CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Business Guild hosted their monthly dinner meeting on Tuesday night at the new LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, featuring an expo of local LGBT and friendly sports teams and leagues.
Among them were the FrontRunners, a gay running group, the Queen City Tennis Club, Rainbowlers and a local Dragon Boat participant.
The Charlotte Roller Girls, an all-female, flat track derby team, was also there. Though not exclusively LGBT, the team has shown itself to be friendly and outspoken allies of the LGBT community. They’ve participated in several LGBT community events, such as the annual Charlotte Pride festival.
“It’s a really accepting community and so a lot of LGBT individuals, I think, find somewhere they fit in and it’s home,” said Caitlyn Snead, whose on-track nickname is “Rita Maneata.” “We’re never ones to say you can’t participate for whatever reason.”
Snead, who says as many as half of the Roller Girls team identifies as LGBT, thinks it is important for sports groups to be affirming and inclusive.
“We’re fighting the good fight for women everyday trying to get equality in sports,” she said, noting roller derby’s place as a women’s sport fighting for acceptance in their own right. “Sports especially give people something they can be proud of. You’re working out, you’re putting a lot of time and effort into whatever you are doing. It gives you a certain sense of confidence that is really powerful in the fight against the odds.”
The Charlotte Roller Girls is also intersex and transgender inclusive. The policy of its national governing organization, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association defines “female” as “living as a woman and having sex hormones that are within the medically acceptable range for a female.”
“We have a few transgender members,” Snead said. “We accept them just as we would anyone else.”
Guild leaders said their Tuesday-night event was meant to offer community members the opportunity to learn more about inclusive sports groups in Charlotte. Additionally, the Guild wanted members to tour the new LGBT Center. Tuesday’s Guild meeting was the first held at the Center’s new location.