Winston-Salem City Council member Ken Mundy. (Photo Credit: Linda Weaver)

If the new year is anything to us all, it’s the opportunity for a reset from the year prior and to allow us to see how we would like to see our lives going forward.

The past year — 20/20 if looking at it like vision — was certainly one for the proverbial record books. It was fraught with racism, political strife, increased homelessness brought on by job losses, COVID-19, grief and a host of other taunting, painful experiences. We’ve had an opportunity to see the world at its absolute worst and at its finest.

First responders, healthcare workers and others who have been our heroes through the pandemic, as well as neighbors, friends and strangers, stepped up to shelter, tend to and provide comfort as we saw the shape of living turn into sheltering in place, isolation and fear.

The new normal was challenging to adapt to. Six feet took on another meaning from the grave to the distance from which we allow others to stand next to us. Masks and other forms of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) became the norm. In fact, fashion designers around the world started to design branded masks to help with the effort of guarding against contracting the virus. And, individuals took to the sewing machine and other methods to make masks, thus creating a cottage industry to assist in the effort. They were not the only ones. Factories changed from manufacturing hard line items to creating masks and ventilators.

What’s more, we also saw a world turned upside down by a government that challenged convention and worked repeatedly toward stripping away human rights. Additionally, it attempted to overturn an election that was clearly won by the Democratic candidate. Court cases, congressional voting and other forms of dispute created roadblocks but not barriers to resolve. As of press time, we are still awaiting the final step in the election process to take place that accepts the Electoral College certifications. It has been rather daunting, to say the least.

Amidst all of this, community leaders and members across the Carolinas have begun to chart a new course for 2021. Here are some of those voices who have shared their resolutions for a brighter, better year ahead.

Reia Chapman
Founder/Director of Clinical Services
Center for Family & Maternal Wellness, PLLC
Charlotte, N.C.
In 2021 I resolve to R.E.S.T. That is, to Reclaim, Explore, Seek and Transform. Many leaders struggle with trying to stay relevant at the expense of maintaining appropriate balance in important areas of their lives. Setting boundaries is foundational to me, reclaiming time for myself in order to replenish the investment in the health and healing of others. Exploration is a form of self-awareness that is propelled by a desire to understand myself, through which I can also better understand others. This practice requires me to really sit with myself with minimal distraction, in order to seek my subconscious motivations. Burnout can occur when leaders falsely believe that success depends on their ability to “power through” or ignore their own needs. By setting and maintaining boundaries, taking time to reflect on and respond to my needs, I am holding myself accountable to transform the relationship that I have with my work into a healthier one.

Rev. Dawn Flynn
Pastor
New Life Metropolitan Community Church
Gastonia, N.C.
In 2021, I resolve to move beyond 2020 and learn from its lessons. We all have become complacent over the years, not taking good care of ourselves and our resources that the Creator has given us. In 2021, I resolve to be positive, continue to make a difference in my community, be faithful to God’s call on my life as I pastor the church God has put in my care, and find joy in each day I am given which I recognize as a gift from my Creator.

Rev. Vance Haywood
Senior Pastor
St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church
Raleigh, N.C.
This year, I resolve to be more present. With family, friends, loved ones, with the world around me and most importantly ME. The last 12 months reminded us of how precious life is and how we must slow down and be present.

Gary Montgomery
Queer Society Charlotte
Facebook Group
Charlotte, N.C.
My resolve is to continue to build a diverse, vibrant, active and all-inclusive LGBTQ community in Charlotte while leading the cheer for my queer brothers and sisters. Yes, we can.

Dale J. Pierce
Executive Director
Dudley’s Place, Inc.
Charlotte, N.C.
I resolve that in 2021 Dudley’s Place will do everything in its power to work through the new and challenging landscape of a community challenged with COVID to reach as many clients as possible. We resolve we will continue to serve clients on a daily basis through our partners at Rosedale Health and Wellness, in person and virtually. We resolve to expand our offerings for virtual support and programming. We resolve to be a better partner with our clients on media platforms as well. We also resolve that we will find new ways to reach our partners and neighbors in our homeless community in Charlotte. Most of all we resolve to be flexible to change the way we deliver support services in the midst of an ever-changing time.

