When you look back over 2021, it’s often difficult to distinguish the year from the previous one. The two blend together in a blurry gray mixture of loss and despair.

As we leave 2021 behind and move into 2022 we can celebrate the good: a sane, well-intentioned president, some positive accomplishments in the continuing battle against COVID-19, and a stabilizing economy.

On the other hand, there are some challenges that we’re going to be bringing with us: a new variant of COVID-19 (and probably more to come), a lack of affordable housing and a sky-high cost of living. All of this is playing out against a backdrop of what is likely the most fragile time in history for our democracy.

Rather than review with any more depth, we’ve decided to look forward and talk with a handful of key individuals in the LGBTQ community about their desires for 2022.

Chelsea Gulden, Executive Director, RAIN

1. What goals do you have for your organization in 2022? 

RAIN’s goals for 2022 are to reduce stigma and make progress towards our community wide goal to end HIV. RAIN will continue to work diligently and collaboratively to address the intersectional barriers to diagnosis, retention and support for those living with or at risk for HIV. 

2.  When you think of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, what do you believe we need to achieve for ourselves in 2022?

In 2022, I would like to see more LGBTQ+ elected officials. I also believe we need to achieve a greater inclusivity of our communities of color and people with Trans experience. Job opportunities, housing, and healthcare are very important factors for safety and upward mobility. There is support at many of the corporations around the Charlotte area, but there is a void in workplaces for front line workers and minimum wage jobs. Health insurance at these jobs is still unaffordable and when it is affordable, it doesn’t cover Trans related healthcare. There is also a lack of support from management level and leaving no way to move from poverty to self-sufficiency. 

3. As a community leader and influencer, what would you say to members of our community to make them realize how important the mid-term elections are? 

Mid-term elections are so important. We have seen locally, regionally, and nationally, how laws, policies, and ordinances have improved the lives of LGBTQ+ (people) but also how they have hurt us. Elected positions that are often overlooked are the ones drafting and either pushing through or blocking these policies. Please take time to understand the candidates, and vote. Voting is the best way to make change.

4. Come New Year’s Day 2022, what personal vice do you intend to eliminate? 

I hope to be healthier in 2022. This includes being more aware of my personal self-care, what I eat, exercise, and take care of my body and mind.

Bethany McDonald, Executive Director, Hearts Beat As One

1. What goals do you have for your organization in 2022? 

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the last few years developing programs and doing daily outreach for those in need is that just because help exists – doesn’t mean it’s always accessible. It’s become my firm belief that we have to stop demanding that people adapt to the system, and instead start adjusting the system to adapt to the people. 

In 2022, we are focusing on being the conduit between the need and the resource; becoming that connection between the human and the help. And in those moments and situations when we find the assistance doesn’t exist, our most important goal is to mobilize and create the support system. We are listening, we are watching, we are moving, and we are doing.

2. When you think of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, what do you believe we need to achieve for ourselves in 2022? 

While we have made immeasurable strides as a whole, our work is far from done. One of the first and most important things we have to do is reconnect as a community, always coming back together in unconditional support of each other; to recognize that we are all fighting different, individual battles in our lives with one identical wish: to be treated with the same respect and afforded the same rights & opportunities as anyone else in this country. We need to emphatically remind each other that we are stronger together. 

While being lesbian, gay, or “queer” may seem to be ‘trending’ and becoming more mainstream and acceptable, our trans community – now more than ever – is constantly and terrifyingly under mental, emotional, and physical attack. Their lives are in literal danger on a daily basis. We have to re-establish the need to be fiercely dedicated to supporting each other, and to continue to do whatever it takes to assure that every living being within our LGBTQ+ community (or ANY member of a minority or marginalized sector of our population) is supported and empowered to live a deserving life full of love, acceptance, equality, opportunity and peace.

3. As a community leader and influencer, what would you say to members of our community to make them realize how important the mid-term elections are? 

Mid-term elections carry a weight and power that far too many of us overlook. Clinically defined, the midterm elections determine our President’s ability to enact his (or her) agenda, as the power ultimately lies solely in the hands of the party that controls both the Senate and the House of Representatives. And so, to anyone reading this: I cannot begin to stress enough the importance of your role in this outcome. To put it simply and with unfiltered urgency…It’s not enough for us to show up every 4 years, we need to stay involved, aware and active. We need to show our commitment to support representatives that will be our voices and fight to ensure our rights. We need to always be present, involved, and vocal in our quest to elect candidates and officials that are not afraid to stand up for what is fundamentally right. We need to vigilantly do our part to put leaders in all levels of power that will passionately defend the civil liberties of all, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. 

4. Come New Year’s Day 2022, what personal vice do you intend to eliminate? 

Self doubt. Hands down. I’ve always had a horrible habit of questioning myself – constantly wondering if I’m good enough, or strong enough, or qualified enough… the list goes on. However, after the last few years with HB1, I’ve come to realize that none of that matters. It’s not about titles, or resumes, or diplomas – it’s about your innate passion and commitment to bettering the lives of others. For me – 2022 will be a year focused on humble confidence and unlimited potential.

