Qnote Issue November 11, 2022

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Nov. 11 - Nov. 24, 2022

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contributors this issue

Writers: Alex Bollinger, Mykah Buff, Lawrence Corley, Tom Elliott, Reverend Dawn Flynn, L’Monique King, David Aaron Moore, Greg Owen, Isaac Morgan, Chris Rudsill, John Russell, Gregg Shapiro

front page

Graphic Design by: Will Kimbrough Photography/Illustration: Keelyn

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Mission:

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: Will Kimbrough, 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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feature

How an LGBTQ conference is shaping the business job market

news

Health experts warn of winter COVID surge amid fewer safety precau tions Celebrating with the Charlotte Trans Health Group at T.H.E Night Pastor in neighboring Tennessee says church invaded by witches and pronouns are demonic Gay penguins are back together just in time for mating season Social Security just made it easier for Trans Folks to update their gender Charlotte-based Campus Pride launches ‘Career Connect’ Never ending nonsense from Lt. Gov Robinson Remembering Dan Van Mourik: 1948-2022 Jack Knoxville started Trans Empowerment Project In Memorium: Honoring those lost over the past year

Former QNotes staffer who was a quadruple threat: performing arts, graphic design, the written word and an activist during the height of the AIDS pandemic.

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Our People: Nicole Hoerschelmann Dean of the Knight School of Communications at Queens University, shares her journey as a parent, trans professional and a new resident of Charlotte.

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a&e

Screen savor: Woke up dead Opportunity fund awards $250k+ for arts and culture projects Laverne Cox: What she’s up to lately

life

Our People: Nicole Hoerschelmann

views

Political Voices: The fight ahead after elections Spiritual Reflection: Transgender in the Bible

events

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Remembering Dan Van Mourik

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The fight ahead after elections Political voices

By Kendra Johnson Qnotes Staff Writer

every drag event or Pride parade in North Carolina has seen threatening protestors. In Idaho, 31 members of Patriot Front, a white nationalist terror group, were arrested near Coeur D’Alene Pride with riot gear and smoke grenades. This extremist threat has gone hand in hand with an aggressive and coordinated assault on LGBTQ+ Americans, particularly targeting the trans community. National organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom and ALEC have provided model legislation for politicians seeking to attack our communities as a wedge issue. The results have been catastrophic: three states (Arkansas, Arizona and Alabama) have passed bills banning gender-affirming care for trans youth, while 18 have passed laws banning some or all trans youth from competing in sports in a way which is congruent with their gender identity. Moreover, many states, like Florida and Texas, have seen back-end attempts at restricting care for trans youth through administrative methods, like state medical boards or the child welfare system. This all-out attack works in tandem with the violence we’ve discussed above. These state-sponsored attacks on our communities provide political license to the kind of violence which we;ve seen in

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’m writing this column before the midterm elections on Nov. 8, but you are, in all likelihood, reading it after. The elections may have gone well, and they may have gone poorly. Most likely, they were a mixture, with some great results and some awful ones. But regardless of the outcome of the election, we have to be clear-eyed about where we are politically. The reactionary right has seen an opening to attack our communities, and they’ll continue to target us. And unfortunately, there will still be dangerous elected bigots in positions of power next year – in positions to amplify racism and transphobia and homophobia in the broader community. It’s worth going over our recent history. The past two years have been a harsh assault on our communities, and this year has been particularly difficult. Pride events this year came under harsh attack from far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys, who attacked events in Wilmington, Sanford, and Apex in North Carolina alone, and many more in other states. Nearly

the community. The picture looks bleak, but it’s important to remember that we’ve been here before. American history has a recurring theme of civil rights strides, followed by harsh backlash. It’s instructive that this latest wave of hateful backlash comes directly after years of hard of work by LGBTQ+ rights activists and after the uprisings following the murder of George Floyd. Movements for justice often beget movements against justice. It’s worth then thinking about how our community has responded to these threats in the past, and how we can use this legacy of resistance in the fight ahead. There’s a rich history of community care and mutual aid in marginalized communities – and this spirit of solidarity and showing up is what we need for the years to come. Even in the past few years, we’ve seen

powerful resistance in our communities to hate and violence. In Ohio, trans activists and allies were able to defeat an attack on youth in the state education system. Bills attacking our communities all over the country have died in committee. And here in North Carolina, we were able to defeat bills attacking sports, gender-affirming care and our school curricula thanks to activists and community members like you. There are no guarantees – but if we band together our communities are powerful. I can’t promise that it won’t be a struggle. Our opponents are coming for our whole lives. But we are obliged to work together in defense of each other. ::

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Nov. 11- Nov. 24, 2022


news

Health experts warn of winter COVID surge amid fewer safety precautions Experts say ‘pandemic is not over’ By Isaac Morgan |Contributing Writer

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or Briana Michel, a senior broadcast student at Florida A&M University, wearing a face mask for protection against COVID-19 seems a thing of the past. “From my perspective, I don’t think students are worried about COVID,” Michel said in an interview with the Florida Phoenix. “I don’t know anyone personally that wears a mask. When necessary, I did wear one.” “It just all seems like too much,” Michel said. “I don’t think the masks are doing what people are thinking they are doing. I certainly wouldn’t say the pandemic is over, it’s just calmed down a little.” That’s also the sentiment for many college students at FAMU, a historically Black university in the state’s capital. But the threat from the global pandemic is not over. New subvariants of omicron are seeping into the United States and across the globe and may not be as effective against existing COVID vaccines, according to global and federal health authorities. And in the coming months, health experts are warning of a surge in cases. Abraiya Ruffin, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism, told the Phoenix that she’s comfortable without wearing a mask but follows other safety measures while on campus. “Personally, I am comfortable,” Ruffin said in an interview. “I don’t see too many people too close to anybody when they’re sick, especially here at my school [FAMU]. We try to be as cautious as we can about safety and health.” “Honestly, my thoughts on COVID safety and health precautions, I would say that if anyone is sick that they should absolutely wear a mask and make sure that they are sanitizing their hands, especially when you’re in large crowds of people,” Ruffin said. “But I feel if you’re confident that you are not sick or obviously you’ve been tested for COVID and it came back negative, you don’t have to wear masks.” Anissa Carby, a sophomore from Miami attending FAMU’s School of Journalism, said that, at one point, students had to wear masks. In 2020, both Florida State University and FAMU did establish a face mask requirement for their communities as well as visitors, as previously reported by the Phoenix. But that eventually changed after university officials issued recommendations to follow safety measures, citing a decrease in cases. “I really don’t wear masks on campus,” Carby said. “They were mandating masks, but they shut it down. I mean, you still see some of the signs recommending masks. No one really cares about a mask.” The Pandemic Is Not Over Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of the systemwide special pathogens program at NYC Health + Hospital, said in a phone conversation with the Phoenix that COVID infections will likely climb during winter because of the highly transmissible omicron variant and other emerging subvariants.

PHOTO CREDIT: JC Gellidon/Unsplash

And to fight the outbreak, it’s important to stay “up to date with your vaccination because that is one of the best defenses we have against COVID-19,” Madad argued. “I think we definitely are in for an uptick in cases of COVID-19. The question is how significant is the uptick going to be. Is it going to be at the level of a significant surge like we saw last year when we saw the introduction of omicron right after Thanksgiving? And then we saw a significant surge of infections in December, January, and February. “We are much less vaccinated and we are much less boosted from a population standpoint,” Madad continued. “We have millions of Americans that are months out from their last vaccination dose, which means that there is a lot of waning immunity happening every day that goes by. But definitely hospitalizations and deaths, as we are looking at some of the forecasting models.” Leah Yeary, a registered nurse at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, insisted in an email to the Phoenix that “the pandemic is not over” and it’s important for people to remain vigilant against the virus. Yeary is a member of the National Nurses United (NNU), a union representing RNs across the country. “We are facing a potential winter surge, especially because we could have many variants, not just one variant, hitting us all at the same time,” Yeary said. “The virus keeps changing and each mutation is getting better at bypassing immune defenses. “This is why it is so important to maintain multiple measures of infection control, including masking, vaccinations, testing, ventilation, contact tracing and notification, proper isolation and quarantining. We also need a permanent OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] COVID standard that would require employers to protect nurses and other health care workers from COVID. OSHA still has not issued a permanent standard, despite statutory deadlines and public promises to issue the standard already.” BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 Subvariants The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been tracking emerging subvariants of omicron that are

on the rise in the United States, including BQ.1 and BQ.1.1. Dr. Michael Teng, associate professor of medicine at the University of South Florida, said in a phone conversation that current vaccines and even treatments used for COVID “may not be as effective” against BQ.1 and BQ 1.1. “The one real problem with the BQ.1 and BQ 1.1 is that they have mutations that make them resistant to the monoclonal antibodies that we have out there,” Teng said. “Those are the ones that are starting to get the higher proportions in the U.S.” In fact, both BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 make up 27.1 percent of COVID variants in the nation, according to the latest report from the CDC. Just a week ago, the subvariants combined accounted for 16.6 percent of COVID variants in the nation, CDC data show. But BA.5 continues to dominate variants circulating in the U.S., accounting for 49.6 percent of COVID cases, according to the latest CDC report. What About XBB? XBB is a new subvariant part of the omicron family, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has been tracking it and other concerning variants. There is limited information about the variant but early data suggest that XBB “is the most antibody-evasive” COVID variant to date, WHO officials said in a recent COVID-19 report. In an email Monday to the Phoenix, a WHO spokesperson said XBB has been identified in 35 countries, as of Oct. 25, with the “majority from Asia, though it has been reported from countries around the world.” WHO said in an email to the Phoenix: “This [XBB] variant seems to have a growth advantage from the limited data available. It has a number of mutations, some of which may make it able to evade prior immunity. This may give it the ability to cause a new wave of infection. Lab and epidemiological studies are ongoing to better understand the potential of this variant to evade prior immunity. So far there is no evidence of changed disease severity with this variant.” Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the CDC said in an email to the Phoenix last week that “we don’t have data on that yet” and didn’t confirm whether XBB has been detected in the United States. However, both Madad and Teng said there are most likely low levels of XBB in the United States. Madad said the subvariant most likely has been detected in the United States “but it has not been significant enough to be picked up on surveillance.” The federal agency did provide an alert about XBB and the other subvariants of omicron in an Oct. 21 announcement. “CDC is closely tracking a wide range of Omicron sublineages, including three drawing recent attention. BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are offshoots — grandchildren, if you will

