QNotes, April 30, 2021


This issue marks QNotes' 35-year anniversary! We have included a timeline of historical LGBTQ events from our first issue to today, showing how far we have come. We also have an article highlighting a number of North Carolina natives, past and present, and what they have contributed with their work in the LGBTQ community. Three realtors discuss the impacts of gentrification in the Charlotte market and the struggles minorities can face when trying to purchase a home. We also look at an organization that is striving to empower voices of the Black LGBTQ community and how they are doing it. We also have current local, regional, and national news, along with other pieces, that will serve to enlighten and entertain our readers.

2 qnotes April 30-May 13, 2021

April 30-May 13, 2021

Vol 36 No 01






contributors this issue

Joey Amato, Kendra R. Johnson,

L’Monique King, David Aaron Moore,

Natasha Morehouse, Julianna Peres,

Chris Rudisill, Rev. Joan M. Saniuk,

Gregg Shapiro, Trinity

front page

Graphic Design by Natasha Morehouse


The focus of QNotes is to serve the LGBTQ and

straight ally communities of the Charlotte region,

North Carolina and beyond, by featuring arts,

entertainment, news and views content in print

and online that directly enlightens, informs and

engages the readers about LGBTQ life and social

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a local news partner of

The Charlotte Observer

inside this issue


10 Looking at the Past

35 Years


6 Two Suspects Arrested

and Charged in

Transgender Murders

8 North Carolina General

Assembly Takes Aim at

LGBTQ Community

8 HIV Prevention Grant

Awarded to Dudley’s Place

8 Briefs

9 A Close Reading of

Angela Davis

9 Gay Couple Denied

Wedding on Basis

of Religion


17 Tell Trinity

18 Exciteable Boy


12 In the Water

19 Our People: J.

Michael Haithcock


5 The Epidemic of

Violence Against

Transgender People

14 The Impacts of


15 Empowering the

Voices of the Black

LGBTQ Community

16 A Multi-Cultural Destination

18 A Rose by Any Other

Queer Name


For event listings, visit


Empowering the

Voices of the Black

LGBTQ Community

Directed by Alicia Bell, Media 2070 is

100-page research paper about the

history of U.S. media participation in

anti-Black racism and discrimination.

Their goal is to bring awareness and

seek reparations.


North Carolina General

Assembly Takes Aim at

LGBTQ Community

A number of anti-transgender bills have

been developed since the beginning of

2021. Three of these bills source from

North Carolina. They are Senate Bill

514, House Bill 358 and Senate Bill 515.

Thankfully, one of the three, Senate Bill

514, has already been taken out of the

realm of possibility.


by Christian Lee

April 30-May 13, 2021 qnotes 3

4 qnotes April 30-May 13, 2021


The Epidemic of Violence Against Transgender People

Political Voices

by Kendra R. Johnson,

Equality North Carolina Executive Director

Contributing Writer

We may be rounding the corner on the pandemic, but

our most vulnerable community members remain

under active threat. With Republican legislators targeting

us in the halls of power and our transgender community

increasingly unsafe in public, we all need to come together

and protect those who need it most.

Last week, we learned that two of our Black transgender

sisters in the Charlotte area, Jaida Peterson and

Remy Fennell, lost their lives to acts of violence within just

days of each other. These women are the latest victims of

horrific anti-transgender attacks that are positioning 2021

to become by far, the deadliest year on record for the

transgender community.

Three trans women have been murdered this year in

North Carolina alone. And in an investigation conducted

by the Human Rights Campaign, Charlotte was found by

researchers to be the second-most dangerous city for

transgender women in the entire country.

But the danger for the trans community doesn’t

stop there.

Earlier this month, lawmakers at the General Assembly

introduced a raft of transphobic legislation, banning

gender-affirming care for people under 21, excluding trans

women from sports aligning with their identity and allowing

for a wide-ranging “license to discriminate” for medical

providers. This push comes at the same time as a number

of states have introduced similar transphobic legislation,

including my home state of Arkansas, which has passed all

three. These cruel bills are nearly all from the same sources

Jaida Peterson, left, and Remy Fennell, right, were the two

transgender women killed in Charlotte earlier this month.

(Photo Credit: Human Rights Campaign)

— organizations like ALEC, or the Alliance Defending

Freedom — which give rough outlines of bills to states.

So make no mistake — trans people in particular are

under national attack. And this political climate feeds into

already existing transphobia. Arkansas has seen a surge

in suicide attempts after the passage of its bills, with

many families considering leaving the state. Although

the General Assembly has abandoned its ban on genderaffirming

care, we know that many of these psychological

scars can remain in our communities. And we know that

hostility on the national and state level can embolden

people to commit acts of violence.

The violence of these laws also couples powerfully

with the dangerous effects of white supremacy in law

enforcement. Black trans women in particular are subject

to aggressive policing, which criminalizes their presence

in public spaces by equating them with sex workers.

Moreover, police regularly misgender and deadname trans

women when they are killed — this occurred in two of the

three murders so far this year in North Carolina.

These dangers necessitate a response from our community.

We all need to stand up to protect Black trans women.

Along with Charlotte Pride, Campaign for Southern

Equality and Transcend Charlotte, we’ve committed

$10,000 to provide immediate emergency relief to Black

trans women in Charlotte. And we’re challenging our supporters

and allies to match those funds, to provide for the

money to truly build a stronger, better future for Black

trans women in the Charlotte area.

These donations will go directly toward the Black

trans community and programs and organizations working

to provide housing for transgender folks, including

the House of Kanautica, Charlotte Uprising and Feed the

Movement. These groups do vital work on the ground to

fund and assist Black trans women, and more money will

allow them to do more of their life saving work. You can

donate to these organizations via our donation portal,

at equalitync.org/CLTrelief.

To quote our Education Policy Director, Rebby Kern,

“We’re calling on Charlotte’s community to come together

to support and protect Black trans women — who deserve

joy, celebration, and support.”

The rising tide of white supremacy has emboldened

new levels of hate in our streets, and we need you to join

us in supporting our trans family when they need it most.

We can work together to defeat bigoted bills and dismantle

policing, and to build a better world where Black trans

women can thrive.

Thank you for your support. : :

April 30-May 13, 2021 qnotes 5


Two Suspects Arrested and Charged

in Transgender Murders

Men Charged With Murder, Held in Charlotte Jail Without Bail

by David Aaron Moore

QNotes Staff Writer

Joel Brewer, 33, and Dontarius Long,

21, were both arrested April 16 and

are currently being held in the Charlotte-

Mecklenburg jail without bail.

Following the discovery of as-of-yet

unspecified evidence by investigation

authorities that pointed to the two men,

they were arrested by the Charlotte-

Mecklenburg Police Department’s (CMPD)

Violent Criminal Apprehension Team,

(VCAT) the Union County Sheriff’s Office

and the Marshville Police Department.

According to the Charlotte

Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s website, the

two face extensive charges.

Brewer has been charged with conspiracy

to commit robbery with a dangerous

weapon, two counts of murder and

possession of a firearm by a felon. He

has an extensive arrest record of mostly

petty crimes, however there are previously

listed assault charges, charges of robbery

and cruelty to animals.

Long is listed as being charged with

Joel Brewer, left, and Dontarius Long, right, are facing charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy

to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon and more.

“first degree murder,” (the number of

victims is not specified), conspiracy to

commit robbery with a dangerous weapon

and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

He has also had three outstanding

warrants related to a previous felony sex

offender conviction, which included violation

of probation and failure to report a

new address.

The exact circumstances surrounding

the murders of the two women is

unknown, however theoretical evidence

suggests they were possibly targeted via

websites or mobile apps for robbery.

Peterson, originally from Florence,

South Carolina, had reportedly made her

home in Charlotte for several years.

An internet background search

revealed Fennell was likely from

Cambridge, Massachusetts originally

and later lived in Maiden, Mass., as well

as Newport News, Va., before recently

coming to Charlotte.

Both women were reportedly operating

as sex workers at the time of their murders.

In an interview with CNN, Kerith Conron

from the Williams Institute at UCLA, explained

why he feels Black trans women

are far too often victims of fatal violence.

“They’re Black, they’re transgender and

they’re women. Each of those distinct identities

means that they face discrimination,

prejudice and inequities on multiple fronts.”

Kaniya Walker, a trans activist and former

sex worker, explained the challenges

and even fear trans sex workers cope

with in a commentary piece she recently

penned for the ACLU.

see next page u

6 qnotes April 30-May 13, 2021

Sex workers face a high rate of violence, with transgender sex workers being particularly at risk.

