Ryan Butler (at the podium) speaks out at a press conference in 2012 along with other out Democratic LGBT regular delegates. In 2016, he campaigned to be one of five members from North Carolina to serve as a super delegate to the Democratic National Committee and won.

Dems elect gay delegate

ROLESVILLE, N.C. — On Feb. 6, Ryan Butler was elected as one of five delegates to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) from North Carolina from the North Carolina Democratic Party’s State Executive Committee. That marks the first time an out LGBT DNC member and super delegate has ever been elected by the state Democratic Party, Butler shared.

Every four years delegates are elected from hundreds of Democrats from across the state.

“Almost 20 party activists and leaders ranging from precinct chairs, to city council members, to a member of the N.C. House of Representatives ran for the five spots,” Butler shared in an email conversation with qnotes. The process took a number of hours to complete with numerous rounds of balloting and runoffs to net the five representatives. Prior to the meeting, candidates campaigned in advance through email to members of the committee, as well as distribution of stickers and flyers on the day of the election where candidates sought endorsements. Brian Fitzsimmons, the chair of the Wake County Democratic Party was one of the individuals who endorsed Butler’s campaign.

Butler was nominated by his husband, Chris Sgro. Sgro is the executive director of Equality North Carolina. Sgro “explained that this was our first full year as a legally married couple, and thanked all of the Democrats in the room for the hard work they had done to make equality a reality.”

He added, “I’m a proud Democrat! North Carolina Democrats also stand for racial justice, fight income inequality and fight to protect recent Republican efforts to dismantle our schools and public education system.” Butler also shared that the party was diverse and rallies around LGBT people with regard to securing equal rights.

“According to the DNC, there are currently only about five out LGBT DNC members from the entire South. While we’ve had many current and former DNC members who were and continue to be strong allies in the fight for LGBT equality, it is essential that we have out LGBT people in the room when talking about LGBT issues. This is the same reason we need women in the room when we’re talking about reproductive health. It’s also why we simply must have people of color in the room when we’re talking about racial justice,” said Butler.

Butler serves as the president of the LGBT Democrats of North Carolina. He is an attorney and works as in-house counsel for Replacements, Ltd., in McLeansville, N.C. He was a former television editor and producer for CNN in Washington, D.C., and an editor for National Geographic. Butler was the director on “A Union in Wait,” the first documentary about same-sex marriage to air on national television (Sundance Channel) in the U.S. He received his Juris Doctor from American University, Washington College of Law, in Washington, D.C.

info: ncdp.org.

Pride hosts fundraiser

SALISBURY, N.C. — Salisbury Pride will hold its annual wine tasting fundraiser on Feb. 20, 7 p.m., at the Salisbury Wine Shop, 106 Main St.

Rickety Bridge Winery CEO Andy Woolgar will serve as the lead during the event. For those who prefer beer, it will be on hand as well.

Tickets are $20 and are available in advance, online or at the door.

info: salisburypride.com.

Prayer breakfast slated

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS breakfast will be held on March 3, 9:30 a.m., at St. Luke’s Missionary Baptist Church, 1600 Norris Ave.

Sponsored by the church and Carolinas Care Partnership, it invites those from houses of faith for a morning of fellowship, breakfast and education about HIV/AIDS in the community. This is part of the national observance held between March 1-4 and embraces compassion and hope.

“Through the power of faith we will educate all about HIV prevention facts, encourage and support HIV testing, advocate for the availability of compassionate care and treatment for all those living with the disease, and love unconditionally all persons affected by HIV/AIDS,” organizers shared.

Toolkits will be provided to assist faith communities in educating their congregations about the facts and needs of the community.

The event is free, however, contributions are welcome to support Carolinas Care Partnership. Reservations are requested due to limited space. Email leshad@carolinacare.org to be included.

info: carolinacare.org.

Band opens season


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Pride Band (CPB) will present its first concert of the season, “El Ritmo Americano,” on March 5, 5 p.m., at Myers Park Baptist Church, Heaton Hall, 1900 Queens Rd.

The Latin American themed performance features music from Latin American compositions, a featured performer and music inspired by the region. The concert represents the diversity of the Carolinas’ population and highlights how the Latin American community is growing and influencing the collective culture.

Highlights include: Piazzolla’s “Obllivion;” Hanson’s “Volver a la Montana;” Lalo’s “Cello Concerto in D Minor’” Williams’ “Symphonic Dance No. 2;” Marquez’s “Conga del Fuego Nuevo;” Moliero’s “Joropo;” and Reed’s “La Fiesta Mexicana.”

CPB is Charlotte’s LGBT concert band and includes both members of the LGBT community and straight allies.

Tickets are $13 and are available online or at the door or online.

info: charlotteprideband.org.

Music benefit slated


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s “Musically Chic” benefit will be held on March 10, 7 p.m., at the Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave.

This melodious evening event features Sick of Sarah, Namoli Brennet and One Voice Chorus. Emcee will be Francene Morris from “The Francene Marie Show” and My Media Tutor and honors the memory of Barbara Green who died in 2015.

The concert proceeds will go toward the funding of The Barbara Green Entrepreneurial and Small Business Grant. The goal is to raise the initial $5,000 to seed the grant. The grant is named for Green who was a long-time LGBT advocate and ally within the business community.

Contributions can be made online in advance or at the door.

info: clgbtcc.org.

Vets summit planned

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The National Diversity Council will hold a veterans summit on April 29 at DeVry University, 2015 Ayrsley Town Blvd., #109.

Speakers are: Andres Barnes, Wells Fargo enterprise talent acquisition project manager; David A. Smith, Bank of America enterprise military talent acquisition manager; and Denise Moses, The Urban League of Central Carolinas job development director.

Topics include: How to develop and launch a veterans program within an organization; recruitment best practices — how to become a leader in the veteran recruiting community; and career progression and advancement — how to capitalize on veterans’ leadership skills in the workplace.

Sponsors are DeVry University and Postduty.

For more information, email Dejoron Thorpe at dejoron.thorpe@nationaldiversitycouncil.org. Registration is available online and is free for veterans and $25 for individuals.

info: ndccarolinas.org.

Men’s group offers support

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Friends Indeed, a support group for gay men that began about a year ago, meets twice monthly on the first and third Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1900 The Plaza.

The group was formed by Jeff Marsh upon the suggestion Wes Thompson, a physicians assistant and therapists Jim Green, Warn Blanchard, Joe Pope and Eli Branscomb. Its premise is “friends in need are friends indeed and together we can help one another keep moving forward.” The primary focus addresses a wide range of topics from general well being and happiness, life stressors and sensitive issues for those whom depression resonates in a warm and safe environment, Marsh added.

Meetings are covered by mutual respect and agreement to anonymity. Time is spent in silent meditation, participant sharing and then facilitators gauge the needs of the group and pursue subjects that surround those topics and concerns. Gatherings can consist of serious discussions, as well as enlightened conversation and friendship, Marsh shared. There is also space for laughter when appropriate. Each meeting utilizes volunteer professionals within the LGBT community who serve as facilitators and offer assistance, guidance and availability, but is not group therapy.

Participants also get together for dinners,  plays, museums and more.

Dues or fees are not assessed, but contributions are welcome at each meeting to help defray the cost of the website, as well as to support Holy Trinity for their generosity in providing the space.

For more detailed information, contact Marsh at charlottefriendsindeed@gmail.com.

info: charlottefriendsindeed.com.

Have news or other information? Send your press releases and updates for inclusion in our News Notes: editor@goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging.com.

Share your news with us
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 specialassignments@goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging.com. 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 LGBT 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 LGBT 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.