Jeff Ayers speaking at the South Carolina Legislative Building.

Discrimination thwarted for now

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Jeff Ayers, interim executive director and board chair for SC Equality, expressed his appreciation to those who helped stop anti-LGBT bills in their tracks at the state legislature.

When the 2015 session closed out earlier this month, the House and Senate failed to pass any of the six bills meant to discriminate against LGBT South Carolinians, Ayers said. None made it out of committee and ranged from restricting marriage equality to limiting the rights of transgender people.

Ayers lauded the support of friends and allies in the fight, both individually and financially. He also praised legislative advocates for equality, such as Reps. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Beth Bernstein and Leon Stavrinakis. Reps. Todd Rutherford, James Smith and Sen. Brad Hutto, who introduced pro-equality legislation seeking to ban anti-LGBT discrimination in the Palmetto State, were also acknowledged.

Community members were also cited and included. Rev. Tom Summers, Harriet Hancock, Ann Willbrand, Rev. TIm Bupp, Vickie Middleton, Malissa Burnette, Latta Police Chief Crystal Moore, Dayna Smith, S.C. Democratic Caucus Political DIrector and Spokesperson Tyler Jones and S.C. Equality lobbyist Benton Wislinski. “I could not have done it without all of you,” Ayers said.

Even though the bills were stopped in the 2015 session, they can be brought up again next year. He encourages everyone to continue to advocate for the LGBT community “until all South Carolinians are protected equally under the law.”


Pride celebration nears start

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Black Pride, “Primetime 4 Black Pride – 10 years of Standing in our Truth,” will held from June 24-28 in the state’s capital.

Kick off for the event will be a family bowling night on June 24, 7 p.m., at Royal Z Lanes – Spring Valley, 8512 Top Notch Rd. Prizes will be awarded for the best and not-so-great bowlers of the night. Cost is $10 per person for the entire night. Food and beverages will be provided.

The following night there will be a “Blackbird” premiere and welcome reception, along with karaoke at Wet Willie’s, 800 Gervais St. A special guest will be in attendance.

On June 26, gather for a Primetime Summit and Town Hall Meeting at 1 p.m. at Cecil Tillis Center at 2111 Simpkin Ln. Educational presentations will be shared on health, advocacy and progress for the South Carolina African-American LGBT population. It will close with a “state of the southern black LGBT community.”

On Saturday, head out to Expo 2015 at Meadowlark Park, 524 Beckman Rd. Vendors will be on hand displaying their wares and others will be available to share their company’s or organization’s information.

That evening a men’s Primetime event at 10 p.m. at Marion Hall, 1622 Marion St. It’s an evening of male entertainment featuring Mustang, as well as Masked Mysteries all in Tastee Treasures underwear. Host is Zavior M. Travez. DJ Kei Jai will spin tunes. Tickets are limited and are available in advance only for $10. More information and tickets can be secured by text to 919-695-3406.

A Praise in the Park & Common Unity Picnic will close out the festivities on June 28, 11 a.m., at Sesquicentennial Park, 9564 Top Notch Rd. A $2 admission per person is required to get into the park.

Host hotel is the Holiday Inn & Suites, 8105 Two Notch Rd. Rooms are $89 per night. To make reservations, book using “South Carolina Black Pride” to receive the special rate.


ASO changes name

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Catawba Care changed its name in May to Affinity Health Center and will continue to operate at its present location at 500 Lakeshore Pkwy.

The name change ushers in the center’s move to provide comprehensive healthcare needs beyond those living with HIV/AIDS, which it has done since its inception in 2000.

Board Chair Rev. Maurice Revell said in a release, “Our gradual, planned evolution to a community-based, primary healthcare provider began over the last couple years with the multiple changes in healthcare and as we saw that many of the roadblocks for services for individuals and families dealing with HIV also existed in the broader community.”

Although the name change was effective immediately in May, the center will be rolling out its expansion efforts with services and staff over the next six months to meet York County’s needs.

Results from the York County Community Health Needs Assessment supported the organization’s needs. The assessment was coordinated in 2012 to identify gaps in care and unmet needs for York County residents, Suzanne Wright, immediate past board chair, shared. The assessment, guided by a team made up of social service and healthcare providers across York County, was conducted by Duke University’s Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research.

Executive Director Anita Case said, “Increasing our services and staff allows Affinity Health Center to become a ‘medical home’ for patients, providing primary and preventative healthcare, including dental and mental health services.” She added, “The primary goal of our services has always been to help patients live longer, healthier lives through delivery of compassionate, excellent care. This continues to be our sole reason for being.”

Affinity will work with Early Learning Partnership of York County to serve children as part of the center’s expansion because of the partnership’s transition out of delivering health services to children.

The center provides essential medical services to the uninsured at nominal costs depending on income, as well as to those patients with Medicaid, Medicare and all other private insurance including Affordable Care Act plans.

Support and funding for Catawba Care stemmed from The Duke Endowment, Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina Foundation, Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, Springs Close Foundation and United Way of York County. They will continue to provide the same level of support to Affinity.


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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 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 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.