(Photo Credit: Kamaji Ogino via Pexels)

“Sex workers face high rates of violence

because clients assume they can assault

or rob sex workers and get away with it,”

she wrote. “As a trans woman of color

and a former sex worker myself, I know

what it’s like to be targeted ... I’m lucky

that I was never assaulted in my 12 years

of doing sex work. I’m in the minority. But

I have been robbed while working. My

experience showed me the difficult situation

that sex workers face when it comes

to reporting. I wanted to seek justice, but

I was too afraid of being arrested to go to

the police station.”

Unfortunately, neither Jaida Peterson

nor Remy Fennell had the opportunity to

seek help from the CMPD. Despite the fact

Brewer and Long are being held in the

Charlotte Mecklenburg County jail and will

likely spend several years in prison following

a conviction, the local LGBTQ community

is still ill-at-ease as violence toward

the trans community continues to escalate

at home and around the globe.

“This is not the end of it,” Rell Lowery,

a liaison for the Charlotte Black Pride

Community told local ABC affiliate WSOC-

TV. “We want to make sure the fight continues.

This is something they have to face,

unfortunately, every day when they walk

out the door. There’s a chance that they

might not make it home safely.” : :

April 30-May 13, 2021 qnotes 7


North Carolina General Assembly

Takes Aim at LGBTQ Community

Even though we’re only five months into 2021, the U.S. has released

a torrent of anti-transgender house and senate bills.

Three such bills in North Carolina are Senate Bill 514, the “Youth

Health Protection Act,” House Bill 358 the “Save Women’s Sports Act” and

Senate Bill 515, the “Health Care Heroes Conscience Protection Act.”

Of the three, the very inappropriately named “Youth Health

Protection Act,” (SB 514) as of April 20, is off the table. Republican

Senate leader Phil Berger indicated the party will not attempt to move

Senate Bill 514 forward. “We do not see a pathway to Senate Bill 514

becoming law,” said Pat Ryan, a spokesman for GOP Senate leader

Phil Berger. “The bill will not be voted on the Senate floor.”

The bill, which was created to prohibit physicians from offering

gender-affirming healthcare to children and any individuals under 21,

included the loss of access to therapy, surgery, hormones and more.

North Carolina’s legislative building. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons) Proposed by by Senators Ralph Hise (District 47), Warren Daniel (District

46), and Norman Sanderson (District 3), Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper was

expected to veto it, which led to the lack of support from Berger.

HB 358 (Save Women’s Sports) is the most infamous of the three laws and states the following:

“All athletic teams for middle and secondary school students participating in interscholastic or intramural athletic activities conducted by a

public school unit shall be expressly designated as one of the following based on biological sex: (1) Males, men, or boys (2) Females, women, or girls

(3) Co-ed or mixed.”

Sponsored by Representatives Mark Brody (District 55), Patricia McElraft (District 13), Diane Wheatley (District 43) and Jimmy Dixon

(District 4), this bill was introduced on March 22 and has already attracted clearly justifiable negative national media focus on North Carolina.

The “Save Women’s Sports Act” does not specifically dictate what teams would be available to transgender individuals, however, the

words “co-ed or mixed” leave a clear-cut path for transgender students who want to be involved in sports activities. Whether that was an

unintentional consequence or an intentional attempt at tossing a bone to centrist congressional representatives to capture is not known.

Regardless, the likelihood of any school creating all co-ed sports teams seems improbable.

The only bill that explicitly mentions religion, SB 515 (sponsored by the same creators of the now defunct 514), makes the claim that health

care professionals may refuse service to transgender individuals on the basis of several personal opinions using the following sentence:

“Whether such conscience is informed by religious, moral, ethical, or philosophical beliefs or principles.”

That statement, combined with the words from the bill below, would allow doctors, nurses and even psychiatrists to turn away LGBTQ

patients, and potentially anyone targeted for discrimination based on personal prejudices and “teachings” in any book of religion, without

fear of repercussions.

“It shall be unlawful for any person to discriminate against any medical practitioner, health care institution, or health care payer that refuses

to participate in or pay for a health care service on the basis of conscience under this Article.”

If any of the two remaining active bills pass, their strongest and most immediate impact will dictate transgender youth’s transitions,

legal action and education. Transgender students will be unable to play on gender-affirming sports teams, unable to receive gender-affirming

medical treatments, and prevented from taking legal action against health care professionals who refuse to treat them. Considering

transgender minors and their legal guardians have the autonomy to decide the best course of action, the legislation seems superfluous.

It remains unclear if Cooper’s veto could withstand a congressional override on these two, though the probability that any will ever

become law, especially when considering the potential damage that could be done to the state and Cooper’s veto strength, is debatable.

info: bit.ly/3tSzsUk

— David Aaron Moore & Julianna Peres

HIV Prevention Grant Awarded

to Nonprofit Dudley’s Place

A two-year-old nonprofit organization, Dudley’s Place, seeks to provide

aid to those with HIV or AIDS throughout North Carolina. Headquartered at

Rosedale Health and Wellness in Huntersville (103 Commerce Center Drive,

#103, Charlotte Metro area), Dudley’s Place specializes in education, as well

as prevention of HIV.

The services currently offered by the nonprofit are nutrition/food assistance,

support groups for HIV-positive individuals, transportation and provision

of available resources. Dudley’s Place also acts as a partner to Getting

to Zero Mecklenburg, an initiative that aims to limit the spread of HIV.

Getting to Zero Mecklenburg’s mission statement reads, “We need community

members to share ideas on how to best partner with their specific

population to increase HIV/STI awareness and help reduce new cases. Our

goal is to reduce the number of new HIV infections, in Mecklenburg County,

by 75 percent in five years, and 90 percent in 10 years.” Grants such as the

one provided to Dudley’s Place have been designed to do just that.

Dale Pierce, the Executive Director of Dudley’s Place says, “This

CDC grant through Mecklenburg County will save lives in our community.

Dudley’s Place [is] looking for clients to participate in our PrEP program,

which is free to community members who are uninsured or underinsured.

Our program will cover all medical expenses and medication.”

The primary candidates for this PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) program are those who do not have HIV but are at a very high risk of

contracting it. The Dudley’s Place press release explains, “Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about

99 percent when taken daily. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74 percent when taken daily.

PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently.”

The nonprofit organization promises judgement-free care for those whose partners are HIV positive or who may be high risk for HIV

because of a lack of insurance or access to medical care. Clients in the program will have access to onsite laboratory and pharmacy, mental

health, nutrition, PrEP Navigator, benefit advocate and case management services.

For those interested in participating, call 704-977-2972 or email Dudley@myrosedalehealth.com.

info: myrosedalehealth.com/dudley

— Julianna Peres

8 qnotes April 30-May 13, 2021

Those with HIV or AIDS can visit Dudley’s Place to receive free

medical care and medication. (Photo Credit: Anna Shvets via Pexels)



Charlotte Pride Scholarship

for LGBTQ or Allied Students

Working to improve the financial hardships

that graduating high schoolers or currently

enrolled undergraduates may be facing,

the Charlotte Pride Scholarship will award

up to $2,500 per recipient. Applicants must

submit SAT or ACT test scores, high school/

college transcripts, employment history, extracurriculars/community

involvement, and

either a short essay or original art piece.

The deadline is July 11.

info: bit.ly/3awijYO

North Carolina

Transgender Initiative

Gender Social on Zoom

Taking place on April 26 from 8:00 p.m. to

9:30 p.m., the LGBT Center of Raleigh will

be hosting a social event for gender expansive

persons who want the company of

like-minded individuals. Allies are welcome

as long as they maintain the atmosphere

of respect and trustworthiness. This virtual

get-together will include games and conversation,

with a promise to reconnect on

the next monthly social that will also take

place via Zoom on every fourth Monday.

With queries, email Kori Hennessey at


info: bit.ly/3tFTyB3

HIV Virtually Speaks on Jones Street

Beginning at 9:00 a.m. on May 4, the North

Carolina AIDS Action Network and the

Southern AIDS Coalition will be making the

virtual trip to the North Carolina General

Assembly with participants welcome to tag

along. The event will start with a briefing

on public policy in regards to HIV and

Hepatitis C (HCV) as it has affected North

Carolinians in the past year. Elected officials

will be available to speak with participants

throughout the day via breakout meetings.

info: bit.ly/2P9GAMI


New Jersey Passes LGBTQ

Senior Bill of Rights

LGBTQ and HIV-positive elders are now

protected by law thanks to Senate Bill

2545 (SB 2545) was passed by Gov. Phil

Murphy in March. The synopsis for this

bill states its primary objects as follows:

“Establishes certain requirements concerning

rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,

undesignated/non-binary, questioning,

queer, intersex and HIV-positive

residents of long-term care facilities.” Any

facility pertaining to elder care will not be

able to discriminate against any residents

due to their HIV or LGBTQ status, including

with bathroom and bedroom assignments,

liberty to wear gender affirming

clothing and proper pronoun usage.

info: bit.ly/3dHncju

Alaskan Government Denies Same-Sex

Military Couples Benefits

An article released by the Associated

Press investigates the state of Alaska’s

persistence of banning same-sex marriage

benefits even after the Supreme Court

legalization of such unions in 2015. “It

is disturbing that it took five years and

a federal lawsuit to force the state to

follow the law and stop its discriminatory

policy,” Caitlin Shortell, an Anchorage

attorney and representative of several

LGBTQ couples, stated.

info: bit.ly/3napxH3

— Compiled by Julianna Peres

A Close Reading of Angela Davis

Charlotte Pride is welcoming book lovers, academics and activists to join the

Charlotte Pride Book Club. Launching April 20 at 6 p.m. and continuing to 8 p.m.,

meetings will take place on every other Tuesday via Zoom. There is no maximum number

of members, and the potential for participation is not

limited to a specific location or LGBTQ status. Everyone is

welcome to contribute to the Book Club.

