2020: A Look Back

Hours, days, weeks, months. It’s all a blur in the year of corona

by Matt Comer (he/him)

Welcome to the 2020 Charlotte Pride Magazine! This article is part of the annual Charlotte Pride Magazine, published this year as a special year-end retrospective for 2020. You can see all 2020 Charlotte Pride Magazine content here, as well as finding distribution locations for our limited print run.

Time has lost all meaning. The minutes bleed into hours, days into weeks, and weeks into months. And, sometimes, it feels like an entire month has passed by in just a matter of hours. Where did all the time go? Psychologists are well aware of this phenomena, caused by profound uncertainty and fear in a time of continually unfolding chronic trauma. All the ways we usually mark time — work, school, pleasure, travel — have gone away. With it, perhaps we’ve also forgotten exactly what’s happened this year, and when. Here, we take a short look back at a COVID 2020 timeline, as seen primarily through the eyes of Charlotte Pride, the local Charlotte community, and the larger LGBTQ community.


Initial reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) and others point to a potentially new coronavirus. In late January, the U.S. confirms its first case 2019 novel coronavirus. Wuhan, China, goes into quarantine and WHO declares a global health emergency.


The U.S. declares a public health emergency and global air travel begins to be restricted, as WHO says COVID-19 is headed toward a pandemic status. For many people in the U.S., and elsewhere, life continues as normal. In Charlotte, longtime community leader Dan Kirsch passes away. Kirsch was the founder of One Voice Chorus and played foundational and integral roles with the 1994 NC Pride March in Charlotte, OutCharlotte, the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund, the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Community Center and more.


Charlotte Pride holds it’s “In The Know” 2020 kickoff and logo reveal event. Just days later, WHO declares COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. On March 12, Charlotte Pride announces the cancellation the 2020 NERP-POSE Conference. A regional conference of InterPride, the event was due to have been held March 19-23, bringing hundreds of visitors from across the Eastern U.S. seaboard, Europe, and Australia. One day later, travel to the U.S. from Europe is restricted. Charlotte Pride suspends all in-person programming and a virtual Trans Day of Visibility is held with partners Transcend Charlotte and Gender Education Network. LA Pride becomes one of the first Pride organizations in the U.S. to announce a postponement of their 2020 events, scheduled for June. The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County enact its first, more stringent stay-at-home order on March 26. The order closes all businesses except those deemed “essential.” Monika Diamond, a local trans woman known for her work in building space for trans and LGBTQ people, is shot. She will be the only documented trans person lost in Charlotte during 2020.


Charlotte Pride announces the postponement of Reel Out Charlotte, the Queen City’s Annual LGBTQ Film Festival from early May to late October. Local and state stay-at-home orders, which shut down most bars and reduced services and hours at many restaurants, begins to take its toll. Local LGBTQ bars report some of their first concerns, but are generally optimistic they’ll be able to reopen soon. Charlotte Pride participates in a series of COVID-related webinars presented by InterPride, bringing together panelists from Charlotte Pride, Equality NC, the Freedom Center for Social Justice and Atlanta Pride. As stay-at-home orders continue, concerns mount for longterm residents at local hotels and motels. A local Days Inn attempts to remove a large number of queer and trans residents. The nation’s largest Pride event in New York City announces it will cancel all events planned for June. RAIN announces its annual AIDS Walk Charlotte, planned for May 2, will go virtual. Charlotte and Mecklenburg County slightly relax their stay-at-home orders, but bars and nightclubs remain shuttered. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announces his now ubiquitous three-phase reopening plan.

April 28, 2020

Charlotte Pride and Charlotte Black Pride jointly announce the cancellation of all in-person Pride events originally scheduled for July and August.


Following New York City, LA Pride announces its 2020 events are cancelled. Globally, more than 200 Pride organizations are forced to cancel or postpone their events. Charlotte Pride hosts a week-long virtual short films showcase, on the dates originally scheduled for an in-person Reel Out Charlotte. A week later, Charlotte Pride hosts a week-long Spring Spotlight on local drag entertainers, poets, dancers, singers, and other artists. North Carolina’s Phase 1 reopening begins. Openly gay, HIV-positive author, essayist, playwright and ACT-UP founder Larry Kramer passes away at age 84 in New York City. George Floyd is murdered by police officers in Minneapolis. Two days later, police shoot and kill a Tony McDade, a Black trans man, in Florida. Black Lives Matter protests spring up across the nation, state, and here in Charlotte. North Carolina’s Phase 2 reopening begins.


