Chamber installs new officers, board

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Dec. 12, the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce celebrated the holiday season with its sold out “Making Spirits Bright!” party and annual meeting during which it introduced and installed its 2018 officers and board of directors at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Charlotte Uptown.

Taking on leadership responsibilities are: Chad Turner, president; Gabby Staskiewiz, vice president; Bryan Vanhuystee, treasurer; Jen Carbuto, marketing; Gerardo Madrid, director of communications; and board members Alonzo Brown, Jason Morton, Nat Turner and Natasha Tutt.

The evening was filled with networking and socializing, as well as entertainment by Mr. Entertainer of the Year Charlton Alicea and musician Jeff Brown, plus a hot buffet.

The chamber also announced its 2018 schedule and initiatives.

Sponsors for the event included JHG Financial Advisors, Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield, Embassy Suites and Charlotte NC Tours, LLC.

In other news, the chamber will have its 2018 kick-off meeting and mixer on Jan. 23, 2018, 6:30 p.m., at Chima Steakhouse, 139 S. Tryon St.


Mayfield appointed to national post

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield has been appointed to the National League of Cities (NLC) 2018 Human Development (HD) federal advocacy committee.

This committee has the lead responsibility for developing NLC federal policy positions on issues involving social services, children and learning, poverty and income support, employment and workforce development, equal opportunity, Social Security and seniors, individuals with disabilities, public healthcare, mental health parity and immigration reform. The appointment was announced by NLC President and Mayor of Little Rock, Ark. Mark Stodola.

Mayfield will play a key role in shaping NLC’s policy positions and advocate on behalf of America’s cities and towns before Congress, with the administration and at home.

“Serving on an NLC committee is one of the most effective ways for a local official to advocate for their community in Washington,” said Stodola. “I am thrilled to have LaWana Mayfield join a team of local leaders from around the country working to craft our policy platform and to solve the most pressing challenges facing our communities.” The leadership of this year’s committee will consist of Chair Gil Ziffer, mayor pro tempore, Tallahassee, Florida; and Vice Chairs Angelia Washington, council member, Jacksonville, N.C.; and Robin Arredondo-Savage, vice mayor, Tempe, Az.


Cycle expansion approved

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Dec. 11 Mayor Vi Lyles and the Charlotte City Council approved expansion efforts for non-profit, bike-sharing Charlotte B-cycle, founded by LGBTQ community member Dianna Ward who serves as its executive director.

Council members voted to accept nearly $1.7 million in funding to nearly double the size of Charlotte’s B-cycle bike-sharing program. The awarded grants include $1 million in Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funding and $675,000 in federal Transportation Alternatives Program funding, the city reported.

Charlotte B-cycle plans to add approximately 25 stations. It is currently one of the largest bike-sharing systems in the Southeast, operating 26 stations with 214 blue bikes.

The City of Charlotte will provide staff support for the expansion and work with Charlotte B-cycle to decide on future station locations, city resources shared.

Charlotte B-cycle was launched in 2012 by Charlotte Center City Partners with support from the City of Charlotte and private sponsors. Ridership has grown from almost 34,000 trips in 2013 to more than 56,000 trips in 2016.

The CMAQ grant requires a 22 percent local match and the Transportation Alternatives Program grant requires a 20 percent local match. Charlotte B-cycle will pay the $450,801 in matching funds, while operating and maintaining all B-cycle stations at no cost to the city.


TOY announces 2018 projects

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Time Out Youth Center (TOY), 3800 Monroe Rd., has released its 2018 project list of initiatives.

Included in the mix are: a digital LGBTQ youth center, a Melanin and MagicQ discussion group and an in-depth study on the construction of an LGBTQ homeless youth transitional living shelter.

The digital center is being made possible through a grant from the Laughing Gull Foundation which is using TOY as part of a pilot program. The idea was generated by 92 LGBTQ youth. Trained staff and volunteers will be engaged to work to facilitate an online group. OutRight Youth of the Catawba Valley, Youth Outright of Asheville and Equality North Carolina have committed to advance the project. CenterLink is managing the project on a national level. The first pilot site is BAGLY, the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Bisexual and Transgender Youth.

Melanin and MagicQ is a 10-week discussion group for queer and allied youth of color. It is designed to be a safe space to discuss unique challenges impacting youth with intersectional identities. The project honors culture though activities and celebrations and recognizing ethnic heritage of youth. The center and the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund will publish a Melanin and MagiQ training manual in the spring, which will be free to use for all LGBTQ community centers across the country.

The shelter study will enable the center to move forward on the development of a brick-and-mortar shelter. By taking a look at other successful models and working with other organizations, the center will be able to put what they learn into motion. The study is scheduled to take a year before results are announced to the community.

TOY is also seeking monetary contributions so it can continue to support those LGBTQ youth who require assistance. A $25 donation pays for food for one day for a LGBTQ homeless youth in a host home program. Other levels provide for bus fares, cultural competency training, after-school snacks, a dance, and youth advocacy camp tuition for youth. Additionally, TOY is always in need for gift cards for emergency financial assistance, personal care items and art supplies.

Contributions can be handled online.


PrEP initiative praised by HIV advocates

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Dec. 19 the Mecklenburg County Commission approved the use of $233,000 in contingency funds to implement a PrEP pilot program that will assist uninsured individuals at high risk for contracting HIV.

MeckPAC and the NC AIDS Action Network applauded the county commission’s action toward supporting uninsured, at-risk county residents. “We were also encouraged to hear commissioners reference the need to develop a full, comprehensive plan to end new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the county. We will hold them to their commitment to approve and implement a plan in 2018,” they shared.

PrEP, or preexposure prophylaxis, is a pill that, if taken once daily, can decrease the chance of contracting HIV by over 90 percent. The pilot program will contain funding for at least 320 uninsured individuals, budgeting $1,300 per individual annually, to pay for medical and lab costs associated with PrEP. The county plans to contract through local healthcare providers who already provide access to PrEP in order to make the drug available to the public. This program will also be coupled with a $15,000 education/marketing campaign to advertise PrEP services to at-risk individuals.

A partners’ planning meeting held recently identified five top priorities for addressing Mecklenburg County’s HIV epidemic. These include: increasing access to PrEP for the uninsured/underinsured; expanding or enhancing programs that help individuals access affordable HIV treatment; increasing access to HIV screening in a community setting and/or nontraditional hours; implementing a media campaign regarding HIV prevention, testing and treatment; and expanding patient navigation services for newly diagnosed individuals and individuals who have fallen out of care.


PFLAG fundraiser meeting slated

HARRISBURG, N.C. — Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Concord/Kannapolis is holding a planning meeting on Jan. 7, 3 p.m., at Rocky River Coffee, 4350 Main St., #109, to plan for its 2018 fundraiser.

The fundraising event, scheduled for April 7, 2018, will be a meal/silent auction event.

In addition to the planning meeting, the organization is seeking auction items, as well as other items. Contact President Joan Gale to learn more, contribute or to volunteer.


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Does your organization or special interest group have events or great information to share with our readers? If so, be sure to send in your information to In the upcoming months, we’ll feature one of you in our news notes section in each issue. Are you a part of a Meetup, Yahoo or Google group and do you do something that’s really newsworthy? Do you provide a service for the community or hold fundraisers for worthy causes? Do you educate the public about LGBTQ issues or concerns? Of course, this is only a sampling of things we are interested in. It’s the aim of these pieces to inform, enlighten and educate our readers about what we’re doing here in the Carolinas to champion LGBTQ rights, as well as offer resources for those who may be interested in what your group is doing.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.