns can dramatically accelerate

or slow this process, as can reducing

other sources of excess inflammation.

Inflammation comes from any kind of

stress, and it causes oxidation. Emotional

duress, dangerous foods, excess alcohol,

smoking, lethargy, exposure to chemical

agents and the elements (sunburn, frost

bite, windburns, etc.). All these and more

cause aging because they are sources of

stress and inflammation.

You may have heard of the antioxidants

you can get from food and other sources.

They blunt the effects of oxidants, which

are the free radicals that bombard your

system at the microscopic level. This is

what oxidation is. It’s rather like the way a

microwave heats food: It uses tiny particles

to pummel the food. The friction of the impacts

is what generates the heat that cooks

the food. But, this is also why microwaved

food tends to look wilted or collapsed.

It’s also why microwaved food tends to

lack nutrition compared to conventionally

cooked meals. Similarly, free radicals are

literally perforating your cells and DNA. It’s

like we live inside a shooting gallery and

we’re being riddled with bullets.

Fitness in the Silver Years

Health & Wellness: Practices to Maintain Health as We Age

To offset some

of the damage

that simply being

alive will eventually

cause, it is important

to understand

the ways we can

make adjustments

to unhealthy habits.

The three most

easily adapted

patterns are nutrition

and hydration,

physical activity

and rest. Here are

some suggestions

for each.

Nutrition and


It should be

taken for granted

that food and

drink can either be

medicine or poison.

Water is necessary

for all biological processes, so staying hydrated

makes everything run efficiently and

gives your body a chance to flush out toxins.

It’s easy to quickly swallow lots of excess

calories and other additives, so sticking to


Strive to practice healthy habits throughout

your life. (Photo Credit: Anna Shvets via Pexels)

fresh water (infused

with flavor by soaking

fruits, vegetables

and/or herbs and

spices for variety)

is an important

practice. Caffeine in

reasonable amounts

helps with mental

clarity, metabolism,

and mood; however,

it is also a diuretic.

With that in mind,

keep your intake

of teas and coffees

to a minimum to

avoid dehydration.

Remove all sodas

from your diet as

quickly as possible:

They have the additional

risk of depleting

your bones

(cola’s acidity might

leach minerals from

your skeleton in

your body’s attempt

to maintain the pH balance in your blood).

Construct your meals around fresh

vegetables and fruits. Think in terms of

filling most of the space on your plate

with them, then filling in the sides (literally

side dishes) with fist-sized portions of

complete proteins and unrefined starches.

Your meals should be resplendent with

color. The colors of natural foods are the

sources of those antioxidants that grab

onto free radicals and reduce them battering

you to death.

Physical Activity

It cannot be stressed enough that remaining

physically active is critical to wellness.

As we age, we produce lower levels

of many hormones. Hormones speak the

language of the body, and they communicate

between and regulate all our bodily

functions. This includes producing and

maintaining muscles, bones and connective

tissues. Proper nutrition is fundamental

to all this, but so is exercise.

Maintaining muscle mass allows us

to move safely and independently. It also

supports a healthy metabolism, alert mind

and stable mood. On top of that, doing

impact and/or resistance exercise stimulates

the formation of new muscle and

bone cells. If we do not make demands

of our bodies, they will break down from

atrophy. Literally use it or lose it.

continued on page 14

10 qnotes April 16- 29, 2021


When you decide to marry someone, you usually give a

lot of thought about your future. You plan for major

life decisions, like whether to have children and the kind

of lifestyle you want. You probably also think about how

you will support one another through thick and thin. Each

couple is different, and so their considerations about

future planning will also look different.

One important way in which couples plan for the future

is by preparing an estate plan. Whether married couples

have kids or not, there is a great deal of planning that goes

into deciding how you will support your spouse if anything

should happen to you or vice versa.

You are probably wondering why this would involve

planning. “If we’re married, doesn’t it guarantee that my

spouse will be supported if anything happens to me?” It is

not always that simple.

If you don’t have a will, your spouse will be the first priority

for inheritance, according to North Carolina state law.

But your spouse will not inherit everything from you if you

have any surviving children, grandchildren or parents.

