Now More Than Ever – Visit Gay Charlotte

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So you’ve probably read the news

With a 61 to 39 percent tally, North Carolinians resoundingly voted in favor of an amendment to their State Constitution that not only defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman, but makes all other unions including domestic partnerships and civil unions illegal.  That this amendment hurts more than gays and lesbians is of little concern to those whose sole intention was to attack the LGBT community and relegate them as second class citizens who are denied not only the ability to marry but even a token attempt at a “separate but equal” equivalent.

As I sat on my deck during a perfectly appropriate severe lightning and thunder storm I found myself grow despondent while watching election results on primary night

Truth be told – I expected the Amendment to pass –  I just wasn’t ready for the loss to be with such a large margin. There is a lot of grumbling about this defeat and the frustration with North Carolina voters and I certainly commiserate.  We look bad.  No two ways about it.

Unfortunately there was a call by those outside of North Carolina to personally boycott the state, and I thought – “Ruhroh!”

First let’s look at some facts:

FACT:  While the State as a whole voted  for the Amendment, the counties where most of North Carolinas cities (and most vibrant LGBT communities) exist voted against it.

Those counties (and cities) are: Mecklenburg (Charlotte), Wake (Raleigh), Orange (Chapel Hill), Durham (Durham), Chatham (part of the Triangle area), Watauga (Blowing Rock & Boone), Buncombe (Asheville) and Dare (Nags Head).

It should also be noted that Guilford (Greensboro) lost the amendment battle by less than a 100 votes, while New Hanover (Wilmington) was just 199 short of winning.

When you think of visiting North Carolina – you often think of these cities which represent the greatest geographic and human capital features of this state from the coast and outer banks to Blue Ridge mountains with the largest and most progressive cities (that house the most preeminent institutions of higher education)  in between.

FACT: North Carolina Democrat controlled legislature year-after-year defeated bringing similar worded amendments up for a ballot vote and until this May, North Carolina was   the only Southern State to not have such a discriminatory constitutional amendment.  It was only since the state legislature switched control to the Republicans in 2010 that this amendment was brought up and passed – and it should be noted it was done in a stealth manner that was meant to hide the vote from the public.

FACT:  The great states of equality in most people’s eyes and minds (New York and California) are not decades ahead of North Carolina.   It was only in 2008 – just four years ago – that California passed Prop 8, and let’s not forget that New York only passed marriage equality this year.

True – California has found its Proposition unconstitutional and New York is moving forward while North Carolina moves backwards – but memory seems to be short for those who see North Carolina as some outsider that has no redeeming merit in relation to its brethren states.

FACT: North Carolina has a vibrant and diverse LGBT community that has made enormous strides on the local level with domestic partnership benefits and protections for its LGBT citizens.

Additionally many of North Carolina municipalities came out against this amendment from the start, and the some of the biggest businesses headquartered here from Duke to Bank of America had executives who spoke against it.

MOST IMPORTANT FACT: Boycotting the State rewards those who hate LGBTs while hurting the very community that calls for the boycott are meant to highlight as being victims of discrimination.

Does anyone truly believe that those who voted in favor of relegating LGBTs as second class citizens would shed a tear or worry of less LGBT visibility in the State?   When you consider the counties that overwhelmingly voted in favor of the amendment – do you think they would even notice that LGBTs were avoiding them?

Now look at the flip-side.  What a boycott does is heighten the sense of isolation that LGBTs feel now not only from their neighbors in-state but their supposed brothers and sisters in the community at large.

Sure there may be a sense of cocktail witty repartee in LGBT communities when they slam the backward sense of North Carolina – but since when has the community decided that the battle for equality ended in the Northeast, West and Northwest?

A word about myself and the city I love

I am at least a third generation New Yorker who moved to Charlotte for my partner (who is now my husband) who has grown to love (dearly) my adopted city.   Now while I haven’t yet learned all of the great State cultural traditions such as blessing your heart when I really wish to tell you off – I do hope the reader can appreciate my hyrbrid of gruff New Yorker with a dash of Southern optimism and the point of this article.

Charlotte, Raleigh, Wilmington, Asheville and all the great cities of this state need you now more than ever.  We need you to be out and proud and spend your gay dollars in the places that do support you.

In Charlotte (Charlotte, oh my, Charlotte) I need you to discover Buff Faye – our infamous drag queen who hosts a monthly drag brunch and the yearly Queen City Drag Race that brings relay racing with heels to the Queen City.

I need you to discover Hartigan’s the best damn bar and restaurant that serves us not only best women’s scene in the Carolinas but some pretty damned good Panthers tailgating parties.

While talking about sports – Charlotte hosts the a slew of LGBTS activities and establishments from the Charlotte Royals Rugby Club (who BTW were just invited to England for the Bingham Cup) to Sidelines – a gay sports bar that existed long before such a term was deemed cool in cities outside of North Carolina. Want more LGBT Sports – We’ve got them in our sports section.

Let’s talk about Nickel Bar – one of the few black owned LGBT establishments in the country, and what about The Woodshed – a proud home to the Leather and Bear scene in Charlotte.

Whether it’s Marigny our premiere dance club to Bar at 316 one of the longest established good time places in Charlotte – this is a city that celebrates the LGBT community. Want more nightlife – we got it – in our nightlife section which btw is promoted by Charlotte Pocket Rocket!

From Black Gay Pride to the larger Pride festival – Charlotte hosts a notable number of LGBT events that are gaining attention throughout the nation:   Our young Gay Charlotte Film festival; Queen City STOMP – one of the largest growing LGBT Country and Western events in the nation; and let’s not forget that the HRC Carolinas Gala in Charlotte last year reasserted its title as the largest fundraising dinner for HRC outside of the national Washington DC event.  Want more?  Visit our Community Section.

All of this only skims the surface of what Charlotte offers.

This site is a labor of love.  We make no money (and charge no advertisements) for I truly believe that Charlotte’s LGBT community is worth your attention.   It is proud and diverse and needs your support.

Make the biggest political statement possible and visit us as well as our sister cities in the State and let it be known that you support your LGBT brothers and sisters as a proud gay, lesbian and transgender consumer.

Show North Carolina just how vital you and we are – and have a good time while doing it.  Now more than ever, Visit Gay Charlotte, and Raleigh, and Wilmington, and Asheville…


About The Author

Born in NYC and now in CLT, Mark is an avid fan of the Queen City and the future it represents to both him and the country.

1 Comment on "Now More Than Ever – Visit Gay Charlotte"

  1. Hope Rucker

    That was right on Mark. I was truly hoping that Charlotte would stand out from the rest of the south in it’s thinking, that we had truly progressed enough not to follow the rest of the south, but we want give up hope. One day this will happen where there will be justice for all, and we can live as one.

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