Cameron Pruette
President
LGBTQ Democrats of Mecklenburg County
Charlotte, N.C.
I resolve to build solidarity with marginalized communities (and allies) to continue the ongoing work of dismantling systems of oppression.

John C. Quillin
Managing Artistic Director
Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte
Charlotte, N.C.
Adapt. This year will again be unlike any to come before. Mask-wearing and social distancing will be the norm for much, if not all, of the year, meaning that the Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte will not be able to have indoor rehearsals or performances at least until fall. So we’ll have to continue exploring avenues for these activities that are outside of our normal practices, and to learn the new skills needed to realize our mission of creating a society that values and respects its LGBTQ+ members.

Holly Bielstein Savoy, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Charlotte, N.C.
As I reflect on 2020 coming to a close, my resolve is focus on what to carry forward from 2020 into 2021 rather than lament the challenges of this past year. My intentions are: 1) To continue to grow my connections with others. Social connection is vital to our mental health. It has been invaluable to stay connected with friends and family virtually or at a safe social distance. I will cherish when we are able to spend more time together and in community again; 2) To continue to be an activist and advocate for social justice issues. Continuing to stand up, show up, and speak out will forever be important in working to achieve greater equality, especially for BIPOC LGBTQ individuals in our community; and 3) Lastly, I am a fan of choosing a word for the year. My word is “balance,” as I hope to work toward a healthier balance of self-care, self-compassion, and time with loved ones, alongside my clinical work and activism.

Lee Storrow
Executive Director
NC AIDS Action Network
Raleigh, N.C.
I ran my first marathon in 2020, although the race I had hoped to run in October was cancelled, so I hosted my own personal race with support from some friends in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. In 2021, I hope to run a real live race (assuming large events can happen in the fall which is still an open question), and beat my time from this year.
My professional goal for the NC AIDS Action Network is to change state policy to allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense PEP and PrEP. Colorado made this change in 2020, and we need to do everything we can to take down barriers to PEP and PrEP.

J. Wesley Thompson
HIV Director
Amity Medical Group
Charlotte, N.C.
2020 has challenged us all in ways that stole our sense of security, our sense of belonging, and created much loss and grief. My resolve for 2021 is to acknowledge these feelings and to let go of the illusion of controlling anything other than my own response to these feelings. I will strive to find joy in letting go and enjoy each day for the gift it is.

Chad Turner
President/CEO
Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce
Charlotte, N.C.
2020 was a challenging time for many small businesses and professionals. Our chamber pivoted to serve these businesses and employees as they navigated the three-phased re-opening plan and also attempted to access funding. We are proud of the strides that our chamber made to ensure that businesses were sustained and employees were helped. Moving into the new year, while we do not make resolutions, we will fulfill our mission and set the course to continue to advocate for our members and partners while the pandemic continues. We will be the LGBTQ and ally voice in the room to ensure that funding is available, common-sense plans that will sustain are enacted and educating our community on how to support small business from home or through delivery. We are ready for the challenge and will be on the ground for small business, professionals and non-profits day one!

Quin Williams
Founder/Owner/CEO
Quin Knows Inc.
Charlotte, N.C.
I resolve to start and come close to completing the 501(c)(3) process for my non-profit. This is a difficult financial goal. However, I’ve achieved goals I never thought I could with the help of the community. This will allow me to apply for grants I wouldn’t otherwise receive and expand my reach and ability to serve the community. Along with that I resolve to make bigger social and professional connections within the LGBTQ+ community so that my ability to serve expands in a way which draws others in to do the same; to heal our community, to create awareness, to educate to advocate, and to treasure one another. I resolve to continue to be a better human.

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