CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For the second year in a row, Charlotte Pride canceled its parade, Pop-Up Pride Festival and concert amid concerns over the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant still spreading in the community.
Charlotte Pride originally postponed the parade and Uptown celebrations from August to Oct. 24 earlier this year as vaccinations started to become widely available. At the time, organizers wanted to give time for more people to get vaccinated.
However, with Mecklenburg County and the surrounding areas battling the continuous spread of the delta variant, organizers decided to cancel the large in-person celebrations again.
"We are all bummed," Vice President of the board of Charlotte Pride Clark Simon said, adding, "I can't express how bummed we are about having to make this decision which truly was difficult. We didn't want to do it."
Simon said the board knew they had to, though.
"Our main concern is to always ensure that our constituents, our friends, our supporters, our allies -- feel a sense of community pride, but also protection," he said as he noted the board felt it was not appropriate to host a full-scale event.
It means those who want to celebrate who they are, those who see the weekend as a safe place to show their pride, will miss out on another year celebrating with thousands of others in the streets of Uptown Charlotte.
"It's unfortunate that they don't get to kind of relish in that weekend of the safe space to say feel that acceptance, but I hope they also take away that Charlotte is a city, 365, that does foster that sense of belonging," Simon added.
Instead, organizers are planning a hybrid of virtual and smaller, in-person events to be held throughout October and November.
Line-up of Charlotte Pride smaller events
Charlotte Pride Pop-Up Shops
Saturday, Oct. 16 | Select locations citywide
Join Charlotte Pride all afternoon and evening on Saturday, Oct. 16 at select locations across Charlotte for your opportunity to gather together with Pride. Pick up your Pride swag, limited edition 2021 Charlotte Pride T-shirts, and more as we make a toast to Pride in the Queen City. Pop-Up Shop locations and times will be announced soon online.
Charlotte Pride Drag Pageant
Friday, Oct. 22, 7-9 p.m.
Gather with your friends in an at-home watch party or head out to select community establishments across the city to tune in to this year’s Charlotte Pride Drag Pageant. After a year off in 2020, local drag artists will compete to be crowned and reign with their peers in the 2021 Charlotte Pride Drag Court. Want to host a watch party? Let us know and get watch party hosting tips online at charlottepride.org. Livestream links and more details will be announced soon.
Mask-Queerade Bar Crawl
Benefitting Time Out Youth & Charlotte Pride
Saturday, Oct. 23, 1 p.m. | South End, various locations
Join Time Out Youth and Charlotte Pride on Saturday, October 23rd as they join forces to produce a one-of-a-kind Mask-Queerade Bar Crawl! Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day-of. Learn more and get tickets now at maskqueeradeclt.eventbrite.com.
Broadcast live from the iHeartRadio Charlotte Studios
Saturday, Oct. 23, 7-10 p.m. | Watch parties hosted citywide
The Charlotte Pridestream will bring you the best of local community entertainers, leaders, and speakers to empower and uplift the LGBTQ community in Charlotte and the Carolinas. Special live performances, tributes, and remarks. Join a watch party at select community establishments across the city or team up with friends to host your own at-home watch party! Want to host a watch party? Let us know and get watch party hosting tips online at charlottepride.org. A full entertainment line-up, livestream links, and more details will be announced soon.
Charlotte Pride Interfaith Service
Sunday, Oct. 24, 6 p.m. | Broadcast live from St. John’s Baptist Church
The annual Charlotte Pride Interfaith Service returns with remarks and special musical offerings, broadcast live from the sanctuary at St. John’s Baptist Church, featuring keynote speaker, the Rev. Clifford Matthews, Jr., Senior Pastor, St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church. Livestream links and more details to be announced soon.
Reel Out Charlotte
Friday, Nov. 5-Sunday, Nov. 6 | Camp North End and virtual
Reel Out Charlotte, the Queen City’s Annual LGBTQ Film Festival, will host an in-person, outdoor, double-feature film screening and later that weekend unveil its annual short films screenings and competition in a live special broadcast online. More details will be announced soon.
More details for some of the events will be forthcoming, organizers said.
Charlotte's Pride Parade is the biggest, most popular parade held in the city year after year, according to organizers and the City of Charlotte.
Before the festivities were canceled in 2020, the 2019 activities generated some $8 million for the Queen City, with $4.79 million in direct visitor spending, according to the organization.
It also means another hit for Uptown business as they continue their comeback.
Simon said he hopes people will continue to get vaccinated so Charlotte Pride can come back to all in-person festivities in 2022.
"We're all in this together," Simon said. "Get vaccinated if you haven't been, wear a mask," he continued. "And if you have someone that you care about, interact with, that you work with, and they have not been vaccinated -- in a loving manner, just get them to get vaccinated, because that's how life, in general, will get back to normal."
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