If you have children, your spouse will only receive half or

one-third of your estate, and your child or children will receive

the rest. This might be what you want, or it might not.

Having a will prepared can ensure that your spouse

receives exactly what you want as well as any other relatives

or beneficiaries. With the diverse family structures for many

LGBTQ families, it can be a relief to know your loved ones

are provided for in the long term instead of leaving it up to

chance that they could be excluded by the state. The state

decides who your beneficiaries will be if you don’t have a will.

Preparing a will is just the first step. You probably have

what’s called “non-probate assets,” such as life insurance

What is Yours is Mine

Legal Eagles


policies, an IRA, retirement accounts, pay-on-death or

transfer-on-death accounts or other assets with rights

of survivorship.

Each of these assets typically has a form to designate

the beneficiary upon your death. You must complete the

form for each asset individually. It’s not enough to write

“I want my IRA to go to spouse” in your will. Non-probate

assets aren’t legally part of your will.

People often forget to update or review the beneficiary

information for things like a retirement account.

Sometimes they completely forget to update the information

after getting married and a former partner or relative

stays listed as the beneficiary.

Just imagine if you pass away and your ex gets these

benefits because you forgot to update the forms with a new

beneficiary. That can happen even if you update your will.

Now let’s turn to real estate. I often have clients who

have no idea how their property is titled when I ask about

the deed for their “joint” properties. They’ve forgotten

what the property documents stated when they first purchased

their home.

While the couple might consider it a joint property

because they both live in and use it, the property might

be under just one partner’s name. It could have been

purchased together before the couple was married. Or

might be a true joint marital property under what’s called

“tenancy by the entirety.” That’s a fancy legal way of

saying the property will pass to the surviving spouse and

avoid probate.

If you bought the property together before you were

married, you must do a new property transfer so you can

own it jointly as a tenancy by the entirety.

Just because everyone should be allowed to get married

does not mean everyone is made to stay married

forever. Break-ups happen and couples separate. When

going through a divorce, couples will discuss ad nauseam

how they will divide everything they own. Before the

divorce is final, revisit your estate plan to make sure your

ex does not eventually receive all the assets that you’ve

worked hard to keep in the divorce settlement.

Couples who are separated but not formally divorced

face an additional hurdle. In this situation, surviving spouses

can seek an “elective share” of the estate even if they

are cut out of the will. In North Carolina, if you and your

spouse were married for a certain number of years, the

spouse can claim this elective share of up to half of your

estate even if they are explicitly cut out of your will.

How do you avoid this from happening? Make sure your

attorney knows whether you were formally divorced or not

so they can prepare your documents strategically. Options

include a waiver by your spouse, creating a marital trust

to satisfy the elective share or stating that the spouse is

barred from claiming any share because of abandonment.

If all this sounds intimidating, break it into smaller

tasks. Schedule an appointment with an attorney to create

a will. Go through one account each day, like your IRA,

and check the beneficiary information. Taking the time to

make sure your estate is in order is a gift to your spouse

and the people you love. : :

Sara Shariff is an attorney with Hull & Chandler in Charlotte

who practices business law and estate planning law. Her fields

of expertise include business formation, contracts, corporate

transitions and mergers and acquisitions.

April 16- 29, 2021 qnotes 11


“From Archie to Zack”

by Vincent X. Kirsch

©2020, Abrams Books for

Young Readers


40 pages

‘From Archie to Zack’

Out in Print


The girl who sits right behind

you at school is really nice.

She shares her things if

you ask nicely, and she likes

to make you laugh. She seems

very smart and polite, and

she never says mean things to

anyone, even if they deserve

it. All the kids in your class like

her; you like her, but in the new

book “From Archie to Zack” by

Vincent X. Kirsch, there might

be someone you like just a

little more.

There was no doubt in anyone’s mind.

Everybody knew it: Archie loved Zack and

Zack loved Archie. The two boys were happiest

when they did everything together,

but the funny thing was, neither of them

could say, “I love you.”

Oh, but you can bet they both really

wanted to say it. Very much so. And then

one day, Archie wrote Zack a note that

said, “From A. to Z. it’s true. I love you.”

Archie read the note to himself and it

really made him smile.

