Qnotes September 16, 2022

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LGBTQ Local News, Voices and Community

SEPT. 16 - SEPT. 29, 2022|VOL 37 NO 11 Printed On Recycled Paper


CIAF brings edgy art to Charlotte Over 200 events including Drag Queen Story Hour

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-pg 11 Special section celebrating bisexuality -pg 10

The fight to save democracy -pg 5 Sept.16-29 , 2022





Sept. 16.-29, 2022

inside this issue


qnotescarolinas.com twitter.com/qnotescarolinas facebook.com/qnotescarolinas instagram.com/qnotescarolinas


contributors this issue

Writers: Joey Amato, Genna Contino, Teresa Davis, John Gallagher, L’Monique King, Jonathan Limehouse, Lainey Millen, David Aaron Moore, John Russell, Gregg Shapiro, DJ Simmons, Gwendolyn Smith, Jeff Taylor

front page

Graphic Design by: Will Kimbrough Photography/Illustration: Courtesy of Blumenthal Perfoming Arts


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 justice issues. Pride Publishing & Typesetting, Inc., dba Qnotes P.O. Box 221841, Charlotte, NC 28222 ph 704.531.9988 fx 704.531.1361 Publisher: Jim Yarbrough Sales: x201 adsales@qnotescarolinas.com Nat’l Sales: Rivendell Media, ph 212.242.6863 Managing Editor: Jim Yarbrough, x201, editor@qnotescarolinas.com Digital & Audience Engagement Editor: Chris Rudisill chrisrudisill@qnotecarolinas.com Sr. Content Editor: David Aaron Moore, specialassignments@qnotescarolinas Copy Editor: Bailey Sides Production: Tommie Pressley, x205, production@qnotescarolinas.com

Printed on recycled paper. Material in Qnotes is copyrighted by Pride Publishing & Typesetting © 2020 and may not be reproduced in any manner without written consent of the editor or publisher. Advertisers assume full responsibility — and therefore, all liability — for securing reprint permission for copyrighted text, photographs and illustrations or trademarks published in their ads. The sexual orientation of advertisers, photographers, writers, cartoonists we publish is neither inferred nor implied. The appearance of names or photographs does not indicate the subject’s sexual orientation. Qnotes nor its publisher assumes liability for typographical error or omission, beyond offering to run a correction. Official editorial positions are expressed in staff editorials and editorial notations and are determined by editorial staff. The opinions of contributing writers and guest columnists do not necessarily represent the opinions of Qnotes or its staff. Qnotes accepts unsolicited editorial, but cannot take responsibility for its return. Editor reserves the right to accept and reject material as well as edit for clarity, brevity.


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First Charlotte International Arts Festival boasts 200 works of art


Republicans think keep ing kids ignorant is the key to academic excellence Virginia’s Republican gov erner wants schools to out trans kids N.C. doles out millions for more film projects shoot ing in North Carolina N.C trans woman’s lawsuit against state prison expected to proceed LGBTQ mural celebrates tenth anniversary


After two years of virtual events, Pride Durham returns live, September 24 in person with multiple performers, a parade and vendor fair.

Seeing stars



In small towns beyond Charlottes, despite resistance, LGBTQ Pride abounds Durham’s Pride celebration is back in real life and in person The roots behind Bisexual Day of Visibility The 10 best books about bisexuality that should be on your shelf right now Organization in the Triad specifically for bisexual community Famous bisexual people throughout history Thirteen things not to say to bisexuals Pride Journey: Orlando


Will social districts bring ‘good vibes?’ The beginning of the modern downfall of democracy


charlotteobserver.com/1166/ a local news partner of The Charlotte Observer

Pride Durham Parade

For event listings, visit qnotescarolinas.com/eventscalendar.


Sept. 16 - 29, 2022 Vol 37 No 11

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Will social districts bring ‘good vibes?’ South End happy hour drinkers share their thoughts BY GENNA CONTINO |CONTRIBUTING WRITER


hey’re not carrying open containers of alcohol with them now, but bar hopping starts early in Charlotte’s South End. At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, people leaving work and walking dogs got an early start to their evening at Brickyard, Hi-Wire Brewing and other bars in the neighborhood known for its vibrant nightlife and trendy restaurants. With a City Council vote, those pedestrians could opt to take their drink on a walk. Social districts received Charlotte City Council approval last week, and South End businesses have already expressed interest in codifying the ability to drink publicly outside the doors of restaurants and bars. Once an organization officially requests a social district, it will work with the council to determine rules and boundaries before the council votes in favor of the district. Here’s what those enjoying happy hour on thirsty Thursday in South End during the last week in August had to say: Charlotte Has to Step Up Joanna Rose and Celeste Pope moved to South End less than a month ago and spent happy hour Thursday enjoying a drink together at Hi-Wire Brewing. If social districts were established in their neighborhood, it would “promote good vibes.” “I’m originally from Raleigh and I know that they just did that, and I feel like to

rival that, Shawn Charlotte’s Davis, who got to kind of works in step up now,” security on Pope said. weekends in Raleigh’s Charlotte’s downtown South End, is social district more skeptistarted cal. Aug. 15 to “It’s a good Currently, there are no social drinking districts, but “achieve our thing because neighborhoods like South End, Plaza Midwood and NoDa goals of supit will clear are strong possibilities. Photo Credit: Facebook porting small out the bars businesses and the places and creating a vibrant environment,” pretty fast, but at the same time, you’re Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin told The gonna be on the sidewalk and people are News and Observer. gonna try to get multiple drinks to come Just a short walk from Hi-Wire outside,” Davis said. “You still got the risk Thursday evening, Java Nelson was drinkof fights and stuff.” ing a beer and people-watching from his ground-level apartment. Living in the What Did the Charlotte City Council Do? middle of South End, Nelson said he typiWhile no social districts have been cally walks when he goes out to drink. He implemented here, the Charlotte City likes the idea of not having to throw out Council approved the concept at a his drink when leaving the bar for his walk meeting Aug. 22. This gives local merhome. Jacob Feight, a South Carolina resichant organizations, neighborhoods and dent, drives into South End occasionally to businesses the opportunity to request a see concerts. He thinks if rules are in place district in their area. and people act responsibly, social districts Here’s what we know so far. are a good idea. “I think if people are being responsible and doing what they’re supWhat Are Social Districts? posed to do, I think that’s fine with me,” Alcohol social districts allow neighFeight said.

borhood and merchant organizations to request the creation of areas that allow people to bring purchased drinks outdoors in predetermined boundaries. When will they be implemented? That’s up to the individual neighborhoods who will bring requests for social districts to City Council. Where Can People Get To-Go Drinks From Bars? Right now, nowhere in Charlotte has implemented social districts. Organizations from South End, Plaza Midwood, NoDa and Ballantyne have expressed interest in the creation of social districts in their neighborhoods. Other North Carolina cities that have implemented social districts according to the state ABC commission include Raleigh, Kannapolis, Greensboro, Madison, Monroe, Newton, Norwood and Selma. Why Is This Possible? Social districts are possible due to House Bill 890, a measure allowing cities and counties to define outdoor spaces where people can legally drink alcoholic beverages bought from a state-permitted business. This article appears courtesy of our media partner The Charlotte Observer.::

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Sept. 16.-29, 2022


The beginning of the modern downfall of democracy It’s time to put aside party affiliation and fix our broken government



epending on your perspective, the official erosion of democracy in the United States began at two pivotal times in the mid-20th century. Specifically, under the guidance of former President Dwight Eisenhower, the first inappropriate blurring of government and religion came on June 14, 1954, when Eisenhower was swayed by the efforts of a Baptist minister into placing the words “One Nation Under God” into the pledge of allegiance to the American flag. Just over two years later on July 30, 1956, Eisenhower continued with his blending of government and theology when he introduced “In God We Trust” as the country’s official motto. It replaced E Pluribus Unum on currency and coinage and sat in motion a chain of events that lead us to where we are today. None of our country’s dissolution of democracy happened overnight. It was spread across multiple presidencies and generations of voters. In fact, during the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and then later Lyndon Johnson, democracy in the United States regained a steadier foothold. Jim Crow laws were abolished and the integration of schools became the law of the land. The Civil Rights Act was passed. But once again, things began to backslide with the election of Richard Nixon. Nixon and his cohorts set their sights on the conservative voter block of the Southern United States and cashed in on racial tensions and religious zealotry to command much needed votes that kept him in office during part of his second term. Despite what was the then-president’s successful efforts of straddling the lines of church and state, he was later forced to resign midway through his second term following accusations of purported illegal misconduct in the bugging of the National Democratic Headquarters, which came to be known as Watergate. While the presidential terms of appointed president Gerald Ford and elected president Jimmy Carter largely passed without incident, Ford did pardon Nixon for his potential involvement with the Watergate scandal, which prevented him from facing prosecution, and in effect, put an American president above the reach of the law. With the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the former actor turned California governor turned president was seemingly nothing more than a polished figurehead for the Republican Party at first, however his actions went on to negatively impact democracy in ways previously thought impossible. In one of his most notorious moves that is often referred to by “Reaganomic”

