Best LGBT Non-Profit Organization
Best LGBT Support/Social Group
Time Out Youth
Time Out Youth Center (TOY) serves LGBT, ages 11-20, and has done so since 1991. The organization has offices, a youth lounge, computer center, meeting room and counseling space at its offices on Davidson St. in the NoDa neighborhood. They offer many programs including support groups, a host home program, social events and much more.
Best AIDS Service Organization
Regional AIDS Interfaith Network
Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN) was founded in 1992 by the Rev. Deborah Warren. RAIN has evolved with the ever-changing dynamic of HIV/AIDS. In the beginning, they helped people who were dying to do so with dignity. Now, they provide compassionate care for people living with HIV/AIDS. Through case management, advocacy, faith-based initiatives and support groups to name a few.
Best LGBT Youth Leader (under 30)
J. Cameron Joyce
Since 2014, Cameron Joyce has been involved with the LGBT Democrats of Mecklenburg County, an affiliate of LGBT Democrats of North Carolina. He began as the organization’s first secretary and now serves as its president. He recently helped with a historic candidates forum, sponsored by his organization and four other LGBT groups. The forum gathered together Charlotte mayoral and city council at-large candidates together to discuses LGBT issues.
Best LGBT Leader (Male)
Rodney Tucker, CEO and executive director of Time Out Youth Center, has two-plus decades of non-profit management experience. Tucker is known for turning TOY around. When he took the helm of the organization in December 2012, the non-profit had been struggling with staffing and financial issues. With stints at RAIN and AIDS Leadership Foothills-area Alliance (ALFA) before landing and shining at TOY, his leadership has made TOY one of the most respected and well know non-profit LGBT organizations in Charlotte.
Best LGBT Leader (Female)
Crystal Richardson is a lawyer and director of advocacy and outreach at Equality NC (ENC). She joined ENC in April 2014 as its first Freedom Summer Moral Organizer working in partnership with the NAACP to advocate for pro-equality issues. She has also worked with MeckPAC, Human Rights Campaign and ACLU Charlotte.
Best Transgender Community Leader
Best Woman About Town
As a long-time advocate within the Democratic Party, Janice Covington has a political biography as long as her legs. She has held or holds a number of positions in party politics. In 2012, she was the first transgender woman to represent North Carolina at the Democratic National Convention. Most recently, Covington has been very involved in the issue of transgender access to public restrooms. Her work on this issue spans from Charlotte City Hall to larger sports venues (Bank of America Stadium, BB&T Ballpark and Charlotte Motor Speedway). All these venues recently made news when it decided to allow transgender people to use the facilities of their gender identity. Covington has now contacted the NC Department of Transportation requesting a clear policy on restroom usage by transgender people at highway rest stops.
Best Open LGBT Elected Official
LaWana Mayfield, Charlotte City Counsel District 3
As an openly LGBT elected official, LaWana Mayfield has worked tirelessly for all her constituents, LGBT or not. She sits on five mayor-appointed boards, as well as other committies and boards, including serving as a co-chair with a Carolinas HRC Gala, Smart Start, The Lesbian and Gay Fund and the HRC National Board of Governors.
Best LGBT-Affirming Faith Institution
Holy Covenant United Church of Christ
Holy Covenant United Church of Christ, a progressive Christian church under the leadership of Senior Pastor Eliot Alison, has a long history of affirmation and support of the LGBT community. They were plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2014.
Best Man About Town
As the owner and graphic designer of Tyvola Design, Feldman has shared his talents with a number of non-profit organizations in the Charlotte area, assisting with ad design and other marketing tools. He is married to Shane Windmeyer ( aka Buff Faye) and can be seen regularly at most events in the Charlotte area LGBT community, like the Stand Up, Sing Out concert to stop bullying, and many others.
Best LGBT-Friendly Locally-Owned Florist
Elizabeth House Flowers
Located on South Blvd. in the South End neighborhood of Charlotte , Elizabeth House Flowers provides a host of flower and gift choices for any occasion. They offer a wide delivery area, as well as being a FTD florist that can send one’s gift across the U.S.
Best LGBT-Friendly Locally-Owned Clothing Store
This specialty men’s shop opened in 2012 at the Metropolitan (near Uptown) and features clothing, shoes and accessories. The upscale store has received other “Best of” awards and owner Fidel Montoya has recently opened a second store called Silverfly Sport in the South End district of Charlotte.
Best LGBT-Friendly Locally-Owned Tattoo Parlor
Fu’s Custom Tattoo
This well-known shop opened on North Tryon in 2001 and moved to North Davidson in the NoDa Arts District in 2009. With 10 artists on staff, Fu’s Custom Tattoo prides itself on its custom artistry. Walk-ins are welcome, but they prefer set appointment times.
Best LGBT Locally-Owned Pet Day Care Center
Camp Bow Wow
With three locations in the region — Charlotte, Concord, and Matthews — this is the place where dogs socialize and play all day. Camp Bow Wow offers an array of services, including dog day care, dog boarding, grooming, training and other services for dogs and their owners.
Best LGBT-Friendly Locally-Owned Antique Shop
With 55,000 square feet and 250 booths, this antique mall offers everything from antique furniture and vintage clothing to mid-century, modern, and classic home decor. Located on South Blvd., Sleepy Poet has been one of the most noted locations for antiques and collectables in the Charlotte region for years.
