by Matt Comer (he/him) Charlotte Pride Communications Director
Unlike other cities, Charlotte gets not one, but three continuous months of Pride! Each June we celebrate Pride Month. In August, we celebrate the Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade. Tucked in between, Charlotte Black Pride hosts their events each July.
Our three months of Pride are a result of history’s uncanny tendency to unfold in unique ways — something we’ve been learning as we continue the Charlotte Pride History Project, a multi-year effort to document the history of Pride organizations and movements in North Carolina through archival research and micro-oral history interviews.
As we prepare to celebrate Charlotte Black Pride this year, it’s good to remind ourselves exactly how and why our local history unfolded as it did and to honestly answer a question we’ve often encountered: Why are there two Pride organizations in Charlotte?
In this column, we’ll share an excerpt from our in-depth feature, “20 Years of Charlotte Pride, 40 Years of Legacy,” published last year as part of the Charlotte Pride History Project and in recognition of our 20th anniversary. You can read the full feature online at cltpri.de/20years.
First, let’s set the context — the Charlotte Pride we see today has existed in three distinct organizational eras: a founding era (2000-2005), something like a rebuilding era (2006-2012), and our current era (2013-present).
We pick up our history feature excerpt in 2005.
In 2005, the city would see the birth of Charlotte Black Pride after Black LGBTQ community members and their desire for a more inclusive local Pride event went ignored by Charlotte Pride leaders.
Jermaine Nakia Lee, a founder of Charlotte Black Pride, recalled getting the runaround from past Charlotte Pride leaders when he and other Black community leaders held meetings and conversations with them to offer ideas for reaching out to Black and Latinx community members.
“And then, Charlotte Pride would happen, and there would be no difference in the programming and no diversity in the programming,” Lee said in an oral history interview. “After a while, after just giving the benefit of the doubt, we realized that this isn’t going to happen. And that actually motivated us to really get firm in our plans to establish Charlotte Black Pride.”
Monica Simpson, also a co-founder of Charlotte Black Pride, noted the lack of diversity in the community’s and Charlotte Pride’s leadership at the time.
“Back in the day, as things were getting started, it was really difficult for folks like me to see themselves reflected in leadership,” she said in an oral history interview. “So, we felt like we needed to do something that really centered us and centered our communities and our needs, and that’s why we created [Charlotte Black Pride].”
Today, the relationship between Charlotte Black Pride and Charlotte Pride is different, more positive, and more collaborative — through years of intentional work, conversation, and partnership. The two organizations often describe themselves as siblings today — with Charlotte Black Pride offering a permanent space to celebrate Black LGBTQ people.
“What we were doing with [founding] Charlotte Black Pride … we understood that wasn’t a temporary something,” Lee recalls of the decision to start the group and the intention to keep it going. “What’s wrong with having a Black gay cultural celebration? There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Knowing where we’ve come from helps us all to know where we’re going. Sometimes that means mending old wounds and taking intentional steps to rebuild relationships. It’s been amazing to see the growing relationship between Charlotte Black Pride and Charlotte Pride — and even more amazing to see just how much Charlotte Black Pride has grown and how it continues to proudly serve the community today.
We hope everyone will join in celebration with Charlotte Black Pride this month, July 17-24. Learn more about their events at charlotteblackpride.org.