Each work selected will be discussed for a total of three

months. The first piece selected by the Charlotte Pride

Book Club is “Freedom Is A Constant Struggle: Ferguson,

Palestine, and the Foundations of A Movement,” by Angela

Davis, a legendary civil rights activist, author and lesbian

who came out later in life at the age of 53, in a profile by

Sara Miles in the Feb. 1997 issue of Out magazine.

“Freedom Is A Constant Struggle” was published in 2015.

It has been nominated for the NAACP Image Award for

Outstanding Literary Work and featured on the required

reading lists of several college courses relating to civil rights,

political science and feminist theory. The Book Club website outlines that the foreword,

introduction and first two chapters will be covered during the initial meeting. Each of the

following sessions will feature two chapters at a time until a June 29 “wrap-up.”

The book is a series of interviews, speeches and essays curated by Davis, who

focuses on the intersection between her identities as well as her international activist

and academic endeavors. One of the book’s main emphases is on prison abolitionism;

a contentious issue even amongst some of the United States’ most liberal individuals.

The connections between the queer, black, feminist and international communities

allow Davis to reach a wide audience about a large variety of topics that are typically

taboo to discuss.

In February 2020, at the age of 76, Davis presented a lecture to students and faculty

at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) titled “Radical Resilience:

Thriving in the Face of Oppression.”

According to UNCC’s Niner Times, Davis “mentioned topical issues like privatization

of healthcare and environmental activism. She answered questions regarding colorism,

academia, mental health, threats, surveillance, justice, how she got into activism,

how to become an activist and her hair.”

Club members will be asked to weigh-in on the next read sometime before June

19. This second book will be featured by the Charlotte Pride Book Club beginning on

July 13. For information on how to purchase the book locally, the Book Club suggest

using the website indiebound.org. The Charlotte Mecklenburg County Library (CM

Library) also has available copies.

info: bit.ly/3du8pZx

— Julianna Peres

Gay Couple Denied Wedding

on Basis of Religion

The special events facility Highgrove Estate in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. has cited their

“Christian beliefs” as justifiable reason for refusing gay couple McCae Henderson and

Ike Edwards the opportunity to utilize the site for their upcoming wedding.

Having served the area’s community for almost twenty years, Highgrove’s reputation

boasts beautiful ambience, polished decor and a perfect setting for picturesque

ceremonies. These qualities are what drew newly engaged couple Henderson and

Edwards to the company website.

After emailing the venue, the pair was stunned to receive the following message:

“[O]ur owner has unfortunately chosen not to participate in same-sex weddings at

this time. However, she wants to ensure that you still have the best wedding day experience

possible, and has given me a list of several other wonderful venues in the area that

may interest you.”

Should LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws be put into place in North Carolina, this

kind of action would be illegal. As the current legislation stands, Highgrove may refuse

service to any unprotected members of the LGBTQ community.

Although there are several positive reviews of the venue, the negative few are

scathing and angry. A previous client posted online, “Vicky STILL refused to give me

my money back, so we went to court.” Others mentioned unprofessionalism and

unwillingness to accommodate guests’ needs. In

response to the uproar from allies and the LGBTQ

community, Highgrove Estate posted the following

on their Instagram page:

“Highgrove Estate desires that all people’s weddings

be the most joyful in their lives. Highgrove also

respects people’s differences regarding marriage. For

this reason, we will always be kind and caring when

these differences arise…although Highgrove…cannot

deliver what is being requested as the company holds

strong to its Christian beliefs.”

These words did not placate fiancés Edwards

and Henderson who said, “I don’t think you get

McCae Henderson and Ike Edwards to be homophobic because your religion tells

you to be homophobic.”

This is not the first time North Carolina wedding venues have made headlines for

refusing to host same-sex ceremonies. In 2020, a lesbian couple was turned away

from a Winston-Salem venue on the basis of their sexual orientation.

info: bit.ly/3du8pZx

— Julianna Peres

April 30-May 13, 2021 qnotes 9


Looking at the

Historical LGBTQ Events From QNo

by Natasha Morehouse


June 1986

First qnotes issue

is published



October 11, 1988

National Coming Out

Day celebrated for

the first time in U.S.



August 18, 1990

Ryan White Care Act

is passed, a federally

funded program for

people with AIDS


January 1, 1992

World Health

Organization no

longer classifies being

gay as a mental illness



February 28, 1994

“Don’t ask, don’t tell”

U.S. military policy

created, intending to

protect closeted gay

people in the military

1994 19

October 11, 1987

Estimated 200,000

activists attend

second March

on Washington,

demanding President

Reagan address the

AIDS crisis

December 10, 1989

Around 4,500

protestors gather

outside NYC cathedral,

participating in “Stop

the Church” campaign

organized by ACT Up

and Women’s Health

Action Mobilization

May 1, 1991

Visual AIDS

organization creates

red ribbon symbol

to show support for

those with AIDS

April 25, 1993

Third March on

Washington has an

estimated 1,000,000


May 18, 2004


becomes first state to

legalize gay marriage





August 9, 2007

First American

presidential forum

focusing on LGBTQ

issues is held





September 20, 2011

“Don’t ask, don’t tell”

U.S. military policy

is revoked





2012 20

May 20, 2005

American Psychiatric

Assocation votes to

support governmentrecognized



July 28, 2009

Matthew Shepard Act

is passed, federal hate

crimes now include

crimes motivated

by a victim’s gender

identity or sexuality

May 8, 2012

North Carolina bans

gay marriage

10 qnotes April 30-May 13, 2021

Past 35 Years

tes’ First Issue to 35th Anniversary

| QNotes Staff Writer

All images are free to use through Creative Commons

September 21, 1996

Defense of Marriage

Act is passed, defines

marriage as a legal

union between one

man and one woman

April 1, 1998

Coretta Scott King,

widow of Martin

Luther King, Jr.,

encourages civil

rights community to

support gay rights

April 26, 2000

Vermont becomes

first state to

legalize civil unions

and registered

partnerships between

gay couples

95 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

August 2, 1995

Executive Order 12968

is signed, banning

discrimination based

on sexual orientation

April 30, 1997

Ellen DeGeneres (and

her TV character)

comes out, making her

show, “Ellen,” the first

to have a gay lead

August 1999

Transgender Pride Flag

is created by Monica

Helms, a trans woman

June 26, 2003

Lawrence v. Texas,

Supreme Court rules

U.S. sodomy laws are


May 18, 2013

erican Psychiatric

socation no longer

s being transgender

a mental disorder

May 30, 2014

Medicare now covers

gender reassignment


June 26, 2015

U.S. legalizes gay

marriage in all states

December 15, 2016

First intersex birth

certificate in U.S.

is issued

June 28, 2019

50th anniversary of

the Stonewall riots

13 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021

January 25, 2021

Openly transgender

people are again

allowed to join the

U.S. military

June 26, 2013

Defense of Marriage

Act repealed, gay

married couples can

now receive federal


October 13, 2014

North Carolina

legalizes gay marriage

June 12, 2016

Pulse gay nightclub

shooting leaves 49

victims dead, making

it the deadliest act of

violence against LGBTQ

people U.S. history.

July 26, 2017

Transgender people

are banned from the

U.S. military

June 15, 2020

Bostock v. Clayton

County, Supreme

Court rules LGBTQ

people can not be

discriminated against

in employment

April 30, 2021

QNotes’ 35 year


April 30-May 13, 2021 qnotes 11


In the Water

N.C. Natives Find Purpose in LGBTQ Work

by Chris Rudisill

QNotes Contributor

North Carolina is known for a lot

of things — from its breathtaking

mountain vistas to its sandy shores,

and the myriad of cities and small towns

in between. The state has a distinguished

film industry and a long history of political

drama. Celebrities like Andy Griffith,

Michael Jordan, Nina Simone, Clay Aiken

and even the Vanderbilts have all called

this place home. The latter built the nation’s

largest private residence here.

