Pride Charlotte wants to ‘stand proud’ in Uptown

Pride Charlotte, slated for Aug. 27, captures the heart of the Queen City

Pride Charlotte’s 2010 festival was held at the N.C. Music Factory on the outskirts of Uptown.

Pride. Inclusivity. Creativity. Diversity.

Words like these saturate the conversations surrounding this year’s Pride Charlotte festival. It only takes a brief glance at the upcoming celebration to understand just what an amazing event we have coming our way this summer.

Although Charlotte has been hosting Pride festivities since the 1970s, the process of creating a thriving LGBT community hasn’t been easy. In 2005, the non-profit Charlotte Pride organization dissolved after facing intense anti-gay backlash. But since 2006, when the Lesbian & Gay Community Center took charge of the event, Pride Charlotte has grown immensely, jumping from Gateway Village to the N.C. Music Factory and now, for 2011, to the very heart of the Queen City — Uptown Tryon St.

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“We are very excited to move our festival Uptown and to the heart of Charlotte’s artistic and cultural center,” Jonathan Hill, Pride Charlotte co-chair, said in a release. “The S. Tryon St. location provides a unique opportunity for our event to grow and to raise more visibility for this city’s diverse gay community.”

‘Teamwork makes the dream work’
Pride Charlotte needs volunteers, vendors and visionaries to help make this event possible. If you’re interested in participating, visit the Pride Charlotte website at pridecharlotte.com to learn more about volunteer opportunities and fill out a volunteer application.

Organizers [Ed. Note — This publication’s editor serves on the event’s organizing committee] say the Pride festival, slated for Aug. 27, is the largest celebration of LGBT culture and community in the Carolinas. The event attracts thousands of folks — gay and ally alike — to partake in a vibrant, week-long party of artistic, culinary and cultural delight. Organizers have been hard at work, creating new fundraising and partnership opportunities in order to offer a more diverse set of artistic events, participating organizations and entertainment.

Organizers also say the event serves as a unique opportunity for LGBT Charlotteans to declare both their presence and their worth in the greater community. Dave Webb, who also serves as Pride Charlotte co-chair, called the event a “statement of affirmation” that will show “Charlotte’s LGBT community is a vital part of the city’s cultural fabric.”

Center Board Chair John Stotler envisions the event as an inclusive, unifying and mending experience that will “build bridges within our own community and among natural allies across the metro Charlotte area.”

But Pride planners know from past experience that not everyone in attendance shares the same dream of acceptance and celebration.

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“Unfortunately there are still politicians and individuals in Charlotte that feel compelled to judge and condemn the gay community, but times are a-changing and the louder they protest, the more they show their true colors as agents of hate and intolerance,” Webb explains.

Pride Charlotte will again organize its coalition of volunteers known as “Partners in Peace,” dispersing them throughout the festival to help promote positive communication and ensure a peaceful experience for all in attendance.

Despite the inherent political implications in such an event, Dave Webb reiterates that the true spirit of the festival is communal rather than partisan.

“The Pride Charlotte festival is not a political rally, it is a peaceful gathering of the LGBT community, families and its’ supporters to celebrate our community,” he says. : :

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Posted by Leah Cagle

Leah Cagle is QNotes' former associate editor for arts and entertainment. You can reach editor Matt Comer via arts@goqnotes.com or editor@goqnotes.com.