But that note wasn’t quite right, so

he hid it in a tree and Zack was still his

best friend.

He wrote another note, kind of the

same. He read it to himself, but it just

wasn’t quite right. He hid the second note

in his band case and he and Zack were still

best friends.

Just before Halloween, Archie wrote

another note with just a little more oomph

and he read it to himself many times.

What he wrote finally seemed right this

time. He loved Zack! But for some reason,

he couldn’t give the note to Zack, so Archie

hid it in his desk at school.

Then one day, Zuzella found a note in

a desk. Zinnia found one in band class.

Zelda found one in a tree trunk, and all

three girls knew who wrote them. They

delivered the notes to Zack, and that made

him smile because he’d been working on a

note that wasn’t quite right.

One that said the truth that everybody

already knew.

Nothing unusual.

That’s not normally what you want

to hear about a new book; you probably

want to hear enthusiastic things like

WOW! but that’s not what you’ll find here.

“From Archie to Zack” tells young readers

a sweet story in a calm, even, nothingunusual


The lack of drama is where the unusual

comes to play.

Author-illustrator Vincent X. Kirsch lets

kids know that Archie and Zack can love

one another, and it’s okay. The children in

their class don’t make fun of anyone. They

barely even comment; in fact, they seem

to think it’s wonderful, a lesson that pulses

like a heart here. Even the action-rich illustrations

tell a story here, a story about kids

that also serves as a surprisingly grown-up

conversation-sparker about love, whether

it’s between friends, classmates, neighbors

or a child’s two favorite uncles.

Perfect for anytime reading, kids ages

4-to-8 will love this book best. For them

and for you, “From Archie to Zack” is a

book to get behind. : :

Author and illustrator Vincent X. Kirsch.

12 qnotes April 16- 29, 2021


The Fork, the Knife and the

Napkin, Oh My!

Tell Trinity

Dear Trinity,

My partner says I eat like an animal and

won’t dine out with me anymore until I learn

how to “act like a socialized person.” What’s

the big deal?

Sincerely, Dining Dutch, Annapolis, MD

Dear Dining Dutch,

Whether you’re on a date, a

business luncheon or dining out with

anyone with table manners it’s important

to know how to properly use a

fork, knife and napkin. It often means

the difference of keeping a job, a group

of friends and even a partner. Dining

out is an art just like dressing, being

witty or using good social skills.

Remember, pumpkin, it’s about social

graces as an adult, not about being

stuck on how you did things when you

were a nine-year-old!

Kisses, Trinity

Dearest Trinity,

I try and try and still I can’t seem to

have the right pick-up moves. I’m goodlooking,

smart and funny, but I keep getting

rejected. Why do I keep getting rejected?

Thanks, Getting Rejected, Omaha, NE


Dearest Getting Rejected,

When making a move, you must remember

that single people have very specific

agendas and are often blind to anyone

not on their agenda. In other words, sometimes

arrogant single snobs just can’t see

you. It’s not that you’re being rejected, but

rather you’re being overlooked by their selfish

needs, which feels like rejection. People

can look right through you when you’re not

their type. That’s life. So sweetie, take risks,

practice trial and error and be yourself, so,

when the right one comes along, you will

be easily recognized.

Yours, Trinity

Hey Trinity,

I met someone in my travels who is

coming to visit me for the first time. But

I’m not sure how to deal with a visiting

date. Help!

Yours, Visiting Date, Honolulu, HI

Hey Visiting Date,

With a visiting date it’s natural to want

to spend a lot of time together, but you

must schedule time apart to do your own

things and to get your daily chores met in

between doing things together. Darling,

this will keep you excited about getting

together rather than excited about killing

each other.

Good luck, Trinity

Hello Trinity,

What’s so important about keeping in

touch with family? Aren’t good friends enough?

Sincerely, Family or Friends, Washington DC

Hello Family or Friends,

It’s great to have supportive friends

who come and go in your life, but honey,

family has ties to your life, your genealogy

and your medical history. If you don’t

believe me, then read:

Trinity’s Risks, I Mean… Reasons for Keeping in Touch With Family

1. When holidays come around you don’t have to cook because someone else is there to

make you eat their food, I mean… make food for you.

