Qnotes issue, March 31, 2023

Page 1

March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 1
2 704-948-8582

March 31 - April 13, 2023


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

contributors this issue

Writers: Joey Amato, Rebecca Farmer, T. Keung Hui, Kendra Johnson, Tonya Jameson, Joe Killian, L’Monique King, Brett Peveto, David Aaron Moore, Evan Moore, Terri Schlichenmeyer, Gregg Shapiro, Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan

front page

Graphic Design by: Will Kimbrough

Photography/Illustration: Adobe Stock


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


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.

inside this issue

14 Motorsports: Racecar Driving and its many faces

22 Getting the LGBTQ community job ready

5 Under Fire: new report outlines a war against LGBTQ Americans

6 NC HBCUs on list of best LGBTQ campuses

6 Charlotte has one of the highest STD rates in the US

6 Buster Murdaugh releases statement on Stephen Smith, gay teen’s body to be exhumed

9 NC House GOP passes Anti-Critical Race Theory bill

South Carolina’s AFFA launches billboard campaign in response to antiLGBTQ politics

Trans youth in sports

Conservative politicians across US and in North Carolina believe Trans youth sports bans protect children, but who’s protecting the trans youth?


South Carolina’s AFFA launches billboard campaign in response to anti-LGBTQ politics

SC’s AFFA launches God Loves Trans Kids and LGBTQ+ People Awareness Campaign March 14 with signs in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville to show it stands in solidarity with all those harmed by discriminatory actions and messages from religious organizations and individuals.


These rates only cover a portion of our true cost, however, our goal is to serve our community Mailed

March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 3
Vol 37 No 25 charlotteobserver.com/1166/ a local news partner of The Charlotte Observer
Mail to: P.O.
city: state: zip:
card – check one: ☐ mastercard ☐ visa ☐ discover ☐ american express card #: exp. date:
Political Voices: Far-right extremism is a threat to queer and trans lives 18 A conversation with Dr. Love 21 HRC North Carolina Gala 2023 24 Pride Journey: Coastal Mississippi 26 Queering up your car 25 Out in Print: “Blue Hunger” 27 Listen up, Amy Irving sings!
1st class from Charlotte, NC, in sealed envelope. Subscription Rates: ☐
yr - 26 issues = $48 ☐ 1/2 yr - 13 issues = $34
Box 221841, Charlotte, NC 28222 name: address:
anti-LGBTQ legislation 12 Trans youth in sports 16 Stonewall Sports
event listings, visit
calendar. a&e
youth gun deaths
NC Gov. Cooper establishes violence prevention
11 North
and the national wave of
joins the Pickleball
views events news

Far-right extremism is a threat to queer and trans lives

Political Voices

In North Carolina and beyond, the LGBTQ+ community is facing unprecedented legislative attacks. Across the nation, lawmakers are introducing bills that ban life-saving medical care for trans people, restrict or ban drag performances, and erase LGBTQ+ identities from school curriculum. The ACLU is already tracking over 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills this session. But the threats facing our community go beyond policy, with far-right extremist groups targeting us in our own spaces and communities with protests and violence.

Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is rooted in extremist far-right ideology that frames queer and trans lives as a political and cultural threat. It is no coincidence that this ideology results in violence against the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, statistics show us that violence against the queer community has worsened in recent years. In 2021, fatal violence against trans and gender-nonconforming individuals increased, numbering in the 50s. In 2022, the number was at least 38. Here in North Carolina, we have seen several trans women targeted by violence in the past few years.

These attacks on our community are

not random. They are part of a larger rise in far-right extremist movements and ideologies. The rhetoric that characterized Trump’s campaign for presidency ranged from white supremacist to ableist to homophobic and transphobic. And it emboldened far-right extremists to organize protests and threaten violence against marginalized communities, particularly people of color and queer and trans folks.

The far-right, neo-fascist group the Proud Boys are a prominent example of this trend. Originating in 2016, the hate group received a shout-out from Trump during the 2020 presidential debates. The Proud Boys have staged anti-Black Lives Matters protests, promoted white nationalism, and

instigated violence. They were also implicated in the January 6 attacks on the Capitol.

According to Vice, The Proud Boys shifted much of their focus to anti-LGBTQ action in 2022, targeting nightclubs, drag shows, and other public events put on by the queer community. Here in North Carolina, the queer and trans communities have been vulnerable to the Proud Boys’ attacks. In February, the hate group showed up at a school board meeting in New Hanover to express their opposition to a trans inclusive sports policy the board voted to reverse.

Throughout the U.S., extremists are increasingly targeting drag shows to express their anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment. In North

Carolina, the Proud Boys disrupted a Drag Brunch in Sanford County with a protest in November. Far-right extremists also targeted a drag show in Southern Pines that was scheduled for December, and their protests were linked to the attack on Moore County’s power grid that month. These attacks are becoming all too common. A GLAAD report found 141 incidents in 2022 of anti-LGBTQ protests and threats targeting specific drag events. These included protests on Pride events as well as campaign ads promoting dangerous rhetoric about drag performers. North Carolina and Texas were at the top of the list of states with the most attacks on drag events, with GLAAD documenting 10 attacks in North Carolina.

In conjunction with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, protests and threats of violence targeting our communities are a threat to trans and queer lives. Trans and queer folks should feel safe in public spaces and safe to express themselves freely. Moreover, queer spaces are ever-important at a time when our identities are constantly under attack. Whether at a drag show, a pride festival, or the grocery store, our community deserves to feel safe and protected.

We hope you’ll join us in fighting against extremist policies and ideologies and making North Carolina a state where the LGBTQ+ community can thrive. ::

views Sometimes the Grass Actually IS Greener With hundreds of acres to roam and experiences for all walks of life, it’s time to call Aldersgate your home Gold for Independent Living, Gold for Skilled Nursing Facility, Silver for Place to work, Bronze for Assisted Living and Aldersgate At Home won Gold for Home Care! Call today to schedule a tour. We are honored to be voted Charlotte Observer’s Best of 2022: (704) 318-2018 | 3800 Shamrock Drive • Charlotte, NC 28215 | AldersgateLiving.org

Under Fire: new report outlines a war against LGBTQ Americans Breadth,

speed and viciousness of anti-LGBTQ attacks creating an unprecedented firestorm

In a groundbreaking report released last month, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) connects the dots on the varied ways that LGBTQ people are under siege from a targeted and coordinated campaign to undermine equality and ultimately erase them from public life.

The comprehensive report, Under Fire: The War on LGBTQ People in America, is the first in a new series from MAP. Together, the series makes clear that, despite significant policy advances for LGBTQ equality over the last decade, LGBTQ people are facing an unprecedented firestorm of attacks on all fronts.

While public attention often lands on a particular type of anti-LGBTQ legislation or handful of hostile states, the report outlines the ways that opponents of LGBTQ equality are working systematically across the country, in legislatures, schools and in the media to erase LGBTQ people from society.

Last year saw a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills (315 bills) introduced in state legislatures, and 2023 has already exceeded that number. For comparison, the number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in just the first two months of 2023 is more than the anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in all of 2012, 2013 and 2014 combined.

“The sheer number of fronts on which LGBTQ people are experiencing attacks, alongside the breadth, speed and cruelty of those attacks, make this current moment incredibly challenging for LGBTQ people and their families,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director of the Movement Advancement Project.

“Individual policy issues like school censorship bills and bans on transgender youth playing sports have captured national attention, but seeing these as individual flash points misses the larger context of the furious and coordinated attacks on LGBTQ people,” said Naomi Goldberg, Deputy Director and LGBTQ Policy Director at MAP.

These attacks are resulting in hostility, harassment and violence targeting both LGBTQ people and supporters as they move through their daily lives.

The report provides a comprehensive look at hundreds of political attacks—such

as mass censorship efforts to erase LGBTQ youth and content from schools; criminalizing medical care and transition for transgender people; a viscous public narrative that falsely demonizes LGBTQ people as “groomers;” and government tactics that silence, financially penalize and even criminalize those who support equality for LGBTQ people.

Snapshots From the Report

• Rapid spike in political attacks since 2019: The past three years alone saw the first-ever legislative bans on transgender youth participating in sports and the first-ever bans on best practice medical care for transgender youth. In 2019 there were no state laws banning transgender youth from participating in school sports, but by the end of 2022 these bans existed in 18 states.

• Banning even social transition: states are seeking to ban parents and schools from supporting transgender youth when they socially transition, which can include name or pronoun changes and clothing changes. In 2022 the Texas Attorney General called for child abuse investigations into the parents of transgender youth who supported their child’s social transition.

• School censorship: The first “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” laws emerged in the 1980s, but states began rescinding those laws in 2005 for a downward trend until last year. Now, more LGBTQ school censorship bills are currently on the books than in 1991, and bills to censor what schools can say about LGBTQ people and issues have now been introduced in every state.

• Criminalizing and banning health care for transgender youth: Since 2020, 37 states have considered banning transition-related care for transgender youth. Four states currently ban this care. In Alabama a doctor could face felony charges for providing or even making a referral for transition care for transgender youth, even though this care follows the best practice care guidelines from the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization.

• Banning gender affirming care and refusing care for LGBTQ people: Nine states explicitly ban coverage of gender-affirming care in state health insurance plans, including Medicaid. These bans are in direct conflict with nondiscrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, one in eight LGBTQ people live in a state where a doctor can refuse them health care if the doctor says it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Several states are now considering bills that would prohibit transition-related health care for transgender adults between the ages of 18-25.

• Barriers to accurate identity documents: Several states are making it more difficult for transgender and non-binary people to obtain accurate identity documents. In Montana, Oklahoma and Tennessee, transgender people are not allowed to update their birth certificate to match their gender identity. Twelve states require proof of gender-affirming surgery in order to change the gender marker on a birth certificate, even as gender-affirming care is under attack.

• Eroding democracy: Politicians are

working to change the rules of our democracy that make it more difficult to have free and fair elections where anti-LGBTQ politicians can be held accountable. With voting rights rolled back in too many states, it becomes more difficult to elect leaders who reflect the values of the majority of Americans in favor of LGBTQ equality. The states with the fewest protections for LGBTQ people also have the most limitations on voting rights.

