Qnotes issue, May 12, 2023

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4 Hate crimes likely to spike during 2024 election

4 New GOP-appointed com mission could suggest what standards are taught in NC schools

5 NC Supreme Court reverses its past rulings on major voting rights cases

8 SC GOP Congresswoman snaps at conservative who accuses her of supporting trans people

8 Lost Stephen Smith rape kit, never tested, has been found

9 Plus Collective celebrates 20 years with upcoming event

9 Home sales going up again in Charlotte

9 Reel Out Charlotte Celebrates Fifteen Years of Independent Cinema


Queer authors challenge “Me Too” era concepts of consent

Author Trevor Hoppe and co-Editor Shantel Gabriel Buggs’ latest project, ‘Unsafe Words’ (Rutgers University Press) explores race, gender, power and class. The collection of 13 essays from queer academics, activists, artists and advocates tackles tough questions about sex, power, consent and harm.


Elevating LGBTQ voices

New Democratic party chair Drew Kromer, 26, makes history as one of the youngest individuals known to serve in the position with a record number of endorsements. He says he’s ready to advocate for all Mecklenburg County constituents.


19 Q music: Say gay playlist 20 Where do you belong? 22 Queer authors challenge “Me Too” era

16 ‘All Man: The International Male Story’ takes a look at the success of the gayproduced fashion catalog aimed at men 17 Body-inclusive fashion line Dapper Boi

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12 Republicans play ‘cancel culture’ with drag


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Hate crimes likely to spike during 2024 election Civil Rights group offers plan of action to prevent violence

Anational civil rights group has warned that hate crimes will likely spike during the 2024 presidential election, just as they have during each of the last four presidential elections.

The group, the Leadership Conference Education Fund (LCEF), analyzed FBI hate crime data over the last 15 years and published their findings in a recent report.

The report found that during the 2008 election season, attacks against racial and ethnic minorities spiked — especially as white nationalist and antigovernment groups saw then-candidate Barack Obama poised to become the nation’s first Black president. In 2013, during and immediately following Obama’s re-election campaign, the number of hate crime victims increased by nearly 6.6 percent, according to data from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Hate crimes increased to a four-year high during the 2016 election campaign of Donald Trump. Once he took office in 2017, hate crimes reached their highest levels in nine years. This included attacks against people perceived as Middle Eastern and Muslim following Trump’s “Muslim ban” as well as the 49 mostly Hispanic LGBTQ+ people and allies slaughtered in the Pulse nightclub shooting.

In 2020, hate crimes reached an 11year high amid a violent backlash to the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests

While hate crimes are expected to spike during the 2024 election cycle, a multi-organization civil rights coalition wants to stop the violence before it starts. CREDIT: Stock Adobe

and the blaming of COVID-19 on China, the report said.

The most recently available FBI data shows that reported hate crimes are now the highest they’ve ever been since the FBI began tracking such data in 1991, the report added. Leading into 2024, the LCEF worries that political attacks on anti-racist education and LGBTQ+ “groomers” will result in even more hate motivated attacks.

Four-point plan to prevent a rise in hate crime attacks

To help counteract such violence during the upcoming election season, the LCEF asked public officials to refrain from and speak out against hate speech. The LCEF also suggested that social media

platforms invest in content moderation teams to de-platform sources of hate –even if those sources are political candidates or advertisements.

Additionally, the LCEF said that the federal government should confront and address white supremacist violence through existing civil rights infrastructure and not through federal anti-terrorism agencies, which have historically criminalized already marginalized communities.

“From the mainstreaming of hate and the failure of social media platforms to adequately address disinformation, the current climate is rife with opportunities for the trend of increased hate to continue into the 2024 election,” the report stated, “unless action is taken.”

The LCEF also called on Congress to mandate hate crime data collection, requiring all law enforcement agencies to report such data to the DOJ or FBI. As of 2023, 32 U.S. states have laws requiring state and local legal agencies to report hate crime data to the FBI and DOJ; 18 states do not.

“Because law enforcement agencies do not have to report any data on hate crimes to the FBI, [the most recent data] is not the full picture,” the LCEF’s report said. “Even though the most recent data show the highest number of reported hate crimes on record, we know the reality is far worse.”

The LCEF is the research and education arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s oldest and largest civil and human rights coalition of more than 230 national organizations.

The conference’s coalition includes the Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN, Lambda Legal, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, the National Centers for Lesbian Rights and Transgender Equality, PFLAG, the Trevor Project, and also groups representing educators, faith groups, immigrants, people of color, reproductive rights advocates, and workers unions.

This article appears courtesy of our media partner LGBTQ Nation. ::

New GOP-appointed commission could suggest what standards are taught in NC schools

Democratic lawmakers question GOP efforts to potentially change school curriculum

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina want more say on what’s taught in public schools, including potentially revising the state’s controversial new social studies standards.

The North Carolina House K-12 Education Committee backed a bill on Tuesday that would create a new commission appointed by lawmakers that would recommend the standards that would be taught in each K-12 subject. One of the first jobs of the new Standards Advisory Commission would be to review the recently adopted social studies standards. “No doubt there have been some questions about the standards and how they are taught in the classroom and who decides and who determines those standards,” said Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican and the bill’s primary sponsor. “Right now it’s pretty much relegated to the State Board of Education.” But Democratic lawmakers questioned what they said are GOP efforts to take over setting what’s taught in schools.

”This commission also gives the General Assembly basically a veto over anything that’s made in the Standard Course of Study, which is also very worrisome,” said Rep. Julie von Haefen, a Wake

County Democrat. “I believe this commission is just injecting politics into a process that should be done by people who are professional educators who know what they are doing.”

Standards Setting Process

Currently, the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) recommends to the State Board of Education what concepts to include in the Standard Course of Study. The state board then adopts the standards for each subject. DPI is leading teams that are currently working on new science standards and new healthful living standards. DPI also convened the teams that recommended the new social studies standards adopted in 2021. The standards had split the state board’s Democratic and Republican members. The board’s Democratic members said they were more inclusive, while the GOP members said they were too negative about American history. House Republicans have tried multiple times in the past two years to block the standards from being implemented.

Under House Bill 756, the Standards Advisory Commission would be formed to recommend the standards for each subject to the state board. The bill directs the

commission to recommend potential changes to the social studies standards to the state board by Jan. 1, 2025. Torbett said there’s precedent for the commission because one was formed by lawmakers to suggest changes to the Common Core standards that were used in math and English classes.

Lawmakers Would Pick Commission

The Republican-led General Assembly would appoint 16 of the new commission’s 17 voting members. The state superintendent would be the other voting member. Von Haefen questioned Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper having no appointments to the new commission. The commission would be required to include specific categories such as superintendents, principals, teachers, curriculum specialists, parents, business members and “at-large” members. They’d be chosen for four-year terms. The state board would have to either approve the commission’s recommendations without making major changes or reject them. If they are rejected, the state board would have to give the commission reasons, as well as another chance to revise the recommendations.

Parents, teachers and students are concerned move would allow Republicans to dictate what’s taught in schools across the state.

CREDIT: Stock Adobe

The state board could develop the standards itself only after rejecting the commission’s recommendations a second time. But the bill says any changes in standards or content adopted by the state board would have to be presented to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee. The changes would be blocked if legislation is filed within 31 days to delay the changes. “It’s the state board’s constitutional responsibility to define what our students should know, and in my opinion this is a major change to how that would happen,” von Haefen said.

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

4 Qnotes May 12- May 25, 2023

NC Supreme Court reverses its past rulings on major voting rights cases

Governor Cooper says Republican super majority sways General Assembly to allow GOP to dominate the government

The newly Republican-controlled North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday reversed two decisions made by the same court last year when it had a Democratic majority on redistricting and voter ID, and issued a third ruling denying voting rights for some felons. The court under Democratic control had struck down districts drawn by the Republicanled General Assembly on the grounds that they were illegally gerrymandered for partisan reasons. The justices had also struck down a 2018 voter ID law, saying it was racially discriminatory. A lower court had restored voting rights to people convicted of felonies who were out of prison but remained under state supervision.

Redistricting Decision

In Friday’s Harper v. Hall decision, the court said that claims about partisan gerrymandering are political questions for other branches of government to decide. “We are designed to be a government of the people, not of the judges,” the majority wrote. “At its heart, this case is about recognizing the proper limits of judicial power.”

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said the court was following the “marching orders” of the General Assembly, in which Republicans have a supermajority in both the House and Senate. “The Republican State Supreme Court has ignored the constitution and followed the marching orders of the Republican legislature by declaring open season for their extreme partisan gerrymandering and is destroying the court’s reputation for independence,” Cooper said in a statement Friday. “Republican legislators wanted a partisan court that would issue partisan opinions and that’s exactly what this is,” Cooper said. Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, also refer-

that could not be won at the ballot box,” Berger said in a statement.

