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atlrvr

Is our own tourism board homophobic?

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I usually don't start this type of thread, as my views tend to run a bit more conservative than most on here, and drama typically annoys me, but this quote even got me irritated.

This was a quote from Tim Newman, former CCCP head, and now head of the visitor's bureau. He is responding to an add he saw while on a trip to Philly.

The City of Brotherly Love has expanded its tourism markets in other ways, too. Levitz showed the Charlotte group a new television advertisement, a first for Philly: a tourism ad aimed specifically at gay and lesbian visitors.

It features two gay men in Colonial garb meeting, presumably for a date, in front of Independence Hall. "Get your history straight," the ad concludes, "and your nightlife gay."

Newman said he wasn't sure that sort of thing would fly in Charlotte. He suggested an alternative: "A big-city feel, but redneck-friendly."

My question is, why wouldn't this fly in Charlotte? Do they expect a mass exodus of residents to leave if they ever found out a commercial like that aired? Does Charlotte project an anti-gay image to gays living elsewhere in the US?

I'm not really surprised at the sentiment, but I guess I'm surprised that in 2006, that someone in charge of encouraging people to visit Charlotte, would still be stuck in such a backwoods mentality.

Atlanta is prime example of a city that is Redneck, Gay, Black, Foreigner, etc. friendly.....as long we our own tourism head gets squemish about encouraging anybody but large, drawling, whites here, then I don't see how this city can ever hope to attract diversity.

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Ugh. Let's hope Tim Newman was joking about his slogan... cuz some rednecks are downright rude. Seriously, I wonder how visible the work of our tourism board really is. Maybe some out-of-staters/towners reading this can say whether or not they've ever seen any marketing of CLT anywhere, other than specifically searching for their website. It doesn't matter what the slogan is if no one ever hears it.

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It is disappointing but not surprising. In the late 1980s and 1990s I sat on the board of Gay advocacy organization in Charlotte called First Tuesday. The purpose of this group was to put people on TV and provide speakers in attempts to counter this very kind of attitude that existed in Charlotte's inner circle of political and business leadership. This was in the days when Sue Myrick, as mayor of Charlotte, supported people such as the Reverand Joseph Chambers, formerlly of Paw Creek Baptist Church, who went on numerous very public crusades against Gays in Lesbians in Charlotte. Richard Vinroot, Harvey Gantt (when he was mayor) and our Pat McCroy were never supportive of anything having to do with the Gay community either.

The most supportive places for Gays in this city are in the companies that are not based in Charlotte. Even the two banks don't have much of a good history in this area as their current policies were pretty much forced on them by their acquisitions.

I don't know if Tim Newman is a homophobe or not, it really doesn't matter. What does matter is that he thinks the rest of Charlotte is, and unable to accept anything beyond bubba, nascar and fried chicken. That is the biggest disappointment to hear that someone who once headed something such as the CCCP thinks that Charlotte consists of bigots. It confounds me that all of a sudden "redneck behavior" is something that should be celebrated instead of something that once should strive to grow out of. It's my conclusion that giving these kinds of attitudes, Gays are the least of the problems facing today's society.

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A big-city, but redneck friendly? HAHA What?! I would assume that redneck and city don't exactly mix...

I would of expected a statement like this 15 years ago, but not now. Just when you think this place is progressing foward, it takes one step backwards.

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Maybe the part that wouldn't fly in Charlotte had nothing to do with the gay part, but rather the history part. People in Charlotte do tend to hate history. It is a very historiphobic society.

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Gays are the least of the problems facing today's society.

I don't consider that a problem at all, what I do consider a problem is the comments of people such as Tim Newman. Individuals with an attitude such as his shouldn't be representing Charlotte or any city at any level for any reason.

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Ohhh... I'm getting a vision... Sometimes these things happen.. I see things. My head hurts. It's near... I can see... Ah yes! I'm picturing a meeting room... Yes.. a meeting room..

Convention and Visitors Bureau weekly Stategy Meeting, 8:07AM EDT, Tuesday, August 8:

"Ok, People... I'd like to call this weekly Strategy Meeting to order... let's go. My name is Tim Newman. Let's begin.

