Out for Change Q&A: Anthony Dondero, Cate Eble and Ann Gonzales

Young LGBT Professionals Making a Difference

In our April 12, 2013 print edition cover story, qnotes profiled 18 young LGBT professionals making a difference in their community. We’ve been publishing more in-depth questionnaires from our young leaders. Today, we learn more about student Anthony Dondero, non-profit staffer Cate Eble and entrepreneur Ann Gonzales.

 

anthony_dondero_medAnthony Dondero

Age: 24
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.

Currently: Student, University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Campus activities: PRIDE, Trans* Port, UNCC Vox, To Write Love On Her Arm, Collegiate Recovery Community, UNCC Trans* Committee.

Would you describe yourself chiefly as an activist, advocate, student, entrepreneur, professional or something else? Why?
For me it’s a tie between student and activist. I think the two go hand in hand because the more I learn, the more I want to change in our society and help others, and learning provides the tools to do that. At the same time, as I encounter more people from different cultures and life situations through my activism, the more I’m encouraged to educate myself on diverse peoples. I hope to be always be both.

Which LGBT/progressive causes are you most passionate about?
Currently I’m most passionate about gender equality issues. The work I do primarily focuses on the trans* community, but I’m also involved with feminist groups on campus.

What inspired you to become involved in the LGBT/progressive community?
The need for trans* inclusion on my campus. There weren’t any trans* students at the time who were willing to out themselves in order to create that change because there were no visible trans* people on campus at the time.

How does your passion for LGBT/progressive issues play a role in your work or education? Are there any intersections between your professional/educational career and LGBT/progressive causes or organizations?
It’s what drives me in almost all areas of my life. I want to go into a profession that allows me to help others in the world overcome oppression. Ideally I want to continue activism while counseling people either as a therapist or a UU minister.

- - - advertisement - - -

What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the LGBT/progressive community in Charlotte? In North Carolina? In the nation/world?
There isn’t one single issue that I can point to as the most important. There is an overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done in this country. If I had to pick an issue that I would like to see fixed the most, it would be healthcare. People shouldn’t have to choose between food and medication. Mental illness should be addressed without stigma. Transgender individuals should not be discriminated against or treated as mentally ill for being who they are.

How has your experience as a member of the LGBT community shaped your experiences in work or in school?
I think my experience has been my primary motivation to make change. Hearing the stories of other LGBT individuals and living my own has been the driving force behind all of the work that I’ve done.

Do you feel Charlotte is a progressive, friendly and welcoming place (e.g., business, educational, social, religious or political climates)? How could these climates be best improved?
Charlotte is progressive compared to a lot of places in the south, but we have so much further to go here. I think education has helped us so far in making people realize that LGBT people are people like everyone else and deserve the same respect.

 

cate_eble_medCate Eble

Age: 32
Hometown: I grew up in Charlotte’s South Park area, moved in high school and returned after college. So you could say Charlotte is my hometown.

Currently: Business analyst at The American Red Cross. Steering Committee Member, Co-Chair of NC Gala Student Leadership Summit. Previously: Chair of Community Outreach, Co-Chair of Volunteers, Co-Chair of Marketing (Printed Media), Unity Welcome Event for DNC; Board of Trustees member, LGBT Community Center of Charlotte.

Education: Old Dominion University and UNC-Charlotte, B.A. Economics and Religious Studies.

Would you describe yourself chiefly as an activist, advocate, student, entrepreneur, professional or something else? Why?
I think of myself as an advocate more than an activist. The issues I am working to resolve aren’t just for me or people like me. I believe in equal rights and non discrimination for all LGBT. I think too often, when people talk about equality, important members of our community get left out. We need to remember we are all in this together. No one should be left out of equality and non discrimination legislation to make laws “easier” to pass. Lesbian and Gay is very strongly represented in our community but we must remember the Bi-sexual, Transgender and Queer members of our community when fighting for change.

Which LGBT/progressive causes are you most passionate about?
Equal rights and Workplace non discrimination for LGB and especially T members of our community. No one should fear losing their job because they are true to themselves. It is legal in 29 states to discriminate based on sexual orientation and in 34 states to do so based on gender identity or expression. Many companies have taken the lead and issued non discrimination policies for their employees. Just this week 110 House members sent a letter calling President Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting contractors without sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination policies from receiving federal funds. An executive order would ensure that LGBT federal contract employees could work without the fear of being fired. This is a huge leap in support for workplace protection but we still have a long way to go!

What inspired you to become involved in the LGBT/progressive community?
I am inspired everyday by the stories of people in my community facing inequality. Whether it be a friend unable to adopt her partner’s child and protect their future or a transgender friend having trouble finding work, not because she isn’t qualified, but for being true to who she is. I have been a victim of inequality in my own life many times. I know the heartbreak we all feel when we are reminded we are second class citizens because of who we love or who we are. I believe these stories need to be told to overcome the blanket disregard for our rights. The more personal an issue becomes the harder it is people to discriminate against it.