“Today’s rulings affirm that our Constitution cannot be exploited to fit the political whims of left-wing Democrats,” Berger said. House Democratic Leader Robert Reives said the Supreme Court decision “further erodes the trust North Carolinians have in fair elections.” “Our state needs independent redistricting to ensure that voters can choose their politicians rather than politicians choosing their voters,” Reives said in a statement shortly after the decisions.

Voter ID Law

Challengers failed to prove lawmakers discriminated by passing the voter ID law, the court said Friday. “This Court has partisan rulings in favor of the fundamental

commit to that fundamental principle and begin the process of returning the judiciary to its rightful place as “the least dangerous” branch,” the court wrote Friday in the Holmes v. Moore decision.

Both the voter ID and partisan gerrymandering decisions under the previous makeup of the NC Supreme Court were made in December, after Democrats lost the majority and before Republicans took office in January. Those two December rulings were 4-3 decisions along party lines with all the court’s Democrats in the majority and all the Republicans dissenting. The makeup now is 5-2, with Republicans in the majority. After the Democratic-majority court decision in December, House Speaker Tim Moore, a Kings Mountain Republican, said “the lame duck Supreme Court of North Carolina has issued yet another opinion that defies the will of the majority of North Carolinians who voted for the

implementation of a photo ID requirement.”

Moore told The News and Observer this past fall, before the election, that Republicans would take up more voting legislation if they gained more power.

Voter ID, which requires a photo identification card to vote, was passed as a constitutional amendment by voters in 2018. Friday’s decision struck down the law that implemented the voter ID mandate by detailing what IDs are allowed. Voters have not been required to show ID in elections since the law passed, as the implementation has been tied up in state and federal courts.

Felony Convictions

The high court on Friday reversed a trial court order saying that North Carolinians with prior felony convictions must be allowed to register and vote. In Friday’s ruling, written by Republican Justice Trey Allen, the court found that it is “not unconstitutional to insist that felons pay their debt to society as a condition of participating in the electoral process.”

Previously, under North Carolina law, people serving a felony sentence could not register or vote until their sentence ended, including any period of probation, parole or post-release supervision. But in the lawsuit, Community Success Initiative v. Moore, nonprofits argued that this disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated voters was unconstitutional, that it disproportionately affected Black residents, and that voters should not have to wait to be eligible to vote but should have those rights restored after leaving prison or jail, as previously reported by The News & Observer.

In May, the state Supreme Court agreed to take over the lawsuit rather than wait for other courts to determine if the superior court was right to loosen restrictions.

May 12 - May 25, 2023 Qnotes 5
Among the rulings, voters must now have ID. CREDIT: Adobe Stock
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SC GOP Congresswoman snaps at conservative who accuses her of supporting trans people

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) is not a supporter of LGBTQ equality. She campaigned on transphobic lies to get her seat in the past two elections, she regularly posts antitrans equality messages to social media and she scored just 17 out of 100 on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard.

But that’s not enough for one of her supporters who accused her of supporting transgender people because she wore a tuxedo to last weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. And while it was just one person making the comment on Twitter, Mace’s outsized reaction shows that the right wing troll may have struck a nerve.

Steinhauser also brought up Mace’s position on abortion, which is anti-choice. Mace suggested that Republicans find a “middle ground” on the issue on CBS’s “Face the Nation” last Sunday.

The comments got under Mace’s skin, and she responded with quite a few tweets. First, she tweeted “This ain’t Gilead,” a reference to the dystopian novel The

Handmaid’s Tale.

“When they can’t win the policy or the debate, they go straight for your appearance. So it goes,” she wrote.

Then Mace posted a picture of Melania Trump wearing a tuxedo-inspired outfit, sans bowtie.

“Curious… who wore it better? Then vs. now?” Mace asked. “I love freedom and liberty, including being free to wear a tux.”

She added an American flag emoji, possibly to show off her conservative bona fides, and she retweeted posts from journalist Yashar Ali (showing Melania Trump and Donald Trump advisor Hope Hicks in a tuxedo).

And, for good measure, Mace tweeted a clip of her attacking transgender equality.

“We want to protect women and girls,” she wrote, as if trans women pose a threat to cis women. “Biological men should not be in female locker rooms, or competing against women in sports.”

When she was campaigning for office in

Lost Stephen Smith rape kit, never tested, has been found

Following the conviction of Alex Murdaugh and the exhumation and reburial of Stephen Smith, mainstream and LGBTQ media has largely focused on the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ legislation coming from multiple state governments across the country.

Scant information has been released in recent weeks on any recent developments.

Smith was found dead at the age of 19 on July 8, 2015, in a rural area of Hampton County, S.C., on Sandy Run Road near the border of property owned by the Murdaugh family. Initially his death was ruled a hit and run, but rumors have swirled since then that a member of the multi-generational kingpin legal family was somehow involved or responsible for Smith’s death.

Although no specific information has been released from authorities to establish a motivation for anyone in the Murdaugh family as of yet, the South Carolina Legal Enforcement Division (SLED) announced during the Murdaugh murder investigations last year that potential evidence recovered from the family home had prompted investigators to reopen the case as a homicide investigation.

Smith’s mother Sandy, through finances raised using a reopened GoFundMe account that was initially established to pay for the cost of Stephen Smith’s tombstone, was able to raise an additional $100,000 that afforded her the opportunity to hire private investigators and call for the exhumation of Smith’s body.

That took place quietly over the week-

2020, Mace accused her opponent, the incumbent Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), of working with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to pass “a law requiring transgendered [sic] equality in the military, a liberal mandate that will close Parris Island.” Parris Island is a Marine Corps base in her district.

No such law was passed. Her campaign made it up. She won the election anyway.

In 2022, she accused her Democratic opponent of “child abuse” for performing gender-affirming surgery on young children. The attacks led to threats and forced her opponent to take unpaid leave from her job as a doctor at Jenkins Children’s Hospital and increase security.

“SEX CHANGE SURGERY. PUBERTY BLOCKERS. GENDER CHANGING HORMONES. FOR CHILDREN?! THAT’S NOT PROTECTION. THAT’S CHILD ABUSE,” a text on a Mace campaign ad said, referring to her opponent, Dr. Annie Andrews.

end of April 1-2. Smith’s body was returned to his burial plot early the following week. State and private investigators have remained tightlipped about any evidence gleaned from the exhuming of Smith’s body and continue to do so.

Attorney Eric Bland, who represents the Smith family, confirmed that a rape kit had been administered following the recovery of Stephen’s body in 2015, although it had never been tested. As recently as a month ago the rape kit was

Andrews did not perform genderaffirming surgery on minors. Mace’s campaign made that up too. And Mace won that election.

Since she got into office, though, she has been trying to appear to be a more moderate alternative to extreme Republicans, calling Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) “batsh*t crazy” in emojis, despite Mace’s own extreme voting record.

This article appears courtesy of our media partner LGBTQ Nation. ::

reportedly unaccounted for. Bland was quoted in a story carried by The Sun News that it was his understanding the rape kit was in the possession of SLED, but it has still not been processed.

8 Qnotes May 12- May 25, 2023 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 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
South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace on Fox News. CREDIT: Screenshot This marker on the side of Sandy Run Road in Hampton County is the site where Stephen Smith (right) was found deceased in 2015.
CREDIT: Handout composite

Plus Collective celebrates 20 years with upcoming event

Every year, The Plus Collective provides grants to LGBTQ+ non-profits and community organizations doing the important work in our community.

Time Out Youth (TOY) is one of those organizations. Here’s what they had to say about The Plus Collective and the impact on TOY:

“The Plus Collective has long been a supporter of the work at Time Out Youth. Their commitment to nurturing the growth and development of LGBTQ organizations, like ours, serves to promote the health and wellness of LGBTQ people in Charlotte.”

Charlotte Black Pride, which annually celebrates the culture of Charlotte’s LGBTQ community of color, offered their feelings about The Plus Collective and how it impacts their organization:

“The Plus Collective is like a guardian Angel to CBP. The support of TPC continues

to give us hope that CBP matters to a community we’ve often felt does not embrace us or understand the impact CPB has on society. TPC’s funding plays an important role in allowing CBP to continue to be a prominent influence throughout our underserved community.”

Transcend Charlotte’s mission is the pursuit of equity and social justice for transgender and gender expansive youth and adults ages 18+ through education, advocacy, mental health and social support services in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. Here’s what they had to say about how funding from The Plus Collective:

“At Transcend we dearly value partnership and collaboration. We are stronger together and we appreciate that the Plus Collective is part of our journey and certainly one of the partners that makes us stronger!”

Reel Out Charlotte celebrates fifteen years of independent cinema

Coming up May 17-21 is Reel Out Charlotte, the city’s LGBTQ Film Festival and a part of the annual program of Charlotte Pride. The event will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary and showcase five days of independent cinema at The Independent Picture House, in partnership with the Charlotte Film Society.

