To the staffers at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte’s Auxilliary Services:

I noticed with great surprise today your social media-esque text-over-photo meme in an announcement of Spring Break hours:

Perhaps it was just an unknowing mistake. I’m willing to give you the great benefit of doubt.

Perhaps you did not know that Chick-fil-A has been embroiled in controversy for years for its corporate support of non-profit groups that fund anti-LGBT organizations.

Perhaps you didn’t know that among those groups are organizations like the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has named an anti-LGBT hate group. Or, other groups like Exodus International, which, before closing last year, pushed the utterly un-scientific, harmful and dangerous “ex-gay” message that LGBT people could be “cured” through prayer and divine healing.

Perhaps you didn’t know that Chick-fil-A’s COO, Dan Cathy, tweeted (and then deleted) a message in response to June’s historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a portion of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, that called the landmark move toward equality a “sad day for our nation.”

Maybe you are exuberantly looking forward to the day when Chick-fil-A will cease funding some of the more extremist political and social groups that have regularly received money from them. Or, perhaps, like Shane Windmeyer, your former staffer and current executive director of the national group Campus Pride, you are hoping that personal relationships and friendships, even across lines of difference, can help move the needle by changing hearts and minds (a strategy, by the way, that I fully support).

But, even if all that is true, what is also still true, as so eloquently pointed out by The Advocate‘s Lucas Grindley, is that Chick-fil-A has yet to fully cease its anti-LGBT funding — still giving to groups that oppose marriage equality, though they’ve stopped giving to the more stridently bigoted groups like Family Research Council.

I’m not a UNCC staffer. I’m just an (extremely) part-time student. But, if I were a staffer, I’d have been greatly displeased that you decided to speak on my behalf and lump me in with all staff people who allegedly “love” the short lines at Chick-fil-A. I haven’t eaten at Chick-fil-A in years, and won’t ever again. I won’t because I don’t want my money going to a company that will turn around and then give it to organizations who are fighting tooth and nail against my very existence and my civil and human rights. If I wanted to donate money to organizations that hate my very being, I’d write a check myself. Instead, I think I’ll support companies like Salsarita’s, which you also named and which spends its company’s time, resources and finances supporting homeless families instead of denigrating LGBT ones.

So, simply put, no, I don’t think all UNCC staff persons love the short lines at Chick-fil-A. Indeed, I’m pretty damn certain there are many of them who skip those lines entirely.

Perhaps — just perhaps — it might be wise of UNCC to do two things: (1) pause and ask itself why it is doing business with a company that has actively funded groups that discriminate against a portion of the community you serve — a community of people whom you have committed to protect via non-discrimination policies and other inclusion practices, and (2) even if it did decide to continue doing business with such a company, why it would highlight it in such a positive manner, knowing that a portion of your students, staff, faculty and others associated with the campus are the direct target of that business’ anti-LGBT funding.

Perhaps, all of this just seems trivial to you. “Oh, those gays and their pesky boycotts,” you might say. But, it’s not trivial. It’s my life, my rights and my human dignity. And, you’ve chosen not only to do business with a company that doesn’t give a shit about me, but also chosen to speak on behalf of some of those very same people just like me who will never look at Chick-fil-A and be able to feel anything but exclusion and distrust.

UNC-Charlotte, you can and should do better.

P.S. (March 3, 2014, 9:24 p.m.) — No, news tonight of Chick-fil-A’s decrease in anti-LGBT funding doesn’t change my mind. The company still has no LGBT-inclusive policies and some of its funding is still problematic. Progress? Yes. But, it isn’t complete inclusion.


Yesterday’s in-depth report on Charlotte-area anti-LGBT religious leader Dr. Michael L. Brown and his Monday radio show on anti-LGBT legislation in places like Uganda elicited a short response from the radio host and ministry school leader on Tuesday (emphasis added):

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…I noticed some tweets from one gay journalist who has constantly misrepresented my positions over the years. He was making reference to what I said on the radio show yesterday, different comments I made regarding Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I haven’t released a full statement; there is much to say on it. There are things that I fully understand why they’ve done what they’ve done. There are other measures that I think we would all call draconian. But, in any case, no surprise to be misrepresented when things are taken in a non-contextual way. But, hey, I noticed this post brought me a smile last night from this journalist, “I’ve had it with the insanity of Dr. Michael Brown’s radical bigotry for tonight.” Well, God bless our friend and hopefully he’ll come to experience the truth and love of God.

Two things of note:

  1. Brown doesn’t specifically mention my report, only some tweets. It’s because he knows my report is the furthest thing from misrepresentation. Brown is fond of simply claiming that I and others “misrepresent” him. It’s his common, stock response when a critic points out his problematic or extremist views. I believe that any rational, thinking person can understand no misrepresentation exists when they hear you say there are “very strong reasons” for Uganda’s problems with “homosexual practice” and then hear me say that such a statement shows sympathy or a defense of the law.
  2.  Brown’s comments on-air on Monday, as quoted by me, speak for themselves. They are not out of context. I spent several hours listening and re-listening to Brown’s Monday broadcast to ensure the accuracy of quotes. Indeed, a great deal of my initial report are Brown’s very own words, not mine. You can listen to the whole radio show from Monday and then reference back to my report to decide for yourself.

And, the kicker…

Brown continues to show sympathetic views or a defense of Uganda’s law, even after repeated requests by me and others for him to repudiate the law and others like it, along with the violence now being sparked against LGBT people across the globe as a direct result of these types of laws.

Brown says, “There are things that I fully understand why they’ve done what they’ve done.” Then, he further states, “There are other measures that I think we would all call draconian.” Yet, no where in his Monday broadcast did Brown condemn or repudiate any portion of the currently-enacted law as being harsh, draconian, misguided or potentially harmful.

I’m not misrepresenting Brown. He is misrepresenting himself and his own words from his Monday broadcast.

As for the statement? Where is it? What takes so long? Is it really so difficult?

As I noted in yesterday’s conclusion:

I’ve asked Brown repeatedly — as a man of God given a uniquely large and, indeed, international, platform and voice — to repudiate and condemn the Uganda law, as well as similar laws in places like Nigeria, Russia and India. I’ve asked him repeatedly to come out forthrightly and to strongly condemn the violence being perpetrated against LGBT people in nations like these. All he can offer are justifications based on “morality” and “health.” All he can offer are excuses about “cultural differences.” All he can point to are century-old tales of a supposedly deranged king.

Humans, indeed, have many cultural differences. But, as a man of God, Brown should understand that the rights to life, dignity and safety are among the “universal moral principles” to which he clings so dearly. Or not.

It’s not that difficult, Dr. Brown. I’ll write the statement for you, if you can honestly say you’d stand by it. But, at this point, I’m afraid that’s unlikely.


Update (Feb. 26, 2014): Brown responds briefly, continues sympathy for anti-LGBT criminalization in Uganda. Listen to the audio clip…

For several years now, the global community has been debating proposed — and now signed and enacted — legislation in Uganda that places harsh criminal sanctions on LGBT people, including, in its current enacted form, up to life imprisonment for LGBT people and up to seven or more years imprisonment for those who “aid and abet” homosexuality, including life in prison for any person who “purports to contract a marriage with another person of the same sex.”

A small portion of that debate has included Charlotte-area, anti-LGBT religious leader Dr. Michael L. Brown, who was first, perhaps, unwittingly tied to the controversy due to his close associations with conservative evangelical Lou Engle. Brown has worked closely with Engle in the past, inviting the religious leader to Charlotte for local Pride festivities. Engle, whose use of radically violent and militant religious rhetoric equally matches that of Brown’s, has been criticized for his involvement in and support of lobbying for Uganda’s anti-LGBT law.

Because of Brown’s ties to Engle, I reached out to Brown in 2009 for a statement on the then-proposed Uganda law, which included — unlike its current form — a death penalty for some homosexual offenses.

At the time, Brown stated:

“While I do not pretend to understand the dynamics of Ugandan culture and law, and while I share the government’s concerns with the goals of homosexual activism and the dangers of homosexual practice, I have very serious issues with the proposed law as currently constructed. I believe it has the potential to hurt far more people than it could possibly help, potentially inflicting great suffering on many.”

I remarked, at the time, that Brown’s statement fell “far short of a outright condemnation of the law.” It’s striking that he said he “share[d] the government’s concerns” over homosexuality and had only “very serious issues” with the law as “currently constructed.” Brown continued in ensuing years to give a more-than-sympathetic ear to those who would seek to criminalize LGBT people in Uganda and elsewhere abroad, saying he was concerned about the death penalty but failing to raise any significant concern about the bill — or the resulting violence and witch hunts in Uganda — as a whole.

In 2010, a primary proponent of the Ugandan legislation, Uganda Pastor Martin Ssempa, appeared on Brown’s radio show. Brown’s associates at his Voice of Revolution blog challenged their followers to truly ask if Ssempa were, indeed, a “‘Liar’? ‘Cowardly’? ‘Compulsive liar’?” by listening to the show.

If Ssempa’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was made globally (in)famous for his “eat da poo poo” remarks as he lobbied for the extremist legislation.

It was precisely because of Brown’s past involvements that I reached out to him via email last week to ask for a new statement on the Ugandan legislation as it passed through that nation’s legislature and awaited President Yoweri Museveni’s signature. (I posted the same request on Facebook and tagged Brown, where he responded publicly, but never issued a statement directly responding to my request.)