How does your passion for LGBT/progressive issues play a role in your work or education? Are there any intersections between your professional/educational career and LGBT/progressive causes or organizations?
I haven’t had the opportunity to combine my work as a Business Analyst to my advocacy work but I use similar organizational and management skills for both.

What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the LGBT/progressive community in Charlotte? In North Carolina? In the nation/world?
Workplace Non discrimination is very important to the entire nation because regardless of if you have the right to get married or adopt you need to be secure in your employment.

- - - advertisement - - -

How has your experience as a member of the LGBT community shaped your experiences in work or in school?
I have learned so much about being a leader and knowing how to lead people. Working with several LGBT organizations, you meet lots of different people who are motivated by lots of different things. Being a leader is identifying everyone’s role, skill set and motivation to complete a common goal. Being a leader isn’t about who is in charge it’s about staying with the mission and guiding those that lose sight of that mission. My work supporting the LGBT community has taught me that for sure.

Do you feel Charlotte is a progressive, friendly and welcoming place (e.g., business, educational, social, religious or political climates)? How could these climates be best improved?
I think Charlotte has come a very long way in the last 5 years. Charlotte is much more accepting and progressive than some of our neighbors in NC. That point was proven during the Amendment 1 vote last year. As a state we still have a long way to go but I was proud that on election day the city I call home voted overwhelmingly against Amendment 1. It made me very happy to call Charlotte home.

 

ann_gonzales_medAnn Gonzales

Age: 29
Hometown: Moved to Charlotte in 2006. Moved from Concord.

Currently: Co-owner/Co-founder, Create-ster.
Community Involvement: In the LGBTQ community, Create-ster has worked with GayCharlotte Film Festival, RedFrog LGBT News, BetweenUs, The Charlotte Business Guild, Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte, The Transgender Faith and Action Network (TFAAN) formerly Transfaith in Color, The Freedom Center for Social Justice, and briefly with Pride Charlotte.

Would you describe yourself chiefly as an activist, advocate, student, entrepreneur, professional or something else? Why?
I primarily describe myself as an entrepreneur, but with Create-ster you could say we’re both entrepreneurs and advocates for start-ups, small businesses and budding non-profits. We love working with people who are in the beginning stages of their business/non-profit. It’s always exciting to see how happy clients become when they see their ideas come into fruition in a visual form (logo design, graphic design, web design etc).

Which LGBT/progressive causes are you most passionate about?
LGBTQ Rights & Equality.

What inspired you to become involved in the LGBT/progressive community?
While I have many friends of differing backgrounds, faiths and ethnicities on my Facebook, not many are so aware on LGBTQ issues. When Amendment One occurred in North Carolina, I was constantly posting on the newsfeed to let everyone know how serious the issue was. I actually had a few people (straight allies) from my Facebook approach me and tell me “thank you” because I kept them informed, and how sad they were about Amendment One. Ever since then, I’ve never had any qualms to keep people informed on social media. It’s imperative to make people more aware about social issues like LGBTQ rights and equality, especially for our straight allies. Not everyone reads, listens or watches the same news media source, but almost ‘everyone’ is on social media.

How does your passion for LGBT/progressive issues play a role in your work or education? Are there any intersections between your professional/educational career and LGBT/progressive causes or organizations?
Since November 2011, we have been fortunate to not have any clients who have had issues with us when knowing two lesbians run the company. If anything, they have become advocates themselves for LGBTQ equality. We were quite fortunate to have one of our clients, Carolina Learning Connection, sponsor Create-ster to attend the HRC’s 2013 Gala. They even attended the gala with us! It was wonderful!

What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the LGBT/progressive community in Charlotte? In North Carolina? In the nation/world?
Marriage equality.

How has your experience as a member of the LGBT community shaped your experiences in work or in school?
Through Create-ster, whether graphic designing or web designing, I have felt absolutely honored to have taken part in helping LGBTQ Charlotte organizations and non-profits. While we are already advocates for start-ups and small businesses, enabling them to have a fighting chance to keep up with larger, established businesses, It’s been great to be advocates for LGBTQ causes that are so important to us.

Do you feel Charlotte is a progressive, friendly and welcoming place (e.g., business, educational, social, religious or political climates)? How could these climates be best improved?
I most definitely feel Charlotte is a progressive city. In fact, I almost feel spoiled living here. In both my living and professional environment, I am rather comfortable being an out lesbian. However, do I feel there is still room for improvement? Sure. Again, this ties along with awareness. For Charlotte to further grow in LGBTQ acceptance, I think we need to learn how to better intersect the LGBTQ community in with the rest of the Charlotte community as a whole. Segregating ourselves will only keep us going in circles. However, having worked with several LGBTQ Charlotte organizations, I really do feel like we are heading in the right direction.

- - - advertisement - - -

Posted by Matt Comer

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