“We are so excited to bring the festival back for another year and celebrate our fifteenth anniversary,” Lupe Silva, board member of Charlotte Pride said in a release. “We are especially excited about partnering with the Charlotte Film Society to host our festival at The Independent Picture House for the very first time.”

The Independent Picture House is located at 4237 Raleigh St. in Charlotte, with readily available and ample parking. Public transit options include LYNX Blue Line, Sugar Creek Station (approximately half-mile from venue) and CATS routes 4, 13 and 211.

The multi-evening event will show eleven short films during the opening Shorts

Night Wednesday, May 17 and eleven feature-length films Thursday, May 18 through Sunday, May 21.

Among the opening night shorts screenings are “Separate,” a post apocalyptic survival; “Assemblé,” which examines the struggles of a ballet dancer attempting to prioritize her identity and love for dance;

“The Butch and the Baby Daddy,” a Canadian short that explores how a trans/butch lesbian struggles to fulfill her dream of having a baby; “Pop-Off,” the story of a high strung young gay man first experiencing hosting a hookup; “Mother(s) and Son,” a biographical short that follows a wife’s journey of a high risk pregnancy and her own fears and insecurity surrounding parenthood while contemplating the adoption process in North Carolina; “Boundless,” an animated short exploring trans and non-binary spirits; “Are You Sure,” an exploration of a transgender woman and her struggles to overcome the same transition hurdle over and again; “Church Camp,” the story of Josh,

Home sales going up again in Charlotte

Home sales jumped in March in the Charlotte area, a sign that the busy spring selling season is kicking into gear, real estate experts say. And while homes are staying on the market longer than during the whitehot market seen in 2022, housing inventory remains a concern in Charlotte and around the country, according to RE/MAX’s latest National Housing Report.

“Compared to last year, there’s a lot to like about this housing market, including lower prices and less competition for available listings. Although it would be good to see more new listings coming onto the market, the current conditions offer potential for home buyers and sellers alike,” RE/MAX President and CEO Nick Bailey said in a statement. “For those interested in selling, demand for

properties remains high, and for buyers entering the market, this spring can be a prime time to make a move.”

‘Selling Season’ Kicking Into High Gear in Charlotte

According to RE/MAX, home sales increased from February to March by 39.5 percent in the Charlotte area. In the same time frame, the area’s active inventory fell 4.2 percent, RE/MAX confirms. But active inventory is up 116 percent from March 2022.

What Are Homes Selling for in Charlotte?

The median home sale price in Charlotte in March, per RE/MAX’s report, was $380,000. That’s up 3.4 percent from

In tribute to 20 years of giving, The Plus Collective is inviting community members to attend The Celebration, Wednesday, May 17, 2023, from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Foundation for the Carolinas, located at 220 N. Tryon Street in Uptown Charlotte.

Mix and mingle with local LGBTQ+ advocates and allies, hear more from LGBTQ+ organizations in Charlotte about how The Plus Collective is supporting their work, and be the first to hear the announcement of our 2023 grant recipients!

The evening will feature DJ Little Betty and performances from several of our grant recipients. Your ticket includes event admission, hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. Suggested attire is dressy casual. Tickets are $120 and can be purchased at https://www.fftc.org/ thecelebration. All proceeds from The Celebration directly support essential work in our LGBTQ+ community, and to acknowledge our 20th year. Twenty dollars from each ticket sale will go to our endowment fund to support future grant making.

If you’re going…

Parking is available in the Truist Center Parking Deck and surrounding parking decks. The use of light rail, public transportation or ride sharing services is encouraged.

a gawky camp counselor who considers coming out as bisexual to the entire Bible camp; “Dilating for Maximum Results,” a comedy about a Black trans woman who attempts to dilate (after four years of not) in order to hook up with her online boyfriend in person for the first time; “Maverick the Mystifying Oracle,” a comedy about a woman named Lindsay who realizes her mother has ordered a psychic-in-training for her birthday party; and “First Time,” the story of a young man who goes out to dinner with his supervisor and is pressured into his first sexual encounter with a man.


Full length features throughout the remaining days of the festival include “Soy Niño,” “Golden Delicious,” “Scott Pilgrim Vs the World,” “Big Boys,” “A Run for More,” “Finlandia,” “Private Desert,” “You Can Live Forever,” “Our League,” “When Time got

Louder” and “Esther Newton Made Me Gay.” Individual tickets can be purchased for $10, and an All Access Pass can be purchased for $80 which will get you 10 passes to the Festival, including exclusive access to our kickoff event, Drag Cocktail Hour at Artisan’s Palate Saturday, May 13 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and special access to the Scott Pilgrim pre-screening party, with complimentary food and beverage, on Friday, May 19.

For more details visit the website at https:// charlottepride.org/reelout. ::

February’s median price of $367,500 but unchanged from the median home sale price in March 2022.

Where Can You Get the Best Home Deal in Charlotte?

Although there are trends across the Charlotte region, home values can vary

across the area’s many ZIP codes. The median value for a home in 28208, according to an interactive map available on the Charlotte Observer website, is approximately $270k, while 28207 is $1.6m.

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

May 12 - May 25, 2023 Qnotes 9
— QNotes Staff DJ Little Betty will spin the tunes at The Celebration. CREDIT: Facebook Housing sales continue to rise in Charlotte and the surrounding metro area. CREDIT: Adobe Stock ‘Separate’ (left) and ‘Church Camp’ are two of the short films that will be screening on opening night of Reel Out Charlotte. Publicity Handout

Elevating LGBTQ voices New Democratic party chair aims to advocate for all Mecklenburg constituents

Newly-elected Mecklenburg Democratic Party Chairperson Drew Kromer represents a new era for North Carolina Democrats. At the age of 26, Kromer is one of the many new faces of the state’s Democratic party. He, along with 25-year-old N.C. Democratic Party Chairperson Clayton Anderson, is part of a new class of young leadership in politics and governance, one Kromer feels is essential for moving forward in North Carolina.

QNotes spoke with Kromer about the wide range of challenges the Democratic party faces in our state and how LGBTQ North Carolinians will be impacted by proposed legislation and more.

What made you decide to run for the Democratic party chair position in Mecklenburg County?

I looked at the turnout of the last couple of elections and was just really disappointed in the county party’s overall turnout in 2022. Wake County had a turnout [of] 56 percent, and statewide average was 51 percent. Mecklenburg was about 44.5 percent, 45 percent, somewhere in there – that’s a difference of 80,000 votes. So, it looks to me that statewide Democratic candidates simply don’t stand a chance, mathematically, of winning unless Mecklenburg increases our turnout, so I look at that as an existential crisis for the party.

When we win a lot of our local races, particularly city council, county commissioners, there are fewer campaigns to drive turnout. There are fewer campaigns to get people excited, and there’s one fewer reminder for people to vote. That means that it falls to the county party to really drive enthusiasm and help people understand why their vote matters and why they need to show up.

What are some visions you have for the Mecklenburg County Democrats? Is there anything you want to see come to fruition, including any goals that you can have as the party chair?

I really plan to spend the next six months really building infrastructure for the party and building community within the party – get more people involved, get more resources.

We can’t wait until a few months before the election to start trying to recruit volunteers and start raising money. We’ve got to be doing that stuff right now … Just getting into that routine of being involved and engaged and building those relationships with people that live near you who also care about the state of our politics and want to see us create something better.

LGBTQ people are under attack more than ever in North Carolina, particularly transgender residents. So what are some steps that you want to take as the new party chair to address

the LGBTQ community’s concerns?

We have an LGBTQ+ caucus in Mecklenburg County, and similar to many of our other caucuses, they’re really not at full strength. Part of that is they don’t necessarily get the support that they need from the county party, and my hope is that we can change that.

Just like any [similar] groups, it takes time to build up membership and to get people involved and for people to see it as a good place to spend their time and

gender identity. As the new local party chair, is there a way that you or your local party can address the concerns surrounding these policies?

I think one of the things that we haven’t done a great job of as the Democratic party, historically, is we need to do a better job at helping people understand what’s at stake in some of these elections.

When you have such a small number of people who turn out to vote, that

people can understand, ‘Okay, this is an issue that I care about.’

Rep. Tricia Cotham, from Mecklenburg County recently switched her party affiliation from Democratic to Republican. With her district being mostly Democratic and making that switch, how does that impact your district, and how do you think that decision for her will affect the LGBTQ community?

It will obviously have a massive impact because it looks like she’s going to be going along with the Republicans now on issues that she campaigned against and on things she had committed to her voters.

As far as what the impact of her election will be on LGBTQ+ constituents will be, I don’t know specifically which bills she’s voting she intends to vote for or against. When it comes to the veto override, that’s where we’ll really see if she sold her soul or she still has some semblance of values.

