Graziano makes history

On Jan. 4, history was made in South Carolina when Kristin Graziano was sworn in as Charleston County sheriff. She is the first female and first openly LGBTQ sheriff in the state and was endorsed by SC Equality. Due to COVID-19 protocols, the swearing in ceremony at the Old Historic Courthouse by the Charleston County clerk of court was limited to a group of family and friends.

Org ED steps down

GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard has announced that she is stepping down as the organization’s leader effective on March 1. Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, GLSEN’s deputy executive director, will take over as interim executive director while the board launches a national search for GLSEN’s next executive director. “Since I arrived in 2001, thousands of people — staff, student leaders, educators, and GLSEN chapter leaders — have come together to transform K-12 education and open new worlds of possibility for LGBTQ+ youth. Looking back, it is astounding to contemplate how much the world has changed for LGBTQ+ people, and I am proud of GLSEN’s contributions,” Byard said. She added, “When I began this work, it was not legal to be gay in 15 states. Today more than 26 million U.S. students go to school in states with laws that specifically protect LGBTQ+ students from harassment and violence.”

Williams launches new grants program

The Williams Institute launched a new small grants program in support of emerging scholars and new research focused on the intersections of race, sexual orientation and gender identity. Awards will range from $1,000 to $7,500, and scholars from a variety of disciplines are encouraged to apply. In other news, the institute released a series of reports that examined the well-being of LGBTQ people of color in the U.S. Key findings from the first report on Black LGBTQ adults included: An estimated 1,210,000 adults in the U.S. identify as Black and LGBTQ — over 60 percent are women and over half live in the South; over one-third are raising children and Black LGBTQ women are raising children at the same rate as Black non-LGBT women (44 percent v. 45 percent); over half of Black LGBTQ adults (56 percent) live in low-income households compared to 49 percent of Black non-LGBTQ adults; and while over 60 percent of Black LGB adults report feeling connected to the LGBTQ community, less than 30 percent of Black transgender adults do.

Org hosts volunteer training

We Are Family in North Charleston, S.C. is holding a virtual volunteer training on Zoom on Jan. 28 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Covered in the session will be recent updates in programming, current volunteer opportunities and changes in volunteer roles and support. Registration is available online.

NBJC mourns Winchester, Cope deaths

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) has issued statements about the deaths of Alexandria Winchester, a 24-year-old transgender Latinx woman, who was shot and killed in the Bronx, N.Y. on Dec. 26, 2020, and Kimberly Patrice Cope whose body was discovered by a passerby in an Athens, Ga. restaurant parking lot on Dec. 27, 2020. A suspect was arrested and charged with Winchester’s death on Dec. 29. Preliminary reports indicated that she knew her killer, but many details are still unfolding. Winchester was a client of the Ali Forney Center. Friends had seen Cope just a few hours prior, talking to a person in a white SUV there. The family stated in her obituary that she had a love for music and animals and had dreams of working in a veterinary office or animal shelter. She was also a make-up artist and self-trained beautician. “We cannot grow numb or unmoved by the news of trans women, members of our community, being stolen from us,” said David J. Johns, NBJC executive director. “It makes me angry and sick to learn about Alexandria’s murder. My hope is that a full and complete investigation into her death will provide some sense of justice and peace to Alexandria’s family and friends, who will live with the loss of their sister — our sister — forever. This must end.” Johns said of Cope, “We should commit to concerted, communal efforts to ensure that Black trans and gender non-conforming lives are valued, supported, and protected. Kimberly Patricia Cope and her family deserve better. Our community deserves better.”

Insurrection arrest sparks SPLC statement

Southern Poverty Law Center Chief of Staff Lecia Brooks released the following statement in response to the arrest of the man who carried the Confederate flag into the Capitol during the insurrection on Jan. 6. “Just as defeated Confederate soldiers were forced to surrender the Civil War and end their inhumane treatment of Black people, the rioter who brazenly carried a Confederate flag into the Capitol has been forced to surrender to federal authorities. Incited by the President’s disinformation campaign, the rioter’s decision to brazenly roam the halls of Congress clinging to this painful symbol of White Supremacy was a jarring display of boundless white privilege. Despite the revisionist history promoted by enthusiasts, his disgraceful display is proof that the Confederate flag clearly represents hate, not heritage. Over 750,000 American lives were lost because of the Confederacy’s treasonous acts. We cannot allow more blood to be shed for efforts to split our Union. January’s immoral coup attempt is an embarrassment to the United States, and we call on the federal government to prosecute these insurrectionists to the fullest extent of the law.” In addition to the SPLC, the Modern Military Association of America also issued a statement condemning the acts of violence perpetrated by attackers. “The Modern Military Association of America is devastated by the actions and perpetual encouragement that led to an attack on our democracy through the destruction of property and looting, the threats of harm against our members of Congress, their staffers, and Capitol employees. … As a military and veteran serving organization, we know firsthand the sacrifice and commitment each of us has made to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and this horrific attack was an appalling and disgraceful attack on our democracy. We also want to expose the truth about the handling of the violence presented on that tragic day and how racism and social inequities are ever-present in our country.”