The geographical and political spectrum

of North Carolina often mirrors

Madeleine Roberts

the experiences and stories of its LGBTQ

residents and has its fingerprints on the

national movement for equal rights.

Progressive havens have existed for

years in Asheville, the Triangle and even

Charlotte, but they have often been marred

by the actions and words of folks like Jesse

Helms and Franklin Graham, or the sweeping

anti-LGBTQ House Bill 2, known as HB2

or the Charlotte bathroom bill.

That environment, however, might

have also led to a surprising number of

North Carolinians working at the national

level, organizing for the equal treatment

of LGBTQ people. According to Madeleine

Roberts, the deputy press secretary for

Human Rights Campaign (HRC), “I feel like

(growing up here) did prepare me to do

this work, because North Carolina is such

a diverse state in every way.”

At the largest LGBTQ civil rights

organization in the country, there has

been a surprising trend in the number of

North Carolina natives working for HRC.

“We used to joke that we need a North

12 qnotes April 30-May 13, 2021

Carolina employee resource group,” says

Roberts. “There are a lot of us doing this

LGBTQ work.”

Roberts, who uses they/them pronouns,

moved to North Carolina at the

age of four and returned to the state to

work remotely at the beginning of the

pandemic. “I think we’re really a great

state,” they said. Speaking of HB2, they

noted that, “we are so much better than

that as a state, and the people who live

here are not that. Knowing that really

makes me love this state.” They note

that the diversity perhaps taught them

to better craft a message that can reach

everyone, from rural to progressive counties

across the country.

Roberts, a graduate of Davidson

College, has been with HRC

since 2017, when they started

as a communications assistant

after working at the U.S.

Department of Housing and

Urban Development.

While many others at the

organization have hailed from

North Carolina over the years,

most notable today are Joni

Madison, chief operating officer

and chief of staff, and Don Kiser,

the organization’s long-time

creative director.

In a qnotes interview with

former HRC Executive Director

Elizabeth Birch, she said “there

have been so many brave souls

that have done real battle in

North Carolina.” The work shows

up in other ways, too.

For instance, Kiser’s coastto-coast

marketing of the now

ubiquitous HRC logo, the blue

square with two yellow bars,

has allowed millions of LGBTQ

Americans and allies to show

their support for equality.

According to HRC, the logo was

the final touch on a complete

reorganization in 1995 and its

square design was determined

by Kiser’s research which discovered

that it would cost just pennies to

produce, compared with the traditional

rectangular bumper sticker. “Before

long, the HRC logo was as visible at pride

celebrations and other LGBTQ events

as the iconic rainbow flag.” He also led

the organization in opening HRC “Action

Centers”, promoting sociopolitical action

by community members nationwide.

Before joining the staff at HRC in 2016,

Joni Madison was a volunteer leader

for 15 years, eventually serving as the

co-chair of the HRC’s board of directors

and executive director search committee.

Today, she oversees and manages

all operations, business functions and

board relations, as well as manage HRC’s

finance, human resources, diversity, general

counsel, facilities and administrative

functions. In an interview with McKinney,

the national advertising agency with offices

in Durham, N.C. where she served

as COO for more than a decade before

joining HRC, Madison said “when we think

of home and our idea of home, what we

long for is North Carolina.”

A History of Activism

In the 1970s, gay liberation was

spreading across the United States following

the Stonewall Uprising. According to

David Hooper Schultz, the Southeastern

Gay Conferences, started by students

of the Carolina Gay Association in 1976,

“changed the Southeast by organizing

one of the first public and open spaces

for out gay men and lesbians to congregate.”

Hooper Schultz’ master’s thesis

from the University of Mississippi examined

public history’s impact on LGBTQ+

southerners. “Rather than being ‘lonely

hunters’ without political or social goals,

queer southerners were in fact developing

tactics to extend their rights and

Joni Madison

stake their claim to their homes in the

Southeast,” states Hooper Schultz.

One cannot cover the activist history

of North Carolinians without mentioning

Mandy Carter. While born in New

York, Carter was one of six co-founders

of Southerners On New Ground (SONG)

and is the co-founder of the National

Black Justice Coalition — two organizations

with strong N.C. roots. She has been

here since 1982 and has, in the words of

BLK writer Frankie Lennon, been “one of

the few highly placed African American

lesbians,” waging war against homophobia

and organizing for racial justice and

LGBTQ rights across the South. Other

organizations, like Campus Pride and

Faith in America, Inc. are based here in

the state, not to mention the state-wide

and regional equality organizations.

While this list in no way captures everyone,

we have pulled together a quick

look at other LGBTQ notables hailing

from the Tarheel State.

Andrea Long Chu, born in Chapel Hill,

N.C., is a writer and critic on gender and

culture. Her essay “On Liking Women”

which was published in 2018 has been

praised as “launching the ‘second wave’ of

trans studies.” She has written for Boston

Review, New York Times, Artforum,

Transgender Studies Quarterly, among

others and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

James Credle, born in Mesic, N.C., is

the former assistant dean of students

at Rutgers University-Newark. A highly

decorated Vietnam veteran and longtime

LGBTQ activist, he helped found the

National Association of Black and White

Men Together, the Newark LGBTQ Center

and served on the board of the Newark

Pride Alliance. He still lives in Newark, N.J.

Jimmy Creech, born in Goldsboro,

N.C., gained national attention when,

after celebrating the holy union

of two men in Chapel Hill, N.C.,

he was found guilty of “disobedience

to the Order and Discipline

of The United Methodist Church”

and was withdrawn from the

ordination. Since then, he has

traveled the country speaking

about human and civil rights for

LGBTQ people and was the chairperson

of the board of directors

of Soulforce, Inc. from 2000 to

2005. Creech helped create Faith

in America with Mitchell Gold, a

nonprofit that educates people

about the harm of religious

bigotry on LGBTQ people. In

2009, he was one of twenty-four

activists who gathered in Dallas,

Texas to discuss the immediate

need for full equality for LGBTQ

people the and coauthor of

The Dallas Principles, a call to

action intended to guide the

civil rights movement.

Fred Davie, born in Belmont,

N.C., has worked for the New

York City Board of Education,

former NYC Mayor Dinkins and

served on the White House

Council on Faith-based and

Neighborhood Partnerships

under former President Barack

Obama. He was also part of Obama’s

campaign and transition team in 2008.

Davie, who is married to SAGE Chief

Executive Officer Michael Adams said

he was fortunate to have friends and

family members who were part of the

LGBTQ community when growing up. In

an interview with Gay Star News, Davie

said, “I found my liberation as an African-

American man, as a gay man and as a

person who grew up with modest means

in liberation theologies and other social

critique.” Today, Davie lives in New York

and is the Executive Vice President of

Union Theological Seminary.

Carter Heyward, born in Charlotte,

N.C., is a feminist theologian and retired

priest from the Episcopal Church. In 1974,

she was one of the Philadelphia Eleven

whose ordinations paved the way for the

recognition of women as priests. Today,

she is the founder and board member of

Free Rein, a therapeutic horseback riding

center in the mountains of North Carolina.

see next page u

Justin Lee grew up in Raleigh,

where he started the Gay Christian

Network, the world’s largest LGBTQ

Christian advocacy organization. He is

the author of “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel

from the Gays vs. Christians Debate”

and “Talking Across the Divide.” Today,

he lives in Orlando, Fla. where he heads

Nuance Ministries and makes videos

and blogs on a variety of topics for his

website, GeekyJustin.com.

Toni Newman, born in Jacksonville,

N.C., is an author and advocate for sex

workers’ rights. Her book “I Rise – The

Transformation of Toni Newman” was

nominated for multiple Lambda Literary

Awards and became the basis for a short

film in 2017. Newman also worked with

Equality California as a strategic fundraiser,

volunteer recruiter and legislative

aide. Today, she lives in San Francisco

where she is the interim executive director

of LYRIC, one of the first and largest

LGBTQ youth centers in the country.

Jacob Tobia, born in Raleigh, N.C.,

has expanded understanding of gender

through their work as an actor, writer,

producer and author. After being interviewed

by Laverne Cox as part of MTV’s

Rev. Fred Davie

“The T Word” and profiled in a one-hour

episode of “True Life: I’m Genderqueer,”

Tobia published “Sissy: A Coming-of-

Gender Story.” The book is now being

adapted into a forthcoming TV series

for Showtime. Today, Tobia lives in Los

Angeles and previously worked at the

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice.

