CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nearly 60 community members gathered Saturday for an in-depth workshop session exploring ways to move the local LGBT community forward, with eyes geared toward collaboration, coalition building, communication and a shared future vision.

The workshop, the final event in a series of three community conversations, was held at the Levine Museum of the New South. Past events have included two panel discussions, tackling issues like racism, privilege, activism, organizational strength and sustainability. This writer was a past panelist and participated as a co-facilitator of a small group discussion on Saturday.

Those gathered split up into six small groups during Saturday’s workshop, each spending about an hour discussing a given prompt or question, including ways community groups and leaders can better communicate, visions for better sharing resources, ways to increase the engagement and involvement of a broader portion of the community and strategies to focus on the future.

A consensus seemed to form as small groups came back together and shared their discussions — with most in agreement that a more formalized or institutionalized means of collaboration and communication was needed. Some suggested that a coalition of LGBT non-profits be started to aid in collaboration. Community groups and leaders have several times in the past, dating as far back as the early 1980s, pulled together to form organizational coalitions or leadership roundtables, but almost all fizzled out — some suggesting such groups lacked a longterm purpose to keep members engaged. To prevent burnout, some suggested such a group needed a collective mission and purpose working toward a shared future goal, something akin to the way in which local governments often create and work toward a 20-year city plan or vision.

Organizers of the discussion series, the Rev. Malu Fairley and Joshua Burford, have said they’ll compile the ideas and suggested action points for sharing in the next couple weeks. qnotes will publish the collected document for wider viewing.

Organizations and community businesses represented at the community conversation on Saturday included: Campus Pride, Charlotte Business Guild, Charlotte Black Gay Pride, Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund, Charlotte Pride, Clayworks, Equality North Carolina, the Freedom Center for Social Justice, Genderlines, Human Rights Campaign, the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee, Myers Park Baptist Church, One Voice Chorus, the PowerHouse Project, PRISM, qnotes, Regional AIDS Interfaith Network, Sacred Souls Community Church, Southern Country Charlotte, Time Out Youth and Visit Gay Charlotte, among others.

The series of community events was held in conjunction with the Levine Museum’s suite of LGBT history exhibits and as a part of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte Multicultural Resource Center’s “North Carolina Activist Series.”

Matt Comer

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