Southern Pride: A Guide to Charlotte, North Carolina's LGBTQ Scene
From an LGBT Chamber of Commerce to a vibrant nightlife, Charlotte wears its pride on its sleeve.
Welcome to Southern Pride, Livability’s monthly series highlighting the vibrant LGBTQ communities across the South. Last month we took you on a tour through Louisville’s LGBTQ scene. This month, we’re taking you to Charlotte, NC.
With a score of 73 on the Human Rights Campaign 2017 Municipal Equality Index (MEI), Charlotte is proving that the state of North Carolina offers the LGBTQ community a great Southern location to call home. This small city is actively working to make sure its queer community has increasing visibility in the business sector and through local events and venues that support gay culture.
The following are just a few examples of the many ways Charlotte is showing its pride and providing an inclusive environment that welcomes the LGBTQ community.
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The Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce
Formed in 1992, the Charlotte LGBT Chamber was designed to create a business alliance for the queer community by facilitating networking opportunities for the city’s gay and lesbian professionals. Over the years, membership has grown and expanded and the Chamber provides its partners with the opportunity to connect with others and gain the exposure they need to find success.
The Chamber sponsors many community events and hosts gatherings for its associates that include mixers, educational and professional development workshops and government contracting opportunities. Through its many programs and outreach efforts, queer professionals and business owners are better able to gain the visibility and support they need as they grow their careers in Charlotte.
Plenty of Pride Events
Charlotte celebrates its pride with multiple festivals and events that take place during the dog days of summer and beyond. Pride events include Black Gay Pride Week, which was held from July 25 through July 29 in 2018. It recognizes the unique experiences of POC in the queer community and offers them the exposure they deserve. Additional LGBTQ festivals include the Orgullo (Latin Pride), and Charlotte’s Trans Pride.
Charlotte’s Pride Week runs from August 10-19 and the two-day festival that takes place over the weekend of August 18 and 19 is no small deal. In 2017, over 150,000 people attended the celebration solidifying it as a huge community success.
Over the course of pride week, attendees enjoy a variety of activities and events that include mixers, drag trivia and pride parties. The festival hosts a slew of vendors and entertainers throughout the weekend, and everyone loves the vibrancy of the parade.
An Abundance of LGBTQ-Friendly Activities
One of the biggest challenges of moving to a new town is finding your tribe. Tapping into a community of people with similar interests and outlooks on life is often difficult — especially for those who identify as queer. Charlotte makes meeting LGBTQ individuals and their allies easy with an array of inclusive activities and programs designed for people of all ages.
Time Out Youth Center provides queer and questioning youth a safe space to gather and share their experiences while finding the support they need. It runs weekly programs that include a drop-in space and discussion groups. The center also offers summer campOUT — an annual day camp for LGBTQ youth ages 13-20. Attendees enjoy the opportunity to socialize, develop leadership skills and participate in community service.
It’s not just the younger set that gets to participate in fun group activities. Stonewall Sports Charlotte is a non-profit LGBTQ and ally sports league that organizes teams for activities like bowling, dodgeball, kickball, softball and volleyball. Additionally, fans of Rugby can join the Charlotte Royals — a rugby team for gay men. And tennis players and water lovers alike have the Queen City Tennis Club and the One World Dragon Boat Team ready to welcome new members.
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LGBTQ-Friendly Venues Galore
From pubs to stores to coffee shops, Charlotte is in no short supply of queer-friendly spots to check out. The Scorpio is the oldest gay bar in Charlotte and a perfect spot for those who like to drink and dance the night away. Sidelines Sports Bar and Billiards is ideal for an evening of shooting pool while watching the game and the Bar at 316 provides late night fun in a beautiful historic location.
After a night of drinking and dancing, Comic Girl Coffee perks customers up with a shot of feminist-infused caffeine to start the day off right. This queer-friendly vegan café sells awesome books and has an activist agenda: all marginalized people welcome. Head to the Common Market for the deli goods, drinks or just to hang out with like-minded folks. And the White Rabbit is an excellent stop during an afternoon of gift or pride-event shopping.