Firstly, I want to address the chatter I've heard around the office about the convention booking numbers that have been published in the local media. I know many of you are confused and concerned, so I had the people over in Numbers print up these mimeographs that Wendy is handing out to you now. You'll see that currently, booking occupancy through '07 stands at 20%. Conversely, the number of cancelled and/or nonexistant bookings is at 80%. Now we all know that statistically bigger is better, so I'm having the Numbers people work on finding out if that bigger number is actually a good thing. Hopefully we should have an update for you at next week's meeting.

Now...I'd like to hear if Charlotte has a report for us this week. Charlotte? Charlotte?? You know, People, I keep hearing about all the great things this "Charlotte" has to offer, and I have YET to see her at one of our staff meetings. Wadine, would you get with H.R. and find out if we have any Charlottes on staff and why she's not getting the memos on these meetings? People, in accordance with my "Open Communications Policy" that I enacted just last Wednesday, the Pitney-Bowes budget has been increased, so I implore you... if you have something you'd like to say to someone, do NOT hesitate to fill out a Communications Form and mail it to them! We need to work together, People.

Ok, now the girls in Marketing and Graphs have come up with another stunning visual aid to highlight the severity of our situation. As can be seen on this graph, the red line starts up here, in the upper left, and goes down as you move this way. They tell me this is NOT good. It should be going UP as you move this way. (motions to the right)

But how do we get people to come to our city? What attracts people? Attractions? No. We've seen that strategy fail time and time again. "Opposites", People. That's right..."Opposites attract". As the good folks over in Research tell me, history has proven this to be true. They cite the legendary 1997 example of one Mister... "George Kostanza".. I hope I'm getting that right... as irrefutable proof. So, going forward, we will do the exact OPPOSITE of what we've been doing since this organization's inception. (uproar from the crowd) I know this sounds like a radical concep.. TINA, please! I know this sounds like a radical concept, but desperate times call for desperate housewives...er, no..no... Desperate times call.... desptimecall....desptimeca... no! Sshshshsh.... gimme a minute... desperate times call for draaa..STIC measures! "Desperate times call for drastic measures", People.

For years this agency has been buying the small paper clips. No more. Now we're using the big ones. LaTrice, the Purchasing Department's role will be two-pronged. We're gonna need you to purchase 25 black pens for the people currently using blue pens. And we're gonna need you to order 25 blue pens for the folks now using black. We need to stop thinking small, People. We need to pull out all the stops and get this downward-slanty red line to go up (motions to the graph).

Now, I'd like to adjourn this meeting by telling you all to "Get out there and get to work!" OR... "Stay inside and do nothing..." (wink wink).

Phew... Oh, I'm exhausted... The Visions always take the life out of me...

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Wow.....you must have met Tim before. Quick question about your vision. Was Tim's nose red, and did he have a faint odor of alcohol and peppermint?

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The most supportive places for Gays in this city are in the companies that are not based in Charlotte. Even the two banks don't have much of a good history in this area as their current policies were pretty much forced on them by their acquisitions.

Bank of America and Wachovia, I think and have seen at events like HRC, have been supportive as a belief with gay and lesbian issues. I don't think it is PR, but a real desire to be a modern open-minded environment. At the HRC dinner this year the BofA speaker is an openly gay, married to a man in Montreal, executive. He is in the upper 5 in the company and could technically be in line to take over one day. They rotate the upper folks around so they get experience in all positions of upper management. He is from Charlotte (at least for the past couple decades) and didn't come from other aquired banks.

No -- I'm not a bank employee, but I do admire thier stance in a city where other corporate entities, and most especially our mayor, have not opened up in this direction.

P.S. Parks Helms also spoke at the event and chided mayer Pat for his absense of even a welcome.

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Even though such idiotic statements as "redneck friendly" cause us to wince, in the long run these blatantly dumb remarks could actually help. It could change things in the way that no one else will want to be heard muttering such nonsense.