— of the BA.5 that’s been dominant for months,” according to the CDC. “CDC data show that they seem to be spreading relatively quickly so far, but they’re still a small proportion of overall variants. CDC is also keeping a close eye on a sublineage called XBB based on international reports, although it’s still very rare in the United States.” As for XBB, the new subvariant triggered a wave of COVID cases in Singapore in October, according to a COVID update from Singapore’s Ministry of Health. The XBB subvariant was first detected in August 2022 in India, according to the ministry. But in the United States, there haven’t been many cases of XBB so far, Teng of USF said. “I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of it. It’s spreading really rapidly in Singapore,” Teng said. “They had a rise in cases and now the cases seem to be coming down.” According to a report from Fortune, “XBB has not been identified in the U.S. so far. But spinoffs of it — XBB.1, XBB.2, and XBB.3 — have, according to GISAID data. XBB.1 was first detected in the U.S. on Sept. 15 and represented 0.26% of cases genetically sequenced over the past 15 days, Raj Rajnarayanan, an assistant dean of research and associate professor

PHOTO CREDIT: Adobe Stock

at the New York Institute of Technology campus in Jonesboro, Ark., told Fortune on Monday, citing GISAID data.” GISAID is a global science initiative. Teng of USF agrees that Florida and other states across the nation will likely see a surge in COVID infections, especially due to the new subvariants. “I think we are going to start seeing that,” Teng said. “Literally, people aren’t masking. So, we are not taking a lot of precautions – not a lot of uptake in the new bivalent boosters that are actually going to provide probably the best protection. “I do expect that we are going to see a lot more infections. The problem is that we are not really tracking that as well anymore.” Issac Morgan is reporter for the Florida Phoenix, which first published this report. It appears here courtesy of NC Policy Watch/The Pulse. This article appears courtesy of our media partner NC Policy Watch/The Pulse. ::

Nov. 11 - Nov. 24, 2022

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Celebrating with the Charlotte Trans Health Group at T.H.E Night Professionals and supporters affirming transgender health care in Charlotte came together on the evening of Oct. 22 to celebrate a landmark date for the Charlotte Trans Health Group: 10 years of service. Therapists, health care providers, clients and advocates throughout the community celebrated with a benefit and party for the Charlotte Transgender Healthcare Group’s 10th Anniversary. Hosted by local comedian and digital creator, Shaine Laine, the event was aptly called “T.H.E. Night” (Trans Health for Everyone Night). T.H.E. Night was attended by approximately 160 people who showed up to mingle, dance and celebrate 10 years of creating more visible, accessible, affirming and affordable options for genderaffirming care for transgender and gender diverse individuals of all ages in Charlotte and surrounding areas, as stated described in the organization’s event details.

The fun all went down on South Boulevard at Tabbris, a co-working space also capable of hosting events. On this particular night, an enthusiastic well-dressed group of supporters had their ears tantalized by a DJ spinning tunes from back-in-the-day to current. The music was awesome and truly had folks who hadn’t been out in a while prompted to cut a rug. Well, maybe scuff a floor, Tabbris isn’t carpeted. Appetites were no doubt satiated by the open bar and a vast variety of hors d’oeuvres prior to the silent auction and in between brief speeches offered up by award recipients, care providers and community stakeholders. All attending guests weren’t locals. Clinical psychologist Lisa Griffin, PhD and founder of the group, traveled from Baltimore, Md. (she no longer lives in Charlotte), and received well deserved ac-

Holly Savoy received the inaugural “Savoy Mission Embodiment Award” for her dedication and commitment to the Charlotte Trans Healthcare Group. PHOTO CREDIT: Jerry Washington colades as a Visionary Award recipient. “Over the years, Dr. Griffin has played a key role with a number of organizations and universities as an organizer, board member and educator,” said Holly Savoy,

a Charlotte mental health professional and one of the original founding members of the Charlotte Trans Health Group. “Whether working independently or as part of a team Dr. Griffin looks to find the best outcome for all involved and truly exemplifies the core values of diversity and inclusion in all endeavors.” In the midst of thunderous applause and a few joyful teary eyes, Griffin graciously accepted her award as folks lined up to give congratulatory hugs. Savoy didn’t just make way for Griffin’s award, she also accepted one of her own. Savoy received the group’s inaugural “Savoy Mission Embodiment Award” for her dedication and commitment in furthering the mission of the Charlotte Trans Healthcare Group. During her acceptance speech Savoy thanked everyone for the amazing experience of seeing the organization come together and grow. She then reminded event attendees, “We’re here because the community need is there.” :: https://bit.ly/3zO3BsR — L’Monique King

Pastor in neighboring Tennessee says church invaded by witches and pronouns are demonic Anti-LGBTQ pastor Greg Locke of the Global Vision Bible Church in Tennessee claimed that it’s “demonic” to specify one’s pronouns, and he’s certain his church has been invaded by witches. “Every time demons speak in the Bible, they always make an emphasis out of their pronouns,” he said as the congregation cheered. “It’s what demons do!” “What’s your name? Oh it’s singular? That’s cool,” he said, acting as if he talks like that when he meets people. “How do you want me to address you?” “Us, they, them,” he responded, pretending he was trans. “You see it’s been demonic for 2000 years, and y’all wanna play games with ’em!” he shouted at the congregation. “Taking your kids on that stupid, wicked nonsense.” He then said that parents who tell their kids to respect trans people’s parents “oughtta’ be whooped” “Us, we, they, them, you born with

what you born with,” Locke said. “You a man or a woman, that’s it. Anything else is demonic! It is evil, it is perverted, it is wicked, and it is a plan, and a plot, and an attack of the enemy on our children, stop playing these stupid games.” Locke has a long history of anti-LGBTQ comments. He has said that LGBTQ people are “perverted” and want to “cram it down my kids’ throats.” He has called “transgenderism” “nonsense,” and said that LGBTQ people are “openly celebrated” and not “persecuted” like Christians. He is also known for his outlandish performance art. Two years ago, he held an Easter service where his son reenacted the crucifixion. Earlier this year, he held a literal book burning to “deliver” his flock from demons by burning books like the Harry Potter and Twilight series. During that book burning, a gay man threw the Bible into the fire and shouted

Gay penguins are back together just in time for mating season A same-sex pair of penguins has reunited for mating season at the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium in Australia. According to penguin keeper Emily Thornton, two of the aquarium’s male Gentoo penguins Klaus and Jones have been building nests together for about three or four years now. “Initially, they started building their nest in the wrong area as such, but this year, for the first time they’ve actually put it in the nesting platform area, which is really exciting. They are a couple that we’re hoping one day might actually be foster parents,” Thornton explains. “Although same-sex male pairs are unable

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to fertilize and lay an egg between themselves, Klaus and Jones can be given a ‘dummy egg’ to protect during the nesting period and practice being dads,” says Thornton. Same-sex penguin couples have paired off in zoos all over the world. “Penguins conduct [same-sex] relationships that can last a whole lifetime,” biologist Guenter Strauss explained in 2019 when the Munich Zoo highlighted a male couple of Humboldt penguins during Pride Month. Other notable examples include Sphen and Magic at Sydney’s Sea Life Aquarium, Ronnie and Reggie at ZSL London Zoo, and Thelma and Louise at Sea Life Aquarium in New Zealand.

Global Vision minister Greg Locke: ‘We ain’t afraid of you, you stinkin’ witch.’ PHOTO CREDIT: Screen Capture “I burned the Bible” and “Praise Satan” several times. Locke also claimed that he found six witches who infiltrated his church. “You better look in my eyeballs, ’cause we ain’t afraid of you, you stinkin’ witch, you devil-worshiping Satanist witch,” he said during a service in February. “We cast you out in the name of Jesus Christ. We

break your spells, we break your curse. We got your first name, we got your last name, we even got an address for one of you.” He did not name the witches. This article appears courtesy of our media partner LGBTQ Nation. :: https://bit.ly/3hf0Bz1 — Alex Bollinger

Roy and Silo, a gay chinstrap penguin couple at New York’s Central Park Zoo, even inspired the children’s book “And Tango Makes Three” after they successfully hatched an egg given to Jones (left) and Klaus are still an item at Sea Life Aquarium in Melbourne, them by zooAustralia. PHOTO CREDIT: Sea Life Melbourne/Facebook keepers. Same-sex penguin couples Aquarium in Dingle, Ireland reported that frequently foster eggs and chicks, somemost of its penguins had paired off into times stealing eggs and whole nests from same-sex couples. heterosexual couples. This story appears courtesy of our media One pair of male Magellanic penguins partner LGBTQ Nation. :: has even been dubbed the San Francisco https://bit.ly/3T7gCEL Zoo’s star parents. In 2019, Oceanworld — John Russell


news

Social Security just made it easier for Trans Folks to update their gender Kilolo Kijakazi, the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced Oct. 19, that the agency now offers people the choice to self-select their sex on their Social Security number (SSN) record. The agency has implemented this policy change and the new option is now available. “The Social Security Administration’s Equity Action Plan includes a commitment to decrease administrative burdens and ensure people who identify as gender diverse or transgender have options in the Social Security Number card application process,” said Kijakazi. “This new policy allows people to self-select their sex in our records without needing to provide docu-

mentation of their sex designation.” People who update their sex marker in the SSA’s records will need to apply for a replacement Social Security card. They will still need to show a current document to prove their identity, but they will no longer need to provide medical or legal documentation of their sex designation now that the policy change is in place. The agency will accept the applicant’s self-identified sex designation of either male or female, even if it is different from the sex designation shown on identity documents, such as a passport or North Carolina-issued driver’s license (or any state where the individual shows residence) or identity card. Social Security cards do not include sex markers.

