In two weeks, Charlotte Black Gay Pride will light up the Queen City with a bevy of events meant to inspire, connect, empower and motivate. The group’s annual events — including a town hall, annual social mixers and its community expo — will get a large boost in attendance, too. The national Center for Black Equity, a national federation of African-American LGBT community groups and Black Gay Pride organizers, will hold their conference in conjunction with Charlotte Black Gay Pride events.
Pride Chair Crystal Long says the opportunity to host a national conference is among the most exciting components of this year’s event.
“What we have is an opportunity to really put our best foot forward,” Long says. “We are really excited. I think it’s a really good opportunity to educate the community.”
The Center for Black Equity’s conference will include a variety of workshops and seminars, taking place simultaneously with Charlotte Black Gay Pride’s Community Expo on July 19.
Pride Development Director Francisco White says the combined Expo and conference will be a benefit for Charlotte and its LGBT community.
“The financial implications for the city can’t be ignored,” White says, noting last year’s various Charlotte Black Gay Pride events attracted 12,000 people. They expect more this year, and have gotten the community support to pull it off.
“We have received a healthy amount of financial support,” White says. “We are definitely reaching out to the big banks and companies in the area. I just think it’s smart business — to be involved.”
This year marks White’s first year serving on the Charlotte Black Gay Pride board. After living in Boston for a while, White recently moved back to Charlotte and got involved.
“I just recognized it was a crucial part of the gay community here,” he says.
White also wanted to help combat some of the misconceptions surrounding Black Gay Pride.
“I know there is this misconception that the organization and its events are racially divisive or separatist,” he says. “In actuality, I think it exists because the larger gay community is really a microcosm of the larger racially-segregated and classist society.”
Black people face a variety of unique challenges growing up and coming out as LGBT, several Black Pride organizers say. Events like Charlotte Black Gay Pride give community members the opportunity to come together in solidarity.
“Just like there is a St. Patrick’s Day, just like there are a whole lot of other events or celebrations of different cultures, we have a Black Gay Pride to represent our culture and what it is to be black and gay here in America,” says Nate Turner, a first-year board member serving as the group’s community outreach coordinator.
Like White, Turner says he got involved to make a difference and help educate the community. Turner is most excited about this year’s community town hall.
“It’s going to introduce people to so many different facets or guess you could say ‘-isms,’ that’s basically what it’s about — racism, sexism and all the different kinds of discrimination,” Turner says.
And, discrimination can be very real, but so can unity. White points to Carrie Chanel, winner of this year’s Miss Charlotte Black Gay Pride Pageant.
At the pageant on June 18, Michele was asked why she should be crowned Miss Charlotte Black Gay Pride and what Black Pride meant to her. She explained her parents were an interracial couple.
“I could have participated in Charlotte Black Gay Pride or Charlotte Pride,” Michele told the judges and audience, “but I chose Charlotte Black Gay Pride.”
White says Michele’s answer inspired him.
“I think it’s really symbolic of what our organization is all about,” he says. “I love that she’s biracial. It’s really symbolic of our inclusive organization and our events fostering social awareness and celebrating the diversity of the gay community and of Charlotte as a city.” : :
[Ed. Note — The original version of this article incorrectly identified Miss Charlotte Black Gay PRide 2014 Carrie Chanel. The story has been corrected. We regret the error.]
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LGBT Community Center of Charlotte
2508 N. Davidson St., Charlotte
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the town hall running from 7-9 p.m. Black Pride’s annual town hall offers the community an opportunity to discuss important and critical issues facing the community today. This year’s town hall discussion is “The -isms,” addressing racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, genderism and more. A mix and mingle will follow from 9-10 p.m. Open bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres.
Meet and Greet
Charlotte Crowne Plaza
5700 Westpark Dr., Charlotte, 7 p.m.
Sponsored by the Center for Black Equity. Come get to know Charlotte Black Gay Pride organizers and other community leaders and members.
Charlotte Crowne Plaza
5700 Westpark Dr., Charlotte, Noon-6 p.m.
Charlotte Black Gay Pride’s annual community expo, with vendors, entertainment including the annual drag show, workshops, door prizes and a kids zone.
Mardi Gras Jazz Brunch
445 W. Trade St., Charlotte, 1-4 p.m.
A Mardi Gras-inspired jazz brunch to close out the weekend of activities and fun.
For more information about these events and more, visit charlotteblackgaypride.org.