Best LGBT Arts Group
One Voice Chorus
Since they formed in 1990, One Voice Chorus has brought LGBT and LGBT-affirming singers together to, as they say, “celebrate our lives in song.” Their mission from the beginning has been to increase visibility and understanding of the LGBT community while performing with artistic excellence, allowing them to reach a broader audience. Their talent and pride has once again caught the attention of voters, netting them a win for a third consecutive year. They are one of the pioneering gay affirming choruses in the South and one of fewer than a dozen choruses in the national LGBT choral community to have male and female singers perform together.
Best Annual LGBT Event
Charlotte Pride is the biggest LGBT event in the city each year, and readers have once again deemed it the best as well. A study commissioned by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority showed that last year’s Pride added over $7.75 million in total economic impact from out of town visitors. This year’s event was even bigger, breaking previous attendance and alcohol sales records. The success of Charlotte Pride is a key indicator of how far the city has come with LGBT acceptance and appreciation.
Best LGBT/LGBT-Friendly Bar or Club
Bar at 316 and Petra’s (tie)
The Best LGBT or LGBT-Friendly Bar or Club split voters down the middle with nods going to both Bar at 316, the winner in this category last year, and Petra’s. Bar at 316 is a gay bar, while Petra’s is a gay-friendly bar with a longstanding connection to the LGBT community. Both host their fair share of notable drag shows, and both feature a mix of upbeat as well as quieter spots to suit a variety of patrons and moods.
Bar/Club with the Best Drink Value
The Woodshed is a neighborhood bar where everyone is welcome, and those from the fetish community feel especially at home. In addition to a laidback and unpretentious atmosphere, they offer some of the best drink prices of any bar in Charlotte, gay or otherwise. With beer specials as low as $1 and top shelf liquor specials of $4 or less, it is the perfect spot when you are on a budget or just don’t feel like emptying your wallet on a night out.
Bar/Club with the Hottest Bar Staff
Opening in 2012, Cathode Azure has quickly become one of the most popular gay bars in the city. They were a close runner up for Best LGBT Bar this year, and no doubt their aesthetically pleasing bar staff has at least something to do with their popularity. This is the second year in a row Cathode Azure has been voted as having the hottest staff. The bar is fashioned in a South Beach style and features several lounges and a large dance floor. DJs and drag queens regularly provide entertainment.
Bar/Club with the Best Drag Show
Drag shows are a staple of most gay bars, but The Scorpio has once again been commended by voters for providing the best of the best. The club has won this category several years in a row, proving they reliably turn out great, memorable shows. In addition to a large stage that offers seemingly endless possibilities for the performers, the sizeable dance floor and the balcony provide excellent viewing opportunities for the audience. Local drag queens and kings share the stage with regional and national acts.
Best Drag Performer
Since she first began appearing on stages in 2008, Buff Faye has been making a name for herself as a performer to watch. In addition to winning this year’s Best Drag Performer by our readers, she has won a number of other awards, including several pageant crowns. She can regularly be seen emceeing at local bars and clubs, such as The Bar at 316, The Scorpio and Cathode Azure. In addition to her performances, Buff Faye has continuously raised money for Campus Pride and other LGBT charity organizations.
Best Local DJ
DJ Little Betty
DJ Little Betty has been selected by our readers for the third year running as the Best Local DJ. Playing mostly house, dance and remixes, she has amassed quite the following since relocating to Charlotte from Vermont. She can regularly be found performing at local gay bars and events, both locally and regionally.
Best LGBT-Friendly Locally-Owned Restaurant
Featuring Southern comfort food, often with a Cajun or Mexican twist, Dish is a local favorite. This is the third year running that Dish has won in this category. The food is always on point, with large portions, affordable prices and a relaxed, homey atmosphere. It has attracted the positive attention of both local and national media.
Best LGBT-Friendly Locally-Owned Deli/Sandwich Shop
Common Market is not your average deli/sandwich shop/convenience store. After all, how many do you know that have regulars? Common Market is so popular as a hangout spot that if you go with any regularity, you’ll start to meet people and recognize them as you drop by. Their success at the original Plaza-Midwood location allowed them to open another store in South End. In addition to offering delicious sandwiches, both premade if you are on the go and made to order if you have time to wait, they have a wide variety of craft beers, wine, and snacks.
Best LGBT-Friendly Locally-Owned Dessert Spot
Amelie’s French Bakery
Amelie’s French Bakery is another local business that has built up an almost cult-like following. It is not unusual to see lines stretching around the inside of the building, as patrons willingly wait for pastries, croissants or one of their signature salted caramel brownies. It, too, is a popular hangout spot, especially among the late night crowd.
Best LGBT-Friendly Locally-Owned Coffee Shop
Offering a cozy atmosphere, a wide variety of both coffee and non-coffee beverages, local art hanging on the walls and a community feel, Smelly Cat is an important, longstanding establishment in a rapidly changing NoDa. Smelly Cat roasts their own coffee, serving it up in manual drip, pour over and cold brew varieties.
Best LGBT-Friendly Locally-Owned Retail Store
White Rabbit (Runner Up)
Gift shop Paper Skyscraper is chock full of curios, trinkets, unique cookbooks and cooking utensils, novelty and gag items and local art. It is the type of store that is as much fun to look around in as to purchase something from, and is ideal for the gift-giving occasion where you are not exactly sure what you are hoping to find.
Runner up White Rabbit is another gift shop with a wide variety of items, but with a decidedly gayer bent. Underwear, greeting cards, stickers, books and DVDs are all available.
— List compiled by Jeff Taylor and Jim Yarbrough