Over 100 people gathered Saturday, July 11 to pay tribute to 10 years of Charlotte Black Gay Pride (CBGP). The organization, founded in 2005, celebrates its 10th annual event the weekend this print edition hits stands. Their “Decade of Excellence” black-tie gala, hosted at The Venue at 1801 N. Tryon St., attracted a variety of community leaders, elected officials, CBGP board members, former board members and founders.

The highlight of the evening were several awards given to community leaders, founders, organizations and businesses that have been supportive of or instrumental in CBGP planning over the past decade.

Monica Simpson, who received a Founders Award, said CBGP began as an opportunity to “celebrate ourselves, our lives, our culture.”

“Charlotte Black Gay Pride was a turning point for the City of Charlotte,” she said.

Jermaine Nakia Lee also received a Founders Award.

“Who would believe we’d be celebrating 10 years of Charlotte Black Gay Pride when we didn’t know if we’d get through year one?” Lee remarked from the stage.

Two lesbian leaders also received special honors, with the Freedom Award going to Bishop Tonyia Rawls of Sacred Souls Community Church. As a founder of Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte, Rawls and her congregation were involved in CBGP planning throughout the years.

Current board members of Charlotte Black Gay Pride pose for a photo before the Decades of Excellence gala. Photo Credit:  Esih E. Photography
Current board members of Charlotte Black Gay Pride pose for a photo before the
Decades of Excellence gala.
Photo Credit: Esih E. Photography

Rawls paid tribute to the then-young people who began CBGP a decade ago.

“They were young people who just said we needed this,” she said. “They didn’t know anything more than that, but they took action.”

Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield received the Political Awareness Award. She credited Rawls and her call more than a decade ago for her church members to volunteer and become involved in the community. Years later, those she inspired have become leading social justice advocates, award winners and more. That call also inspired her, Mayfield said.

“Because of that call to volunteer a decade ago, I get to stand in front of you now as your elected official,” she said.

In addition to Mayfield, other civic leaders and candidates in attendance at the special event included Charlotte City Councilmembers Patsy Kinsey and Al Austin, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham, Charlotte mayoral candidate Jennifer Roberts and Charlotte City Council candidate Billy Maddalon.

The evening featured several other award winners. We’ll publish a full list in the online version of this article at goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging.com. Learn more about the organization at charlotteblackgaypride.com. : :

Matt Comer

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