Welcome to the Rainbow Rundown: A weekly recap of local, regional, and other noteworthy LGBTQ news, arts, entertainment and more

Charlotte Pride is excited to announce the first in our new weekly series, the Rainbow Rundown, an end-of-week review of noteworthy local, regional, and international LGBTQ news, arts, entertainment and more.

As we experimented with digital programming at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — and continued playing with our ideas through the summer — we realized that a perfect, untapped opportunity for us was to drastically increase the number of ways we engage with you digitally through our website, our blog, and social media.

After our festival and parade in early August, you may have already noticed an increase in how often we’ve begun posting interesting stories and features on our blog. Our goal is to continue to do that through the fall and into the future! We want to uplift our community with inspiring stories and testimonials, continuously educate our community with important news and information, and serve as a truly inclusive and empowering space for all voices in our community to see themselves represented — and to take a participatory part in the process of building community, getting involved and empowering each other in healthy and positive ways.

The Rainbow Rundown is the first in what will become an increasing number of regular online features here at the Charlotte Pride Blog! We hope you’ll keep tuning back in week and after week with a recap of news and info you may have missed through each week.

In each week’s Rainbow Rundown you can expect a smattering of interesting and noteworthy news, commentary, arts, entertainment, and other features from across the local area, region, nation, and world. We’ll also strive to regularly feature small bits and briefs devoted to our beautiful queer community’s arts and entertainment, as well as links to important and interesting local news recently shared by news organizations in our area.

Have ideas for online blog content? We’d love to hear from you! If you have ideas for content or you’re a writer yourself, shoot us a quick email at media@charlottepride.org with your ideas or suggestions for content. It can simply be ideas for us to consider or you may have something specific in mind that you have or want to create, be it a personal essay, an interview, a feature article or commentary, or something else entirely! We can’t wait to hear from you!

And, now, without further ado… the first in the new Rainbow Rundown series!…

In this issue of the Rainbow Rundown

  • Queer-inclusive mosque offers online support during continued pandemic
  • Iconic Black gay author Randall Kenan passes away
  • N.C. election officials roll out new early voting, vote-by-mail options
  • Fact or fiction? Family members criticize lesbian plot line in new film
  • Local news spotlight
  • Arts & Entertainment briefs

Queer-inclusive mosque offers online support during continued pandemic

The Washington Post reported this week on the experiences of new converts — or “reverts” — to Islam and the difficulties they face in interacting with their new community as mosques across the country and world have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Promotional image from Masjid al-Rabia for a weekly Friday Jummah Prayer Service at 1pm Central Time.

Masjid al-Rabia offers a variety of weekly online services and meetings, including a weekly Jummah service, inclusive Quran study, meet-ups and more.

In one particular example, a young Muslim revert, Artemis Rivera, has found online support and community through Chicago’s Masjid al-Rabia, which describes itself on its website as an “Islamic community center in Chicago providing inclusive, affirming Muslim community while fostering in an Islam that leaves no one behind.” Masjid al-Rabia also believes: “All Muslims deserve an environment in which we can practice our faith without fear of exclusion or violence. We don’t believe it is asking too much to be uncompromisingly ourselves – as women, as queer and trans people, as ‘marginalized Muslims’ – and still have a faith community we can come home to.”

As reported by WaPo:

Rivera started his journey back to Islam in 2017 when he took a history of theology class in college. He read the Koran for the first time in that class and said he felt an “all-over kind of peace” in his soul.

“I knew I was, like, on the right path and heading in the right direction and doing what I was supposed to be doing,” Rivera said.

Rivera, who identifies as queer, visited his local mosque a few times before the pandemic but found it to be “a very gendered and inaccessible space.” He found Masjid al-Rabia, a Chicago queer-oriented mosque, on Twitter earlier this year when he was searching for fellow queer Muslims to follow.

But because Rivera lives in Iowa, he had no way to attend services at the mosque until it made streaming available at the beginning of the year. The day he said his shahada was his first time attending the mosque’s online service.

“I love that Masjid al-Rabia centers both on queer and disabled Muslims in the services they provide,” Rivera said.

Click here to read the full article from The Washington Post.

Click here to visit Masjid al-Rabia’s website and learn more about their community and digital programming.

Iconic Black gay author passes away

The queer literary world took a pause this week to mourn the passing of Black gay author and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill English professor Randall Kenan. Described as a “literary genius,” Kenan, 57, was found dead at his home in Hillsborough, N.C., late last week.

Lambda Literary said of Kenan:

Brooklyn born and North Carolina raised, he was a writer who explored how desire, community, and generational trauma can both uplift and warp the Black gay rural experience.

With a heightened lyricism and a nod to the fantastical, Kenan centered characters who often struggled against the thicket of their personal wants and histories.

May Kenan’s writing be a long testament to his genius.