supporters, the president provided enormous tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy, which left the country with a debt numbering in the hundreds of billions of dollars. In an effort to balance that, Reagan permanently “borrowed” money from the country’s taxpayer funded social security system. To this day it has never been repaid. Over the course of the next three decades we saw anti-democracy foot soldiers hard at work on the state and local levels chiseling away at voter districts in an effort to get less democracy-inclined candidates elected to office, despite the fact they were not reflective of the people’s will and certainly not in their best interests. With over 60 years worth of ground work already in place, Donald Trump’s capturing of the White House in 2016 gave him carte blanche to proceed with a full throttle effort to dismantle this country’s long respected democracy-based government system. Even though he was roundly voted out of office during the last election, his appointment and approval of activist

anti-democracy judges to the Supreme Court eventually led to the recent and shocking overturning of Rowe v. Wade and the reversal of a woman’s right to reproductive choice. His earlier attempt, along with riotous supporters, to overturn the Biden administration’s confirmed election during a violent confrontation on January 6, 2020 at the state’s capital, has shown us just how far the anti-democracy element will go to force their fascist agenda onto an unwilling citizenry. In short, we cannot be complacent. We must organize on every level from local to national. We must work as quickly as possible to motivate every democracy-minded individual to vote during the midterm elections and the next Presidential election to save our country and to maintain the governance that made us respected by nations around the globe. If we do nothing, the price to pay will be nightmarish and high. A small minority of exceptionally loud anti-democracy forces will seize control of the government, likely dismantling healthcare, social

security and forcing American citizens to struggle to survive in ways modern generations had never viewed as imaginable or plausible. Mark your calendars as September 15 approaches. It is known as International Democracy Day and was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007 in an effort to help countries around the world stabilize their own democracybased governments. It is a time where every strong democracy-minded American should engage in conversation with their friends, neighbors and family about the importance of stabilizing and maintaining our own democracy, before it is too late. As we move towards the midterm elections and later presidential elections, Qnotes will join in on the North Carolina Democracy Project through editorial content in an effort to educate our readers about the importance of upholding the principles of democracy and fulfilling our country’s destiny, as established by its founders, to continue to provide the right to pursue life, liberty and justice, and continue expanding equality for all. ::

Sept.16-29 , 2022




Republicans think keeping kids ignorant is the key to academic excellence As the GOP lurches ever forward toward authoritarianism, one of its key tactics is to suppress free thinking. What better place to start that effort than in the schools (and by extension school libraries)? It’s no surprise that schools have emerged as one of the key battlegrounds in the culture war. But what’s less noticed is that in branding itself the education party, the GOP is actually the ignorance party. Republicans’ constant attacks on bogus controversies like critical race theory are just an excuse to dumb down the school curriculum. That’s because Republicans believe that schools are where children should be taught how to become Republicans, if they

ture history so that the ongoing quest for civil rights in the U.S. effectively ends with the Civil War. Not content to remove current events and history from schools, Republicans have gone after other subjects as well. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) called for the removal of 54 math books because he claimed that they somehow slipped critical race theory into the multiplication tables. Absent from any of this discussion is anything about academic standards or, you know, actually making students smarter. There’s a good reason for that. What Republicans are interested in isn’t making students smarter, it’s making them more Republican. Apparently, the way to do that is to keep them as ignorant as possible. That’s where the second part of the plan comes in. Republicans have been pushing hard for “school choice,” which would use taxpayer money to fund private

schools. This effort got a big boost from – you guessed it – the Supreme Court, which ruled in its last session that two antiLGBTQ Christian schools in Maine were entitled to receive state funding. As those schools proved, the curricula are not designed to educate, but to indoctrinate. School choice options, like religious schools and, worse still, home schools, can be as political as they want. Indeed, a leading figure on the right – Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA – has started a chain of “anti-woke” academies based on “bedrock principles” that sound a lot like Trumpism. Kirk has the perfect credentials for the job. He never went to college. This commentary appears courtesy of our media partner LGBTQ Nation. :: info: bit.ly/3Dlzs6Q — John Gallagher

students and educators and to force educators to violate students’ privacy by outing them to guardians,” the organization’s executive director Melanie WillinghamJaggers said in a statement sent to the Los “What’s their name? What pronoun Angeles Blade. will they use? How are they going to “This kind of hostile school climate express their gender? This is a decision puts trans youth at greater risk of harassthat bureaucrats in Fairfax County believe ment, mental health challenges or discrimthat they should be able to make without ination. Transgender telling parents,” and nonbinary stuthe governor dents need respect continued. and autonomy, not Youngkin’s additional scrutiny comments drew and policing of their a rebuke from gender identity in GLSEN. The orschool.” ganization works In a separate Virginia’s anti-trans governor Glenn Youngkin on to end bullying statement, Equality the Fox Channel. (Photo Credit: John Russell) and harassment Virginia blasted based on sexual Youngkin for tarorientation and geting transgengender identity in schools and has pubder students to gain political points. lished a guide along with the ACLU detail“Transgender and non-binary students are ing the rights of transgender and gender not going anywhere, and we need to treat nonconforming students. them with the respect and care that they “It’s devastating to see politically modeserve,” the statement read. “The govtivated attempts to break trust between

ernor’s administration needs to hear and really listen to what transgender youth in our schools have to say about their experiences and ensure that there are policies in place to protect them. By instead making open threats to their rights, the administration is failing transgender students in Virginia and contributing to hostile school environments for our youth.” So-called “parental rights” in education have recently become a particular flashpoint for conservatives aiming to control what kids learn about and the ideas they are exposed to in schools. The line of attack has led to disruptions at local school board meetings across the country, book bans in school and public libraries, and laws restricting the teaching of topics related to race and LGBTQ issues. Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law – officially known as the Parental Rights in Education Act – bans any mention of LGBTQ topics at most grade levels. This story appears courtesy of our media partner LGBTQ Nation. info: bit.ly/3TYS16x ­— John Russell

are taught anything at all. Two things are happening as Republicans go after schools. One is to focus on public schools and make sure that students learn a right-wing version of history. That involves eliminating groups that the right doesn’t like, like LGBTQ people. Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill is an obvious example of erasing the visibility of non-approved groups from schools. Then there are the bills that protect the tender emotions of white students. These so-called “divisive concepts” laws prohibit any discussion of race in the classroom that could cause students to feel “anguish, guilt or any other form of discomfort or stress.” In short, the bills are meant to dena-

Virginia’s Republican governor wants schools to out trans kids Virginia, a state somewhere in political flux between blue, red and purple, is showing some pretty ugly colors lately. The North Carolina border state’s Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin recently called on school officials to out transgender and gender nonconforming students to their parents. Speaking at a “Parents Matter” rally on Wednesday, Youngkin criticized Fairfax County Public Schools Regulation 2603, which allows students to use the pronouns, restrooms and other school facilities that correspond with their gender identity and does not require school officials to notify parents of students’ transition. “They think that parents have no right to know what your child is discussing with their teacher or their counselor,” Youngkin said, “particularly when some of the most important topics, most important topics that a child may want to discuss are being determined.”

N.C. doles out millions for more film projects shooting in North Carolina Camera crews will continue to pop up around Charlotte aplenty after the state recently awarded three projects currently shooting in the area film grants for helping North Carolina’s economy and job market, Gov. Roy Cooper announced last month. The untitled Please Don’t Destroy project created by the Saturday Night Live comedy team previously reported on, “Site” featuring “True Story” and “Luke Cage” actor Theo Rossi, and the madefor-TV movie “Second Time Around” were named recipients of the North Carolina Film and Entertainment Grant, state Department of Commerce officials said in a news release. “We are excited to have more cameras rolling across our state,” Cooper said in the release. “Having North Carolina communities as the backdrop for independent and studiosupported projects is a positive multiplier for our talented workforce, our small businesses and our economy.” The three



Sept. 16.-29, 2022

movies — along with two other projects, the “Welcome to Flatch” television series in New Hanover, Duplin and Pender counties, and “Eric Larue” in Wilmington — are expected to generate $61 million of instate spending and more than 2,400 jobs, according to the release. “We are excited to have more and more productions creating economic development opportunities in our state,” North Carolina Film Office director Guy Gaster said in the release. Altogether, the projects bring filmrelated production spending in North Carolina to more than $241 million and creates more than 13,000 jobs in 2022, the release said. This is the second time projects being filmed in Charlotte received grants to encourage production in North Carolina. Hallmark television movie, “To Her With Love,” and a feature-length film, “AGB and Her Monster,” received rebates last month, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.

