The year ahead

What will 2010 bring in politics, culture, community?

The winter holidays…done. New Year’s celebrations…done. Schools are back open, holiday breaks between now and Easter a few and far between. It’s back to the daily grind.

Time said the 2000s were the decade from hell. They say it was bookended by the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor and one of the nation’s worst economic recessions. Yet, in 2009, the LGBT community — both locally and nationally — made huge strides. So, what is to come in the next year?

Politics

In early-to-mid 2010, expect city leaders in Charlotte to begin discussions on extending domestic partner benefits and expanding their employee non-discrimination policy. Brought to the public’s attention by Mecklenburg County’s move on similar issues in December, you should also expect more outspoken opposition to these inclusive changes by Charlotte’s anti-gay, religious establishment.

In Raleigh, conservative Democratic and Republican lawmakers will undertake their annual ploy to write discrimination into the state’s constitution by introducing, yet again, their anti-LGBT, anti-family marriage amendment — a six-year-in-a-row failure.

On May 25, make plans to join Equality North Carolina at their annual Day of Action. Visit with your lawmakers and speak out against the anti-gay amendment and for extending employment protections for LGBT workers and other issues. The Connie Spry Fund, created in honor of longtime trans advocate Connie Spry, will again assist transgender community members in financial need with both transportation and lodging costs. For more information, visit equalitync.org/dayofaction.

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Put into force just one day after New Year, the state’s new smoking ban in restaurants and bars will reshape nightlife and dinner outings — especially for us gay folks, who use tobacco far more than our straight counterparts. While non-smokers will no longer fear coming home smelling like smoke and ashes, some smokers say they’ll take their cues from state legislators and take the new law as a sign it’s time to quit.

Community

Community members in the state capital will continue work on creating the new LGBT Center of Raleigh. The nascent organization recently announced it will share office space with Triangle Community Works, and talks of a future merger between the two groups are already underway. Just a few miles down I-40, community members in Winston-Salem will likely continue talks to start their own community center.

In late July, the Triangle area will join Charlotte and Columbia in hosting their own, local Black Pride. Carolinas Black Pride Movement says they’re planning events in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, with their day-long expo likely being held in Durham.

The Greenville-Spartanburg area will hold their second annual Upstate Pride, while Charleston ramps up its efforts to host their first-ever local celebration.

In February, the annual Human Rights Campaign Carolinas Gala makes its long-awaited trip from Charlotte to Raleigh. With events slated for the entire weekend, a special “HRC Train” planned from Charlotte and Greensboro and the premier Gala dinner at the new Raleigh Convention Center, the event is again expected to reign as the Carolinas’ LGBT community’s premier political and fundraising event. And, being so close to the Governor’s Mansion, maybe good ole Bev Perdue will make an appearance?

Culture & Entertainment

The Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte kicks off 2010 with their second annual GayCharlotte Film Festival, Jan. 28-Jan. 31. Organizers have already announced a showing of “Little Ashes,” starring Robert Pattinson and Javier Beltrán, and the 2009 romantic comedy “Drool,” starring Laura Harring and Jill Marie Jones.

Throughout 2010, the southeastern section of the Queen City’s Uptown will experience a cultural awakening, as the Wells Fargo Cultural Campus holds some of their first events and openings in new museums and theatres, and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture, which opened in late 2009.

In February, the Blumenthal Center for Performing Arts presents the acclaimed coming of age musical, “Spring Awakening.” With music written by Pop singer Duncan Sheik and complete with its own same-sex love scene, “Spring Awakening” is a classical, timeless tale of the joys and challenges of youth.

National scene

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day, New Hampshire became the fifth state to open marriage to all couples. Who will join Granite Staters in the journey to full marriage equality? In 2010, expect debates over marriage to continue in California, Maine, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and other areas.

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The community celebrated the passage of the Matthew Shepard hate crimes act in 2009. Our friendly Congress Critters say they’re aware of our need for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeals of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Regardless, it seems legislative movement forward will remain slow and painful. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) recently told DC Agenda there will be no effort to repeal DOMA in 2010. Although Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) says a DADT repeal could be added as an amendment on this year’s defense funding bill, the reality of any proposal remains to be seen. In the Senate, hope for more action on Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act.

As open lesbian Annise Parker celebrates her late 2009 win as mayor of Houston — Carolina celebrates its own gay mayoral victory in Chapel Hill — more LGBTs are throwing their hats into the ring and running for office. An openly gay Illinois man is running for the U.S. Senate and a California man hopes to become the fourth out member of the U.S. House. So far, the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute’s Victory Fund has endorsed 15 out candidates facing 2010 elections.

Media

Some are saying 2010 will be the year of social networking backlash and fatigue. The thing is, people have been saying that every New Year since at least 2006. Some people hate it, some people love it and most people likely couldn’t care less, but social networking, loathed or cherished, is here to stay. “Experts” warn of a different sort of threat in 2010 to sites like Facebook and Twitter: hackers. Both sites have grown so large and so popular they’ve become sitting ducks for shadowy computer brainiacs with too much time on their hands.

As for changing trends, which new social media site will be the new champ? Last January, social networking gurus predicted Facebook would overtake MySpace. They were right. Will Facebook die a slow, painful death? Will Twitter lose ground to FourSquare? Only time will tell.

On a more local and regional note, you can expect to see greater cooperation between hyperlocal blogs and news sites — like QCityMetro.com and DavidsonNews.net — and daily giant Charlotte Observer. Recently announced, the Observer will utilize thousands in grant dollars to fund partnerships with a wide range of neighborhood and community websites. According to the Observer, similar partnerships are underway with the Asheville Citizen-Times and local blogs and websites in the Blue Ridge.

Let’s hope 2010 treats LGBT media more fairly than 2009. After the collapse of gay news giant Window Media, the employees of the former Washington Blade, Southern Voice and South Florida Blade are working hard to recreate new publications for their communities. Blade staff have teamed up to create the already-successful DC Agenda. Atlantans will see a 2010 competition between the new ATL Free Press and Southern Voice staff-led GA Voice.

You can expect competition in Ft. Lauderdale, too. After the publishers of Mark’s List Magazine took former Florida Blade staffers under their wings and produced some of the first print editions of their new Florida Agenda, Miami Herald reporter Steve Rothaus said Norm Kent, original publisher of the now defunct Express Gay News, is starting his new South Florida Gay News. Kent says an online edition will debut first, with 12,000 print edition issues being produced this month. : :

This article was published in the Jan. 9 – Jan. 22 print edition.

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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.