Others From Our Past

Blake Brockington (1996-2015) was

born in Charleston, S.C. but moved to

Charlotte at the age of 12. Brockington

received attention as the first openly

transgender high school homecoming

king and advocated for LGBTQ

youth, the transgender community and

against police brutality until his suicide

in 2015. Memorial services were held

across North Carolina and in cities like

Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.

Mabel Hampton (1902-1989), born

in Winston-Salem, N.C., was a lesbian

activist and dancer during the Harlem

Renaissance. In addition to her philanthropy

to LGBTQ organizations, Hampton

marched in the first National Gay and

Lesbian March on Washington and appeared

in the films “Silent Pioneers” and

“Before Stonewall.”

Michael Lynch (1944-1991), born in

Harnett County, N.C., made a lasting impact

on AIDS education and support. He

is noted with pioneering “gay studies” in

Canadian academia, helping launch several

HIV/AIDS organizations in Toronto

and for his writing on the HIV epidemic

and the LGBTQ community throughout

the 1980s.

Pauli Murray (1910-1985) was born

in Baltimore, Md. but was raised by her

grandparents in Durham, N.C. As an attorney,

Murray argued for civil rights and

women’s rights and wrote “States’ Laws

on Race and Color” in 1950. Thurgood

Marshall called the book, the “bible” on

the civil rights movement. She was the

co-founder of the National Organization

for Women and later became an ordained

priest in the Episcopal Church.

The Charlotte LGBTQ Bar Association is

named after Murray.

Johnnie Phelps (1922-1997), born

in North Carolina, was a member

of the first Women’s Army

Corps during World War II and

later the National Organization

for Women. She chaired the

California Lesbian Task Force

and spearheaded protests in

defense of eight female crew

members on the USS Norton

Sound who were charged

with “homosexual misconduct”

in 1980.

Aimee Stephens (1960-

2020), born in Fayetteville,

N.C., was added to the National

LGBTQ Wall of Honor within the

Stonewall National Monument

last year following her legal

battle against a Detroit funeral

home where she served as director

before being fired for being

transgender. Stephens died just

a month before the landmark

U.S. Supreme Court ruling that

Title VII protections extends to

LGBTQ people.

A Sense of Place

University of Mississippi

Professor and essayist Jaime

Harker says, that “’Sense of

place’ has often been a traditional

way of understanding the

distinctiveness of the south, but feminist

and queer geographers have shown

that space is anything but natural; the

organization and imagination of space

is deeply implicated in existing power

structures and ideologies.”

Some might say “it’s in the water”,

but perhaps there is something more.

The intersection of these ideologies, not

to mention, living in a state of beautiful

diversity and possibility may just have

something to do with North Carolinians

leading the way for LGBTQ equality.

Growing up in this place that has such a

varied political past, a Southern state –

but somewhat different than the cliché,

rich with heritage and faith.

According to the state’s tourism

website, VisitNC.com, “When you visit

the incredible beauty of North Carolina,

you’ll be transformed back into your

best self.” LGBTQ people here are sharing

that transformation as far as you

can see from those beautiful state vistas

and beyond. : :

April 30-May 13, 2021 qnotes 13


The Impacts of Gentrification

Local Realtors Discuss Challenges Faced by LGBTQ Communities

by Julianna Peres

QNotes Staff Writer

From left to right: Matt Stone of Stone Real Estate, Dawn Pugh of Dawn Pugh Team and Zachary Harris of Charlottean Realty

All Charlotte-based realtors can

agree that 2021 is truly a seller’s

market. We’ve reached out to three

LGTBQ realty agents based in North

Carolina, who have offered their thoughts

on affordable housing, the rise of young

realtors, gentrification, buyer/seller

interactions and the impact of market

evolution on minority communities.

“The Charlotte market is becoming

more diverse,” says Matt Stone of Stone

Real Estate, a sixteen-year veteran in the

business. “Used to be a southern town that

was just opening its arms to outsiders, now

the outsiders are absolutely welcome.”

Stone continues: “The industry is slow

to adapt. More young folks, people of color

and LGBTQ people are getting into the

business, and my company is like entering

a family. We now have three Spanishspeaking

agents because our goal is to

make everyone feel more comfortable.”

These values of inclusivity in the workspace

translate also to Dawn Pugh of the

Dawn Pugh Team and Zachary Harris of

Charlottean Realty. Similar to their clients,

each of these realtors have had different

obstacles and differing experiences within

the same geographic space; exemplifying

the true diversity that buyers, sellers and

realtors embody.

As any realtor can attest, Charlotte

is facing a severe lack of unoccupied

land and properties, coupled with an

influx of real estate agents, as well as

potential buyers.

“It’s a strong seller’s market. Almost all

properties will have multiple offers, but

in some cases a seller may be undeterred

by the amount if their heart strings are

pulled by a buyer’s letter,” Harris explains.

“I can’t write these letters for the

clients, it has to be heartfelt and from the

buyers themselves.”

These so-called “love letters” are a

somewhat taboo conversation piece

within the real estate community. Their

main purpose is for buyers to be able to

humanize themselves in the eyes of the

sellers; essentially acting as a personal essay

might for a college application. “Love

letters” are a way of saying that, despite

not providing the highest bid for a property,

the buyers would still take tremendous

care of the home/land.

“If all terms were equal, a mixed race

LGBTQ couple may not have the same

advantage in a multiple offer situation

as a cisgender Caucasian couple would,

if both couples were to submit a “love

letter” to the seller,” says Pugh. “Or a

Caucasian lesbian couple may have an

easier time than LGBTQ people of color

or transgender people.”

Working with individuals or couples

in minority communities requires an

amount of attention to detail that includes

the aforementioned “love letters.” Harris

reflects on his early days as a realtor,

saying, “Being in real estate as an African

American male, I thought that most of my

clients would be African-American like me,

but that’s not the case. My clientele is 75-

85 percent immigrant families, including

LatinX, Asian and Middle Eastern families.”

The wide range of identities within

clientele means that several factors are

taken into account when helping buyers

find the perfect home. The first obstacle

that comes into play is the buyers’ reactions

to working with LGBTQ real estate

agents. “My husband is mentioned in my

bio page,” Stone explains. “This weeds

out people who wouldn’t be comfortable

with the LGBTQ community. So we lose

homophobic or racist clients before we’ve

even met them.”

Pugh and Harris’ companies take a

similar approach, but Harris stresses,

“Acceptance has leap frogged a good bit.

There’s no distinction between gay and

straight and black and white in certain

establishments in Plaza Midwood. Certain

aspects have improved; however, being

an African American male and LGBTQ

can make the world difficult to navigate

because you are a ‘double minority.’”

Neighborhoods such as Plaza

Midwood have grown socially to accommodate

those of all races, religions,

genders and sexualities; unfortunately,

the lack of inventory has made it nearly

impossible for these neighborhoods to

expand physically. “Since I work primarily

with investors, I’ve noticed that neighborhoods

change over time from being

places that people would not go to hang

out to now having kids playing in the

streets,” Harris observes. “The bad side

of gentrification is that it has displaced a

good bit of older persons of color.”

The idea of families being evicted or

foreclosed upon due to their financial

state is, tragically, nothing new. Solutions

that would allow these groups to remain

in their residence are scarce and would

have to involve a change in legislation

relating to the housing market, as well

as the economy. Of the state of gentrification,

Pugh says, “Gentrification has

been happening in Charlotte for longer

than I’ve been in real estate. I have seen

first-hand people taken advantage of by

unscrupulous real estate industry professionals.

People and families that want

to stay in their homes should be able to

stay in their homes, but they may not be

able to due to a number of circumstances

including property tax increases and

property condemnation.”

As a potential solution to the current

gentrification issue in Charlotte,

Pugh offers this upside for individuals

and families in their later years that

might be misidentified as victimized:

“We do have to consider that in some

of the ‘hotter’ neighborhoods, families

have been in their homes since the

‘60s and ‘70s. They made really great

investments in purchasing their homes,

but might not have a lot of money in

savings. Sometimes, people want to

sell their homes in some of the ‘hotter’

neighborhoods, move into newer

homes outside of the city, and have

money left over for retirement.” : :

14 qnotes April 30-May 13, 2021


Empowering Voices of the

Black LGBTQ Community

One Woman Shares Stories of the Past and Today, While an Organization Looks Toward Tomorrow

by L’Monique King

QNotes Staff Writer

As an undergraduate student and

English major at University of North

Carolina at Charlotte, Torie Wheatley

fondly recalls taking a class on “Early

African American Women Writers.” In that

class, she and her fellow students read

every first text written and published by a

Black woman.

Among them were Phillis Wheatley’s

book of poetry (Tori Wheatley doesn’t

know if she is related to the author),

Harriet E. Wilson’s novel, “Our Nig,” and

“Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” by

Harriet Jacobs.