Projects Filming in North Carolina pastor whose “chance encounter may As previously reported from The turn out to be a true gift from heaven,” Charlotte Observer, “Please Don’t Destroy” the state’s release said. The streaming creators Ben Marshall, John Higgins and movie recently wrapped up filming in Martin Herlihy have been shooting in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties, and Charlotte and it will receive an award the surroundof up to $156,250. ing area. The “Eric Larue” follows film, which Janice, the mother of a is shot in 17-year-old who shot Mecklenburg, and killed three of his Gaston and classmates, IMDB said. Burke counThe project has been ties, was approved for a grant awarded the of up to $589,105. maximum The “Welcome to A continuing influx of film projects being shot in amount for a Flatch” TV series is North Carolina will offer jobs for cast and crew. feature-length about a small town of (Photo Credit: Adobe Stock) film — a $7 primarily young adults million rebate being filmed for a grant. documentary, according to IMDB (Internet “Site” is a film about a small town famMovie Data Base). The Fox series will get a ily man who encounters something “terrebate grant award of $6.5 million. rifying” at an abandoned government test This story appears courtesy of our mesite and begins “seeing haunting visions of dia partner The Charlotte Observer. a past that threatens to destroy his presThis story appears courtesy of our media ent,” according to IMDB. The project was partner The Charlotte Observer. approved for a film rebate of $937,500. info: bit.ly/3eHIEbi “Second Time Around” focuses on a –Jonathan Limehouse


N.C. trans woman’s lawsuit against state prison expected to proceed Kanautica Zayre-Brown had been incarcerated in a North Carolina men’s facility for more than a year when the Department of Public Safety made the decision to move the transgender female inmate to a women’s facility in Anson County in 2019. That decision made her the first incarcerated transgender person transferred based on gender identity in North Carolina. Unfortunately, her struggles didn’t end there, and her fight to receive genderaffirming medical care continues, though it appears there may now be a light at the end of the tunnel. During the final week of August, attorneys for the ACLU urged a federal district court to grant preliminary relief to Zayre-Brown. Following the hearing, U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn indicated the possibility of an order to reject the state government’s request to dismiss the suit entirely. Cogburn confirmed he wants to hear

arguments in Zayre-Brown’s case, but refrained from making a ruling on the motion and he did not respond to the ACLU’s motion for a preliminary injunction, which would have allowed Zayre-Brown to have surgery and receive prescriptions. Although no specific dates have been announced, he is expected to issue his decision on both motions in the near future, In the most recent lawsuit filed on behalf of Zayre-Brown in April 2022, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS) is charged with denying essential gender-affirming health care to the inmate, who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Zayre-Brown has requested necessary treatment consistent with established medical standards yet for several years, but she continues to face numerous delays. “State officials must comply with their legal obligations to those committed to their care, including those who are transgender,” said Jaclyn Maffetore, staff attor-

ney with the ACLU affirming surgery. of North Carolina. That decision “Mrs. Zayre-Brown marked the first deserves adequate time a court has medical treatment ordered the fedfor her gender dyseral government to phoria. DPS’s failaddress an incarure to provide that cerated person’s care is a violation medical needs for North Carolina prison inmate of her rights, an aftransgender-relatKanautica Zayre-Brown remains front to her dignity, ed surgery needs. hopeful she will be allowed to reand a threat to her Zayre-Brown life.” ceive gender-affirming medical care was convicted of If granted by while incarcerated.(Photo Credit: insurance fraud Cogburn and the Facebook) U.S. District Court and sentenced for the Western to ten years in District of North 2017, which would Carolina, the motion for a preliminary mean she will remain in the Anson County injunction will require DPS to assess Correctional Facility until 2027. Reaction Zayre-Brown for the medical care she has to her plight from LGBTQ Americans been denied and provide it while the case nationwide and the work of the ACLU proceeds. secured her transfer from a men’s prison In response to litigation from the to the women’s facility in 2019. She has ACLU and ACLU affiliates, courts across expressed regret for her crimes and is the country have consistently recognized the right of incarcerated transgender hopeful for an early release. people to adequate health care and More information on this developing safety measures. In late December 2021, story will be forthcoming as it is made availa federal court ruled on a motion and able. ordered the Bureau of Prisons to evaluhttps://bit.ly/3ByHmIt ate Cristina Nichole Iglesias for gender —David Aaron Moore

LGBTQ mural celebrates tenth anniversary White Rabbit pride store moved to its current location, 920 Central Avenue, in November, 2007. Owner Jim Yarbrough, also the publisher of Qnotes, moved the newspaper’s offices into the sizable structure in the summer of 2011. The following year noted Charlotte artist Gil Croy was working on a project at the Charlotte LGBTQ Community Center and had an idea. He saw the White Rabbit structure as something more than just a building. He saw the potential for a massive canvas, which would allow him to paint a mural that would pay homage to the diversity of local LGBTQ culture. Croy approached Yarbrough with the idea of painting a mural on all three of the visible sides of the store building. As a project of the Community Center, Croy would manage everything, in terms of material, expenses and volunteers to help paint. Yarbrough liked the idea, however,

he had to get permission from the building owners and make sure to comply with the city rules and regulations. “It took ten months working with the city of Charlotte to get final approval to move forward.” said Yarbrough. “The first drawing of the mural had a rabbit sitting on a swing hanging from a limb of a large tree.” Yarbrough continued. “The city would not let us use the rabbit saying that made it a sign. Then they had issues with size of the words on the mural.” Once approved by the city, Croy and his team of artists Marq Sumrall and Jef Madden got to work. Each weekend and evening, the store was abuzz with artists and volunteers. More than 30 people picked up brushes to help with the three

month long project. Although it doesn’t seem like a very long time ago, a lot has happened in the past 10 years. At the time North Carolina’s anti-marriage equality “Amendment One” had had been recently approved by voters, defining opposite sex marriage as “the only domestic legal unions considered valid or recognized in the state.” Croy, however, insisted that the massive mural was not political in nature and not a response to Amendment One. “It actually has nothing to do with Amendment One,” Croy said at the time. “Rather, it is to celebrate Charlotte’s ever growing and

diverse LGBT community.” Community reaction at the time of its creation, Croy confirmed, was nothing other than positive. “To this day,” says Yarbrough, “we still get lots of compliments and many people stop to take photos of it.” In a city full of murals, especially in areas like Plaza Midwood, NoDa, and Southend, the White Rabbit mural remains one of the largest in the city and is believed to be one of the largest LGBTQ murals in the country. Ten years after the painting was finished, it remains a vibrant site to behold. While the colors are slightly bleached by the sun, they wrap around the building and still vividly depict images of a gender fluid drag performer and two same-sex couples amidst a blending of abstract and traditional rainbow colors with the words Pride, Love, Community and Equality on one wall and a dog and cat to great customers at the front door.

—David Aaron Moore

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Sept.16-29 , 2022




In small towns beyond Charlotte, despite resistance, LGBTQ Pride abounds Union County Pride set for Belk Tonawanda Park in Monroe BY DJ SIMMONS | CONTRIBUTING WRITER


mily Allen’s nerve-wracking journey to come out to her family last December ultimately became a revelation about what identifying as queer means in a small town. “I just started to see in Union County there weren’t really many safe spaces for LGBTQ youth or adults to hang out and be themselves,” Allen, a 22-year-old student at Wingate University, said. As Charlotte’s Pride festivities hit full swing the last week of August and are generally embraced, outside the Queen City’s bubble is not as welcoming. North Carolinians identifying as LGBTQ+ face other challenges and are striving to create their own inclusive spaces in smaller cities and towns. Building inclusive spaces is hard fought in the face of resistance. It comes after Union County officials in June decided to cancel LGBTQ+ events at the Union County Library planned in advance of the county’s first Pride festival, next month. Earlier in June, Gaston County officials removed a photo of two men kissing that was a part of the county museum’s photography exhibit. Allen said she noticed differences in how people treated her after she came out. One of her favorite restaurants she used to attend was always warm to her. When she later returned with her girlfriend, things changed. “I was treated very rudely,” she said. “I don’t even know how to explain [that]. It was like I was pushed over.” And while her parents grew to be supportive, other family members were not as receptive when she posted her girlfriend on social media. The support she received from her friends on campus helped ease the challenging moment. One of the spaces that also helped Allen was Prism, a club at Wingate dedicated to the education and support of gender identity and sexual orientation. “I have a lot of friends at Wingate who are also in the community,” Allen said. “I think that’s the great thing about having these clubs and these events is that it brings people together and it gives you a support system that you may not normally have. I definitely needed that during that time... I still need it now.” The Globe and Mail Prism provided an immediate resource for Allen and other students in the LGBTQ+ community at Wingate. The tight-knit club helped Allen find kindred spirits, but when she found out about East Frank Superette and Kitchen, she found a community. The restaurant, located in downtown Monroe, has become a gathering space for those in the queer community in Union County. “They have a bunch of events that [are] inclusive, including poetry slams, karaoke nights and gaming nights,” Allen said. “You get to meet people from all different backgrounds and interests, but they still support you.” The restaurant also connected Allen to Cristal Robinson, a Weddington resident



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who was looking to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ people in Union County. Robinson, who identifies as queer, moved to Union County shortly before the pandemic, but found she had to travel to find more inclusive spaces. “The first year I really just did a lot of stuff in Mecklenburg [County]. There wasn’t really anything to find over in Union County,” Robinson, 46, recalled. Traveling to Mecklenburg County for such resources is not uncommon for those in surrounding counties, according to Bethany Corrigan, executive director of Transcend Charlotte. Corrigan leads an organization that pursues equity for transgender and gender expansive communities. “It would make sense that in a highly, densely populated urban area that there might be more services,” Corrigan explained, “but it doesn’t make it easier on the folks who are in smaller or rural surrounding counties.” People in less densely populated areas with limited or no transportation options can also face challenges accessing these resources, Corrigan said. A 2019 report by the Movement Advancement Project estimated between 2.9 million and 3.8 million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people live in rural America — at the time around 15 percent to 20 percent of that respective population. Robinson got to know the Union County Democrats, who would meet at a Whole Foods prior to the pandemic. The supermarket chain marked one of the few spaces she considered liberal leaning at the time. It was at least one more space for people in the LGBTQ+ community. “There was nothing,” Robinson said.

