This yearâ€™s top stories for community engagement and arts
2012 IN REVIEW: Read the rest of our year-end review features
It happens every year. Newspapers, magazines and TV shows recap their top stories of the year, filled to the brim with the usual high-profile political headlines. But, politics tells only one side of the story. It was a landmark year for the LGBT community, but despite all the changes and challenges, our community stood strong. Outside of the realm of politics and advocacy, we marked other important events in our lives. Here, now, are our top community, arts and entertainment stories of 2012.
Fired for love
It was in the midst of the springâ€™s Amendment One campaign that the story of a local church music director and his husband grabbed local headlines and attention (goqnotes.com/14510/). The story was politicized, of course, because of its controversy and timing, but the tale of Steav Bates-Congdon and his husband Bill goes deeper than any political or religious rhetoric. Steav and Bates, together for 23 years, were married last October in New York. In February, Steav was told he could no longer work as director of music at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Charlotte. The story of Steav and Billâ€™s commitment to each other, to their principles and, even, to the very church that cast them out inspired thousands locally and across the country. Emails and other messages of support from church members and the public poured in to the Bates-Congdon home. Local groups like One Voice Chorus and Gay Menâ€™s Chorus of Charlotte stood up with supportive messages, too. Steav might have lost his job, that much is true. But, the inspiration he and Bill gave to others is breathtaking, marking small changes among hearts and minds across the region.
Celebration of service
This year marked two decades of service for the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN). Throughout the year, the organization marked its history and continued pushing forward to serve the community. In February, the group hosted New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican bishop in the U.S. In December, RAIN celebrated again with their â€śTwenty Twelveâ€ť gala. Leaders at the group, including many of its original volunteers and employees, say their work has been their passion. Times have changed and needs have changed, but RAIN still meets the challenge with pleasure. If you missed it, you can read our recent report on RAINâ€™s 20th anniversary at goqnotes.com/19311/.
Art is our voice
The year was full of artistic fervor and excellence. LGBT community members came together to express their spirit through stage productions, visual art and more. For Queen City Theatre Company, 2012 marked a year bookended with significant performances that inspired the community and gave voice to LGBT life. In January, their gay-themed play, â€śThe Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,â€ť sparked protests from some locals, spurred by national Catholic groups upset with the company. Queen Cityâ€™s artistic crew took it in stride and the show went on (goqnotes.com/14254/). In the fall, Queen City Theatre again presented a significant work, the emotional â€śBent.â€ť The production, first staged in 1979, recounts the story of gay victims of the Holocaust, preserving a precious history still unknown by many (goqnotes.com/18852/).
In March, the LGBT Community Center of Charlotteâ€™s GayCharlotte Film Festival came back with a roar for their fourth annual series of LGBT-themed films. This year, the festival grew, adding more film screenings at more locations (goqnotes.com/14397/).
In July, Charlotteâ€™s LGBT choruses took their spirited song to Denver, where they participated in this yearâ€™s GALA Festival 2012, the international gathering of LGBT choral associations. One Voice Chorus Director Gerald Gurss said his groupâ€™s performances at the event were designed to tell the story of contemporary life of an LGBT person living in Charlotte (goqnotes.com/16065/).
In June, local LGBT artists took their creative work to the public when work began on a gay-themed mural wrapped around the White Rabbit on Central Ave. Volunteers with the LGBT Center of Charlotteâ€™s arts committee and its organizer Gil Croy spent weeks in the blazing heat of summer completing the work. Itâ€™s now seen by thousands of motorists and pedestrians each day, giving visible life to the local LGBT community for all of Charlotte to see (goqnotes.com/14590/, goqnotes.com/15262/, goqnotes.com/15971/).
In the fall, local LGBT community members and organizations were recognized for their talents, achievements and service. Editors of Creative Loafing and their readers joined together to recognize several groups and individuals in their annual â€śBest of Charlotte,â€ť including: Time Out Youth, the gay-friendliest neighborhood Plaza Midwood, Scott Weaver and his gay ShipRocked party at Snug Harbor, Sidelines, Petraâ€™s, the gay-friendly Soul Gastrolounge, BethAnn Phetamine, Buff Faye, Marigny Dance Club and The Bar at 316 (goqnotes.com/17998/). Plenty of deserving folks were also recognized in our annual QList, Best of LGBT Carolina. Be sure to check out those winners at goqnotes.com/17924/. : :