Our People: Young Professionals — In their own words

Thoughts from this year’s featured Young Professionals

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In this issue, qnotes features 10 young professionals in the LGBT/ally community. In each of their questionnaires, we asked them: “What do you believe is the most pressing issue needing to be addressed by the local LGBT community? By the national LGBT community? Why do you think this issue (or several) are important?” Here are some selected thoughts from our profiled leaders. Be sure to check out all of the featured profiles at goqnotes.com/27998/.

Robin Tanner:
The most pressing issue locally is the current state of oppressive legislation, in particular the constitutional amendment.  Nationally, we are seeing marriage equality have sweeping victories and I think we need to stay focused on the multifaceted nature of oppression for the entire LGBT community.

Natasha Tutt:
The most important issue in the LGBT community today needing to addressed is social equality.

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Mel Hartsell:
I think the biggest issues for the queer community in Charlotte are issues of classism.Having money or the appearance of having money is the ticket in to a lot of local LGBTQ work. It is a hugely divisive issue. We should be more focused on economic injustices within our community. Homelessness, unemployment, and a lack of resources should be priorities for people in all age groups and all in parts of our community. Homeless and working class people should have voices in our activism work and our priorities; everyone in the community deserves to be heard. Racism is another major concern in our community. I hope that we white folk can learn to work in solidarity with queer communities of color in Charlotte and make major events safe and inclusive for queer people of color. Nationally, I think issues of economic injustice should be priorities: universal healthcare and an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act would be the first things on my list. Again, we need to make sure our work is intersectional and that we are serving the most marginalized among us through our activism.

Cameron Joyce:
Charlotte could improve on being a more organized and connected community. We could do better at focusing our resources to address major LGBT community needs such as youth issues (safety, shelter, stability), economic advancement, and healthcare for marginalized parts of the community. It would be nice to see the national community focus on being more intentional at being inclusive on political priorities and agendas. A more diverse national leadership would help align priorities more equitable manner. It is evident that the South as a region could use more attention and resources.

Kayla Lisenby:
I think the issue I find most pressing is both a local and a national issue. National organizations are sending an abysmal amount of resources and funding to the South, so why do we continue to support them? As queer folks in this area, we need to keep our resources at home, stop outsourcing them if we aren’t seeing a return. On a national level, folks need to look at ways to be more equitable in the division of resources. While marriage campaigns are making their way to the South, that isn’t enough. We need tangible resources in order to create networks of support that for our queer communities. Additionally, I’ve found that in terms of local issues, finding a way to create support networks that reach rural areas is a pressing need. I primarily work with undergraduate college students, and there’s such disparity in the access to support and resources they have had prior to coming to USC – the more metropolitan areas offer really great things, but those areas are few and far between. Identifying coalitions and looking for creative support solutions in order to provide further reaching support is a need I’ve noticed.

Jennifer Martin:
I believe that LGBTQA Youth should be the number one priority in the local and national community. The more we can support the youth of today the stronger and more secure the people of tomorrow will be. They are our future bankers, writers, doctors, business owners and workers and need to be given all the resources they need to succeed. I lost my Uncle Garry to AIDS related illness at the age of 39, and watched him and his partner of 15 years struggle emotionally and financially. As a young teen he lived a very hazardous life on the street after not being accepted at home. Although there are so many worthy organizations and issues in the community, educating and providing programs for the youth as early as we can will filter up through society fostering the accepting culture we want for future generations.

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Tamalea Pierce:
Acceptance of one and another is one of the most pressing issues within our local/national LGBT community. If we expect to be accepted outside of our community, we must acknowledge negative judgment projected onto each other within it. Mind boggling thoughts arise when our community sometimes discriminates against individuals outside of their own sexual orientation/gender identity. Discrimination is seen between lesbian and gay individuals, however for bisexual, transgender, and questioning individuals it increases tremendously. Some individuals view BTQ as choosing to be gay/a certain way. People are prone to need clear cut decisions, therefore there is a lack of understanding for individuals of the BTQ community. Natural instinct tells one to fear/question what we do not understand, thus our LGBT community rights are still limited. Therefore, as we push for our rights as a community, let’s remember our entire community is in this together.

Sarah Alwran
I believe the most pressing issue to be addressed by the local LGBT community is the increase of LGBTQ homeless youth and young adults, with special focus on youth who have aged out of the foster care system and trans* youth. I would also like to see our local community take a more active role in increasing the awareness of medical and mental health care for trans* and queer youth as these needs are on the up rise and our local funding and resources are limited in both areas. Many of our youth are struggling with access to basic medical and mental health care services and they are the ones who need it most. LGBTQ youth are at a higher rate of suicide, depression, anxiety and homelessness. Furthermore, local funding for medical and mental health care is being cut all over the state so this is the time to take an active role in finding alternative ways to provide these services to our community. On a national level, the most pressing issues are putting an end to workplace discrimination (ENDA) and increasing overall awareness so that more LGB and Ally individuals step up to the plate to fight for, not only marriage equality, but equality for our trans* community.

Ryan Philemon:
One of the most pressing issues that needs to be addressed in the local and national LGBT community is social acceptance. Social acceptance, meaning the acceptance of those different than yourself. Pushing to eliminate social boundaries that constrict our community instead of uniting as one. Setting the example of supporting one another, while befriending our straight allies. It is our duty to portray to LGBT youth that we are no different from one another and that we all are fighting for equal rights. It is important to not categorize ourselves as just “LGBT.” When we give ourselves a label, it portrays that that defines us. We need to stand up as a people, to engage in all cultures and all walks of life to break down the walls of segregation, starting within our own community.

Nate Turner:
I believe that Charlotte and the surrounding area needs more diversity and camaraderie within the LGBT community. Many groups specifically separate themselves instead of improving the community. Currently my partner and I are planning our wedding and since it is not legal to get married in North Carolina we have had to adjust our plans to be able to live our life.

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