“We didn’t even have coffee houses we [could] find that would feel comfortable. There was one in Waxhaw that had a good vibe, but until East Frank’s came along there really wasn’t a hang out place.”

do, Robinson wants to ensure they can prevent this from happening in the future. One of her organizations’ goals is to increase GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) clubs in the local high schools. “I don’t want another child to go through that,” Robinson said. On Aug. 11, Allen joined Robinson and Cynthia Brown, treasurer of Union County Pride, at East Frank’s in Monroe. The restaurant has been open for three years, but has already come to be known as a hub and safe space for members in the LGBTQ+ community. The restaurant has a home-like and laid-back vibe and is rarely empty, according to Robinson. For its owners, being inclusive was always the goal. “We decided from the get go to provide an inclusive space for everybody because that was lacking in Union County,” said Carley Englander, co-owner of East Frank’s. The restaurant holds a variety of events, including drag shows, which regularly sell out. Englander said while their other events were popular, the drag shows were really embraced by the community. Already their show for September is sold out, and they’re considering now doing two a month. “This one was where people were like, ‘Finally I have a place to be,’” Englander said of their drag show events. Cress Barnes, a co-owner at East Frank’s, said upon moving to Union County they did a lot of research about the angst and civil unrest that took place in Union County’s history. Currently there is even

Finding Community Over the last few years, Robinson has worked alongside others to carve out an inclusive space for members of the queer community in Union County. She now heads Union County Pride, one of many pride organizations that have sprouted up in the past decade outside of more densely populated cities. Allen, who is now East Frank Superette and Kitchen is a welcoming and Vice President inclusive space for the LGBTQ community. (Photo of Union County Pride, said many Credit: Facebook) of the youth living in counties a Confederate statue still in the middle of outside of Mecklenburg need these spaces town, she said. “That sends a message, and support systems in their towns — esbut our message is everyone is welcomed pecially if some are not getting it at home. in our store,” Barnes said. “We never “It makes it easier for them to have intended to be crusaders or anything. We someone to talk to,” she said. “And that were just who we are.” can go a long way.” Robinson echoed Spaces like East Frank’s and Union similar sentiments. In 2015, a transgender County Pride were long in need, says teen in Union County died by suicide after being bullied by both youth and adults. In the work Union County Pride aims to Continued on page 13


Durham’s Pride celebration is back in real life and in person A look at pride history’s roots and how Durham will celebrate



ll across the nation, and in many cases across the globe, June begins LGBTQ Pride month. In the Carolinas, Pride events of one sort or another begin during the internationally recognized month and continue through September and October, wrapping up with related tie-ins to Bisexual Awareness Day (Sept. 23) and National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11). One later event in the LGBTQ Pride event on North Carolina’s calendar is Pride Durham. The LGBTQ community and friends celebrate the event Sept. 24. This year also marks a return to live and in-person. Like many Pride celebrations around the world events in Durham have been previously stymied because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not so, this year! Looking back at American queer history, Pride celebrations were born out of a rebellion against oppression, known as the Stonewall Riots, which took place in the wee hours of the morning on June 28, 1969. On that date, NYPD officers raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar located in New York City’s Greenwich Village, an area well-known for its concentration of LGBTQ residents and businesses. The Stonewall Inn was a popular destination for the queer community – especially the drag and transgender community. Throughout the community, people had grown weary and angry about the abusive raids and finally decided enough was enough on that night in late June. The rebellion lasted for more than six days and laid the groundwork for Pride marches, parades and events so many now attend. Durham’s now annual march and festival came about as a result of and reaction against an area hate crime. In April 1981 a gay man known as Ronald “Sonny” Antonevitch died from injuries after being beaten on the banks of the Little River in Durham. Antonevitch had been sunbathing on the banks of Little River along with three friends when a group of homophobic locals (four men and two women) began spewing hateful epitaphs and attacking the sunbathers with clubs and tree branches. All but one was able to flee. Antonevitch – because of a physical disability – could not run. His disability resulted in him being beaten unmercifully, leading to his death. Durham’s LGBTQ community responded to the incident in a manner similar to what had occurred at the Stonewall Inn 12 years earlier, with angry protests in front of a courthouse and calls for justice. A few months later North Carolina’s first gay and lesbian march “Our Day Out” was held on June 27, 1981. It attracted about 300 hundred brave marchers. Carl Whitman was one of those marchers and

Kimora Brooks will serve as Pride Durham’s Grand Marshall. (Photo Credit: Facebook) was quoted in the Durham Herald, “We just don’t want to let this incident at Little River pass. It’s a question of the whole atmosphere that would let something like this happen.” Four years after Antonevitch’s murderers were sentenced for their crimes in a Durham court in 1986, a second equal rights demonstration was held on the campus of Duke University. Over the next 14 years, annual pride events and marches would follow, held in other major

cities throughout the state. By the early 2000s the decision was made to keep the former state Pride event in Durham celebrating local queer culture, while other cities in North Carolina began to hold their own. Today, Whitman’s memory continues to be echoed in the spirit of Durham’s pride celebration and others. Carolinians will be happy to learn that Durham’s Parade and festival are back after a 2021 hybrid (virtual and in person) Pride event that was broken up between

Performers such as Stormie Daie, Teagress and Dustin Reams will be on hand to keep the crowd entertained Pride Durham 2022. (Photo Credits: Stormie: Teagress: Shattering Light/ Facebook) Facebook; Dustin Reams: Facebook

Duke’s campus and the city’s LGBTQ center (for the few in person community service vendors). Indeed, 2021 vendors were sparce in comparison to usual, but they will be back in abundance for 2022. This year’s theme is “IRL!” (Inspiring Real Love) and organizers hope the experience will encourage the act of just that. This year, as it began and has been for the many years prior, Durham’s Pride Parade and full festival of vendors is being held on Duke’s campus. Durham’s four major pride events will all happen on Saturday, Sept. 24. The evening after the parade and festival, the festivities will continue with a concert held in Durham Central Park with a culminating party at The Fruit – a former produce warehouse repurposed into an arts and entertainment event space. In a statement the Co-Chairs of Pride, Carlos Fernandez and Jesse Huddleston, confirmed this year’s event is expected to be attended by a crowd well into the thousands, and there are hopes for a larger attendance than in years past. Huddleston explained why he expected the upsurge in attendance. “People are excited to gather and in general because the pandemic has been brutal. So, we’re really grateful and excited to come out and come together. I think that’s even more true because [Pride is the] reason people will come out [for events].” The two are enthusiastic and clearly looking forward to a successful array of inclusive events that will highlight the trans and BIPOC communities. The parade’s Grand Marshall, Kimora Brooks, is a local drag artist and Black and indigenous trans person. Other performers representing the rainbow of diversity in the Durham LGBTQ community are drag queens and kings such as Stormie Dale, Dustin Reams and Teagress. “There’s always intent behind what we do for community,” Fernandez explains. “We want to make sure we have representation and that there is diverse representation of community. Not just white community, not just Black community, but everyone.” In addition, Pride Durham will also showcase the talents of Madame Gandhi, Zebra Katz and Imani Pressley. As the night ends, Pride party-goers can look forward to dancing the night away to the tunes of DJ Wicked, Femi the Femme, DJ Ayo VIP and DJ Gay Agenda. Huddleston feels the importance of Pride Durham can’t be understated. “I think there are several things, but what comes to mind immediately is the rich history that we get to be a part of,” says Huddleston. “Not only do we experience, but we also get to contribute and invest in that experience for the benefit of the community and the culture. I continue to meet people and learn of stories that relate to Pride and people’s experiences. It’s what makes it worth protecting and preserving. It makes our community beautiful and strong.”: :

