Be sure to pick up the July 24 print edition for this year’s QGuide, qnotes’ second annual Carolinas LGBT resource guide. Take it home, file it away and pull it out when you need quick and easy access to contact information for LGBT non-profits, AIDS Service Organizations, faith institutions, friendly nightlife and more. Or… take a look at the constantly updated QGuide online at qnotescarolinas.com/qguide.
In focus: unsung heroes
Often unsung, these non-profit community groups are hard-working and committed
by Tyler DeVere
Just like individuals, there are plenty of community organizations and non-profit groups that often go about their regular business of service and philanthropy without much of the praise and honor they rightly deserve. This issue, qnotes profiles just four of the many unsung community group heroes across the Carolinas.
Carolina Transgender Society
Charlotte • carolinatransgendersociety.com
The Carolina Transgender Society (CTS) is a networking and support group for transgender people, and has been a safe meeting place since its founding in 1988. Transgender people and many of their significant others from across North Carolina and nearby states come to Charlotte to meet others like them and to be themselves. CTS recently changed its name from Kappa Beta to project more openness of the organization’s members, though the group still respects and avidly protects the privacy of its members should they wish to remain in the closet.
Their website states that its primary goal is “to provide a private secure location for people that want to dress in a gender different than their biological gender.” CTS gives people the opportunity to be themselves, free from societal pressures and fears. For individuals struggling with their gender identity or other difficulties, and for members’ spouses, CTS also offers peer-to-peer counseling. To further aid members’ unbound expressions of themselves, members help each other with logistics, such as makeup, shaving and even wigs.
CTS also has a sub-group for the significant others of its members, where spouses can learn about what it means to be transgender and what it can entail for a family.
CTS is proud to welcome all individuals, regardless of passability, social status or age (except that members must be 21+).
Winston-Salem • adamfoundation.org
The Adam Foundation raises money which it then awards in grants to organizations that support “the identity, strength, and well-being” of its local LGBT community. According to the foundation’s website as of July 16, they have awarded $268,714 to 39 organizations.
The tax-exempt nonprofit has been operating since community members came together to raise funds for the Forsyth County AIDS Task Force in 1990. The foundation has continued to support HIV/AIDS services, with its top recipient of 2009 being AIDS Care Service, which received $5,000. In addition to its continued funding of these organizations, the Adam Foundation also supports many other LGBT organizations, including Equality NC, Triad Pride Men’s Chorus and many others.
The Adam Foundation just recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with its annual Adam Festival, which is still its primary fundraising source. To help raise money, the foundation organizes several other events in addition to the Adam Festival, including Martini Night, OUT at the Movies and Adam Night Out.
GLBT Center, N.C. State University
Raleigh • ncsu.edu/student_affairs/glbt
Since a 2001 survey ranked N.C. State as one of the 20 most unwelcoming schools in the nation, there has been an obvious need to many for a greater understanding of the LGBT community. Alarming statistics about the increased likelihood of GLBT youth to commit suicide eventually culminated into the official establishment of the GLBT Center in early 2008. Since its inception, it has been under the leadership of Director Justine Hollingshead, an education administrator for more than 20 years.
The GLBT Center aims to provide resources to the LGBT community, including a safe gathering place, while it also represents and advocates for the community. The GLBT Center provides several programs and services, including a mentor program which pairs GLBT undergraduates and professionals. Perhaps its best known program is Project SAFE, which aims to educate all individuals about the LGBT community and has worked to do so since 1997 (now organized by the GLBT Center). Also offered is a supplemental program which focuses specifically on transgender education.
Palmetto AIDS Life
Columbia • palss.org
Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services (PALSS) was founded in 1985 and since then has provided free services to those diagnosed with or at risk of HIV/AIDS, as well as supporting those who have loved ones living with HIV/AIDS. PALSS offers free testing and counseling services, help for those living with HIV/AIDS to find permanent housing, a food pantry for clients in emergency situations, and many other services.
The Columbia-based AIDS services group organizes programs specifically geared toward women and African-American men, as well as other programs for people of all backgrounds, and monthly support group meetings for men and women. The wide range of programs offered by PALSS serves to educate, inform and generally support individuals suffering from or at risk of HIV/AIDS.
One such program is Prevention through Action, Care, and Empowerment (PACE), which works to help its clients avoid contracting the virus. For those who have already been infected, PACE strives to help them prevent it from spreading to anyone. : :