Jacobs’ 1861 publication is the first

slave narrative published by a Black

woman. In the text, she tells the tale of her

life. Using the pseudonym Linda Brent, she

shares her experiences as a slave girl who

attempts to escape brutality and sexual

assault. In an effort to find some measure

of comfort, she watches her children grow

up through a tiny hole in the floor of a

crawlspace-sized attic she spends seven

years in, until she’s finally able to escape

to the North.

As Tori and her fellow students delved

into each of these riveting texts, she recalls

how her professor consistently lamented

the relevance of each text and how it connected

to the erasure of the lives of Black

women whose stories were either told or

not told by those who did not share or care

about their life experiences.

No longer a student, Wheatley, a

Black lesbian and LGBTQ advocate, has

become a teacher herself. She is currently

working on a doctoral degree in

Curriculum Instruction, with a concentration

in Urban Education.

In speaking to qnotes about the importance

of stories being told by those

who live the experience, she passionately

recalled her reaction to reading

“Incidents…” and why it’s so important

to allow folks to shape, control and

share their own narratives.

“I remember feeling heartbroken

for [Harriet Jacobs], but

I also felt inspired because she

eventually escapes some of the

traumas she endured. I think

metaphorically, the fact that she

was hidden inside that small

space for so many years, like a

closet, her story played out like

so many of the lives of those of

us in the LGBT community today

who are often defined by others,

watching the world go by like she

watched the lives of her children

go by through a hole in the floor.

“Her story is as complex as

the intersectionality of so many

LGBT people whose stories

need to be told and need to be

told by those who live them.

There’s power in that. I just wish

stories like those [told by the

people who lived them] were

more exposed and people didn’t

have to take a college course to

experience them. That’s why, as a

teacher, I feel like it’s my duty to

share them with my students and

share them completely, which

includes LGBT folks. My students

need to see themselves in the

stories they read.”

Fortunately, the Media 2070 project

has also taken up the charge from a

broader perspective, and then some. In

the 21st century, text is no longer the

only vehicle of storytelling. Additionally,

who presents the storytelling is just as

important as how they are told. This has

laid the groundwork for Media 2070, a

100-page research essay detailing the

history of U.S. media participation in anti-

Black racism and harm.

As one might imagine, intersectionality

also plays a role in oppression and

the fight for social justice. Like any race,

cultural or ethnicity, Black people are not

myopic. Simply stated, all Black folks are

not heterosexual, so racial discrimination

impacts the Black LGBTQ community with

intersectionality, often creating additional

stigma, discrimination and inequality.

Alicia Bell is a community organizer and media-transformation doula.

Under the direction of Alicia Bell, the

Media 2070 project became the result of

more than a year of information gathering

and was built on the foundation of Juan

González’ and Joseph Torres’ New York

Times bestseller “News for All the People.”

The essay is free and accessible at

mediareparations.org. Within the first

few pages of the essay readers are given

“A Snapshot of Anti-Black Harms” perpetrated

by the media from 1704 to 2017.”

As the essay unfolds, reports on how the

press has played a role in shaping human

interaction and contributing to the oppression

of Black people is documented

through heinous devices such as racial

profiling, erasure and discrimination.

All are noted through documented

statistical data, incidents, articles and

advertising; a blight the essay aims to

bring awareness to and seeks reparations.

“Together, we can advocate for media

institutions to make reparations

to the Black community and for

regulators and lawmakers to

make reparations for policies

that have baked inequities into

our media system.”

Queer and non-binary journalist,

advocate and project director

Alicia Bell shared with qnotes

a bit on the importance of the

project and how it relates to the

LGBTQ community. Bell stated

that one of the reasons Media

2070 feels so important to her/

them is because of the way that

media stories create conditions

and lived realities.

She/they continued to say,

“Holding all of the intersections

that we hold as people, when I

think about Black queer, trans

and non-binary folks, I think

we deserve a world that cares

for us.” When asked why call

the project Media 2070, Bell

explained how the project was

named in part to draw attention

to and “honor…how every 50

years there is some sort of government

commission or popular

organizing [effort] that connects

media and journalism to racial injustice.

“By 2070 we shouldn’t be having the

same conversations that we’ve had for the

past 100 years. I think part of that future

means we live in a world where Black folks

of all identities have the ability to steward

tenderly our stories from creation, to

production to distribution. And we have a

role to play in the institutions and policies

that carry those stories. Because of that, it

[we need] an economy, a government and

a media that cares for Black people.”

The Media 2070 project, along with its

numerous contributors and supporters,

dream of a day when “together, we can

advocate for media institutions to make

reparations to the Black community and

for regulators and lawmakers to make

reparations for policies that have baked

inequities into our media system.”

So far, they’re off to a pretty good start. : :

April 30-May 13, 2021 qnotes 15


by Joey Amato

Guest Contributor

Almost everyone has been to Atlanta

at some point or another. Whether

for a conference or just passing through

the Hartsfield-Jackson airport, the busiest

airport in the world, Atlanta sees more than

100 million visitors per year. As the largest

city in Georgia and one of the largest in the

country by population, Atlanta has exploded

to become an economic powerhouse.

Skyscrapers are popping up in many areas

of the city and many Fortune 500 companies

have a presence in the region. Of course, the

city is known for their hometown favorites:

Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and Turner

Broadcasting System, which was founded

by none other than Ted Turner, whose

name is everywhere in Atlanta. Turner has a

downtown street named after him as well as

3 namesake restaurants — Ted’s Montana

Grill — just in the Atlanta city limits.

Not too far from the downtown restaurant

is Centennial Olympic Park, home of the

1996 Summer Olympics. The park is adjacent

to three other incredible attractions: the

Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and

National Center for Civil & Human Rights.

On this visit, I decided to first swing by

World of Coca-Cola, which gives visitors a

wonderful overview of the history of the

A Multi-Cultural Destination

Pride Journey: Atlanta

The Atlanta skyline. (Photo Credit: Discover Atlanta)

brand, talks about the secret formula and

of course offers the opportunity to sample

Coca-Cola products from around the

world. If you time your visit right, you may

even get a chance to take a picture with

their mascot, the Polar Bear.

Next, I stopped by the National Center

for Civil & Human Rights, a museum I had

visited in the past. This time I was given

a tour by the Executive Director for the

LGBTQ Institute at the museum. Although

the Center doesn’t have a specific LGBTQ

exhibition, it does talk about the fight for

LGBTQ rights throughout the years. The

Center also houses the largest collection of

papers and artifacts of Dr. Martin Luther

King Jr. and has recently expanded their

offerings to include a human rights training

program for law enforcement officials

as well as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

(DEI) experiences for workplaces.

One of my favorite things about Atlanta

is MARTA, their public transportation

system. It is one of the most efficient and

inexpensive in the country, easily connecting

travelers from the airport to all parts of

the city including Buckhead, where I was

staying for this visit.

While the Buckhead neighborhood isn’t

known for its LGBTQ nightlife, it is however

known for its abundance of luxury

shopping. Lenox Square is one of the most

upscale malls in the country and boasts

retail boutiques including Fendi, Louis

Vuitton and Prada. Don’t forget to bring

your credit card!

The reason I chose to stay in Buckhead

is because I wanted to check out the brand

new Kimpton Sylvan Hotel. The mid-century

modern property is a short ride, or 20-minute

walk, to the MARTA station and features

a rooftop bar, daily social hour with complimentary

wine as well as a 24-hour fitness

center with Peloton bikes for those looking

to work off some calories. Speaking of food,

I would highly recommend the Charred

Cauliflower + Cucumber from Willow Bar

located just outside the hotel lobby.

The Kimpton brand is known for being

one of the most LGBTQ-inclusive hotel

brands in the country so whenever I have

the chance to stay at one of their properties,

I usually do. They are also a global

partner of IGLTA.

This September, Atlanta will host the

IGLTA Global Convention. The International

LGBTQ+ Travel Association will welcome

guests from around the globe to Midtown

Atlanta for possibly the first in-person

LGBTQ convention since the start of the

COVID-19 pandemic. Registration is now

open through the IGLTA website. I’ve been

to this convention numerous times and

can’t wait to see all my friends and colleagues

in the same room once again.

Midtown Atlanta is the epicenter of

LGBTQ culture and nightlife in Atlanta.

There is no lack of bars and restaurants

here. Some standouts include Joe’s on

Juniper, Blake’s on the Park and My Sister’s

Room, a two-story lesbian-owned dance

bar which has become a favorite among

Atlanta’s LGBTQ community.

The Midtown neighborhood is also

known as the cultural hub of the city with

over 25 different arts and cultural venues

and more than 30 permanent performing

arts groups residing in the area, including

the Grammy-winning Atlanta Symphony

Orchestra and the world-renowned High

Museum of Art.