2. If you have emotional, financial or an automotive problem, there’s always someone to

hang up the phone, I mean… help you so you’re not alone.

3. Being around people whom you don’t always have to explain yourself to can be oh so

neurotic, I mean… nice.

4. When you’re old, frail or sick and in need, your family is there to take everything from

you, I mean… take care of everything for you.

5. Friends come and go, but family is always there like a thorn in your side, I mean…

always by your side.

6. Friends don’t suck the blood out of you like family, I mean…. blood is thicker than friendship.

7. It’s nice to be in a longing and selfish, I mean... loving and supportive environment.

8. There’s no one in the world that will torture you, I mean… teach you about life better

than a caring family.

9. Without family there would be no one to push you off a cliff, I mean… give you a truly

loving lift.

10. Lastly, who else would put up with your crap, your drunken stupors or your barking

dog like friends, I mean… family. : :

With a Masters of Divinity, Reverend Trinity hosted “Spiritually Speaking,” a weekly radio drama performed

globally, and is now minister of sponsor, WIG: Wild Inspirational Gatherings, wigministries.

org, Gay Spirituality for the Next Generation! Learn more at telltrinity.com.

Send emails to: trinity@telltrinity.com.



space starting at $22:

call qnotes for details


April 16- 29, 2021 qnotes 13


Screen Savor: She Kissed a Girl

A Review of Jill Sobule’s ‘F*ck7thGrade’

Borrowing a page from the handbook

of John Cameron Mitchell

and Stephen Trask’s “Hedwig and the

Angry Inch,” Jill Sobule’s fabulous and

fierce “F*ck7thGrade” (City Theatre

Company), is a musical presented as

rock concert. The show, with a book

by Liza Birkenmeier, is a tuneful quilt

constructed of songs from eight of

Sobule’s studio albums, from her 1990

major label debut “Things Here Are

Different” through 2019’s independently

released “Nostalgia Kills.”

During the fall of 2020, due to the

inability to produce indoor performances

during the pandemic, Pittsburgh’s City

Theatre constructed a drive-in stage

at Hazelwood Green. It was there

that “F*ck7thGrade” was filmed before a

live audience, safely socially distanced and

seated in their cars.

After making her entrance on a vintage

bicycle, Jill, in unfastened white overalls

and a “Music Is My Only Friend” t-shirt,

takes the stage and tears into a song

about wanting and getting a blue Raleigh

Chopper bike when she was in 6th grade,

in the early 1970s. She also wanted to be a

spy and a rock star at that age, and everything

seemed to be working out for her.

She embraced being a “weirdo.”

But everything changed when she

entered seventh grade. At that time, it

wasn’t cool to be a girl guitar player who

could shred better than the boys. She was

obsessed with watching the Watergate

trial, while her mother was having an affair

“with the guy who sold us our station

wagon.” Unlike her female classmates, Jill

showed little interest in gossiping about

boys or wearing makeup. Additionally, she

was pigeon-toed and had to wear “so not

good looking” corrective shoes.


The musical’s coming-of-age concept, lyrics and music were all created by Jill Sobule.

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Fortunately, Mary, a cool new girl arrived

halfway through the school year. Jill started

hanging out with her and her freak friends.

They got high. Then Jill found herself attracted

to Mary and, if it wasn’t for a puke

incident, might have had her first samegender

sexual experience. She switched

schools, which didn’t help. She sought

refuge in music, which became her savior.

As with many queer people, life got

better for Jill in college, which included

a life-changing year abroad in Spain. It

was there that she had her first walk of

shame following a night with a woman.

Back in the United States, Jill “dropped

out of school so I’d have time for waitressing,

finding open mics, and figuring

out where the lesbians hung out.” Just

as she was preparing to leave Denver

and move to New York with a girlfriend,

she met a record label guy who invited

her to Nashville which led to her first

record deal.

Shortly thereafter, Jill had her big

breakthrough moment with her 1995 hit

single “I Kissed A Girl” (not the inferior Katy

Perry ripoff). The rest, as they say, is pop

music history, which Jill reveals in humorous

and heartbreaking detail.

