Each October, everyone and everything goes pink. So, too, has qnotes. And, that’s just the way it should be. Our cover this issue serves as a loving tribute to those affected by breast cancer as our publication pauses to recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Our health features this issue, in print and online, delve into the issues of wellness and breast cancer awareness.

It’s an especially important topic within the LGBT community, where lesbian women are at a higher risk for developing the disease. They are among the hundreds of thousands of women each year diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s a hard-fought battle for women, who often depend on the support and love of those around them. Families, friends and communities can, indeed, make a difference. Once a year, we’re reminded just how important that support is.

The support of gay and bisexual men of our lesbian and bisexual sisters is crucially needed. In the height of the 1980s AIDS Crisis, lesbian women stood up and spoke out on our behalf. It is only fitting that we return that selfless conviction when others need our help the most. Though very few men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer, it is a disease that still impacts us. Our mothers, sisters, co-workers, neighbors and friends are among those most at-risk. As they fight, we find ourselves drawn to their cause. We are ready, willing and able to stand up, educate and fundraise, knowing that together we can beat the disease.

Fortunately, no one in my family has ever been diagnosed with breast cancer. But, as a son of a loving mother, a brother to a beautiful little sister and a nephew of many aunts, I’m keenly aware that my family might one day be faced with heart-breaking news. One day, my own family might have to face daunting times and challenges. That’s why I stand up now and offer the support I can. If the unthinkable should ever visit my family, I hope others will be there with their support also.

Patient no longer

In our Oct. 13 print edition, qnotes once again prints our “Charlotte Checklist.” It was an idea prompted by an editorial two issues ago (“With DNC over, Charlotte must live up to progressive hype,” Sept. 15, qnotescarolinas.com/17705/). In the editorial, I outlined the various issues yet to be addressed by local elected leaders in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County after the historic Democratic National Convention was hosted here. The checklist, which we’ll print in nearly every issue going forward, is a chance for our community to be reminded just where their elected officials, collectively, stand on our issues. It is also a chance to hold our elected bodies accountable to us, our concerns and our needs.

I have always said just how shameful I think it is that North Carolina’s largest city — indeed, the largest city between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. — should lag so far behind on matters of LGBT equality. Though we have “friendly” elected officials, their friendship never really seems to extend much past election season. Our Charlotte Checklist is proof, showing how inadequate protections are for LGBT workers and community members.

On Oct. 17, the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) will host their annual candidates’ reception (see event details in this issue’s featured events). This year, candidates for the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners will be among those mixing and mingling with LGBT voters, citizens and residents at the event. I encourage you to attend, to make your presence known, to voice your concerns and demand action on these important matters.

Elected incumbents and hopeful candidates need to know that our community will no longer stand silently by as they ignore the issues important for our equality and our survival. As elected leaders, they should actually get to leading. But, we’ve seen very little of that. The time is now: no more backroom deals and no more hushed policy changes. We need more than smiles and nicely-worded form letters with the words “gay” or “LGBT” dropped in. All those things are nice, but real political courage and leadership is better, and it is time that our community of voters, citizens and residents are recognized and protected as equally as others. It is time that city council and the county board put our issues on their public agendas and use the privileges we have given them — the power of their representative vote — to move our community forward.

We’ve been patient for far too long on these simple matters of inclusion. Why must Charlotte continue to languish when other cities and towns, some of them hundreds of times smaller than us, are seeing progress at much faster rates? Our community has long advocated for these changes, yet our elected leaders refuse to budge.

The more our leaders drag their feet, the more they will be seen as backward and bumbling southern politicians unwilling, either because of irrational fear or willfully-chosen bigotry, to protect all of their constituents. I know a great many of these leaders and I know their hearts are in the right place. I hope their courage will prevail over their fear. It would be a shame to see so many good reputations ruined because so many refused to do what is right. : :

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