A recent Q-Notes article reported that Charlotte, N.C. was deemed to be one of the “top 10 Gay Ghettos.” (“Charlotte, Raleigh among top 10 ‘Gay Ghettos’”)

The number of Gay folks moving to a city, living there or requesting information does make any city a Gay Ghetto. For Charlotte the opposite is true. We do not have a truly Gay neighborhood like Dupont Circle in D.C., the Castro in San Francisco or Capital Hill in Seattle.

You can go weeks before you see another vehicle with a rainbow or HRC sticker. We have a goodly number of bigots on our school board and city/county councils who oppose anything Gay. The city cut off arts funding a few years back when a theater wanted to mount “Angels In America.”

We have a mayor that doesn’t have the balls to issue a Gay Pride proclamation. We have churches that have been ejected from peer group “conventions” for welcoming Gay congregants. A Gay men’s chorus folded a few years back due to lack of support. While it has been re-started, the greater Gay community is nowhere to be found when they have a performance; most of the attendees are members of the church where the performance is held or straight friends/family of the singers.

The community center almost folded recently due to lack of program and financial support. Mentioning the word “partner” in a straight gym gets you taken to task by another Gay person.
Sadly, Charlotte has ways to go before I would consider it a Gay Ghetto!

Barry S., Charlotte, NC

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2 replies on “Letter: Top 10 ‘Gay Ghettos’”

  1. While I’m not a resident of Charlotte, I can certainly relate to Barry’s comments. As a resident of Hickory, NC, we see similar happenings in our own area of the state. My experience as an LGBT activist, has put me in simliar positions as Barry has mentioned in his letter.

    Within the last 4 years, the only progress the LGBT community in the Catawba Valley has made is opening another “gay club” and adding a half of a point for making a 2-year “presence” at a street festival. On the flip-side, the efforts to launch an LGBT community center has failed (twice under my own watch, once under another group), our local chapter of PFLAG has dissolved, an LGBT-youth organization (affiliated with Time Out Youth) was forced back into the closet and later folded, and students in area schools face opposition from school leaders and the community when attempting to start gay-straight alliances.

    LGBT-bias crimes have happened in our communities and have been “pushed into the closet” by police investigators. Some have happened, including a local congregation that had a sign spray painted with the “f” word, that have gone unreported because we’re too afraid of “outing” individuals that come but are not “out.” (aka “Don’t want to draw attention to ourselves”)

    For the Catawba Valley, the only collective support you can find, is within one of three LGBT churches (all with less than 50 active members) and 2 LGBT night clubs.

    The truth of the matter is simple. We cannot move forward unless LGBT people are open, out and honest. While progress is being made, unless more LGBT people “come out” and support local efforts to strengthen our community – then very little change will happen.

    Is it enough to be “out” on Friday and Saturday night at the local club? I’d answer that by saying, “Don’t bet your life on it.” What “breaks the ice” is the fact that many LGBT philathropist call the Catawba Valley home, yet their support is mostly for national groups that have little impact on the day-to-day life of LGBT people in the Catawba Valley.

    For me, I’ve decided to continue to face opposition (both within and out of the LGBT community) and stand firmly against bias, bigotry and hate. I do that by being politically active, encouraging my closest friends & family to support my ideals and through online journalism. Maybe one day we’ll be able to unify our community (as other minority groups have done in our community) to demand the rights that we’re owed.

  2. I recently was offered a job and relocation to Charlotte and I researched carefully.

    I went to the community center, and was told quite clearly that there was no gay ghetto. There was a relatively small GLBT population, but they were geographically spread out – as were bars, etc

    When I combined that information with the fact that the organization offering the job – a large IT organization that was part of the University medical system – didn’t even have an anti-discrimination policy I concluded that Charlotte was not the kind of place I wanted to live and turned the job down.

    I understand the desire of well meaning GLBTs to make their cities and states gay friendly but wishing does not make it so, and false claims such as Charlotte’s “gay ghetto” and South Carolinas gay beaches do a disservice to the community

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