SSA Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi: ‘This new policy allows people to self-select their sex in our records…’ PHOTO CREDIT: Facebook Currently, the SSA’s record systems are unable to include a non-binary or unspecified sex designation on any Social Securityrelated documents. The agency is exploring possible future policy and systems updates to support a gender neutral designation in the

form of an “X” designation for the Social Security card application process. To get more Social Security news, follow the Press Office on Twitter @ SSAPress. :: https://cnn.it/3zKifB7 ­ — David Aaron Moore

Charlotte-based Campus Pride launches ‘Career Connect’ Campus Pride, the nation’s premier nonprofit dedicated to building future leaders and making college and university campuses safer and more welcoming for LGBTQ+ people, announced Nov. 2 the creation of Campus Pride Career Connect, a one-stop career engagement portal creating meaningful, authentic relationships between LGBTQ young adults and prospective employers. Through this new platform, LGBTQ+ students can connect with employees for specific career prep help (or as mentors to assist on their career journey; get career prep, job skills and resources; and find jobs and internships in the fields that most interest them. “While more companies have made great strides in LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices, there still remains systemic cultural disparities and bias for LGBTQ+ people on the job and in recruitment, hiring and the search process,” said Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer.

“The idea came from several conversations with LGBTQ+ students, specifically our trans, nonbinary and queer youth of color, who shared trepidation about applying for certain jobs and the hiring processes. The Career Connect platform will create that safe space for LGBTQ+ young adults to engage with professionals via career prep help, mentorship and one on one relationships, breaking down those systemic barriers and opening up career path opportunities early-on.” LGBTQ-friendly employers will use the Career Connect platform to recruit a diverse talent pool of job candidates, connect with upcoming talent early in their college careers to build job skills and readiness, and offer their existing employees volunteer opportunities to get directly involved in helping LGBTQ+ young people as they start their career paths. “As a company that embraces diversity and has created an inclusive workplace, the implementation of the Campus Pride

LGBTQ young adults exploring their career horizons are encouraged to visit Campus Pride’s Career Connect website. PHOTO CREDIT: Screen Capture Career Connect platform will ensure that Ally is connected to the best and brightest young talent,” said Brian Roach, Senior Director of Marketing at Ally Financial. “The market is especially competitive – having the platform available to our recruitment teams will help us build relationships with a new generation of leaders as they start their careers.” “The Campus Pride Career Connect began three years ago as an idea for ways to support LGBTQ+ young people as they make the transition from school to chosen career,” said Campus Pride Board Chair Tom Elliott, a graduate of the 2008 Camp Pride Leadership Academy. “I’m so thank-

ful to all the Campus Pride staff, volunteers and board members for pushing this concept forward, and to each of our inaugural corporate partners for supporting and investing in the next generation of LGBTQ+ talent.” Campus Pride Career Connect is available at www.campuspridecareerconnect. org/. There is no cost for anyone signing up as students, connectors or as mentors. Companies and Career Centers may register as partners with a paid membership at various benefit levels to post jobs, internships, events, resources and more. :: https://bit.ly/3TbmkFs —Tom Elliott

Connie J. Vetter, Esq. Attorney at Law PLLC Your LGBTQ+ Law Attorney

Talk/Text 704-333-4000 or online

Nov. 11 - Nov. 24, 2022

Qnotes

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news

Never ending nonsense from Lt. Gov Robinson Attacks christian leaders, HHS Assistant Secretary, LGBTQ community By David Aaron Moore Qnotes Staff Writer

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n a recent report published by NC Policy Watch focusing on the close relationship shared by conservative Evangelical churches, North Carolina’s Republican party and an organization known as the American Renewal Project, we’ve learned, among other important details, that North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson is mouthing off again and apparently hoping his comments will help him capture the governor’s office.

bodiment of Klinger from ‘M*A*S*H,’” Robinson said, once again referring to Levine and misgendering her. “What was once comedy on television is a reality in the highest ranks of our government.” But Robinson didn’t stop there. He questioned why Levine was in the position. His explanation: “because God has been removed from the equation. His argument has been removed from the equation. His wisdom has been removed from the equation. Why? Because his people have withdrawn themselves from the equation. Earlier in his term as lieutenant governor, Robinson acknowledged the separation of church and state and that he was an elected official serving a secular government. He indicated he had no issues

NC Lt. Governor: ‘In this library you will not…promote sin to these children … if I have to…tear these books out myself and run that drag queen out of here…I will.’ PHOTO CREDIT: David Aaron Moore In late September Robinson made appearances at churches in Statesville and Raleigh. As one would expect, he pulled out his usual stash of attacks against LGBTQ people and anything that isn’t on par with his personal opinions. Robinson’s standard behavior has confirmed throughout his time in office that he continues to lose sight of his job requirements: He must govern for all people all the time, not just those he sees as compatible with his radical rightwing agenda. Never one to disappoint with a diatribe of attacks against multiple aspects of American culture, he took aim at Health and Human Services assistant secretary Admiral Rachel Levine, Christians accepting of secularism at large and the LGBTQ community. “We have the leader of our health and human services who is a man that dresses up like a woman,” he said during one of his church speeches. Robinson clearly has issues with getting his facts in order. Cisgender man Xavier Becerra is actually the US Secretary of Health and Human services and Levine serves as the assistant secretary. “He is literally the living reality em-

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with separating his religious beliefs from government responsibilities. That no longer seems to be the case, as he attempted to shame Christians who respect the American tradition of separation of church and state and urged them to take action to force religious beliefs into the governing arena. “No longer is a Christian willing to stand up in the college classroom and declare that God is not dead! No longer is a Christian willing to stand up at the swim meet and point down to the pool and say, ‘That is a man get him out of that pool.’ No longer is a Christian willing to grab that whip and walk into the public library and tell them, ‘In this library you will not use my tax dollars to promote sin to these children, and if I have to come in here and tear these books out myself and run that drag queen out of here myself, I will.’” Although Robinson has yet to confirm he plans to run for governor in the 2024 election cycle, he has hinted at it, without reserve. And while he has attempted to refer to his church speeches as nothing more than guest appearances in a house of worship, it has become increasingly evident he is using the religious pulpit as a means of gubernatorial campaigning. ::


news

Remembering Dan Van Mourik: 1948-2022

Former QNotes staffer, White Rabbit manager left his mark on Charlotte’s LGBTQ community By David Aaron Moore Qnotes Staff Writer

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an Van Mourik left an indelible stamp on Charlotte’s LGBTQ community. Ironically, he probably wouldn’t see it that way and even prefer to have his passing slip away quietly and relatively unnoticed. It would be an injustice, however, not to recognize the man’s contributions to our community’s growth. Van Mourik was born in Blue Island, Wisconsin on November 8, 1948, to his parents Peter and Dorothy, who preceded him in death. He attended high school in the town of Schofield, Wisconsin and graduated in 1966 from DC Everest High school.

Dan Van Mourik wasn’t much for taking pictures. This picture was augmented from his drivers license photo

Van Mourik moved to Charlotte in 1986, taking a position with Carowinds as the stage director for the entertainment theme park, which splits the borders of North and South Carolina and attacks visi-

tors from all around the globe. Friends have said that he loved the production aspect of creating entertainment for so many people, and enjoyed working with young talent that would appear each season for new productions. He often said the responsibility made him feel like a stage father. A renaissance man of many creative talents, Van Mourik would eventually leave Carowinds and make the decision to share his energy with the city’s growing LGBTQ community. In the early 1990s he served as associate editor for Qnotes. From 1992 to 2000 he would take on the dual rolls of editor and graphic designer for another local gay publication known as Blue Knights, which has since ceased publication. During the final years of Blue Knights, he would also return to Qnotes, this time offering his talents as a graphic designer from 1998 to 2000. But that wasn’t the end of his contributions to the city’s LGBTQ community. As he aged, he retained the desire to be involved and active, but in a position somewhat less cerebral. While he continued to enjoy writing as a means of creative self-expression, he kept his finger in the professional side of the business and published a number of successful romance novels, as well. In an effort to stay connected with the community on an in-person level, he eventually took a position at White Rabbit Books, where he initially worked as a sales clerk before transitioning into the store manager position. In total, he spent 10 years there, and was always ready to greet potential customers with a friendly smile and kind words. He stayed with the company until 2010, when he made the decision to retire. Another important contribution that can’t go unrecognized: in the early 1990s, during the continuing years of the AIDS pandemic, Van Mourik was a founding member of the AIDS service organization ACCESS, which was created because of challenges faced by clients with the since defunct Metrolina AIDS Project. In the years that followed, Van Mourik came to embrace his solitude and in-

Dan Van Mourik circa 1970’s

tensely private nature, finding happiness with friends and sharing with them a huge collection of films on DVD, numbering over 3,000. According to those friends, during that time Van Mourik was never happier than when he was at home in his living room, watching an old movie and having a nice dinner alone or with friends. A resourceful and frugal individual, he learned ways of stretching his economic means to cover his needs without stress. He was known among his compatriots as one of the most thorough and organized people one could encounter and revered by many as an interesting conversationalist, always easily motivated to discuss film and LGBTQ issues. Earlier this year, at the age of 73, Van Mourik discovered he was facing serious health issues, stage two lung cancer, which required surgery to remove a portion of one of his lungs. Not surprisingly, he bounced back

following the procedure with flying colors. His prognosis was good and his doctors expected that he still had many more years ahead of him. Unknown to friends, caretakers and Van Mourik, the surgery took a toll on his body that led to a fatal heart attack sometime on or around October 15, just a month short of his 74th birthday. A man who dedicated his life to contributing through creativity to the community around him and finding happiness, peace and contentment as it came his way, Van Mourik was universally supportive and subscribed to no particular faith or religion. As a result, he had no desire for a religious service of any sort, preferring only a simple cremation. While Van Mourik is no longer with us in body, the contributions he made to the LGBTQ community in Charlotte will always remain, through his creativity in performance, artistic design and the written word. ::

Nov. 11 - Nov. 24, 2022

Qnotes

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feature

How an LGBTQ conference is shaping the business job market For 25 years, Reaching Out MBA has been increasing the influence of the LGBTQ community in business by connecting students, alumni with companies By Chris Rudsill Qnotes Staff Writer