Nuns, others tell stories in new book

A new book published by New Ways Ministry presents the personal and spiritual journeys of 23 vowed Catholic religious sisters who identify as lesbian or queer. “Love Tenderly: Stories of Lesbian and Queer Religious” is an anthology edited by Sister Grace Surdovel, IHM, who collected the stories from sisters from a variety of Catholic religious communities. Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, a co-founder of New Ways Ministry, wrote the foreword for the book. The stories describe journeys of struggle and joy, confusion and clarity, oppression and liberation and the overwhelming experience of God’s love and grace, New Ways Ministry shared. The nuns who shared their stories in the anthology represent a cross-section of Catholic sisters, varying in ages, communities, ministries, and stages of acceptance of their lesbian or queer identity. Twelve of the authors chose, for various reasons, to write under a pseudonym.

MCCC appoints new board members

Metropolitan Community Church of Charlotte announced the board appointment of Mike James as clerk and Dave Bise to handle social media and fundraising. Kim Martin will continue as vice moderator and Angel Laureano as treasurer. In other news, the church voted in a recent congregational meeting to vacate their use of the Orr Rd. worship, with much of the building contents being sold off. A search is on for locating office space. In the meantime, virtual services will continue on Facebook until further notice.

ENC seeks PAC members

Equality North Carolina has issued a call for members for its political action committee for 2021. They are looking for “diverse voices with deep connections to their communities who can provide expertise and insight about the leaders that North Carolina needs in the years ahead.” Visit to apply. Additionally, the organization has launched an endorsement interest form online to gather information on those who are thinking about running for office statewide in 2021. Visit to become part of the initiative.

GLSEN nets corporate support

JPMorgan Chase has made the commitment to fund GLSEN with a $1 million investment. “I am so grateful to JPMorgan Chase for this remarkable investment. And we’re proud to be in great company with our fellow grantees, Out & Equal, SAGE, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and The Center,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said.

Netflix issues net worth rankings

LGBTQ actors who appeared on Netflix in 2020 have been ranked on salary by Movies and TV department. The study shows that Kirsten Stewart comes in at first with a net worth of $70 million. She is followed by RuPaul Charles (60), Gillian Anderson (40), Cara Delevingue (28), Cynthia Nixon (25), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (20), Holland Taylor (15), Dan Levy (14), Elliott Page (12), Sara Paulson (12), Matt Bomer (9), Amber Heard (8), Ashley Benson (6), John Barrowman (4), Billy Porter (4), Ezra Miller (3), Indya Moore (3), Ruby Rose (2), Lea DeLaria (1.5) and Mj Rodriguez (1). Three out of the top five earners are bisexual women, making them the top earners in 2020 with a combined net worth of 152 million dollars. This is compared to gay men whose combined net worth comes to 111 million dollars. Lesbians came in third place with a combined net worth of 55.5 million dollars, followed by the transgender community at 16.5 million dollars and finally queer at 3 million dollars. LGBTQ actors earned a combined 139 million dollars in films compared with 198.5 million dollars from TV shows. The show on Netflix with the highest concentration of LGBTQ actors was “Pose,” with 140 transgender actors and crew members and 35 non-transgender LGBTQ characters making it the highest number of any TV show in history. “Orange is the New Black” came in second with 17 LGBTQ actors and crew. Rounding out the numbers is third place “Ratched,” with 11 LGBTQ actors and crew.

Gay Trumpers seen at riot

The Star Observer reported that Gays for Trump members were spotted in attendance during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Social media footage showed them sporting Pride flags. Peter Boykin founded the organization in 2016 and has repeatedly attempted to convince the public that Donald Trump was one of the most pro-LGBTQ president in recent history.

Straight group participates in insurrection

“Straight Pride” anti-LGBQ Super Happy Fun America’s Sue Ianni helped organize busloads of participants who attended the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C., RVA Magazine reported. Innai also does not understand why attendees are being called “domestic terrorists.”

HIV platform finds new home

On Jan. 15 HealthHIV became the new home of, an online platform that expands access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Initially launched in 2015 as a searchable and location-responsive provider directory for the State of California, has expanded to provide HIV prevention resources in English and Spanish for consumers and providers in all 50 states. The platform features an online PrEP navigation training program with multiple modules/courses and downloadable resources which offer comprehensive insights and highlight best practices for PrEP consumers, navigators and prescribers.

Book proceeds to benefit LGBTQ orgs

Royalties from sales of “call me him” will be received by The Trevor Project, the Human Rights Campaign and the Trans Law Center. The book was penned by transgender author River Braun who has worked with teens at The Trevor Project. The narrative tells the story of transgender 14-year-old SoCal skate-punk Wylie Masterson.

Webinar focus on student inclusive spaces

NC Community Colleges: Creating Success will host its “Promising Practices: Creating Inclusive Spaces for LGBTQ Students on Campus (Level 1) webinar workshop on Jan. 27 from 10-11:15 a.m. It is being presented by Adam Wade, director of admissions at Central Carolina Community College. This virtual LGBTQ workshop discuss how students experience their campus environment influences both learning and developmental outcomes, introduces participants to foundational knowledge of LGBTQ college students and the challenges they face when navigating college environments and highlights college student development theory, current research on LGBTQ community college students and Gloria Ladsen Billings work on Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Intersectionality. This workshop will also introduce and explore inclusive strategies that can be implemented into student services practices or into the classroom, to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all students. Registration is available online.

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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director. She can be reached at and 704-531-9988,...

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