From what I see, it looks like homophobia is on it's way out. Everyone is waking up to the fact that homophobia is hatred, homophobia is bigotry, it's bad for the soul, bad for business, bad for everything~~~

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Charlotte is ambivalent to homosexuality overall in my opinion. A few dirty looks and curses is the extent of the gay bashing I have experienced after living here a year and a half. A few which could have been attributed to my admittedly awful driving as much as my gay pride stickers. Parts of Charlotte are very gay friendly but they are VERY SMALL PARTS :cry: It also does not help that McCrory is not gay friendly. He may have limited actual power but Mayors do set the tone for their cities. Mayor Coble of Columbia welcomed the HRC Carolinas Dinner this year. Our own Mayor would not. Pathetic. Charlotte is advancing on many fronts but is sorely lacking in the gay friendly dept outside of the Banks which are gay friendly because it makes good business sense and is the right thing to do. This reality has not seeped into the political/tourism sector of the city. Its insane in this day and age that the gay community has to literally "fight City Hall" to have a pride festival, its insulting and demeaning to all the responsible tax paying gays in this community that contribute a TON to the local economy. We deserve to be looked down upon when "world class" cities such Philly, Atl, Boston, etc etc do not have the same bigoted mentality and embrace and encourage diversity, hopefully things will improve but change will be incremental and very slow.

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McCroy has appeared to have aspirations towards either a state or national political office given his role as attack dog during the 2004 Republican national convention. He can't do this without significant support from the GOP. If he openly supported Gays that would immediately sign the death warrant to his future political career given the current national platform of that party and its pandering to religious extremism and it's intolerance for anyone that might stray from that platform.

As you mentioned the real political power in Charlotte lies with the city council but it really stinks that we have a Mayor like this. Charlotte could be seen as a much more progressive city than it is simply by him taking a supportive stand. Think Seattle for example.

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Seattle politicians have been tripping all over themselves to woo the gay community since the 1980s. When the national gay marriage controversy surfaced a while back, almost the entire Seattle city council came out for full gay marriage. Seattle's mayor said he supported full gay marriage, but had no control over it.

But this kind of progressive social attitude doesn't just support gays--it supports the entire city. Everyone in the city gains from living in a city that celebrates diversity:)

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Having politicians that project a welcoming image does go a very long way. The Democrats on City Council are somewhat lukewarm supportive of us gays :shades: especially during Election Season! I wonder why...gay money is just as good as straight at those times :lol: and then we just get ignored until the next time around. Anyhow, this thread is supposed to be about gay tourism marketing and I can ramble on until the cows come home about gay rights in general :ph34r: The only local politician I have genuine respect for gaywise is Parks Helms, who has stood up for us again and again. So, back on topic. Philly has been lauded for their agressive gay marketing and its greatly paid off. Equality Forum was held there this year and overall Philadelphia is viewed as gay welcoming nationwide. Charlotte is always going to be a relatively conservative and traditional area but I would like to think that those in charge of drawing visitors to our fair city would look through their red state glasses and promote more than just Nascar. Charlotte ain't Asheville and never will be but it would be nice if a progressive and gay friendly breeze could waft down the mountain to Charlotte every once in awhile!

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And just think, when I came out as a teenager in 1972, Charlotte was the ONLY "liberal city" in the state:)

Back then Asheville was but a remote backwater.

Chapel Hill was liberal then too. But everyone in the state wanted to visit and party in Charlotte!

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The comments are sad and disappointing yet not surprising.

Metro, Charlotteman and others, can you post more about being gay in Charlotte in past decades? Is life here very different now?

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Metro, Charlotteman and others, can you post more about being gay in Charlotte in past decades? Is life here very different now?

I was fortunate as I was young enough to have come during a fairly liberal time in the last 50 years of history. It's a bit of a paradox as society in general in the late 70s, was far less conservative than it is now, or at least, the very vocal conservative minority was not as organized against Gays and Lesbians as it is now. Conservative politicians in those days preferred to race bait to gain votes, today its Gay baiting as the recent cries for an amendment against Gay marriage would prove.

However when I came out at the end of the 70s, the Gay community was still mostly underground with gathering places mostly in the downtrodden parts of town or disguised for the appearance of being something other than it was. Charlotteman may remember Josh's restaurant on E. Blvd. There were a lot of political gains and social gains being made by Gays at this point but like most things much it had yet to reach Charlotte. In these days prior to the internet, there was something called the Gay & Lesbian Switchboard of Charlotte which provided a way for Gays and Lesbians to find out about the community, locations of the bars, help for issues and so forth. I was a volunteer for this board for a long time and for several years I scheduled volunteers to man the lines. This switchboard is still in business, believe it or not, and is the oldest switchboard of its type on the east coast. It was organizations such as this which was part of the "glue" to the sence of community amongst Gays and Lesbians at the time.

