Great power comes with great responsibility. And, so it is with the American people, who have been since the time of our founding entrusted with the rarest form of responsibility in all of human history: Self-governance.

Citizens of the United States of America pride themselves on their perception that they are among the freest people ever inhabiting this earth. Our freedom has given way to great achievements and successes. From rocky Great Experiment to shining savior of Europe, our nation forged ahead to become the most prosperous, the most powerful, the most influential. We once reached for the sky and eventually landed on the Moon. We are capable of achieving anything we put our mind to.

But our freedom has also given way to dramatic failures and atrocities. We grew our nation through rape, pillage and murder. We enslaved millions. We slaughtered each other, as the spilled blood of our brothers and the memories of division still soaks the land beneath our feet. It has been so because, in all our glorious freedom, we voluntarily disregarded that all-too-essential second ingredient: Our responsibility, to ourselves, to each other and, most importantly, to our children and future generations. Continue reading this post…

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Editorial: A truly beautiful tragedy

My editorial from the July 12, 2008 issue of QNotes:

A truly beautiful tragedy
Editor’s Note
by Matt Comer | July 12th, 2008

Hardcore. Metal. Punk. Emo. Indie.

I don’t know what the differences are between these music styles — hell, I grew up listening to Country and Southern Gospel. But, I can say without the tiniest doubt that some of the absolutely fabulous band members in these genres are among the hottest creations on God’s green earth.

This comes to mind because I was recently searching high and low for a queer punk (or whatever) band based in the Carolinas to profile as part of this issue’s Q-Living featured topic — which is music. Unfortunately, my search came up empty. I couldn’t find a single one.

Despite the apparent lack of queer punk/emo/screamo/whatever bands, I was surprised by the scope of the overwhelmingly active indie music scene in the two states.

Via DirtySouthBlog.com and MySpace.com’s band profiles, I peeked into a world I’ve never been too familiar with. To say the least, there are some great sounding artists around our parts. A good portion of them have full concert schedules working small-to-mid-sized nightclubs spread across the Carolinas and elsewhere.

After losing myself for a few hours drooling over the hot boys, I was brought back to the harsh reality of what it means to be queer in this area. The reminder came in the form of an email response to my inquiry about a particular group’s sexual orientation.

Read the rest at QNotes Online.

Q-Notes June 14 issue contains an investigative piece on the Charlotte, N.C.-based Time Out Youth, written by staff writer Jack Kirven and Associate Editor David Stout.

Founded in 1991, Time Out Youth is an LGBT youth support, education and advocacy organization that serves teens and young adults ages 13-23. Their CEO, Janine K. Eustache, has recently come under fire from youth members, former interns and volunteers. Donors and other community members have raised questions and concerns regarding what seems to be Eustache’s inexperience with LGBT issues and her general lack of knowledge when it comes to serving the unique needs of LGBT youth.

As one community member told me, serving “at-risk” youth is entirely different from serving the needs of gay youth: Different issues, different dynamics and definitely, different societal pressures, reactions and attitudes.

For full disclosure, it should be noted that I have been a youth member of Time Out Youth. In fact, I’m still a youth member. To prevent any personal conflicts, I ceded full editorial control of the Q-Notes article and the accompanying editorial to my associate editor, David Stout.

The coverage of the controversy comes in two parts, an article and editorial:

LGBT youth group CEO under scrutiny
by Jack Kirven and David Stout
CHARLOTTE — Time Out Youth (TOY), a local support, advocacy and education organization for LGBT youth founded in 1991, is coming under fire from some youth members, former interns and volunteers who feel that the agency is moving in the wrong direction under the management of current CEO Janine K. Eustache.

Eustache took the helm at TOY last fall. She brought with her an impressive employment history that included 18 years of work with non-profit organizations. She was formerly the southeast regional director of Save the Children, a global child relief organization; an executive at LaFace Records in Atlanta, Ga.; and the executive director of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. In 2003, she was appointed by Gov. Michael Easley to the N.C. Human Relations Commission.

Despite her dazzling resumé, Eustache’s critics charge that she isn’t experienced and comfortable working with the LGBT community and, in particular, serving the unique needs of LGBT and questioning youth. These alleged shortcomings have directly led to internal problems at TOY, they assert. Read the rest at Q-Notes Online

EDITORIAL: Time Out Youth, Adding insult to injury
Since its founding in 1991, Time Out Youth (TOY) has been one of the Charlotte LGBT community’s most important organizations and one of its finest resources. Thousands of LGBT and questioning youth have been guided through the challenging process of coming out and growing up during the agency’s 13 years of operation.

Because the mission of TOY is so vital, people pay attention when there are rumblings of trouble within the agency. When those rumblings turn into air raid sirens, as they have the last few months, a full investigation is warranted. This is what we have attempted to do with this issue’s cover story. Read the rest of the editorial by David Stout

We’ve released our North Carolina primary endorsement. Well — it isn’t quite an “endorsement.”

