Queer February. It happens every year. There’s always so much to do and so little time with which to get it all accomplished. It seems I m forced to go into a state of sheer mania just so I can check off everything on my to do list.

This year’s queer extravaganza was definitely magnified, and for the better. It was amazing to see the LGBT community of the greater Charlotte area and the Carolinas come together as a truly united front against the antics of our area s anti-gay, fundamentalist radical right.

Every year for the past four, the Human Rights Campaign has held their Carolinas Gala in the Queen City. The radical right never fails to find some way to counter an event designed to celebrate our community s achievements and successes. At first, the anti-gay countering showed up in the form of loud and obnoxious protests outside the Charlotte Convention Center by the radical street preaching group Operation Save America the same folks who find it necessary to grace our community with their presence at the Pride Charlotte and NC Pride Festivals. It wasn’t long until one of Charlotte’s most outspoken anti-gay religious leaders, Dr. Michael Brown of the Coalition of Conscience, decided he d gain a little publicity with his week-long lecture series on homosexuality.

For a couple of years, the LGBT community ignored Operation Save America s antics and Brown’s lectures and media stunts. In 2008, the Human Rights Campaign sent their religion and faith director, the Rev. Harry Knox, down to Charlotte for a debate with Brown.

But it took the radical right upping the ante ten-fold in order for the local LGBT community to organize and ensure fair, equitable media coverage and discussion of our issues.

I was one of the community members helping to organize the new group, Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality. I thought it was extremely important for the community to have a vocal and visible presence, especially as the media turned their attention to the curious, happenstance placement of the anti-gay, ex-gay Focus on the Family conference Love Won Out on the same day as the annual Human Rights Campaign Gala.

A local blogger on Brown’s website, Voice of Revolution, told me that the Love Won Out conference’s placement on the same day as the Gala was purely coincidental. I’m not going to assume Brown, a speaker with Love Won Out and the Charlotte area’s premier perennial HRC challenger, is that stupid or naïve.

The unity of our local, state and national LGBT and progressive communities was amazing. Local groups like the University of North Carolina-Charlotte s LGBT student group, Gay Men s Chorus, One Voice Chorus, the Charlotte Coalition for Social Justice and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte officially teamed up with state and national groups like EqualityNC, Truth Wins Out, the Human Rights Campaign and Faith in America to promote a non-violent, peaceful counter to the harmful alternative Focus on the Family claims to offer those suffering with same-sex attractions.

Individual members from several other Carolinas community organizations, including the Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte, SC Pride Movement, the Charlotte Gender Alliance, Unity Fellowship Church, Raleigh St. John s MCC and the Charlotte Interfaith Network also lent their helping hands.

Through mid-February, as the obligations continued to pile up, burn out became more and more of a reality for me. But, looking back at all the amazing action taken by our LGBT and progressive community members, I’m inspired and filled with hope for the future of this city and this state. I’m proud to work at this paper, proud to be your editor and servant and proud to call Charlotte and the Carolinas my home.

I hope you’ll read the wrap up of all the wonderful Queer February events in this issue and check out all the fabulous photo and video coverage from several of the events.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.