Charlotte Black Pride returned July 11, 2021, after virtual celebrations last year. (Photo Credit: Charlotte Black Pride)

Charlotte Black Pride returns on Sunday for a week of celebrating Black LGBTQ+ culture and Black leaders’ contributions to the fight for equal rights.

It will run through July 18, with an event planned for each day except Monday.

Last year’s celebrations were entirely virtual, due to COVID-19, for the first time since Charlotte Black Pride’s inception in 2005.

“Charlotte Black Pride is important because it teaches the community that we exist — that Black LGBTQ+ people are here,” said board co-chair Gelissa Stitt. “We are here and we matter.”

Charlotte Pride also recently announced its in-person return. Instead of a week of celebrations, this year’s Charlotte Pride will run from August to November, with several months of events.

Charlotte Black Pride was created 16 years ago when previous leaders of Charlotte Pride were less inclusive, co-founder and Director of Development Jermaine Nakia Lee said. Though the two sister organizations work in tandem now to support each other, Charlotte Black Pride was formed to create what was then a nonexistent space for Black LGBTQ+ people in Charlotte.

“We approached them because the event was devoid of any Black or brown LGBTQ+ programming,” he said. “They were polite and took our calls and meetings, but nothing ever happened. This went on for a couple of years, and we realized nothing would happen.”

Lee and other founders wanted to create the first Black, gay cultural institution in Charlotte — so they decided to fund and coordinate it themselves.

Charlotte Black Pride Events 2021

A Mr. and Ms. Charlotte Black Pride will be crowned at this year’s inaugural event on Sunday at Chasers in NoDa. A competition fee is required to enter the pageant, and there’s an admission fee for attendees. Lee said the pageant was created specifically with transgender women, nonbinary individuals and gender-nonconforming people in mind, to give them an affirming space to be able to express themselves.

Events continue at 6 p.m. Tuesday, with a free fitness class that is open to all at Midwood International Center.

The same venue will host a town hall meeting about transgender issues at 6 p.m. Wednesday, and a celebration of Black LGBTQ+ dancers and choreographers at 6 p.m. Thursday. Admission to “Centerstage” is $20.

On Friday, Charlotte Black Pride is “taking over” Charlotte’s Black Food Truck Friday at the Sonesta Hotel parking lot for its annual “family reunion” from 3 to 9 p.m.

One of the week’s biggest events — Black Pride Expo — is taking place starting at noon on Saturday, July 17, at the Midwood International Center, where there will be free HIV testing, a live DJ, and community awards. The week of celebrations ends with a fundraising brunch on Sunday — tickets are $50.

For more information on this year’s Charlotte Black Pride, visit Charlotte Black Pride’s Instagram account @clt_bpride.

This story was originally posted on The Charlotte Observer,

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