From the inbox this morning…

In response to the current political environment and in the interest of unifying the work of LGBT Organizations around the country, Take Back Pride is a new campaign aimed towards educating our community and the citizens of the United States on the many inequalities we currently face.

Over the past forty years, since the very first Pride March, we feel that some of the aspects of protest have disappeared from many Pride celebrations. While it remains alive and well in some places, we believe that through education and inclusion of ALL members of our community, we can work to actually use our incredibly diverse and beautiful marches to advance our civil rights.

The website, which will continue to be updated as we move ahead, will serve as a resource to those willing to participate in the campaign. While we are based in New York and are in communication with Heritage of Pride NYC in the hopes of working together on this project, we hope to include citizens in every part of the US in Taking Back Pride.

Please consider the attached letter and endorsements as an open letter to our community and allies.

Click here for the aforementioned letter (PDF) with signatories/endorsements (including the likes of Dan Choi, GetEqual’s Robin McGehee,’s Jeremy Hooper,’s Corey Johnson and veteran activist David Mixner).

The “Take Back Pride” concept is interesting, and a long overdue message to Pride organizers across the nation. In particular, it’s, perhaps, a much needed message for organizers of Pride Charlotte who in 2009 downplayed the historic political/protest nature of Pride.

“We aren’t necessarily making a political statement. We are putting on a festival to celebrate who we are,” 2009 festival co-chair Clay Smith said at the time.

A little background: The City of Charlotte had been involved in a lawsuit with anti-gay street preacher Flip Benham and his group Operation Save America. In his court filings, Benham claimed the city had participated in “viewpoint discrimination” when it denied him a festival permit. He cited Pride Charlotte, which does receive festival permitting, as an example of a “political” event approved for festival licensing by the city.

Regardless of the city’s unfortunate involvement in a lawsuit (which a federal district court dismissed), is it the role of Pride organizers, whether in Charlotte or elsewhere, to neglect the history of Pride? I believe our community and its leaders would do well to remember Pride’s roots in the Stonewall Riots and the oppression our community faced then and continues to face today.

Is Pride a political statement? Pride Charlotte says no. History says yes. In order for us to know where we are going, we have to know where we’ve been. Our community’s leadership and Pride organizers everywhere would do well to remember our history and tie in their festivities with events which mark and commemorate the very reason we have Prides to begin with.

[Ed. Note — The original version of this blog post mentioned Pride events from 2008. That’s incorrect. The events occurred in 2009. We regret the error.]

Matt Comer

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

4 replies on “Take Back Pride: A message for Pride Charlotte?”

  1. Great article Matt and I agree, it is way past time for the LGBTQ community to stand up and speak out. Since Pride has been moved to October and away from downtown, a march should be held separate from the event. Marching to the new Community Center location would lead out of uptown and I doubt anyone would notice – except drivers given that the location is just about hidden.

    Pride does make a political statement but we purposely did not include that in our Mission Statement. Jim can explain that to you better than I can.

    You do need to make one correction though. Clay Smith was Co-Chair for Pride Charlotte 2009 not 2008.

  2. Thanks for making the correction Matt.

    I want to encourage the LGBTQ Community to stand up and speak out. Nobody is going to just hand us the equality we desire AND deserve.

    Where would we be in the fight against AIDS if people remained complacent and ACT UP had not been formed back in 1987?

    There is so much to lose if the community continues to do nothing.

  3. There is no doubt about it, there needs to be a renewed commitment to our civil rights at Pride events. The folks claiming we need to “take back Pride” are right on the money.

    Certainly we can enjoy celebrating who we are and where we are as a LGBT community, but let us not forget how we got here, how far there still is to go, and what major obstacles and forces we are up against. We did not get to this point because our rights, and some of our dignity, were handed to us because it is the right thing to do. Oh no no no. We had to and still have to fight, fight and fight for it.

    Look around, the forces of the zealous right, the religious right, too many so called mainstream religious organizations, churches, state and local politicians and governments continue trying to demonize us, deny us our rights and take away the gains we’ve fought so long and hard to achieve.

    It’s true that not too many years ago when the first pride marches began many teachers, police officers, firefighters, other government employees and most all private sector employees often had to place paperbags over their heads to march with the LGBT community. However, it’s sad but true that too many of our LGBT community would still have to wear paper bags over our heads for fear of our not keeping our jobs or even worse. What’s even worse is that there are far too many folks out there who at the very least go unchallenged, or worse are supported by the right who BELIEVE that we should have bags over our heads…as if it were a LGBT fashion requirement dujour.

    Where is the outrage? Too many folks relaxing with LOGO?
    Too many of our LGBT community and our supporters have been and are being ostracized, pummeled, and killed for demandig that we be given the same rights as anyone else. That’s just in this country. The facts facing those involved in international LGBT rights, well…horrifying just begins to explain it.

    It’s great to revel and shake our booties under rainbow flags and we should have all the fabulous fun we can. However, don’t forget without continued political activism we might not…no we will not be allowed to engage in our pride festivities. If we are lulled into a complacent state we will pay a dear price.

    Last time I checked it was still perfectly legal for government and private entities in the United States to discriminate against and deny rights to LGBT folk. Until we are granted OUR RIGHTS and accepted and yes protected as full citizens of this country we can not fall alseep at the switch.

    Look around…the forces of bigotry organize every chance they get and have been successful in denying and taking away our rights. California, Maine, New York. Now the old states’rights baloney once again rears its’ wretched head to thwart the federal Matthew Shepard Act. My LGBT friends…these people against us have no shame. They have and will sink to any low, be as vile as needed and violant as they can get away with to try and defeat us.

    Our community-which thankfully includes our marvelous straight allies-have worked too hard, given too much, made hard fought gains-we can not allow those forces against us to ever get and maintain an upper hand.

    Many of us are lucky to live around, work around and be around members of our LGBT community and fair minded folks. Just remember though-all of us- ALL OF US-live within a thirty mile radius of places where the nicest word they use for us is “homosexual”. So it is not that far away should your house drop down…

    Thank you Matt and QNotes for bringing this call to action to our attention. Once again QNotes has been a driving force…not only through eloquent words, but by displaying tremendous testicular fortitude on the front lines.

    May I close in quoting the late great lion of the Senate, a friend of our community long before it was acceptable in any circle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy: “The cause endures, the work goes on, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

  4. This Q-notes article is definitely food for thought for us at SC Pride. I have to say though, I think WE DEFINITELY GET IT! We know that SC Pride has to have something for everyone (diverse and varried entertainment, events, speakers), we know that Drag Queens and the Leather community have a major place in our march, we aren’t ashamed of ID Lube as a sponsor or HIV testing in the park, we ALWAYS have political speakers and the fact that our Parade marches toward the Statehouse each year is proof that SC Pride knows its mission is to Support, Celebrate, Educate AND Advocate.

    I’m really proud of the 2010 SC Pride committee for moving forward with this vision and as Past-President of a statewide Pride organization, I’m proud to see other regional prides committing this same focus.

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