Though Brown has yet to publicly issue an official statement — which he says might do at some point in the future — he did discuss the issue of anti-LGBT legislation in places like Uganda, Russia and India on his radio broadcast on Feb. 24. During the two-hour broadcast, Brown also discussed recent legislative proposals in U.S. states like Arizona and Kansas, but I’ll limit my commentary here to the global issues discussed on Monday.

Brown’s radio show ran nearly two hours. And, it included a great deal of commentary, much of it twisted and convoluted. It’s a lot to unpack, but I’ll try to do so diligently. That requires some level of in-depth conversation, hence the length of this blog post. I’m breaking it up into easily digestible sections in hopes that you’ll be able to more easily follow along.

The Game Plan

First, I’ll address Brown’s so-called “condemnation” of anti-LGBT violence. Brown is fond of claiming I misrepresent him, so it’s best to go ahead and address these issues first. To be fair, I have only once gone too far in my criticism — saying Brown was a “vocal supporter” of the Ugandan legislation — which I have acknowledged and retracted, and for which I apologized. But, after Monday’s radio broadcast, I’m beginning to think my apology and retraction were a bit premature.

Second, we’ll delve into other statements in support of and sympathetic to the Ugandan legislation made by Brown during his broadcast, parse them out and add in my own responses and commentary.

Lastly, we’ll end with Brown’s most forthright defense and justification of the Uganda law.

I’ve included approximate timestamps that mark the beginning of each quoted portion of the show. You can follow along by visiting to listen to or downloading Brown’s Feb 24 radio broadcast from his website.

‘I’d stand side by side with you against them’

Brown has often said something like, “I’d stand side by side with you against anyone who would cause you harm.” I believe that, in some weird, twisted way, he believes he harbors no ill will to LGBT people. I’ve said as much before, stating in my in-depth report on his violent, militant religious rhetoric that, “I do not believe Brown or most of his followers would ever act in any overt, physically violent manner.”

Yet, what most concerns me is the combination of Brown’s consistent advocacy against even the basic of LGBT protections or recognition and his overly consistent way of qualifying such seemingly supportive statements with accompanying conditional statements. It’s never “I’ll stand by you.” It’s always, “I’ll stand by you, if…” or “I’ll stand by you, but…”

If one is truly opposed to anti-LGBT violence and harm, there should never be an “if” or a “but.” It should just simply be, “I’ll stand by you.” If you want a qualifier, add this: “…because violence is always wrong.” That sort of qualifier rarely accompanies Brown’s statements. I don’t find this particular issue difficult to grasp. Here’s an example: “Dr. Brown, if anyone ever threatened to harm you, your church, your school or your congregants or students, I would be the first to stand up and condemn it. Violence is always wrong.” No ifs. No buts. No qualifiers. No need to bring up my sincere disagreements with the man. Just simply, “Violence is always wrong.” And, that’s no matter if it occurs in the U.S., in Uganda, Russia, Nigeria, Spain, Timbuktu or Antarctica. “Violence is always wrong.” See how easy that is?

Brown offered only two examples — yes, only two remarks out of two hours worth of commentary and conversation — of this kind of seemingly gay-supportive rhetoric. I’ve emphasized Brown’s qualifiers.

‘Stand with you,’ (34:23)
Obviously I would stand with you against anything that would provoke violence and anger and hatred in society against someone that said they were same-sex attracted and if you had a crowd outburst like the horrible things in South Africa where they are going to rape a lesbian and think they are going to cure her of her homosexuality, these horrors, I’d stand side by side with you against them. But, can you see that a nation that wants to outlaw mini-skirts and suggestive music videos is going to have quite an issue, say, with homosexual activist curricula in children’s schools or redefining marriage? Does that seem that odd to you?

As noted, Brown can’t simply condemn the violence. He must add a qualifier. In this instance, Brown, as you’ll see later, attempts to justify the actions of the Ugandan legislature and president by pointing to other social “norms” in that nation. He just can’t simply bring himself to admit that state-sponsored, homophobic terrorism — just as state-sponsored, sexist terrorism does to women — is bring horrific mob violence and harm directly to the doorsteps and homes of LGBT people in Uganda and elsewhere. Further, he links, as he is often wont to do, LGBT people to “indoctrination” of children. It’s an ugly, ugly lie predicated on the even uglier lie that gay men are pedophiles. And, this somehow excuses Uganda’s legislation? Give me a break.

Egged home (1:13:10)
Please hear me. Please hear me. If somebody in my neighborhood I knew was to be same-sex attracted or let’s say there were two men living together — they are not breaking the law, they are living together in my neighborhood — and somebody came by and egged their house or painted graffiti on it, I would try to be the first one there to make it clear that this is reprehensible, to speak out against it to help them clean up and to say that we are here to protect you so that no one can hurt you and attack you. At the same time, I would say that what you are doing is morally wrong and I would absolutely not fight for you to — quote — have the right to marry that person, but if there is hatred towards you or discrimination against you, of course, I would stand against that like I would for any other human being. You are fellow human being; you are created in the image of God just as much as I am. We are all fallen. We are all broken. We all need help. Jesus died for homosexual and heterosexual just the same. But, please hear me, you may live in a state where you say we are safe and secure because we already passed a constitutional amendment in our state saying marriage is the union of one woman and one man. No, no, no. There’s nothing secure. These rules are being challenged … as unconstitutional in state after state after state. Gay activists have made it clear … that within five years they would like to see every state in America recognize the union of two men or two women regardless of how the people voted.

Here again we find Brown condemning violence, but only so for his theoretical neighbors. He does not extend this to the mass mob violence experienced by LGBT people in places like Uganda or Russia or Nigeria. And, even so, he does it again with a qualifier; he would only help if he also had the opportunity to demean and judge his neighbors’ lives. What’s more is his seemingly contradictory statement; he’d stand up if there were “discrimination against you,” but two sentences later advocates discrimination against LGBT people. The words “inconsistent” and “insincere” aren’t descriptive enough for this kind of circular logic and double-speak. And, be sure to notice: Brown will stand up against someone egging or tagging a gay couple’s home. But, where is his condemnation of the front-page newspaper witch hunts in Uganda (including one on Tuesday, one day after Uganda’s bill became law)? Where is his condemnation of the horrifically violent rape, beating and murder of a Russian gay man or the countless other intimidations, violent harassment and abuse by far-right nationalist groups there? Where is his condemnation of the rounding up and mass incarceration of Nigerian gay men? On these real-life examples of bloodcurdling, horrific terror — in the same nations where he defends, justifies or excuses the enactment of harsh, anti-LGBT legislation — Brown is curiously and frustratingly — and tellingly — silent.

In one other instance, Brown condemned violence, but not toward LGBT people. And, once again, there was a qualifier. Nothing in Brown’s world can ever just simply be wrong. Despite his insistent belief of “universal moral truths,” he must always provide a qualifier distancing himself from direct condemnation of violence or horror. Again emphasized.

Level of shame (19:55)
There are many parts of the world where if a girl has sex outside wedlock, she could never marry after that. She would be shamed. There are parts of the world where the family would actually kill that person. Of course, that’s horrific. That’s utterly horrific and inexcusable on every level. I’m simply saying there’s that level of shame associated with, say, a teenage girl having sex, where it’s the norm in our culture, and we’re going to lecture the nations?

‘Culture’ an excuse to cause violence?

Brown’s comments in the “Level of Shame” quote above, and those below, help to paint a picture of Brown’s justification for not strongly condemning anti-LGBT laws and the violence that often results.

His argument is two-fold: First, he believes that “each culture is different” and cannot be judged in the same ways (again, despite his belief in “universal moral truths”). Second, Brown believes the U.S. has no moral standing on which to “lecture” other nations on issues of sexual morality.

He lays out his argument at the top of his show, asking, “Do we as Americans have a moral imperative to speak to other nations about morality? When can we speak and when are we just being hypocrites?

He then boasts of his Sunday-night dinner with far-right attorney Matt Barber — yes, the same Barber of Liberty University and Liberty Counsel who calls gay activists “a swarm of locusts,” says tolerance is a “cancer” and crudely defines gay love as ”one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’”

Yes, this is who Brown turns to for guidance, providing him with the second prong of his argument (6:07):

We were taking about a lot of gospel-related and culture-related issues last night and [Barber] mentioned an article he had written about sexual immorality being the chief export of America. I have to say as an American, in many ways I’m proud of my country … there have been many things about our country that have been wonderful and are wonderful and have helped the world … but on the flip side, you think of it and we are the world’s leader in exporting pornography and in quite a number of other social indicators we are really low on the moral level, in terms of single parent homes, in terms of teen pregnancy and teen drug use and, of course, with our gay activism. We’re proud of that. Many in our nation are proud of that and are speaking to other nations to get with it. Of course, it is shameful to see where we have gone. … It strikes me as quite hypocritical about morality when we lecture other nations about marriage and family and tell them to get their act together. To me, that is the height of hypocrisy.

Alright, I get it. We all get it. The U.S. isn’t perfect. On this much, we agree. Progressive activists have been clamoring for change for years. We want reform in the criminal justice system and the school-to-prison pipeline, for example. But, do you know what few things the U.S. does have, seemingly, more than other nations like Uganda, Nigeria, Russia and others? The right to life and dignity. The right to safety and security. The right to free speech and association. On these counts, we aren’t perfect. But, we’re a hell of a lot more secure than in places like Uganda, Nigeria or Russia, where now even the tiniest hint of homosexuality can result in mob violence, arrest, imprisonment or death.

But, oh no, we can’t judge! Brown says we have too much pornography, and because of that, we are simply unable to speak what Brown, I’d assume, would consider a “universal moral principle” — governments shouldn’t be in the business of jailing otherwise peaceable people or creating policies that inspire violence and terrorism against their citizens.

More examples of and commentary on Brown’s argument below…

Each culture is different (13:15)
Each culture is different and distinct. When you have a culture that is going as far as outlawing certain dress — a lot of this stuff is coming in from the West. A lot of this stuff is coming in from America. … Now, we are going to turn around and lecture these nations on what is right and what is wrong. To me, it’s the height of hypocrisy.

Three words: “universal moral principles.” Does that include Ugandan LGBT people’s right to life and security, Dr. Brown? He refuses to answer.

Universal moral principles? (16:17)
The first comments that I make when I’m asked about this nation, what about laws in that nation … is that each nation is distinct. In other words, we cannot look at another nation based on our culture. We can say there are universal moral principals we agree on. That would be true. … There are massive cultural differences. It is arrogant for us to just assume that across the board that we can tell other nations how they should live and what they should do and what they should not do.

Do massive cultural differences prevent us from saying that people should have the basic security of knowing they can live their life in peace, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender? Brown doesn’t seem to think so.

Porn and music (17:28)
And, again, with regard to Uganda and laws regarding homosexual practice, this is part of a wide-ranging series of laws that are banning different issues with pornography and even suggestive music videos.

Are you kidding me? (18:13)
All I am saying is this, very, very simply, is that you can’t even begin to understand the mindset of the people of Uganda in terms of homosexual practice until you look at the larger view of sexual morality in the culture. Think of this for a minute — a culture that says no to mini-skirts for women and they don’t want suggestive music videos on TV for kids and so on, that culture is going to say, ‘Oh, but if two men want to get married, that’s perfectly fine.’ Are you kidding me?

This issue isn’t about marriage. Brown consistently ties it to marriage. This issue is rather simple: LGBT people in Uganda, as in Nigeria and elsewhere, are asking for the simple right to safety and security. Brown must be deluded if he believes activists in Uganda have marriage at the top of their agenda.

Absolutely not (30:10)
…[D]oes America have the right to lecture other nations about sexual morality, about marriage, family? I say absolutely, certainly not.

Let’s play along here. For the sake of argument, let’s say that America has no “absolute” or “certain” right to “lecture” other nations on marriage, sexual morality or family. But, Brown is a religious leader. He biblical scholar. President of a theology school. He’s held himself up as a pastor. Can he not simply cite, “Thou shall not kill”? Can he not simply say, “Dear Ugandans, you are putting forth policies that are inspiring witch hunts and violence. Perhaps there is a better way.”? If the U.S. doesn’t have the “moral imperative” to speak, does a man of God? I’d say so, but Brown, through his silence, obviously disagrees.

Do not follow America (38:01)
There may be some politics reasons for it. As for Russia, I wouldn’t even begin to understand everything that is happening there. You have the high rates of alcoholism, the high rates of abortion … then you have the anti-gay propaganda issue … I do not understand everything that is happening in Russia or what is motivating Vladimir Putin. But, I will say this — I absolutely agree that if I could go to every nation in the world, I would say, ‘Do not follow American’s example in these ways.’

Yes, yes. Because the rape, maiming, brutalization, imprisonment and murder of LGBT people is so incredibly more worthy of global emulation, amarite?!

Uganda has ‘very strong reasons’ for law, and ‘rightly so’

Early in his show, and repeated elsewhere, Brown forcefully defended (or, justified, excused, etc.) Uganda’s adoption of its new Anti-Homosexuality Act. In doing so, he used several examples linking gay people to child predation,AIDS and death, and, once again, he relied on “cultural differences” as a defense of the law. He ends chastising America for its moral decline and saying Uganda “looks at the whole package” and, in his opinion, “rightly so.”

Very strong reasons (8:55)
Bear in mind, Uganda has many professing Christians. Bear in mind, Uganda practices polygamy. So, it’s a very different nation than America in terms of Christian perspective there. But, Uganda has some very strong reasons for having issues with homosexual practice. There is one day a year in Uganda which is a national holiday which remembers these young men who basically refused to comply with the king’s desires — you can fill in the blanks there. They were killed for it. They were martyred for their refusal to go along with the king’s sexual desires as young men and boys. That is celebrated in a national holiday remembering them for their courage and their Christian conviction, as I understand the story. Not only that, but Uganda has been terribly ravaged by AIDS. The decimation there — we’re just talking about in the heterosexual community — the decimation it has brought to some of these African nations who have had a good part of a generation wiped out. … They have had a decimating problem with AIDS. … But the rate of AIDS contagion among those practicing same-sex practices, men having relations with other men, is off the charts higher. Well, that’s another reason they do not want to see it encouraged in their country. … But, let’s just put it into context. I have not released an official statement about the bill. I’ve been asked to do so and I will at some point … Uganda has said we are against gay propaganda in the schools, against kids being indoctrinated into these things or being told this is normal and acceptable. We are against open homosexual practice, and you may have some laws that seem harsh and draconian, but it’s also part of African law and culture. … You’ve got to understand that in the context of Uganda, they are talking about outlawing mini-skirts because they find these things to be inapprorpriate. … That’s the culture we’re dealing with. We are talking about a culture where until recently adultery was illegal and fornication remains illegal. .. All they’re doing is having equivalence for homosexual relations.

Rightly so (37:04)
I have no idea what fuels the fire of the president of Uganda … but I do know that many of the people speaking into this situation are speaking based on moral issues, based on health issues. Again, we can’t relate, with all the horror we’ve had with AIDS … men and women, heterosexual and homosexual, we can’t relate to what’s happened in a country like Uganda and the devastation of this. And, when you have — the stats are somewhere about 10 times higher that men having sex with men being AIDS transmitters in Uganda — that’s a behavior you’re going to discourage every way you know how. … They look at the whole package of where we’re going, and I think rightly so.

So, there you have it: Brown’s defense, justification and excusing of Uganda’s anti-gay laws. Why? Because gays are causing higher “contagion.” (Yes, you read that right: “Contagion.”) Because Uganda doesn’t want children “indoctrinated.” Because of some big, bad pedophile king who lived more than a century ago and, Brown tells us, had sexual desires for “young men and boys.” (The king, Brown regrets to tell us, was 16-18 years old when the executions happened, primarily because of their conversion to Christianity, not necessarily sexuality.)  At the end of the day, Brown’s argument devolves into the same, tired and hateful rhetoric we’ve always heard from American evangelicals: Gays are sick. Gays are sinful. Gays are predators. And, as such, “That’s a behavior you’re going to discourage every way you know how.”

Brown says he’ll release an official statement. What’s the need? He spent two hours discussing these issues on record on his radio boradcast. I’ve listened to the whole broadcast several times — twice all the way through, and several more as I gathered these quotes. Brown’s views seem abundantly clear to me: Uganda’s law is justified “in the context of Uganda” — “universal moral principles” like life and safety be damned.

Yet, Brown and a guest on his show, Joseph La Rue of anti-LGBT legal outfit Alliance Defending Freedom, are more than willing to push for legislation here in the U.S. that protects their right to discriminate. In another segment of the show, which I’ve not delved into here, Brown and La Rue discuss the controversial Arizona legislation that would give anyone the right to refuse service to any other person based on a “sincerely held religious belief.”

La Rue explains his reasoning for supporting the law, with which Brown agrees and praised La Rue for his “courageous stand.” La Rue remarks (1:04:37):

Since when is religious liberty about discrimination? Since when is wanting to defend religious liberty equal to bigotry? It’s just preposterous what’s being said. The bottom line is this: The government has no business, none whatsoever, telling its citizens what they can’t say or what they must say and the government must be stopped from punishing its citizens for their ideas and beliefs. We are seeing that happen right now in America, and the government must be stopped.

Yet, such guarantees of liberty, safety and security simply do not exist in Uganda, in Nigeria, in Russia and in the dozens of other countries where LGBT people are violently oppressed — including 10 nations where they may be sentenced to death. While Brown and people like La Rue fight in the U.S. for their right to discriminate, they stand united with governments like that in Uganda, where basic rights to life and safety are being stripped away — either directly by law or through mob violence inspired by state policies.

Why must those governments not be stopped? Where is the fiery condemnation there? Brown has none. Because Brown is all-too-sympathetic with a national and, indeed, worldwide movement, of which he is firmly part,  to silence and oppress LGBT people, even here in his home nation and in his home town.

I’ve asked Brown repeatedly —  as a man of God given a uniquely large and, indeed, international, platform and voice — to repudiate and condemn the Uganda law, as well as similar laws in places like Nigeria, Russia and India. I’ve asked him repeatedly to come out forthrightly and to strongly condemn the violence being perpetrated against LGBT people in nations like these. All he can offer are justifications based on “morality” and “health.” All he can offer are excuses about “cultural differences.” All he can point to are century-old tales of a supposedly deranged king.

Humans, indeed, have many cultural differences. But, as a man of God, Brown should understand that the rights to life, dignity and safety are among the “universal moral principles” to which he clings so dearly. Or not.

It’s not that difficult, Dr. Brown. I’ll write the statement for you, if you can honestly say you’d stand by it. But, at this point, I’m afraid that’s unlikely.


Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte

Tonight, several years since it last did so, the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte will host a town hall for community members to share their ideas, thoughts, suggestions, feedback and concerns. The event, prompted in part by my several posts exploring the center’s operations and activities last month, will be held tonight, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m., at the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, 2508 N. Davidson St., Charlotte, NC, 28205.

I encourage you to attend, and to bring any questions or ideas you might have for the center’s leadership. You can click here to RSVP to the event on Facebook.

Many of the concerns I have had have revolved around the center’s financial stability and stewardship, as well as their organizational responsibility. I’ve challenged the organization to publicly release its bylaws (which it finally did last month) and its financial reports (which it also finally did last month). Other concerns are left unaddressed; we don’t yet know if they will open their board meetings to the public or if they have yet to renew their charitable solicitation license with the state.

I hope to get answers to these questions and several others on Wednesday, but, most importantly, I’m interested in hearing what community members like you have to say about the center’s leadership, programs, services and direction. And, it’s clear center leadership needs community feedback.

“What does the center actually do?” This a question I hear posed by community members time and time and time again. And, there are never any answers from center leadership. Perhaps, it’s because center board members themselves historically have not known what their organization’s mission truly is.

To get your minds prepped and thoughts flowing for tonight’s town hall, I’ve included a bit of a thought exercise below, quoting several differing versions of the center’s mission and purpose. Use them to begin asking what you want your center to be, what it can or should be doing and how it’s leaders should respond to community feedback.

The differing versions of the center’s mission and purpose were each found in official tax or other government documents, on the center’s website and elsewhere. Each of the statements — though sometimes differing wildly and even at times differing within the same single document — contain great ideas for the center’s mission and direction. I’m hoping Wednesday’s town hall finally gets us all — together — closer to knowing and trusting what the center is doing for our community now and what it seeks to do for our community in the future.

NOTE: The below text comes from several documents from the center’s various mission statements or purpose statements. These are directly quoted; I have not edited them to correct spelling or offensive labels like “transgendered.” You may also notice the organization is sometimes referred to as “Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Charlotte” in some of these statements, as that name remains the legal name of the organization, as noted in its bylaws and as filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State and IRS.

Center Purpose – Current Bylaws

The Lesbian and Gay Community Center provides space and opportunity to nurture, celebrate, and empower our diverse LGBT community through programs, events, and collaboration.

Center Purpose – Original Bylaws (2001)

The Lesbian and Gay Community Center Project provides a home for the birth, nurturing, and celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations, institutions, and culture; offers access to informational and educational resources and activities designed to empower individuals to achieve their fullest potential; promotes strong community partnerships; opposes prejudice; and, increases public affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals through education, advocacy, and outreach.

Center Mission – 2012 Form 990, page 1

The most significant activity is producing the Charlotte Pride event and providing safe environment for other recreational and educational activities.

Center Mission – 2012 Form 990, page 2

Providing education for the general public. Educating and providing safe environment for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community.

Center Program Services – 2012 Form 900, page 2

Program services include providing safe environment for education and recreation. Building space is made available for various events through the year that are directed towards the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community.

Center Purpose – 2011 Form 990-EZ Part III, Line 28 attachment

 To provide a home for the nurture and celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations, institutions, and culture; to offer access to informational and educational resources and activities designed to empower individuals to achieve their fullest potential, promote strong community partnerships, oppose prejudice and increase public affirmation of LGBT individuals through education, advocacy, and outreach.

Charitable Solicitation License (Expired) – Page 1, Line 5

Public Charity — providing programs and services in support of the Charlotte LGBT community

Charitable Solicitation License (Expired) – Page 3, Line 22-D

To provide a space and opportunity to nurture, celebrate, and empower our diverse LGBT community through programs, events, and collaboration.

Center Description – Website, front page

The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte is the neighborhood venue that offers programming, provides resources and serves as a voice for our diverse community. For over a decade we have provided
a safe place that welcomes all.

Center Mission – Website, “Center History & Mission”‘

The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte seeks to promote diversity, acceptance, and visibility of the LGBT community through original and collaborative programming and events, and by providing and inclusive, welcoming, and affordable environtment for all.

Our Values and Goals:

  • To inspire a sense of pride, wellness, and responsibility among individuals in the LGBT community
  • To increase public awareness and understanding of the LGBT community
  • To increase opportunities for learning, topical dialogues, and forums for discussion
  • To enhance access to resources by serving as a central point of information and referrals to local organizations.

Center Mission – Facebook Page

* To provide a welcoming, fun, safe, and inclusive gathering place for meetings and events
* To enhance access to resources by serving as a central point of information and referrals to local organizations
* To initiate and cooperate on programs serving the LGBT population
* To host social events and promote a sense of community
* To present opportunities for learning, topical dialogues, and forums for discussion
* To promote a more efficient use of nonprofit funds through affordable meeting space, pooled office costs, and project collaboration.
* To reduce isolation among marginalized and under-served groups within the community
* To increase public awareness and understanding of the LGBT community
* To inspire a sense of pride, wellness, and responsibility among individuals in the LGBT community
* To channel advocacy of fairness and equality for the LGBT community
* To strengthen community development by fostering interaction among organizations and individuals
* To incubate start-up groups to address unmet needs in the LGBT community

Center Description – Facebook page

The LGBT Community Center provides space and opportunity to nurture, celebrate, and empower our diverse LGBT community through programs, events, and collaboration.

Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte


Inevitably, in conversations with friends, acquaintances or folks I meet here and there, when conversation turns to racism, someone will almost always say something along the lines of:

“I’m so sick and tired of hearing about how black people were put in slavery. That was 150 years ago. They’ve had plenty of time to get their things together. That can’t be blamed on today’s society.”

Recently, something similar was said by a friend. We were discussing black face and he asked if the reaction people have to black face would be the same as if someone dressed in “white face.”

“No, it wouldn’t be the same, because black people didn’t enslave, brutalize, rape and kill millions of white people for centuries,” I countered.

“That was 150 years ago,” my friend rebutted. “I’m so tired of hearing how black people were put in slavery.”

“Yeah,” I responded, “that was 150 years ago, topped by another 100 years of oppressive Jim Crow laws.”

For most people, 150 years does sound like a long time. The thing is, it’s not an accurate assessment of history. It’s been only about 50 years, less than one human lifetime, since black Americans were finally given full equality under the law. There are people still living today who can vividly remember segregated schoolhouses, buses, water fountains, theaters, restaurants and rail cars. Depending on age, some of these people are either my generation’s parents or grandparents.

Take my grandfather, for instance. Born in 1928, he’s still alive today. And, he was born early enough to be able, if he wanted, to hear recollections from his grandfather, born in 1879, the year Reconstruction ended, and whose father and uncles served in the Confederate Army. In 2013, I — at 27 years old and with my grandfather at 85 — have a near-direct, living connection to an event that took place a century-and-a-half ago. (Interestingly, my great-great grandfather died just 14 years before I was born.)

History, however distant it may feel now, is never really so far away or out of our touch.

And, the oppression of black Americans didn’t end in 1865. That oppressive history is one my grandfather was alive to witness — a history he’s imparted to me.

“Grandpa, when you were growing up, did you ever know anyone in the Ku Klux Klan?” I asked at one Christmas gathering.

He responded, saying nobody ever really knew who they were. They weren’t public, he said.

“I never really did care for them much,” Grandpa said. “They did a whole lot of hurt and caused a whole lot of pain to a lot people who didn’t deserve it.”

History, however distant it may feel now, is never really so far away or out of our touch.

In our fast-paced, modern world, perhaps it’s easy to forget that change, indeed, does often take quite a long time. Sometimes, that change is hampered by a history so completely outside of our human control that it creates deep, complex problems with very few easy or quick solutions.

Lisa Wade, Ph.D., is an associate professor and chair of the Sociology Department at Occidental College. Via her Sociological Images Tumblr, Wade recently pointed to images she originally shared back in 2008 from blogger Jeff Fecke at Alas A Blog.

They got me thinking about history and its affects on us today.

In 1860, this is what cotton production looked like in the U.S.:

This map of the “black belt” (I’ll leave it to you to pick up the obvious connection between “cotton” and “black belt”) is one I’ve seen plenty times before in my studies of southern history.

And, this, is that same map, overlayed on top of 2008 presidential election results by county:

History, however distant it may feel now, is never really so far away or out of our touch.

And, in this particular example, history goes much, much deeper — much, much further into the distant past.

Why, one might ask, did the black belt take this form? What first gave shape to it? What was the first cause that gave rise to a slave-based, agricultural society that left an indelible mark on American politics a century-and-a-half later?

The ancient North American coast line, 65 million years ago:

Fecke explains:

Along the ancient coastline, life thrived, as usually does. It especially thrived in the delta region, the Bay of Tennessee, if you will. Here life reproduced, ate, excreted, lived, and died. On the shallow ocean floor, organic debris settled, slowly building a rich layer of nutritious debris. Eventually, the debris would rise as the sea departed, becoming a thick, rich layer of soil that ran from Louisiana to South Carolina.

