Jan/Feb 2014 | When it comes to the organized LGBTQ-community in Charlotte, Jenni Gaisbauer sees all . . . or at least a good bit of it.
Gaisbauer has been part of the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund (CLGF) for five years and is in year two as Chairperson of its Board of Advisers. During this time, she’s watched the fund grow and the interests of its stakeholders evolve. She’s also seen half a decade’s worth of grant applications from the area’s LGBTQ organizations, detailing their hopes, plans and special projects.
Seeing expansion . . . seeking more
So what can Gaisbauer share from her unique vantage point? The common theme is expansion—both realized and needed. Says Gaisbauer, “Charlotte’s LGBT organizations are working hard. As their work has expanded—hopefully with the help of the Fund—we’re now seeing other organizations recognizing the value in reaching out to the LGBTQ community.” She uses the Community Building Initiative (CBI) as one example. Originally established to achieve racial and ethnic inclusion and equity in Charlotte, the organization recently broadened their mission to include, among other things, sexual orientation. The Fund has supported their work to increase LGBTQ inclusion in the CBI’s programs and membership.
But Gaisbauer goes on to share, “What we aren’t seeing at the moment is more diversity from within the LGBTQ community—from people of color or the transgender community.” She explains that the Fund would welcome opportunities to fund more diversity.
As the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund itself has expanded over the years, Gaisbauer has watched its stakeholder’s interests mature; something she points to as a sign of Charlotte’s evolving LGBTQ-affirming community. Each grant cycle, everyone who gives $1000 or more to the Fund has the opportunity to participate in determining what grants are funded. Gaisbauer describes these stakeholders becoming more engaged in that process, ready to explore and debate. She says, “They’re really asking tough questions and thinking about the strength of the organizations and what each one brings to the community.”
Looking for relevancy
What does she see as the strengths that have helped One Voice get CLGF funding? She salutes the chorus’s embrace of LGBTQ-allies and its initiative to respond creatively to current events and issues that face the community. One Voice’s upcoming concert and mini-documentary about LGBT homeless youth is just one example she cites as keeping the chorus relevant.
As for other LGBTQ issues Gaisbauer sees growing in relevance over the coming years, she points to marriage equality in North Carolina, adoption and parental rights, and transgender rights. She also describes watching the emerging participation of LGBTQ allies and of the transgender community and looks forward to seeing how that will influence the landscape and the work of Charlotte’s LGBT organizations.
For that, we shall all watch and see.
An interview with archivist, activist and Queer historian Joshua Burford, who currently teaches a two part unit on LGBTQ history for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he also holds the title of Assistant Director for Sexual & Gender Diversity.
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