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

Charlotte's annual Black Pride week returns until July 24

Charlotte Black Pride
Charlotte Black Pride's theme this year is "BlackAF" aimed at celebrating Blackness.

This year's annual Charlotte Black Pride week continues until July 24 with a variety of events ranging from a performing arts celebration to a vendor fair and ball show. This year's theme "BlackAF" aims to celebrate Blackness, according to the organization’s website.

"We want this year’s theme to evoke confidence and encourage our community to be proud of who you are," Charlotte Black Pride board chair Shann Fulton said in a press release. "We ask our allies to support us and join us for a good time and to better understand our culture."

When Charlotte Black Pride co-founder and Director of Development Jermaine Nakia Lee moved to the city seventeen years ago, he didn't see many Black LGBTQ people in the city, which was a stark difference from his former residence in Miami.

"I'm accustomed to going to the grocery store and seeing very apparent LGBTQ folk as individuals, as couples, as families, and the only time that I could get any semblance of that at the time was going to nightlife events," Lee said.

For a while, Lee said he and his co-founders communicated with Charlotte Pride about creating more programming for Black and brown LGBTQ people but didn't see much progress. From there, Charlotte Black Pride was born. That was 17 years ago.

Lee said July was chosen for Charlotte Black Pride's celebrations so that the LGBTQ community could have a three-month celebration. June is National Pride Month during which Charlotte Black Pride and other organizations host celebrations and Charlotte Pride's annual pride week occurs in August. Charlotte Black Pride's week of events typically draws about 80,000 people to Charlotte, according to Lee.

For the past two years, Rell Lowery has served as a transgender liaison on Charlotte Black Pride's board and participated in events since he was eighteen. Lowery appreciates the opportunity to represent the transgender community, especially because many other LGBTQ organizations don't have transgender people on their boards.

"Despite what's going on in our country right now, you do have the full support of Charlotte Black Pride, and you do have a trans person that you see representing you," Lowery said.

Lowery will be hosting the town hall event about the experiences of Black transgender men Wednesday at Johnson C. Smith University, which will include the cast and producer of Eden's Garden, a YouTube series about the lives of trans-masculine men of color.

In the future, Charlotte Black Pride hopes to establish a brick-and-mortar space and find full-time staff, Lee said. He also hopes that the organization will focus on helping Black LGBTQ communities achieve economic mobility.

Lowrey said that Charlotte Black Pride has grown since he first became involved, and the organization will keep the momentum going.

"LGBTQ voices will not be silenced, we're here to stay," Lowery said. "We're going to continue moving forward, not just for our community, but for all our communities, including our allies in the entire city of Charlotte."

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Kamille Houston is a WFAE intern covering stories grounded in community outreach and engagement. She is currently studying English at the University of Pennsylvania, where she writes on race and equity for the student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian.