On May 9, following North Carolina’s passage of Amendment One, hundreds gathered at the Omni Hotel in Charlotte to celebrate the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund’s 5th Annual Happening! This event celebrates the continued support of the LGBT community through the efforts of the fund, as well as to announce the recipients’ of the 2012 Lesbian and Gay Fund’s grant awards. The positive energy and enthusiasm of the attendees and the speakers did not appear to be deflated by the results of the previous day’s vote.
The Fund award grants go to organizations that support the LGBT community, as well as bridge building initiatives that seek to cultivate alliances and support with the non-gay community in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. This year the Fund gave over $100,000 to local LGBT organizations in one of three categories: general operating, community connections and the ADAM queer youth grant.
The Basic Operating Grants provide unrestricted operating funds to build capacity and strengthen the infrastructure of non-profit organizations serving Charlotte’s LGBT community.
Community Connections Grants support the creation of programs, projects and events that address the mission of the Fund.
ADAM Queer Youth Initiative Grants support organizations that target or serve LGBTQ youth of color, young women, transgender and gender non-conforming youth and low-income youth.
In 2012, the following organizations received funding from one or more of the grants: Campus Pride, Charlotte Pride Band, Charlotte Royals Rugby, Community Building Initiative, Community Culinary School of Charlotte, Freedom Center for Social Justice, Gay Men’s Chorus, McColl Center for Visual Arts, Michael Scott Mader Foundation, Lionel Lee Jr. Center for Wellness, One Voice Chorus, The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte and Time Out Youth.
Sheri Lynch (pictured) of WLNK 107.9’s “Bob and Sheri Show” served as the keynote speaker during this year’s Lesbian and Gay Fund luncheon. Like many of the other speakers throughout the event, Lynch shared her disappointment with the results of the vote on May 8. Lynch discussed her decision to return to graduate school to pursue a degree in social work to strengthen her ability to advocate for social justice on issues such as marriage equality.
During her speech, she shared a story about one of her two children, a fifth grade girl who attends public school in Mecklenburg County. Lynch’s daughter told her all about this cute boy at school that she liked but decided would not be her crush. When Lynch asked why, her daughter replied, “He is bi and that is just way too much competition.” Apparently, the little boy has told his fifth grade class who he is and his peers are okay with him being that way.
“I wanted it to be my generation that made the difference. I wanted to be a part of the generation of change,” Lynch stated in her speech. “It’s 2012 and we just passed this horrifying legislation, but in the fifth grade there is this little boy in this state who knows who he is and is accepted by his peers. We may not have won this battle, but when I look at my children and see the level of openness and acceptance that they routinely embrace, I say that we will not lose the war. It may not be our generation who gets to carry the flag to the finish line, but it will happen.”
This month, the Wesley Mancini Foundation also announced recipients for their 2012 grant cycle. The Foundation provides funding for projects that foster the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals as full participants in the Charlotte community and that work to seek to eliminate censorship and work to promote and support freedom of expression.
This year the Foundation awarded The Freedom Center for Social Justice, in partnership with Judge Shirley Fulton’s Wadsworth Estate, $3,000 toward organizing a public forum, to be held the week before the Democratic National Convention (DNC), to explore through dialogue the effects of labels and mass attitudes on full engagement with each other and the political process.
The Foundation also awarded The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, in partnership with The PPL, $2,000 toward promoting and publicizing volunteer opportunities and events to showcase the LGBT community during the 2012 DNC.
For the 2012 grant cycle, applicants were required to meet the following criteria: develop a project that will raise the profile of the local LGBT community in front of a national audience during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and include a partnership between LGBT organizations and non-LGBT organizations to accomplish the grant’s goals.
The Wesley Mancini Foundation is one of a few U.S. foundations dedicated solely to supporting the LGBT community. The founder and president, Wesley Mancini, has been a long-time donor to both the Charlotte arts community and to local, state and national LGBT causes. Mancini established the Foundation in 2000 in response to heavy censorship in Charlotte by funding resources, as well as the pervasive attitude among major Charlotte benefactors that gay and lesbian programs were too risky to undertake or underwrite.
Since its inception in 2000, the Wesley Mancini Foundation has awarded grants worth more than $100,000.00 to 21 organizations. Organizations receiving the most grants during the 11-year history have been The Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Charlotte, Actors Theatre of Charlotte and the Charlotte Coalition for Social Justice, Time Out Youth and Wildacres Initiative. : :