Pride gets an A+

CHARLOTTE — Sporting a brand new venue and a breezy day produced by the feeder bands from Hurricane Irene, Pride Charlotte 2011 became one of the most successful events to date for the LGBT and allied communities of the Queen City.

During the week or so leading up to the day-long festival in the trendy, upscale S. Tryon St. area, attendees were able to enjoy a plethora of activities. On Aug. 19, The Human Canvass Art Exhibit was held at the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte. Painted models gave art a new 3-D perspective as well as creations created by the center’s StillOut Photography Club. The following day, the Charlotte Royals RFC (rugby) team took on the Columbus Coyotes. That evening Petra’s hosted a “Got Talent” finale. An interfaith service rounded out the weekend’s fare. Kicking off the next week was a Rainbowlers bowling night with an after party at Sidelines. On Aug. 23, a party was held at the Westin. More fun followed the next day with a GayCharlotte Film series showing of “Make the Yuletide Gay” at the Wells Fargo Auditorum in Uptown Charlotte. A couple of days later there was a Britney Spears pre-concert takeover and a bingo event to support Pride Charlotte, as well as a concert by Charlotte Pride Band, Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte and One Voice Chorus. Another takeover was held at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant, Jessica Wild, rocked it out at Scorpio. Following the Pride festival, brunches were held at Soul Gastrolounge and Hartigan’s, as well as a fun day at Independence Park.

On the day of the festival, a record-setting 27,000 people, according too organizers, assembled to enjoy the camaraderie, entertainment and fun along Uptown Charlotte’s main drag. Police made only one arrest — anti-gay protestor Flip Benham. He refused to comply with their requests to turn down the volume on loudspeakers. His cohorts graced the streets screaming anti-gay rhetoric to passers-by and carried signs that damned “the sinner” and more. Although a nuisance to festival goers, the anti-gay participants were mostly ignored as they tried to share their messages.

As the festival came to and end, anyone who was in eyesight of the Duke Energy Building was able to enjoy the tower lit up in rainbow colors as a way to cap off a rousing successful event.

Center expands hours

CHARLOTTE — The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, 820 Hamilton St., has expanded its hours to include longer hours on Saturday and being open on Monday.

New hours are Monday-Thursday, 5-8 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.; and Saturday: 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

The center is closed on Sundays.

Center Board Chair John Stotler said, “Our current board of directors has worked very hard to improve every facet of our Community Center’s operation, and we are on track to expand programs, improve fund-raising and employ a full-time executive director in the near future. We are also poised to launch a new website.”

Cruise and learn slated

CHARLOTTE — Campus Pride, in partnership with Stonewall Tours, will embark on a cruise from Jan. 1-8, 2012, sailing from New Orleans to various spots around the Caribbean aboard the Norwegian Spirit.

“Make Waves” features a VIP cocktail party, “a LOVE Thing” cabaret with singer/songwriter Randi Driscoll, drag bingo with Sierra Santana and Tommy Feldman, plus a rise and shine jog/walk workout with NCAA football champion Brian Sims and enjoy an ’80s-themed dinner.

Once participants have had their fun, they can engage themselves in the OutProud, LGBT and ally workshop series. Topics and presenters are: “Is Your College Alma Mater LGBT-Friendly?” with Campus Pride Director Shane Windmeyer; “The Locker Room: Athletics & the Closet” with Sims; “Out from Behind the Badge: LGBT Issues & Law Enforcement” with author Greg Miraglia; “Matthew Shepard: Replacing Hate with Hope” with Miraglia, Driscoll and Windmeyer; and “Make Waves: Equality at Home,” a moderated panel by Windmeyer with panelists Sims, Driscoll, Travel Expert Jim West and Miraglia.

The exclusive package includes accommodation onboard the ship, port charges, taxes, all meals, cocktail party, onboard activities and workshops, souvenir tote bag and time with special entertainment and celebrity guests. To receive the VIP package, participants must book with Campus Pride and Stonewall Tours.

Cost is $862, based upon double occupancy. A no-interest monthly payment plan is available.

The tour visits New Orleans, Costa Maya, Belize City, Roatan, Cozumel, plus two days at sea.

Want to get a jump start on the fun? Then book a New Year’s Eve package in New Orleans for $169.

For more information or to book reservations, call Stonewall Tours at 877-867-8600, email or visit and


Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director. She can be reached at and 704-531-9988,...