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oors open and hundreds of students fill the expansive Columbia Hall at D.C.’s infamous Washington Hilton. It’s day two of the ROMBA conference, or Reaching Out MBA’s LGBTQ+ MBA Conference, an annual event billed as the largest gathering of LGBTQ business students in the world. Workshops, panels, competitions and the expected dinners and cocktail parties compose most of the conference agenda. But for three hours on an unseasonably hot Friday afternoon in October, people are clamoring to get in front of the 95 companies looking to recruit LGBTQ graduates. The energy is difficult to explain, especially after two years of virtual gatherings. It was almost reminiscent of those trading floor photos from the 1980s and 1990s, although much more diverse than the mostly white cisgender male-dominated culture that consumed the business world then. This high energy room of activity had a feeling of hope and positivity surrounding it. I should note that proof of vaccination was required of all attendees. ROMBA celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. For Aidan Currie, executive director of Reaching Out, bringing the community back together in person was one of the highlights from this year’s conference. “This is important for many, but I think even more so for ROMBA. It is a place where members of the LGBTQ+ business community can meet en masse and feel like they can be themselves, and [also] see how others in their community have been successful.” “Every year, and this was no exception, I meet a few students who are experiencing this -- being in a room with hundreds of successful queer businesspeople for the first time -- and they are often moved to tears of happiness and amazement that they’ve finally found their people,” continued Currie. “It’s always very special.” For Annie Goodridge, who uses the pronoun they, the experience was both exciting and overwhelming. While not new to being surrounded by LGBTQ people, this was their first ROMBA experience. Annie Goodridge is the daughter of Hillary and Julia Goodridge, whose lawsuit took the spotlight in 2004 as Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriage. The “Goodridge decision” is often used as a demarcation in LGBTQ history. Their mother Julie was a keynote speaker at this year’s event and is the founder and CEO of Northstar Asset Management. It’s easy to understand how Goodridge grew up in queer spaces. “Most of the adults I have known in my life have been queer, so going into the conference I knew that my personal experience was going to be very different from my peers,” they

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ROMBA’s pre-eminent career expo hosts nearly 100 top companies looking to recruit LGBTQ MBA and graduate talent. PHOTO CREDIT: Keelyn Oxley, Reaching Out MBA said. “I have felt welcomed by the community my whole life, but it is very easy to feel isolated and alone when you work in a place that has 210+ employees and you’re one of three queer people there.” “The conference was the first time I’d been around so many queer people who are my age,” they said. “I felt very validated by the whole experience, particularly on the heels of feeling so out of place with both my work background and my identity in a business school.” Previously Goodridge worked for the state auditor’s office in Massachusetts but wants to move into a management role in public health. Goodridge said ROMBA has a way of reminding you that other LGBTQ people are pursuing similar paths in life. Currently a dual MBA and master’s in public health degree candidate at Boston University, they were one of two ROMBA fellows from the university to attend this year’s event. “I thought it was great so many businesses were there recruiting,” they said. Goodridge was excited for the opportunity to talk with some pharma companies and got to speak with Biogen, known as a pioneer in LGBTQ inclusion. Many of the companies at ROMBA don’t traditionally recruit on college campuses and their experience here is focused on reaching LGBTQ applicants. As an example, the Cambridge-based biotechnology company Biogen set out to increase representation of people identifying as veterans, people with disabilities and LGBTQ by 30% in its United States operations last year. They collect self-reported employee data and understand the barriers that still exist. A representative for the company told the Boston Business Journal that they took programming virtual in an effort to bolster LGBTQ employees

Nov. 11- Nov. 24, 2022

internally as well as supporting external initiatives “including the fight against a slate of bills that threaten to limit health care protections for transgender kids.” Approximately 1,800 people attended this year’s in-person conference. Of that number 1,000 were current MBAs and 100 post-MBAs, according to Currie. Out of the 700 corporate partners who at-

conference for women and organized by women each Spring. • Club Leadership Summit brings together leaders of LGBTQ+ clubs at business schools around the world. The next summit is in Chicago this April. • The ROMBA LGBTQ+ Fellowship is a joint effort between prominent business school programs and Reaching Out to develop the out LGBTQ+ business leaders of tomorrow. Fellows receive a minimum $20,000 scholarship and access to leadership programming, including a Fellowship Retreat each summer. • Summer Treks provide LGBTQ MBA students the chance to visit the offices or headquarters of Reaching Out’s corporate partners. These “day in the life” experiences run through June and July each summer and focus on finance, consulting, technology, marketing/retail and healthcare. Much of that programming, including the ROMBA Conference, is developed by students. Dillon Patel is one of twelve student organizers this year. It is Reaching Out’s way of ensuring that events continue to provide relevant and timely programming. Students are selected from leading business schools and are responsible for setting themes, developing content and innovating event formats. Patel attends the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the school’s second Prism Fellow.

Panelists and session leaders represent top LGBTQ and ally students and professionals in the business world. PHOTO CREDIT: Keelyn Oxley, Reaching Out MBA

tended, he estimates that 20% are also post-MBAs who got recruited at previous ROMBA conferences. Student Leadership Reaching Out hosts a variety of national and regional events for business students and alumni through the year. • Out Women in Business (OWIB) is a

Established in 2019, the Prism Fellowship awards a full-tuition scholarship to one MBA student who demonstrates leadership in support of the LGBTQ+ community. You may also recognize his name from Bravo’s docu-series Family Karma. The show, which just premiered its third season, chronicles the lives of multi-generational Indian-American families in Miami, including Patel’s, as they balance modern


life with their traditional upbringings. Planning the conference includes weekly calls, a planning trip to Washington, D.C., and some final organizing just before the conference kicks off. Each student organizer leads a track of sessions and then takes the lead in organizing one of the individual sessions. Having developed his personal online apparel shop, DilPop.com, and having worked at Instagram shopping this past summer, Patel led a session on the evolution of eCommerce that included speakers from Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, OpenStore and fellow Wharton MBA candidate Anjali Rajgopal. Student organizers also have a speaking position at the conference. For Patel, that meant introducing his friend and actor and writer Kal Penn, who delivered the keynote address at ROMBA’s Marquee Dinner. They met because of the Bravo show that Penn has admittedly been a big fan of, tweeting before episodes and appearing on an Instagram Live chat with a few cast members. One of the main benefits of the conference for Patel is representation, which he easily relates to his time in the spotlight. Having been one of the few South Asian queer people on television, he’s received hundreds of messages from people telling him how much it means to see someone like them in a way that they haven’t before. “In order to really know you belong in different places, I think you need to see people like you, not just in those roles, but succeeding and leading in those roles,” he said. “This conference really gives folks a chance to do that, in a way that doesn’t happen otherwise.” Patel points out that ROMBA does a good job of making sure that representation isn’t just about gay men, either. It’s something that Currie says is important to continue working on in years to come. When asked about plans for next year when the conference will be in Chicago, he said in addition to providing more facilitated and networking opportunities, he wants to “continue to create a diverse set of speakers so that everyone in our community sees themselves and feels welcome and supported.” “It’s great to see that it wasn’t just at the attendee level,” said Patel noting that diversity showed up at the panelist level and at the organizer level. There was a visible attendance of LGBTQ people of color at the conference and while transgender women seemed to be lacking somewhat, ROMBA created a space that felt inclusionary for all. According to a 2015 New York Times story, ROMBA’s then executive director Matt Kidd said he could count on one hand every year the number of out transgender students who attended the conference. Harvard Business School’s first openly transgender student came out publicly in 2013 and just this year, Jude Watson, a student at UC Berkely’s Haas School of Business, reportedly became the first out transgender student body –president of a top-10 business school in the country. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, more than one in four transgender people have lost a job due to bias and more than three-fourths have experienced some form of workplace discrimination. Patel worries that the next generation of gay men are not truly integrated within the wider queer community but sees progress when the community faces external challenges. He attended Duke University, gradu-

Dillon Patel and actor/writer/activist Kal Penn stop for a photo before the Marquee Dinner on This is a caption and it will go under photos with an awesome tint box to bring a more dynamic October 8 at the Washington Hilton, where Penn gave the keynote address. look to photos and other features. (Photo Credit: Photographer Name) PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Dillon Patel ating in 2016 – the year of Pat McCrory’s “bathroom bill,” or HB2. “I think having these organizational structures that specifically are about queer rights, LGBTQ issues, coupled with some challenges, does breed a sense of community that is especially strong,” Patel said. Being in North Carolina during that time created a sense of respect for the progressive activism that’s happening across the country. His experiences are a clear sign of ROMBA’s strategy too, especially as it works to make sure the conference is continually evolving and addressing the challenges that LGBTQ people face in the workforce. After Duke, Patel went on to San Francisco where he worked in technology. He eventually landed at Zendesk, where he led the company’s LGBTQ Employee Resource Group, Pride ERG. “I got really involved with understanding the things that queer people need in the workforce,” he said. The first thing that Patel points out are the tangible benefits – workplace protections, healthcare, resources – the things that are affirming the rights of LGBTQ employees. “At a higher level, that includes trans reaffirming gender surgery and fertility benefits.” While at Zendesk, Patel led the company to apply for HRC’s “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.” The HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index is the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies, practices and benefits for LGBTQ employees. In 2022, 842 businesses met all the criteria to earn a 100 percent rating and the coveted designation. “HRC will update their guidance from time to time,” said Patel, noting that they recently announced the implementation of trans-inclusive health care coverage as a component of a company’s score for future ratings. They are giving a two-year period for companies to increase this competency before the change takes effect. “I like that it’s constantly checking – are we still doing the best that we can?