65 million years later, European settlers in America would discover this soil, which was perfect for growing cotton.

Shortly after that, Europeans would enslave an entire race. Hundreds of years after that, the Civil War ended that slavery. Many former slaves stayed right where they were born, where generations of their kin before them had lived and died, not always because of choice, but because of harsh Jim Crow laws, forced prison labor systems, restrictions on movement and voting and other laws that were as oppressive as possible, short of now-illegal enslavement. And, only mere decades after that, their children and children’s children would leave an impact in electoral politics, patterned in an eerily similar way as the black belt.

And, there we have it: modern U.S. politics, 65 million years in the making. Another reminder that history, however distant it may feel now, is never really so far away or out of our touch.

So, you’re tired of hearing about slavery? Too bad. The effects of slavery are ever-present, even today — in our politics, in our economy, in every aspect of our culture. We’ve got a long, long way to go before that stain on our history is made clean. Fortunately, for all of us, I don’t think it will take 65 million years.


Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte

[Update, Nov. 15, 2013, 6:55 p.m. -- There has been a lot of frustration -- on my part and those of others, built from years of frustrations with center leadership and their responses/actions. At times, this frustration has boiled over. I do not regret nor will I retract anything I've said thus far nor any fact that has been discussed. This post below, however, was made in a moment of deep frustration and, though I stand by it, I also apologize now, in particular, for its tone; it could have been written differently. I am now going to be focused in the next couple weeks speaking with others who have frustrations and encouraging them to use these next couple weeks to get their ideas and notes on paper so they can be presented civilly and respectfully in conversation with the center board on Dec. 4.]

On Friday evening, I had the phenomenal joy of attending the Charlotte Business Guild’s second annual fundraising dinner. This local group has done a great job at building its diversity and outreach, all the while remaining true to principles of openness and transparency. In fact, it was just a few months ago that I attended an open board meeting they held specifically for the purpose of soliciting open feedback, suggestions and ideas for their organization’s mission, purpose and growth. And, I’ve been lucky to have had several conversations with this organization’s president about the group’s mission and purpose; each time I’ve felt my ideas were welcomed, appreciated and taken to heart, and I’ve honestly seen some of these suggestions actually put into practice.

To say the least, the organization’s event on Friday was astounding! Their board deserves the utmost congratulations!

Unfortunately, the event was sullied by another community leader’s arrogance and own self-importance.

This particular leader is a former president of the Charlotte Business Guild and a current board member at the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, for which I have often offered my public support, which I was once a years-long volunteer for one of their core partnerships and fundraisers, and to which I have offered much-needed, public constructive criticism over the past nearly two weeks.

This leader had the opportunity tonight to accept an award on behalf of another community leader who was unable to attend tonight’s Charlotte Business Guild event. Instead of simply doing as all award stand-ins should, this leader took it upon himself to use the spotlight to air his own personal opinions, whether or not they actually represented the views of the person for whom he accepted the award.

“There are some people in our community who are bully leaders and there are some leaders that see the good in other leaders,” said this Charlotte LGBT center board member during his short speech. “[The leader on whose behalf I accept this award] was one of these [latter] leaders, and he led silently, quietly and with class.”

There’s more, too. This particular leader not once, but twice snubbed another decades-long community leader who attempted to speak with him. And, when I briefly attempted to strike up a conversation with him, this leader uttered not a single “Hello” or “Good evening” or “Nice to see you.”

This leader — whom I have known since my college days at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro — had once earned my respect as a humble, considerate, open and compassionate leader. But, unfortunately, his actions over the past few years as a close supporter of and board member of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, his treatment of volunteers at that organization, his cold shoulder to constructive feedback and suggestions about that organization and his arrogant actions tonight — when all other people in the room were behaving and speaking civilly and respectfully — have considerably damaged my perception of his reputation and his character.

This leader is right about one thing: there are “bully leaders” in Charlotte’s LGBT community. And, some of them currently hold positions on the board of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte. Some on this board, including at times this particular leader at tonight’s event, have:

  • Attempted to bully community members into silence by repeatedly equating constructive criticism and feedback as an “attack”;
  • Ignored the presence and contributions of volunteers at their organization;
  • Recently awarded, despite the very well- and fore-known controversy and consternation it might cause among community members, a straight-identified, former Center board chair who has been accused of, among other complaints: (1) ostracizing LGBT and queer youth activists by calling them “militant” and “radical”; (2) censoring a gay artist’s work because she took personal offense to the subject matter; and (3) purposefully keeping the Center’s board membership small and exclusive because “they didn’t want to have other people join the board because then it would be harder to get anything done”;
  • Refused to attend volunteer appreciation events designed to thank those who have worked for them, donating both their time and their energies to bettering the organization;
  • Failed to acknowledge the sponsors and donors of their organization and their organization’s once-primary fundraising event;
  • Refused to themselves become visibly active and involved in their once-primary fundraising event;
  • Refused for multiple years (until this past Monday) to release their bylaws to those who requested them, thereby preventing community members, volunteers, donors and potential donors from determining how the organization operates and functions;
  • Refused for multiple years to make their board meetings open to the public, thereby preventing community members, volunteers, donors and potential donors from having the opportunity of witnessing the board’s decision-making processes in person; and, among other complaints,
  • Repeatedly refused to quickly and openly respond to my job-related, perfectly-legal and routine requests for the organization’s annual IRS tax return (which is legally open to public inspection by any citizen and resident) without first requiring me to either jump through several hoops or officially informing them of the legal and financial penalties for ignoring such a request.

Ask yourself: Is the person who finally speaks publicly these long-known truths and calls for openness, transparency and accountability the “bully,” or does the title of “bully” truly belong to those whom have repeatedly shown they will do almost anything in their individual authority and power to cast aspersions on those who dare challenge their hurtful and blind “leadership” of our community?

I think the simple and honest answer is the latter.

Whether you agree with me or not — and especially if you disagree with me, since I not only welcome but also appreciate a diversity of thought and opinion — I encourage you to attend the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte’s town hall discussion, where these and other issues will be discussed openly and, hopefully, honestly. The town hall is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m. at the center, 2508 N. Davidson St., Charlotte, NC, 28205.

MORE: Want to learn more about these issues and the coverage of the past two weeks? See all coverage in our archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte


(Originally published: Nov. 13, 2013, 2:17 p.m.; Updated: Nov. 13, 2013, 5:13 p.m.)

Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte

LGBT Community Center of Charlotte Chair Roberta Dunn has announced she will hold a community town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m., at the center, 2508 N. Davidson St. The chosen date is one week after Dunn’s initial suggestion of Nov. 27, which would have occurred on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Dunn has said a “respected person” will moderate the event. It is not yet clear who this person is, but the moderator will be announced soon.

(Update: The center’s announcement on Facebook says the first town hall “will be the first Town Hall Meeting (of four yearly) in what will become a tradition of openness for the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte.” There’s still no word on whether the organization will amend its bylaws and open its board meetings to the public.)

In scheduling her organization’s town hall, Dunn asked for my preference in dates. See screenshot below (click to enlarge).

I found it curious Dunn would ask me to choose the date for her organization’s own event, as if she and her board were shifting responsibility over their own decision-making abilities to me. (Update: Dunn later commented that she was asking my opinion on dates to accommodate my schedule, which wasn’t made clear in her statement or comments. Also, I’d hope that the center is holding the town hall because they want to be transparent and accountable, not simply because they want to appease one person.)

I responded last night:

Hey Roberta,

I just got your recent comment regarding the town hall date, where you ask me to respond on whether Nov. 27 is appropriate.

I don’t think it is my duty to determine when and where an open, town hall discussion should be held by the center. That responsibility lies with the center and its leadership alone. If you think the evening before Thanksgiving is appropriate, when many people will be traveling to visit with their families and therefore unable to attend a community event, then by all means schedule the town hall then, but before you make your final decision, let me point you to some community feedback to which you and your board should be listening. See attached screenshot. (See also screenshot of your original request.)

Let me know what your final decision is. I will advertise it as well as I can, so as to ensure the best community feedback in order to assist the center in its future well-being. Thanks.

Matt Comer

Dunn then followed up this afternoon. See screenshot below (click to enlarge).

Again, I find it astonishing that the center can’t plan its own event. Do they really want a town hall and discussion with the community? If so, plan the event. If not, don’t plan the event. Choose a date. Step up. Be leaders.

I responded:

Hey Roberta,

Following up on your latest comment (see attached for reference). Thanks for making a decision on whether or not the center would hold a town hall and choosing the date. As I mentioned to you in my email last night, I did not feel it was my duty to schedule your town hall for an organization on whose board I do not sit and whose schedule I do not control. It should be up to the center’s leaders on whether they are open to community feedback, and I’m glad you and the board have decided to host the town hall on Dec. 4. I will advertise as well as I can; I certainly hope you and the center’s board and staff will advertise, as well, and take the initiative and responsibility to see that it is marketed as widely as possible (via Facebook, posters, etc.)

Who will be the town hall’s moderator?

Matt

I’m not a board member at the LGBT center. I will not do their work for them. I may have ideas, which I have shared, but it isn’t my responsibility to listen to feedback from community members about organization on whose board I do not serve and with which I have no official affiliation. If the center board truly wants feedback and transparency, then they need to show it. Doing their jobs by making decisions as a board chair and a board is a good start.

