Reflecting on qnotes’ 30 years of LGBT news and views coverage in the Carolinas and beyond highlights how far the LGBT community has come, as well as how much is left to be done.
In 1986, qnotes first year of publication, it covered the first LGBT event in Charlotte without media restrictions, “An American Vigil for Truth and Decency,” held at Independence Park.
In that same year, it covered the very first candidate’s forum and LGBT voter registration drive.
qnotes was also there with coverage in 1988 when activists picketed the annual banquet for a conservative political group called Concerned Charlotteans, which was one of, if not the, first pickets staged by the local LGBT community.
The newspaper also covered events like the National March on Washington and displays of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
The newspaper has seen the formation and growth of political advocacy groups fighting for LGBT rights, like First Tuesday, MeckPAC and TurnOut! Charlotte, which has since expanded to become TurnOut! NC and is involved in fighting House Bill 2 (HB2).
Coverage of local non-discrimination ordinances throughout the years culminated with Charlotte, N.C., finally passing LGBT protections this year after failing to do so in 2015, setting off the battle against the state which would result in HB2.
Progress that was in some cases made decades ago rolled back with the stroke of Gov. McCrory’s pen.
The April 1991 issue featured a story on Cracker Barrel firing gay employees and the activism that followed. Today it is still legal to fire someone for being gay in the state of North Carolina.
The July 1994 issue announced the introduction of legislation to Congress that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. That legislation, called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, has yet to become law, despite being introduced to Congress every year, with only one exception.
qnotes were there at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, covering such issues as the debate over anonymous testing, fought between the state and ACT UP. One of the first series of articles was called “A Family Fights AIDS” written by Mark Drum who chronicled his own fight with the disease until just before he died.
An enormous amount of progress has been made since then when it comes to treating the disease, but the community remembers that the epidemic is not over, especially for gay men of color who, as a recent CDC report noted, are at an increased risk. They estimate that approximately one in two black men who have sex with men (MSM) and one in four Latino MSM will contract HIV in their lifetime if current diagnosis trends continue.
Recently qnotes published another series of articles focusing on the issue of living with this diagnosis, called “Young and Positive: A Son’s and Mother’s Journey.” It, like “A Family Fights AIDS,” aims to add a human element to the statistics of an all too often still widely misunderstood condition.
Our “Life, Positively” issue each year is dedicated to the topic, tracking the latest news in treatments and the continued search for a cure for HIV/AIDS.
qnotes has also been dedicated to covering topics of lifestyle, the arts and nightlife.
Over the years it has interviewed countless local creatives, as well as household names such as John Waters, RuPaul, Alanis Morissette, Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and David Sedaris.
One major news story qnotes covered was the controversy around the production of “Angels in America,” which led the Mecklenburg County Commission to defund the arts programs in Charlotte/Mecklenburg.
qnotes documented the rise of local Pride events, gay film and arts festivals and performance arts groups such as One Voice Chorus and the Gay Men’s Chorus.
The creation and expansion of LGBT affirming churches and religious organizations, such as the Metropolitan Community Churches and the Unity Fellowship Church Movement, were also highlighted over the years. Not only have these groups given LGBT Christians a welcoming place to worship, they have helped destroy the stereotype that Christians have to be anti-gay and anti-trans.
qnotes reported on the need for an LGBT community center, which the community saw come and go, leading it back to where it started.
The newspaper saw sodomy laws overturned with Lawrence v. Texas and it saw Amendment One come and go after a federal judge’s ruling allowed for same-sex marriage in the state.
qnotes ran a series of articles from a soldier serving abroad who was forced to stay closeted and it celebrated when the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was done away with at last.
qnotes covered the recent opening of an LGBTQ Archive, housed at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, allowing LGBT history to be preserved. The digital archiving of qnotes’ back catalogue also ensures the many accomplishments and struggles of the LGBT community in the Carolinas are not lost to time.
It is an honor to be part of documenting that story and qnotes remains dedicated to doing so with continued coverage of the expansive and ever growing LGBTQIA family.
We thank all of you for your continued support of our efforts and for trusting us with your stories. May the community and the paper continue to grow together for many more years to come.