And realizing that the goal line will change, and that’s okay,” he said. When you look at the larger context of businesses – the 842 businesses in HRC’s list or the 95 corporate recruiters at ROMBA, steps like this are how we progress. “I think it’s making sure that queer employees are not just tolerated, but actually have those resources for growth, and actually see themselves at every level of leadership,” said Patel. Getting the Job Offer Sessions at ROMBA run the gamut from networking to consulting, fintech to the future of healthcare. There are competitions too for strategy: mergers, acquisitions and startups. There were over 35 different sessions at this year’s event. If you stepped away from the hustle of the session rooms, you come across the hotel’s President’s Walk, a long hallway that wraps behind the hotel’s International Ballroom, and in the case of ROMBA the direction for many job-seeking attendees. The hall is lined with portraits of every president and first lady of the United States and has historically given the president easy backstage access to events. Talk about a confidence booster. Just off the hallway, a door opened to the “Interview Zone.” Dozens of curtained off rooms lined a winding path, each with a six-foot table and four chairs. Blue LED lights cast a calming glow. In corners you could hear candidates highlighting their experience and talking about how they can add to a company’s culture and success. Recruitment is a big part of the conference. Sixty percent percent of the companies at ROMBA hold either coffee chats or interviews with MBAs or grads during the event. These conversations and interviews are by invite only and according to organizers, many of the invitations are sourced from job boards or from companies screening through the resumes of attendees.

Patel points out how important this can be, especially for students who don’t go to one of the top-ten schools, saying many people wouldn’t get an opportunity with these firms outside of ROMBA. “It’s a two-way street as well, those firms have access to talent that they wouldn’t be able to access otherwise,” said Patel. He said that people beg to come to the conference because they have such nostalgia for how incredible their ROMBA experience was. In 2020, the group did a survey of MBA candidates who had attended the conference. • 89.7% of job-seeking attendees got coffee chats or interviews during ROMBA (2016-2019) • 27% of job-seeking attendees received job offers by attending ROMBA • Twice as many people were accepted into internships from ROMBA. • The top hiring industries at ROMBA between 2016-2019 were consulting, marketing/brand management, finance and technology. For Patel, he is seeking a job in a startup, so he wasn’t really seeking job interviews at this year’s conference. He is in his second year at Wharton so it’s a period that he says comes with some uncertainty. “Startup recruiting doesn’t really happen until the spring so I think I just need to go into this spring with an absurd level of confidence that I will land a job,” he said. He’s prioritizing startups in the software and eCommerce space. “But honestly, it’s a weird period of not knowing and I think that’s okay.”

First-time attendee, Annie Goodridge is pursuing a dual MBA/MPH degree at Boston University. PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Annie Goodridge

Goodridge plans to come back to ROMBA next year and seek job opportunities after her second year of school finishes. “The culture of any workplace is still incredibly important to me – can I bring my full self to work, or will I feel pressured to conform?” said Goodridge. “Are there other out people that work in the office I’ll be working in? Are there queer people in leadership positions? Does the company donate to politicians who actively harm the queer community? These are all important things I consider, and the beauty of a place like ROMBA is a lot of those questions are answered for me just by companies being there, bringing their queer employees and financially supporting the event.” ::

Nov. 11 - Nov. 24, 2022

Qnotes

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news

Jack Knoxville started Trans Empowerment Project North Carolina resident is an LGBTQ Nation 2022 Hometown Hero By Greg Owen |Contributing Writer

Jack Knoxville, 43, is the founder of the Trans Empowerment Project, a non-profit based in Jacksonville, N.C. with a mission to “ensure that our most marginalized community members, disabled queer and trans people of color, can thrive and live their best lives.” Knoxville, an Afro-Latino trans man on the autism spectrum, counts himself among the members of the community he rallies and serves. “I’ve pretty much grown up living out of my backpack,” Knoxville told LGBTQ Nation. “I’ve actually been on my own since I was about 14.” He began to recognize his gender identity in his 20s, in the midst of a relationship with a woman. “I’m watching this Netflix doc, you know, listening to all these trans people telling their stories. I was like, oh my God, whoa, finally, my people.” He started his transition in his namesake city a few years later. In Tennessee, and the South in general, Knoxville says trans people of color “face every boundary you can imagine. People don’t want us to exist.” First and foremost, he says, “is the racial aspect of it. Because there’s a lot of things we can hide, but we can’t hide our race. And so right away, the deck is stacked against us.” Add to that any kind of disabil-

Says trans people of color ‘face every boundary you can imagine...’ PHOTO CREDIT: Facebook ity, and “it can feel very daunting.” In Tennessee, Knoxville couldn’t get hormone replacement therapy (HRT), so travel across state lines to a Planned Parenthood clinic in North Carolina to start the work of his transition was required. After hearing stories of dysphoria, depression and isolation from people in similar circumstances in East Tennessee, Knoxville was inspired to organize the first event of what would become the Trans Empowerment Project (TEP): a clothing swap, offering trans folks a free, gender-

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affirming event with music, speakers and like-minded community. Since that night in 2016, TEP has grown to be one of the largest providers of aid and programming for the trans community in the United States, with three main areas of focus: The group provides access to “basic needs” in the form of direct aid for emergency food, gender-affirming clothing deliveries and transportation to safe shelter, among other services; they sponsor an inmate advocacy program which provides commissary and care packages, genderaffirming undergarments and legal assistance and help with job placement after release; and the Take Back the Narrative program, a storytelling initiative designed, in Heather’s words, to “amplify the stories of folks in this community, the struggles they face, the joys they find, and take back the mic” from “the GOP and right-wing extremist painting the trans community as dangerous or delusional or predatory.” A few years before he transitioned, Jack was on a job in Myrtle Beach, S.C., photographing dancers at a club there, when he was introduced to Heather for the first time. “Jack was very nervous when we met,” she recalls, “and I was just very bold, and was like, ‘Are you gay or bi or anything because I think you’re really cute.’ And that just kind of went from there.” The two dated for a minute, but life got in the way. “Neither of us was in the best living situation,” says Jack. “She had gotten off work one day only to find out that her

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Heather and Jack Knoxville. PHOTO CREDIT: Facebook

mom had gotten them kicked out of the hotel they were living in. And so we got separated. We were separated for 13 years.” In 2019, as Heather was exiting an abusive marriage, Jack had found stability. “You know, I got my house, my job, my car, my dog,” Jack thought to himself on the day he moved into his new place. “Now I just need my girl.” At a stop sign, “I got a text from Heather saying, ‘Hey, I left my husband.’ I said, ‘Cool. I just bought a house. Let’s do this.’” Soon enough, Heather was all in with Jack, and TEP, as well, where she’s now the communications and fundraising director. Heather says Jack has enabled her “to really learn and grow in the spaces that I wanted to. And he has done that for everyone on the Trans Empowerment Project team who has shown interest in growing their skills and maybe learning something that doesn’t really align with what they had been doing previously. A lot of the folks who are on our paid staff now were people who came in as volunteers with not a whole lot of experience, but a lot of passion for the community and what we were doing.” Those providing the services at TEP are just as important to the project’s mission as the clients, says Jack, and the foundation of an even more ambitious goal. “The bigger focus for us is not on structural change, as much as it is cultural change,” Jack says. “Anybody with a big enough eraser can come along and get rid of that structural change. But what you cannot change so quickly is that cultural change. If we could, white supremacy wouldn’t exist, but it does, because these are the cultures and behaviors that have been handed down for generations. But the future hasn’t been built yet,” he says. “We’re building the future right now. And it’s really just about helping to empower everybody who comes across this organization and to help them realize that no matter what your past is, no matter what your story has been, you have the ability to write it from here on out. How do you want to show up?” This feature appears courtesy of our media partner LGBTQ Nation. ::

CONNECT. ENGAGE. EMPOWER. To Become a Member or Partner: 704.837.4050 www.clgbtcc.org info@clgbtcc.org

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Nov. 11- Nov. 24, 2022


views

Transgender in the Bible Spiritual Reflection

Reverend Dawn Flynn |Contributing Writer

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ithin the last 8-10 years, there has been an increased awareness of the transgender community. The increased awareness is due to a number of reasons including (1) famous people “coming out” as transgender including Chaz Bono, Laverne Cox, and Caitlyn Jenner; (2) increased number of TV shows including transgender cast members; (3) increased number of books about the

featured in the Bible including Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, and Rome. The Apostle Philip, directed by the Holy Spirit, baptized an Ethiopian eunuch as recorded in Acts 8:26-39. That act, by the Apostle Philip, to an individual who was a eunuch at the time of his baptism, clearly says God accepts eunuchs into the Kingdom of God. A eunuchs was the transgender equivalent in the Bible there-

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transgender community; (4) increased number of documentaries showing the trials of the transgender journey; and (5) unfortunately, increased number of stories in the news of transgender murders. As the awareness has increased, so has persecution and denial of basic human rights to the marginalized transgender community. Since earliest known records, eunuchs have been known to be present in many cultures, functioning as domestic servants, operators in acts of espionage, guards, government officials, and servants in harems. Eunuchs are mentioned many times in the Bible including in Isaiah 56:4 where the Hebrew word (saris) is used. Even though the Hebrews did not practice castration, eunuchs were common in other cultures

fore, by the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, God is affirming transgender people as members in the Kingdom of God. Jesus says, in Matthew 19:12, “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have been made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”. This statement by Jesus has numerous interpretations but it is most commonly interpreted as be an affirmation of eunuchs being members of God’s Kingdom. So, for all people who are Christians, the Holy Scripture affirms God’s love for you and God’s acceptance of you just the way you are. Walk proudly as a child of God. ::

We care about you and your family. The new COVID-19 booster is free and now available at Mecklenburg County Public Health locations and at most pharmacies in our community. Make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations and take a COVID test before gathering. If you test positive, stay home and get treatment. Visit our website or call our hotline for more information and to find vaccination locations near you. Covid doesn’t care, but we do.