Not too far away is Zoo Atlanta, an

AZA accredited facility home to over 1,000

animals. Having a deep love for animals,

I decided to take the elephant encounter,

a one-hour experience that gives visitors

a behind-the-scenes look at how zoo staff

care for these majestic animals. During the

program, we learned about the elephant’s

behaviors and even had the opportunity to

feed them. In this case, Tara was especially

fond of the lettuce that I was giving her.

After touring the zoo, head over to

Guac y Margys, an LGBTQ-owned restaurant

located along the Atlanta BeltLine’s

Eastside Trail. Everything I tried here was

on point, from the house-made guacamole

to the slow roasted pork tacos. If you are in

the mood to sample a variety of different

cuisine, check out Ponce City Market, located

in the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building.

The indoor/outdoor market offers dozens

of dining and retail options, including my

favorite, Botiwalla Indian Street Food.

Atlanta is truly a multi-cultural destination

that needs to be explored in its entirety.

Venture away from the tourist-focused

neighborhoods and meet the locals. You are

sure to find surprises around every corner.

To learn more, visit discoveratlanta.com. : :

16 qnotes April 30-May 13, 2021


I Love Him, I Love Him Not

Tell Trinity

Dear Trinity,

For the past two months I’ve been dating

two men whom I really like. One is fun and

exciting, the other quiet and charming. I can’t

decide which one to keep! What do you think?

Thanks, Three’s Company, Philadelphia, PA

Dear Three’s Company,

Live dangerously, but not so dangerously

that you end up leaving a pool of

heartbreak and sadness! If you’re a quiet,

introverted type, then take Mr. Fun &

Exciting. If you’re a socialite, then go with

Mr. Quiet & Charming. Opposites make

life more challenging and interesting. Now

pumpkin, even if they both really like you,

one must get burned, that’s life. So remember,

the longer you wait, the deeper

the burn.

Love, Trinity

To Trinity,

My partner of seven years and I are having

major sexual troubles. I’m going to ask

him to try a threesome. I think this will bring

the spark back into our relationship. Could

this help?

Yours, Sparky, Seattle, WA

To Sparky,

First, I must ask, have you tried

couples’ counseling and creating more

by Trinity | Contributing Writer

romantic experiences, especially in the

bedroom, i.e. candles, music, a fireman’s

uniform? If you answered yes then yes, a

threesome may help bring the spark back

home. However, make sure you are both

attracted to the third. Hiring someone

may be safer than picking someone up

on Scruff or Growlr. This way baby, it’s

all business rather than attracting a third

problem, I mean partner!

Good Luck, Trinity

Dearest Miss Trinity,

For the last few weeks I’ve been having

dreams in which I die. Each time I die differently.

I’m scared! I’m about to make out a

will. What might this mean?

Sincerely, Nightmare, Houston, TX

Dearest Nightmare,

Jeremy Taylor, the expert on dreams

has many books out, but you’re in luck

‘cause I studied with Jeremy in California

while getting my Masters of Divinity.

According to Jeremy, dying in dreams does

not mean real life dying, it means change,

transition, a deep fear having to be faced,

a life changing experience coming before

you. Your subconscious processes differently

than your conscious thus dying in

a dream makes it easier for you to face a

fear that you may not be able to face consciously.

Now darling, on a different note,

make out a will anyway, you should always

have a will!

Dream fearlessly, Trinity

Hey Trinity,

I just moved to DC and am going to my

first gay party. I’m scared. Not of Covid but of

meeting new strangers.

Yours, First Timer, Washington DC

Hey First Timer,

Parties and group situations are challenging,

I don’t care what Paris Hilton

says. So honey, grab a dirty martini and

start reading:

Trinity’s Winning Tips For Behaving at a Party

1. Dressing up for a party is not the same as dressing down to take out the trash.

2. Don’t arrive empty handed. Always bring, at least, a box of cookies!

3. When at a party you must act differently than you would at a funeral or a political rally!

4. When I’m nervous I pick up a food platter and start serving. In minutes I know everyone!

5. When you’ve had too much to drink, shut up and go for a walk! Please!

6. You need not pretend to be the life of the party, but you need to pretend you’re

partially alive.

7. If you’re out to get your sexual needs met, you need not let everyone know this fact!

8. If you need to comment negatively on everyone ,then you also need to be beaten

to a pulp!

9. Drinking too much and driving is like… drinking too much and driving, dah!

10.The difference between group therapy and a party is, in therapy you tell everyone your

problems and expect them to listen, at a party you tell everyone your problems and

expect them to run away. : :

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 30-May 13, 2021 qnotes 17


A Rose by Any Other Queer Name

Spiritual Reflections

by Rev. Joan M. Saniuk

Contributing Writer

Spring is in full flower in my yard…

literally. The last purple blooms of the

redbud have fallen to the ground, just

as blossoms are bursting open on seven

dogwood trees. Yellow daffodils give way

to pink tulips, which are succeeded by red

azaleas. I breathe in the sweet fragrance

of lilacs and the delicate scent of lily of the

valley. And this is just the beginning. This

is what I’ve been waiting for over the cold,

dark winter. The warmth and light of the

sun are returning, and the earth wakes up

shouting “Hallelujah!”

Too often, perhaps, we take the power

of sunlight for granted. I think back a few

weeks to Easter Sunday. My wife and I,

and a couple dozen other stalwart souls,

left home while it was still dark, headed

for Jump Off Rock in Henderson County.

We held an Easter Sunrise service there

where, for the first time in five years, the

skies at this mountain lookout spot were

perfectly clear. As we retold the ancient

story of the dying and rising god, the first

red rays of the sun shone on people’s

faces. It makes sense, I thought, that the

stories of Jesus’ disciples finding his empty

tomb all take place first thing in the morning.

Transformation, and new life, should

manifest themselves in the light.

The fourteenth-century Persian poet

Hafiz had this to say about the power of

light (as translated by Daniel Ladinsky):


Did the rose

Ever open its heart

And give to this world all of its beauty?

It felt the encouragement of light against its


Otherwise we all remain too


It’s not always easy to open up our

hearts, and give to the world all of our

queer beauty, and that is a tragic waste.

The world is not complete without our

beauty: without yours, without mine,

without that of each and every person

who, the Bible claims, is the living and

breathing image of God. Could it be that

we could use more of the warm, gentle

encouragement of loving light? In my

Show the world your beautiful, queer self.

(Photo Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection)

belief system, faith should drive that

light — the recognition of the divine

light in each other. On a good day, at

least, I strive to see, and be, that light,

to heal and affirm as Jesus did. On a

good day.

There are faith communities, it seems,

that can’t bring themselves to cast that

light on queer folks. I pity them. Whatever

god they serve, it is a god that I don’t

recognize. Let me be clear: others have

a God-given and Constitution-given right

to disapprove of us. But they don’t have

a God-given, let alone Constitution-given,

right to treat queer folks as less-than.

Each of us is a rose with a heart full of

beauty, and nobody has a right to force

us to close it off.

So, if you feel that divine light encouraging

your being, please: share your beauty

with the world. Because your beauty

will be the light that encourages someone

else, and that will encourage still others,

until all around us is beauty. And can’t we

all use a little extra beauty right now?

P.S. To my Muslim siblings, thank you

for the beauty of the Sufi mystics… and

Ramadan Mubarak. : :

The Rev. Dr. Joan Saniuk is Pastor of Sacred

Journey Metropolitan Community Church in

Hendersonville, NC.


Excitable Boy

An Interview With Gay Singer/Songwriter JORDY

by Gregg Shapiro

Contributing Writer

JORDY, the latest in the long tradition

of mono-monikered performers in the

music world — from Cher to Madonna to

Beyoncé — gets up close and personal

with listeners on his viral TikTok hit single

“Long Distance.” The song, about the

challenges of falling for a guy who lives far

away, is the runaway song of the season.

JORDY, who has made the most of various

means of viral video exposure throughout

his career, is poised for stardom. A proud

Pisces and out singer/songwriter, JORDY’s

infectious enthusiasm and expressive vocals

are a winning combination. The young

performer was kind enough to take time

out of an incredibly busy week in April to

answer a few questions.

JORDY, I’d like to begin by congratulating

you on your thrilling week, beginning

with signing your first record deal

with 300 Entertainment. What does

such an accomplishment mean to you?

Oh, my gosh! Thank you so much, I really

appreciate the kind words. To me,

it means that we’re just going to keep

working harder than ever. I’m gonna keep

grinding harder than ever, and the hard

work doesn’t stop. It also means that we

have more people in my corner and we’re

expanding the family. There’s going to be

18 qnotes April 30-May 13, 2021

more hands on deck getting the music to

more ears around the world. For that, I’m

very, very excited.

