Although there’s a whole week of Pride happenings that drift throughout the Queen City in the middle of August, the 2 day festival celebration of the weekend of August 18thand 19ththat lit up this epic crescendo. We are talking about the Charlotte Pride Festival 2018!
Since the festival’s beginning in 2001, Charlotte Pride has attracted more than 150,000 visitors a year, becoming one of the largest Pride festivals in the Southeast, and growing more each year. The festival weekend not only brings in a staggering 11.9 million dollar economic impact (according to the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce) but also opens doors to a coalition of several community organizations and community leaders. The festival kicked off with people from all walks of life coming together to celebrate the LGBTQ community. From parents to grandparents, to businesses and construction workers, from little kids to teens, and everyone under the rainbow. It seemed the whole city came down to Tryon Street in uptown Charlotte to celebrate the vast LGBTQ community.
However, while there were anti-LGBT protestors, the love of the community came together to overcome the hate casing the protestors to eventually leave the festival… and the LGBTQ celebration continued.
A common theme was in the air; love and affirmation of each other. People were hugging each other, even hugging strangers as they pleasantly passed love around. Even parents were sharing the love with other kids who were not theirs. When asked why, one simply said, “Many LGBTQ folks never had to chance to be hugged by their own parents. Me as the mom of a gay son, I am spreading the love to folks who need it! Free hugs for everyone!” Families and couples came together to celebrate in festival.
Even the furry members of the family were in the spirit.
“This is the one time of year everyone comes together to celebrate our community, embrace our differences, and meet new friends,” one local said.
Charlotte pride served the city with top of the line entertainers, ranging from Rupaul drag superstars such as Aja and Coco Montrese. Entertainers featured were Boy Band, In Real Life, Ultre Naté, Superfruit, and Cupcakke. The festival was deeply infused diversity and celebration of cultural inclusion. This was primary seen within the Latin community, who came out and showed their countries flags and brought to the stage Latin pop star, Leslie Grace. Organized by Charlotte Latin Pride.
As the weekend was moving along, the rain the came down on the pride go-ers, but this did not stop the crowd from showing their colors as the city danced all night by the entertainers on the Wells Fargo Stage.
The following day, the city woke up bright and early for the Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade. Up to 60,000 people showed up for the rainbow parade. The streets were flooded with love and acceptance and covered in glitter and rainbows. Queen City was alive with mixed emotions from the overwhelming amount of love and support that vibrated through her streets.
As one local stated, “Charlotte has come a long way from what it was in the 80’s to what it is now.
Before, we only had one place we could go meet other LGBT people. Now, Charlotte has grown into a beautiful rainbow city that is filled with love, support, and one big huge gay family.”