Leaders with Charlotte Pride and Charlotte Black Pride announced this morning that all in-person Pride events originally scheduled for July and August are cancelled. The cancellation covers all events involved with Charlotte Black Pride Week, scheduled for July 12-19; the Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade, scheduled for Aug. 1-2; and events leading up to the Charlotte Pride Festival, which were scheduled to begin on July 24.
Charlotte Pride was planning to hold its 20th annual celebration this year, as the first festival was held in 2001. Charlotte Black Pride, founded in 2005, was planning to celebrate its 15th anniversary. The ongoing risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, created too much uncertainty.
“Our very first priority is the safety and health of our community and our events’ attendees, volunteers, sponsors, and other partners,” said Daniel Valdez, president of the Charlotte Pride Board of Directors. “We must do everything we can to prevent knowingly exposing our already-vulnerable community to the uncertainties and risks of COVID-19.”
Charlotte Pride and Charlotte Black Pride both plan to organize a variety of digital and online events, including webinars, livestreams, special celebrations and showcases of local LGBTQ artists, entertainers, activists, community nonprofits and business owners.
“The most responsible decision in the face of the continued uncertainty over the pandemic’s trajectory is to cancel large-scale, public mass gatherings like our annual festival and parade,” Valdez continued. “We know this decision will hit our community hard, as it did for our board, staff and volunteers. In-person events may be cancelled, but we know that Pride itself can never be silenced. We’re optimistic for our future programs and already planning for virtual and, once we’re able, in- person events later in the summer and fall, as well as our 2021 festival and parade.”
LGBTQ people are known to be at higher risk from impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, as they are more likely to live in poverty and lack access to medical care and other basic necessities.
“As we face uncertain times around the world, our main priority is to protect the health and wellness of our Black LGBTQ community,” said Shann Fulton, chair of the Charlotte Black Pride Board of Directors. “To that end, it is of utmost importance that we follow government rules and remain vigilant in our efforts to stop the spread of this deadly novel virus COVID-19. Celebrating who we are and how far we have come is always the motivation behind planning our Black Pride festivities. We realize they help to promote Pride in our community and to a higher degree, for some, the events are even therapeutic. The decision to cancel this year’s events weighed heavy on the hearts of our board members; however, we chose the only reasonable and responsible option to keep our community safe. It is my hope that we come out on the other side of this stronger and with a greater sense of community and pride. This too shall pass.”
The Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade is one of the city’s largest annual events, bringing 200,000 people to the Uptown area. In 2019, the event generated an estimated $8.05 million in total economic impact; $4.79 million in direct visitor spending; $284,000 in Mecklenburg County tax revenue; an estimated 200,000 visitors over the course of the weekend, including an estimated 23,000 out-of-town visitors; and more than 10,000 booked hotel rooms.
“Charlotte’s annual Pride events are the highlight of the local LGBTQ community each year,” said Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles. “The Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade is also one of the city’s largest annual events. The absence of this year’s Pride events is not only a loss for our local LGBTQ community, but also a loss for our entire city and its social and economic well- being. This was a tough decision by organizers, but a responsible one … I look forward to celebrating with our local LGBTQ community again in 2021.”
The cancellation will most directly affect LGBTQ-owned businesses and community organizations that find their single largest opportunity for engagement and support during the annual events.
“The annual events produced by Charlotte Pride and Charlotte Black Pride are some of our organization’s most important outreach and education events each year,” said Debbie Warren, president and CEO of RAIN, which recently had to transition its annual AIDS Walk Charlotte into a virtual event.
“These large annual events allow our staff to connect face-to-face with community members who benefit from our health services and others who support our critical community care work,” Warren continued. “RAIN is looking forward to new partnerships with these two organizations through the rest of this year to continue connecting with our community, and we look forward to joining together for Pride events in 2021.”
In the fall, Charlotte Pride will present its rescheduled Reel Out Charlotte, an annual LGBTQ Film Festival, Oct. 24-Nov. 1 at Camp North End. Organizers say to expect beefed up community engagement and entertainment activities at the event. Check out our look at last year’s lineup.
Charlotte Pride intends to host the 2021 Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade on Aug. 21-22, 2021. Charlotte Black Pride plans to host the 2021 Charlotte Black Pride Week July 11-18, 2021.