• Impact of political attacks: Efforts to dehumanize LGBTQ people have real world consequences. A 2023 study from The Trevor Project found that 86 percent of transgender or nonbinary youth said that debates about anti-transgender bills have negatively impacted their mental health. A violent plot to attack a Pride event in Idaho was thwarted by law enforcement. Hospitals that provide gender affirming care to transgender youth have faced bomb threats and individual doctors have been threatened. A mass shooter killed several people at an LGBTQ bar and community center in Colorado. Overall LGBTQ people face high rates of harassment and violence because of who they are.

• “An overwhelming majority of Americans consistently support LGBTQ equality but aren’t yet aware of the scope and scale of how that equality is being swiftly eroded. Despite the recent signing of the Respect for Marriage Act, it’s not just the ability to marry who you love that is at stake, it’s the ability of LGBTQ people to simply exist that is under fire,” said Mushovic.

Founded in 2006, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) is an independent, nonprofit think tank with a mission to provide independent and rigorous research, insight and communication to help speed the achievement of equality and opportunity for all. MAP works to ensure that all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life. ::

March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 5

NC HBCUs on list of best LGBTQ campuses

Three North Carolina Historically Black Colleges and Universities are on a recent “best of” list for LGBTQ campuses.

The Best Colleges Campus Pride Index is a list of the top 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities for LGBTQ+ students. The list looked at factors such as LGBTQ+ studies programs and course offerings as well as the availability of resource centers and student support services.

North Carolina Central University (Durham) is number two on the list, North Carolina A&T (Greensboro) is number four, and Fayetteville State University (Fayetteville) is number six.

Eric Martin, coordinator for the LGBTA Resource Center at North Carolina Central University, said over the years, the center’s

role on campus has expanded.

“We are now involved more in things like new employee orientation, we’re involved a lot more in departmental trainings with other departments,” Martin explained. “Because the campus knows that we’re here, and they know that we are a resource and because they also value students.”

Martin noted the center is a hub for student activity and open to all. Center sponsored events include an LGBTQ+ Prom, Lavender Graduation, and Transgender Awareness Events.

North Carolina A&T opened an LGBTA center three years ago, but the campus LGBTQA support group known as PRISM goes back over a decade.

Gerald Spates, director of the Office of

Charlotte has one of the highest STD rates in the US

Charlotte has one of the highest sexually transmitted disease rates in the nation. According to a new study, Charlotte ranked thirteenth on the list of the top 100 U.S. cities with the highest rates of STDs, with 1,012 cases per 100,000 people in the city over the last year.

The cities were ranked in a recent study by Innerbody Research, which used the latest data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s a breakdown of new STD cases in Charlotte over the last year, according to the study: HIV: 246, Gonorrhea: 6,778, Chlamydia: 15,784, Syphilis: 771. Other North Carolina cities included on the list were Greensboro at 12 along with Raleigh and Wilmington, which came in at 52 and 75, respectively.

Other Findings in the Study

CDC data used in the study show that STD

infection rates remain higher in minority racial and ethnic groups. “The fact that many of the highest-ranking cities in our study have a higher percentage of minority residents also appears to reflect this trend,” the study says. “Though nonHispanic Black people comprise approximately 12 percent of the total population of the country, they account for a disproportionate 32 percent of chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea infections.”

Lack of access to healthcare and STD testing are to blame for these disparities, according to Jo Valentine, the director of the office of health equity at the CDC. According to Valentine, issues like poverty, unstable housing, drug use, lack of medical insurance or regular medical provider need to be addressed for better health outcomes among minority communities. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were the

Murdaugh releases

In the wake of QNotes’ report March 17 on renewed interest in the death of South Carolina gay nursing student Stephen Smith, Buster Murdaugh, the son of former attorney and convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh, has released a statement through his attorneys in response to the ongoing speculation that he may have been involved in Smith’s death.

“I have tried my best to ignore the vicious rumors about my involvement in Stephen Smith’s tragic death that continue to be published in the media as I grieve over the brutal murders of my mother and brother. I love them so much and miss them terribly.

“I haven’t spoken up until now because I want to live in private while I cope with their deaths and my father’s incarceration.

“Before, during and since my father’s

trial I have been targeted and harassed by the media and followers of the story. This has gone on far too long.

“These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false. I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family.

“I am requesting that the media immediately stop publishing these defamatory comments and rumors about me.”

While no one in the Smith family or any attorneys representing them have come forward and specifically said they believed Buster or any of the Murdaugh family members were responsible for Stephen Smith’s death, Stephen’s mother Sandy Smith has said that she did not believe her son was involved with Buster because

Intercultural Engagement LGBTA Resource Center at A&T, said many students are now coming to campus with an awareness of the institution’s commitment.

“They’re coming in already aware,” Spates observed. “They’re attracted to the institution, for a lot of reasons, but especially if they’re part of the LGBT community, they want to know that they can be their authentic selves.”

Spates pointed out since the resource center opened at A&T, he has seen just as many allies participate as LGBTQ+ students.

“At [the] LGBTA resource center, I get as many allies, equally when it first opened, as students who are open members of the community, and that’s what I really want it to be,” Spates emphasized. “I want it to be a space that everyone when you enter that space, you feel comfortable, and you feel safe.”

most commonly reported new STD infections. Of the top 25 cities with the highest infection rates, 14 are in the South. Three of the top 25 cities – Miami, Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale – are located in Florida.

“[Stephen] preferred older people.”

To date, no suspects have ever been specifically named in Stephen Smith’s death, but the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) stated they reopened the investigation into the 2015 death on June 22, 2021, based on information gathered during the Murdaugh homicide investigations.

As well, Smith family friend Suzanne Andrews also told Charleston television station WCSC-TV that the Murdaugh family name comes up 40 times in investigative files she has.

Sandy Smith Raises Funds for Independent Autopsy of Son

In another development since the story appeared in QNotes, Sandy Smith has reportedly raised over $110,000 through a GoFundMe account to have son Stephen’s body exhumed from his plot in the Gooding Cemetery and another autopsy performed by an independent source.

“I could not have imagined when we began this fundraiser that it would take off the way it did,” Smith wrote to the many

California contributed 13 cities to the ranking this year, the most from any state.

This article appears courtesy of our media partner The Charlotte Observer.

people who donated money to the effort. “Thank you for not allowing Stephen’s story to be swept under the rug. We will pursue the exhumation immediately and provide updates along the way.”

Stephen Smith’s body was found July 8, 2015, on Sandy Run Road in rural Hampton County, S.C. He was 19 at the time of his death. Today, a roadside wooden cross marks the spot where Smith’s body was found, bearing his name and date of birth and passing. ::

6 Qnotes March 31 - April 13, 2023
Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation. This story appears courtesy of our media partner Public News Service. —Brett Peveto Data for the story was curated by Campus Pride and Best Colleges CREDIT: Adobe Stock
of access to healthcare and STD testing are to blame, says CDC. CREDIT: Adobe Stock
statement on Stephen Smith, gay teen’s body to be exhumed
Buster Murdaugh (left) says his ‘heart goes out to Stephen Smith’s family.’ CREDIT: Screen Capture


March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 7


8 Qnotes March 31 - April 13, 2023

NC House GOP passes Anti-Critical Race Theory bill

North Carolina House Republicans approved new rules on Wednesday limiting how racism and sexism can be taught, but fell short of gaining any Democratic support to guarantee a veto override. The 68-49 vote went along party lines with all Republicans in support and all Democrats in opposition.

Republicans would need at least one Democrat should Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper veto the bill again as he did in 2021. GOP lawmakers say the bill is designed to prevent schools from promoting Critical Race Theory. House Bill 187 has provisions such as one that says teachers shall not promote material causing anyone to “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress” based on their race or sex.

“This bill does not change what history standards can and cannot be taught,” said Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican and the bill’s primary sponsor. “It simply prohibits schools from endorsing discriminatory concepts.”

But Democratic lawmakers argued that the bill is so vaguely worded that teachers will censor what they say to stay out of potential trouble. “The bill on its face is the obvious attempt to micromanage from the General Assembly into the classrooms,” said Rep. Laura Budd, a Mecklenburg County Democrat. “It’s overreach. It will have a chilling effect on teachers and educators in curtailing what they think they’re allowed to teach, as well as how they teach.”

The legislation now goes to the GOPcontrolled Senate, where it’s expected to easily pass. A bill with nearly identical language passed the House and Senate in 2021. When Cooper vetoed that bill, he said it “pushes calculated, conspiracyladen politics into public education.”

What’s in the Bill?

House Bill 187, titled “Equality in Education” says public schools can’t “promote” concepts such as the idea that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” or that “an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex,

is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.”

The bill also would stop teachers from promoting the concept of “white privilege,” or that white people have unfair advantages over others solely due to their race.

The bill says teachers can’t promote that privileges should be ascribed to a race or sex. Other items that the bill says teachers can’t promote include:

• “An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;

• A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist;

• The United States was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex.”

“At the end of the day we should all be able to agree that no student, no teacher, no parent, no school employee, no one should ever be made to feel inferior solely because of the color of their skin, their gender, national origin, race, religion, disability and familial status, especially in our schools when learning for our young should be fun and exciting.” said Torbett, the lone

Republican to speak for the bill Wednesday. The legislation, which does not include the phrase “Critical Race Theory,” would also require schools to post online ahead of time whenever schools provide instruction related to the prohibited concepts. They’d also have to list when they hire speakers, consultants or diversity trainers who discuss those concepts or have previously advocated those concepts.

Rep. Julie von Haefen, a Wake County Democrat, questioned whether the bill would prevent her from speaking in schools or serving as a substitute teacher due to her political beliefs.

Critical Race Theory Fight

Republican lawmakers have introduced bills at the national and state level targeting what they call Critical Race Theory, which holds that racism has been a systemic part of the nation’s history that still influences society today.

Conservative groups have accused schools of promoting Critical Race Theory. School leaders have denied the charge, saying that anything involving the discussion of diversity, equity and race has been conflated to be about Critical Race Theory.

Since January 2021, 44 states have introduced bills or taken other steps that would restrict teaching Critical Race Theory or limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism, according to an Education Week analysis. Eighteen states have imposed these bans and restrictions either through legislation or other avenues.

“You have to be made uncomfortable in order to expand your mind and to learn,” said Rep. Kelly Alexander, a Mecklenburg County Democrat. “That’s what education is all about.”