PUBLIC HEALTH HOTLINE: 980-314-9400 HEALTH.MECKNC.GOV

Nov. 11 - Nov. 24, 2022

Qnotes

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news

In Memorium: Honoring those lost over the past year The number of transgender and non-binary violent deaths continue to soar By Mykah Buff|Contributing Writer

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he last three years have been followed with record highs of transgender and non-binary violent deaths, with 2020 being the the worst recorded year in history for murders and violence of these often underreported hate crimes. According to Human Rights Campaign (HRC), “2022 has already seen at least 32 transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means.” “We say ‘at least’ because too often these stories go unreported — or misreported,” HRC added. “In previous years, the majority of these people were Black and Latinx transgender women,” said HRC. In 2021, HRC said there was an unprecedented number of violent fatal incidents against transgender and non-binary people — with the number of fatalities tracked being 50. “These victims, like all of us, are loving partners, parents, family members, friends and community members,” said HRC. “They worked, went to school and attended houses of worship. They were real people — people who did not deserve to have their lives taken from them,” HRC stated. Qnotes would like to honor the memory of our trans and non-binary brothers and sisters, as the death toll of these individuals, who have been violently murdered, has increased by 38 within the span of one year.

the first confirmed violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2022. Duval Princess Duval Princess, 24, was just beginning to live as her authentic self at the time of her death Jan. 3, 2022. She was a wellknown hairstylist and active member of the LGBTQ+ community in Jacksonville, Florida, where she was killed. Family members, friends and clients remembered her on social media days after her passing, referring to her as being “so sweet and genuine.” Matthew Angelo Spampinato Matthew Angelo Spampinato, a 21-yearold white trans man, was a victim of a hit-and-run car crash in New Castle, Del., on Feb. 9, 2022. Spampinato worked as a barista at Starbucks and was described as bright and kind by employees. One coworker said, “He was always so selfless. He would always ask how everybody was doing even when he wasn’t having a good day himself.

In Memory of Those We Have Lost Angel Naira Angel Naira was found fatally shot at her home in Aliquippa, Pa., on Nov. 11, 2021. Naira’s death was reportedly the 47th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021. With Naira’s death, HRC had already recorded five cases of fatal violence from Pennsylvania that year, previously reporting on Chyna Carillo, Jeffrey “JJ” Bright, Jasmine Cannady and Whispering Wind Bear Spirit. Danyale Thompson

Sasha Mason was shot and killed May 12, 2022, in Zebulon, North Carolina. PHOTO CREDIT: HRC

Memphis on Nov. 13, 2021, marking the 48th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021. Regrettably, Thompson was misgendered in the initial news report at the time of her death. Nikai David Nikai David, a 33-year-old Black transgender woman, was a model and aspiring social media influencer who dreamed of opening her own clothing boutique. Nikai was killed in the early hours of Dec. 4, 2021, in Oakland, Calif. She had just celebrated her birthday a week before her death. According to a news report, police officers responded to a shooting on Castro Street in West Oakland where they found Nikai suffering from gunshot wounds. She died at the scene. Her death was likely the 50th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021.

Martina Caldera Martina Caldera, according to her family, was “an amazing person, had the best personality, and called everyone on their Danyale Thompson, 32, was killed in Memphis, Tenbirthdays.” A Latina transgender nessee on November 13, 2021. PHOTO CREDIT:HRC woman, she was found fatally shot in Houston, Texas, on December 6, 2021. Caldera’s death was thought to be the 56th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming Danyale Thompson, a 35-year-old person in 2021. transgender female of color was killed in

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Nov. 11- Nov. 24, 2022

Za’niyah Williams Za’niyah Williams was found dead on Dec. 20, 2021, after a hit and run car crash in Houston, Texas. Williams’ death was likely the 52nd violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021. Ke’Yahonna Stone Ke’Yahonna Stone, a 32-year-old Black transgender woman died on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, after having been taken off life support for an injury inflicted on her two days prior. Her death marks the 51st violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021. Nikki Turietta Nikki Turietta was found fatally shot in Albuquerque, N.M., on Dec. 31, 2021. Her death was the 53rd recorded violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021. Amariey Lei Amariey Lei, a 19-year Black transgender woman also known as Myara, was a dancer her entire life and graduated from Woodland Hills High School in Wilkinsburg, a borough bordering Pittsburgh, Pa. A beloved coach for the Lady Diamonds, a hip-hop and majorette dance team, she strived to instill positivity and confidence in other young dancers. Tragically, Amariey Lei’s “vibrant soul,” as her family described it, was senselessly taken away. Her death on Jan. 1 in Wilkinsburg marks

Naomie Skinner, Naomie Skinner, a 25-year-old Black transgender woman, was described by a friend as being a “very outstanding person.” Her sister said Naomie lived a “fabulous life.” Naomie was fatally shot by her boyfriend on Feb. 12, 2022, near Detroit in Highland Park, Mich. Cypress Ramos Cypress Ramos, a 21-year-old trans woman and drag performer, loved her local LGBTQ+ community in Lubbock, Texas. She was found dead on Feb. 13, 2022. Paloma Vazquez Paloma Vazquez, 29, a Latina transgender woman living in Houston, Texas, was a member of the Organización Latina de Trans en Texas, an organization for Latina trans women based in Houston. She was fatally shot on Feb. 22, 2022. On social media, the founder of the organization wrote, “Vuela alto Paloma y que no te alcance nunca más el odio de este mundo. Descansa en paz,” which translates to, “Fly high Paloma and may the hatred of this world never reach you again. Rest in peace.” Tatiana Labelle Tatiana Labelle, a 33-year-old Black transgender woman, was a Chicago native who was loved by her friends and family. She was a fan of Mariah Carey and Patti Labelle. On March 18, 2022, Labelle was found dead in Chicago. Although details are currently unclear, her death has been ruled a homicide and detectives are continuing to investigate. Kenyatta ‘Kesha” Webster Kenyatta ‘Kesha” Webster, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in Jackson, Miss., on Saturday, March 26, 2022. She had just turned 24 in February. On April 1, more than a hundred people attended the balloon release honoring


Webster. There, Webster’s mother passionately called for justice for her daughter’s death. “She had plenty of love. She didn’t deserve that.” Kathryn “Katie” Newhouse

free-spirited. The 29-year-old trans woman was known to bring joy to everyone around. Her friends remember her making others feel valued wherever she went. Fern Feather was killed in Morristown, Vt., on April 12, 2022. Ray Muscat Ray Muscat, a 24-year old white trans man who worked at a grocery store was described by coworkers as a “kind soul who had a glowing smile.” On May 8, 2022, Muscat was shot and killed by his girlfriend in Independence Township, Mich. According to police reporters, Muscat’s girlfriend also killed her brother and her body was found the next day; she died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Kathryn ‘Katie’ Newhouse, a 19-year-old Asian-American trans woman was murdered on March 19, 2022 in Canton, Georgia. PHOTO CREDIT: HRC

Kathryn “Katie” Newhouse, a 19-year-old Asian-American neurodivergent transgender woman, was an Illinois native who had a passion for hiking, sightseeing and advocating for trans rights. On March 19, 2022, she was killed by her father in Georgia before he died by suicide using the same weapon. Miia Love Parker Miia Love Parker, a 25-year-old Black trans woman, was fatally shot in Chester, Pa., on April 1, 2022. She was a bright light in many lives and was also a fan of the TV series “Pose.” Ariyanna Mitchell

Sasha Mason Sasha Mason, a 45-year-old Latina transgender woman, was part of a large, loving family. She was a beloved family member and friend to many. On May 13, 2022, Sasha was shot and killed in Zebulon, N.C. Sasha’s death suspected to be the 16th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2022. Sasha’s friends and family have shared on social media that she will be remembered as a sweet, kind and generous person with a beautiful smile who cherished her friends and family. Nedra Sequence Morris Nedra Sequence Morris, a 50-year-old Black transgender woman, was “strong, feisty, opinionated” and loved talking to her many friends on the phone. On May 14, 2022, Morris was fatally shot in Opa-locka, Fla. More than 100 people held a vigil at an intersection where Morris’ body was found. A cousin spoke at the memorial, stating “We pray, that God speaks to us, we don’t go out with a vengeance, that we know justice will be served.” Maddie Hofmann Maddie Hofmann, a 47-year-old trans woman born in Korea and raised in the United States by their adoptive family, was killed by police in Malvern, Pa., on May 19, 2022. According to a GoFundMe organized by a family friend, Maddie was one of six siblings. They had a deep bond with their younger sister, Emily, who was also adopted from Korea.

Ariyanna Mitchell, aged just 17, was shot multiple times April 2, 2022, while attempting to prevent an argument in Hampton, Virginia. PHOTO CREDIT: HRC

Ariyanna Mitchell, a 17-year-old Black transgender teen, was a junior at East End Academy in Newport News, Va., and a member of the Triple E (Electra Eagles Elite) Dance Academy. Her family recalled that “She was truly unique, funny and loved by everyone. There was never a dull moment when Ariyanna was around.” She was shot multiple times and died April 2, 2022, in Hampton, Va., while attempting to protect a friend and diffuse an argument. Fern Feather Fern Feather, who used both she/hers and they/them pronouns, was kind and

Chanelika Y’Ella Dior Hemingway Chanelika Y’Ella Dior Hemingway was known for a smile as bright as her future according to news reports. She was born and raised in Guilderland, N.Y., and was close with her mom, cousins and her niece, according to PGH Lesbian Correspondents. She graduated from Albany High School and studied at Hudson Valley Community College. She turned 30 at the beginning of May. She has just graduated from the University of Albany with a bachelor’s degree where she was the recipient of a 2022 Spellman Academic Achievement Award before she was murdered in Albany on May 31, 2022. Brazil Johnson Brazil Johnson, 28, a Black trans woman, was a passionate LGBTQ+ activist, a beloved daughter and a talented chef. In an interview with CBS58 News, the mother of Brazil Johnson, Bernita Gildart, said

her daughter was a passionate chef and that the kitchen was like a haven for her. Johnson was killed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 15, 2022.

Transgender Justice Initiative. “She should still be alive today to embrace those she loved and continue living a bright and full life.”

Shawmaynè Giselle Marie Shawmaynè Giselle Marie, a 27-year-old Black transgender woman, was born and raised in Gulfport and attended Gulfport High School. She worked as a personal care assistant and as a certified nursing assistant for almost four years. She was shot and killed in Gulfport, Miss., on June 21, 2022. On social media, her family and friends remembered her as a “loving, funny, kind and genuine person.”

Kandii Reed Kandii Reed, who also went by Kamila Marie Swann and Dee Dee, was killed in Kansas City on July 24, 2022. Information on her personal life is scarce, although we know enough to say that the 29-year-old Black trans woman was a model and a performer who was doubtlessly loved and appreciated by those closest to her.

