Charlotte Black Gay Pride has wrapped up another successful year, its 11th, after hosting three separate events over three nights, July 13, 14 and 15.
The kickoff on July 13 took place in the form of a praise event at Caldwell Presbyterian Church, which also played host to the sTep Up Town Hall event on July 14, where members of the transgender community spoke on a panel, sharing experiences from their lives and enlightening those gathered to listen and learn how to be better allies.
The final night was a meet and greet at LGBT nightclub L4 Lounge, where attendees enjoyed performances by singers, poets and artists of various types, while getting a chance to socialize and network.
Treasurer Chelby Nettles said she was pleased with this year’s events and is already looking forward to what the group can do going forward.
“Last year was pretty phenomenal, celebrating the 10 years, so this year we spent some time regrouping to figure out the best way to go forward,” she said, adding that she hopes next year is even better.
Charlotte Black Gay Pride, much like Charlotte Pride, plans to begin holding events year round so that they are a more engaged and visible entity within the city’s landscape beyond Pride season alone.
They will also be looking for a new chair, as this year was current Board Chair William Samuel Singleton’s last. They are an all volunteer board and are always looking for new faces.
“Our plan is to move Charlotte Black Gay Pride beyond the summer months,” Nettles said. “We would like to do a bit more community outreach throughout the course of the year.”
“Last year, we had a 10-year reunion, so we did a few more things building up to the 10 year and that was very well received and successful. It just left us a little drained this year,” she continued, laughing. “But we’re thinking we want to channel that same level of energy and try to have more community focused events like every other month.”
The transgender forum held on July 13 in particular may become a model for future events, Nettles reported. She hopes they will be able to continue their partnership with Caldwell Presbyterian Church in order to facilitate those town hall style meetings.
She stressed that the organization is hoping to encourage more “honest and true diversity.”
“People like to throw the word around a lot but you don’t always see the actions taking place. They only want diversity to be black and white and it’s so much more than that,” she said.
Nettles also said she is looking into the possibility of holding a job fair specifically for the transgender community, who often face increased challenges when looking for employment. She also expressed an interest in holding what she termed “money wellness” events, because as she points out members of the LGBT community are often under-employed.
Charlotte Black Gay Pride will be working with Time Out Youth to co-host the Time Out Youth Charlotte Pride Dance, held on Aug. 12 at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, from 6:30-8:30 p.m, Nettles said. They will be speaking with Charlotte Pride about how the groups can work together more in the future as well.
“We do get too comfortable playing with our own friends on the playground,” she said. “When you open up your box and let a few more people in, everybody usually comes out a little richer for it.”
For more information on Charlotte Black Gay Pride visit them at their new website, charlotteblackgaypride.org.