Longtime pillar of Charlotte’s LGBTQ community, Samis Rose helped create various organizations attributable to making it possible for today’s generation in Charlotte to celebrate LGBTQ Pride.
Rose and a host of other community members help found the first Gay and Lesbian Switchboard which provided a vital peer counseling service to members of the local LGBTQ community during a time when there were few options available for support such as this.
In addition, Rose, her partner Billie Stickell, Don King and others organized Queen City Qordinators, an organization that gave birth to the first Charlotte Pride festival in 1981.
Rose was also one of One Voice’s first soloists and was a founding member of Sotto Voce, a small auditioned-group of the LGBTQ-affirmative chorus.
qnotes was able to catch up with Rose and gather a little more insight about her life and the early days of LGBTQ Pride in Charlotte.
As a founding member of Queen City Coordinators, what were some of the things you were tasked with doing early on?
I was only active with the group for a time. Just long enough to help brainstorm, really. We really didn’t have tasks yet.
What was the purpose of Queen City Coordinators and what prompted it being formed?
It was the beginning of a busy time. Simultaneous groups were beginning to form, and the group realized the importance of offering guidance, so that all groups could find or raise the necessary funds. This was before the widespread use of computers. It was basically an umbrella group to help consolidate all the groups
How have you overcome the challenges associated with being openly-queer during times where the risks were much higher?
There weren’t that many for me. Thankfully.
What was it like working on Charlotte’s first gay Pride festival?
There were just a hundred or so folks participating in the first festival, headquartered at Scorpios and Oleans, but I gotta tell you that it was great!
The freedom and support really sparked things. As a direct result, more folks volunteered, and our community grew.
How has our community’s celebrations changed and evolved since the first gay Pride festival in Charlotte?
It’s apples and oranges. We were a hundred [people] in the parking lot of a gay bar one weekend. Now it’s thousands taking up blocks and various other locations for a week-long event. Actually, it’s pretty satisfying to see.
What were your experiences like as a soloist performer for One Voice?
I sang with One Voice for 14 or 15 years. Besides myself, we were blessed with a variety of talented soloists during those years. I have to say it was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. We often traveled to other smaller communities that were without resources, hoping our performance would help spark the growth of another group. We also performed at hospitals and assisted living facilities. That was just the best.
What is your current professional position and what does it entail?
I am disabled, not recovering. So, this is it. But my partner, Billie, and I had our own business for over 20 years. Two of a Kind Jewelry. We were both silversmiths, who designed and handmade everything.
What are some of your favorite hobbies or pastimes?
I grow plants, raise worms and spend most of my time writing.
What is your favorite color?
Mauve. Of course.