In those days I was quite comfortable with this arrangement and figured that society would slowly accept us into the mainstream. There were never really any Gay neighborhoods in Charlotte, but there were certain apartment complexes where there were a high percentage of renters who were and they were great places to live. I lived in one for a while on Park Road which had the nickname "Vaseline Valley" (joke amongst ourselves) where there were all kinds of inpromptu social activties, parties and other things going on that single young people in their 20s get involved with. It was a bit of a bohemian lifestyle as days were spent hanging around the pool, going to work and out to party at night. The world did not bother us as long as we stayed out of the limelight.

That is until AIDs came to Charlotte. In the mid 80s, I would guess late 1984, Charlotte saw its first cases of AIDs Because of the nature of the disease it swept through the Gay community in Charlotte like wildfire. I remember the first friend of mine dying from it in 1985 and many more for the rest of the 1980s. I have photos of parties that I had where every one of the males in the party are dead from this terrible disease. Until the advent of AZT there was no treatment and a diagnosis was a death sentence. In Charlotte this caused a great deal of homophobia to arise as it was then considered a Gay disease and it was really difficult to find a doctor that would provide treatment, there was no where go to for counseling, and only one funeral home would provide services for the people that would die from this disease. For a Gay man it was a very stressful time. Because of this, 4 Gay men got together and formed an organization where Gay men could go for help. This became the Metrolina Aids Project and is now a major institution in Charlotte. I was aquainted with a couple of the founders of this group. AIDS ironically forced America to recognize and in a way accept Gays in America and Charlotte was no exception to this.

In the early 1990s, MAP had decided to pass out safe sex cards. This was to educate people of course on how to avoid AIDs. Unfortunately MAP was taking money from the United Way and the "Religious Right" in Charlotte, made a big issue out of these cards saying that they promoted immorality and convinced the United Way and the county council to prevent these cards from being distributed by MAP. As a result Gays got togther to fight agains these zeliots and formed the group First Tuesday that I mentioned above. The name comes from the fact that elections are always held on the first tuesday in November. They ended up distributing these cards. Unfortunately, even today, we have county commissioners like Bill James that would rally against a same sex card so this fact has not changed much.

In 1987 I met my current partner and we will celebrate our 20 year anniversary next year. During this period we have lived as a Gay couple in several parts of Charlotte and now up at Lake Norman and we have always been welcomed by our neighbors and accepted as a couple. Sure we have run across homophobes, here but I think there are a consistant number of assholes that really hasn't changed much over time. In the 1970s we probably would have had to restrict ourselves to a few select places in Charlotte, but now I don't think it matters where a Gay couple lives in this city.

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Thanks for the trip down memory lane Marc. As terrible as AIDS is, it made America realize that gay people were everywhere in society--not just the stereotypes that people felt comfortable making fun of--but suddenly they realized that their neighbors, their co-workers, their relatives, their friends and even their favorite male movie star were gay.

My first experience going to a gay bar in CLT was to a famous drag bar that used to be on S. Blvd called Oleen's--I went in there with my redneck BF from W-S (the one who drove the jacked up orange Charger) and when I walked in the bar the first thing I saw was a drag queen singing a Tammy Wynette song in a wedding dress--it almost scared me back into the closet! :lol:

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Thanks for the trip down memory lane Marc. As terrible as AIDS is, it made America realize that gay people were everywhere in society--not just the stereotypes that people felt comfortable making fun of--but suddenly they realized that their neighbors, their co-workers, their relatives, their friends and even their favorite male movie star were gay.

My first experience going to a gay bar in CLT was to a famous drag bar that used to be on S. Blvd called Oleen's--I went in there with my redneck BF from W-S (the one who drove the jacked up orange Charger) and when I walked in the bar the first thing I saw was a drag queen singing a Tammy Wynette song in a wedding dress--it almost scared me back into the closet! :lol:

You guys really make me appreciate the Charlotte and society in general that I get to live in. Things have definitely changed. Some for better, and in the case of politicians using us for political gain, for the worse. At least we have seen the changes that have come for race relations and can hope one day that a gay couple will be no more noticed that a mixed couple is today. I remember when seeing a mixed race couple was a big deal (not to me) and would get stares or even words, now it is everywhere and is not a big deal -- at least in metropolitan areas.

