2013 Year in Review: A banner year for progress

The top stories of 2013 reflect significant local, national achievements

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: December 20, 2013 in Featured Stories, News

Check out our entire slate of 2013 Year in Review features…

2013 was a year of remarkable change and progress, from the national level all the way down to the local. LGBT community members and organizations saw gains in local and national policy and law, celebrated big with historic wins and came together for forward progress like never before.

Through it all, qnotes was keeping tabs of some of the biggest stories of the year. And, as is tradition, we’re reviewing the biggest news stories and newsmakers of the year in our last print edition of 2013. Below, is our recap of some of the most memorable events and stories this year. We hope you’ll also check out our 2013 People of the Year feature on page 15, our most read online stories this year on page 16 and staffer Lainey Millen’s collection of community milestones and news online at goqnotes.com/26668/.

JANUARY

HIV infections rise for young MSM
In our Jan. 4-17 issue, qnotes covered the resurgence of HIV/AIDS in the gay community, particularly among young gay, bisexual and MSM (men who have sex with men) men. The data then was disturbing, showing a 22 percent national increase in new HIV infections since 2008 among young MSM ages 13-24. In a second part of the story in our Feb. 1-14 issue , qnotes spoke to local health officials and advocates about their role and work in addressing the rising rates.
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President Barack Obama’s second inauguration
President Barack Obama entered his second term in office in January, after a successful reelection in 2012, returning the nation’s first black president to the White House. Obama’s first term had been marked by significant progress on LGBT equality and inclusion, and his second term has been no different. Additionally, local gay community member Don Niehus also participated in the celebration, marching with 200 of his fellow LGBT band mates in the president’s inaugural parade.
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FEBRUARY

Transparency and social justice
This year marked significant debate on accountability, openness and matters of social and economic justice on the local level. From government agencies to non-profits, it seemed community members were quite often asking for more transparency. In our Feb. 15-28 issue, editor Matt Comer called the Charlotte City Council to be more open with its deliberations on the Carolina Panthers’ economic incentives. He also argued that local political leaders had misplaced priorities, urging the Council to consider other important issues, like the later successfully passed Capital Improvement Plan, with the same eagerness and vigor with which they defended their discussions on the Panthers’ original $144 million request (they eventually received $89 million). The Panthers’ deal, business incentive programs and other social and economic issues remained at the forefront of local politics throughout the year and in 2013 mayoral and council elections.
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Landmark local inclusion
This year also saw significant strides toward LGBT inclusion and visibility on the local level. On Feb. 4, then-Mayor Anthony Foxx gave his “State of the City” address, as reported in our Feb. 15-28 issue. For what is likely the first or one of the first times, Foxx positively included mention of the LGBT community in his remarks, setting the stage for greater visibility and inclusion later in the year under Mayor Patsy Kinsey.
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Shoemaker steps down
Pastor Steven Shoemaker, of Myers Park Baptist Church, stepped down from his role on Feb. 24, as reported in our March 1-14 issue. Shoemaker had led the local church to greater LGBT inclusion, standing up against bigotry in the Southern and North Carolina Baptist Conventions and in local and state politics.
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MARCH

Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee, left, and LGBT Community Center of Charlotte Vice Chair Roberta Dunn.

Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee, left, and LGBT Community Center of Charlotte
Vice Chair Roberta Dunn.

City in transition
2013 saw the City of Charlotte in transition. Former City Manager Curt Walton stepped down in December 2012, but not before having the opportunity to positively shape LGBT inclusion in city policies. His legacy was explored in our March 1-14 issue. He was followed by former Arlington County, Va., manager Ron Curlee, whose progressive and inclusive history in Virginia continues in Charlotte.
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Local org grows
Time Out Youth, a local youth services agency for LGBT young people ages 11-20, saw significant growth this year. Early in the year, the group said goodbye to longtime staffer Laurie Pitts, while welcoming three new staffers — Sarah Alwran, O’Neale Atkinson and Micah Johnson — to expand the group’s services.
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APRIL

Mayor Foxx steps down
Mayor Anthony Foxx announced in April that he wouldn’t seek reelection, sparking rumors he would seek some higher office. Later, the city learned Foxx was in the running to be President Obama’s next transportation secretary, a rumor confirmed when announced later that month. Foxx’s leadership in Charlotte had provided some LGBT inclusion, but, as our editor remarked in a column in our April 12-25 issue, that leadership was often quiet and didn’t go far enough.
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Dilworth Caribou closes
Long a casual place to hang out and meet new LGBT friends, the Caribou Coffee in Dilworth closed on April 14, taking with it more than a decade of gay history.
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Center gains new leader
The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte faced a year of challenge in 2013, following the departure of Charlotte Pride, which had previously provided significant financial support for the organization. Yet, it still moved forward with a new location and new staff. On April 18, it announced the hiring of Glenn Griffin of Queen City Theatre Company as its operations director as it settled into its new location in NoDa, as reported in our April 26-May 9 issue. Later in the year, the organization faced scrutiny for a lack of transparency. After nearly 100 community members attended a town hall discussion in December, the group voted to make significant changes to be more open and inclusive (see our story on page 10).
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MAY

Radical legislation targets youth
The Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly took the state in a decidedly more radical, rightward direction this year. Their efforts included an attempt to restrict teenagers’ access to medical and mental healthcare, prohibiting those under 18 from recieving prevention, diagnosis and treatment for pregnacy and abortion, sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance abuse. Additionally, lawmakers floated a bill that would have allowed publicly-funded student organizations at public colleges the right to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Both of the measures failed.
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JUNE

Couple Brian Helms and Jeff Enochs celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling. Photo Credit: rcraigsnider@gmail.com.

Couple Brian Helms and Jeff Enochs celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Photo Credit: rcraigsnider@gmail.com.

Justice Served
The nation celebrated in June when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down two landmark decisions on marriage equality, as reported in our July 5-18 print edition. The court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, paving the way for federal recognition of same-sex marrriages, and overturned California’s anti-LGBT marriage amendment, Proposition 8. In the states, marriage was on the move. In May, Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota each passed marriage equality legislation. New Jersey began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Oct. 21. In November, marriage was approved in Hawaii and Illinois. All told, 15 states and the District of Columbia currently recognize same-sex marriages or will begin recognizing them in 2014, bringing marriage equality to nearly 38 percent of the U.S. population. Several lawsuits and other attempts to roll back anti-gay marriage legislation is currently in the works, including in North Carolina. [Ed. Note — In two separate late-breaking events, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in that state on Dec. 19 and a federal district court judge overturned Utah's anti-gay marriage bans on Dec. 20, several days after qnotes went to press with its Dec. 20 issue. New Mexico becomes the 17th state to offer same-sex marriage, with Utah following as 18 if there is no successful appeal. The District of Columbia also offers marriage equality.]
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JULY

Charlotte’s inclusion grows
On July 2, Charlotte said goodbye to Mayor Anthony Foxx and welcomed longtime District 1 Councilmember Patsy Kinsey as its new mayor. She temporarily held the seat, fulfilling Foxx’s term until now-Mayor Patrick Cannon’s election this fall. While Kinsey served as mayor, LGBT inclusion and visibility blossomed. Openly gay businessman Billy Maddalon was chosen from a slate of 11 candidates to fill Kinsey’s District 1 seat, becoming the second openly gay or lesbian person to hold public office in Charlotte, alongside Councilmember LaWana Mayfield. A second gay man, James Hildreth, was among the 11 candidates up for consideration.
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AUGUST

Voronezh gay rights activist Pavel Lebedev was assaulted during a protest he organized  in January. His attacker was found guilty of assualt, but sentencing has been constantly postponed. Photo Credit: Article20.org.  Republished with permission

Voronezh gay rights activist Pavel Lebedev was assaulted during a protest
he organized in January. His attacker was found guilty of assault,
but sentencing has been constantly postponed.
Photo Credit: Article20.org.
Republished with permission

Charlotte on the global stage
As anti-gay violence and legislation escalated in Russia, activists turned to Charlotte leaders to address its sister-city relationship with Voronezh, Russia, where LGBT activists had been violently attacked earlier in the year. Chapel Hill’s openly gay leaders, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Councilmember Lee Storrow, also called for a split with their Russian sister city. Read the full slate of special coverage, including our special Aug. 16-29 cover story, “Got Pride?”, at goqnotes.com/in/voronezh/.

A record-breaking crowd was in attendance  for the Charlotte Pride festival and parade  this year. Photo Credit: Kyle Snipe

A record-breaking crowd was in attendance for the Charlotte Pride festival and parade this year.
Photo Credit: Kyle Snipe

Charlotte Pride holds first parade
For the first time since 1994, an LGBT Pride parade marched down Tryon St. in Uptown Charlotte. Organizers with Charlotte Pride attracted some 80,000 people over two days to their annual festival, with the Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade drawing tens of thousands for celebration. The parade had long been a request of locals and travelers. As an organization, Charlotte Pride saw tremendous growth, separating from the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte and forming an independent organization in January. The hard work paid off, resulting in the largest Charlotte Pride ever, and one of the largest LGBT Pride celebrations in the Southeast.
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SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER

Leaders named and awarded, community growth
September and October were a month for new leaders, honors and community growth. In Winston-Salem, community members celebrated the opening of the North Star LGBT Community Center. Equality North Carolina’s new executive director, Chris Sgro, began to settle into his new job. In Charlotte, leaders Denise Palm-Beck and qnotes publisher Jim Yarbrough were honored by the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte.
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Pols speak
For the first time, qnotes sat down with both Charlotte mayoral candidates from the two major political parties, as Republican Edwin Peacock III and Patrick Cannon battled to become the city’s next leader.
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NOVEMBER

HIV still on the rise
As we did at the beginning of the year, qnotes returned to coverage on issues of HIV/AIDS, as new numbers and information from researchers continued to show increasing HIV infection rates for young gay and bisexual men. See our special World AIDS Day 2013 coverage at goqnotes.com/lifepoz2013/.

TOY moves to new center
Time Out Youth continued its growth at the end of 2013, celebrating their move to the new Time Out Youth Center in NoDa in November, as reported in our Dec. 6-19 issue.
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DECEMBER

Organizations reviewed
In an annual review of local and regional non-profit organizations, qnotes reported in our Dec. 6-19 issue that groups were showing fundraising diversity.
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Check out our entire slate of 2013 Year in Review features…