Last month we showed you how the four cities bidding for the 2012 Democratic Convention compared on LGBT issues. While the writer, Matt Comer at InterstateQ.com, subsequently made clear his support for Charlotte's bid, Charlotte's record on LGBT awareness has caused one local advocate, Mark Wisniewski, to write a letter to the Charlotte Observer:
I've been watching with interest the push for Charlotte to land the honor of hosting the Democratic National Convention in 2012 while reviewing the DNC platform and where Charlotte stands in relation to other candidate cities. When it comes to attractions, infrastructure and narrative, Charlotte seems to be consistently at the top of every list. Unfortunately when it comes to equality for the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens, the results are not so good.
As Matt Comer of QNotes has already written in a detailed study, Charlotte ranks a distant last among the four candidate cities in the categories of equality, protections and recognition of LGBT citizens. I have written the DNC inviting them to address this as a strategic weakness in Charlotte's bid.
Consequently I am writing this open letter to the city and its marketers in the hopes that they will address this matter. In order to assist, I offer the following suggestions:
1. The city should become a partner in the annual Pride event which last year attracted over 10,000 participants and was one of the largest in the state.
2. The city should start an active outreach campaign to the LGBT community and hold public information meetings soliciting their events and business.
3. The city should appoint someone as the LGBT community coordinator responsible for addressing concerns and making the city's multiple marketing agencies more accessible.
4. The city also should realize that there are more than just gay white men in the community: Outreach and communication and promotion of events must include people of color, lesbians and transgender people.
These are simple and mostly low-cost ideas that could greatly affect perceptions of the city and its treatment of LGBTs, both by people in the Charlotte region and and those outside such as the DNC.
Mark has also posted the original, even longer version of the letter than was printed in the Charlotte Observer, here.