You’ve seen him around — everywhere. He’s not one to take center stage or praise for himself, but Frank Kalian has been an integral leader and community member in Charlotte for nearly 30 years.
His active support of the local LGBT community, and particularly the Charlotte Business Guild, where he served on the board for many years, recently earned him the Guild’s Teresa L. Davis Lifetime Achievement Award. The honor was bestowed at the Guild’s Giving Gala on March 21.
Kalian has been involved with or served on the boards of several groups since about 1990, including First Tuesday, Carolina Celebration, the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, Metropolitan Community Church of Charlotte, Prime Timers of Charlotte and the GayCharlotte Film Festival.
Kalian, 68, has also owned and operated Sir Speedy on Caswell Rd. since 1985, when he moved to Charlotte from New York. Originally located on Morehead St., it’s been in its current location since 2003. Ironically, it was the growth of Carolinas Medical Center that prompted his move to Caswell, where Mercy Hospital and Presbyterian are growing again. Kalian, though, says he’s not worried this time around.
We had the opportunity to catch up with Kalian and banter about his personal tastes and thoughts on community.
You’ve been involved in the community for nearly 30 years. In all that time, how have you seen it change?
It’s grown immensely. It’s been an amazing change, really, from where it used to be. You couldn’t hardly even say gay back then.
We’ve also faced challenges. What’s the biggest?
Unity. We’re so diverse. We have to start doing things together. We’re growing. We’re a high-strung group. It’s always been a challenge. You have a lot of strong personalities. Everybody wants to do the right thing, but their way. And, of course, their way is the right way (laughs). Sometimes you butt heads, but everybody has the same aim — to make the community better as a whole. We tend to be more sensitive, I think, as LGBT people. Sometimes I think we just have to agree to disagree and just keep moving forward. It’s really just too much infighting when there doesn’t need to be.
Now, on the to fun questions… what’s your favorite color?
Wow (laughs). When I usually ask that question, people throw out boring colors like blue and orange. Why turquoise?
I’m a Sagittarius. It’s kind of my color. I think it’s a beautiful shade of blue, a very calming, serene color.
What’s your favorite kind of entertainment?
Theatre. Any kind of theatre. I have a subscription to Theatre Charlotte, Actors Theatre, Blumenthal, Central Piedmont.
Do you prefer the local theatre or touring theatre?
They both have their merits. We have such great local talent in Charlotte. It’s really amazing.
What’s your all-time favorite musical or play?
When your not at the theater, what else might you be doing on an average weekend night?
Everything. Movies, going to game nights, bowling, wine tastings. I love get togethers.
Favorite food and dining experience?
Italian would be my favorite and I like Portofino’s.
What’s your favorite neighborhood and why?
Plaza Midwood. It’s the diversity, the mix of shops and restaurants, the people and the whole atmosphere of it. I just absolutely love it.
What’s special to you or for the community about the GayCharlotte Film Festival?
It’s a great experience, a great movie-going experience. These movies are not shown in regular theaters like AMC or Regal. They are made for us. It’s just great seeing these films in a group, laughing, crying or whatever together. This year, there’s a wide diversity of films. There’s something for everyone — the real story of Dog Day Afternoon or the real story of gay Germany in the 1930s, George Takei and, of course, the Blake Brockington doc. It’s all fascinating. I think it’s something Charlotte needs and something we’ll continue to support. : :