Kitty Monroe Kitty Monroe, age unknown, a Black trans woman, was a beloved friend and loving mom to her four small dogs named Chyna, Milan, Tokyo and London whom she posted countless photos of on social media. She was killed outside Memphis in Cordova, Tenn., on June 29, 2022. Cherry Bush Cherry Bush lived in the Sylmar neighborhood of Los Angeles, Calif., where she was experiencing homelessness. At 48-years-old, Bush was shot and killed on July 5, 2022. On social media, her brother called her his “oldest friend.” Martasia Richmond Martasia Richmond was a Black transgender woman killed in Chicago on July 11, 2022, and pronounced dead early on the morning of July 12, 2022. On social media, numerous tributes poured in for Richmond, confirming how much she was loved. Of her passing, HRC’s Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper said, “At 30 years old, she should have decades ahead of her to spend with those she loved. Her death was not only unjust but part of an alarming trend of anti-transgender violence in Chicago and in this country at-large.” Keshia Chanel Geter

Hayden Davis Hayden Davis’ interests were wideranging, from fashion and the Kardashians to skincare and makeup. Her smile was bright and she had an active presence on social media. The 28-year-old Black trans woman was shot and killed in Detroit on July 25, 2022. Marisela Castro Marisela Castro was planning a birthday party celebration with friends and family. Tragically, on July 29, the eve of her birthday, Marisela was shot and killed in the North Shore neighborhood in Houston, Texas. According to her friend Jorge Luis Lizardo, who spoke to the Houston Chronicle, she was a “bright and sunny person who had never made enemies.” Acey Morrison Acey Morrison, a 30-year-old two-spirit person, was a ”kind hearted, down to earth, joyous, respectful and loving soul” who was a “helpful and giving person who was always there for her family and friends.” She was shot dead in Rapid City, S.D., on Aug. 21. Dede Ricks Dede Ricks, a 33-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Detroit on Aug. 27, 2022. Just before 3:40 a.m., Dede was found dead in her home in Detroit with gunshot wounds. A suspect has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office. Mya Allen Mya Allen, also known as Regina Allen, was a 35-year-old Black transgender woman who was full of joy and laughter. Mya was active on social media, often posting selfies of her beautiful outfits and makeup. She was also a member of Sisters Helping Each Other Battle Adversity (SHEBA), a local advocacy, empowerment and support group for Black transgender women. Mya was killed on Aug. 29 in Milwaukee, Wis.

Keshia Chanel Geter was shot and killed in Augusta, Georgia,on July 20, 2022. PHOTO CREDIT: HRC

Keshia Chanel Geter, a 26-year-old Black transgender woman, was traveling with a friend when she was fatally shot in Augusta, Ga., on July 20, 2022, outside a motel. Initial reports from local media misgendered Keshia. “Keshia Chanel Geter lived her truth as a Black transgender woman, said Tori Cooper, HRC’s Director of Community Engagement for the

Semaj Billingslea Semaj Billingslea, a 33-year-old trans man, graduated from Florida Youth Academy before attending Florida State College at Jacksonville. He was a fan of Megan Thee Stallion and cared deeply about his friends. On Sept. 21, Billingslea was killed in Jacksonville, Fla. Tiffany Banks Tiffany Banks, a 25-year-old Black trans woman, has been remembered by family and friends as a “sociable and beautiful butterfly.” Killed in Miami on Oct. 1, her death is the fourth known killing of a Black transgender person in Florida in 2022. ::

Nov. 11 - Nov. 24, 2022

Qnotes

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Woke up dead Screen Savor

By Gregg Shapiro Qnotes Staff Writer

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s gay movies about extremely unlikeable lead characters with no redeeming facets (except, maybe, for a large endowment) go, “Waking Up Dead” (Breaking Glass Pictures) is amusing, sexy, and even more than a little touching. Before the credits roll, one-named writer/ director Terracino surprises us, even brings us close to tears. “Waking Up Dead” spans four days in the life of out-of-work gay actor Danny (Gabriel Sousa), who is at the end of his rope, so to speak. At 35, he’s struggling to get cast in anything, and it’s been five years since his previous TV role. But that’s not the worst of it. Danny’s boyfriend Eddy (Caio Ara) discovers that he’s been unfaithful (Danny has a problem with fidelity) and moves out. Danny’s sister Sabrina (Angelic Zambara), keeps calling him with updates on their dying, former drug addict mother, whom Danny hasn’t seen in 20 years. Additionally, Danny’s being evicted from his apartment, creditors are after him, and his mobile phone service is being

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cut off for non-payment. Adding insult to injury, Karen (Jordan Roberts) thinks she recognizes Danny from a movie or TV, and then goes on to misidentify him as Latinx actors Guillermo Diaz and Victor Rasuk. Danny’s friend Tony (Joe Cameron) offers him a place to stay for a few days, to give him a chance to get himself together. But he spends more time masturbating than meditating, with his nose buried in Grindr instead of putting it to the grindstone. He also vapes a lot of weed. In addition to Sabrina, Danny has other influential women in his life. Actress and good friend Ilana (Cody Renee Cameron) offers support and encouragement. Social media life coach Raven (Patricia McKenzie) provides Danny with useful tools and affirmations for achieving his goals. His agent Phyllis (Traci Lords) does what she can to secure him auditions, but he real-

Nov. 11- Nov. 24, 2022

izes that she doesn’t necessarily have his best interests at heart. Former actress turned realtor Lila (Judy Geeson) is the one with the best advice, but Danny is reluctant to accept any of it. There are also negative influences, including buddy Antonio (Nelson Arrieta, Jr.), who is having his own gay relationship issues, and drug dealer Jacob (Ed Morrone). In the midst of an attempted suicide, Danny gets a call from Phyllis’ assistant informing him of Shonda Rhimes’ interest in him for a new series pilot. Seeing it as an opportunity to turn his life around, Danny vows to live up to his wasted potential. But his insecurity and constant self-sabotaging puts everything in jeopardy. Terracino and his team of actors, especially Sousa and Geeson, give this indie feature their all, and while it’s far from perfect, “Waking Up Dead” won’t put you to sleep. Rating: C+ ::


a&e

Opportunity fund awards $250k+ for arts and culture projects Thirteen creative projects across city to receive money By Lawrence Corley |Contributing Writer

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he City of Charlotte’s Arts and Culture Advisory Board awarded a total of $251,000 in grants to 13 local arts and culture projects October 27. The awards are the latest grants from Opportunity Fund, which supports local arts and culture projects, programs and initiatives that may fall outside existing grant cycles or structures in the CharlotteMecklenburg area. Projects must also meet the goals and guidelines of the larger Infusion Fund, which is a partnership of the city, Foundation For The Carolinas and private donors to support arts and culture through June 2024. Having awarded nearly $400,000 from the Opportunity Fund in the current fiscal year, the advisory board also voted Tuesday to pause its acceptance of any new grant requests while it evaluates the fund’s progress to date and fine-tunes the grant request process. Requests made by applicants who have already submitted letters of intent and who have been invited to submit a full proposal may be considered in November for grants from the remaining funding. Those full proposals must be received by Nov. 3 to be considered for an award. “The amount of funding requests the board received since launching in early September, totaling far more than $400,000, shows the need for innovative tools like the Opportunity Fund that fill gaps in local funding,” said Priya Sircar, the city’s arts and culture officer. “We will now consider the best next step for the fund, and we look forward to opening new opportunities in 2023.” Latest Recipients of Opportunity Fund Grants 10-Minute Play Festival by the African

Q-mmunity

connections

A showcase for Black LGBTQ artisans, artists and performers, The Queen Sugar Bash is a recipient of an $18,500 grant from Charlotte’s Arts and Culture Advisory Board. CREDIT: Screen Capture

American Playwrights Group and the Performing Arts and Literary Society. • A festival of one-act, 10-minute plays written by members of the African American Playwrights Group. • Grant amount: $5,000. 2023-2024 dance and circus performances by Caroline Calouche & Co. and the Charlotte Cirque and Dance Center. • Performances include “Clara’s Trip: A Cirque and Dance Nutcracker Story,” the cabaret-style “Rouge,” and “Stargazer: A Trek Into Outer Space.” • Grant amount: $25,000. Culture Bearers Artist Residency by QC Family Tree. • A 12-week residency program in Enderly Park focused on Black artists and producing cultural content that reflects the Enderly Park community. • Grant amount: $17,500. Fresh2Death by CrownKeepers • A series of curated events that highlight the impact of, and educate

people about, Black culture. • Grant amount: $30,000. Hunnid Dollar Art Fair by BLMRKTCLT. • An entry-level art fair with accessible price points to introduce young people of color to art collecting. • Grant amount: $20,000. “Move to Live; Migrate to Survive: A Woman’s Dancing Body” by Movement Migration. • Original dance and musical works by choreographers and composers who identify as women. • Grant amount: $20,000. Queen Sugar Bash by Holiday Wish Foundation. • A showcase for Black LGBTQ+ performing artists to be seen, heard, followed, and fairly compensated. • Grant amount: $18,500. Street Culture Arte led by Jose Valentin Ramirez Cardiel. • A collaboration of Latinx artists to create public murals in Charlotte

that celebrate Latin culture. • Grant amount: $20,000. “The Flirt Bar” produced by Charlotte’s OffBroadway. • A concert reading of “The Flirt Bar” by Susan Lambert Hatem, Michelle Malone and Amy Ray, a new musical about women who turn a former club into the Flirt Bar, a place where women can go to be flirted with. • Grant amount: $10,000. “The Little Prince” adaptation by Moving Poets. • A multimedia concert performance of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic book. • Grant amount: $20,000. The Print Shop Concert Series by Shoot2Edit Studios. • A live, taped concert series showcasing independent singers, musicians and instrumentalists of all genres from Charlotte-Mecklenburg music community. During the performances, screen printers create custom t-shirt designs to be future merchandise for the artists. • Grant amount: $40,000. “Violence/Enough” (a working title) by Carlos Alexis Cruz and the Nouveau Sud Circus project. • A circus and spoken word production responding to issues of gun violence and safety in the Charlotte area. • Grant amount: $20,000. Welcome Here by Arts for ALL. • Planning the development of a public database listing arts organizations and artists in the CharlotteMecklenburg area that are accessible and friendly to disabled patrons and artists. • Grant amount: $5,000. ::

space starting at $22: call qnotes for details 704.531.9988

Nov. 11 - Nov. 24, 2022

Qnotes

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Laverne Cox: What she’s up to lately

