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'We can make pride more accessible' | Charlotte Pride sees second year of virtual, smaller events as chance to include more people in LGBTQ community

There wasn't a large parade and celebration in Uptown. Instead, Charlotte Pride got creative, making sure the LGBTQ+ community still felt empowered.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The biggest events of the Charlotte Pride season got underway Saturday in an unconventional kind of way. 

"We are actually really excited," said Matt Comer, Charlotte Pride's communications director. 

There's not a parade or large parties to celebrate. Instead, a Mask-Queerade Bar Crawl strolled through South End Saturday afternoon as people visited bars and restaurants throughout the neighborhood. 

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Organizers also held a Pridestream Saturday night with iHeartRadio, bringing local entertainers and leaders to celebrate and uplift the LGBTQ community.

"It's not the same as being on the streets of uptown, but we have a lot of really cool new tech and a lot of really cool new equipment," Comer said. 

A pre-pandemic kind of pride celebration was pushed back to this weekend,  then scrapped as COVID-19 cases continued to surge leading up to October. 

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Although Charlotte's largest parade is missing, Comer said the new ways they are celebrating give more people opportunities to take part. 

"We can make pride much more accessible to all sorts of people, whether that's people who have mobility issues, or whether that's people who are not out of the closet and would never be comfortable coming to an uptown festival," he said. 

Uptown Charlotte will still likely be hit economically without the large events. In 2019, before the pandemic, pride festivities brought in some $8 million in tourism money as people traveled to the Queen City for the popular weekend. 

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Organizers remain excited for what's to come both in November and next year. 

"Everybody is anxious to return to in-person events and we are planning to have in-person events in August of 2022," Comer added. 

The annual Charlotte Pride Interfaith Service will be held Sunday. It'll be broadcast live from St. John's Baptist Church. 

Other pride events will happen throughout November.

Contact Hunter Sáenz at hsaenz@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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