The Charlotte Pride Festival and Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade — plus a slew of other events – are coming up for the annual Charlotte Pride Week starting this Friday, Aug. 12 and continuing through Aug. 21. The annual festival’s finale is at the PNC Bank Festival Zone, Aug. 20-21.
This year’s week-long celebration will be different from years past since House Bill 2 has loomed over North Carolina and particularly Charlotte. The Queen City has faced the brunt of the bill’s economic impact, which has driven out events, performers and other forms of commerce.
On Aug. 15, Charlotte Trans Pride will present “HB2: A Transgender Perspective” with keynote speaker Candis Cox at the Levine Museum of the New South. The next day, Charlotte Pride teams up with several organizations to present a “Trans 101” education and awareness presentation. Other events include those for LGBTQ youth, two events presented by Charlotte Latin Pride and nightlife activities.
HB2 has shaped not only Charlotte Pride’s outreach and education efforts, but also the organization’s entertainment bookings this year.
When artists and entertainers first started boycotting the state because of HB2, Charlotte Pride organizers took notice. “We knew immediately that boycotts could mean more difficulty in being able to find entertainers who could both please the crowd and fit into our budget,” said Craig Hopkins, president of the Charlotte Pride board. “We began working with a variety of partners to scout out potential headliners and opening acts, but it became clear pretty early on that our entertainment bookings would be delayed because of a lot of complications.”
Entertainer announcements were delayed, but now the Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade entertainment line-up has finally been released.
“We’re really happy with our final entertainment line-up and really grateful for the entertainers who have decided to stand with Charlotte and our LGBTQ community,” said Hopkins.
This year’s Pride is a great opportunity to show how you can stand against HB2. Here are some the entertainers that are standing in solidarity with the community:
Highlights from the Wells Fargo Stage (August 20-21)
Dust & Ashes (Saturday at 3:45 p.m.): Featuring genderqueer lead Heather Himes, this local Americana/Folk quartet are from Charlotte and call their music “Swamp Stomp.” Their unique instruments (including cajón, musical saw, banjo, flute, viola, and myriad auxiliary percussion) pair with their strong and often heartbreaking vocals.
K. Michelle (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.): This year’s headliner is not afraid to get into a bathtub with a flamboyance of flamingos in her music video for Hard to Do. Earlier this year, the second season of her VH1 reality show, K. Michelle: My Life, premiered to 3.2 million viewers. Seems she’s more than ready to take on the main stage for Charlotte Pride.
Kassandra Hylton (Sunday, 5:45 p.m.): The Miss Charlotte Pride 2014 — and the first transgender woman to take the title — returns for one of her high-energy performances along with drag queen extraordinaire Buff Faye. This bubbly performer was also a judge for the Miss Charlotte Pride Pageant this year.
Other entertainers will include headline openers Eden Xo and Vassy as well as RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Adore Delano, Shangela and Jujubee.
Champions of Pride Awards (Aug. 21)
Right after the parade, Charlotte Pride will be honoring their Champions of Pride Award recipients on the Wells Fargo Stage. Among the award recipients are Cox, transgender activist Ashley Williams, and a posthumous award for transgender activist Blake Brockington, who passed away in 2015. This annual ceremony is particularly important this year because of HB2’s shadow, and the Pride committee is expecting a large crowd for this and other transgender-centered events during this celebration.
To learn more, visit Charlotte Pride’s website.