Southern Pride: A Guide to Charleston's LGBTQ Scene
Thinking of moving to Charleston? Great choice! Here's everything you need to know about LGBTQ culture in this beautiful city.
Southern Pride is our monthly column exploring and celebrating LGBTQ culture in Southern cities. This month we're heading to the Palmetto State to check out the scene in Charleston.
From the charm of its historic cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages to its nearby beaches, Charleston lures people from all walks of life who love history, art and elegance. And while this gem of a town is nestled in the heart of one of America’s most conservative states, it has become both a haven and a little slice of heaven for members of the LGBTQ community.
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If the idea of building a life in a historical Southern town with a vibrant, active queer community appeals to you, then Charleston is worth taking a closer look at. The following are just some of the reasons why it earned an impressive Human Rights Campaign 2018 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) score of 72.
LGBTQ Community Support
While Charleston’s various neighborhoods are undeniably beautiful, and the city itself is constantly evolving, it is the LGBTQ community support that is likely to win you over. The Alliance For Full Acceptance (AFFA) is one of the organizations responsible for helping the city’s LGBTQ community come out and grow. For over 18 years this social justice organization has worked to achieve acceptance and equality for members of the LGBTQ community through programs and workshops that feature nationally recognized activists, elected officials, religious leaders and others.
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Working hand-in-hand with the city councils of Charleston, North Charleston and Folly Beach, AFFA helped to pass ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination in housing and employment. The organization also provides diversity trainings to government institutions like the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the City and County of Sumter and to employees of large corporations like Boeing.
If you are hoping to make a home in a city where you know that people are hard at work not only trying, but succeeding at increasing inclusivity and acceptance, look no further than AFFA’s continual efforts in Charleston.
Year-Round LGBTQ Activities
If you think LGBTQ events and celebrations should take place more often than an annual Pride parade, then Charleston won’t disappoint. From a gathering to recognize World AIDS Day to gregarious drag shows to events where members of the LGBTQ community can congregate and celebrate holidays like Cinco de Mayo and Valentines Day, there’s always something fun going on in Charleston. With a large array of LGBTQ resources, each hosting multiple events, there’s rarely a dull weekend.
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The Charleston LGBTQ community shows up for its members with a long list of resources. It won’t take long for you to find your tribe and access all of the support you need with the area's many organizations. The Charleston Area Transgender Support group holds meetings every second Saturday of the month where existing members and new members can come together and connect. The South Carolina Gay & Lesbian Business Guild is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that encourages networking, business development and support within the gay and lesbian community. And parents and friends of queer-identifying individuals are fully supported by Charleston’s chapter of PFLAG.
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The list goes on and on and includes The Charleston Social Club, South Carolina Equality and others. Each organization provides something different and they often hold regular meetings and events. As a new resident to the city, you will have plenty of options when looking for a group that fits your family.
Love & Marriage
If you are single but hoping that someday soon someone will put a ring on it, then Charleston is a great place to be. Gay marriage has been legal since 2014, and since then marrying your same-sex partner has become part of the new normal. In fact, Charleston hosts an annual LGBTQ Wedding Expo where you peruse, meet and connect with local wedding professionals once you’ve set a date. From lighting to flowers to catering and more, there are a plethora of wedding businesses in the city that proudly call themselves LGBTQ friendly. When you are ready to commit to your happily ever after, it will be easy to make your dream wedding a reality.