CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Billed as "the defining LGBT event of the Democratic National Convention," nearly 1,000 people attended a kick-off party Sunday, organizers said.
The Unity Through Community LGBT welcome event was held at the new North Carolina Dance Theatre building, just blocks away from official convention venue sites in Uptown Charlotte.
Among the guests were recognizable names including former Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese, Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andy Tobias, National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis and his partner Bil Browning of Bilerico.com. Also present was Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer and several Human Rights Campaign board members including Meghan Stabler. And, according to blogger Joe Jervis, other big names in the LGBT community were also present, including former senior strategist for the Human Rights Campaign in New York, Brian Ellner, and Clinton White House advisor Richard Socarides.
On the local front, openly gay Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield and openly gay Chapel Hill, N.C., Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt attended the party, as did openly gay North Carolina state Rep. Marcus Brandon and Charlotte City Councilmember Patsy Kinsey, who represents one of the most diverse and gayest districts in the city. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, popular with LGBT voters, welcomed those in attendance to the city.
Organizer Craig Snider, one of dozens of locals who came together to plan the party, said the event bested all expectations. Several delegates from across the country, he said, told him they were pleased with the welcome which defied all their expectations.
See more photos from the event on the following pages.