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News about the LGBTQ+ community in the Charlotte area and beyond.

Charlotte LGBTQ Groups Sign Open Letter: 'We Believe Black Lives Matter'

A coalition of 41 LGBTQ groups in Charlotte has signed a letter showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The letter was published on social media Sunday, marking the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the 50th anniversary of the first Pride celebration.

In the letter, the groups acknowledge years of systemic oppression and violence against Black people in America and pledge to devote time and resources toward educating staff about police brutality, systemic racism, transphobia and white supremacy.

The letter also acknowledges that some organizations have fallen short in serving minority groups in the past. Without naming any groups in particular, Shann Fulton of Charlotte Black Pride said diversity has been a problem in some LGBTQ groups. 

"You want your organization's board to reflect the entire community, and unfortunately, all the boards don't do that," Fulton said. "That is an area I see of opportunity that we've fallen short in."

The 41 organizations also pledge to identify new ways to become more directly accountable to and receive more input from Black members of the local LGBTQ community. They also commit to creating and funding new programs that lift up the Black community. Details are still being worked out.

The letter was read aloud to reporters at Camp North End on Sunday, as representatives from many of the groups stood six feet apart, their faces hidden behind masks, inside one of the property's historic buildings.

In prepared remarks, Fulton said this year's civil unrest and protests over the police killing of George Floyd must prompt serious self-examination among local LGBTQ groups.

"Pride 2020 should be a wake-up call for the LGBTQ-plus community," Fulton said. "We can't just continue to celebrate corporations painting their logos rainbow for the month of June but continue to silence Black voices and use transphobic and homophobic practices."

Most of this year's Pride events in Charlotte have been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, though a number of virtual events are still planned for the week of July 12.

Other speakers at the Sunday news conference included Jermaine Nakia Lee of Charlotte Black Pride, L'Monique King of The PowerHouse Project and Quality Comprehensive Health Center, Nada Merghani or Feed the Movement CLT and Charlotte Pride, the Rev. Debra J. Hopkins of Essentials for Life Ministries, Bishop Tonya Rawls of the Freedom Center for Social Justice, and Frank Dorsey II of Charlotte Black Pride.

Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal