While thinking about my first submission for qnotes, I began to review the many different types of “firsts” that have happened in my life. Some firsts come and go without a fleeting thought from us on their significance, while others stay with us and hold sway in shaping who we are. Certain moments such as first kisses, first loves and first heartaches are so universal that they are inspiration for music, literature and art. Other events are only meaningful to the individual and their experience.

As I considered this theme, I kept coming back to the first time I gave blood. While not a “first” that is typically symbolic, the memory wouldn’t escape my thoughts. I was a senior in high school and I would love to tell you that I chose to give blood for the greater good; the truth is that I did it for extra credit in my AP English class. My desire for an “easy A” overcame my fear of being skewered and so I walked into the library prepared to bleed for a better grade.

I was so nervous that I hoped that the preliminary screening would prove me anemic and therefore unable to give blood. Then I would still get extra credit for trying. Just my luck the blood sank like a stone in the little vial and before I knew it I was led back into a room to be drained.

I don’t remember the woman’s name who drew my blood, but I do remember her voice. She had the most interesting accent. I nervously inquired as to where she was from, wanting to fix my mind on anything other than why that cold swab of alcohol was cleaning my skin.

As she meticulously prepped my arm, the lady told me of her home in Sierra Leone and of her move to this country. Her unique personal story and soft reassuring tone lulled me and before I knew it she was done. I barely felt a thing!

I was so surprised at how easily the procedure went that I did not even feel as if anything had really happened. When I jumped up from my chair the woman stopped me and placed a sticker on my chest: “First Time Donor: Handle With Care.” I don’t know if that sticker caused anyone to be more gentle with me or that anyone honestly even noticed I was wearing it; the idea of being treated with care when going through a new experience felt comforting.

So, it is with this in mind I present myself to you for the very first time. Despite my initial fears, I am excited and honored to be a part of the qnotes staff and look forward to being a part of the LGBT community on a larger scale. Our community is my passion and I am eager to work to illuminate the many positive people, organizations and movements going on right here.

Being relatively new to the Charlotte area, I have the advantage of still seeing much of this community for the first time. I hope that this perspective will help me to pick up on aspects of the community that may have gone unnoticed, but this is your community and I want to know what is important to you.

In our Jan. 21 print edition we posted a QPoll question about the direction you would like to see this publication go as it transitions into new editorial leadership. I encourage you to answer the poll. Send me your thoughts and passions. Working together, we’ll take qnotes and our community to new heights. : :

O'Neale Atkinson

O'Neale Atkinson is a former editor of QNotes, serving in the position from Jan. 23, 2012 to June 15, 2012. His first issue as editor was published on Feb. 4, 2012. His last issue was published June 23,...