It’s a huge disappointment, but at this point, the best we can do is hope that it will challenge people to channel more energy into the party and realize that there are consequences to elections and to who you elect.

What are some plans that you have to ensure more LGBTQ+ individuals are coming into the Democratic Party ranks?

I would push back on the idea that they’re not involved in the party already, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t need to do a better job. I think we always need to strive to do a better job making sure that people understand the doors are open.

One of the things I’m trying to do is really beef up our caucuses and auxiliary groups, because that’s really the entry point for people who identify with any of these marginalized groups. That’s a path for them to get involved with the party. The more I can support those groups and really help them become powerhouses within themselves in their own right, the more I think that we’re going to see people who are LGBTQ+ or African-American or young guns or what have you, getting involved.

What can people do if they want to get more involved with the Mecklenburg Democratic Party?

If you go to our website, there’s a big button on the front page that says volunteer. You click it, and it’ll take you to a form you can fill out.

their money. The more I can help support our caucuses, in particular the LGBTQ+ caucus, the more I think that we will be able to see those groups turn into an effective part of our Democratic party.

There’s legislation being filed, targeting the LGBTQ community. One currently being filed and debated on is Senate Bill 636, which excludes transgender athletes from participating in sports teams that correlate with their

small number of people get to decide [the] outcome and, particularly with the state legislature, they’re making decisions that are literally changing lives. And the consequences of not turning out in voting are massive.

As we’re going into an election, we’ve got to understand that these issues are going to come down the pipeline … it comes down to our messaging. So, the more we can improve that messaging and help explain what’s at stake, then more

I think historically people have this perception that the party is like this massive political machine, that they’re going to take care of things, and it’ll all work out. The thing is, we are the party. There’s a limit to how much we can accomplish based [on] who our people are and what their skills are. So the more people that we’ve gotten engaged, the more we’re able to accomplish as a group, and we need as many people as we can get. ::

10 Qnotes May 12- May 25, 2023
Mecklenburg County’s Democratic Party Chairperson Drew Kromer, 26. CREDIT: Mecklenburg Democratic Party
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Republicans play ‘cancel culture’ with drag Economic fallout of HB

House Bill 673, currently making its way through the state general assembly and almost certainly guaranteed to pass into law because of the newly established veto-proof Republican super majority, could prove to be a double-edged sword for the state.

Not only would it impact the income of drag performers and the historic and artistic aspect of LGBTQ culture, the negative ramifications it holds for the state’s economy, charitable organizations and business owners could potentially rob North Carolina of unimaginable amounts of revenue.

Across the country and here at home in North Carolina Republicans have been hard at work attempting to erase drag culture, without giving a second thought to the potential fiscal fallout.

• What does that mean?

Let’s start with the obvious. Most individuals and large corporate entities do not support hate-filled discriminatory laws. As evidenced by North Carolina’s HB2, once the law goes into place, the state can expect boycotting by television and film production and large corporations looking for new sites to relocate and hold conventions. Vacationers looking for warm and welcoming environments will stop coming. All of those are huge money makers. When they’re no longer flocking to the state, the influx of revenue disappears, too.


Multiple businesses across the state see sizable amounts of revenue generated by

events like drag queen story hours, drag bingo and drag brunches, more often than not, held in public spaces, which HB 673 prohibits. As a result, capital gains associated with such presentations will evaporate.

• Charitable organizations

During the 1970s drag performers rallied to help raise funding for causes like early anti-gay legislation. By the ‘80s and ‘90s, their charitable focus had largely turned to HIV/AIDS organizations.

Tina Terrell, a Charlotte native and a member of the LGBTQ community who continues to make her home here, began her career in drag in 1975. She would serve as the stage show director at such bars as Oleens, Scorpio and Illusions and held multiple female impersonation titles. She recalls how the drag community came together then to fight back against hate, oppression and the AIDS pandemic.

“My earliest involvement with any cause was raising money through shows to send to Florida to fight Anita Bryant and her campaign of hate,” Terrell recalls. “When it was all said and done, she ruined her career forever, lost her lucrative orange juice commercial contract and was deserted by all the homophobes who pushed her into the spotlight.

“AIDS was the biggest cause that we raised money for. It devastated our community and [we] lost so many to that horrible disease. Later when I was show director at Scorpios, we did a lot of fundraising for the House of Mercy in Belmont.

The nuns loved the shows and they came when we did the benefits! I [remember] we did this huge production of Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. When I spoke with the sisters, I told them I hoped they were not offended and they laughed said they loved the movie [and] the show.”

Efforts continue today by the drag community to raise funds for nonprofit organizations like Time Out Youth, RAIN and others. Their tireless work to help those in need continues to this day. If that dries up, the loss would be sizable, and even more money gone that could help so many good causes.

• Television and filmmakers; performers

North Carolina is already a little on the dry side when it comes to entertainment culture. Often times big-name acts skip us over for destinations like Atlanta and DC, although things have been looking up as of late. Multiple production companies have returned to the state following the

dissolution of the ugly HB2 incident, along with a higher number of popular musical performers. Don’t count on that trend to continue, nor the additional statewide earnings when HB 673 becomes law.

• Vacationers

Typically, most vacationers want to go somewhere that is welcoming, comfortable and non-controversial for a vacation. They’re looking to get away from negativity. When HB 673 goes into effect, it will show that North Carolina is another state that has plenty of time to hate. And who wants to vacation in a place like that? According to commercenc.gov, estimated revenue generated by vacationers prior to the pandemic was 3.9 billion dollars. Don’t expect that to be returning anytime soon.

• Legal Impact

For anyone who performs in a drag show in public, and in some cases private, the possibility exists they could be arrested and charged with a felony through

12 Qnotes May 12- May 25, 2023
673 could be overwhelming to state
Tina Terrell CREDIT: Facebook
Some things can’t be erased: these images confirm drag has been a part of American culture since the 1880s. CREDIT: Public domain

House Bill 673, which defines live adult entertainment as “a performance featuring topless dancers, exotic dancers, strippers; or male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to prurient (sexual) interest.”

When HB 673 becomes law, North Carolina’s ultra-conservatives can pretty much harass and discriminate against the state’s drag community as they see fit. However, it would appear the group rightwingers have decided to scapegoat, they’ve also underestimated.

Today’s current crop of performers proclaim they have no intention of turning back the hands of time and pushing their careers deep into a darkened closet.

Preposterous, hate-filled laws or not, erasing drag queens and kings is going to be a whole lot harder to accomplish than just a simple vote by elected officials, especially when you’ve got a history that touches three different centuries backing you up.

“Drag queens have given us so much entertainment,” says Greg Brafford a former owner of multiple gay bars in Charlotte. “Drag queens have been our heroes. They’ve made us laugh, they’ve made us cry. That’s a part of our history you just can’t erase.”

The impact the bill is expected to have on such a significant part of LGBTQ culture is as far reaching as its economic impact.

• HB673 stipulates that drag performers may not appear or perform in public

That means no drag queens at Charlotte Pride. That means no drag bingo. That means no drag queen story hours and no drag queen brunches. What might come as even more surprising, it could mean no drag queens in LGBTQ bars and/or the arrest of drag performers who are simply walking from car to building.

• What? How? Why? That’s insane!

Throughout relatively modern North Carolina history, establishments that served primarily alcohol and little to no food were required to be special private membership clubs.

Some business owners felt that to be advantageous, while others did not.

Whatever the case, bars and clubs that focus their sales on spirits no longer need be private. Hence, they have become public spaces and are subject to state laws just like everywhere else.

Brafford says that dark of a scenario is unlikely. “That would be unconstitutional,” says Brafford. “We’ve got freedom of expression and freedom of speech in this country.”

Yes, we do. But Republicans have shown they no longer respect the constitution and are quickly leaning towards changing the government structure to a state of fascism.

“I just don’t see that happening,” Brafford insists. “There may be some chal-

lenges and bumps in the road along the way in the beginning, but I believe things will work themselves out. Business owners may be required to get a cabaret license, but I think everything will be fine.”

Not everyone feels as confident as Brafford does.

One such individual is drag performer Shelita Bonet Hoyle, who calls Raleigh home, but performs in venues across the United States. The Artisan’s Palette, where she co-hosts a monthly drag brunch with fellow performer KayCee Saint James, is one of her favorite Charlotte sites. It’s also a public place.

“It’s extremely important that we educate individuals in our community and allies about HB 673,” explains Hoyle. “They are trying to make us go away.”

Hoyle is no stranger to right-wing attempts at canceling queer culture. In her efforts with drag queen story hour, she and other organizers were recently informed that a capacity-full presentation was being cancelled and rescheduled for another site.

Around the same time, a planned rally in conjunction with EqualityNC at the state capitol to show support for Trans, non-binary individuals and drag performers was cancelled when the permit was pulled.

