Carolina LGBT papers come together with more than 46 years of combined
by David Moore . Q-Notes
N.C. — After decades of service to readers in both Carolinas, Q-Notes
and The Front Page have become one. Announced publicly May 12, the merger
has been years in the making and will offer readers across the two-state
area access to more editorial material tailored to their specific regions.
“We’re very excited about this accomplishment,” says
Q-Notes publisher Jim Yarbrough. “We’ve talked about doing
it for years and it finally seemed like the time was right. This is great
for readers across the Carolinas because of the new content we’ll
be carrying and for the advertisers because of an expanded distribution
base and our subscription service.”
Following the demise of a statewide LGBT newspaper published out of Charlotte
in the 1970s called The Free Press, The Front Page began publishing in
the Raleigh area in 1979.
“When that folded, there was nothing, really,” says Baxter. “Art
[Sperry] and I talked a lot for several years about how change might happen
for the gay community in North Carolina. We agreed that a statewide effort
would be needed. In order for that to happen some dependable means of statewide
communication would be needed. That’s how The Front Page got started.”
Over the next three decades The Front Page provided readers in North Carolina
stories about local and national news and arts and entertainment.
Q-Notes, which started out in 1983 as a newsletter published by the LGBT
fundraising organization Queen City Quordinators, jumped up to official
newspaper status with its first edition published in June of 1986.
Baxter — who will come on board at Q-Notes as a contributing writer
for each issue — admits he’s looking forward to putting on
the wordsmith cap and tossing the business duties wayside.
“I was never particularly good at the business end of things, as
anyone who knows me or The Front Page will tell you,” Baxter says
wryly. “When I started the paper, I thought of it as a community
service that would, hopefully, pay its own way and not take away scarce
charitable dollars that were needed elsewhere. That was certainly the only
possible model for publishing a newspaper here back when I started.
“But I would much rather write than anything else about the business. I
look forward to not having to try to sell advertising, invoice, collect, pay
vendors, upgrade equipment and all the rest. I’ve had a full-time job elsewhere
for most of the years I published The Front Page, so it was always hard to find
the time and energy to get everything that needed doing done.”
Yarbrough is enthusiastic about Baxter’s contribution to the merger and
having another seasoned writer onboard covering LGBT issues in the region.
“I’ve followed Jim’s work for many years,” Yarbrough
says. “Jim is a very talented writer and we’re lucky to get him.
I’m looking forward to a long and successful, mutually beneficial relationship.”
For some readers in the area, the merger might be regarded as bittersweet — like
saying goodbye to an old friend.
Baxter insists he’s not going away and his words will now be read more
widely than ever — thanks to the expanded resources from the merger.
“It’s odd,” says Baxter. “I thought I would feel sad,
but I don’t really. I’m ready to move on. There were times in the
past when I thought of quitting, but I didn’t because I still thought that
something like The Front Page was specifically needed in the Carolinas.
“I think that The Front Page’s era really ended before this, in the
late 1980s or early 1990s. Certainly those were the peak years for the paper
in terms of size and quality of content. But the internet has changed all that
and so much information sharing and community building happens there now. Having
two newspapers in a market this size is just redundant and unnecessary.
Lon time readers of The Front Page take heart — it’s not the end
of an era — it’s the beginning of a new one.