In addition to your record deal, you also

performed on the Today Show. What

was that experience like for you?

Completely surreal. I grew up with the Today

Show. [It was] one of those moments where

my mother is like crying herself crazy. Very

exciting for me and my family. It’s really cool

to be able to see this little song I wrote on

national TV. It’s pretty cool.

If your record deal and the Today

Show performance and interview didn’t

provide enough excitement for one

week, your song “Long Distance” continues

to grow in popularity. The song

is especially notable for the out gay

content of the lyrics. How important

is it to you as a gay artist to maintain

your identity in your work?

It’s literally essential. There is no alternate

option. That’s how I’ve been doing it from

the start. I was lucky enough to come out

at an early age and have a super-supportive

and loving family. I grew up in the

Chicagoland area and felt really at home

and welcome. I want to use that voice for

those who feel that they don’t have the

power to speak out yet.

I’m really glad you mentioned your

family and their support. While you

were still a student at Glenbrook

North High School, you and your

mother did an interview about coming

out that ran on the Your Teen

Magazine website. Can you please

describe what that experience was

like for you?

Oh my God! I haven’t thought about

that in a really long time, actually. My

mom is the best! She is a huge reason

why I am where I am. I think we had this

opportunity to write this article from

each of our perspectives. It’s special to

have such a close relationship with her.

Her validation and support is definitely

the reason why I’m so comfortable being

who I am. I’m very lucky. She is the

absolute best.

“Long Distance” already has an irresistible

dance beat. Are there remixes in

the works?

Yes, there actually are. There’s a remix out

right now by one of my favorite DJs, Luca

Schreiner. It is on Spotify, Apple, wherever

you listen to music. It’s very fun and perfect

for the dance floor.

Speaking of dance floors, what would

it mean to you if “Long Distance” became

popular with DJs spinning at tea

dances this summer in gay hot spots

including Key West, Provincetown and

Fire Island?

Honey, go for it! All the way! That’s why

it’s there. Please, by all means. That would

make me the most happy.

When things return to normal and

Pride festivities resume, would you

perform at a Pride festival if you were

invited to do so?

One million percent! I was supposed to

last summer, and then COVID happened.

We’re very excited for Pride events.

Were you doing LA Pride or somewhere


I was doing LA and San Diego. We were

excited and then everything happened. So,

we’re excited for Prides to start up again.

I think that’ll be like a really great time for

all of us to get together and have a really

good time.

I agree. When do you think your fans

can expect your full-length album to

be released?

I think they can expect sooner rather than

later. Maybe this summer! No dates in the

works, but we do have an album.

You recently announced 15 fall tour

dates, including one in your Chicago

hometown. What are you looking forward

to most about performing

in concert?

I’m so excited. I did my first hometown

show at Schuba’s last January and we sold

out. We will be back on Nov. 27 at Lincoln

Hall. We’re growing and we’re very excited.

Hometown shows are always the most

special, so we’re looking forward to getting

back out. : :


by L’Monique King

QNotes Staff Writer

Real estate stager J. Michael Haithock’s family moved to

Charlotte when he was just 14. He’s been a Charlotte resident

ever since. Five years ago he and his husband Francisco

sold their south side home for a 1967 brick ranch in East

Charlotte. Together for 27 years, their lives have been a

whirlwind of romance, immigration issues, working together,

surviving the COVID-19 pandemic and giving back to the

community through efforts like volunteering with the “Adopt

A City Street” clean-up program run by “Keep Charlotte

Beautiful,” where he was previously a board member.

What exactly is a stager?

A stager [is a person who] prepares a home for selling to

make it presentable and to make an impression on whomever

comes there, [so] they could see themselves living

in the house, or the condo or AIRBNB. Typically, we stage

houses, condos and townhomes; occupied and unoccupied.

I once staged an occupied house where there were

three kids all being homeschooled in the dining room. So

we made that space into a dining room again.

Staging helps sell a house quickly and generally helps

the seller get more money; when everything aligns right,

the price, the location in addition to the staging. It’s a great

satisfaction to me. I You can spend a few hours or half a

day, and when you’re done, you look at it and think, this

is my canvas of art. [I’ve thought] get your pictures now,

because it’s not going to stay like this.

It sounds a bit like decorating.

It is, but it’s more than that. If it’s an occupied staging, we

take furniture out, declutter and take things out of the

basement. You fix a room and then say, don’t touch it.

Stylistically, what’s trending right now?

Definitely clean lines, a contemporary modern feel.

Millennials are the buyers right now, and all good staging

is minimalist. But you have to stage according to the

house. You try to decorate with the style of the house to a

degree. The house and the price of the house will dictate

what you use. A house $550,000 and above will call for a

different kind of furniture, something more high end.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your business?

Yes, it has; it was like a domino effect, cancellation after

cancellation. That was rough because I had been selfemployed

since 2003 and doing okay. If I did hit a rough

patch I found an extra gig. When I wasn’t doing staging,

I was still helping people decorate their houses. Never

had to borrow money, we just sacrificed and pushed

through. But this was a different ball game. COVID

meant I wasn’t working for my clients anymore. It was,

Our People: J. Michael Haithcock

Stager of Homes, Communities and Love

and is, a little nerve-racking. Nothing has gone back to

normal, not for me unfortunately.

How are you managing?

SBA loans, unemployment and temporary assignments.

One [temporary assignment] was actually for a call center

with the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce. They

were reaching out to small businesses to see how they

could assist them. But that was only temporary. I’ve been

lucky to have a few staging jobs come in, but it’s still rough.

How have you been staying sane through it all?

I’ve been singing since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I’ve

sung professionally, and I’m a huge Frank Sinatra fan. So, singing,

zoning out by working in the yard and community service.

Giving back helps because you’re not focused on yourself.

Focusing too much on yourself is what causes stress.

What’s collaborating with your husband as a

co-worker like?

We get along well. He’s dependable, trustworthy and reliable.

There’s a security and comfort to working with him.

Will you share with qnotes readers how you met?

We met on Valentine’s Day. It was a Wednesday in 1994

in a San Francisco club. When we met, I was not supposed

to go to San Francisco. I went because a friend of

mine planned to take his boyfriend to Las Vegas and San

Francisco as a surprise. Three weeks prior to the trip the

boyfriend broke up with him. My friend, George, didn’t

want to waste the tickets and asked me if I wanted to go.

I’d never been to Las Vegas or San Francisco, so I said yes.

We stayed in the Castro district.

I went to a club called The Phoenix that evening, saw

this guy dancing on the floor, started dancing with him,

and then talking with him. About 10 minutes into the

conversation, I realized English wasn’t his first language.

My husband Francisco [Gonzalez] was visiting from

Mexico City. He was visiting a friend of his who was HIV

positive and not doing so well, so he was staying with his

friend. During my stay, I ended up just spending time with

Francisco. Lots of going out to eat, lots of miscommunication,

lots of say that again and repeat that. Looking back

now, it’s all very quaint and sweet though at the time it

was a bit frustrating.

After we spent three days together, and it was time to

go, I wanted to keep in touch. He gave me his address and

a neighbor’s number [because] he didn’t have a phone.

So we arranged times to call each other and write to each

other for over a year. Eventually… I invited him to visit me

in the U.S. He arrived June 22, 1995 on a Monday with a

little suitcase and never returned.

Wow! What a love story.

It is, though for the first 20 years he was an undocumented

citizen which made things very stressful. In 1998 he started

the process of becoming an artist. An opportunity he didn’t

have coming from an impoverished town in Mexico City.

He took a printmaking class with a woman at Spirit Square

who later opened her own gallery. So, he went from Spirit

Square to the gallery and later became a print maker, and

then a gallery exhibitor with solo and group shows showing

at The Mint in Charlotte, New York galleries and many others.

When did you get married?

When the [initial] rumblings were going on about samesex

marriage. At this point we had already been together

20 years. We knew that we didn’t necessarily need to

prove anything, but we did it mainly because we wanted

legal rights while living together. Medical things, the same

things that are afforded to straight people, but also because

marriage afforded him citizenship. We were married

in Maryland on February 14, our 20th anniversary. When

we came back to Charlotte we immediately started the

process for him [to] become a citizen. That took a lot of

time, in addition to a lot of money.

The documentation of all the work and giving back

he’d done helped. Francisco finally became a citizen on

August 19, 2019.

Inquiring minds who read qnotes want to know, what’s

your secret for such longevity?

We’ve all heard it said before, but we’re good friends. I think

respect, good friends and kindness [are the keys to longevity].

I never had any doubt that it would work because all of

it just felt right. All of the boyfriends I had before him, which

weren’t very many, were basically just a dress rehearsal. : :

April 30-May 13, 2021 qnotes 19

20 qnotes April 30-May 13, 2021

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