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Charlotte Business Guild honors Q-Notes, others
Presentation held at historic VanLandingham Estate

by Donald Miller and David Stout

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Members and friends of Charlotte’s gay and lesbian Business Guild gathered at the VanLandingham Estate in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood July 19 to pay tribute to the accomplishments and contributions of local LGBT activists and organizers Linda Breen and Shane Windmeyer with the Charlotte Business Guild/Don King Community Service Awards.

For the first time in the history of the guild, the board also chose to honor a business that has contributed to the LGBT community. Q-Notes and the newspaper’s publisher Jim Yarbrough are the recipient.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Guild President Kelley Doherty. “When we finally decided on this, it was so obvious. I’m glad that we decided to create the new category and I’m proud that Q-Notes is the first business to be a recipient of the award.”

A crowd of a hundred or so were on hand for the event, which included a cocktail hour and a wine and hors d’oeuvres tasting that preceeded the award ceremony.

Yarbrough was excited to be the recipient of the award. “I’m very happy that Q-Notes is being honored,” he said. “So many people have made this possible. This award belongs to all of those people.”

Yarbrough introduced staff members that were on hand for the event and thanked each of them for their contributions.

A look back

The first issue of Q-Notes was published in September of 1983 by Queen City Quordinators (QCQ), an umbrella organization dedicated to raising funds for other groups.

The debut issue — four pages on photocopied paper — contained information on Charlotte’s five LGBT groups (Acceptance, Gay/Lesbian Switchboard, Lambda Political Caucus, MCC Charlotte and QCQ), details on upcoming community events, a listing of the city’s five gay bars (Brass Rail, Odyssey, Oleen’s, Scorpio and Tags) and a selection of books available for sale at Don King’s Friends of Dorothy Bookshop on East Blvd.

For just over two years Q-Notes was issued monthly in that format, growing to encompass 12 pages of local news, features, reviews and, significantly, paid advertising. Despite its success, the newsletter ceased publication due to lack of volunteer manpower.

In June 1986, Q-Notes was relaunched by QCQ to coincide with Pride month. In contrast to its first incarnation, the publication was reborn as a monthly tabloid newspaper. Rather than relying solely on volunteers once again, QCQ hired Don King part-time to serve as editor.

King continued in the position until Fall ’87, then he stepped down. A quartet of QCQ members, President Jim Yarbrough, Dean Gaskey, Joel Smith and Robert Sheets, kept Q-Notes going. Although QCQ folded not long after, the paper expanded its distribution during this period from just Charlotte to all of the Carolinas.

In December 1989, Yarbrough, who worked in retail management, purchased all rights to Q-Notes. He published the newspaper as a side business until 1991. Ready to gamble on its potential, he left his job that Spring and devoted himself exclusively to the continued growth of Q-Notes. The move paid off with a steady increase in page count, readership and advertiser base.

Q-Notes took its next giant step in June ’96 when it moved to an every-other-week publishing schedule. The start of 2002 ushered in a complete redesign of Q-Notes. Full color printing, which had only been used occasionally in the past, became standard with the makeover.

Today, the paper continues to grow and change and strive to be a better community resource. One point of emphasis in this effort is to ensure that Q-Notes is easily accessible to everyone. The company continues to work towards that goal through a free subscription program and a website, www.q-notes.com, where the entire publication can be read online every issue.

The next event for the Charlotte Business Guild is the August Lake Party to be held at a private facility on Lake Norman. Mark your calendar for Aug. 20 and visit www.charlottebusinessguild.com for more details.

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