Richard Grimstad, 35, and Craig Hopkins, 49, have been co-directors of Charlotte Pride for two years, overseeing its growth in Uptown Charlotte and the reintroduction of a local LGBT Pride parade. With Charlotte Pride just two weeks away, qnotes thought it’d be a great time to catch up with the two leaders, chat a bit and learn more about them. Grimstad grew up in Charlotte from the ages of four to 16, moved away and moved back in 2002. Hopkins, born in Columbia, S.C., has lived in the Charlotte area for more than 30 years. “I might as well be a native,” he says. Learn more abotu the two chaps below. Our interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Matt Comer: How have you seen Charlotte grow and change and how has the LGBT community played a role?
Richard Grimstad: There has been substantial growth in the last handful of years, in terms of the city and expansion.
Craig Hopkins: And people are becoming more secure in who they are. People are more willing to put themselves out there and help the community grow. People like Scott Bishop or the kids at Time Out Youth who are taking a stand and having a voice in the community.
Grimstad: The LGBTQ and ally community has really stepped up to foster growth by being visible and letting everyone know that there are LGBTQ people here.
What are your favorite Charlotte neighborhoods? Are they generally more LGBT-friendly areas?
Grimstad: There’s not a place I’m not really comfortable. My preferred areas generally are NoDa, Plaza Midwood and South End, just because of the variety of the food and breweries and entertainment in the area.
Hopkins: I don’t limit myself. I feel comfortable going anywhere, but I also probably prefer NoDa and Plaza Midwood. They are the biggest places I spend most of my time.
Have any favorite restaurants or types of food?
Grimstad: I like ethnic foods. All the ethnicities — Thai, Japanese, Ethiopian, Indian, Columbian, Peruvian. Anything unique. Multi-continental.
Hopkins: Nothing that is a chain. I like to support local.
Do you two have any hobbies you enjoy outside of work and volunteering?
Grimstad: It used to be that I like playing softball, but I haven’t done that in a couple years. I’m not an avid cycler, but I do love a big challenge and I participate annually in 24 Hours of Booty and the MS150 Breakaway to the Beach.
Hopkins: Traveling and cooking. I like to explore new areas of the state or going outside of the state. I really enjoy finding new restaurants to go to.
What kind of traveling have you done and where was your fave?
Grimstad: I spent a year in Germany several years ago. I really love Europe and Germany, but probably the most unique and interested and most unbelievable place I’ve visited was India.
Hopkins: I’ve been to Paris, Amsterdam, London and a lot of cities in Canada. Paris is probably my favorite. I’ve been their twice and spent five weeks there.
What are you most excited about for this year’s Charlotte Pride?
Grimstad: For me, I’m really just excited to see the growth, to see the community coming together and I’m really excited about our second parade. We have a very diverse line up of entertainment, particularly with headliners.
Hopkins: I’m excited about the way we are expanding on everything from entertainment to the VIP experience to even brining the Bud Light Experience, so even someone who doesn’t go to VIP can still have a fun area. We are developing a kids area this year with the help of Discovery Place.