In this issue, qnotes profiles our readers’ picks in our 2012 QList, Best of LGBT Carolina. Hundreds in our communities across the state cast their ballots to choose their favorite and best coffee houses, restaurants, nightclubs and bars, community leaders, elected officials, non-profit organizations and more. The results all speak for themselves.

Those groups, businesses and individuals chosen in this year’s QList represent some of the most widely praised and most popular across the state. The work they do in providing us tasty treats, fun nighttime outings, important community services and leadership should be cherished. Too often, though, their work goes under-appreciated.

As our staff compiled QList vote tallies, we also began to undertake our annual “InFocus” review of community non-profits. The annual review is designed to gauge the financial health, strength and wellbeing of our community’s various LGBT service organizations. They include advocacy organizations, arts groups, an AIDS service organization, youth groups and more. The review annually studies each group’s financial disclosures and other documents, as well as data provided directly from each of the organizations.

Our initial assessment, as in years past, is sobering. The majority of organizations serving the LGBT community in Charlotte and across the state operate on unimaginably-small budgets. When compared to mainstream organizations or those groups whose sole missions are to attack our community at every turn, it becomes clear that our own community groups’ budgets are dangerously small.

Many of our community groups have spent years, if not decades, fighting for our civil rights, for our social equality or for general social acceptance. Some do it through music. Others do it through direct political advocacy. Others provide much-needed services to those in need. Whatever the delivery mechanism, all of the groups’ combined efforts make our community stronger. Our loyalty to the groups have not diminished. Such is evident in the huge numbers of votes organizations received in their competition to be named among the best non-profits in the state and on local levels. But, are we putting our money and our time where our mouths are?

Imagine a world without LGBT choruses — without harmony and spirit. Imagine a world without the important services offered by organizations working with those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. Imagine a world without advocacy groups working day and night to ensure our continued successes toward full legal equality. In such a world, our community would experience life much differently.

Honors and awards are great. Everyone loves them. They boost our energy and validate our sense of worth. They push us to keep going the extra mile. Yet, it is only in our community’s collective strength where we will find the backing to push toward a second mile, a third, fourth and more. To go the distance, we must each contribute.

North Carolina’s wide array of LGBT community organizations are among the best in the nation. The social and legal progress we’ve made here — even in the face of the passage of Amendment One in May — is breathtaking. We can continue to achieve more and aim higher. Though the economy is still down, I encourage you to give just a little bit more. A $5 bill here or a $20 bill there can make a world of difference. And, if money is an obstacle, volunteer your time and talent. Even simple gestures like short emails with encouraging messages of support or suggestions to make our community groups better can help push us all forward together.

As you flip through this issue and land on our list of QList results, I encourage you to think about all the hard work, dedication and many hours people just like you put into the organizations that make our community strong and healthy. Pick one, two, three or more, and give what you can. In that way, we’ll continue much more quickly down our path toward full and equal justice under the law and in the sight of our families, friends and society. : :

Matt Comer

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