The State of LGBTs in Charlotte




Charlotte’s LGBT residents exist within a political and religious
culture that at its core is diametrically opposed to their
visibility, dignity, and equality. Because of this, some local LGBT leaders
called on the Democratic National Committee to pass us over for their
convention. I maintain my months-old call to use the convention to
better the lives of LGBT people here.

In September 2012, 35,000
convention delegates will land in Charlotte, along with many activists,
onlookers, and media professionals. Many, indeed a significant portion,
of these thousands of visitors will be LGBT or identify as strong
allies. National LGBT organizations, LGBT party activists, and LGBT
elected officials and their staff, together with Charlotte’s local LGBT
leadership, will have the unique opportunity — both in numbers and
visibility — to engage in a major conversation on equality many
Charlotteans have never had, a discussion that cannot be ignored or
swept under the rug in the face of the national and global media
attention the convention will cast on this city.

In the next two
years, my hope is that local LGBT leaders will begin to reach out to
national organizations, elected officials, Democratic National Committee
members, and party activists in order to build bridges and brainstorm
ways in which we can together improve the lives of LGBT people in
Charlotte; LGBT equality initiatives in the run-up to the convention,
awareness campaigns before and during, media advocacy, town halls, and
forums are all possibilities.

While city officials and businesspeople in Charlotte smile at the millions of dollars the convention will
bring, LGBT Charlotteans keep waiting with bated breath and ask those
same leaders, “What about us? That money doesn’t help us. All we want is
your outspoken support. We want your loyalty in exchange for our
ballots cast for you year after year. Ultimately, we need and expect
your public, on-the-record votes to ensure our equality.”

Those LGBT
people and allies who will attend the Democratic National Convention in
2012 can play a role in ending the political invisibility of Charlotte’s
LGBT citizens. As the date draws near next year, I hope they come to
Charlotte ready to help us take a stand and raise our voices above the
muffling effect of our city’s hostile and malevolent culture. The future
of a city and its LGBT residents depends on it.

Tags: Commentary