5 Ways to Tap into the LGBTQ Community
Whether you join the celebrations for Charlotte Pride or you choose to volunteer, there are plenty of ways to participate in LGBTQ-focused activities.
by Jared Misner
From gay sports leagues to volunteer opportunities to the city's annual Pride celebration, Charlotteans and visitors who are gay have a slew of ways to connect with the community.
Time Out Youth
Time Out Youth supports LGBTQ youth in the area by providing a safe space, offering inclusive programs and activities, and promoting acceptance and inclusion for the area’s young LGBTQ residents. Time Out Youth offers a weekly “drop-in” space for youth to come, hang out and, most importantly, be themselves. It’s a perfect opportunity for anyone looking to help gay youth in an easy yet meaningful way.
Founded in 2014, Stonewall Sports’ Charlotte branch offers bowling, kickball, dodgeball, both indoor and sand volleyball, and softball leagues for both LGBTQ Charlotteans and allies alike. The organization has outposts in many cities, including Washington, D.C., Chicago and Philadelphia. One event not to miss: the annual drag kickball game in June where wigs go flying and heels go running. Serious Stonewall-ers travel to the sport’s national competition to test their skills. Recent locations for the national tournaments include Washington D.C. and New Orleans.
No list like this would be complete without mentioning the big shebang, Charlotte Pride. While Charlotte Pride is, of course, an annual three-day weekend-long celebration in August—in fact, the Charlotte Pride Festival is the Southeast’s third-largest Pride celebration!—Charlotte Pride is also an organization that provides volunteer opportunities and hosts an annual LGBTQ film festival, Reel Out Charlotte. Planning for the Pride festival also happens throughout the year, so there are always more opportunities beyond August to volunteer and help make the annual event successful.
Charlotte Royals and More
While Stonewall Sports might offer the widest variety of gay sports leagues, it certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on the idea. The Charlotte Royals are Charlotte’s gay male rugby team open to anyone who identifies as a male. Aside from the competitions, the Royals are incredibly active in the community, hosting several fundraisers and volunteer events for area organizations like Time Out Youth and RAIN (a local nonprofit that supports people with HIV or those at risk of contracting HIV). Queen City Tennis Club is Charlotte’s, you guessed it, LGBTQ tennis league. While the organization caters to LGBTQ Charlotteans, the organization is open to anyone regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. And that’s not all! North Carolina’s first LGBTQ paddle sport organization, One World Dragon Boat, brings together the community all aboard a long, rainbow-colored dragon boat for crew-like competitions and camaraderie.
If you’re a political junkie, consider joining MeckPAC’s efforts to expand and protect the rights of LGBTQ people in the region. MeckPAC is Mecklenburg County’s LGBTQ political action committee, and it regularly issues endorsements of candidates and lobbies area governing councils on legislation favorable to the gay and transgender communities.