The March 21 print issue of Q-Notes‘ feature piece is “Stamp of Approval.” A researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is calling into question the perfect 100 rating of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Reynolds American, Inc. (corporate parent of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company) in the Human Right’s Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

The researcher says the company’s direct marketing to LGBT consumers has helped to create a “health inequality” and shows poor corporate responsibility to LGBT consumers and the LGBT community.

Q-Notes has an in-depth story. Be sure to check it out: www.q-notes.com/2009/03/21/stamp-of-approval/

This was a fabulously fun piece for me to write, being a native of Winston-Salem (a graduate of the R.J. Reynolds High School even). I wrote an “inside look” of the article at the Q-Notes blog.

Our QPoll this time around: Should companies promoting addictive and unhealthy products (cigarettes, alcohol, etc.) be included in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index?

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Headlines: At the week’s end

A re-cap of the last week at InterstateQ.com and around the blogosphere.

Royal Queen
Prince Harry’s antics continue to raise eyebrows, being called racist one day and enlightened the next. Either way, it’s hot.

And the winner is…
On Tuesday, I urged you to vote your conscience for Best LGBT Blog in this year’s Weblog Awards. While I contribute to both Bilerico.com and PamsHouseBlend.com, and rooted for them the whole time, Towleroad shone through as the winner. Congrats!

Campus crusading
A Campus Crusade group wants to work with a campus LGBT group on HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness. I still can’t figure out how that’s going to work out.

‘Ex-gay’ lies
Exodus International’s Randy Thomas continues the legacy of the group’s long-standing disingenuousness, claiming no one is ever forced into “ex-gay” therapies. The stories from the long list of gay youth victimized by such therapies call such claims into question.

A model for the nation
Florida LGBT groups are teaming up in a united coalition to fight regional and statewide threats to equality. On Wednesday, I said such a coalition could serve as a model for countless regions around the nation, as well as our national LGBT community.

Secretary of the Gay
A Boston, Mass.-based grassroots group wants a “Secretary of GLBT Affairs.” The U.S. Department of Queerdom will have fabulous office furniture and impeccable interior design for sure.

Lavender Folder
A Charlotte talk show host took shots at several North Carolina and Charlotte LGBT organizations in his Jan. 15 broadcast. Audio included.

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Weekend pleasures…

Haven’t been checking into InterstateQ.com as regularly this weekend as on your work days? Never fear! Here’s your updated weekend guide to all things Q…

Don’t miss the Logo television premiere of “EqualityU” – airs Saturday or catch it online.

Charlotte talk radio host takes shots at local gay org’s – Keith Larson cracks open the “Lavender Folder.”

Banding together: Help send the LGBA to the inauguration

Group wants Secy of LGBT affairs? – A Boston-based grassroots group, Equal Rep, is pushing a so-called “national action” to urge Barack Obama to creat a new post for “Secretary of GLBT Affairs.”

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Headlines: At the week’s end

A re-cap of the last week at InterstateQ.com and around the blogosphere.

OutGayLife.com, a website network based in Bloomington and Edina, Minn., was caught red-handed stealing copyrighted content from several LGBT blogs and news publications, as well as from mainstream media outlets and The Associated Press. (Jan. 5-6, InterstateQ.com)

InterstateQ.com reader Paul McNeal contributed two guest pieces. Shift in progress and Inside Look…DADT. (Jan. 6 and 11, InterstateQ.com)

Gay exotic dancer Devon Hunter related his story of an inhospitable Gay Atlanta. (Jan. 6, DevonHunter.info)

Merck is looking to get boy-friendly approval for its Gardasil. (Jan. 7, InterstateQ.com)

Pam’s House Blend goes down. (Jan. 7, Q-Notes)

Gay grant will benefit play documenting 1996 Charlotte culture wars. (Jan. 7, Q-Notes)

Gay media ignores real gay Boy Scout issues. (Jan. 8, InterstateQ.com)

Gay activist takes issue with eSpin.com “anti-gay” Founding Father comments. (Jan. 9, InterstateQ.com)

N.C. fundamentalists’ much ado about nothing. (Jan. 10, InterstateQ.com)

Q-Notes asks reader feedback on gay prisoner’s writings. (Jan. 10, Q-Notes)

Hagan will keynote HRC Carolinas Gala. (Jan. 10, Q-Notes)

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Gay prisoner

For the past few issues, my day job publication has been publishing a series of writings from a gay prisoner. The “Lockdown” column by Joseph Urbaniak details his experiences and life as a gay man in prison. Back in 2007, Urbaniak filed a lawsuit against the N.C. Department of Corrections, seeking the right of LGBT prisoners to receive non-sexual, LGBT-themed publications such as The Advocate and OUT and newspapers like the old Front Page and Q-Notes; much in the same way that straight prisoners can receive mainstream, non-sexual news and entertainment magazines and newspapers.

But, as with all things, this hasn’t come without its own share of controversy.

In the Jan. 10 issue, we’ve published a guest commentary from a Charlotte community member who feels we should stop publishing the column. An opposing opinion column by me was also published, and we’ve got this issue’s QPoll dedicated to the question of whether we should keep the prisoner’s column or junk it.

I invite my readers at InterstateQ.com to head over to Q-Notes‘ website and read both the columns.

Editor’s Note (Matt Comer): Prisoner is just the messenger, try to see the message instead

Guest Commentary (Kevin Scott): Stop publishing writings from prisoner

Headlines from the July 12, 2008 issue of QNotes.

Charlotte, Raleigh among top 10 ‘Gay Ghettos’
N.C. cities were cited for their thriving arts and business climate
by Matt Comer | July 12th, 2008

CHARLOTTE — Two North Carolina cities have been named in an annual list of the top 10 “Gay Ghettos” in the U.S.