On almost all of her albums, Sobule

has included at least one song about the

horrors of junior high school and adolescence.

What makes F*ck7thGrade more

than a jukebox musical is the feeling one

gets that she’s been writing towards something

like this all along. She’s a naturalborn

storyteller in song and in speaking,

and hers is a story, a cautionary tale of

survival, that needs to be told. Streaming

now through June 30 at citytheatrecompany.org/play/fck7thgrade.

: :

Rating: B+

Fitness in the Silver Years

continued from page 10

Exercises that are low impact, but

which still create the stimulation needed to

maintain strength and mobility, are those

that require us to exert ourselves (generally

while supporting our own weight and

posture) without exposing us to injury.

Strength, balance, coordination and conditioning

activities are all essential. This is

because movement sends little reverberations

through our skeletons, which jiggle

our bone cells. This shaking stimulates the

bone cells to split and make new bone material.

This is what maintains bone density.

For strength, focus more on body

weight, cable machines and free weights

(dumbbells and kettlebells especially). As

much as possible, avoid machines: They

generally restrict movement, and they

tend to do much of the work of stabilizing

the resistance and/or balance required to

execute the movement. Unless you are

injured or purposefully working on isolation

exercises, it is better to force yourself

to control your efforts on your own. As

much as possible, include exercises like

chest pressing, rowing (pulling backward),

squatting or standing from sitting, bending

over, pressing overhead and pulling

downward. I might suggest a workout

comprised of the following: pushups,

standing cable row, walking lunges (with

or without dumbbells), alternating kettlebell

pick ups, overhead dumbbell presses

and seated or kneeling cable pulldowns.

In addition, tai chi, qi gong, hiking or

walking (not jogging), swimming or water

aerobics, cycling and yoga are all excellent

for seniors.

As we age, our hormone levels

change. This can both make getting

enough sleep difficult (and thus exacerbating

mental decline) while also

undermining our ability to have energy

to remain active (and thus exacerbating

a slowing metabolism). Fatigue is a

source of stress, and thus inflammation.

Although adequate sleep is essential

throughout our lives, what I mean by rest

might be better described as relaxation

and mental focus. To improve mental

acuitym I suggest meditation, studying

a foreign language, making a hobby of

something creative (music, art, dance,

etc.) and solving puzzles of whatever

kind. Give your mind activities that keep

you curious and minimize your ability to

focus on fretting. : :

Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at

UCLA, and earned certification as a personal

trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy

is founded upon integrated lifestyles as

opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at

jackkirven.com and INTEGRE8Twellness.com.

14 qnotes April 16- 29, 2021


Brooklyn-born Sandra Hamlin-Rivers resides in a quaint

little house in Columbia, S.C. with her wife Lenore

Rivers and their two-year-old labradoodle, Riley. She lives

less than a half-hour drive from her daughter and only

child, Asia, a U.S. army veteran of 21 years.

Sandra is a storyteller. Her gift of storytelling shows up

in the form of short stories, plays and screenwriting. She’s

a proud Brooklyn College dropout who majored in English

and loves to cook. This Easter Sunday, she sits in a back

room of her home she calls the art room, dressed in a

Beatles T-shirt and navy-blue leggings.

The sound of Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Franklin’s

Amazing Grace album can be heard in the background

while the smell of lamb and spring roast chicken permeate

the air. She’s preparing dinner for a friend, her daughter

and her wife but still manages to find time to speak with

qnotes to share tales of her ever-evolving life.

Who is Sandra Hamlin-Rivers?

Sandra Hamlin-Rivers, let’s see. She has a lot of facets. She

is passionate, she is sensitive, humanitarian. She’s got a really

big giving heart. Well, she’s an Aries. I don’t know if you

know much about the zodiac signs, but it’s the first sign in

the zodiac. They are said to be courageous, leaders and not

having a lot of patience. And because they don’t have a lot

of patience, they might be seen as having quick tempers. The

thing that gets my temper up the easiest is people. People

who are unkind, people are bigoted and people who exclude

others who they think may be beneath them. In my perfect

world, we’d all love each other, we’d all feed each other and

embrace each other. In my perfect world.

If your partner had to describe you in one word, what

word do you think she’d use?