Metro -- enjoyed what you've said -- i grew up in Charlotte, not far from TAGS, but never really knew anything at all about its gay scene till I jumped out after college.

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That was very interesting and informative Metro, thank you. I am 28 and came out on Hilton Head Island. What a fabulous gay scene there is down there just like Fire :rofl: NOT I got involved in the gay community when I went to The College of Charleston. Its all relative to where you moved from as I have found Charlotte's gay community to be very welcoming and less cliqueish and stratified than Charleston's. Charlotte as as whole seems to be a bit schizo about all the gays in the Queen City :lol: Most people don't care much either way as long as we keep our heads down and are not visible: all the drama regarding Charlotte Pride. Nationally, Americans are becoming more accepting of homosexuality every year, all the polls say it. The country is slowly coming around and Charlotte will too,eventually. No matter what Bill James says :rolleyes:

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I went to Asheville today and participated in the Stonewall Remembrance Rally and March from Pritchard Park downtown through the city and back. It was a lot of fun and unifying! I think Pride Charlotte should consider a march in the future. It could be run on the same route as the AIDS Walk. Its important to be visible and show the strength and spirit of Charlotte's gay community. It could also draw gay tourists :) And while our city might not be as supportive of the idea as Asheville's adminstration, I don't see how they could deny a permit if we followed application guidelines. Just a thought :thumbsup:

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I grew up in SC and now live in Atlanta. I have family in Charlotte. Basically, I keep up with what's going on in Charlotte fairly well for an "outsider" as such. And one thing that has always fascinated me about Charlotte is that despite its decent size and its importance as a corporate center, it still has a real "Bible Belt" side with the social conservatives exercising a lot of influence. That unfortunately means a lot a gay baiting. I just cannot think of many peer cities in the country or even the South where that is so much the case. The attitude is more like Greenville SC. If there was an attempt to block the gay pride festival in Atlanta, the city council would practically laugh them out of the council chambers. There are several smaller cities even in the Carolinas that are move gay friendly compared to Charlotte. I have never considered Charlotte particularly gay hostile compared to much of the South, but I have never considered it particularly gay friendly either. I agree though that it is slowly changing. So from one outsider, if I was looking for a gay friendly place to visit or live, Charlotte would not be at the top of the list by a long shot.

There are some reasons why Charlotte may not be as liberal on gay issues. Unlike Columbia or Chapel Hill, Charlotte does not really have any "college town" thing going on--and that usually makes a place more gay friendly in outlook. Charlotte is more corporate, which typically means conservative in outlook. Also, another big issue is the city proper. With NC's liberal annexation laws, cities like Charlotte wind up with a lot of suburbs actually in the city proper (as opposed to Atlanta where the last annexation of any significance was in 1952). I would guess that the larger city proper with more suburban type areas gives a more conservative slant to the politics of a municipality. Certainly, Columbia would not be as liberal if areas of Lexington County had ever been annexed into the city. Atlanta would not be as liberal if Cobb County was somehow in the city proper. So, political progressives may want to reconsider bringing so much suburban type areas into the central city proper.

Having said all of that, I still attribute Charlotte's attitudes more to the sizable influence of social conservatives in the region.

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Its true that many cities with large universities that are downtown tend to be more liberal and hence gay friendlier. Charlotte will never have that. Charlotte overall is not gay friendly but its not rabidly homophobic either. Its rather live and let live as long as you don't live too "loudly", a mindset that needs to change. I would like Charlotte to do more outreach to the affluent gay travel market but right now we don't have a lot to promote. The Whitewater Center could be a major draw. Businesswise, the private sector has been far more progressive in offering domestic partner benefits and non-discrimination policies than the government has. Bank of America and Wachovia being no exception. Their primary motivation being good business sense and fairness second but its progress.I suppose that is not saying much... but one can lead a very openly gay life in all the city neighborhoods. The gay community is constantly growing so I don't see Charlotte as a place that should be avoided. You get a lot more glares on the road once when you head for suburbia..I know from experience :lol:

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What I find amusing is that of the famous Gang of Five that caused trouble (as in negativity regarding gay/lesbian issues) in the last decade, three of them were not raised in Charlotte or the South (South FL is not the south). Bill James and Tom Bush are both born and raised in South Florida, Hoyle Martin is from Brooklyn, NY.

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