Compiled by the owners of GayRealEstate.com, the list is topped by a two-way tie between Atlanta, Ga., and Portland, Ore. Charlotte comes in at third, with Raleigh ranked fourth in a tie with Tampa, Fla. Charlotte and Raleigh scored high marks for their strong business climate and arts opportunities.

Jeff Hammerberg, founder and president of GayRealEstate.com, told Q-Notes that the “Gay Ghetto” rankings are measured by how many LGBT people are moving to a city, living there and requesting information.

More than 50 Carolinas LGBT or friendly real estate agents show up in a search of GayRealEstate.com. The site bills itself as the nation’s “number one source representing the rights of gay and lesbian home buyers and sellers.” Read the rest…

Time Out Youth CEO resigns
Board will be ‘deliberate’ in search for new agency head
by David Stout | July 12th, 2008 | exQlusive

CHARLOTTE — Time Out Youth CEO Janine K. Eustache resigned her position with the support and advocacy organization for LGBT and questioning youth on June 17.

Her departure came three days after a Q-Notes investigative article revealed serious allegations by ex-interns and youth members suggesting the agency’s leader was uncomfortable working with the LGBT community and uninformed about its issues. There were also concerns that she did not want to be publicly associated with the organization.

Eustache, who is heterosexual, 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. Prior to TOY, she had no experience working with LGBT organizations or serving the unique needs of LGBTQ youth. Read the rest…

Carolinas see black rainbow
S.C. Black Pride ‘one big family’
by Gareth Fenley | July 12th, 2008

COLUMBIA — As five days of South Carolina Black Pride came to an end with an awards ceremony on June 29, Ra’Shawn Flournoy was glowing with excitement. “It was phenomenal, seeing the love,” Flournoy said, as he tried to describe his feelings during the first Pride of his life, which he attended with his male fiancee and an estimated 500 other people. “It’s been one big family here. Words can’t compare to it.”

Organizers were happy and exhausted after staging the first 100 percent, locally hosted Pride celebration in the capital for people of African descent who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or same-gender-loving. “It’s all about community,” said Pride committee chair Todd Shaw, an African-American studies professor at the University of South Carolina. “We’re all part of a larger LGBT community, but it’s all right to have family reunions.”

Connecting to ethnic brothers and sisters is a way to feel valued and beautiful that can literally save lives, Shaw said emphatically. Read the rest…

Read more news 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

The June 14 issue of Q-Notes contains an article on the California marriage decision and its possible impact (or, more likely, possible backlash) in the Carolinas.

Marriage gains are a two-edged sword

In 1970, two gay students at the University of Minnesota attempted to obtain a marriage license. When they were denied, they took their case to the state’s court system. When the suit reached Minnesota’s Supreme Court, the students lost.

Forty years later, the push for basic marriage rights for same-sex couples has eclipsed employment non-discrimination, hate crimes legislation and repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy to become the number one advocacy issue of national LGBT organizations and influential LGBT activists.

There’s no doubt that civil marriage — and the plethora of federal, state and local rights and privileges that come with it — would allow same-sex couples to better care for themselves and their children. Full marriage equality would also further assimilate the gay community into mainstream American society.

On May 15, the push toward these ideals was given an enormous boost when the California Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional state laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman. After surviving a right-wing attempt to have a stay placed on the decision, on June 16 at 5 p.m., the ruling becomes effective and same-sex couples will begin to marry.

Read the rest at Q-Notes Online

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Rape victim shares his story, Part Two

From the June 14 issue of Q-Notes, part two of a N.C. gay man’s experience with rape and sexual assault, its aftermath and the ensuing community response (or lack thereof):

Male rape victim shares his story, Part Two

by Matt Comer & David Stout . Q-Notes staff

HICKORY — The first half of this two-part series, published in the May 31 issue of Q-Notes, began with some eye-opening statistics. To recap: The U.S. Justice Department reports that one in every 10 rape victims is male. A national study found that three percent of American men (2.78 million) have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape, and 60 percent of those men identify as gay or bisexual.

The Hickory Police Department said a total of 31 adult sexual assault or rape cases were reported in 2007. Of those, only one — the case of our alleged victim, identified here with the pseudonym Brian — was an instance of male-on-male sexual assault.

North Carolina law does not recognize that a man can rape another man. Therefore, when both parties are male, cases that would be considered rapes elsewhere are prosecuted as sexual assaults in North Carolina.
Part two of Brian’s story, presented here, details his experiences and interactions with the community agencies charged with assisting victims of sexual assault and rape.

Read the rest at Q-Notes Online

From Q-Notes, Carolinas’ multimedia LGBT news source (May 31 issue)

Pride: Not just for state capitals anymore

Festivals popping up in locales across the Carolinas
by Matt Comer | May 31st, 2008

In 1981, gay and transgender North Carolinians celebrated their “day out” at the first statewide NC Pride festival in Durham. The same year, Charlotte had its first local Pride gathering, on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. The Queen City event would return two years later, while the statewide Pride would be held the next time in 1986, and then each year thereafter.

The sustained Pride movement in Charlotte began in 1987 with the launch of an annual picnic in Bryant Park. The now-defunct group Queen City Quordinators oversaw the event until 1989, when Q-Notes assumed responsibility. The picnic was replaced with a more traditional Pride festival in 1993.

Since those early days, both events have continued to grow. Along with them, in more recent years local Pride festivals have popped up across the Carolinas. Today, from the mountains of North Carolina to the coast of South Carolina, LGBT communities hold their own celebrations.

The phenomenon has raised some intriguing questions: What’s behind this movement? How are local communities organizing their own festivities? Are there larger trends afoot? Are these events a fad, or is this the new paradigm?

Read the rest at Q-Notes Online.