Over the last few weeks, we have been contacted by numerous parties representing the Democratic presidential contenders. They want to know if Q-Notes is making an endorsement for the upcoming N.C. primary, slated for May 6, and, if so, whether we are supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama.

We’ve basically stalled them, waiting for the editorial staff to reach a consensus decision. However, after several meetings, the thing we’ve most come to realize is how remarkably tepid our support is for either candidate.

[…]

So, what are we saying exactly? Pick ’em! Vote your conscience and good luck to whomever wins.
However, once this political sideshow is over and the Democratic nominee is declared, get out there and work your rear end off for him or her. America cannot take another Republican administration — and, frankly, neither can we.

Read the full endorsement at the *NEW* Q-Notes Online.

And be sure to vote in our April 19 issue’s QPoll: Who will you be voting for in the May 6 N.C. primary?

My Editor’s Note from the March 22 issue of Q-Notes, the leading LGBT news source of the Carolinas.

A plea for Scouting’s true ideals
by Matt Comer . Editor, Q-Notes

scoutlogoIn my last Editor’s Note (“Perry, Huckabee and the piss-me-off meter,” 3/8/2008), I wrote briefly about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s new book, “On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For,” in which he outlines his argument for why the Scouting organization should be able to continue their discrimination against gay members and leaders.

I noted that Gov. Perry and other defenders of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) anti-gay membership and leadership policies often downplay the Scouts’ discrimination against gay youth members. Sometimes, they take their obfuscation a step further.

In an interview with New York Times reporter Deborah Solomon, Gov. Perry said, “Well, the ban in scouting applies to scout leaders.” While his statement isn’t a lie — the policy does, indeed, apply to Scout leaders — it does imply a fallacy. Namely, that the BSA policies apply only to adult leaders.

Hans Zeiger, a 23-year-old Pepperdine University grad student and author of “Get off My Honor: The Assault on the Boy Scouts of America,” continues the shell game in a guest column in the Mar. 10 issue of The Waco Tribune in which he commends Perry’s book.

Not once does Zeiger — whom I had the pleasure of debating when we were younger — mention directly the affect of the BSA’s policy on youth members. He does, however, claim that the Boy Scouts are “under attack by the secular left, particularly by the American Civil Liberties Union.” He also boldly claims that “to change or delude the Scout Oath and Law would be to part ways with a century of successes in Scouting.”

Read the rest at Q-Notes Online…

My March 8 editorial from Q-Notes, the premier LGBT news source of the Carolinas:

Perry, Huckabee and the piss-me-off meter

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff

perryEven though anti-gay conservatives say a lot of stupid things on an almost daily basis, there have been a couple of recent situations that really sent the levels on my piss-me-off meter through the roof.

Quote: “The point is that Scouting is not the place for sex education. When a gay or lesbian leader makes an issue of his or her sexual preference, it makes it impossible to remove sexual conduct from the Scouting realm.”

I have to say that as a Boy Scout who was kicked out for being gay, challenging this comment from Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s new book, “On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For,” is not for me merely an exercise in debate or rhetoric.

For me, as with the countless other boys and young men who have been harassed, tormented and booted by their fellow Scouts and BSA leaders, this issue is a deeply personal one. It’s particularly disheartening that Scouting has yet to embrace its entire family even as the program moves toward its centennial in 2010.

Gov. Perry’s position is just plain wrong and he’s completely misleading people. The BSA policy prohibiting gays from membership and leadership is just that: a prohibition against both members and leaders. Perry doesn’t mention members, as in youth members, but rather only “leaders” (I haven’t read the entire book, but the excerpts made public make no mention of discrimination of youth).

Unfortunately, Perry isn’t the only one who overlooks the point that the BSA actively discriminates against youth and children. The mainstream media and even our own gay media often do the same.

Read the rest at Q-Notes Online

My editorial from the Jan. 26 issue of Q-Notes, your premier source of LGBT news and views in the Carolinas.

This editorial comes just a couple weeks before Michael Brown will be holding a series of lectures prior to the HRC Carolinas Gala in Charlotte, N.C. On Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008, Brown will debate HRC Religion and Faith Director Harry Knox. Tickets to this event and more information are available by emailing info@hrccarolinas.org. You have until Jan. 31 to buy your tickets to the HRC Carolinas Gala at $190.00. After Jan. 31, prices will jump to $225.00. More information available at www.hrccarolinas.org. As I was told Saturday evening, the deadline for the youth dinner scholarship (which includes attendance at a CampusPride student leadership conference the day of the dinner) has been extended to Feb. 1.

Holy war: ‘A cause worth dying for’

by Matt Comer . Q-Notes staff

If you are involved in the LGBT community across the Carolinas, chances are good that you have seen them at the NC Pride Festival in Durham, Pride Charlotte or outside the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Carolinas Gala Dinner. The “them” I refer to are the red-shirt-wearing, big-sign-carrying, loudspeaker-screaming protestors from Operation Save America (OSA). Because they are loud they get most of our attention, but they shouldn’t be our only concern.