She would say passionate. Brilliant. Pick a word. I don’t

know, which is the better word? She says both of those

words quite often.

That must make you feel good. Do you agree with her?

Well, I am passionate about everything I think and feel. I

don’t really see myself as brilliant… umm… I see myself as

an observer.

How long have you been married?

12 years. She’s a great supporter of me.

So, you’re originally from Brooklyn. As a northerner,

what’s it like for you being a mature Black lesbian in

the Carolinas?

Oh My God! That’s capital O, capital M, capital G and a lot

of exclamation points [laughter]. It’s challenging to say the


Do you care to elaborate on that?

On which one? Being Black, being a lesbian? There are

many Black lesbians here in the south, but a majority of

Our People: Sandra Hamlin-Rivers

Renaissance Woman


Sandra Hamlin-Rivers has a knack for storytelling.

(Photo Credit: Lenore Rivers)

them come off as though they’re in the closet and fearful.

Unlike in the north where I always feel free. I’m gonna

make it do what it do, wherever I live. But, it is much easier

to go about your normal life in the north than it is here.

Since relocating to Columbia you wrote and directed

“Pieces.” Can you talk a little bit about the inspiration

for that short film?

Is inspire the right word? It started off as a one-act play

that debuted for a Charlotte Black Gay Pride Event in

2019. It was so well received, I decided to turn it into

a short film and entered it in a few film festivals. It

won Freedom Festival International’s Audience Choice

award. But originally, there was an incident [I was moved

by] when I first got to Columbia.

There was a young white woman. Her house was across

the street from my house but on the corner. I came out to

walk my dog one day. She came out of her house, saw me

from down the street and ran back in. By the time my dog

Mr. Twixx and I had gotten to the corner where her house

is, she was on the corner with her back to me and wearing a

t-shirt that had a giant Confederate flag on the back. She was

pretending to check her mailbox. I thought to myself what if

I — this big, Black, lesbian woman was somewhere, like on

a plane or a bus, where there was nowhere to go. What if

I were part of Black Lives Matter and wearing a Black Lives

Matter t-shirt? Would she be so brazen? If there wasn’t

anywhere to go, we’d be forced to sit together, then what? I

thought maybe we should have a conversation. People

would get a much better understanding [of each other] if

they just sparked conversation with each other and communicated

some things. I just really think a lot of the hate would

dissipate once we communicated and realized how much we

actually have in common. “Pieces” is based on those what ifs.

Are you working on any new plays or films?

I am. A film and a play. I am in pre-production, I guess you

could say, for a short film called “Envy,” which actually has

to do with a homeless woman. My other project is a play,

and it’s called “The White Incident.” It’s about two families

named White. One family is white and one family is Black

and hilarity ensues. I like to write and have teachable moments

in my writing, but I always try to infuse humor because

these subjects about race and sexuality can be very

tense. Infusing a lot of humor makes it easier to go down.

Are there other ways you channel your creativity outside

of writing?

I paint, I sew and I love cooking. I love cooking and making

people come over to eat. I don’t really have to make them,

but I just love cooking for people. It’s therapeutic, and it

makes people happy. Especially cake, cake is definitely

happy food. They say the way to a man’s heart is through

his stomach, but the way to everyone’s heart is through

the stomach. At least that’s how I see it.

When you look back on 30-year-old Sandra

Hamlin-Rivers, what surprises you most about

who you are today?

I think the writing and that people like my writing. In my

30s I was acting. I did a lot of theatre and some film in my

30s. So, everytime someone says, “this is good,” I’m like, really?

I’m very critical of myself. I am my biggest critic. In my

30s I was perhaps more arrogant. Most people in their 30s

call them new people because they know everything; you

can’t tell them anything, and you couldn’t tell me nothing

when I was 30. But today, I’d second guess myself. I’m not

as apt to just say, oh yeah, this is it! I think I have humbled

myself and now I think, I hope this is it.

As a senior member of the LGBT community what

would you want to share with the New People, the

younger LGBT community?

Put your cell phone down and take a minute to stop and

smell the roses. : :

April 16- 29, 2021 qnotes 15

16 qnotes April 16- 29, 2021

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