Charlotte Pride returns, with its signature street festival and parade Aug. 20 and 21. A number of activities in the week lead up to it, occurring across the city.

The organization estimates there were over 120,000 visitors who attended Pride weekend alone, making it the largest LGBT event in the Carolinas.

PrideLogoFinal-2014-dates-locationThe parade included nearly 3,000 people in over 120 marching contingents. That included large corporations, like Bank of America who sponsor the event, to smaller businesses and organizations.

The parade has been a feature of Charlotte Pride since 2013, which was the first LGBT Pride parade in the city in nearly two decades.

Awards are presented in categories such as Best Float Design, won by Cupcrazed/RAIN last year, Spirit of Pride, for the best entry from a non-profit organization that displays the spirit of Pride, won by PFLAGs of North Carolina and Best Choreography, won by Carolina Gold Drum & Bugle Corps.

Those attending this year will have a similar experience, with a couple of notable additions.

Perhaps most notable of all is the outreach to LGBT youth in order to make this year’s Pride a particularly significant one for them by the introduction of a “Youth Zone,” located appropriately next to the Time Out Youth booth, which will provide a safe and relaxing space for LGBT youth ages 13-20 to spend time with friends and allies.

“There will be refreshments there, and it will just be a place for the youth to hang out. We’re excited to be able to provide that for them,” said Charlotte Pride Executive Director Kimberly Melton. “We really wanted to make sure that we supported and gave voice to our younger community.”

“We looked at it from a broad perspective and said, ‘Where do we see a need?’ And we really felt like that was a need,” she added. “So we talked to the youth about it and they agreed.”

This will compliment the “Family Zone,” which has been present in years past as well, where children and families can spend time doing crafts, playing dress up and various games.

LGBT youth will also be featured on the main stage as a key part of this year’s entertainment.

At press time, qnotes was still waiting on an announcement concerning this year’s performers and MCs.

Security is always a concern at Pride, as it is at any large street festival, but this year it is especially pertinent with the shooting at the Orlando LGBT nightclub Pulse still on the public’s mind.

Over 120,000 came out for the Charlotte Pride Festival last season and more is expected this year. Photo Credits: Photo by Robert Harmon (heavenlydark.com), courtesy Charlotte Pride.
Over 120,000 came out for the Charlotte Pride Festival last season and more is expected this year. Photo Credits: Photo by Robert Harmon (heavenlydark.com), courtesy Charlotte Pride.

“We take the security and the safety of our festival and parade goers very, very seriously,” Melton said. “Fortunately, also does the city of Charlotte, the police department and the city offices.

“So, we meet every year, have a roundtable discussion and make sure that we do everything in our power to create a safe atmosphere. The police are taking this seriously, like they do with any other large public event, and are making sure that they have multiple different divisions on hand. We are joining as a team to make sure that we do everything in our power for a safe and successful festival and parade.”

Over 200 vendors and non-profit organizations will be on hand in the PNC Bank Festival Zone on S. Tryon St., between Trade and Stonewall Sts. This year will also include an expanded food court with more dining options.

Festival goers will also want to check out “Flourish: A Celebration of LGBTQ Arts & Culture,” inside the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, as well as the Campus Pride LGBTQ-Friendly College Fair at Levine Avenue of the Arts. Both will be held on Saturday, Aug. 20.

For comprehensive event information, see goqnotes.com/46000/.

For more information on Charlotte Pride visit them online at charlottepride.org.

Jeff Taylor / Social Media Editor

Jeff Taylor is a journalist and artist. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inside Lacrosse, and McSweeney’s Internet...