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
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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
6 North Carolina’s ‘Youth
Health Protection Act’
Targets LGBTQ Youth
6 CBP Names Ali Steele
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
5 Perspectives on Arming
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
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April 16- 29, 2021 qnotes 3
The Quest for the COVID Vaccine
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
BY JESSE MONTEAGUDO | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
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
BY L’MONIQUE KING | QNOTES STAFF WRITER
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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.
— 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.
— 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.
— Julianna Peres
PRIDE IN THE TRIANGLE’S
WORKPLACE EQUITY TRAINING
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.
UPCOMING NATIONAL DIVERSITY
COUNCIL ERG ACADEMY
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
30TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
FOR TIME OUT YOUTH CENTER
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.
MADE A PRIORITY IN MISSOURI
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.
CATHOLIC PETITION CIRCULATED
IN FAVOR OF LGBTQ COUPLES
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.
— 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
— 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
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
— 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
BY DAVID AARON MOORE AND JULIANNA PERES | QNOTES STAFF WRITERS
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
• One in six report lower quality
Over the past year LGBTQ seniors have
additionally felt some of life’s less-pleasant
experiences amplified because of the
“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
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
at SAGECare, is
treatment of individuals
who live outside areas with sizable
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
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
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:
This organization is a nonpolitical group
aimed at the older
gay and bi male
population of the
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
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.
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
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
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
“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 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
the ways we can
to unhealthy habits.
The three most
patterns are nutrition
and rest. Here are
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
BY JACK KIRVEN | QNOTES CONTRIBUTOR
Strive to practice healthy habits throughout
your life. (Photo Credit: Anna Shvets via Pexels)
fresh water (infused
with flavor by soaking
and/or herbs and
spices for variety)
is an important
practice. Caffeine in
helps with mental
and mood; however,
it is also a diuretic.
With that in mind,
keep your intake
of teas and coffees
to a minimum to
Remove all sodas
from your diet as
quickly as possible:
They have the additional
risk of depleting
(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.
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
BY SARA SHARIFF, ATTORNEY | GUEST WRITER
policies, an IRA, retirement accounts, pay-on-death or
transfer-on-death accounts or other assets with rights
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
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
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
‘From Archie to Zack’
Out in Print
BY TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
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
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
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
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
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!
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!
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
BY TRINITY | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
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.
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
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
Good luck, 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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
BY GREGG SHAPIRO | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
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
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.
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
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
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
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
BY L’MONIQUE KING | QNOTES STAFF WRITER
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
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