Mission accepted: Newspaper expands to social justice focus

Editor's Note

Change and progress. It’s always a good thing. Even here at qnotes. Since 1986, this newspaper has worked to chronicle the story of LGBT life in Charlotte and across the Carolinas. Through that coverage, the newspaper has been a source of education and awareness and, at times, even advocacy.

In those 27 years since its founding, much has changed. The LGBT community is making progress unheard of nearly 30 years ago. Then, the marriage equality movement was still a dream. Today, we await Hawaii’s decision on whether it will become the 15th state to recognize gay marriages. Then, many people waited to come out until they were in college or after they had graduated. Today, the number of out LGBT youth is soaring. Then, gay-straight alliances and other LGBT student clubs were nearly unheard of high schools. Today, such groups are even being founded by students in middle school.

The staff at qnotes is proud that we’ve had the privilege of documenting these changes and providing a voice for a community that at one time had close to none. But, today, our community has changed and along with it, so must the newspaper.

In late October, the qnotes staff sat down to review our mission statement. Most of it didn’t change. We’ll still chronicle the news, arts, entertainment and opinions of our LGBT community. We’ll document what LGBT life is like in Charlotte, across North Carolina and beyond. But, an important addition to our mission statement brings us firmly in line with our community today. Our history and future as an independent source of LGBT community journalism is secure, but starting now we’ll also begin to document and chronicle other important social justice issues.

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Our revamped mission statement reads: “The focus of qnotes is to serve the LGBT and straight ally communities of the Charlotte region, North Carolina and beyond, by featuring arts, entertainment, news and views content in print and online that directly enlightens, informs and engages the readers about LGBT life and social justice issues.”

In my last Editor’s Note (goqnotes.com/25535/), I implored the local LGBT community to begin working on issues of intersectional oppression. It is only natural that the newspaper should do the same.

Issues like employment discrimination affect not only LGBT people for their sexuality and gender alone; LGBT people of color continue to face disproportionate job discrimination and unemployment. Healthcare reform and access to affordable, safe health care has been made a partisan issue between Republicans and Democrats, but it’s an important issue particularly for transgender people, low-income people and people of color. Controversial issues like immigration, too, have connections with the LGBT community, as LGBT youth are separated from their families and other LGBT immigrants are deported back to their hostile homelands or face a local community with little resources for them.

As a community, we are learning that to work for equality means to work for all. LGBT organizations — and, yes, even LGBT media — can begin to broaden their work to include a wide range of issues and a diversity of people. It’s the only way our community becomes stronger.

In our news feature this issue, brought to in partnership with Creative Loafing, we ask, “Is Charlotte’s gay rights movement over?” The response from advocates was an overwhelming, “No.”

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In the news feature, LGBTQ Law Center founding attorney Sarah Demarest asks, “If you don’t have food, you don’t have a job or place to lay your head at night, what good is a non-discrimination policy?”

The work of changing culture and making progress for all people — LGBT and other oppressed communities, too — must continue. Such work raises difficult questions and challenges us to grapple with our own ideas and an awareness of our own individual privilege. But, such intersectional, inclusive work makes the LGBT community more diverse, stronger and more united.

I’m looking forward to the new ways the newspaper might cover some of these issues, explore how other social justice issues intersect with the movement for LGBT equality and chronicle the work people like Demarest are doing to make change in the community. It’ll be a healthy exercise and expansion for the newspaper’s staff. It’ll keep us on our toes, as we look for the facts in all the stories we publish and use them to speak truth to power — power that all too often still exists as a gatekeeper to the security of basic essentials like clothing, shelter and food many of us often take for granted and some of us still desperately lack. : :

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.