And, I should add: I, and so should the community, expect that all board members be present at the town hall they have now planned and scheduled.

Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte


UPDATE: Center will host ‘open forum’ on Dec. 4, 7 p.m. More info…

Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte

LGBT Charlotte Center Chair Roberta Dunn says constructive criticism constitutes an "attack" on center volunteers and board members.

Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte

On Tuesday, after more than a week’s worth of public discussion, the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte issued a public response, via center board chair Roberta Dunn, to constructive criticism and suggestions they received from me regarding their operations, their programs (or lack thereof) and their expenses.

Instead of taking responsibility for their many mistakes in non-profit governance, including their expired charitable solicitation license from the North Carolina Secretary of State, the center and Dunn thought it was more important to paint me merely as a critic with no solutions.

They stated: “As a well-known leader in the Charlotte LGBT Community, Comer should be behind the Center for the events we are now creating, not attacking the work of our volunteers and Board.”

I find it outrageous and shameful that the center chair and board of directors would attempt to equate constructive criticism and feedback with an attack. I believe such an insinuation serves only to intimidate and threaten other community members with feedback from speaking out publicly.

Fortunately (or, perhaps, unfortunately for the center) plenty of community members have already spoken out about their experiences with the center. None of these experiences were addressed by Dunn’s statement on Tuesday.

Throughout this endeavor for public conversation — a conversation years in the making — I have attempted to represent and highlight the concerns not only of myself, but also those of community members. Obviously, the center board couldn’t see that, and instead chose to respond with a statement that attacked me directly.

So, here are the direct comments from community members recounting some of their experiences with the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte.

We each await an official response from the center leadership regarding their decision on when exactly they will hold an open town hall to discuss these issues. Thus far, the center has proposed a town hall on Wednesday, Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving, a date which is unworkable for most community members.

Community feedback

Below is feedback directly from the community, as shared on Facebook over the past week. Comments below have not been edited for grammar or spelling. Unless an individual has given me explicit permission to use their name, I have removed individual names of those making the comments so as not to subject individual community members to the same public attack I received from the center on Tuesday. Each comment represents a different community member with negative experiences with this community organization.

Called names
I agree, the center will fold ,, and I will pray we can rebuild it without the drama of people who think they need to be on top of everything, BULLDOGS some have been called. I put Lots of effort into the center with the move, Everything I did has been throw out,, I was even called names by a few people when I spoke up. [Another person] was treated poorly by the then board also,,, he had fantastic ideas for the center, it all fell on drama ears,,, people who couldnt see the troubles coming cause of there own self righteousness Maybe [another communtiy member] Yourself myself and a few others should have a “coffee” and talk about this,, I dont have much free time during the days,, but I can slip away for an hour or two

Employee outcast,  same conversation and no change
Ya know, I find it amazing that this very same conversation was happening 5 years ago. Are they still NOT subletting to local LGBT orgs to offset some of the cost? If not, then why? Aren’t there currently some LGBT orgs renting space at other locations?

I can remember when I was administrator there it was talked about but no one ever did anything to bring in tenants. I also remember getting my hand slapped on more than one occasion when trying to bring in revenue. It was one of the reasons I finally quit. The micro management by a board that met once a month was a struggle. I want even allowed in the meetings. Near the end of my time as administrator they would bring me into the monthly meeting for a few minutes but that wasn’t consistent. Like I said before, little seems to have changed and I don’t understand why.

Pushed away
I, like many others, have been pushed away from The Center. Having been involved with Non – profits most of my life, in both professional & volunteer roles, I’ve never seen such behavior from a Board

Shortcomings
Thanks for all the reporting on this, Matt. The Charlotte LGBT community DESERVES an LGBT center that actually serves the community. It should be the hub of our community’s activity. Hopefully the spotlight on all their shortcomings will be a catalyst for positive change.

Cold reception, hoping for change (Mark Wisniewski)
Matt – I’ve been reading your articles with mixed feelings. You know first hand that Visit Gay Charlotte could have been a Community Center project/program from the get go but for the cold reception I received from Denise and John on the subject.

That said I think that the Center has made some steps that I applaud including changing their name to reflect transgender, the election of Roberta Dunn to the board, the hiring of Glenn Griffin, and the moving out of NCMF which was never a good fit for the community’s needs.

My hope is that this recent publicity will result in the Community Center recognizing what a great opportunity this is to reconnect with the community and both publicly respond to both your articles and to any sentiment (small or large) within the community that the center is disconnected and managed by a few in closed settings without interest of the community reaction to that.

I think Charlotte is lucky to have a Center. I also think Charlotte is lucky to have such an involved community. My hope all this translates to an opening of doors (real or imagined) at the Center.

Several attempts, turned away
My wife and have made several attempts at volunteering and gotten nowhere. It’s unfortunate and I hate to display negative remarks on a fb page, but feel like people who want to reach out should be able to. Matt thank you for addressing this. Honestly, I have grown up in Charlotte. My wife is from FL and NYC. We have great networking and a lot to offer the community center regarding pride, events and motivating a community to step out and up. We both have made several attempts with open hours to devote time to the LGBT community center and both have been turned away. WHAT organization turns away volunteers? Especially during this time? Charlotte’s largest pride was not credited towards the community center, but 70,000 that showed up and were proud to be there. Vote on what you want, keep your board, your laws and your secrets. My love, my life and my charities have no bearing on your pride or your community.

Tried to get involved
I have to agree with Matt Comer’s analysis. We tried to get involved when we moved to the area 8.5 years ago and attended an “open public” meeting. Based on my experience in Miami Beach, I offered a few suggestions. All were dismissed outright. A “my way or the highway” approach is not suitable. I wrote the new E.D. asking to meet; he was ill and it took him a couple of weeks to recover and respond. I suggested meeting him at the Center or Amelie’s nearby two weeks ago and am still waiting for a response. Operating like Blockbuster will not prove to be a successful business strategy.

Never able to accomplish anything
Having spent 10 years in the CLT gay community I can say I have seen the good, the bad and ugly from not only the gay community but he Center. When I moved to Charlotte and came out the Center was the first place I went to. After visiting and meeting some great volunteers I am thankful to this day it was there – imperfections and all. I volunteered on and off for years while I lived in Charlotte and the issue that always drove me away was no matter what you did you were never able to accomplish or expand anything.

Hoping for change, accountability
I think Matt Comer is one of the most outstanding journalists in the country. His points are valid and should be addressed. I say this as a supporter of the center and as a friend of many of those on the board and those who work there. Am hoping the center will address the questions, handle the issues and end up in a much stronger position. I know that the LGBT Community Center can be a strong and vibrant asset to the LGBT community and the entire Queen City.

Don’t turn people away
The Center’s Problem has always been a shortage of money, from the get go. I was on the Board. I know. When I came on, the Center was over $50K in debt. By the time I rolled off, we had erased the debt, but there was scarce little to do any programs. I worked to create programs that didn’t cost anything, and one of those is still going today StillOut LGBT Photography Club) but until they get more support as in $$$, the programming will be as skimpy as a pair of daisy dukes. I hope that the gap between the Center and those who would be willing to support it, will be bridged through your efforts Matt. But I fear that you have had to push so hard, that it has put them on the defensive when they should be reaching out. I am hoping that their belated responses to the demand for openness will build to complete openness. But they will need help and they will need to welcome that help with open arms and not turn people away.

Day before Thanksgiving, hoping for openness
I would suggest that the Town Hall Meeting be scheduled on another day instead of the proposed Nov.27 meeting which happens to be the day before Thanksgiving when most people are out of town or otherwise engaged with Holiday activities. I very much hope that this line of discussion will lead to a new era of openness and inclusivity for not only the Center but for the Charlotte Community as well.

Hub of the community?
Thanks for all the reporting on this, Matt. The Charlotte LGBT community DESERVES an LGBT center that actually serves the community. It should be the hub of our community’s activity. Hopefully the spotlight on all their shortcomings will be a catalyst for positive change.

UPDATE: Center will host ‘open forum’ on Dec. 4, 7 p.m. More info…

Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte

Professional feedback

Additionally, I received this feedback from a local community member and leader — a person who has spent years working on behalf of the local LGBT community. This person, like so many others who have approached me privately, has asked me to withhold their name from public use. So much for a center that is “a safe place that welcomes all.”

The leader’s comments are below; again, they have been edited to remove any personally identifying information so as to protect the source from retaliation from the center board:

Another perspective on the Center, though you clearly don’t need more fodder:

When the Center was formed, I was involved peripherally. As I recall, there was a great deal of consternation about creating another organization that would create programming that would overlap with or “compete” with programming offered by other groups. The “threat” perceived was that a building + services was a combination that would spell the end of other groups. Nobody could hope to maintain independence.