Sept.16-29 , 2022




The roots behind Bisexual Day of Visibility A mix of different event names and people from around the globe all aim for the same goal BY DAVID A. MOORE |STAFF WRITER


isexual Day of Visibility (also called Celebrate Bisexuality Day, Bisexual Pride Day, Bi Visibility Day, CBD, Bisexual Pride and Bi Visibility Day, and Bisexuality+ Day) is generally observed on Sept. 23, although some organizations and websites refer to September as Bisexual Awareness Month. This day (week, month) is a call to recognize and celebrate bisexual history, bisexual community and culture and all the bisexual people in our lives. Currently, no events are planned in the Carolinas, however, a virtual online celebration is slated for the Facebook community known as Bisexual Plus, which begins at 9 a.m. and continues through 10 p.m. The roots of Bisexual Day of Awareness can be traced back to 1990, when the oldest known national bisexual organization in the United States, BiNet USA, was founded. They had their first meeting at the initial National Bisexual Conference in America, held in San Francisco, that

same year. Reportedly, more than 450 people attended from 20 states and five countries, and the mayor of San Francisco sent a proclamation “commending the bisexual rights community for its leadership in the

cause of social justice.” He declared June 23, 1990, to be Bisexual Pride Day. That date didn’t stick. First officially observed in 1999 at the International Lesbian and Gay Association Conference in Johannesburg, South

Africa, Celebrate Bisexuality Day is the brainchild of three bisexual rights activists: Wendy Curry of Maine, Michael Page of Florida, and Gigi Raven Wilbur of Texas. According to a Wikipedia article, Curry offered this assessment for the current date of celebration: “We were sitting around at one of the annual bi conventions venting, and someone – I think it was Gigi – said we should have a party. We all loved the great bisexual, Freddie Mercury. His birthday was in September, so why not September? We wanted a weekend day to ensure the most people would do something. Gigi’s birthday was Sept. 23. It fell on a weekend day, so, poof! We had a day.” On Sept. 18, 2012, Berkeley, Calif., became what is thought to be the first city in the United States to officially proclaim a day recognizing bisexuals. The Berkeley City Council unanimously and without discussion declared Sept. 23 as Bisexual Pride and Bi Visibility Day. : :

The 10 best books about bisexuality that should be on your shelf right now

Here’s a pick of the best books to add to your bookshelf with a first hand look at what it means to be bisexual


ne of the smaller niches in any LGBTQ bookstore or library is the bisexual shelf. Finding a good book on bisexuality can, at times, be as difficult as finding bisexual voices within the larger LGBTQ movement. Much the same, once you find them, you are liable to find some rare and wonderful things that you might have overlooked in the crowd. Here’s a pick of the best books to fatten up your bookshelf with information, autobiographies, a little snark and some deep dives into what it means to be bisexual. The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips, and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways by Nicole Kristal and Mike Szymanski This one shares a lot of useful information in a humorous fashion, but at the same time this text could also disappoint with a focus on stereotypes and their ilk. It is not recommended for a newcomer, but someone who has been out and about for a while. It’s worth a look, especially for fans of snark. Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s memoir will take you on a beautiful and often challenging story of coming of age as a Black bisexual man in the deep south. This is a powerful, potent story that feels all the more important in the Trump years. Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner More distinctly political than most of



Sept. 16.-29, 2022


the books sion. The topic on this list, may sound dry, Bi: Notes for but San Filippo a Bisexual brings a sharpRevolution ness to her writfeels like a ing that keeps manifesto this dive into for bisexual everything, from people who art cinema to have been vampire movies, often marengaging. ginalized, Autobiographical tomes on the bisexual experience exploited Getting Bi: can be a challenge to find, but well worth the read. and disVoices of (Photo Credit: Adobe Stock) criminated Bisexuals against. It Around the may be a bit muddy in places, but it’s still a World by Robin Ochs and Sarah Rowley solid read for the political-minded among No bookshelf on bi issues should be us. without this on it. Getting Bi collects 220 separate essays on the subject that cover Bad Dyke: Salacious Stories from a the gamut of bi experience, including a Queer Life by Allison Moon substantial number of non-western writThis is not the book you share with ers and experiences. Worth noting: It was your grandmother to explain bisexuality. updated in 2009, but it is surely due for yet This selection of essays by Allison Moon is another edition in the future, particularly full of bawdy, sometimes graphic tales of to look into the rise of pansexuality and her coming of age as queer in the 1990s. the many changes that have impacted the The sexual content, however, will ring true LGBTQ community in the last decade. to any reader. The stories twist and turn, in rhythm with Moon’s own better underAdvice from a Wild Deuce: The Best of stand of herself and her interests. Ask Tiggy by Tiggy Upland Debuting initially as an advice column The B Word: Bisexuality in on the Bisexual Resource Center’s webContemporary Film and Television by site, this book collects a pick of the best of Maria San Filippo Upland’s columns in one place. Both huThis is truly the “missing manual” of morous and thoughtful, this is a great book queer studies and media critique, digging for those seeking to better understand into the way bisexuality is treated — and their own bisexuality or that of others. often mistreated — in film and televiWhat’s more, behind Tiggy Upland’s quirks

and wit, you’ll find a large dose of kindness. Black Dove: Mama, Mi’jo, and Me by Ana Castillo A beautiful autobiographical picture of growing up in Chicago as a Hispanic woman, Castillo, a feminist bisexual woman, tells a heartfelt and personal story of both her and her son’s coming of age in America though a Hispanic lens. While the chapters touching on her bisexuality and polyamory may be of the most relevance on this list, it may be Castillo’s openness about her son’s arrest and incarceration that will stick with you the longest. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me by Ellen Forney The biggest “bi” in this graphic memoir is “bipolar,” as author Ellen Forney explores her creative life since her diagnosis with bipolar disorder. Fear not that this book is on the wrong list, however: Marbles also digs deep into the other “bi’ in Forney’s life, talking frankly about her bisexual identity. Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu In this groundbreaking anthology first published in 1991, more than seventy women and men from all walks of life describe their lives as bisexuals in prose, poetry, art and essays. Despite some dated content, it’s a seminal collection that still deserves to be read! This article appears courtesy of our media partner LGBTQ Nation. : :


Organization in the Triad specifically for bisexual community Now in its third year, Facebook shows 175 members BY LAINEY MILLEN I CONTRIBUTING WRITER


hree years and counting, WinstonSalem and the Piedmont Triad’s chapter of amBi.org, a national group of social clubs for bisexuals, is still going strong in the region. The first amBi chapter on the East Coast, amBi Triad NC joins 10 other locations. Founded in Los Angeles in 2006, national amBi.org “embraces the vision that social progress begins with community and only by building and maintaining a vibrant and visible bisexual community can real progress begin on social issues that matter to bisexual people,” the organization said. At amBi Triad NC, participants can attend events, enjoy fun activities and meet other bisexual and bi-friendly people in the Triad. Co-organizers Cindia Gonzalez and Dave Moffatt met at a bisexual/pansexual support group started by North Star LGBTQ

Community Center in Winston-Salem and became passionate about offering more programming for bisexuals and pansexuals in the Triad. amBi Triad NC is not just another meetup group that will only offer fun

events. “While the group will explore the cities of Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point, and enjoy ourselves, we also have a higher purpose. amBi’s mission is to build a vibrant and visible bi-community

here in the Triad,” organizers shared. Gonzalez said, “It is so important to build a positive, vibrant bisexual community in the Triad. Bisexuals are the largest portion of the queer community, yet often suffer greater health disparities and minority stress than either gays or lesbians, mostly due to bi-phobia and bi-erasure. It’s time we had a place in the Triad to build a community of healthy, fun-loving, positive bisexuals and allies, and to affirm that our bisexuality is as valid a way of loving as any other.” Gonzalez concluded, “We’re so excited that amBiTriadNC was founded during Bi Pride Month and that we’re the first amBi chapter in the South and on the East Coast.”

For more information visit ambi.org/ triad-north-carolina and facebook.com/ groups/457277904867858/. : :

Famous bisexual people throughout history A look at some significant contributors to world culture


his month the community celebrates bisexual visibility, shining a spotlight on part of the LGBTQ community that is all too often ignored. Here is a list of noteworthy bisexual individuals throughout history. Josephine Baker Dancer, singer and actress Josephine Baker was the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture, 1934’s “Zouzou.” Baker began her career in vaudeville and later rose to prominence while performing in France. Ernest Hemingway called her “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.” Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences and was active in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. She was also noted for her support of the French Resistance during WWII. Her adopted son described her as bisexual, claiming she had relationships with both men and women, including artist Frida Kahlo. Baker was married four times. Hans Christian Andersen Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen is well known for having written some of the world’s most famous fairytales, including


“The Emperor’s New Clothes,” The Little Mermaid,” “The Snow Queen” and “The Ugly Duckling.” He also wrote novels, plays, travelogues and poems for an adult audience. While Andersen avoided sex and did not have any successful relationships during his life, he did fall in love with both men and women. Frida Kahlo Painter Frida Kahlo had a distinctive, individualistic style, often labeled with categories that do not quite stick, such as folk art and surrealism, which she rejected. She is most well known for her self-portraits. When the Louvre acquired her ”The Frame” painting, it was the first work of a twentieth-century Mexican artist that they purchased. She would go on to gain much more notoriety after her death. Kahlo was married to fellow artist Diego Rivera and also had relationships with women throughout her life. Greta Garbo Actress Greta Garbo was a star who successfully made the transition from silent films to “talkies” and was one of the biggest stars of the early film industry. During WWII, Garbo worked as a spy for the British government. She also became an art collector later in life. Garbo never married, but appears to have had relationships with both men and women, with later biographies bringing her relationships with women to light.