Sarah Mikhail, Executive Director at TOY

1. What goals do you have for your organization in 2022? 

My goal for Time Out Youth in 2022 is that we can serve even more LGBTQ youth in Charlotte and beyond. We have been able to engage young people in person and virtually throughout 2020 and 2021 and we will continue offering hybrid programming. We continue to see a great need for housing security for our youth we will increase our connections to permanent housing in the community and providing emergency financial assistance. We have expanded our reach in the Charlotte Metro region for 2022 through providing more LGBTQ trainings to increase safety for our youth in schools. Our clinical services will grow so that we can provide even more free therapy services for LGBTQ youth.  

 2. When you think of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, what do you believe we need to achieve for ourselves in 2022? 

I believe that in 2022 we need to continue community building through strengthening our relationships and leaning into more collaborations. Strong relationships and community care are such core values for the LGBGTQ+ community and through all that we’re facing, we need even more of that care.  

3. Come New Year’s Day 2022, what personal vice do you intend to eliminate? 

I think in order to survive 2022 and another wave of this pandemic, I will need all the vices that I have!  

4. What specific challenge or challenges do you expect the LGBTQ+ community to encounter in 2022 and what advice would you offer to overcome it/them?

We cannot underestimate the impact of COVID on our mental health and the economic hardships it presents for our community. We need to take care of one another, seek out support from organizations that are offering essential services, demand more from our government, be nice to ourselves and we must be willing to advocate and teach. And those that are seething with passion and eagerness to inherit and fight these battles – must be willing to learn.

Bryce Moffett, President, Stonewall Sports

1. What goals do you have for your organization in 2022?

Our goal is to re-engage with our community, expand our offerings and league sizes, and focus our donations and giving to organizations that reflect our diverse community. 

2. When you think of the LGBTQ+ Community as a whole, what do you believe we need to achieve for ourselves in 2022?

I think we need to get back to a better normal. We have had two years of intense change, which has pushed all of us to reflect on our values and the importance of the people within our lives and communities. For 2022, my hope is that each of us gets involved in organizations and activities that build community. Our collective power can affect major change. 

3. As a community leader and influencer, what would you say to members of our community to make them realize how important the mid-term elections are?

Elections are the greatest opportunity we have to speak in a collective voice. We can look at recent elections in Georgia and see that greater voter engagement leads to representation that better reflects a community’s ideals. I think it is also important to stress that, win or lose, an election is an opportunity to educate and engage voters on issues affecting Charlotteans and hopefully inspire voters to get involved in causes they are passionate about. 

4. What specific challenge or challenges do you expect the LGBTQ+ community to encounter in 2022 and what advice would you offer to overcome it/them?

I think our biggest challenge in 2022 will be recognizing that we do not all have the same experiences, obstacles, and privileges, though we are all part of the LGBTQ+ community. I am hopeful that our organizations and community spaces take time to reflect and implement changes, with grace and humility, to provide an equitable and inclusive experience that reflects the diverse perspectives of our community. 

Bishop Tonyia Rawls, Sacred Souls Community Church

1. What goals do you have for your organization in 2022?

The Freedom Center for Social Justice is committed to scaling up our staff, board and culture-shifting efforts in 2022. We have worked hard over the past five, establishing strong partnerships, crafting new normals and building a world where the LGBTQ, Trans/Gender non-conforming world, people of color and of low wealth [will] not just survive, but also thrive. This will only be achieved through intersectional efforts that anchor those on the margins and not just the middle. We are particularly excited about our new partnership with The Black Mountain School of Theology and Community, where we will offer classes for theological as well as activist scholars. Our new partnership with Time Out Youth will offer support and training for trans girls and young women, and our intersectional work with communities of faith, civil rights and LGBTQ people will all be expanding in 2022! We encourage those who are interested in joining us as a board member, volunteer or community partner, to reach out to us directly. Please connect with travis@FCSJ.org to ensure your inquiry gets to the right person.

2. When you think of the LGBTQ+ Community as a whole, what do you believe we need to achieve for ourselves in 2022?

For years now I have longed for space. The fact that Charlotte does not have a vibrant LGBTQ Community Center is deeply troubling. The issue is not money, nor land, it is will. Like any community or family, housing insecurity has a destabilizing effect. In like manner, when space is claimed and sustained, it has a stabilizing effect. I believe a space that could house multiple organizations and businesses, offer classes, meeting space, support services, social/recreational options and equity for all, could have a transformative effect.

3. As a community leader and influencer, what would you say to members of our community to make them realize how important the mid-term elections are?

If you don’t want a better life for yourself and future generations, then stay home and don’t vote. If you are committed to improving your life and the life of those who matter to you, then do everything you can to educate yourself, get to the polls for these midterm elections, and be sure to take others along with you.

4. What specific challenge or challenges do you expect the LGBTQ+ community to encounter in 2022 and what advice would you offer to overcome it/them?

Race and class divides have led to so many of the challenges we face as a community. The enemy is not outside, but rather within our ranks. It is not a single person, organization or business. It is something that permeates everything we do. I have lived here for 21 years and have seen the same script play out over and over again. These twin agents of destruction have undermined so many gallant efforts. I do not believe there is a single answer that can address the complexities of this issue, however, I do believe that if a core group of us can commit to working hard to face these age-old obstacles, we just might have a chance to build something truly amazing in The Queen City, our home.

David Aaron Moore

David Aaron Moore is a former editor of Qnotes, serving in the role from 2003 to 2007. He is currently the senior content editor and a regularly contributing writer for Qnotes. Moore is a native of North...