The push to target Critical Race Theory comes as North Carolina Republicans are also promoting legislation known as the Parents’ Bill of Rights targeting instruction in elementary grades on explicit material and LGBTQ issues. The state Senate approved that bill this year, but it has not been taken up by the House.

How Would the Bill Be Enforced?

Torbett said the legislation will help promote unity in the country and state.

“North Carolina, this great education state, must have an educational system that unites and teaches our children, not divides and indoctrinates them,” Torbett said. Democrats said the bill doesn’t provide guidance on what would be acceptable.

“At a time when teachers are already feeling pressure from staff shortages, book bans, inadequate resources, this bill continues to undermine the autonomy of the teaching profession and fails to support teachers,” von Haefen said during the floor debate.

Von Haefen said the bill raises questions from teachers about whether they could continue to have discussions about equal rights, the right to vote and why women are under-represented in politics and other fields. Democrats also said the bill will cause teachers to shy away from discussing controversial topics.

“This bill frightens me because I think people will start trying to limit exposure to history by all of us,” added Rep. Abe Jones, a Wake County Democrat. “We all can learn from history.”

This article appears courtesy of our media partner The Charlotte Observer. ::

March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 9 Connie J. Vetter, Esq. Attorney at Law, PLLC Your LGBTQ+ Law Attorney serving Clients from across North Carolina Website/Email at CJVLaw.com Talk/Text 704-333-4000 Need help this tax season? FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION 14 years of individual and small business tax & accounting experience grimstadcpa.com 980-224-3124 richard@grimstadcpa.com
would prevent teachers from promoting the idea that white people unfairly benefit from white privilege
Democrats warn of censoring teachers and limiting what students can learn. CREDIT: Adobe Stock

South Carolina’s AFFA launches billboard campaign in response to anti-LGBTQ politics

The road side signs remind people that religion doesn’t excuse bigotry and hate

The Alliance For Full Acceptance (AFFA) has launched its God Loves Trans Kids and LGBTQ+ People community awareness campaign as of March 14.

The campaign is designed to to bring attention to the extraordinary amount of antiLGBTQ legislation currently being proposed in South Carolina and the politicians and advocacy groups using religion as a scapegoat for bigotry and political discrimination.

“People who use religion to excuse their bigotry and hate hurt our children and damage LGBTQ communities. We must work towards a South Carolina where all people are valued and respected,” said Chase Glenn, Executive Director of AFFA, based in Charleston, S.C. “Everyone has the right to live free from discrimination and persecution, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Seven strategically-positioned and brightly colored billboards across the state aim to remind South Carolinians that God loves and accepts LGBTQ people. The accompanying God Loves Trans Kids and LGBTQ+ People website directs visitors to resource, donation and advocacy pages where they

can take action to support the efforts of AFFA and LGBTQ+ people statewide.

As a social justice organization achieving equality and acceptance for LGBTQ+ people since 1998, AFFA has long been supported by multiple religious and faith communities.

Rabbi Greg Kanter of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim in Charleston, who supports AFFA’s mission, commented: “Our faith teaches us to build the world with deeds of loving kindness. There we find God and each other. There is no room for hate.”

“LGBTQ+ people are an integral part of the human family who are all loved and cherished by God,” said Reverend Adam Shoemaker of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. “We believe affirming legislation that fully supports marriage equality and LGBTQ+ families is what justice looks like, for justice is what love looks like in public.”

The hurtful messages and actions of some religious organizations and individuals have deeply wounded LGBTQ+ people.

AFFA stands in solidarity with all those harmed by discriminatory actions and messages from religious organizations and individuals. AFFA is committed to creating a more inclusive South Carolina.

“Change is only possible if we commit to working towards a South Carolina where all people are valued and respected,” added Glenn. “By standing together and advocating for change, we can create a better future for all of us.”

Currently there are billboards in Charleston at I-26 westbound, two miles east of Hwy 21; I-26 eastbound, mile marker 122; I-385 0.3 miles north of Hwy 101; I-126 in Columbia and another is slated for Gervais Street near the South Carolina Statehouse, launching March 27. Although an exact location cannot be confirmed, Charleston City Paper has also reported a billboard in Greenville.

To report additional surprise sightings around the state or any incidents of vandalism, visit the AFFA website here.

You can also visit God Loves Trans Kids and LGBTQ+ People for more details. ::

As youth gun deaths increase, NC Gov. Cooper establishes violence prevention office Firearm suicides among NC youth are at the

they’ve been in two decades

Facing rising rates of gun deaths for North Carolina youth, North Carolina

Gov. Roy Cooper established an Office of Violence Prevention on March 14. The new office will work to coordinate existing programs across the state, apply for grants, provide training and share examples of programs that work, Cooper said.

The state needs a “clearinghouse” to make programs across the state more cohesive and coordinated, he said. The office will be part of the Department of Public Safety and funded through existing state and federal money within the agency. The first step for the office will be hiring an executive director, Cooper said. No information has been released yet about how many staff the office will have.

“There will be not one simple solution to this problem — but a collaborative effort from lawmakers and the community,” Ingram Haizlip told reporters at Cooper’s news conference at the Executive Mansion. “No more telling our community what it needs, but listening to the community’s voices as they express their needs and concerns.”

Haizlip said she was shot in the head in 2011 and had brain surgery, and that she lost her cousin and sister to gun violence. She is program manager for Gate City Coalition community violence prevention program in Greensboro and a member of the board of North Carolinians Against

Gun Violence.

Cooper started the Task Force for Racial Equity and Criminal Justice in 2020, now housed at the Department of Public Safety. DPS Secretary Eddie Buffaloe, co-chair of the task force, said one of its priorities is violence prevention, “including evidence-based community violence intervention programs, restorative justice, youth crime reduction efforts and school justice partnerships.”

Government entities often operate in silos, and the statewide office will help coordinate violence prevention work, Mecklenburg County Public Health Department Director Raymond Washington said. Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley called

violence a public health issue.

“On average, five North Carolinians die per day from a firearm injury,” Kinsley said. “And the firearm death rate for North Carolina’s children has increased dramatically from 2020 to 2021. And perhaps most tragically, firearm related suicides among North Carolina’s children have also increased, with the 2021 suicide rate the highest it has been in two decades,” Kinsley said.

The child death rate in the state grew this year largely due to a dramatic increase in suicides and homicides, according to a report from the NC Child Fatality Task Force, The News & Observer previously reported. The report found that homicide was the leading cause of death for children between 15 and 17 years old.

Gun Bills

Cooper, a Democrat, has vetoed bills from the Republican-majority legislature that would loosen gun restrictions. With the General Assembly one vote away from a supermajority after the 2022 election, lawmakers are voting on new versions of bills that Cooper previously vetoed, including a pistol purchase permit repeal. Asked about legislation likely coming to his desk, Cooper said he “would like us to move forward to fight gun violence with legislation, instead of backward.”

Democrats have sponsored “red flag” bills that would allow extreme risk protection orders that temporarily allow guns to be removed from people deemed dangerous, but Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore have not signaled willingness to move those forward.

“You can support the Second Amendment and people’s rights to bear arms and still take steps to reduce gun violence,” Cooper said. “They go hand in hand. And I’ll tell you, the vast majority of responsible gun owners in this state want to do that. There are only a very few powerful people who are trying to hold off these laws that we think will help. But there are things we can do without that legislation, and we’re taking one of those steps today,” he said.

This article appears courtesy of our media partner The Charlotte Observer. ::

10 Qnotes March 31 - April 13, 2023
Billboards reminding SC residents, religion is no excuse to hate, have gone up in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville. CREDIT: Courtesy AFFA-SC
Study shows five North Carolinians die per day from firearm injuries. CREDIT: Adobe Stock

North Carolina and the national wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation Current bills under consideration harm LGBTQ youth mental health

In February NC Policy Watch delved into the stories of LGBTQ youth as new bills legislating their education, healthcare and identities work their way through the North Carolina General Assembly.

The bills are part of a continuing wave of hundreds of new anti-LGBTQ measures filed across the country in 2023, many targeting transgender young people.

“The damage that we’re doing by introducing these bills is that it communicates to certain young people that something is fundamentally wrong with them,” State Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham) told NC Policy Watch. “They’re watching, they’re listening. They’re paying attention as we’re trying to legislate their identities at a very tender time.”

Medical experts agree.

Dr. Sarah Wilson is an assistant professor in Duke University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and co-lead of the Duke Sexual and Gender Minority Health Program. She points to studies establishing the measurable negative impact of such legislation on LGBTQ people -- especially youth and people of color.

“There are downstream effects of that increased exposure to stigma, violence and hate crimes where North Carolinians who are LGBTQ+ reported feeling increased depression and anxiety,” Wilson said. “This is a group that already faces disproportionate rates of discrimination, harassment, stigma, and these bills serve to potentially have an amplifying effect for these inequities we already see.”

Here is a by-the-numbers look at antiLGBTQ legislation in North Carolina and beyond – and its impacts on already-marginalized people.

(Source: American Civil Liberties Union national database tracking anti-LGBTQ bills. All numbers represent current confirmed bills in state legislatures and will change as legislative sessions continue.)

2 – Number of anti-LGBTQ bills filed in North Carolina so far this legislative session: Senate Bill 49 would require teachers to notify parents if a student questions

their own gender — outing many young trans people before they’re ready to tell their families, who might be hostile to their identities.

House Bill 43 would make it illegal for anyone under 18 to receive gender-affirming care endorsed by myriad mainstream medical associations, even on advice of their doctors and with parental consent.

296 – Number of anti-LGBTQ bills filed nationwide.

32 – Number filed in Oklahoma, the most of any state as tracked by the ACLU

26 – Filed in Tennessee

25 – Filed in South Carolina

12 – Filed in Virginia

237 – Number of bills nationwide involving LGBTQ issues in education: banning of LGBTQ-related books in school curricula and libraries, limiting on what teachers may discuss in classrooms, restricting LGBTQrelated student groups that can be affiliated with schools

30 – Number of bills involving LGBTQ-

related speech and expression, including those that seek to designate LGBTQ-friendly

businesses as “adult oriented”; others would impose new restrictions on live drag shows.

21 – Bills involving LGBTQ civil rights, including measures that would explicitly exclude gender identity from nondiscrimination protections or remove those protections in states where they are already established.

10 – Bills that seek to restrict how transgender people can change the names and gender designations on various forms of identification, an issue on which transgender North Carolinians saw a legal victory last year after years of advocacy and litigation.

