Thursday, February 15, 2007

The gay agenda in Charlotte

Poetry flowed, bodies danced and women connected at the one-year anniversary party for In the Lyfe, a promotions company for lesbians of color that is building a following with its parties at Wine Up in NoDa.

At Wine Up last Friday, the evening started with a poetry open-mike. (Let me just say that I don’t understand why they continue to have open-mike poetry when the audience refuses to be quiet. They need to either start asking rude patrons to leave, or add a separate open-mike poetry night where talking won’t be tolerated.)

After the poetry, the dance floor opened and filled quickly. Some women danced, a few shot pool and others talked around the bar.

The In the Lyfe parties draw a mix of lesbians of all ages and styles, from baby butches(young lesbians who dress like teenage boys) to stylish ones rocking cool hats (not just me) to older ones content wearing jeans and sweaters. They remind me of when I used to party in my 20s at Club Myxx, Scorpios and a now-closed spot that used to be on Morehead Street near WBT studios.

The parties come at a time when Charlotte is struggling to find leaders in the gay and lesbian community. The Lesbian and Gay Community Center, which hasn’t reached out to homosexuals who aren’t middle-class and white, is in danger of closing. On Tuesday, the Center’s leadership held a town hall meeting to discuss the future of the Center.

On Sunday, Unity Fellowship Church is launching culture week at Spirit Square. It is trying to raise money to support a tutoring and career development program for at-risk high school students at UFC Charlotte's Freedom Center. Sunday’s event will feature “Black and Like Us Too,” a photo exhibit that looks at the lives of gay African-Americans through the lens of photographer Moye.

There will also see a play “WORDS: The Isms,” which tackles issues related to fear of people who are different. It's at 8 p.m. Sunday at Spirit Square, and tickets are $25; 704-567-5007 for details. The photo exhibit will also be at the Afro-American Cultural Center on Wednesday, and will be part of a discussion that evening beginning at 7 p.m.

In March, several black gays and lesbians will meet to develop ways for African American gays to take more active leadership roles in the politics and the happenings of this city. (At least, I hope that’s the overall goal of the meeting.) Assuming the Lesbian and Gay center remains open the meeting will be there.

Others are organizing as well. Next week, according to an e-mail I received Wednesday, several local church leaders will meet at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center from 7-9 p.m. Monday through Friday of next week for a lecture series to discuss the homosexual agenda (you know there is one gay agenda for the entire world).

These organizers have timed their meetings to protest the 12th annual Human Rights Campaign Gala “Equality is Forever,” which will be on Feb. 24 at the Charlotte Convention Center. I can’t imagine who wouldn’t want to protest equal rights for everyone, but I digress.

The annual fundraiser will feature singer Jennifer Holliday, but will also address serious issues facing gays and lesbians throughout the country. In Wednesday's Paid to Party: Hump Day column, I will run the list of HRC dinner pre-parties and after-parties. Until then, get info at

The city’s gays and lesbians face some challenging days ahead, and it’s encouraging to see that many are coming together to tackle the challenges.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing gays and lesbians in Charlotte? Post your replies below.

Pre-Valentine's parties wrap-up

Men and women in jeans, button-downs and tight-fitting clothes huddled to keep warm as they waited to get inside Cans for the Fourth Annual Anti-Valentine’s Day Bash, the first stop on my round of parties Saturday.

Inside, people shouted over the music. Downstairs, pockets of people danced to a mix of ’80s rock and recent hip-hop hits.

Over in South End, men and women wearing all-black, liquid latex, electrical tape, jeans and T-shirts, dog collars (or barely nothing at all) waited to get inside Amos’ Southend for the Purgatory fetish party.

Inside, two shirtless men danced on stage. Near the rear of the club, a woman - her hands bound to her feet - hung from a swing suspended from the ceiling. A go-go dancer gyrated on a platform in front of the sound booth.

My final stop was at Southend Brewery for Six Figures Entertainment’s Valentine Heartbreak Ball. Six Figures is a new player in the urban party promotion world. Like many others, it promises an upscale atmosphere.

On Saturday, they drew a light, but fun crowd. They closed off the bar area with a white curtain and kept all of the partiers in the main dining area. When you walked inside, there was a VIP setup on the right. It featured a small buffet with pasta, chicken and salad. Each table also had a bottle of Moet. Nice touch.

Most of the men wore suits or nice jeans and button-downs, and the women wore tasteful dresses and slacks as well. Initially, all of the women were on the dance-floor side, while most of the men gathered in the bar area. The women didn’t wait on the men. They paired off and danced, or did the Electric Slide as a group. It felt like a high school prom. (Fellas, you looked real weak.)

Eventually, the promoters dragged a few men onto the dance floor. DJ L. Boogie’s mix of old school R&B - like Frankie Beverly and Maze - created an African American wedding reception/family reunion feel.

If Six Figures can keep the guys on the dance floor and continue to host parties like this, it might become the next big player in the urban party market here.