Charlotte Pride has a wonderful and long history of community support. Long before our founding, local LGBTQ community members were paving the way for future growth.
Pride or Pride-like festivities had been held in Charlotte since the 1970s, with events like carnivals and picnics held at a variety of locations, including UNC-Charlotte, Bryant Park and Marshall Park, the parking lot at Scorpio and The VanLandingham Estate.
In 2001, Charlotte Pride made its debut, hosting its first events in Marshall Park. From 2001-2005, Charlotte Pride’s independent organization of volunteers presented their annual events.
In 2006, a coalition of several community organizations and community leaders, including The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, began planning the new “Pride Charlotte” following the suspension of activities by Charlotte Pride after a turbulent 2005 event marked by an overwhelming presence of local anti-LGBT protesters.
Pride Charlotte’s first event was held on Aug. 26, 2006, at Uptown’s Gateway Village. The event was hosted at Gateway Village in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In 2010, Pride Charlotte moved to the N.C. Music Factory.
In 2011, the event made a historic move to Uptown, holding its one-day festival on Aug. 27, 2011, on S. Tryon St., between 3rd St. and the Levine Avenue of the Arts.
In 2012, the festival made yet another historic decision, expanding to two days on Aug. 25-26, 2012, just one week before the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
In January 2013, the core group of longtime volunteers who worked with the Center from 2006-2012, as well as volunteers associated with 2001-2005 activities, restructured the festival and began organizing independently from the Center. In a nod to those who presented the annual events from 2001-2005, the organization reinstated the Charlotte Pride brand and reactivated the dormant Charlotte Pride, Inc. And, in a first for the Queen City since 1994, Charlotte Pride organizers announced a parade would be held.
Charlotte Pride hosted its largest and most successful event yet on Aug. 24-25, 2013, also hosting the Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade, the first LGBTQ Pride Parade in Charlotte since 1994.
Charlotte Pride’s growth has continued year over year. In 2014, the annual festival and parade attracted 100,000 visitors over the course of the event weekend. Organizers also collaborated with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority to conduct the first-ever economic impact study of an LGBTQ event in our region. In 2015, organizers hosted 120,000 visitors over the course of the weekend event and again conducted another economic impact study, finding the event had a total economic impact of $11.9 million dollars.
As the organization prepared for 2016 activities, it also implemented new growth strategies and adopted new mission, vision, and values statements. At the end of 2016, Charlotte Pride celebrated significant growth in its yearly programs, including the annual festival and parade, which attracted more than 130,000 visitors over the course of the weekend event in 2016.
In 2017, Charlotte Pride attracted 150,000 visitors over the course of its Aug. 26-27 event. The parade grew to an historic record, surpassing other local parades as the largest parade in Charlotte. Other accomplishments in 2017 included a successful film festival, at which community members voted for a new rebranding. The new name, Reel Out Charlotte, debuts in 2018 at the 10th annual LGBTQ film festival in the Queen City.