Less in-your-face but (as you will see) no less harmful is the Coalition of Conscience (CoC). On the surface, CoC’s leader Dr. Michael L. Brown seems innocent enough. In September 2007, he organized a forum asking “Can you be Gay and Christian?” that he promoted as a peaceful opportunity for discussion and dialogue.

(Note: The forum will be reprised on Feb. 14, when Brown debates HRC Religion and Faith Director Harry Knox in the Booth Playhouse at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.)
Brown has realized that the hellfire and damnation style of preaching and protesting don’t work when it comes to converting “ho-mo-sek-shuls,” so he’s turned to more genteel, seemingly benevolent language.

Don’t be fooled. Many people fail to realize just how deeply Brown and his CoC are entrenched in the idea of “holy war” against society and more specifically the LGBT community.

Read the rest at Q-Notes Online

Please note… Q-Notes will print in our Feb. 9 issue a clarification regarding a quote mistakenly attributed to Dr. Michael Brown in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s The Intelligence Report, a quote included in the Jan. 26 editorial.

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Editorial: Sen. Stepdaddy gets ‘stomped’

From the Dec. 1 issue of Q-Notes, your premier source of Carolinas’ LGBT news & views.

matt_comer_sunglasses_BWSen. Stepdaddy gets ‘stomped’
Editor’s Note: Matt Comer

It seems as though N.C. Sen. Martin Nesbitt (D-Buncombe) got “stomped” by his stepson, arch-conservative Republican Chad Nesbitt.

Sen. Nesbitt is co-sponsor of a bill that would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation for folks employed directly by the State of North Carolina. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll just call the bill “N.C. ENDA-lite.”

Chad Nesbitt is upset that Sen. Stepdaddy has decided to support equality, fairness and justice under the laws of his great state of North Conservalina.

Step-sonny Chad is the founder of Carolina Stompers, a right-wing Republican group based in Asheville with the motto, “True conservatives stomping liberals and ‘Republicans in Name Only’ for our children’s future.”

In a web posting on the group’s website, Chad rails against N.C. ENDA-lite and says, “What people do in the privacy of their own bedroom is their business. But to push your sex life on others is wrong. Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender groups like Equality NC and Faith in America are doing just that. Their sales pitch is civil rights. Slavery, segregation, and denying women the right to vote was wrong and Americans have come a long way since those days. But is the way you have sex a civil right?”

He continues his rant and rips into Sen. Stepdaddy, all while giving the public some major misinformation about what the bill actually says.

[…]

(and my favorite part…) On that note, I am reminded of Vernon Robinson, a former Winston-Salem city council member who is so disliked that some call him “Vermin.” In his 2004 and 2006 bids for the U.S. House, Robinson used so many exaggerations that it became hard to keep up with them all.

He even lied about me once. On his 2004 campaign website, he said, “Ex-Scout and Confessed Homosexual Matt Hill [Comer] calls Vernon a ‘religious zealot’ because of his successful efforts to keep homosexuals out of Boy Scout pup tents.”

Someone really had called Vernon a “religious zealot,” but it wasn’t me. I’ve only ever described him as vile, corrupt, insane, narcissistic and completely out of his mind. Oh yeah, can’t forget about “bigot,” “evil incarnate” and “media-whore.” I’ve called him those, too.

Be sure to read the whole editorial at Q-Notes.

And… in a somewhat ironic note: Expect a letter to the editor in the Dec. 15 issue correcting some of my own inaccuracies in the editorial. I’m so grateful Equality North Carolina is here to catch my mistakes. What would I do without them?

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Editorial: Oral Sodomy & Tennis

From the Nov. 17 issue of Q-Notes, your premier source of Carolinas’ LGBT news & views.

Oral Sodomy & Tennis
Editor’s Note: Matt Comer

Athletes. Alcohol. Oral sodomy. Yeah, I don’t think that mixes too well, either. It certainly hasn’t for one student at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Dejon Bivens, a 19-year-old member of the N.C. State tennis team, was arrested on Oct. 27 and charged with a “crime against nature.” How, you ask, could this happen? The “Crimes Against Nature” (CAN) law is void after the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas decision, right?

Wrong. Many of you might remember our Oct. 6 article on the North Carolina CAN law. It relayed the experience of a Florida priest arrested and charged in North Carolina with the same violation Bivens now faces. For the Florida priest, however, the actions he intended to engage in were completely consensual and would have been private — a type of CAN enforcement the Supreme Court struck down in its landmark decision.

Bivens, however, faces an entirely different “sodomy” situation, one in which consent was allegedly never given. In the early morning hours of Oct. 27, Bivens and other members of the N.C. State tennis team were partying like all other average college students around the country. No surprise there.

Bivens’ alleged victim told Raleigh police that he went to his room to sleep and found Bivens passed out in his closet. Later, the victim said he awoke to find Bivens performing oral sex on him.

Granted, I’m amused by the fact that Bivens had to “come out of the closet” in order to give his friend and teammate the surprise nighttime favor, but this really is no laughing matter. There are at least two concerns that immediately come to my mind.

READ THE REST…

Be sure to check out this issue’s headlines.