Simone de Beauvoir Writer, philosopher and activist Simone de Beauvoir was one of the most influential thinkers of her time. Her writing explored feminist theory, as well as existentialism, which came in the form of novels, essays and biographies. De Beauvoir’s longtime partner was fellow philosopher, writer and activist Jean-Paul Sartre, but she also had relationships with women throughout her life. Jean-Michel Basquiat One of the most famous and critically acclaimed painters of the 20th Century, Jean-Michel Basquiat first gained notoriety as a graffiti artist living in New York City. His work married elements of figuration, abstract expressionism, neo-expressionism, graffiti, poetry and folk art. His work often dealt with socio-political issues and spoke out against colonialism and racism. He rose to fame early and created all of his work before his death of a drug overdose at just 27. Basquiat never came out as bisexual, but is said to have had relationships with both men and women. Jennifer Clement, author of “Widow Basquiat,” said of the artist: “He was attracted to people for all

different reasons. They could be boys, girls, thin, fat, pretty, ugly. It was, I think, driven by intelligence.” Leonard Bernstein Composer, conductor, writer and pianist Leonard Bernstein is best known for writing the score for “West Side Story,” as well as the film score for “On The Waterfront.” He also wrote music for ballet, opera and orchestral performances, among others. Bernstein was also a philanthropist whose efforts focused on increasing music, dance and theater instruction in schools. Bernstein left his wife when he decided he could no longer conceal his bisexuality, but returned to her when she became ill, caring for her until her death. He is also said to have had relationships with both men and women before marrying his wife. Edna St. Vincent Millay Writer Edna St. Vincent Millay won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923, only the third woman to win the award. Millay also wrote prose under the pseudonym Nancy Boyd. Much of her writing explored female sexuality, feminism and antiwar concepts. She was married to a man, but both of them had lovers throughout the relationship. Millay was openly bisexual. Editors Note: First run in Qnotes on September 9, 2016. ::

Sept.16-29 , 2022




Thirteen things not to say to bisexuals According to author Eliel Cruz, bisexuals make up at least half of the LGBTQ community BY JEFF TAYLOR| CONTRIBUTING WRITER


isexuals often face biphobia from both the straight and gay communities. There are a number of myths surrounding bisexuality, despite the fact that bisexuals have existed throughout history. Here are some things bisexual people are sick of hearing and that you should stop saying, if you find yourself thinking them. From writer and bi activist Eliel Cruz’s “13 Things to Never Say to Bisexuals” 1. “Bisexuals don’t exist.” This is a tired old trope…There’s plenty of out and proud bisexuals. I’m one of them. 2. “Bisexuality is a phase.” I came out when I was 14; 11 to myself, when I first encountered the word bisexual on Google. I never identified as gay, I’ve always identified as bisexual. I’m now [30]. It’s been a … long “phase.” 3. “Bisexuals are cheaters.” Cheaters are cheaters. Cheaters come in straight forms, gay forms, bisexual forms. Cheating isn’t attributed to one sexuality. To say that bisexuals are cheaters is just a misunderstanding of what bisexuality is. 4. “Bisexuals are greedy.” We don’t need all the genders in order



Sept. 16.-29, 2022

to be sexually satisfied…We have the same low to high sexual cravings as any other community, gay or straight.

It’s all for this male gaze, straight men enjoying women being with women but also with me. Not all women are bisexual, and to sexualize them just because they’re women only 5. “Bisexuality is serves to uphold a really Photo of man marching in the D.C. Capital polyamory.” disgusting archaic idea of Pride parade, held in Washington, D.C. Polyamory means patriarchy and male gaze, CREDIT: Tim Evanson and let’s not do that anythat you are in a more. Not all women are relationship with bisexual. Some are, and that’s cool too. more than one person. There are bisexual people who are polyamorous. There 8. “Bisexuals find everyone attractive.” are also gay people and straight people As if we don’t have standards. That who are polyamorous. It is not specific doesn’t make any sense. to bisexuality. They are two different things, but they can overlap, just like 9. “Bisexuality is binary.” any other sexuality. Bisexuals are not only attracted to cisgender men and women…Bisexuality 6. “Bisexuals are scared of commitwas never meant to be binary. It is only ment.” because we think in such binary ways that If you’re scared of commitment, you we assume that the “bi” means two as in need to reevaluate your life and figure “man” and “woman.” Bisexuality simply is: out what you want to do before you get I’m attracted to genders that are my own into dating. It has nothing to do with your and genders that are not. sexuality or the other person’s sexuality, whatever it may be. 10. “Bisexuals spread HIV.” This is a really ugly stereotype that 7. “All women are bisexual.” came from the height of the HIV/AIDS criThis has a really annoying sexualization sis. When we started seeing women with aspect to it that we see a lot in the media. HIV as well, people blamed a lot of the

bisexual community for “spreading” HIV. Regardless of who you are, regardless of your sexuality, if you take the proper precautions, if you’re using a condom, you’re asking your partner their status, you know your status [and] you’re taking PrEP, we can stop this disease. Let’s be smart about it and let’s be safe. 11. “Bisexuals love threesomes.” Actually, one of my friends is bisexual, and he has so much anxiety that he says the idea of being in bed with more than one person is so [stressful] that he would never in his life want to be in that position. 12. “Bisexual erasure is a myth.” There are a lot of times in media, in fictional characters but also in real life, where bisexuality is erased from the LGBTQ community, as well as the straight community. You’ll see a lot of LGBTQ organizations missing the “B” in their programming, a lot less out bisexual individuals. This has a lot to do with biphobia. Bisexual erasure is definitely a real thing and it hurts us. 13. “The bisexual community is small.” We make up almost half the LGBTQ community. Editors Note: First run in Qnotes on June 1, 2016

life Continuing from page 8 Cynthia Brown, a Monroe resident. Brown has been out as a lesbian for decades and was excited to see Union County Pride established. “I’ve been talking about it for a year,” Brown, 55, said of establishing a local pride organization. “When they told me there was a Facebook page I jumped on it. I wanted to be involved, and I wanted to be a part of it because I’m a part of the older community, I guess you could say.” Brown, who was raised in Charlotte, said similar to how her hometown changed over the years, Union County is now slowly changing. “I have been flying my rainbow flag since the first of June and it’s August,” she said, “and I’ve had zero resistance.” Brown has watched both the nation and her hometown come a ways over the years when it comes to embracing people in the LGBTQ+ community. But she pointed to the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme court case in 2015 as a true watershed moment for LGBTQ+ people. In 2015, the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage through the case. In 2021, the Charlotte City Council adopted a new nondiscrimination ordinance which would include protections for gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation and natural hairstyles. “I enjoy seeing a younger couple walking down the streets holding hands without any resistance,” Brown said. “It’s a beautiful sight to be able to do that, and I’ve seen that just explode in Mecklenburg.” It’s improving in Union County, but there is still a ways to go, she said. The Momentum Is Growing Members of Union County Pride noted there is a vocal minority seemingly opposed to change. In June, the Union County Library backed out of plans to host a seminar ahead of the county’s first ever pride festival, as first reported by WSOC-TV. Robinson said the group also planned a drag queen story time, and wanted to partner with the library to host a book club for teens. She said the move was disappointing, but did not blame staff, and noted the decision came from Union County government officials. Liz Cooper, Union County’s director of communications, told the Charlotte Observer the government typically participates in or promotes municipal-sponsored events, or events by organizations that receives the government’s funding. “County administration determined it was prudent to review events ... particularly ones we had not previously participated in,” Cooper said in an email. But the decision was tough for many, including Kate Kimbrell, a former librarian at Union County Library, who said it was hard to stomach. “The library is a safe space for everybody,” Kimbrell said. “It’s a space anybody can go for a non-biased interaction for non-biased information. Sexuality, gender expression, the LGBTQ community, well that’s a part of that.” The library was one of the spaces in Union County where Kimbrell was able to find their own resources. Kimbrell, who identifies as non-binary, said they noticed a co-worker wearing a non-binary pin like them one day. After approaching them, they instantly hit it off. The connection led them to resources within the library, like LGBTQ+ friendly books, and resources outside the library, like East Frank’s. Word

of mouth has become one of the ways people in the queer community are finding and sharing their own spaces and resources in Union County, Kimbrell said. “It’s still like that even though Union County Pride is just getting off the ground,” they said. “But they are literally making it more accessible for the queer community in Union County.” Kimbrell recently resigned from the library, in part because the library canceled the Pride events. But they worried about those who had found a comforting person to walk up to and ask about more LGBTQ+ resources. “With me being gone, it’s so important they still feel safe when they walk up to someone at the library,” Kimbrell said. Having members of the queer community come up to them and know they found someone safe to interact with was so important, they said. Even within the library, the queer community would try to

