On Monday, May 2, 2011, I had the honor of sharing a moment with Jim Yarbrough, founder and publisher of qnotes. We discussed some of the exciting things that were coming up in each of our areas of work, like the church’s 2011 launch of the Lighthouse Project. This is a development plan that includes the addition of a new building that will include community office and meeting space, public art and green space for the East Charlotte neighborhood we reside in. His good news was that qnotes was about to celebrate its 25th anniversary as the premier regional publication for news and information about all things related to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community. If I were in church I would say I want to testify, but since this will be read by a broad audience, I would like to share a bit about the role qnotes has played in our work within community and encourage everyone who can to take another look at why it is so critical to support qnotes.
In July of 1999, I was commissioned by Archbishop Carl Bean to open the Unity Fellowship Church Movement’s first church in the Bible Belt. As a graduate of Duke University, my first inclination was to move to Durham, however, Charlotte kept coming up in terms of a community we should consider. It was a city I had only flown through prior to that moment, but ultimately decided to visit because there were several things present that fit the criteria we had set. The first thing was the presence of an arts and film festival, OutCharlotte, which celebrated the lives of LGBT people. The second thing Charlotte had was a gay newspaper, qnotes. As a denomination committed to social justice, equality and inclusion for all of God’s children, it was important to be in a city that had exhibited a commitment to these principles and, in turn, the building of a more just society. After the first visit, we knew Charlotte would be our home.
Even before we opened our doors in 2000, qnotes helped keep us informed about what was happening in the region and who we needed to get to know in the faith community, social networks, city government and all of the other essential places. Once we arrived, they became a great partner. Through advertisements and write-ups on the spiritual, as well as social justice issues, we were concerned about and engaged in, qnotes played a key role in our introduction to a community that at that time had very few affirming houses of worship and even fewer places for LGBT people of color to gather. Whether it was equitable distribution of resources for students or adequate funding for critical HIV/AIDS medications, we stood together using the sermon and pen as our weapons of choice in the fight for justice and the building of a great community.
Over the years we both have grown. When thinking of our journey, I was reminded of the line in the Broadway play “Ragtime” that said, “Your sword can be a sermon or the power of the pen”; how critical both have been for the opening of doors not only in community, but also in the hearts and minds of men and women.
As qnotes moves toward its next 25-year mark, we must never underestimate the power of the printed word on paper, as well as online. Together we must invest our time and resources in those things that best serve us. Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte will never forget the role qnotes has played and continues to play in helping us live out our mission. We hope you will not either. : :