CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Pride Week has begun, featuring events from Aug. 18-27 and culminating in the 2017 Charlotte Pride Parade. One key event of the week happens Monday, Aug. 21, when the Mecklenburg LGBTQ Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) and Charlotte Pride host this year’s Charlotte LGBTQ Community Candidate Forum from 6-10 p.m. at the Charlotte Marriott City Center, 100 W. Trade St.
The forum features local candidates for public office, offering a chance for LGBTQ community members to learn more about the candidates’ stance on key issues. Topics and questions to be discussed include LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections in Charlotte, HB2 and its replacement law, HB 142, transgender protections and intersectional issues like housing, economic opportunity and police-community relations.
“Pride is the perfect time for our community to express not only pride in who we are, but also their sense of civic pride,” said MeckPAC Chair Jamie Hildreth. “There’s no better way to show both civic and LGBTQ pride than taking advantage of our rights to vote and becoming more educated on where your candidates stand.”
Moderators for the forum include former qnotes editor Matt Comer, a MeckPAC board member, and veteran activist Mandy Carter of Durham. Carter is one of six co-founders for Southerners on New Ground, an advocacy group created in 1993 to pursue a “multi-issue southern justice movement that unites us across class, age, race, ability, gender, immigration status, and sexuality.”
Participants in the forum include Charlotte mayoral candidates Vi Lyles, Joel Ford and incumbent Mayor Jennifer Roberts. Several at-large candidates for Charlotte City Council will also participate in the forum discussions.
Attendees are encouraged to attend the pre-forum reception and post-forum reception, where citizens will be able to mingle with candidates and talk about the issues in a less formal setting.
“Charlotte Pride envisions a world in which LGBTQ people are able to fully participate in the civic life of their local communities,” Charlotte Pride Board of Directors President Craig Hopkins said. “We can’t imagine a better way to make this vision a reality than partnering with local and regional organizations in order to empower local community members to become better educated on their voting rights and the candidates who seek to represent them.”
Another politician will make a key appearance during Charlotte Pride Week, as Sen. Jeff Jackson acts as grand marshal of the Aug. 27 Charlotte Pride Parade. Sen. Jackson is joined as grand marshal by U.S. Navy veteran Monica Helms, creator of the Transgender Pride Flag and founder of the Transgender American Veterans Association.
Helms and Jackson will be honored at a ceremony after the parade alongside winners of the annual Champions of Pride Awards. The ceremony will take place on the Wells Fargo Stage in the PNC Bank Festival Zone at 5 p.m.