Chair of Charlotte Black Pride (CBP), Shann Fulton, was born in Savannah, Ga. and grew up in different areas of South Carolina’s Low Country. In 2013, Fulton relocated to Charlotte from Columbia, S.C., and has been an active member of the community ever since.

Fulton said they’ve always carried a passion for volunteer work and wanted to find a way to get involved after settling into life in the Queen City.

During their search to find an outlet to provide service to the community Fulton discovered CBP and immediately began volunteering in the organization. qnotes had the opportunity to get acquainted with Fulton and ask them a few questions about their work with CBP as well as other areas of their life outside their efforts in the community.

Can you tell me what first attracted you to CBP?

Charlotte Black Pride encompassed everything that I am. I was in Charlotte, black and I’m proud of who I am. When I began volunteering, members were very welcoming. It felt like a family. I also want to highlight that Charlotte Black Pride removed the word “gay” from our name officially early in 2018. We get feedback every year, and we consistently heard that the term “gay” doesn’t encompass everyone in the spectrum. We listened to our community and removed it. So we are now just Charlotte Black Pride (CBP).

From starting out as a volunteer to your current position as chair, how has your role in CBP changed or evolved, and in what ways?

My experience started off as helping out wherever I was needed. Set up, break down, registering and inviting in guests. As a volunteer coordinator, I recruited volunteers for all events. When I became co-chair I became more involved in creating events, fundraising and obtaining sponsors. Assisting other board members with tasks surrounding events. As chair, I’m more involved in every aspect of obtaining sponsorships to recruiting new board members.

Has your involvement with CBP influenced or shaped the person you are today? If so, how?

Since being involved with CBP, I’ve been able to meet and understand people from everyone spectrum of the Queer Community. It’s help me to grow and learn more about the people I represent. It’s also help me to be more comfortable with identifying as non-binary. Most of my life I identified as a lesbian. A stud. Because it was more acceptable, people understood it easier. Because of the encounters I’ve had and the information I’ve learned, I’m now very comfortable with identifying as non-binary.

What are some things that come to mind when you look back and reflect on the last eight years that you’ve worked with CBP?

Growth, unity, acceptance, leadership, community and social justice. And there is so much more work to do. I can only speak for the past seven years, as I started volunteering in 2013. Although, there are still inequities, CBP has grown immensely in obtaining more donor and sponsor opportunities.

At its core, what does CBP represent? How do you carry out this message in your everyday life?

CBP represents promoting positive images of the black LGBTQIA+ community. We want to empower others to love themselves from their core. We represent social awareness and uplift the community. CBP embraces and celebrates diversity. We are the vehicle for but not limited to the black LGBTQIA+ community. We promote embracing your culture. I carry out this message by giving back to the community on a consistent basis. It can be through volunteering in the community, giving donations, both financial and in order forms. I speak to people about the resources that are available. I just constantly seek ways to help care for and push other members of my community to be their best selves.

A number of individuals fail to understand the vital need for movements like Black Lives Matter, some even make lewd comments and even mock the campaign with questions like, “why isn’t there a white lives matter?” — How would you respond to this type of thinking or attitude?

No one says All lives don’t matter. Black lives at this time are and have been experiencing racism, police brutality and overall inequities for 400+ years. The Constitution doesn’t even recognize black people as a whole human being. That’s like saying your leg is broken, and you have pain in your thumb, but you decide to have surgery on your thumb first when it only had a little pain. So you just leave the leg broken? No, you repair the leg first!

In terms of social acceptance, how has your time living in Charlotte, North Carolina differed from other areas of the South you’ve resided in?

I’ve always just been me. I can’t remember any experiences that were really life-changing, so I’ve been fortunate. I have been called a “dyke” and really just had lots of experiences of people staring. I still have that experience in Charlotte, however overall being part of the LGBTQIA+ community here is more acceptable. There is a conversation surrounding acceptance almost daily. Further south there is much less conversation. Its line is really discussed and you have very little resources.

Have you experienced any significant challenges associated with your gender identity of being non-binary?

The challenge I face is probably what most non-binary or gender non-conforming people experience. People getting it confused with being bisexual. People not wanting to accept that you don’t want to identify as a specific gender. Just having to educate so much because people already have what they think you should be in their minds.

What’s your favorite color?

Blue…any shade of blue.

What do you like to do to decompress or relieve stress?

Meditation is important for me to stay grounded. Relaxing on a beach, going to a shooting range, or walking or riding a bike. Also, spending time with my love, family or my grandkids.

What’s your favorite hobby or pastime?

Volunteering, riding ATVs (all-terrain vehicle) and playing cards.

Can you name three or four words that describe you best?

Philanthropic, resilient, loyal, hopeless romantic.