At press time, organizers were attempting to have another permit issued and to determine who was responsible for the attempt to squash the rally.

Hoyle is adamant she will continue to perform, despite the efforts of Republicans to silence her and others in the field.

“I was always raised to

speak my truth,” says Hoyle. “I do this because it is who I am. I’m not going to break myself into tiny little pieces. And yes, I will continue to perform.”

Hoyle’s co-host Saint James, the producer of the drag brunch held at Artisan’s Palette is adamant about the place drag holds in LGBTQ culture.

“It’s been around for so long,” he says. “As a form of entertainment and a vehicle for fundraising, it has been a force in our community for years. It’s been there to help out people in and outside of our community when there was a need for food, housing and much more.”

Saint James is concerned about the wording of the bill because it appears to be deliberately vague. “The language is dangerous,” he says. “The presentation at Artisan’s Palette is a monthly charity event. We will continue to put on the event until we are told to stop.” ::

May 12 - May 25, 2023 Qnotes 13
Greg Brafford CREDIT: Qnotes Archives KayCee Saint James CREDIT: Facebook Shelita Bonet Hoyle. CREDIT: Grayson Nauta

The fashion forward Carolinas

A look at an up and coming designer, a model and Fashion Week Events

In case you’re in need of a fashion fix or didn’t have time to stop off at your favorite newsstand or book store for a copy of Elle, Vogue or GQ (Gentlemen’s Quarterly) magazine, fear not. If you live in the Carolinas, you won’t have to search too hard to find the latest in haute couture to confirm the Carolinas are bursting with fashion flavor.

North Carolina is also the place fashion moguls like Andre’ Leon Tally (who passed away last year on Jan. 18) and Alexander Julian have called home. That’s right, New York City, London, Milan and Paris might be known as the big four when it comes to

Fashion Week, but North Carolina is surely a competitor to be on the lookout for.

Charlotte in particular is chock full of talented folks excited about showing their wares in various capacities. So, naturally we had to take a little time to pay homage to some of the designers, photographers and models who turn heads on the runway in the streets and on social media.

Tavin Baskerville is one of those people. Originally from Boston, Mass., he’s a multitalented, eligible bachelor who gleams inspiration from his supportive mother and famous and historic designers like Thierry Mugler and Pierre Balmain.

Baskerville is a graduate of Elizabeth City State University where he found himself “making things and noticing” he “had a different style than anyone else.”

Qnotes May 12- May 25, 2023

With his passion for fashion escalating from there, in 2018 Baskerville presented his designs at Charlotte’s and York County’s Fashion weeks. He presented three different collections for three nights in Charlotte and one collection for one evening in York. That same week, he also had a fashion show that brought his style and texture to audiences in a manner that left mouths open and hopeful fashionistas ready to spend.

For Baskerville, participating as a designer in fashion weeks has been a long

time coming. His love for fashion had been nurtured since he was a little boy. “For five years, my aunt taught me the basics,” he recalls. “By fifth grade we were making pajamas.”

Today Baskerville designs for day and night and can sometimes be found working around the clock – using varied textures and colors one might expect to see at a Balmain show. “I love Balmain’s fabrications,” says Baskerville. “A lot of times there are patterns, dresses might be made of rope or PVC – they are technically

Model Austin Pope sporting a Baskerville design. CREDIT: Ashley Riley Fashion designer Tevin Baskerville sporting his own creation. CREDIT: J.L. Boseman

making fabric out of these items.”

It’s important to note, however, though Baskerville draws inspiration from others, his talent extends way beyond replication. His designs are innovative and for more than just fashion shows. Though capable of creations that beg to appear in feature films, Baskerville has many items in his collection that you could easily see yourself sporting to brunch or that party you show up just late enough to be noticed.

It might surprise some to learn that Baskerville’s first love wasn’t designing. His keen eye for fashion first found its way to photography. “It was my first love, something I’ve been doing for 13 years. My major in college was graphic design, but photogra-

phy is what I fell in love with. It’s now more something I use as a [side] hustle and I still use my eye to make sure I’m capturing things well, with fashion as my passion,” says the designer, who is looking forward to presenting at the Carolina Fashion Awards, where he’s also been nominated for an Emerging Fashion Designer Award.

Singing Bakerville’s praises and donning his creations is a local law enforcer and model setting social media ablaze with his iconic looks – some that have been created by Baskerville. Ken Sings is Mr. Charlotte Black Pride’s given name, and yes, singing is one of the many creative passions he possesses and shares with the world. But it’s not the only one. Sings turns heads and creates smiles with his always ready for a GQ or Esquire Magazine cover looks. However, he’s so much more than a tall, dark and colorful trend setter. Sings is a rarity as a native Charlottean, with no plans of leaving the family and friends that keep him rooted in the Queen City.

By profession, he serves as an Adult Probation Officer who finds joy in modeling, acting and competing in pageants. Sings speaks candidly about his love for fashion and how he hopes to create positive change through his career in law enforcement and visibility. “I’ve been competing on and off since 2016. I got introduced to pageantry by a former photographer of mine. He recommended that I compete for the Mr. United States Pageant, and I did. The experience was wonderful. I found a brotherhood in pageantry.

Eventually, I continued and ended up winning Mr. Ultra Continental USA,” Sings recalled about his journey in the pageant circuit.

Fortunately, folks don’t have to wait for a pageant to appreciate Sing’s keen and gender bending fashion sense. With over 13,000 Instagram followers, more than a few are watching the meticulously groomed Sings strut his stuff in everything from dresses to flowing wigs to bright and colorful business suits. Elevated by grace and his favorite heels, Sings appreciates the tradition as well. When asked what his favorite look or fashion go-to is, he proudly proclaims, “It’s my heels, with a nice blazer and slacks. I love the mashup of the

masculine and the feminine. I think it’s very powerful to have them both coexist at the same time.”

Sings may make the stunning looks and the high heels look easy, however, he readily confirms walking in heels as a model is a good deal more challenging than running through neighborhoods in the boots of a law enforcer. “Walking in heels can come with pain, but in my opinion, beauty is pain sometimes.”

According to Sing, whether on the runway or at the supermarket, long-term comfort depends on the quality of the shoe and shape of it, compared to your feet. “You might only be able to wear a stiletto for a little while,” he offers, “but an ankle boot with a stacked heel for several hours.”

Charlotte has a lot to offer when it comes to the fashion industry. New designers, photographers, image consultants and photographers are popping up all the time. If you’d like to get a sneak peek or simply need some inspiration for reinventing yourself, check out Mecklenburg’s International Fashion Week (May 12-13) at Oasis Shriner; the Highlight Concepts Fashion Show (June 4 in Charlotte and Sept. 24 in Raleigh) or the Carolina Fashion Awards Show (May 27 in Charlotte). Whatever you do, be seen, be there, be you and dress to impress. ::

May 12 - May 25, 2023 Qnotes 15
Ken Sings ready for work as a model, singer and officer of the law. CREDIT: Paris Love Photography Jamal Terry modeling Baskerville. CREDIT : Ashley Riley Fashionista Ken Sings is ready in red. CREDIT: Paris Love Photography

‘All Man: The International Male Story’ takes a look at the success of the gay-produced fashion catalog aimed at men


Since we’re on the topic of fashion this issue, we thought it was important to take a look back at some of the history connected to it, especially as it pertains to the queer community.

Coming to digital video platforms June 6, with select theatrical screenings to follow, “All Man: The International Male Story” is a documentary that examines the creation and fantastical success of the International Male catalog, a mail-order fashion shopping service aimed at gay men, metrosexuals and any other interested broad-minded men and those who identified as males of

larly gay men – looked at themselves, each other, and how the world would view them.

So what’s the story? Enter one Gene Burkard, a formerly-closeted midwesterner and GI who found his freedom in San

the era who wanted to add a layer of sexuality and upscale fashion to their wardrobe,

The film journeys across three decades of the catalog’s unlikely but lasting impact on fashion, masculinity, and sexuality in America, exploring the journey of an unlikely band of outsiders and how they came to design one of the most sought-after mail-order catalogs of the 1970s and ‘80s, forever changing the way men – particu-

Diego, where he transformed men’s fashion into something cosmopolitan, carefree, and trend-setting. International Male reached gay and straight customers alike as it redefined images of masculinity in popular culture, generating revenue and circulation in the millions.

The film has received high praise:

“It opened the door for a lot of men to be free,” says stylist and groomer Dale Johnson. “Who knew a little catalog company would have such a massive impact on the male identity?”

“All the things that are super groovy and acceptable, like Hedi Slimane and Prada and Balenciaga, can’t really exist without things like International Male as a point of reference,” offers author, TV personality and former Barneys, NY Creative Director Simon Doonan.

