Black History Month: Elected Leaders
Charlotte Pride is celebrating Black History Month with special highlights every Tuesday and Thursday, profiling Black LGBTQ change-makers and history with a special connection to Charlotte and the Carolinas. Our profiles will include history-makers from decades past, as well as those heroes living and making their mark in our own time.
Today, we’re profiling heroes from the realm of politics and elected office.
Al Austin was elected to Charlotte City Council 2013, and shortly thereafter came out, making him the body’s first openly gay, Black member. He served until 2017, when he resigned to take a new position with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. In his new role as outreach director to historically Black colleges and universities, Austin works to educate the public as well as focusing on recruitment, innovation, and engagement with the goal of creating inclusion and opportunities for students from HBCUs in the transportation industry.
Elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2014, Cecil Brockman became the first openly bisexual elected official when he came out in 2016. At the time, Brockman’s decision to come out ensured that at least one openly LGBTQ person would continue to serve in the General Assembly. Brockman attended UNC Charlotte. Prior to elected office, Brockman worked for several political campaigns.
Stormie Forte is a lawyer and radio host, and was appointed to serve on the Raleigh City Council in July 2020. Forte is the first openly LGBTQ woman to serve on the state capital’s council. More astonishing is the fact that Forte is the first Black woman to hold a seat on the local governing body. Forte has a long history of community service. She volunteers with the City of Oaks Marathon, Hopscotch Music Festival, and the African American Culture Festival of Raleigh. She also serves on several local and state boards. Her weekly radio show, “The Art of Listening,” airs Saturdays at 9 a.m. on Choice FM 92.1 (WRSV), the state’s oldest Black-owned FM radio station.
LaWana Mayfield made history in 2011 when she became the first openly LGBTQ person elected to office in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. She successfully held her District 3 City Council seat until 2019, when she attempted a run for at-large seat. She is running for an at-large seat again this year. Mayfield has a long history of community service prior to and after being elected to office. Her past work has included efforts to end for-profit prisons, immigration reform, and LGBTQ equality. She is a former volunteer leader with the Human Rights Campaign, Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, Arts and Science Council, and many others.