In the 1980s, one would have been hard-pressed to find objective or positive news coverage of LGBT people in mainstream media. Newspapers, TV stations, magazines and other outlets primarily remained agents of oppression, often painting LGBT people as sick or depraved — especially so during the early years of the AIDS Crisis.

It was this social environment in which qnotes was born in June 1986. For the first time since the 1970s-era Charlotte Free Press, the Queen City had its own local LGBT news publication on which the community could rely for honest, accurate and objective coverage of our lives.

Less than a month after the paper’s founding, community groups allowed local media, including WSOC, WBTV and The Charlotte Observer, unrestricted access to cover a vigil in response to a Charlotte visit by anti-gay researcher Paul Cameron. That significant concerns even arose regarding the appropriateness for media presence at a gathering of gay people is a glimpse into a life that many younger LGBT people can’t even imagine.

Given the history of mainstream media’s coverage of LGBT people, it should come, as it did to us, welcome and progressive news that qnotes has entered into a partnership with The Charlotte Observer and their Charlotte News Alliance, a network of hyperlocal, online news websites and blogs. Members of the network are able to share their own content with The Observer; in return, the daily newspaper, too, shares its content among the network members. You’ll see some reprinted Observer content in this print issue.

Our new partnership with the Carolinas’ largest daily newspaper means great potential for our community. The working relationship guarantees wider coverage of news and issues important to local LGBT communities. Further, our readers will also benefit from increased exposure to The Observer’s award-winning local journalism and entertainment features.

Throughout this year we’ve celebrated our publication’s 25th anniversary. As we noted in our anniversary issue in May, our paper’s history is about much more than us — it encompasses the true stories of countless thousands and thousands of LGBT people who have lived, loved, learned, worked and, yes, died here in Charlotte and the Carolinas during the preceding quarter century.

We know that LGBT people still find themselves at the receiving end of public prejudice and discrimination. An impending ballot question on an anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment is sign enough of the continued oppression we face. Unfortunately, some of this prejudice still manages to find its way into newsprint and on news cameras. That’s why we take our jobs seriously here. That’s also why our anniversary and our new partnership with The Observer is so special, giving us a moment to pause and reflect. Oh, what a difference 25 years has meant for our community, city, state and nation.

“A lot has changed for LGBT people in the 25 years since we first began publishing,” our publisher Jim Yarbrough says. “The Observer’s willingness to work with us epitomizes the growth in positive and equitable coverage mainstream media have begun to offer LGBT people.”

We’re thankful to The Observer for the opportunity to share our community’s great news, events and achievements with a broader audience in our local area. We look forward to the mutual benefits our membership in the Charlotte News Alliance brings to both our readers and those of The Charlotte Observer.

more: Learn more about the Charlotte News Alliance and see more news and features from other Alliance members at charlotteobserver.com/1166/.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

One reply on “What a difference 25 years makes”

  1. Congratulations on this odd-bedfellows partnership. As a retired newspaper guy, I’m always interested in the nitty-gritty of how these sharing deals work out. I hope QNote receives fair compensation if the Observer starts using your material on its op-ed page or news pages. From the Observer’s standpoint, this could mean its own reduced staff will spend less time, or no time, on the “gay beat.” It will be interesting to see how it works out. As for your theme of “what a difference 25 years makes,” I’m not sure there have been dramatic changes in my day to day personal life as a gay man. It’s great there are now the options of marriage/civil unions and open military service for the small percentages who want to go those routes. Also that some schools — not many — now have GSA clubs to support gay & tran students. But civilian workplace discrimination is still common even if less politically correct. In my area of Florida, there are far fewer gay bars and restaurants than there were 25 years ago. And of course AIDS has cut down a big chunk of our population.

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