So the idea was that the Center would provide SPACE for OTHER GROUPS to provide services and programs. While I think the Center could run programs of its own, there’s also still a need for the original vision. But to do even that:

1. They have to be open more than 21 hours per week. I have never understood why the Center is only open so little (though this is a lot more than it used to be). Why isn’t it open on Saturday and Sunday all day? Plus, most evening meetings/activities start at 7:00. The Center is totally out for anything that extends beyond 8:00.
2. They have to have relationships with the other organizations that could be conducting programming at the Center. They need to court them, invite them for tours, etc.
3. They need to look at their rate structure. It seems kind of odd that they pitch to donors that they provide space, yet charge $50 an hour to the groups using the space. This is unaffordable for many groups. To be fair, I have had a couple of meetings there for FREE. But my understanding is that on-going usage of the space requires a rental fee.
4. They have to deal with the issue of food and food service. It’s really hard to have a meeting that starts at 4:00 on Sunday afternoon with nothing to eat or drink. I’m not serving volunteers meals, but they are volunteers and I want to respect their time and contribution and treat them well. An arrangement with Amelie’s would seem to be perfect. At least they could have a coffee pot and a drink machine (these, by the way, are revenue generating items).
5. They need to equip the meeting rooms for meetings. White board, tables that allow flexible set-up, etc. And it would be nice if it were clean.
6. If you want to have an event there, you have to have some sort of kitchen facility. If we were going to use the space for [a larger event], I think it would be fair to rent it.
7. For an event space, the Center just doesn’t cut it. It’s not attractive; it looks junky.

Some groups that could use the space for all sorts of things:

1. One Voice is paying for rehearsal space. While GMCC and the Pride Band have rehearsal space for free, it wouldn’t hurt to have access to the space. These groups and others have to make other arrangements because of various scheduling or cost concerns with the centers and their host groups. Having these organizations meet at the center regularly might be disruptive, but at least occasionally it would be really helpful.
2. Time Out just went somewhere else for space. Missed opportunity there?
3. Charlotte Pride is also meeting elsewhere, for free, after they were asked to pay for meeting space at the center.
4. Some other groups are also reportedly looking for other space, which is free unlike the center
5. All of the groups that meet 1-4 times per month.
6. All the board meetings.
7. All the committee meetings.

Additionally, several other business leaders or community leaders who work for or are associated with other local LGBT non-profits have reached out to me. None have felt comfortable speaking out publicly. Their reasons are legitimate. Regardless, each also have legitimate concerns with the center.

One, in particular, shared with  me a past experience regarding a potential center building purchase and purposeful efforts to keep center board membership numbers low and exclusive. See that feedback here.

Another, in particular, shared with me a specific story about a specific center project. The information this leader shared with me is too specific and contains too much personally-identifying information to be shared publicly. Suffice it to say, this particular leader says they “washed their hands” of the center and will have nothing to do with them unless they see changes from center leadership.

UPDATE: Center will host ‘open forum’ on Dec. 4, 7 p.m. More info…

Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte


UPDATE: Center will host ‘open forum’ on Dec. 4, 7 p.m. More info…

Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte

After more than a week of commentary and suggestions, along with building community pressure, the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte issued a public response today to several concerns, though many questions and concerns remain unanswered or unaddressed. Additionally, the center announced that it will hold an open community town hall meeting likely on Nov. 27, 7 p.m., though that date doesn’t seem definite.

The response, written by board chair Roberta Dunn, responds to several concerns I’ve raised, but ignores others.

And, unsurprisingly, it is a common, knee-jerk, blame-the-messenger type of response that fails to take much, if any, responsibility for the organization’s and its leaders’ own mistakes, most notably the way in which it has operated in secrecy and with exclusivity, causing many community members to be shunned or pushed away from center involvement.

LGBT center’s response, via chair Roberta Dunn

Because Dunn’s statement contains several inaccuracies, the statement from the center has been broken up so that I can address the individual comments as they are stated. The center’s remarks are in “blockquotes” and are indented from my remarks. A full version of the statement follows at the end of the post.

Over the past week Matt Comer has been posting on his blog his opinions about the LGBT Community Center. As Chair of the Community Center Board of Trustees, I am disappointed that Comer did not meet with me or interview me and other Board members before posting his personal opinion.

I have discussed many of these problems with Dunn and other center leaders, including former chairs Denise Palm-Beck, John Stotler and Scott Coleman, over several years. To say I have not privately addressed these issues is an outright lie. Specifically, I and others, have asked repeatedly this year for a copy of the center’s bylaws. They were never provided and were not released to the public until yesterday. The posts over the past week have included more than opinion — they have also included facts and figures, mostly gleaned from records already open to public inspection.

The Board and I are delighted that Comer is pleased that Charlotte has a Community Center. However, in comparing other Community Centers to Charlotte’s, he leaves out several facts and includes other information that is disingenuous and misleading.

First, Comer provided a chart comparing the different occupancy rates between our Center and Raleigh’s, but did not compare the two sites. So I will. Our rent in our new Center at 2508 N. Davidson Street in NoDa is approximately twice the size of our previous home in the North Carolina Music Factory, so our price per square foot was cut almost in half. Why did the LGBT Community Center Charlotte move to the new location? We moved because we were urged to do so by our community, and for several reasons: community feedback revealed that the Music Factory location was not accessible by public transportation, was not near the majority of the Charlotte LGBT community, did not have enough meetings rooms, and had very limited parking.

We currently pay $41,580 per year, for 4,586 square feet of space, which equals to $9.10/per square foot. Raleigh’s Center pays $21,596 per year, for 1,690 square feet, which equals to $12.87/per square foot.

The issue isn’t about how much the center is paying per square foot. The issue is that an overwhelming majority, as much as 60 percent in recent years, of the center’s outgoing expenses is being used on occupancy expenses. I outlined that argument in detail in my first post. Dunn falsely claims I didn’t compare the two spaces. I did. You can read my original post here, which includes a chart on occupancy expenses AND a chart comparing the size of the two physical sites.

Comer also fails to mention that our Center lost funding from Charlotte Pride (then called “Pride Charlotte”) in 2012. Charlotte Pride had long been established as a fund-raiser for the Center. Loss of that income greatly impacted the Center’s cash on hand and raised property percentage rate. Pride was the Center’s major fund-raising program, which was by design when we worked with Jim Yarbrough and others to save the event several years ago. Pride lost money in 2012, then decided to not be part of the Center and created a new 501(c)3 for 2013.

First, a disclosure: I was a Pride Charlotte volunteer in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and served on the new, independent board for Charlotte Pride in 2013.

The then-Pride Charlotte did not lose money. In fact, the center retained a significant amount of money from Pride operations. The center’s bylaws say they keep records and books, so if any person doubts the veracity of my statement, I encourage you to ask the center to open its books and show you its accounting ledgers and other records. Looking merely at their most recent Form 990 will do you no good; based on information that was freely available to committee members at the time, the 2012 activities of Pride Charlotte were grossly misstated on the 2012 Form 990.

Further, to be clear: I was not initially in favor of splitting from the center, and worked with my fellow Pride volunteers to find a way to stay affiliated with the center. But, after months of attempted conversations to resolve differences I eventually came to support the split, primarily because it became clear these differences could not be overcome.

The center board, too, supported the move to establish an independent Charlotte Pride, as indicated in their unanimous vote to support the split, as recorded in the minutes from their Jan. 2, 2013, board meeting and by the public statement they released on the same day. See screenshot below (click to enlarge).

 

Having a Center that can accommodate fund-raising was a necessity to continue services for Charlotte’s LGBT community. As a well-known leader in the Charlotte LGBT Community, Comer should be behind the Center for the events we are now creating, not attacking the work of our volunteers and Board.

I have stated repeatedly that I support the center and want it to succeed. I have even publicly argued against some community members who have said the center should shut down and a new organization should be formed. It is sad that Dunn would paint me as merely a critic, when I have attempted addressing these concerns and problems with the center for many years and when I have repeatedly provided solutions. If I offer criticism, it is constructive, not destructive. Dunn and the center board know this.

It’s also shameful that Dunn and the center board would attempt to silence other community members and their concerns by insinuating that constructive criticism constitutes an “attack.”

Comer’s blog provided two calendars, one for our Center and one for Raleigh’s, and with Charlotte’s only showing two events. As he is (or should be) very familiar with some of the ongoing programs of the Center, Comer should have known the calendar did not accurately reflect an inclusive list of the Center’s events. What he did was copy a form from our website that we recently rebuilt, so he knew this was an error and either should have asked our Director Glenn Griffin or myself for verification of the current events scheduled. Comer does make reference to this, but posting this incorrect information is disingenuous.

http://www.lgbtcharlotte.org/#!calendar/c5ir

Again, Dunn’s comments are false. As you can plainly see in my original post, I did provide details on other events hosted at the center. Regardless, my original point stands: Even their most up-to-date calendar pales in comparison to the calendar of events supported by the LGBT Center of Raleigh. The Charlotte center spends twice as much of your community money on a physical space that hosts less than half of the activities Raleigh does. That doesn’t seem balanced to me.

In 2011 the LGBT Community Center Charlotte had a part-time administrator (17 hours a week), and had not had a full-time director since 2008. This was before any of our current Board members were in place. In 2011, we hired a new administrator mid-year and had a goal to upgrade this position to full time within the year. This was accomplished with several performance pay increases, as well. After our move to NoDa in January, our full-time administrator was offered an outside position that better utilized his degrees and he took this opportunity with a very good recommendation from the Center. We interviewed numerous very qualified people for this position and ultimately hired a full-time Director of Operations with the goal of migrating to a staff structure that included an Executive Director and a part-time operations manager or administrator. This is where we are now, as we reinvent our overall programs.