The film features Matt Bomer, Parvesh Cheena, Simon Doonan and Carson Kressley, among others, and has been recognized as official selections for The Tribeca and Outfest film festivals. ::

16 Qnotes May 12- May 25, 2023
captures a period and time of growth in men’s fashion
Early covers of International Male catalogs. CREDIT: Jonathan Ingalls International Male creator Gene Burkard at a party with head buyer Gloria Tomita. CREDIT: Megan Toenyes Bruce Jenner poses for the cover of International Male in 1980. CREDIT: Screen Capture
Qnotes Staff Writer

Body-inclusive fashion line Dapper Boi

Married same-sex couple creates gender neutral clothing line

People come in all different shapes and sizes. Typically, but not always, female bodies tend to be a bit more round, while male bodies lean towards a more square shape.

Those predominant shapes are reflected in the different cut and style of clothing for women and men.

But – as we all know and especially in the LGBTQ community – not everyone wants to dress in clothing specifically designed for the gender they may have been assigned at birth. And then there are some men who are just naturally rounder and women who are a bit more square.

Whatever the case, it leads to this: far too often, trans individuals and plenty of cisgender individuals with body shapes that are not the typical mass-market standard can find off the rack clothing uncomfortable and ill-fitting.

That’s where the San Diego, Californiabased company Dapper Boi comes in.

Designed to be inclusive of multiple shapes and sizes, Dapper Boi was founded in 2015 by married same-sex couple Vicky and Charisse Pasche.

So just how did this train of thought and line of clothing come to be? Like many individuals, no matter what gender, Vicky had long enjoyed the comfort and ease of wearing clothing that was generally designed for cisgender men. However, they didn’t always conform to her body’s shape and she was growing weary of pouring through clothes that didn’t quite fit right, in both the men’s and women’s sections of clothing stores.

After extensive internet research for gender-neutral and size-inclusive clothing came up with nothing, the two were struck with the idea that it was time to take matters into their own hands.

That led to a great deal of soul searching, looking for ways to raise funds and other ways to save money. The two even downsized from a four-bedroom townhouse to a 630-square-foot apartment.

As posted on their website, the company’s mission is to ensure everyone has access to affordable, solid clothes that fit both their body, and more importantly, their personality.

“We’ve heard thousands of stories about our clothes helping people feel more confident and comfortable in their own skin. And, we hope to hear millions more. We believe changing your clothes can change your life.”

After years of hard work, Dapper Boi is finally attracting major attention these days.

Just last month the clothing line and

their designers appeared on the ABC TV series “Shark Tank.” The two women excitedly showcased their gender neutral clothing brand and impressed the show’s investors, though none of the so-called “sharks” were willing to bite financially. Dapper Boi, unfortunately, didn’t walk out the door with a big bag of cash (they were hoping for a funding infusion of $250,000).

They did however, receive what both proclaimed as very useful advice from Shark Stars Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John. At episode’s end John even offered to provide mentorship free of cost and gave Dapper Boi founders his personal phone number.

But their efforts to keep the company turning out quality product didn’t end with a lack of funding from “Shark Tank.” Turns out a particularly wealthy entrepreneur was watching named Kelly Ann Winget, and she stepped up to the plate to help Dapper Boi keep up the good work.

If you’re in need of quality, tailormade clothing to fit your physique, don’t hesitate to visit their website to peruse their fashions at dapperboi.com. ::

May 12 - May 25, 2023 Qnotes 17
life Q-mmunity connections space starting at $22: call qnotes for details 704.531.9988
Dapper Boi founders Vicky and Charisse Pasche. CREDIT: Screen Capture Fashion from Dapper Boi: CREDIT: Instagram

Telling our stories at Reel Out Charlotte

Reel Out Charlotte, the Queen City’s Annual LGBTQ Film Festival, is back for another year! Join us as we celebrate the beauty of independent cinema and see our LGBTQ lives, loves, and triumphs on the big screen.

Hey, Y’all.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like the first few months of 2023 have been pretty rough. Over 400 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in legislatures across the country, with a number of them right here in North Carolina. It can feel, at times, like the world has lost touch with its humanity.

I’ve only been at Charlotte Pride for almost six months but becoming rooted in this work has reminded me just how important it is to speak up and remind people of our collective humanity. In a time where lobbyists and politi-

bounds. They have watched and discussed festival submissions for hours, making painstaking decisions about which short films we should include during our annual LGBTQ Shorts Night, and which films unfortunately didn’t make the cut. They have done an incredible job, and I can’t wait for everyone to see what they’ve put together. Sponsors like K&L Gates, Charlotte Gaymers Network, PBS North Carolina, WDAV, and others have also been integral to bringing this festival to life.

There is so much about this year’s Reel Out to be excited about. We are partnering with the Charlotte Film Society this year to bring this year’s festival to the Independent Picture House for all five days of the festival. Reel Out had previously been hosted in venues including the now closed LGBT Center, the old Manor Theatre, Theatre Charlotte, Johnson

cians seek to erase the LGBTQ+ community from public spaces, we must continue to stand up and show the world that we’re here, we’ve always been here, and you can’t legislate us out of existence. It’s also important for us to take care of each other and practice community care. Activism is necessary, but so is rest. I’m so glad that, despite these dark times for our community, we have created spaces for ourselves where we can come together to find joy and solace and tell our stories.

Fifteen years ago, a group of people from the LGBTQ community came together to start what is now known as Reel Out Charlotte: The Queen City’s LGBTQ Film Festival with a desire to highlight independent LGBTQ cinema during a time when streaming services like Netflix were in their infancy. Even today, there is much to be desired in terms of accurate and inclusive LGBTQ themes in the media, and they knew how important it was to have a space where we could tell our stories our way and experience them in community with each other.

Since I joined the staff at Charlotte Pride, it’s been really exciting for me to see what it takes to build a film festival from the ground up. I can safely say that Reel Out would not be what it is without the community’s continued support as well as our amazing group of volunteers whose passion and enthusiasm for LGBTQ independent cinema knows no

C. Smith, and most recently Camp North End. Partnering this year with CFS to bring the film festival to the Independent Picture House, a nonprofit theater that specializes in independent cinema, feels like a natural fit and we could not be prouder to support such an amazing local venue.

This year’s Reel Out is full of exciting events. On Saturday, May 13, we are partnering with The Artisan’s Palate for a Drag Cocktail Hour celebrating Old Hollywood and Wednesday, May 17, we will kick off the film festival with eleven short films during our LGBTQ Shorts Night sponsored by PBS North Carolina. Eleven feature films highlighting LGBTQ stories from around the world will be shown Thursday, May 18 through Sunday, May 21. On Friday, May 19, the Charlotte Gaymers Network has even sponsored a special screening of the modern cult classic “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”. This year’s lineup pays particular attention to young people, women, people of color, and gender expansive communities.

Having the space and the time to come together as a community with intentionality and celebrate our stories and our resiliency makes me incredibly proud. All those years ago, our festival founders knew the importance of showing our community onscreen and it’s an honor to continue their legacy. Now, more than ever, our stories deserve to be told. ::

18 Qnotes May 12- May 25, 2023 ***SPONSORED CONTENT***
Cardi Wong and Ryan Mah play father and son in “Golden Delicious”, a classic coming-of-age-asqueer story that gets a fresh and charming update in the context of a complex, contemporary Asian Canadian family. PHOTO CREDIT: The Film Collaborative

Anyone who has been following Queer singer/songwriter Caroline Rose since her independently released 2010 debut album “I Will Not Be Afraid” through to her latest, 2023’s “The Art of Forgetting” (New West), knows that she’s comfortable slipping in and out of genres. From alternative country (on “… Afraid”) to modern rock with a healthy dose of humor on 2018’s brilliant “Loner,” from concept pop (2020’s “Superstar”) to musical experimentation, with a heavy helping of heartache on the break-up album “The Art of Forgetting.” While the sonic shift might be unsettling to some Rose fans, it’s fair to say she’s a natural (like Taylor Swift) at getting her pointed point across, especially on “Miami,” “Rebirth,” “Everywhere I Go I Bring the Rain,” “Tell Me What You Want,” “Jill Says” and “Where Do I Go from Here?” – the musical equivalent of misery loves company.

For his aptly titled new album “Anything Goes” (604/Warner), Vancouverbased, Juno-nominated Queer performer Mathew V is the latest gay male artist to try his hand at flipping the heteronormative switch by singing songs originally sung by women to men. He opens the record

Say gay playlist Q-Music

with a stunning rendition of “Moon River” that would surely make Audrey Hepburn, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer smile “wider than a mile.” “Big Spender” succeeds by being both campy and respectful, and he sounds like he was born to sing Gershwin’s “The Man I Love.” Mathew’s take on “Don’t Rain on My Parade” takes on extra meaning with Pride celebrations around the world under threat from conservatives, and his original composition “My Boy” fits perfectly with these Great American Songbook standards.