As Pride Month begins, LGBTQ organizations and Pride organizations locally and nationally turn their attention to the movement for Black lives, drawing parallels between the modern stuggle against police brutality and the historic underpinnings of the Stonewall Riots and modern Pride movement. Charlotte Black Pride Chair Shann Fulton (they/them) and Charlotte Pride President Daniel Valdez (he/him) release a joint statement calling racism, white supremacy and police brutality “another long-lasting pandemic in our country.” Charlotte Pride releases its annual Stonewall Resolution this year calling for significant changes and reforms in local policing. The City of Charlotte authorizes the painting of a “Black Lives Matter” mural on S. Tryon St. The U.S. Supreme Court hands down a landmark ruling outlawing anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment. At the end of June, Charlotte Black Pride convenes more than 40 local LGBTQ organizations for a press conference on the day of the 51st anniversary of Stonewall. The organizations all sign a community letter pledging to combat racism and white supremacy in their organizations and in the community. Total U.S. COVID-19 cases reach 2 million.

Representatives of Charlotte Black Pride and Charlotte Pride pose for a group photo following the Charlotte LGBTQ Black Lives Matter Press Conference in June.


Charlotte Pride announces its virtual festival and parade plans. Dan Mauney (he/him), a longtime community leader known for his involvement with Time Out Youth, RAIN, the Human Rights Campaign, Takeover Friday and others, passes away. Charlotte Black Pride holds a week-long slate of virtual Pride events and activities, including a town hall, arts showcase, virtual vendor fair and more. Charlotte Pride launches its COVID-19 Relief Program. A virtual Charlotte Pride Week kicks off at the end of the month, with the annual Charlotte Pride Interfaith Service hosted virtually by St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, in partnership with Temple Beth El, Charlotte Buddhist Vihara and Sacred Souls United Church of Christ.


Charlotte Pride hosts its ten-hour-long virtual festival on Saturday, Aug. 1, and a one-hour virtual parade livestream on Sunday, Aug. 2. Charlotte Pride Interfaith Programs begins a four-part, four-month-long conversation series, “Erasing Racism,” focused on the intersections of race, racism, and LGBTQ-affirming faith institutions. COVID-19 becomes the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., with more than 170,000 total deaths and more than 1,000 reported deaths each day. Total COVID-19 cases total more than 5.4 million cases.


Community groups begin their get-out-the-vote efforts in earnest, experimenting with new ways of reaching voters, including social media and through text. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, long hailed a feminist and LGBTQ champion, passes away. Charlotte Pride partners with Cine Casual to present a four-week long exploration of Spanish-language LGBTQ films for Latinx Heritage Month.


North Carolina’s Phase 3 reopening begins, opeing the doors of local LGBTQ bars and nightclubs for the first time since being shuttered in March. The news is welcomed by many, but criticized by others for moving too quickly as cases still rose. Some bar owners were unappy with Phase 3’s stipulations, restricting patrons to 30% capacity only on outdoor patios and seating areas. Charlotte Pride participates in the national Pride Stride, a nationally coordinated effort among dozens of Pride organizations across the country. The Pride Stride encourages safe, socially distant and on-your-own 5k walk/run race. Pioneering trans activist and journalist Monica Roberts passes away in Houston. At the end of October, Charlotte Pride hosts a virtual Reel Out Charlotte, with a full week of film festival activities, including shorts and feature-length film screenings and talkbacks with actors, directors, and producers. More than 40 million total COVID-19 cases are reported worldwide. Globally, the COVID-19 death toll surpasses 1 million, with more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S.


The 2020 general election is held. Sarah McBride becomes the highest-ranking openly transgender elected official upon her Delaware state Senate victory. Seven openly LGBTQ candidates won their races in North Carolina. RAIN hosts a virtual Gay Bingo. RAIN’s founder and CEO, Debbie Warren, announces her retirement later in the month. A virtual Trans Day of Remembrance is held; community partners included Charlotte Black Pride, Charlotte LGBTQ Elders, Charlotte Pride Charlotte Transgender Healthcare Group, Freedom Center for Social Justice, Gender Education Network, PFLAG Charlotte, Time Out Youth, Transcend Charlotte, and Transitioning Center of the Carolinas. Charlotte Pride supports Queen City Nerve’s and Single Barrel Room’s “Eat. Gay. Love.” Friendsgiving meal for Thanksgiving, in partnership with Time Out Youth Center.


A key provision of HB142, an anti-LGBTQ law passed in the aftermath of 2017’s HB2 controversies, expired on Dec. 1. Equality North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality and other organizations launch a new campaign to pass new LGBTQ-inclusive protections across the state. Charlotte Pride is voted Best Festival and Best Local Nonprofit by in Queen City’s Nerve’s “Best of the Nest 2020.” Charlotte Pride Magazine is published as a year-end recap and retrospective. Gov. Cooper orders more stringent night-time curfews and other restrictions to control a ballooning winter surge in COVID cases. As of press time for this magazine, global COVID cases surpass 72.5 million with 1.62 million deaths. In the U.S., more than 300,000 deaths are reported with more than 16.4 million cases.