Trans actress and activist burst on the scene with ‘Orange is the New Black’ By David Aaron Moore Qnotes Staff Writer

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ith the debut and subsequent success of the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” trans actress Laverne Cox was thrust into the spotlight for her performance as Sophia Bursett. The program premiered on July 11, 2013, and continued through July 26, 2019. Cox played the role throughout the run of the series, becoming the first transgender person to be nominated for a primetime Emmy award in 2017. But Cox’s list of achievements doesn’t end there. After the first season of “Orange is the New Black,” she was honored by GLAAD with the 2014 Steven F. Kolzak award for her work as an advocate for the transgender community. Her role in the series led to an impressive list of firsts: She was the first transgender individual to appear on the cover of Time magazine in 2014 and Cosmopolitan magazine in February 2018. She is the first known transgender woman to have a wax figure of herself at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, the first trans

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Laverne Cox poses with the Laverne Cox Barbie Tribute Doll. PHOTO CREDIT: Screen shot by David Aaron Moore woman to win a daytime Emmy award in 2015 as executive producer for “Laverne Cox presents: the T Word,” and the first transgender individual to play a transgender character as a series regular on the CBS broadcast television series “Doubt.” Earlier this year she joined the cast of NBC’s “E Entertainment” as a correspondent, and it was announced that Mattel was releasing a Barbie doll in her image. She talked

Nov. 11- Nov. 24, 2022

about that on “Good Morning America.” “I am so excited to announce that there is now a Laverne Cox Barbie doll by Mattel. They have this incredible tribute series that includes some amazing people and I am the latest person to be so honored.” An activist in many fields, Cox is aware of the growing costs of goods in the marketplace and wanted the doll to be the biggest bang for your buck as possible. With the holiday season right around the corner, the Laverne Cox Barbie tribute doll makes a great holiday gift and is available directly from Mattel Creations for $45. “I wanted her to have multiple outfits, to make it cost effective so people could afford it,” Cox explains. “At first Mattel said, ‘We can only do one outfit,’ but I asked, ‘What if we do one that can peel off?’ So she has this dress with a jumpsuit on underneath. And you can mix and match the styles. I had so much fun designing it with Mattel.” In addition to enjoying the fun and hoopla surrounding the Barbie release, Cox also realizes the significance of the doll’s creation and hopes it has a positive impact. “With over 250 pieces of legislation just this year being introduced all over the country targeting transgender and LGBTQ youth, I hope all the kids that are feeling stigmatized when their healthcare and their ability to play in sports is being jeopardized, I hope they can see themselves in this Barbie, a sense of hope and a sense of representation, because representation matters.” Barbie represents a special place in Cox’s heart. As a child she wanted one, and her mother wouldn’t allow her to play with them. “I was really shamed by my mother when I was a kid and I told her I wanted one – a Barbie doll – and I wanted to play with one, when I was around nine. I had a lot of shame and trauma about that, but my therapist told me, ‘It is never too late to have a happy childhood. Go out and buy yourself a Barbie and play with her and dress her.’ “And I did, and I told my mother about

Cox hams it up with Barbie pals at a party for her 50th birthday and to celebrate the release of the Laverne Cox Barbie Doll. PHOTO CREDIT: Screen shot by David Aaron Moore it and the next Christmas my mother bought me a Barbie doll. Then my next birthday she got me another one and for the next several years she got me all these Barbies, and I thought, ‘Finally, my mom is buying me Barbie!’ “There’s a kid in all of us,” Cox continued. “Barbie has been a real healing experience for me as an adult, and I hope Barbie fans of all ages can find healing and inspiration in this doll.” Cox turned 50 this year on May 29. She celebrated her birthday at the Moxy Hotel rooftop in Manhattan three days early on May 26 with costume changes that matched her Barbie doll. On the acting front, Cox can currently be seen in the Netflix miniseries released this year, “Inventing Anna.” She is also in post-production for the film “Uglies,” an action/adventure epic about a world where a compulsory operation wipes out physical differences and makes everyone pretty; and she’s already been cast in the role of Anna for the upcoming series “Clean Slate,” about a car wash owner who learns his estranged son is returning home to Alabama – after an absence of 17 years – as a woman. An interesting note in closing: Cox is a southern girl, and she’s really from Alabama! ::


life

Our People: Nicole Hoerschelmann

A foodie and new resident shares her journey as a parent and trans professional in academia By L’Monique King Qnotes Staff Writer

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artin Niemöller (1892 – 1984) was a German theologian and Lutheran pastor. He is best known for his opposition to the Nazi regime during the late 1930s and for his widely quoted 1946 poem ‘First they came...” Niemöller regretted his initial collaboration with the Nazis and expressed some of this regret in the following poem: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Closer to home and from a house nestled in Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood area, sits another German immigrant who – during our current political climate – finds the poem (a personal favorite) quite apropos. Simply stated, sometimes we need reminding, just because our rights haven’t been infringed upon, doesn’t mean they won’t be. Trepidation, feeling outed and having our lives publicly on display still brings concerns for loss of livelihood, family and safety. For Nicole Hoerschelmann, the first openly Transgender Dean of Queens University’s Knight School of Communication, she never knows whether she’ll be met with a warm and affirming reception, or bigotry. Fortunately for Hoerschelmann, her time at Queens University has proved there’s still hope for humanity and trans professionals can have positive work experiences in progressive cities like Charlotte, even if they are surrounded by the “bible belt.” You’re pretty new to the area, how do you like Charlotte so far? I love Charlotte. I like all the diversity, all the opportunities, the entertainment, the

culture. When I drive down Central Avenue, it is so wonderfully diverse. There are graffiti murals everywhere and pride flags. It’s just a wonderful neighborhood to live in. It’s a huge contrast coming from Arkansas where the best you could hope for was to be tolerated but not really accepted. How long have you lived in Charlotte and what brought you here? A new job. I moved here from Arkansas in July and into our current house in August. Our house? Who are you referring to? Primarily my wife Bettina Becker and I. And as it so happens, my daughter had already been a student at University of North Carolina’s School for the Arts in Winston Salem for the last two years. So, it made sense to move to North Carolina, partly because my daughter was already here, as well as the work opportunity. You mentioned your wife. Do you identify as lesbian? Well, I don’t really like to label my sexuality, but I do identity as Queer and I’m also a transgender person. And your wife has accepted that? Yes. We’re still married, and this is working for us. We’ve been married for 25 years now. How do you stay married for 25 years? Ummmm [chuckles], can I ask my wife? I don’t know. And your children, also accepting of your journey? Yes, my children are Generation Z and I think it’s a very different mindset. I have a daughter and a son who is a couple of years older [than his sister] and just graduated college in Arkansas. He’s currently looking for graduate school and has temporarily moved in with us in Charlotte. I feel like they didn’t blink an eye [when I told them], they just asked me for pronouns and that was about it. They are very accepting to the degree that they are very unaccepting of institutions and politicians who promote hate and a lack of acceptance. For me that’s a huge difference, for them it appears normal that the colleges they go to, for example, are accepting and supportive of LGBT students. Did the college know they were hiring a transgender individual for your

position as dean? I was an Associate Dean in Arkansas and had started coming out to friends and family and medically transitioning. But I hadn’t started to socially transition until shortly before I left Arkansas because I felt apprehensive about the environment I was living in. When I applied to Queens, I was quite open about my identity and I have to say, nobody blinked an eye during the process. What I’m seeing in higher education, when you look at what’s really going on, it’s not very impressive. So, when I was interviewing, I was looking at mission statements and initiatives and I learned that things were on a different level at Queens University. It was one of the things that persuaded me to make that jump. That’s awesome and probably quite relieving. As Dean of the Knight School of Communication at Queens, what do you do? I basically do scheduling, I’m in charge of the finances and trying to work on outreach to the community in various areas. Speaking of communication and outreach, do you speak German? Oh yeah. I was born in Germany and lived there for the first 25 years of my life. For all practical purposes I’m bilingual in English and German and I also speak a little bit of French and Italian. That’s impressive. German isn’t known to be an easy language to learn or master, especially for people whose first language is English. Are your children bilingual as well? They speak some German but more English than anything. What happened was we spoke German to them for the first three years but then they started having their little friends, who only spoke English, and German went by the wayside a bit. They still have good pronunciation and they both took it in college but it’s not the same as being fluent. What does Nicole do for fun? Well, [laugher] generally speaking, we are foodies. We are quite excited about

Advice from Nicole Hoerschelmann to the newly transitioning: ‘Be safe and believe in yourself.’ PHOTO CREDIT: Amy Hart Asian food so we’re trying to cook it ourselves or find new spots, despite the fact that we turned vegetarian a few years ago which limits our choices – but just a bit. German food is horrible in that respect. It’s basically a slab of meat with some type of creamy sauce thrown on top. Can you share something with our readers most people don’t know or would be surprised to learn about you? I really enjoy music. I started listening to a lot of Queer alternative music over the last two years and I find it really enlightening. I really like Cavetown, a trans singer. When you go to their concerts it’s very different. It’s extremely community oriented. Everyone is very open and accepting and it’s quite Queer too. There’s also a [sort of Alt-Pop or Alt-Rock] band called Wet Leg. It’s two lesbian women. They just published their first LP. Really fresh and exciting. Looking back on your life, what would you say to your 20-year-old self? Get out! I grew up in a small village of 1800 people in conservative religious southwest Germany, and I felt that driving to a city with one million people was very liberating. I should have done that more and more often. Is that the advice you’d give to someone who is transitioning now? What would you say to that person? Be safe and believe in yourself. ::

Nov. 11 - Nov. 24, 2022

Qnotes

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