Kenan, known for his ability to tell the stories of Black gay people living in the rural South, was the author of A Visitation of Spirits, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead, and The Fire This Time. He also wrote a biography of James Baldwin and an oral history of Black American Life. In his career, Kenan was honored with several high-profile awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, the North Carolina Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Rome Prize, and a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction.

Read more about Kenan and his passing via Pink News.

Kenan also recently published a new collection of stories, after years of focusing on nonfiction works. Slate writer Dan Kois paid Kenan respects while exploring that new collection.

Election officials roll out new early voting, vote-by-mail options

Election officials in North Carolina are trying to make it easier and more accessible for you to vote this year. The Charlotte Observer reported this week that election officials have rolled out several new options and expansions:

On Friday hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots will go in the mail as the state becomes the first to start voting for the November election. Election officials are braced for a record number of mail-in votes. More than 618,000 absentee requests had been received through Wednesday, and election officials expect up to 10 times as many as usual to be cast this year.

Officials say new protocols should reduce the number of absentee ballots that aren’t counted. That’s one of several changes designed to facilitate voting during the pandemic.

A new portal on the state Board of Elections web site allows voters to request an absentee ballot online. There also will be more early-voting hours. And to manage the expected flood of mail-in ballots, election officials will start tabulating them earlier than ever, on Sept. 29.

“There are more options and more flexibility for voters,” said political scientist Michael Bitzer of Catawba College. “That is the reality of a highly engaged electorate in the midst of a pandemic.”

Click here to read the full report from The Charlotte Observer.

Fact or fiction? Family members criticize lesbian plot line in new film

Some, including family members of a new film’s protagonist, are criticizing the decision to portray two historical figures in a lesbian relationship. That’s according to The Irish Independent, in a new story published this week. Actresses Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet star in the new film Ammonite, set to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next week. In the film, Ronan portrays Charlotte Murchison who befriends the eccentric, outcast, and unmarried historical figure Mary Anning, who made a name for herself collecting and identifying fossils in England. In the film, the two women are portrayed as having a lesbian relationship.

One of Mary Anning’s descendants is none-too-pleased with the way filmmakers have decided to characterize her ancestor’s sexual orientation. Barbara Anning says there is no evidence to “back up portraying her as a gay woman.”

The gay filmmaker responsible for Ammonite also filmed God’s Own Country, a 2017 feature exploring gay love among two Yorkshire farmhands, which screened at Charlotte Pride’s Reel Out Charlotte in 2018.

From The Independent:

[I]s it OK to retrospectively bestow sexual orientations on real people who may not have been so inclined? It’s a vexed question, but one the director Francis Lee has robustly dismissed. He’s a fine filmmaker, an actor turned director whose semi-autobiographical 2017 feature debut God’s Own Country explored gay love among Yorkshire farm hands and was widely praised.

“After seeing queer history be routinely ‘straightened’ throughout culture,” he wrote on social media in response to criticisms of Ammonite, “and given a historical figure where there is no evidence whatsoever of a heterosexual relationship, is it not permissible to view that person within another context?”

And he wondered mischievously, “would these newspaper writers have felt the need to whip up uninformed quotes from self-proclaimed experts if the character’s sexuality had been assumed to be heterosexual?”

It’s a valid point.

Read the full article at The Independent.

Local News Spotlight

Arts & Entertainment Briefs

  • The new Netflix series Grand Army, based on Katie Cappiello’s 2013 play Slut, is set to premiere on October 16, and promises to tackle a variety of queer issues, race, and class facing an array of teen characters at a Brooklyn high school. Read more about the series from The Advocate.
  • Screening on Netflix throughout September is the iconic 1996 film Set It Off. Autostraddle film reviewer Carmen Phillips delves into the classic, calling it a “queer tribute to Black women’s friendship we deserve after a summer of Black mourning.” Read a review of the film at Autostraddle.
  • “While networks like Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel make promises of rectifying their history of holiday stories that don’t feature LGBTQ+ storylines, queer creators are taking matters into their own hands. Clea DuVall, who previously announced her gay Christmas romantic comedy Happiest Season, is now teasing her new project.” Read more from Out.com.
  • “Lingua Franca Filmmaker Isabel Sandoval Isn’t Giving You Easy Answers: Lingua Franca, available now for streaming on Netflix, is a film centered on a trans narrative that aims for subtlety, complexity, and humanity.” Read more at Them.us.

Get Involved!

Don’t forget: Charlotte Pride is truly 365! There are several ways you can get involved in the work we do throughout the year. Check out our recent blog post on ways to get involved this fall and throughout the year!

Want to get involved specifically with our increasing online content and blog coverage? We are looking to increase our online news, commentary, and community features on the Charlotte Pride Blog, as part of our continued digital programming through the fall. Are you a freelancer, commentator, essayist, or other writer and want to contribute? Email us at media@charlottepride.org and we’d be happy to chat about opportunities to contribute! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and bookmark our website’s news section to get the latest updates.