Union County Pride takes place Sept. 18 at Belk Tonawanda Park (Photo Credit: Facebook)

CAROLINA MORTUARY SERVICE & CREMATION be as affirming as they could, giving warm gestures to each other, providing compliments and continuing to direct those in need to affirming resources. But some in Union County still do not realize how many people live within the county who also identify as LGBTQ+, Kimbrell said. “The need is there and the momentum is growing,” they said. Elsewhere, Robinson points to Salisbury Pride and Rock Hill Pride as examples of smaller counties or cities that have seen local organizations work to make their own towns more inclusive. Salisbury Pride was created by a group of friends who wanted to celebrate equality and diversity, according to the organization’s website. It held the city’s first pride festival in 2011, and the organization became a nonprofit in 2012. Similarly, Queen City News reported Rock Hill celebrated its first Pride Festival in 2021, which drew more than 2,000 people to its events. Robinson is hopeful smaller counties or towns will continue to create their own organizations to provide inclusive spaces for their queer population, and not force them to travel out. For Brown, who has witnessed slow change around the country, in her hometown and where she now lives, Union County Pride is about continuing to show the queer community are everywhere and no different. “We’re validated in our relationships,” Brown said. “We’re validated in who we are.” This article appears courtesy of our media partner The Charlotte Observer. https://www.charlotteobserver.com. : :

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Sept.16-29 , 2022




First Charlotte International Arts Festival boasts 200 works of art Multi-location event explores Queen City’s edgier artistic side


harlotte has seized the opportunity to showcase its edgier, more artistically creative side with the inaugural, first annual Charlotte International Arts Festival (CIAF). Taking place from September 16 to October 2, the explosive Festival is made up of more than 200 mindbending visual and performing arts attractions, and many presentations are free or cost under $5. With venues in Uptown and Charlotte’s new venue, Ballantyne Backyard, the Festival includes several family-oriented exhibits but also presents numerous attractions more appropriate for adults. For decades, the Queen City has been known for NASCAR and proudly representing the Carolinas with its first class Panthers football team. The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, the Mint Museums, the Levine, Gantt and Bechtler museums and culture centers are but a few highly visible venues which consistently provide the Charlotte area with top-quality art. Until now, however, larger numbers of exhibits that highlight the innovative, cutting-edge exploratory arts world have remained primarily underground. The CIAF, presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, brings to Charlotte a high level of cutting edge artistry that many Carolinians have not yet experienced. The 17-day festival strives to stoke our imaginations as we see the Queen City through new eyes. Many artists from all over the globe present their work, but they’re also joined by plenty of local artists who provide Charlotte the opportunity to experience the Queen City’s homegrown artistic talent. Mind-boggling performances and exhibits include dancers repelling off office buildings and flying around rooms, interactive murals involving water, and aerial displays performed by artists perched atop swaying polls. Organizers say this festival not only captures more innovative, artistic aspects of Charlotte, but also celebrates diversity through its many varied forms of art. The Festival exhibits larger than life, fanciful sculptures and also provides interactive presentations featuring labyrinths of tunnels and domes. Festival organizers promise plentiful food trucks, and Uptown’s Levine Avenue Artist Stage includes a Biergarten with Live Music beginning at 11:30 am on Friday, September 16. At 8:00 pm on September 16, the Festival presents the world premiere of “Blackstar Symphony: The Music of David Bowie” with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and guest artist John Cameron Mitchell from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” The performance is also scheduled for Saturday, September 17. Both will be held at Charlotte’s Belk Theater in Uptown. “Blackstar,” Bowie’s final album, was released two days before his death in 2016, and the Artistic Director of the Charlotte



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world premiere, Donny McCaslin, is best known as the saxophonist on Bowie’s “Blackstar” album. Tickets for each of the performances start at $40 and can be purchased through Blumenthal’s CarolinaTix. Also of particular interest to the Carolinas’ LGBTQ community is the “Drag Queen Story Hour.” Similar presentations have caused unwarranted controversy in parts of North Carolina but continue to be welcome in Charlotte. The spoken word performances will take place at Romare Bearden Park in Uptown September 17-18, 11 a.m. to noon. An important attraction, “Drag Queen Story Hour is presented as part of an international organization that promotes diversity in literature through drag. Drag queens and kings read books to children to promote diversity and self-acceptance, but the performances are entertaining for adults as well as kids. Other attractions taking place at the Festival’s Romare Bearden Park venue are “H20” which is an interactive mural with water revealing hidden imagery and messages. The spectacular performance “Bloom,” which explores themes of diversity and is 20 minutes in length, features aerial antics by three, highly skilled and colorfullycostumed performers; while “Tablao Flamenco” brings a riveting performance of dynamic flamenco dancing and the high-energy “Mexico Beyond Mariacha” celebrates Mexican culture through its live music. Among the festival’s other varied venues are Charlotte’s recently-developed Ballantyne Backyard. The Blumenthal reports that it’s excited to expand its reach down to South Charlotte with this new venue, the former 100-acre Ballantyne Golf Club, which regularly hosts cultural events, boasts retail establishments and pop-ups, and recently offered a presentation of the Vincent van Gogh hot air balloon. For the festival, attractions at

feature Ballantyne Backyard include the worldrenowned “Luminarium: Architects of Air,” a sensory experience of light, color, and sound. The interactive walk-in sculptures have astounded audiences in venues of 43 countries around the globe, including the Guggenheim in vSpain and the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Local artists, and Blumenthal Performing Arts fellows who are featured at Ballantyne Backyard include Jason Payne and Bunny Gregory. Their team presents “QC Crown Towers” with five villuminated towers illustrating Charlotte’s crown logo. “Mazing Shadows” takes participants on an adventure through a labyrinth constructed out of shadows. “Birdmen” is made up of huge, illuminated

animals moving through the area, and “Wanted,” which is inspired by ‘80s comics and videogames, includes two live acrobats tossed around in a journey balanced between real world and fantasy. The Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center hosts numerous Festival attractions celebrating diversity to include “Project: Full Out!” which is a fun, Hip Hop dance showcase made up of live musicians. “Project: Full Out!” svhowcases story-telling, comedy, and an interactive game show for audience participants.” For foodies and television food show enthusiasts, Tabitha Brown of “It’s CompliPlated” appears at the Belk Theater on October 1 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. The $v44.50 ticket price includes a copy of her

book “Cooking From the Spirit,” which is valued at $30. Finally, the Festival features the spectacular “We Are Hip Hop,” a twoday “festival within a festival” scheduled for September 17 and 18 at the Knight Theater in Uptown. “We Are Hip Hop,” comprised mostly of Charlotte artists, celebrates hip hop culture through visual arts, dancers, DJ Battles, and spoken word poets. The event includes a vtwo-day block party and stunning dance tournaments. The CIAF showcases a much needed aspect of creative arts and performance,

which challenges our imagination and stokes artistic innovation going forward. Charlotte’s local government dampened the promotion of diverse artistry when it banned or required licensing of Uptown sidewalk artistic performers. Hopefully, this Festival will create our city’s longlasting, edgier arts world to complement Charlotte’s first class arts scene and topnotch sports teams. For more information about the not-tobe-missed CIAF, visit www.CharlotteArtsFest.

Sept.16-29 , 2022




Orlando Pride Journey



rlando has always been a place close to my heart. Back in 2002, I attended graduate school there as well as worked in the music industry for a company that launched the careers of Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, O-Town and other stars. I even managed a boy band of my own around that time. Needless to say, I really enjoyed living in Orlando. It was also the place where I finally admitted to myself that I was gay, although I didn’t officially come out to my family until a few years later. When I heard U.S. Travel’s IPW convention was going to take place in Orlando this year, I knew I had to go. I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, which is perfectly situated within minutes of Walt Disney World parks and just a short drive from Universal Studios. The property is massive and contains a separate fitness building, resort-style pool with bar and live music as well as a convention area. Epcot was always my favorite park to visit as a child, so I was excited to learn that one of the main events for the conference would take place there. We got to

experience the park without the crowds, which was quite pleasant, especially when it came to the newer rides Frozen Ever After and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Seeing the iconic globe lit up at night is as magical now as it was when I was a younger. Ironically, the conference coincided with One Magical Weekend, so I also had the opportunity to visit two LGBTQ parties while there, the first being the annual Red party at House of Blues and the second being OMW’s Therapy pool party at Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort. People from around the country travel to Orlando for this event, so I ran into many friends during that weekend, some of