Thank you, Dunn, for being open and transparent with the community about your organization’s plans. That is all I have ever asked.

The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte is now providing meeting space for local LGBT organizations and groups that were not possible before, with visibility and convenience in the NoDa building that was not possible at the Music Factory. Three locations in Plaza-Midwood refused to lease the Community Center space. The Board’s search committee did an excellent job finding us a new and better building at a lower rate per square foot than before that better meets the needs of the LGBT Community.

As a recent example of our facility use, we were able to provide MeckPAC meeting space to host over 34 interviews in this past County election period (this does not show on our calendar). In previous years these interviews would have been held in a non LGBT location such as Panera Bread.

The LGBT Community Center has long claimed its primary purpose is to “provide a space.” If this is their primary, core, missional purpose, why are they charging people to utilize their primary, core, missional purpose? To look at it another way: Time Out Youth’s  mission is to support youth. It raises funds to support youth; it applies for grants to support youth and collects money from donors to support youth. Given that “supporting youth” is Time Out Youth’s primary, core, missional purpose, how outrageous would it then be if Time Out Youth charged youth for access to support? Very.

Further, it should be noted that several community groups that should be using the center’s space are either actively seeking to meet elsewhere or have already been utilizing space elsewhere which is free.

The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte has proudly been open for over 10 years and has never had to close our doors to our community. We have continuously provided services and meeting space for the LGBT Community while serving as a resource for information pertinent to our community. When it was apparent that our former website was not functioning as well as we needed, our Operations Director led an effort to launch a more user-friendly site. We invite you to visit the site and the physical Center often, and we welcome and need your feedback and suggestions. For this the Board recommends an Open Forum at the Center on Wednesday, November 27 at 7:00 PM or a weekday in the first week of December.

Roberta Dunn
Board Chair

Dunn and her board need to set a definitive date for this town hall. Is it Nov. 27 or is it “a weekday in the first week of December”? Make the decision and calendar the date, create a Facebook event and create posters.

Questions unanswered by Dunn’s statement

Dunn’s statement leaves many questions directly asked of the center and many other concerns unaddressed, including:

  1. Why are center board meetings closed to the public? What is the purpose of this secrecy?
  2. Will the center change its bylaws and open their meetings to the public?
  3. How does the center propose to solve its funding problems and reduce the percentage of their total expenses (as high as 6o percent) they are currently spending on occupancy expenses like rent and utilities?
  4. If the center sees no problem with its unbalanced spending priorities, what defense or explanation can it offer to justify it, given that they also charge the community to use the very same space they ask donors and foundations to pay for.
  5. Does the center have any response — any response at all whatsoever — to the slew of community members and leaders who have expressed past negative experiences with the center, under both current and past leadership? Are they willing to acknowledge mistakes and apologize, or will they simply ignore these community voices?
  6. What is the current status of the center’s efforts to fix its expired charitable solicitation license? What assurances do community members and donors have that their money is being spent wisely when the center cannot adequately maintain the licensing required to solicit funds?

There are other concerns, as well, and future posts will delve into these concerns.

UPDATE: Center will host ‘open forum’ on Dec. 4, 7 p.m. More info…

Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte

Full statement from Dunn

The full statement from Dunn, without breaks for response and commentary:

Over the past week Matt Comer has been posting on his blog his opinions about the LGBT Community Center. As Chair of the Community Center Board of Trustees, I am disappointed that Comer did not meet with me or interview me and other Board members before posting his personal opinion.

The Board and I are delighted that Comer is pleased that Charlotte has a Community Center. However, in comparing other Community Centers to Charlotte’s, he leaves out several facts and includes other information that is disingenuous and misleading.

First, Comer provided a chart comparing the different occupancy rates between our Center and Raleigh’s, but did not compare the two sites. So I will. Our rent in our new Center at 2508 N. Davidson Street in NoDa is approximately twice the size of our previous home in the North Carolina Music Factory, so our price per square foot was cut almost in half. Why did the LGBT Community Center Charlotte move to the new location? We moved because we were urged to do so by our community, and for several reasons: community feedback revealed that the Music Factory location was not accessible by public transportation, was not near the majority of the Charlotte LGBT community, did not have enough meetings rooms, and had very limited parking.

We currently pay $41,580 per year, for 4,586 square feet of space, which equals to $9.10/per square foot. Raleigh’s Center pays $21,596 per year, for 1,690 square feet, which equals to $12.87/per square foot.

Comer also fails to mention that our Center lost funding from Charlotte Pride (then called “Pride Charlotte”) in 2012. Charlotte Pride had long been established as a fund-raiser for the Center. Loss of that income greatly impacted the Center’s cash on hand and raised property percentage rate. Pride was the Center’s major fund-raising program, which was by design when we worked with Jim Yarbrough and others to save the event several years ago. Pride lost money in 2012, then decided to not be part of the Center and created a new 501(c)3 for 2013.

Having a Center that can accommodate fund-raising was a necessity to continue services for Charlotte’s LGBT community. As a well-known leader in the Charlotte LGBT Community, Comer should be behind the Center for the events we are now creating, not attacking the work of our volunteers and Board.

Comer’s blog provided two calendars, one for our Center and one for Raleigh’s, and with Charlotte’s only showing two events. As he is (or should be) very familiar with some of the ongoing programs of the Center, Comer should have known the calendar did not accurately reflect an inclusive list of the Center’s events. What he did was copy a form from our website that we recently rebuilt, so he knew this was an error and either should have asked our Director Glenn Griffin or myself for verification of the current events scheduled. Comer does make reference to this, but posting this incorrect information is disingenuous.

http://www.lgbtcharlotte.org/#!calendar/c5ir

In 2011 the LGBT Community Center Charlotte had a part-time administrator (17 hours a week), and had not had a full-time director since 2008. This was before any of our current Board members were in place. In 2011, we hired a new administrator mid-year and had a goal to upgrade this position to full time within the year. This was accomplished with several performance pay increases, as well. After our move to NoDa in January, our full-time administrator was offered an outside position that better utilized his degrees and he took this opportunity with a very good recommendation from the Center. We interviewed numerous very qualified people for this position and ultimately hired a full-time Director of Operations with the goal of migrating to a staff structure that included an Executive Director and a part-time operations manager or administrator. This is where we are now, as we reinvent our overall programs.

The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte is now providing meeting space for local LGBT organizations and groups that were not possible before, with visibility and convenience in the NoDa building that was not possible at the Music Factory. Three locations in Plaza-Midwood refused to lease the Community Center space. The Board’s search committee did an excellent job finding us a new and better building at a lower rate per square foot than before that better meets the needs of the LGBT Community.

As a recent example of our facility use, we were able to provide MeckPAC meeting space to host over 34 interviews in this past County election period (this does not show on our calendar). In previous years these interviews would have been held in a non LGBT location such as Panera Bread.

The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte has proudly been open for over 10 years and has never had to close our doors to our community. We have continuously provided services and meeting space for the LGBT Community while serving as a resource for information pertinent to our community. When it was apparent that our former website was not functioning as well as we needed, our Operations Director led an effort to launch a more user-friendly site. We invite you to visit the site and the physical Center often, and we welcome and need your feedback and suggestions. For this the Board recommends an Open Forum at the Center on Wednesday, November 27 at 7:00 PM or a weekday in the first week of December.

Roberta Dunn
Board Chair

UPDATE: Center will host ‘open forum’ on Dec. 4, 7 p.m. More info…

Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte


UPDATE: Center will host ‘open forum’ on Dec. 4, 7 p.m. More info…

Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte

Responding to continuing community pressure, The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte today created a new section on their website and has publicly posted the center’s bylaws, the group’s tax-exemption determination letter and the center’s most recent Form 990, the annual tax return it files with the IRS.

I, along with others, have long asked for this information to be made public. Specifically, it has been months since I and others asked for copies of the bylaws.

And, because the bylaws are now public, we have an answer to at least one question I and others have been asking: Are center board meetings open to the public?

Quick answer: NO. And, that secrecy is completely by purposeful design.

The bylaws state: “Board meetings shall be closed to the public unless the Board determines that no sensitive material is to be discussed. In that event the Board will go into public session.”

For an organization that has battled so many feelings of mistrust and a lack of transparency and accountability, you’d think that meeting regulation would be the other way around — that meetings are always open to the public, unless the board determines to go into executive session. Public session should be the default, not executive session.

Another question answered: How are board members chosen? It’s a completely self-perpetuating board. Though, I figured that’d be the case. I’m not surprised: No community input for community leadership at the community center. Darn.

Other questions yet to be unanswered:

  1. Will the center change its bylaws and open their meetings to the public?
  2. Will the center schedule a public town hall and allow the many community members who have concerns to speak directly to the board?
  3. How does the center propose to solve its funding problems and reduce the percentage of their total expenses (as high as 6o percent) they are currently spending on occupancy expenses like rent and utilities?
  4. Does the center have any response — any response at all whatsoever — to any of the issues thus far discussed on this blog or in social media this week? Their operations director is aware of each of these concerns and questions as they have been addressed by community members. Such concerns could be addressed in a town hall, but in the absence of an as-of-yet scheduled town hall what does the center have to say about the number of people who have had negative experiences with them?

UPDATE: Center will host ‘open forum’ on Dec. 4, 7 p.m. More info…

Archive: All coverage of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte