Typically, this column features an interesting LGBTQ community member from the Carolinas. This month, while Pride Season continues, we thought it would be fun to do things just a little bit differently. This edition will feature one pride filled group with input by board participants from Charlotte Black Pride, because they are our people and we are theirs. So, we invite you to have some fun with us and continue reading the following content, shared with you the way we generally share interviews; except this time, we’re interviewing an entire family, not just one cool person. 

It’s been almost 20 years since you started your family. In reflecting upon that, how do you feel?

Jermaine Nakia Lee, Co-founder& Development Director

Seventeen years later, it fills me with pride and delight to think that Charlotte Black Pride (CBP) is still celebrating & presenting Black LGBTQ+ culture in Charlotte. From day one, our mission has been rooted in creating events and programs which showcase the beauty, diversity and prowess of the African American LGBTQ+ community in the Queen City. It’s about our culture. As a co-founder, I’ve always thought of CBP as an institutional gift established in my generation but intended for [younger] generations to come [and benefit from], a cultural inheritance.

What prompted the decision to start this family?

Monica Simpson, Former Board Member & Co-founder

Charlotte was a very different kind of Charlotte back then. The community center had just opened. I was the first person of color and the youngest hired to work at the community center that was then called the Lesbian and Gay Community Center. It shows you how young we were in the understanding of gender, sexuality, inclusion, all of that. There were very few Black folks involved in the organizing of the community center. Our community didn’t really see themselves reflected in programming. Doing this work [with Charlotte’s center] is what lead me to connecting with other people that started Black Gay Pride with me. At that time, I was the only woman among four founding members (Jermaine Nakia Lee, Korey Handy, Damon Blackmon and myself). 

What are some of the challenges that come with being who you are?

Quan Rutledge-Wade, Dir of Entertainment and Pageantry

I think one of my biggest challenges is people not understanding what we do and why we’re here. People often say, “Why do you need a Black Pride?”  Charlotte Black Pride was established in 2005. The Black LGBTQ experience is very unique – so we’re here not to separate [the LGBTQ community] but as an outreach organization, a mechanism to let people know that we’re here 365, not just a week and not going anywhere. And we’re here providing education and an outlet allowing people to experience and learn more about Black LGBTQ culture. When you take the time to get to know us, you’ll find we have a lot more in common – a lot more commonalities than differences. 

Many people know about CBP’s Pride Festival and weekly events leading up to it. Outside of that week, how do you spend your free time?

Gladece Knights, Director of Operations

We’ve been engaging the community. This year we had our first Juneteenth cookout. Juneteenth is now a national holiday, so we would be remiss not to recognize it for our community and the diversity of their intersectionality. There are so many aspects to us. 

That was June 18. Most recently however, now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, we’ll be addressing that as well, because these are issues that impact us. And like most issues the impact is different [for us] than how white communities, white cis male communities or Black heterosexual people experience them. 

Why join this family? There must be other ways to be engaging and impactful.

Lauren Nichols, New Board Member at Large

I’m involved in the Charlotte Black Pride organization because I’m a native Charlottean. After attending last year’s pride week – where they were asking for people to volunteer and get in volved, I thought to myself, what better way to get involved with the Charlotte community than being part of a family that’s inclusive and authentic to my identity as a Queer Black Woman.

As a newly adopted member of the family, what stands out for you?

Lauren Nichols, New Board Member at Large

The feeling of family. We take on these projects, these programs these activities. I spearheaded the Juneteenth event and never felt alone. I had so much support from veteran and senior board members, it was just great. 

Please tell Qnotes readers something most folks don’t know about you?

Candy Chaney Neverson, Secretary

What a lot of people don’t know or realize is that we actually changed our name from Charlotte Black Gay Pride to Charlotte Black Pride a few years ago. We made the change to be more inclusive of our community. Our previous name didn’t do that. 

How did the COVID pandemic impact your family’s activities or routines?

Candy Chaney Neverson, Secretary

We had to rethink our strategy of how to find ways to reach community to assess their needs. We were so used to being forward facing – out in the community. COVID promoted us to use social media more, to offer pop-up clothing drives and virtual activities. Last year we made our first attempt at a face-to-face pride [since the pandemic]; it was kind of a post-COVID trial run. But this year – I think we’re feeling like the city is fully open for business and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone come out July 17-24, for our Pride events. 

When you see yourself aging, what do you see?

Quan Rutledge-Wade, Dir of Entertainment and Pageantry

I see Charlotte Black Pride as being a major player and major leader in Charlotte and not just for Black LGBT people but for any people of color or not, in need. 

I also see us increasing our work with the Trans community; where we have the type of presence [that] we provide food, housing and other needs. As we age, I want to see us have a paid staff and office space where we can continue to function year round; spreading joy, understanding and support while affirming our family members and a legacy of experiences unique to the Black LGBTQ community. 

For more information on Charlotte Black Pride, this year’s Pride festivities or to get involved, visit them online