which I hadn’t seen in years. My visit wasn’t all fun and games though. I think we all remember where we were when we heard the news of the Pulse massacre back on June 12, 2016. A few years ago, the owner of the club opened an interim memorial with a goal of raising the funds to open a permanent space which would pay homage to the fortynine beautiful souls lost that day. Located at the site of the original club, the current memorial contains an offering wall where visitors can leave flowers or mementos. There are three viewing areas of the building. Visitors will be able to see the waterfall at the entrance of the club, a wall of the building where the forty-nine names are inscribed, as well as the area where people were rescued by from the restrooms by first responders. The memorial also has a Ribbon Wall of Photographs, filled with pictures of the community and the world’s response of love and support and artifacts collected from the Orange County History Center. It’s a very emotional experience but one you need to do if you’re ever in the area. A few miles away is the new Hall at the Yard development, an upscale food hall venue. One of the highlights is a restaurant called The Chef & I, which is owned by my friends Erica and Chris Rains from Nashville. Every time I visited their restaurant, I knew I was about to experience something special. The Chef & I is one of my favorite restaurants in Nashville and I’m sure it will be a hit with the Orlando community. The restaurant throws a delicious brunch, featur-

ing menu items like Duck and Waffles, Brined and Smoked Salmon Benedict as well as their Hot Salt Chicken. People often forget that Orlando isn’t just theme parks. There are many beautiful towns in the metro area that are worth visiting. Antique collectors will really enjoy the charm of Mount Dora, while Dr. Phillips has emerged as a culinary epicenter boasting a variety of fine dining restaurants. However, my favorite neighborhood to visit is Winter Park and more specifically, Park Avenue. The cobblestone street is lined with wonderful boutiques, outdoor cafes and is adjacent to Rollins College, my alma matter. Located in Winter Park, The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Museum’s Tiffany collection includes jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass, leaded-glass windows and lamps, and the chapel interior the artist designed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Orlando is known for having a wonderful LGBTQ scene. One of my preferred low-key places to enjoy a cocktail is Savoy, located just north of downtown. Every time I visit, I usually end up there with friends. Some other popular spots include Stonewall Bar Orlando and Southern Nights. Orlando Pride is also one of the largest pride events in the state. This October, Coming Out With Pride will take place on Saturday, October 15 at Lake Eola Park in downtown, and will be surrounded by a host of other events throughout the week leading up to the festival. While downtown, try to catch a show at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The sparkly new building hosts a variety of touring Broadway shows as well as performances from major artists in addition to Orlando’s many local performing arts organizations. The next time you visit Orlando, I would encourage you to venture outside of the amusement park areas to get to experience the city. I met so many wonderful people when I lived there, so I would love for you to get to know the locals the way I did. Enjoy the Journey! ::

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Seeing stars

Interview with singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier by Gregg Shapiro Contributing Writer


f you’ve been listening to out singer/ songwriter Mary Gauthier for any length of time, say since the release of her 1997 debut album “Dixie Kitchen” (containing the song “Goddamn HIV”), you know that you are in for an emotional journey. This continued throughout her recording career, with examples such as 2005’s “Mercy Now” (featuring the devastating title cut and “I Drink”), as well as 2010’s deeply personal “The Foundling” and 2018’s Grammy-nominated “Rifles and Rosary Beads” (a project created via Songwriting with Soldiers). Gauthier’s music has inspired many. From a legion of fans to well known musicians who have covered some of her compositions, like Jimmy Buffet (“Wheel Inside the Wheel”), Blake Shelton (“I Drink”) and Boy George (“Mercy Now”). While her new album “Dark Enough to See the Stars” (In The Black/Thirty Tigers) has its share of poignant moments, Gauthier will astonish you in unexpected ways. The album features honest and beautiful love songs, inspired by her relationship with musician Jaimee Harris (a gifted singer/songwriter in her own right). As it turns out, love, like a comfortable pair of boots, is a good fit for Gauthier, who is a natural at writing these kinds of songs. Gregg Shapiro: I saw you at the annual Saints and Sinners LGBTQ+ literary festival in New Orleans. What was that experience like for you? Mary Gauthier: Oh my God, I loved it so much. I wish we could do that every weekend. It was so much fun. It’s the community I’m looking for. It felt so good. I loved the panels. I loved the books. I loved the authors. I loved the insights. I loved hanging out with everybody after. I loved sitting up there with Rickie Lee Jones. We became friends after that. [We] started to hang out a little [in] Nashville when she came to play here. We’re in communication. It built a lot of bridges for me to people that I am just grateful to know. It’s an extraordinary event. Wow, is all I can say. GS: Do you have another book, a



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follow-up to Saved by a Song, in the works? MG: I’m pushing some stuff around. I’m working on it. I did a residency down in Key West for a month. I sort of wrote a foreword, so it gave me some kind of road map to where I think I might go. But, for me, writing books takes years. I’m not a quick writer, by any stretch. I’m writing songs all the time, but writing a book, to me, is strenuous. It’s a long marathon. GS: Would it be fair to say that some listeners might be surprised by the Mary Gauthier they hear on “Dark Enough to See the Stars?” Especially with songs such as “Fall Apart World,” “Thank God For You,” “Amsterdam,” and “About Time?” MG: Yeah, I mean, I hope they’re delighted. It’s going to be startling, that’s for sure. Because I’ve never chased down straight-up happy songs before. I tend to be broody and moody. Life has been hard, and my songs have reflected it. But I’ve got this beautiful relationship with Jaimee, and we’re in our fifth year together. It’s incredible to me that this is working. I’ve never had a love that renewed itself. I’ve been in love, but it hasn’t been the type of love we knew. It would slowly sort of drain out. I’m sure that’s probably because of my own behaviors and my own inadequacies and my own dysfunction. But I’ve done a lot of work to prepare myself for this [to] grow and become a person who could have this. Prior to Jaimee, I intentionally stayed single for five years and did some hard work on myself to prepare for either I’m gonna be single or if I do get into a relationship it has to be different. I guess I laid the groundwork for this by doing that. I can’t believe it, but it works. It’s incredible to experience this later in life for the first time. I turned 60 in March, and this is my first relationship that’s not crazy. I’ve had so many crazy relationships because I’ve been crazy. I’m not blaming the people who have come through my life, and by any stretch, it’s not anybody’s fault but mine. But I had hard work to do, and I’m still doing it. I’m grateful that somehow, I became willing to do the work. GS: In some ways, “Dark Enough to See the Stars” is also a pandemic album, particularly in the way it ad-

dresses life after loss and trauma on “How Could You Be Gone” and “Where Are You Now.” Please say something about the impact of the pandemic on your songwriting. MG: Yeah, that’s right. I think you’ve got it. We’re on the same page. It’s a collection of songs about the transformative power of love, and it’s also about grief and loss, and all of this is happening inside a single heart at the same time. I’m looking at a list of people that I love that have died in the last two years: eleven people. The only other time I’ve ever been through this was in the early days of the AIDS crisis. GS: I was just gonna say that. I think for a lot of Mary Gauthier’s latest album is ‘Dark Enough queer people, we can see to See the Stars.’ so many of these parallels between COVID and AIDS, especially with the way are you most looking forward to about Republicans fumbled the early days of performing live again? both viruses. MG: I just love it. I love being on stage. MG: So many parallels! If you’re a I love connecting. I love that I get to have queer person of a certain age, this is also Jaimee with me right now, and so we get familiar. This is not your first rodeo. The to do this together. She’s gonna be coming unfolding of it just rings so familiar. out with her own record soon, and then GS: I’m a longtime fan of Beth she’ll be doing her thing. This is special Nielsen Chapman with whom you cobecause I get to have her with me. Also, I wrote the title cut for “Dark Enough to just feel right when I’m out there working See the Stars.” Beth is someone you’ve and being in the work instead of talking collaborated with in the past. What about the work or doing all the things to makes her a good songwriting partner? get there. I’m a troubadour by nature. I MG: She’s very meticulous, thorough. like hopping around, town to town, meetShe’s one of the great melody writers of ing folks, and hotel rooms. The whole our time. She’s got an incredible amount enchilada. I like it. I go around the world. of wisdom around music and songs, and It’s a real privilege to have this job. patience. She’s also just like magic. That’s GS: Will you be incorporating readnot an exaggeration. The woman is magic, ings from “Saved by a Song” the way and she knows. It’s not like she knows it in you did when you performed in Fort a way that’s arrogant. She just knows how Lauderdale in November, 2021? to be a conduit for it. I love writing songs MG: Yes. I will. What I’ve learned about with her because she’s really committed to being an author is that if you want to sell getting it right. a book, it’s up to you. The publisher is not GS: That sounds like a good creative gonna’ do it. It’s a lot like a record compartnership. You are embarking on a pany. “We’ll put it out, but you’ve got to multi-city concert tour in support of sell it.” I want people to read it because I’m “Dark Enough to See the Stars.” What proud of it. I read it every night (of a show) and people come to the table and they purchase a copy and I sign it and it works in that way. I will be bringing books and I will be reading (from) them. I think it’s actually makes for an interesting show. GS: It does! It breaks things up. MG: Yeah. It works for a troubadour to tell stories, but also to :read stories that have been crafted. GS: The title of the album comes from a Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.” Do you think there’s any chance that during these dark times, there will be stars bright enough to illuminate the way to a better future? MG: I absolutely have to believe that, yes. Mary Gauthier performs September 10 at Antlers & Acorns Songwriter Festival 2022 in Boone and September 11 at ISIS Music Hall in Asheville. ::




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