4 – Bills that would restrict public accommodations for transgender people; these include access to public restrooms and changing rooms, as well as prohibiting requirements that facilities provide gender-neutral restrooms.

This report appears courtesy of our media partner NC Policy Watch. ::

March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 11 BUILD THROUGH US print and online advertising solutions with qnotes and goqnotes.com call or email us today 704.531.9988 adsales@goqnotes.com free web presence with every print ad
This map shows the number of anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced, some under consideration, some already passed, that are part of the hate wave of 2023.
CREDIT: American Civil Liberties Union

Trans youth sports bans exploding in U.S.

under consideration

Across the country and in North Carolina, counties, school boards and school districts have been enacting laws and policies that are preventing trans and gender fluid children and teens, and even now in some cases 20-somethings in institutions of higher learning, from taking part in sporting activities.

The reason? In the case of trans females, many conservative voters and elected officials claim their gender assignment at birth gives them an unfair advantage when playing in competitive sports activities against cisgender females.

Despite evidence to the contrary, namely the use of female hormones, which modifies musculature, redistributes body fat and lessens the individual’s physical capabilities, the debate has exploded into a mixture of feigned fear for children, an LGBTQ witch hunt (with an emphasis on trans), cries of religious discrimination and political pandering.

In North Carolina, as of February 7, the New Hanover County board of education now requires student athletes to play on teams that correspond with the gender recorded on their birth certificates.

A bill filed in Raleigh the last week of March by Representative Mark Brody (R-Anson and Union counties), stands on the shoulders of legislation already in place in other states and would impact trans youth statewide. “Sex shall be recognized solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth,” it reads.

“I do not want to wait until biological females are pushed out of female sports, and all of their records are broken, scholarships lost and benefits of excelling are diminished before this is addressed,” Brody said when introducing the bill to the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Equality North Carolina Executive Director Kendra R. Johnson has responded to the developments in North Carolina.

“We are horrified ... sports and athletics are an important part of education for all students, and no child should be denied

from participating simply because of who they are. We recognize this [as] a targeted attack on trans youth to take away their rights and delegitimize their identities.

“Anti-trans bills are on the rise across the country, with elected officials using schools as a space to push their bigoted and anti-LGBTQ+ agenda. Queer and trans youth deserve to have the same experiences in school as their peers, and we urge our elected officials to take a stand against this policy and others like it that discriminate against LGBTQ+ youth.”

If there is any question that fear from LGBTQ students over discriminatory poli-

cies is real, read their own words.

During the hearing in New Hanover County, Jett Tidd, a transgender student there, confirmed his fear of getting on the school bus because he didn’t want to be bullied.

“It is my fear this is the first step by members of the board who are targeting LGBTQ students to remove policies in place that protect us from harm,” Tidd said.

Another younger, unidentified trans youth addressed Hanover County School board member Melissa Mason directly.

“Mrs. Mason, your campaign website states that you want your children to be

kept safe and get a useful education at school. The fear you express for children is the same I, a transgender student, face every single day. I ask you as an elected official, shouldn’t you have the same level of worry for all students or are yours more important or better than students like me?”

Clearly, growing anti-trans sentiment across the United States is impacting LGBTQ youth negatively.

The question arises: after so much positive and forward motion in the LGBTQ movement during the earlier years of the 21st century, how did we get here?

You don’t have to dig very far to find the root cause.

In all likelihood, it began right here in our own state when former one term Governor Pat McCrory launched the first legislative attack on trans individuals by signing off on the anti-LGBTQ HB2 in March 2016. The law became better known as the “bathroom bill,” and sparked a massive backlash nationwide.

McCrory’s outright lies and illinformed actions – claiming that Trans individuals were predatory animals bent on child molestation and banning them from using the appropriate restrooms – sealed his place in political history as a one term governor. HB2 was later overturned, but it wasn’t forgotten by the Republican Party.

It was tucked away for safekeeping and later use.

All it took was a few more years of Trump-espoused mania and a pandemic to energize the confused and uneducated right wing support base to jump on board the anti-Trans hate train.

That brings us full circle to where we are today: once again claiming Trans folk and anything to do with queer culture is harmful to children, while failing to realize the harm such bigotry and intolerance is actually creating for them. ::

12 Qnotes March 31 - April 13, 2023 news
New Hanover County in NC already has ban in place; statewide ban
The 19 orange colored states already have total bans on trans students playing in sports, while the others do not. CREDIT: Movement Advance Project
March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 13

Motorsports: Racecar Driving and its many faces

NASCAR and Charlotte share a long and diverse history

Diversity in sexuality and gender in motorsports aren’t things most people think of simultaneously.

For years, competitive driving of any sort – from soap box derbies, karts and minis to Stock, Formula One and NASCAR – have remained a largely male, heterosexual and cisgender dominated activity. These days that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

Currently there are only two known motorsport drivers who openly identify as part of the LGBTQ community.

Devon Rouse is originally from Burlington, Iowa. These days he makes his home in Mooresville, North Carolina. The openly gay young man says he likes living in the area very much.

“I knew the first time I visited, this was where I wanted to be,” he explains. “The move has been great, I’m living on Lake Norman, and it’s really beautiful here. From where I’m located it’s a short drive to the beach and a short drive to the mountains. It feels like home.

“I moved to the area because I knew Charlotte was the place I needed to go to make connections and to further my career,” he continues.

While some motorsport drivers choose Indianapolis, Rouse says he prefers a more cosmopolitan city and surrounding metro area like Charlotte. ”Indianapolis is more involved with the whole indie scene,” he offers. “If you wanna’ be in the industry, you gotta be here.”

Rouse’s interest in racing dates back to his childhood, he confirms. “My dad was a drag racer, and he started me in kart racing when I was just three. And you know what? I remember all of it! I just have to think about it and all these memories from when I was just a little boy come flooding back. I can tell you every kid who was doing it then and is doing it now wants to be a race car driver.”

Rouse made his NASCAR debut in July 2021 in the Knoxville Truck series.

the world,” he says excitedly. “I started at 40 and got up to 18! I ran Knoxville again last year and I got to do the Daytona ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) Menards series, so I’ve stayed pretty busy. When you’re testing at Daytona International Raceway, you’re testing at one of the largest platforms. I was driving the #44 Chevrolet!”

Despite his busy schedule with racing, he admits he still has to work a full time, separate job to keep the bills covered.

“Right now, I’m working full time selling race gear, and I’m not racing very much because of the lack of sponsorship,” he offered. “They sure don’t tell you how hard it can be, and it’s not cheap. It’s not easy when you’re reaching out and asking for hundreds, thousands and millions of dollars.

“I’m reaching out and hoping someone is going to grab and offer a sponsorship. And I handle everything. It’s all me. Drivers should be able to focus on driving, not coming up with sponsorships. I’d like to have an agent, but that’s expensive, too. I’m trying not to let that part of it get me down.”

At 24, Rouse is single and com-

mitted to putting everything he’s got into achieving his goals. “I’m happy doing me right now. I’m single and I’ve never dated anyone, because I haven’t met the right one yet. I’m not going to settle until I find someone that is right for me.”

Despite all the pluses he has found here and the happiness he gets from being in the heart of the motor sports industry, Rouse professes there is still palpable hate from some old school NASCAR fans, who aren’t so comfortable with the idea of diversifying the community.

“It has its negatives,” he says matterof-factly. “I’ve gotten death threats. But

his website at www.michaelkleinracing.com), but his story and pathway to racing is a bit different from Rouse.

Klein was born and currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio though he’s about to make a move. Unlike Rouse, he’s headed for Indianapolis. At 25, (just a year older than Klein) he chuckles slightly when talking about his age. “I know I’m getting a late start,” he offers. “I’m older than most drivers who are just getting started. These days most of them are around 16, or 17,” he continues. “But I didn’t have some of the advantages lot of the others did. It’s pretty common, you know, that some of the drivers come from racing families, so they have the support and backing of their families.

“I didn’t come from that kind of a background,” he explains. “I got my start here (Cincinnati) driving carts. I wanted to drive dirt carts.

Klein identifies as a Asexual, or Ace and now believes he is demi-romantic.

“At first I felt like I was aromantic,” he offers. “But now, as I’ve grown older, I could see myself with someone else, so I’m definitely a demi-romantic.”

Not unlike Rouse, Klein says he’s been interested in racing since childhood.

“For as long as I can remember,” he says enthusiastically. “I grew up watching it and loving it. I got my start racing with ARCA, and in the Illinois Race Series around Ohio. I’ve also driven in the Legends Car Races in Charlotte – it’s a smaller model competition.”

Listening to Klein share his story of searching for sponsorship, moving to a new city for the advantages the region gives him and grabbing the opportunities to race when he can, it’s easy to see a pattern emerge for drivers with dreams of breaking into the big time, and how they can find themselves frustrated and sometimes disappointed.

why would I let that bother me? They’re a stranger, and to be honest, some of them are pretty funny, although I don’t think they’re trying to be. I just try not to take it too seriously.”

As for his future plans, they’re pretty much solidified.

“My dream is to be a full time driver for NASCAR,” he insists. “I will not stop until I get there.”

Michael Klein is another young man who identifies as part of the LGBTQ community (he actually has that detail listed on

Like any creative or artistic field, it comes with its own set of challenges: there’s a lot of competition from other drivers who share the same dreams you do and are fighting for the same resources.

As is likely the case for every one immersed in the world of motorsports competition, Klein’s dream position is to drive race cars full time, and he’s committed to achieving that goal. He also hopes to compete in the Carolina Late Model Series in the future.

“I’m open to working with anybody who’s a good fit for our program,” he says. “I’ve been working on developing branding

14 Qnotes March 31 - April 13, 2023 feature
“Knoxville is one of the top three series in
Qnotes Staff Devon Rouse: ‘If you wanna’ be in the industry, you gotta be here.’ CREDIT: Courtesy Devon Rouse ‘If you’re experiencing hate or discrimination [in professional motorsports], reach out to me. I’ll be your friend.’ – Michael Klein CREDIT: Michael Klein

and imaging, so it would be nice to find sponsorship that fits in with my values and the brand.”

From every indication, it appears NASCAR, as a company, has grown and is accepting of diversity and inclusion, far more than it was in its earlier days. But that doesn’t mean the entirety of motorsports, or the fan base for race competition has suddenly become woke overnight.

There are still many out there who see the sport as an entitled right, belonging only to a very specific selection of the population. In other words, there is still some enlightenment left to be achieved, but NASCAR, which has reached out directly in an inclusive and welcoming manner to the LGBTQ audience, seems to be leading the way.

Regardless, pockets of contempt remain.

“I have received some pretty nasty comments on Twitter,” Klein recalls. “But things have changed. For others in the LGBTQ family who are interested in participating in motorsports and racing, if you’re experiencing hate or discrimination, reach out to me. I’ll be your friend. We’ve got to stand up and let everyone know we’re normal people just like everyone else.”

Some history of early diversity in American motorsports

There were others that came before Klein and Rouse. If you dig back deep enough,

you’ll find some earlier attempts at merging diversity into the sport beginning with the first NASCAR race held in Charlotte in 1949.

The city and the surrounding region began its love affair with NASCAR and motorsports on June 19 of that same year with the first official NASCAR event, known as the “Strictly Stock” race.

An estimated 22,000 individuals showed up to watch 33 drivers – mostly older white men – to take competitive turns around the slat-board track. While most were men, there was one particular driver in this race of historic note: Sara Christian. Described in literature of the day as an “Atlanta housewife,” she drove a 1948 Ford and was NASCAR’s most famous female racer during that time. Historic notes don’t elaborate on who she was married to, but she was a woman participating in a male dominated sport, and she was there in 1949!

Another significant motorsports driver was Terri O’Connell. She started her career as a race car driver in multiple classifications simultaneously, while still living life as a man and going by the name JT Sumner.

“My dad got me into it,” she recalled in an interview with Etcetera Magazine in the late 1990s. “He was a driver, too. So it was in my blood. The funny thing is, I was around all these really macho men growing up and again later when I first started driving professionally. I acted like one, too, but I never felt like one. I always felt like a girl inside.”

As Sumner, O’Connell’s motorsports history was reportedly one of great success. After gender affirming surgery in the 1990s, she stepped away from the motorsports scene entirely. Although she did return in later years with a substantial amount of media coverage,

O’Connell found herself knocking on doors, but getting few responses. These days, she’s reportedly living in California, where she owns and operates a fashion and cosmetic company and she penned a book about her experience, entitled “Dangerous Curves.” ::

March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 15
Terri O’Connell felt rejected by the motorsports industry after gender affirming surgery. CREDIT: Facebook The Chevy Silverado Devon Rouse used in 2021 for his debut in the Knoxville Truck series. CREDIT: Courtesy Devon Rouse Sara Christian was NASCAR’s most famous female driver. CREDIT: NASCAR Chronicle scan

Stonewall Sports joins the Pickleball craze LQBTQ sports group adds game to their repertoire

Two and a half days after registration opened last month, Stonewall Sports Charlotte filled all of the slots for its inaugural pickleball league. Registration was supposed to end on Feb. 19 for the league that started in March.

“We were expecting that people would be excited about it, but we were floored that it went so fast,” said Amanda Miklos, 39, who co-leads the league with her wife Monica, 40.

Pickleball is a fun sport with a silly name that has captured the global stage. It’s a combination of table tennis (but bigger paddles) and tennis (smaller court, lower net and a wiffle-type ball). It appeals to people of all age regardless of athleticism. Prior to the pandemic, pickleball appealed to mostly older people. In fact, many of the area’s open play sessions are held at county recreation centers during working hours which is like the hours for badminton.

During the pandemic, pickleball exploded among younger players, and its popularity continues to grow. CNBC reported that more than 36.5 million people played pickleball from August 2021 to August 2022, according to a new report by the Association of Pickleball Professionals.

The sport now boasts the firepower of LeBron James, Tom Brady, Kevin Durant and Patrick Mahomes who’ve invested in professional pickleball teams, according to news reports. There’s a YouTube video of the retired quarterback Eli Manning brothers playing retired tight end Rob Gronkowski. It’s more trash talking than playing.

The Stonewall League joins numerous other Charlotte Pickleball Leagues, including a few sponsored by Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, as well as others hosted by private organizations such as Pickleball Charlotte.

It’s come a long way in Charlotte from when the Mikloses learned to play while visiting friends in Tampa a couple of years ago.

“You get so obsessed and addicted to this game,” Amanda Miklos said. “It’s just so fun.”

Stonewall decided to add pickleball conducting a survey to determine which new sports to add. They discovered a lot of desire for a pickleball league. Many people heard of pickleball but didn’t know how to play, they said.

The Miklos want to make the new Stonewall League fun and less intimidating to beginners. Instead of typical league play in which registrants join as a two-person team, they’re doing a ladder system. Players register as individuals and play with different partners throughout the seven-week league (excluding rain outs).

Out of 60 players, about a third marked that they never played before or were beginner, Monica Miklos said. As with other leagues, they will hold a 101 clinic and practice night before the season starts. These are opportunities to teach beginners the rules and give them some exposure to the venue where they will be playing – Matthews Swim and Tennis Center.

“Everybody’s got to start somewhere,” Monica Miklos said.

“Our goal was to start the league, do something that was accessible and allow people to learn a news sport,” added Amanda Miklos.

In Charlotte, the sport has become extremely popular earning stories in local media and the conversion of tennis courts into pickleball courts. Rally, billed as an

urban pickleball entertainment experience, is slated to open in near Old Pineville Road and Southside Drive.

It’s becoming more and more difficult to play for free here unlike other sports. It’s difficult to simply show up at a court with friends on a nice day during prime hours to play. Parks and Rec now has an online court registration portal to help manage the chaos at its popular courts. Pickleball Charlotte hosts open plays ranging from mornings to evenings at Sports Connections facilities in Ballantyne, Northlake and southwest Charlotte. The cost varies. Charlotte Indoor Tennis in south Charlotte also hosts open plays throughout the week for varying skill levels and a fee.

Pickleball is a perfect fit for Stonewall. The league that started in 2014 with kickball now includes bowling, volleyball, cornhole and dodgeball and most importantly long-lasting friendships.

“Stonewall has been amazing. We have a whole group of friends that were on our kickball team that we’re still friends with. It’s been such a cool thing for community,” Amanda Miklos said. They’ve made lasting connections, gotten to know people, and had fun at the same time.

That’s pickleball. ::

16 Qnotes March 31 - April 13, 2023
Amanda Miklos and her wife Monica learned to play pickleball when visiting friends a couple of years ago. CREDIT: Courtesy of Amanda Miklos
March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 17

A conversation with Dr. Love

Black lesbian educator Dr. Bettina Love discusses parenting, education and love

Afew years ago, UNC-Charlotte students and faculty packed a conference hall anxiously awaiting a guest lecturer.

Tall, stately and projecting her own style of masculine energy, Dr. Bettina Love, a renowned and highly respected Black lesbian educator, stepped up to the podium. She began her lecture with a discussion about what was then her latest book “We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom.”

“Abolitionist teaching is wanting to dismantle the prison industrial complex within education,” she explained. “It’s wanting to create schools that are loving and affirming to all children. With abolitionist teaching we take accountability for harm and then start to repair.”

Since then Love has been hard at work on another book (“Punished for Dreaming,” due out Sept. 12, 2023) and continues on her journey of educating others on inclusive and culturally affirming education and education policies.

QNotes spoke with Love recently by phone from her office on the campus of Teachers College at Columbia University in New York. She shared a few of her thoughts on education, parenting and what it means to be Dr. Love.

According to Love, her last name has represented a challenge at times, but she insists she has always maintained a good sense of humor about it all.

“You might imagine the jokes I got as a kid growing up,” she recalls with a chuckle. “And at least 10 times a year someone asks, ‘what’s your real name?’ I arrive at an event, and they think I’m the DJ or I just made it up.

“But I love it. I love that my father gave it to me – he died when I was 17 – and I love that my wife has it.

She recalls the relationship she shared as a young girl and then a teen in Rochester, N.Y., with her parents fondly. “I grew up

in a house with a very loving mother and father,” she says. My parents were both very affirming. I played with G.I. Joes and went to Catholic school, the only time I wore a dress.

I was a daddy’s girl, though. I would wash his Caddy with him on Saturdays and Sundays.

“A big part of growing up in my parent’s home was authenticity. For my mother, being authentic was equally if not more important as being yourself. I remember once, growing up and my older sister was on the phone and changed her voice. She was talking to someone white. When she hung up, my mother let her have it. She told her, ‘Don’t you ever change you.’

“I don’t think they thought I’d grow up to be a professor, though they always told me, ‘Go, and be whatever you want to be. Don’t take nobody’s shit and be yourself.’ They raised me to be a tough lil’ kid, and I appreciate that.

“When I told my mother I was lesbian she said, ‘We’ve been waiting on you [to finally say it] all this time.’ So, I don’t have coming out stories. I was just myself and was surrounded by individuals who let me be myself. My mother had this saying. She’d say, ‘You give ‘em hell.’”

Love admits she wasn’t quite sure what her long term plans were when she first entered college through a basketball scholarship program, In fact, she would eventually transfer from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia to the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. But not before a pivotal moment in her life occurred.

“I never thought I would be an educator, but I had some amazing Black teachers growing up who inspired me,” she explains. ”But the catalyst was freshman year of college at Old Dominion. I realized I was in

classes with all the boys’ basketball players. I was taking classes in first aid and outdoor recreation. I wanted to take other classes, I didn’t know what, but I wanted to take something more challenging.

“Funny thing is, what they let me take, after I complained, complained and complained, was an education class.”

The administration’s decision to place her in that particular class also led her to another life-changing event.

“I walked in,” Love recalls, “and there she was – my wife.”

Twenty-one years later, Bettina and Chelsea Culley-Love are still together, and they’re the proud parents of twins.

“Chels is my dream girl, kind, beautiful and a wonderful mom. If I’ve got a lot going on she has my back, whatever I need. I would do anything to keep her. I cherish her.”

For Love, anything means growing individuality, as a couple and nurturing their relationship. Without hesitation, she happily admits the last two years of her relationship have been the best of all.

During this time the Loves have been able to be vulnerable with each other, honing communication skills, learning to apologize and support each other with a love and respect that results in supporting each other. Seemingly, this is an evolution they’ve embraced as staunch therapy advocates who have no problems proclaiming, “We’re both in therapy.”

The Loves’ twins are two 12-year-olds (a boy and girl). When questioned about what Valentine’s Day is like in a household full of Loves, her response was fitting.

“It’s about love – spending time together and letting each other know how much we

appreciate each other. [Typically] we spend a lot of time with our kids, watching documentaries and listening to the music they like. It’s another day to be affectionate, to show we love them, tell them we’re proud of them and that we’re there for them.”

The Love twins take their parent’s love and encouragement with them every day and everywhere, including to the Harlem, N.Y., public school they attend. When questioned on whether or not her ideology on education means she’s tougher on her children’s teachers than other parents – Love immediately credited her wife. “… an amazing educator herself. She’s been teaching for over 20 years. So, when it comes to that, it’s not me – it’s my wife. But we both try to be very compassionate to teachers and try to support them and their community of students the best we can; and know our children. So, when a teacher says, “Your child is talkative,” I know they are. <Chuckles> It’s about being honest and supporting the teacher in their job and job they’re trying to do.

As Love once said, she never expected that her college years would lead to a career as an educator. The support she offers for her children’s teachers confirms the empathy she shares for other educators, especially those working in the United States public school system.

It’s not hard to imagine the many challenges that come with initiating a progressive school of thought in today’s educational system, especially with push back against CRT (Critical Race Theory), DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and the banning of many children’s and young adult books that explore the significance of these topics and/or focus on Black and LGBTQ historical figures and culture.

“This is what you do instead of having conversations about climate change, health care and immigration,” Love says, referring to the plethora of anti-CRT and anti-LGBTQ legislation currently sweeping the United States. “We have issues in our country, and governors are calling press conferences to talk about curriculum. There’s a huge teacher shortage. Florida started 2022 with 8,000 vacancies. Teacher pay is deplorable in this country. I’d love to hear these people talk about their political agenda and the affordable housing crisis. But they’re not, because they are not going to give people actual policy that will benefit their lives.”

Although it might sound daunting for Love, especially with so much going on and so much to think about and do, she makes it clear she finds time to step away and wind down. As one might expect, she enjoys watching a good game of basketball, particularly when LeBron James is playing.

She also enjoys hip-hop and adamantly proclaims to be “the biggest Beyonce fan you’ve ever met,” though her daughter might describe Love as immature and someone who “plays too much.”

Outside of all that she finds fulfillment with community friends she’s made and kept for over 30 years, sharing lasting and reciprocal affection. It’s clear, the name Dr. Love was tailor-made for her. ::

18 Qnotes March 31 - April 13, 2023 life
Professor, advocate and basketball enthusiast Dr. Bettina L. Love. CREDIT : FaceBook


March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 19


20 Qnotes March 31 - April 13, 2023

HRC North Carolina Gala 2023

Charlotte event honors local figures involved with Trans Community

So many important contributors to the greater good of LGBTQ Equality were in attendance for the 2023 HRC North Carolina Dinner, held March 18. Among them, HRC President Kelley Robinson, former Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and current Charlotte city councilwoman LaWanna Page.

Guest performers for the evening’s presentation included recording artist Robin S., who performed her Atlantic Records releases “Show Me Love” and “Luv 4 Luv;

Miller Show” on Sirius XM radio and has her own podcast, “Out in Left Field with Dana Goldberg” on Advocate.com

The list of honorees for this year:

• The recipient of the Dan Mauney Equality Award, Transcend Charlotte, an organization whose mission is to pursue equity and social justice for transgender and gender expansive communities through education, advocacy, mental health and social support services.

• Bethany Corrigan, the director of Transcend Charlotte and a gender equity, diversity and inclusion specialist with over 14 years of experience in social justice and human rights in over 50 countries worldwide. Corrigan has a Masters in Public Health Degree from the University of Georgia and a

Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University.

• As reported in Qnotes previously, Justine Lindsay is the first trans female cheerleader on a cheerleading squad for an NFL team in the country. And we’re just lucky enough that she happens to be a member of the Top Cats, who cheer on the Carolina Panthers.

“Without Exception” and presenting sponsor for the dinner was Bank of America.

Other North Carolina sponsors are as follows:

• Platinum sponsors: Food Lion, Lowe’s, Trane and Truist.

• Gold sponsors: Fenix and Geico.

and her latest Billboard Dance Chart topper, “Shout It Out Loud.” Comedian Dana Goldberg, best known for her stand-up in comedy clubs and her following in the LGBTQ community also took to the stage. She is a weekly guest on “The Stephanie

Lindsay is also an advocate for trans people everywhere and a supporter of Transcend Charlotte. As last year, this year’s presentation was held at the Le Méridien Hotel in center city Charlotte on McDowell Street. The theme for the event was

• Silver sponsors: Belk, Cisco, Diageo, EY, K&L Gates, Premier and Synchrony.

• Bronze sponsors: Cargo Transportation, Fifth Third Bank, Moore & Van Allen, PNC, Queen City Animal Hospital.

• In Kind Sponsor: NoDa Brewing Company. ::

March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 21 Q-mmunity connections space starting at $22: call qnotes for details 704.531.9988
HRC President Kelley Robinson. CREDIT: Screen Capture Carolina Panthers cheerleader Justine Lindsay. CREDIT: Ryan Sumner/Fenix Photography Bethany Corrigan, Executive Director of Transcend Charlotte.
CREDIT: Qnotes Staff

Getting the LGBTQ community job ready

Companies understand the business case for LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace

It’s Saturday afternoon, but the Zooms don’t stop for college students and job seekers trying to open doors. On this day, a group of Point Foundation scholars are listening to Alan Cruz share his story of how networking has been instrumental in taking him from high school organizer to becoming a first generation college student to most recently an Out in Tech mentee and Senate legislative intern.

As with every cyclical societal gain for marginalized communities, conservative politicians are creating laws to bar LGBTQ individuals, especially transgender people, from access to healthcare to sports to education. Corporations like society at large are more progressive. They are recruiting LGBTQ individuals as new hires. It’s the next evolution after corporations started adding non-discrimination policies and inclusive benefits.

This surge in interest to hire LGBTQ individuals is leading more LGBTQ organizations to offer job readiness programming. The trainings aren’t necessarily the hard skills necessary to perform their duties. Instead, these programs offer the soft skills to help LGBTQ individuals get, retain and flourish in their chosen workplaces.

Cruz’s presentation was part of the Point Foundation’s, the nation’s largest non-profit scholarship granting organiza-

tion, recent Community College Spring Conference - Resume Writing, Interviewing & Networking virtual retreat. It’s just one example of this effort.

“Our fastest growing group of funders

are corporate funders, and they really want to talk to scholars about how their company is inclusive,” said Margaux Cowden, Point Foundation’s Chief Program Officer. This year, Point added job readiness programming support for their scholars.

Depending on the scholarship track, programs include understanding of individual purpose and drive, personal strengths and how to communicate those strengths and/or networking. There’s also the more traditional subjects such as leadership development, resume writing and interviewing skills.

Cruz shared tips on how to network, but most importantly stressed understanding your personal worth and talking to people and companies that align with your values.

“It really is who you know that can help you get in these doors to things that may seem inaccessible to you,” Cruz told the Zoom participants on Saturday.

The skills being taught aren’t new, but LGBTQ students have less role models than cisgendered students which makes it hard for them to see themselves in certain careers. The Point Foundation is preparing students to make use of the same connections that straight cis white men have been using for decades, Cowden said.

Students at four-year institutions have career services and many of those students have sought those services,

but are still having trouble figuring out how to move forward.

According to Human Rights Campaign, businesses are increasingly participating in professional recruiting events for LGBTQ+ students and professionals such as the annual Lavender Law conference, Reaching Out MBA career expo, and other professional job fairs. An increasing number of LGBTQ organizations focused on issues such as housing and healthcare have added workforce development and job readiness to their programming to fit the growing demand for these services.

The need for workforce training<

In Charlotte, the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce also added a workforce training component to its services. In the past, the Chamber was known for its work with entrepreneurs, but that shifted after the pandemic.

About one third of the Charlotte LGBTQ Chamber membership is working professionals not business owners. After COVID, the Chamber asked members what they needed most, and participants responded that they need help getting to the next point in their careers. The organization also determined that transgender people and people of color tended to need the most workforce training to get a job, advance or change jobs, said Chamber president Chad Turner.

Organizations such as Transcend

22 Qnotes March 31 - April 13, 2023 feature
As corporations actively recruit more LGBTQ individuals, the need for job readiness training grows. CREDIT: The Gender Spectrum Collection Staff Alan Cruz, CREDIT: Point Foundation

Charlotte, Charlotte Black Gay Pride, Time Out Youth and Regional AIDS Interfaith Network started asking for assistance to help clients who were chronically unemployed. Some clients didn’t have job skills or needed a new skill set because their job is no longer in demand, he said. There was a realization from people in the service industry that they needed employment that was more sustainable and stable. The post pandemic realities were also a wake-up call for the Chamber that their members were not just small business owners.

The Chamber partnered with other organizations to assist people changing their careers, find a job and/or get IT certifications. The Chamber also offers lunch and learn training events and will begin working with partners to provide HVAC and electrician certification for individuals. These trainings are provided at low cost, or no cost and the Chamber provides letters of support, Turner said.

“The days of just providing networking events and referrals was no longer enough after the pandemic,” he said.

The Chamber is also seeing more 25 to 40-year-olds not making the money they used to make or getting pushed out of their career path as the work changes, Turner said. Industries are downsizing or right-sizing, he said and that’s left some individuals with antiquated skills.

In April, Out in Tech Charlotte is partnering with the Chamber and other organizations to host Let’s Have A Resume Kiki. “The focus is LGBTQ+ professional development and preparing the LGBTQ+ community to be more confident and discoverable to potential employers,” said Zach Anderson, chapter head of Out in Tech Carolinas.

At a recent job fair co-hosted by Campus Pride, the Chamber offered resume building, LinkedIn audits and headshots. Later this Spring, the Chamber will be working with corporate partners to help individuals who are looking to make a career change successfully make the transition, Turner said.

Trans individuals face a unique challenge regarding documentation and presentation. Plus hiring managers must also be trained on how to ensure that LGBTQ individuals are placed into a welcoming work culture.

Seismic Shift

Beck Bailey, Accenture’s Global Chief Diversity Officer, echoes the importance of creating a welcoming workplace. Prior to joining Accenture, Bailey ran the Human Rights Campaign’s workforce equality program to help make companies more LGBTQ inclusive. Employees are concerned about how they will be treated when they show up at a new job. Companies understand the business case

for LGBTQ inclusion, and they’ve taken steps to become more inclusive in their policies and practices, Bailey said.

“They want to attract and retain the best talent and that includes LGBTQ people,” Bailey said.

At Accenture, compliance training equates misgendering to sexually harassing women, he said. Policies and practices are important, but real interventions are equally important. Accenture tries to make LGBTQ inclusion the same as all of the other things we’re doing, Bailey said.

A common theme among all the organizations focused on LGBTQ job readiness is trust and confidence for the employer and the employee. There’s the confidence needed for LGBTQ individuals to step into new opportunities as their authentic selves and the trust that employers offer a workplace that embraces that authenticity. It’s going to take time, but this is a seismic and long overdue shift from the “don’t ask don’t tell” mentality of the ‘90s.

This story is part of QnotesCarolinas’ special project “OUTlook: Finding Solutions for LGBTQ Labor and Workplace Equality.” It is supported by the Solutions Journalism Network. Read more at qnotescarolinas.com/ features-outlook. ::

March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 23 affinityhealthcenter.org/get-tested TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR HEALTH GET TESTED FREE Confidential Testing Rapid HIV | Rapid HEP C Chlamydia & Gonorrhea WALK - IN TESTING Monday - Thursday 8:30 am - 6:00 pm Friday 8:30 am - 4:00 pm STAY HEALTHY Gay Friendly Primary Care HIV Specialty Care PrEP and PEP 877.647.6363 455 LAKESHORE PKWY. ROCK HILL, SC 29730 JOIN THE Equality NC Crew! #ENCCrew equalitync.org/membership
CREDIT: Point Foundation

Coastal Mississippi Pride Journey

Every now and then I visit a destination I know absolutely nothing about. That happened a few years ago when I visited Oklahoma City and I fell in love with OKC. This time around, that destination was Coastal Mississippi, more specifically Biloxi, Gulfport and Ocean Springs. In fact, the only thing I knew about the Biloxi was the hotel I stayed at, Beau Rivage. I knew it was owned by MGM Resorts, but that was about it. The rest of the trip was going to be a surprise.

For this particular trip, I wanted to focus on health and wellness, and luckily Beau Rivage’s most recent renovation included two floors full of Stay Well rooms as well as an updated spa. My gulf view room came complete with an aromatherapy machine, ultra high-end linens, a memory foam mattress, and pillows as well as a vitamin C dispenser hooked up to my shower. I had never seen one of those before, so I had to ask what it was.

After an early check in, I departed for Ocean Springs, a quaint town just east of Beau Rivage. My first stop was a place called Shearwater Pottery. Apparently, it is very well known to everyone but me. After posting pictures on social media, I received numerous comments from friends wanting to visit. Shearwater Pottery was founded in 1928 by Peter Anderson, and from the 1920s through the present day, Shearwater Pottery has produced art pottery, utilitarian ware, figurines, decorative tiles and other pottery pieces.

I had the opportunity to meet with Margie Ashley, the daughter of Peter Anderson, who told me about her family’s legacy in Ocean Springs. At that time, Coastal Mississippi was known for fishing and not so much for the arts, so her family was viewed as outcasts by the community. Margie told me people used to call them the “crazy Andersons.” But they eventually had the last laugh as the family name has become as much of Coastal Mississippi culture as seafood gumbo.

A few minutes up the road from Shearwater Pottery is the Walter Anderson

Museum of Art. Walter was the brother of Peter Anderson and equally as talented, creating thousands of works throughout his lifetime. Many of Walter Anderson’s paintings, drawings, murals, block prints, sculpture, carvings and writings are on display at the museum.

The pièce de résistance is the Community Center, which is the site of Walter Anderson’s monumental 3,000 square foot mural, which depicts the historic discovery of the Mississippi Coast and its diverse climates. The city commissioned Walter Anderson in 1950 for a fee of $1.00, and the project took 16 months to complete.

For dinner, head to Vestige, a farm-totable restaurant in Ocean Springs helmed by head chefs Alex Perry and his wife Kumi Omori who were recently nominated for a James Beard Award. Vestige offers a prefixed menu which changes on a regular basis and contains only the freshest local ingredients. And if it’s not local, they fly it in from its land of origin to insure its freshness. We began our meal with sashimi of Hamachi complete with a foie gras emulsion, rose, purple sweet potato and magnolia flower kombucha veil. Yes, that was one dish and just an appetizer, but probably my favorite item on the menu.

After three more courses which consisted of a piece of perfectly cooked fish to charcoal grilled wagyu beef, the meal comes to an end with a delectable strawberry Bavarian, with cacao mint genoise, whipped match, grapefruit lemon curd

and pecan ginger shortbread. This wasn’t just a meal; it was an experience worthy of a James Beard nomination and definitely the award for Best Chef: South.

You’ll need the rest of the night to recover from a food coma, so head back to Beau Rivage for some much-needed rest or hit the casino if your heart desires.

Head out the next morning to the recently opened Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport, about 15 minutes west of Biloxi. The state-of-the-art facility is home to a variety of sea life and is one of the crown jewels of the area.

I can never see enough animals, so next on the agenda was the Institute of Marine Mammal Studies located at Ocean Adventures Marine Park. Guests can come up close and personal with stingrays, sea lions and dolphins. I had the opportunity to interact with a beautiful male dolphin, getting to rub his belly, give him commands and feed him some delicious fish. For my – I mean his – hard work, I got a kiss from one of my favorite animals.

On the way back to your hotel, stop by Coastal Roast Coffee for an afternoon pick me up before dinner. I wasn’t sure what to expect at White Pillars. The bar was set really high at Vestige the night before, but I was in for another treat. We began our meal with a bowl of oyster and artichoke soup. I was a bit hesitant to order this at first, as I didn’t want to begin my meal with something heavy, but when it arrived, it turned out to be one of the best soups I’ve had in a long time. It was light and

fragrant, consisting of gulf oysters, fennel and oyster mushrooms in a coconut milk broth. When dining near the coast, why not try the Gulf Seafood Tower, two tiers of fresh oysters, mahi crudo, smoked fish dip and amberjack ceviche.

And those were just the starters. For my main course, I ordered the duck ramen prepared with a confit duck leg, collards, togarashi, duck cracklins and the traditional soft-boiled egg. In fact, the egg was the only thing traditional about the dish, which was rich and delicious. The duck was cooked to perfection and the broth was fantastic.

The area is home to two LGBTQ bars, Sipp’s in Gulfport and Just Us Lounge, located within walking distance of Beau Rivage. The crowd at Just Us was a melting pot of the area’s LGBTQ community, extremely diverse and welcoming. One thing to note is that smoking is still legal inside bars, so if that bothers you, there is a large outdoor space available.

I know I said I wanted to focus on health and wellness during this trip, but I seemed to have detoured from my mission somewhere in Ocean Springs. One can’t resist the food in Coastal Mississippi, so screw the diet for one more day and head to The Roasted Bean located in the lobby of Beau Rivage and ask for an order of beignets. These are not listed anywhere in plain site and are the best kept secret of the hotel. I received a tip from the captain of the Biloxi Shrimping Trip, which I went on the morning prior. The powdered sugar pastries were the best I’ve ever had. Light, airy and simply delicious. They couldn’t have had that many calories, right?

End your stay in Coastal Mississippi with a relaxing CBD massage at the The Spa at Beau Rivage. The 80-minute massage uses CBD body oils as well as a Moor Mud treatment to soothe tired muscles and back pain. Playing with dolphins, eating oysters and savoring beignets all weekend was quite stressful.

If you are looking for a relaxed seaside vacation, put Coastal Mississippi on your radar. There are many unique experiences that will make your stay truly memorable. Visit coastalmississippi.com for more information about the destination. ::

Q March 31 - April 13, 2023 life CONNECT. ENGAGE. EMPOWER. To Become a Member or Partner: 704.837.4050 www.clgbtcc.org info@clgbtcc.org

“Blue Hunger” Out in Print

“Blue Hunger” by Viola Di Grado, translated by Jamie Richards

c.2023, Bloomsbury


216 pages

You can’t stop thinking about it. It’s been rolling around in your mind since it happened, and you can’t stop. You replay it over and over, how it started, how it progressed, why it ended. You wonder if it’ll happen again, and in the new novel “Blue Hunger” by Viola Di Grado you wonder if you truly want it to.

Shanghai was not her first choice. Sometimes, she wasn’t really even sure why she came there, except that it was Ruben’s dream.

For months and months, he spoke of Shanghai, showed her maps, talked of a life as a chef living in a high-rise apartment, and he taught her a little bit of the language. She never fully understood why Ruben loved China and she never thought to ask before her other half, her twin brother, her only sibling died.

She was brushing her teeth when it

happened. Now, weeks later, she was in his favorite city, a teacher of Italian languages in a Chinese culture, alone, friendless. Then she met Xu.

It happened at the nightclub called Poxx, and she later wondered, with a thrill, if Xu had been stalking her. Xu claimed that she was a student in the Italian class, but though she was usually good with faces, she didn’t remember the slender, “glorious” woman with milk-white skin and luminous eyes.

She did remember the first place she and Xu had sex.

It was a hotel, but Xu liked it outside, too: in public, on sidewalks, in abandoned buildings and in crowded nightclubs. They took yellow pills together, slept together in Xu’s squalid apartment; she told Xu she loved her but never got a reply except that Xu starting biting.

Xu had used her teeth all along, but she started biting harder.

Soon, she was bleeding, bruising from Xu’s bites, and seeing people in the shadows, and she began to understand that Ruben wouldn’t have liked Xu at all...

You know what you want. You’re someone with determination. And you may want this book, but there are a few things you’ll need to know first.

Reading “Blue Hunger” is like watching a Stanley Kubrick movie. It’s surreal, kind of gauzy and loaded with meanings that are somewhat fuzzy until you’ve read a paragraph several times – and even then, you’re not quite sure about it. Author Viola Di Grado writes of sharp, unfinished mourning with a grief-distracting obsession layered thickly on top, of control and submission; and while the chapters are each brief, they feel too long but not long enough. There are so many questions left dangling within the plot of this story, so many small bits unsaid, but also too

much information of the mundane sort. You’ll feel somewhat voyeuristic with this book in your hands, until you notice that the sex scenes here are humidly uberfiery but not very detailed.

Overall, then, “Blue Hunger” is different but compelling, short enough to read twice, quickly. It’s lush, dreamlike, and once started, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. ::

March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 25 a&e
taff Author Viola Di Grado. CREDIT: Corrado Lorenzo Vasquez

Queering up your car

Changes made recently on the DMVs ‘Do Not Issue’ list now allow LGBTQ-related text on state-issued car tags

Over the past two decades the state of North Carolina has kept a tight grip on what it would allow drivers to have printed on their personalized automotive tags.

For the most part, text on car tags never stepped far beyond “family” friendly and “wholesome” American culture.

The LGBTQ community has always been a resourceful lot, so in years past (mostly throughout the 1990s and 2000s) and up until just a few weeks ago – Queers in North Carolina showed their pride on wheels in a variety of ways, ranging from rainbow and pink triangle tags often placed on the front of a car to similar stickers in car windows. The Human Rights Campaign’s equal symbol also became a frequently seen sticker to be found on the back of automobiles driven by many in the LGBTQ community.

Those are still popular but now there’s another option: state issued personalized “vanity” plates.

North Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV), after more than 20

Queer is just one of several new phrases now allowed by the NC DMV.

years, finally made the decision to review their Do Not Issue list of 9,000 or more words and phrases that are not allowed on automobile license plates. When they were finished, more than 200 items had been removed from the state’s prohibited plates list, among them over two dozen related to the LGBTQ community.

“Anything on the ‘Do Not Issue’ list

should not include the LGBT community,” said DMV commissioner Wayne Goodwin, in an interview Jan. 13 with Winston-Salem radio station WFDD. “I don’t know how long the terms that relate to the LGBT community were on the list, but with my administration they are coming off.”

Among those directly related and identified with the LGBTQ community were such

words and phrases as femme, gay, gaydcvr, gaygal, gayguy, gayhaven, gayheavn, gaypride, kindagay, LAGay, Lesbian, Queer, Soooogay, Soqueer and Trans, as well as a number of others.

If you think the list is limited, don’t worry. There’s no need to rush to claim your personalized tag: they can also be blended with letters, numbers and punctuation marks, which makes the list of possibilities practically endless.

“It’s a positive step forward for car enthusiasts and drivers in general in the LGBTQ community,” offered Darryl Hall, a co-administrator of the Facebook Charlotte-based Bent Car Club, a group of LGBTQ vintage car enthusiasts. “But I’m not sure everyone will be on board with it.

“Because of the current political climate, it’s like an advertisement inviting right-wing extremists to vandalize your car. Still, it’s good to see another way for our community to express their identity.”

Despite the excitement surrounding the changes that allow queer drivers to express their identity, some LGBTQ phrases still remain on the Do Not Issue list, like gaysok and gaylib.

According to Goodwin, they will likely come off the list as the review process continues. Goodwin also added the DMV always welcomes feedback from the public. ::

26 Qnotes March 31 - April 13, 2023
CREDIT: David Aaron Moore

Listen up, Amy Irving sings!

Versatile actor becomes recording artist with first album release

Fans of Amy Irving’s movies know that she’s a versatile actor, as comfortable in a drama (“Traffic” and “Voices”) as she is in a comedy (“Crossing Delancey” and “Deconstructing Harry”), classic horror (“Carrie” and “The Fury”), or even a musical (“Yentl,” for which she earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role). In addition to her film, television and stage work, Irving can confidently add recording artist to her resumé. Her debut studio album “Born in a Trunk” (linktr.ee/amyirving), features Irving performing 10 cover songs, ranging from the Great American Songbook to Tom Waits and Death Cab for Cutie, that are linked together to tell the story of her life. Amy was generous enough to make time for an interview shortly before the April release of the album.

Gregg Shapiro: Amy, one of the nicest surprises about Kate Taylor’s 2021 album “Why Wait!” is that you’re in the credits on the song “Beams of the Queen” as one of the Ukeladies and for providing background vocals. How did this collaboration come to be?

Amy Irving: [Laughs] funny you should ask. I was hanging out on Martha’s Vineyard, where Kate Taylor lives. A friend of mine there said, “A bunch of us girls have put together a ukulele group. We know that you play the guitar, maybe you’d like to join us.” This is The Ukeladies, you see it’s Laurie David and Judy Belushi and Joanne Ashe, who’s actually Seth Meyers’ mother-in-law.

GS: Wow!

AI: Yeah, we all have these weird little connections to celebrity. And, of course, Kate Taylor. We’ve been playing together, off and on, for about a year. Practicing when we could. We weren’t very good [laughs], but it was a really nice thing that I got to do some singing with them. We would play a party here and there. People were very gracious [laughs]. Then, Kate was doing this album with Peter Asher, and we’d been working on “Beams of the Queen,” which was written by her nephew. It was just one of our songs that we’d been working on, and she incorporated it into the album, and asked us to join her on the album. We actually even did a video. During COVID we went into this tiny recording studio on Martha’s Vineyard, and we all played our ukuleles. I got to come up with a little harmony for her, a little background singing. And there we are, we’re on the album. We actually played at Birdland in New York.

GS: That’s wild. Did that experience have anything to do with your desire to record your own album?

AI: No, because I had already recorded the album when I did that. I recorded the album before COVID hit. We couldn’t launch it because we couldn’t do any concerts.

GS: 2020 was the centennial of Peggy Lee’s birth, and 2022 was the 20th anniversary of her passing. Ann Hampton

Callaway pays homage to Lee on her new album, and Christine Ebersole covered a song made famous by Lee on her most recent album. Your cover of “Why Don’t You Do Right” is an equally lovely tribute. Did you ever have the chance to meet Peggy Lee or see her in concert?

AI: No, never. I just got to enjoy her singing. I never met her.

GS: The “One From the Heart” soundtrack is one of my favorites, especially the way that Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle’s voices complement each other. There aren’t many cover versions of songs from that album, so I wanted to say thank you for doing that and ask you to say a few words about the song “Old Boyfriends.”

AI: “One From the Heart” is definitely one of my favorite soundtracks in the whole wide world. I love Tom Waits. It’s funny, my sons Max and Gabriel, they fell in love with that album, too. We were listening to it every morning when I was in rehearsals for “Broken Glass” up in New Haven at Long Wharf (Theater). They liked it because you suddenly hear the baseball bat and the coin toss and the choo-choo train – [laughs] my kids were little, obviously, when this was happening. We loved it. It was an enchanting album. My favorite was “Old Boyfriends.” Crystal Gayle’s version is amazing. The one I do is very influenced by her [laughs]. I try to be as good as her, that’s all. The album (“Born in a Trunk”) is a story from my own life. It was at that moment I needed to cover the various marriages, the

various projects, the various movies and the various escapades.

GS: Not a lot of people can say that Willie Nelson not only wrote a song for them, but also sings the song with them as in the case of “I’m Waiting Forever.” What does that mean to you?

AI: It’s a culmination of a great, lifelong friendship. He and I are in touch pretty much every other day. We have a great friendship. We’ve been in and out of each other’s lives since I did “Honeysuckle Rose.” We had a wonderful working relationship and we had a romance. It was a very romantic time. That character fell in love with that man. It was just a wonderful time. My father had just passed away, and it was great to be looked after by this wonderful man.

GS: Death Cab for Cutie’s “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” is one of the most beautiful love songs of the 21st century.

AI: I think so!

GS: Do you know if the song’s writer, Ben Gibbard, has heard your version of the song, and if so, what does he think of it?

AI: I don’t think so because the album is not out yet, so nobody’s heard it [laughs]. I hope he likes it. My husband, Ken Bowser, when we were dating, we were actually in Brazil on a beach, and he played that song for me. I had never heard it before, and it became our song. It’s very, very important to me because this man I would follow into the dark.

GS: That’s beautiful. The song “Erroll Flynn” was written by Amanda McBroom, well-known for the song “The Rose” from the movie of the same name. She also long ago established herself as an acclaimed cabaret artist. Could you see yourself going that route?

AI: I don’t know. This new world has opened up to me, and I’m having a very good time with it. I did Susie Mosher’s “The Line Up” at Birdland. This is a wonderful evening. On Tuesday nights, Susie Mosher, who’s a comic and a singer, curates an evening of (performers doing) one-songonly and various people from various worlds get up and sing. That’s where The Ukeladies had done Kate Taylor’s song, as I mentioned. I had met Susie and she invited me to come and sing one of the songs from the album. Because most of the arrangements for the songs that I chose were newly arranged by Goolis, a.k.a. Jules David Bartkowski, they lend themselves to the Goolis band. So I went to Birdland twice and sang without the band. I did “Old Boyfriends” and I did “Errol Flynn.” They have wonderful musicians. On the album, we have backup singers and horn players; it’s quite a band, and we have a big band sound. So I went for the quieter songs to go do it (at “The Line Up”). I really had a good time, but I don’t know if after I launch this album if I’m going to find a new career. I didn’t know I was going to be doing this. I thought I was just going to be acting my whole life, and now I’m doing this. It really wakes you up. It really gets your blood boiling. You feel so alive. It’s been an amazing gift that my son Gabriel gave me.

GS: If you didn’t have a gay following before starring alongside Barbra Streisand in “Yentl,” you almost certainly gained one at that time. Was it something of which you were, and possibly still are, aware?

AI: I’m aware because I’ve been told. I don’t know how else I would be aware of it. I don’t I don’t really follow my career [laughs]. It’s like someone said to me, “So, have you sold any albums yet?” The album hasn’t been launched yet, so no. But I’m someone who, when I make a movie, I’ve never paid attention to how many tickets were sold. I just move on to the next thing.

GS: What would it mean to you if you did discover that you had an LGBTQ+ following? If you reached diva status?

AI: Well, it’s flattering. It’s a little embarrassing talking about people liking you [laughs]. I’d be thrilled. I’m very happy. I always know that having kissed Barbra Streisand put me in that world a little bit. She did have really nice, soft lips.

GS: Finally, you mentioned how the album is your history, and you’ve been married three times to three different filmmakers…

AI:…and my dad [Jules Irving] was a director, too. Do you think I’m a little textbook or what?

GS: I was going to ask if it would be fair to say that you have a type?

AI: [Laughs] yes! ::

March 31 - April 13, 2023 Qnotes 27 a&e
28 Qnotes March 31 - April 13, 2023