Since the 1990s, Olympia, Wash., has been the source of some of the most groundbreaking Queer music in history made by bands including Bikini Kill, Team Dresch, Sleater-Kinney, Tracy + the Plastics and others. If you haven’t yet had the chance to experience Olympia’s queercore folk-punk outfit Pigeon Pit, led by trans vocalist Lomes Oleander, now is your chance. “Tree House” (Ernest Jennings), Pigeon Pit’s 2017 six-song acoustic EP has just been reissued on vinyl. Pigeon Pit’s new 10-song album “Feather River Canyon Blues” (Ernest Jennings), on pink and white vinyl, is a more fully realized band album. Opening with the Ezra Furman-esque “Love Letters,” the album alternates between a kind of Furman fury (“Milk Crates,” “Empties”), glorious Queer folk (“River Song,” “Fire Escape,” “Sunbleached”) and

twinkling twang (“Clawfoot,” “Soup for My Family”).

For the longest time, the jazz genre had a reputation for being unwelcoming to LGBTQ+ folks. However, in recent years, out jazz artists including Allison Miller, Fred Hersch, Terri Lyne Carrington, Patricia Barber, Andy Bey, Gary Burton, Lea DeLaria and Dave Koz, have been making a difference by being their true selves. We can now add newly out jazz pianist Eric Reed to the growing list. His new album, “Black, Brown, and Blue” (Smoke Sessions), featuring the original title track composition, as well as interpretations of songs by Thelonious Monk (“Ugly Beauty”), Wayne Shorter (“Infant Eyes”), Duke Ellington (“I Got It Bad”), Bill Withers (“Lean on Me”), Stevie Wonder (“Pastime Paradise”), Horace Silver (“Peace”) and McCoy Tyner (“Search for Peace”) is said to be a kind of narrative of his coming out.

Portland-based Black Belt Eagle Scout (aka Katherine Paul), who describes herself as a “radical indigenous Queer feminist,” has only released three fulllength studio albums, but she sounds so accomplished, you’d think she’d had a much longer recording career under her, well, black belt. The title of her new album, “The Land, The Water, The Sky” (Saddle Creek), refers to her returning to the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

(on Washington’s Puget Sound) of her ancestors during the pandemic. Opening with the kind of guitar gut punch that feels very Pacific Northwest, she sings “I know it’s hard to be here” on “My Blood Runs Through This Land,” indicating to listeners that this won’t be an easy experience. And yet, a kind of détente is achieved over the course of the 12 songs, the best of which include “Fancy Dance,” “Nobody,” “Blue,” “Treeline” and “Don’t Give Up.”

According to Luz Elena Mendoza Ramos, the lead vocalist of Y La Bamba, the songs on “Lucha” (Tender Loving Empire) explore “love, queerness, Mexican-American and Chicanx identity, family, intimacy, yearning, loneliness.” This is a tall order for any artist, but Ramos is more than up to the task, singing in Spanish and English. Like the Black Belt Eagle Scout album, Y La Bamba’s “Lucha” is a product of the pandemic, and as such feels both raw and healing, as you can hear on “Hues” (featuring Devendra Banhart), “Collapse,” “Nunca,” “Mas Manos,” “Walk Along” and an especially haunting cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Y La Bamba performs on Oct. 11 in Durham at the Carolina Theater, on Oct. 13 in Charlotte at the Knight Theater, and on Oct. 14 in Charleston, S.C., at the Charleston Music Hall. ::

May 12 - May 25, 2023 Qnotes 19

Where do you belong? An interview with Jonathan Harper

Jonathan Harper is good at luring and lulling readers. In his debut novel “You Don’t Belong Here” (Lethe, 2023), the queer writer sets the stage with protagonist Morris, a bisexual writer from the DC area, finishing up his residency at the Manderlay Colony. As with many of these kinds of venues, Manderlay is in a small (unnamed) town, which often makes for a good place to create without the distractions of a metropolitan location. But things don’t go as planned for Morris. On what he thinks will be his last night out, he encounters Henry, a significant presence from his past who, like Morris, can’t seem to find his way home. “You Don’t Belong Here” unfolds like a cross between Martin Scorcese’s “After Hours” and Ira Levin’s “The Stepford Wives” and will keep you guessing until the last page. Jonathan was generous enough to answer a few questions before the book was published.

Gregg Shapiro: Jonathan, your first book “Daydreamers” came out in 2015. Looking back on it, how would you describe the experience?

Jonathan Harper: Egads! It’s hard to believe that was eight years ago. The whole experience was such a whirlwind. I had been working on those stories for years, thinking no one would ever publish them and then one day, I’m holding my book in a state of disbelief. There was a lot of anxiety and imposter syndrome, but there was also a lot of joy and excitement. I did a few readings and each time I was just taken aback by how many friends and loved ones showed up to support me. There were a few times when someone reached out to me because they had read “Daydreamers” and wanted to share their thoughts. I kept thinking, what a beautiful way to connect with others. One thing I learned from publishing “Daydreamers” was the importance of being grateful. The publishing world is competitive and no matter how hard you work, nothing is guaranteed. If I’m lucky enough to continue publishing, I need to appreciate the moment as well as the people who make this possible.

GS: Daydreamers was a short story collection. Did your new novel “You Don’t Belong Here” begin as a short story, or did you always envision it as a novel?

JH: I knew early on this was a novel. It started with this idea about a failed artist who becomes stranded in an isolated resort town. And before I could even start mapping out the plot line, I spent weeks, maybe months, just thinking about this concept of being stranded, especially in modern America. The whole idea seemed far-fetched. I kept thinking, as long as you have a credit card or a cellphone or access to email, you’re really not in danger of getting stranded. The more I mused over this, the more

complicated this scenario became and the more I had to ask about the people and places involved. Eventually, I ended up with this character, Morris, a midthirties slacker who tries to escape the monotony of his life by attending an artist colony and finds himself in hell. I knew right away this was going to be larger than a short story.

GS: Were you writing “You Don’t Belong Here” at the same time as the stories in “Daydreamers” or were the books created at different times?

JH: Different times. I’m one of those writers who needs to focus on one project at a time. I had to put “Daydreamers” to bed before I could even think about anything else.

GS: “You Don’t Belong Here” pulses with a subtle sense of dread. How much of it was written during the pandemic?

JH: I completed several drafts before 2020, so the core of the novel was done, and I was wading through the editing phase. And then, the pandemic hit, and everything just stopped. For that first year, I was trapped inside my house feeling like the outside world was slowly ending. I could barely look at the manuscript. By the time I regained focus, I did see some parallels between what we were experiencing with COVID and “You Don’t Belong Here.” Just as we were trapped in our homes, the novel was about people who were metaphorically trapped in this little town. Not all of us survived the pandemic; not everyone escaped the town. I’m sure this did have an effect on the prose.

GS: One of the things that struck me about the novel was the way that it reminded me of suspenseful books by Ira Levin (“The Stepford Wives” and

“Rosemary’s Baby”) and Thomas Tryon (“Harvest Home”) in the way that it involves a character being introduced into an environment where they don’t necessarily belong and the potentially horrifying impact that it has on them. Are Levin or Tryon influences on you in any way?

JH: Not Levin and Tryon specifically. The original inspiration for “YDBH” was “Wake in Fright” by Kenneth Cook. It’s an Australian novel set in the 1960’s Outback in which a man becomes stranded in a rural mining town. The novel frightened me. The Bundanyabba itself was a really scary place full of these hypermasculine miners and other seedy characters; and the main character, a schoolteacher from Sydney, is very out of his element. I didn’t want to recreate “Wake in Fright,” but I did see a Queer parallel. Even in modern America, Queer people have to be consciously aware of their surroundings. And some places, especially rural spaces, are less friendly than others. This is not always apparent at first glance. Shirley Jackson was another inspiration. Her work can fill you with dread while blandly serving you tea.

GS: Morris is someone who doesn’t necessarily fit in, something of which he is aware of as early as the second chapter when, perhaps because he’s bisexual, comments about a visit to gay club Badlands in DC that “this place is not for you.” Am I on the right track about Morris?

JH: Maybe. I agree that Morris is a person who struggles to fit in, especially when he’s outside of his comfort zone. But it’s not connected to his bisexuality. He’s actually very comfortable with his queerness. What makes Morris an outsider has more to do with his passivity and his reluctance to make hard decisions. Depending on how you

perceive him, he’s naïve, coy, immature and possibly manipulative. He’s not very good at saying what he wants and can be quick to blame. This is something other characters pick up on.

GS: In chapter seven there’s a list of cool bands that Morris likes, including Florence + The Machine, Arcade Fire and The Flaming Lips. Would that also happen to be indicative of your own musical tastes?

JH: [Laughs] Well, yes. But I hope that doesn’t imply that Morris and I have a lot in common.

GS: Morris and Henry were two close friends whose friendship ended but were reunited unexpectedly years later. Have you ever had a similar experience, and if so was that a source of inspiration for the book?

JH: Well, maybe? I’m very sentimental about friendship, probably because I grew up in a military family and we moved every other year. My childhood was in constant transition, constantly leaving people and places. So, as an adult, I crave stability. I have a loving husband and this amazing network of longtime friends. Trust me, I’m not trying to jeopardize any of that.

That being said, there is that one “bad friendship” that comes to mind. Similar to Morris and Henry, it was an important friendship that ended rather abruptly. The details of the falling out have faded over time, but I still remember the intense feeling of grief that festered for years after. He was in all of these photos and memories and there was never any chance for reconciling or at least getting closure. For a while, I would fantasize about running into him again and I knew by heart everything I would say to him. And then it happened. I walked by him on the streets in DC, and he looked right at me and just pretended I wasn’t there. This didn’t inspire the book, but it’s something I thought about while writing it.

GS: Alcohol is practically its own character in the novel. Morris is constantly being plied with drinks, and the results are rarely good for him. Please say something about the powerful presence of alcohol in the book.

JH : I want to clarify that “You Don’t Belong Here” is not an anti-alcohol story. This isn’t a giant metaphor for addiction. But alcohol does typically play a large role in both Queer culture and in resort towns, so it was going to have a noticeable presence. One thing I kept in mind while writing is that we live in a drinking culture and there’s a lot of meaning attached to it. We associate drinking with pleasure, stress-relief, parties and sometimes sex. A glass of champagne is often a symbol of celebration. These are the things Morris wants. Then there’s the danger of abundance. That first drink gives you access, another to give you courage, the next to prolong the excitement. But eventually, you pass your limit, and you lose control. As for Morris,

20 Qnotes May 12- May 25, 2023

I think he likes the idea of making bad decisions and losing control, which was the role Henry used to play in his life. So, alcohol is almost a surrogate.

GS: “You Don’t Belong Here” is also timely in the way that it incorporates religious fanaticism and meth users. Would you say that it’s a kind of political statement?

JH: Yes, definitely. I started writing this book during the Trump regime. And

I was so horrified and furious at what I was witnessing. So, when I was crafting Scotty Skeel and his little group, I wanted them wearing MAGA hats and spewing bible quotes while doing something monstrous.

Ultimately, I decided to tone it down. I worried that they were becoming caricatures and I feel like they’re a lot more menacing as they are now. I didn’t need to make a blunt connection to Trump for this to still be political. Acknowledging religious fanaticism is political on its own. And it’s something that exists in this country. And it’s something we will all have to contend with long after Trump himself is gone.

GS: “You Don’t Belong Here” is very cinematic. If there was a movie version, who would play Morris? Henry? Yasmin? Atherton?

JH: This is a difficult question! I’ve been working with these characters for years and have a clear picture in my head of what they look like. It’s hard to replicate that. But now that I think about it, I could see Atherton played by a well-fed Ray Stevenson.

GS: Have you started working on or thinking about your next book project?

JH: So, I have another vague idea about a young man who wins the lottery and becomes involved with a man who is forty years his senior. Not sure if I’ll pursue this yet... but it’s fun to linger in the “thinking stage.” ::

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Queer authors challenge “Me Too” era concepts of consent

Race, gender, power and class are explored in provocative new book, Unsafe Words

For queer people, sex and sexuality can often be difficult to navigate. There are so many ways to experience pleasure or to understand how our concepts of physical and mental sensuality piece together with our identity. At best, we embrace a less-conservative understanding. Kink, BDSM, polyamory and even non-penetrative sex seem to be more embraced in our community.

When we come out, this can be overwhelming. Growing up, we don’t get a “birds and the bees” talk, at least not one that answers our questions. We venture out into this exciting world of sexual selfdiscovery like we are finding our way in the dark. Everything fragile and exciting, right, maybe wrong, and mostly awakening.

In Chapter 2 of “Unsafe Words: Queering Consent in the #MeToo Era,” Alexander Cheves reflects on having sex in “a nearly pitch-black backroom with music so loud that conversation is impossible and, in practice, frowned on.” His story uncovers some of the myriad of questions about how we view and navigate consent as a queer community.

It is part of local author Trevor Hoppe and co-Editor Shantel Gabriel Buggs’ latest project. Hoppe is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and a Charlotte resident. Buggs is an assistant professor of sociology and African American studies at Florida State University.

As Hoppe and Buggs write in the introduction text, “the sexual lives of queer people, too, are more complicated than a straightforward binary of either pleasurable or dangerous activity. Some queers seek safety in sex while others do not; for some, sex can be a means to explore various ways of being outside of a heteronormative and homonormative world.”

The collection of 13 essays from a diverse group of leading queer academics, ac-

tivists, artists and advocates seeks to tackle tough questions about sex, power, consent and harm. “When we ask what the #MeToo moment means for queer folks, what we are really asking is both what can the #MeToo moment teach queer people about consent and what can queers contribute to this ongoing conversation in a way that does not erase their queerness,” continue Hoppe and Buggs in the introduction.

Based on many of the authors’ lived experiences, and informed by kink and queer perspectives, the book explores the meanings of ethical sex and harm in diverse racial, sexual and gendered contexts. It includes the experiences of Black, Latino, Asian, nonbinary, transgender, gay, lesbian and sex worker voices and perspectives. “The #MeToo debate over the past 5 years has almost exclusively focused on relationships between powerful straight white men and women,” says Hoppe. “This excludes many marginalized communities.”

Hoppe and Buggs point out that use of the word “queer” is not limited to same-sex loving individuals either. The book examines the ways that anyone might experience something that disrupts, as they say, “fundamental heteronormative assumptions about sex.”

Take for instance the story by Mistress Velvet, for whom the book is dedicated. Velvet became well-known in 2018 when a Huffington Post article highlighted their practice of requiring white male clientele to pay reparations and read Black feminist theory before being dominated by them. Their clients were almost exclusively cis-heterosexual. Velvet died before the book’s release.

The practice of BDSM not only addressed the needs of Velvet’s clients but also her own understanding of race, gender and sexuality. The essay, written in a mix of both first and third person, explores the revolutionary and reflective moments that show up in this act of Black femme domination. “I am less interested in devaluing work that arguably may or may not institute systemic change and more invested in elevating the multifaceted ways in which Black women can experience liberation and consensuality, both individually and collectively,” writes Velvet.

The editors ask an important question in the collection they’ve assembled in “Unsafe Words,” – “If queer relationships are necessarily marked by differently gendered power dynamics (as well as racialized and classed dynamics), how is all this power negotiated?”

Part of the answer also might mean that LGBTQ people need to talk more openly about our experiences, or rather learn how to.

In Blu Buchanan’s essay “Before Consent, after Harm,” the writer asks the reader to “reconsider consent as collective, relational, and public.”

Buchanan recounts their first bathhouse experience and the ways we translate consent through our bodies and as community in queer spaces. “Long looks, head shakes, grazed hands, even the positioning of one’s body took on meaning, communicating in rapid fire with each person you came across your interest in and consent to particular kinds of sexual activities.” As they point out, these

spaces have what is supposed to be an understood set of rules and “predicated on a shared knowledge.”

They then point out how this model falls short for many in the queer community. It assumes that everyone knows the rules and understands how to, as they put it, “engage (and disengage).” While not going into too much detail, Buchanan personally reflects on a time when this form of consent was violated and resulted in sexual violence.

If we learn to talk about our own experiences, we give more credence to communication. When we expect communication, we respect its importance as well. How that happens in a community, or (for lack of a better word) familial/fraternal, relationship is questioned. “The goal of transformative justice – which is integral to our reoriented definition of consent – is not to prevent all harm but to reduce it through structural interventions and to create pathways to repair,” writes Buchanan.

“Unsafe Words” is divided into two sections. “Queering Consent” considers the nature of consent and power. “Responding to Sexual Harm” debates how queer communities ought to evaluate and eventually redress sexual harm.

By telling a “queerer side of the #MeToo story,” Hoppe and Buggs ask us to consider our personal experiences and assumptions around consent in order “to promote more ethical and more pleasurable sex for everyone.”

“Unsafe Words: Queering Consent in the #MeToo Era is available from Rutgers University Press as part of their Q+ Public Series, which champions queer voices in media that explore questions of urgent concern for LGBTQ communities. For more information, visit www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/unsafe-words/9781978825406 ::

May 12- May 25, 2023
The late femme dominatrix Miss Velvet is portrayed in “Consent through my lens: A Photo Essay” by Don (D.S.) Trumball, included in “Unsafe Words” CREDIT: Don (D.S.) Trumball Trevor Hoppe CREDIT: UNC Greensboro
May 12 - May 25, 2023 Qnotes 23
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