Charlotte, North Carolina, affectionately known as the “Queen City,” is gaining a reputation as a southern hub for the LGBTQA+ community. With a rich tapestry of history, welcoming neighborhoods, and progressive movements, the city is blossoming into a space where everyone can find both community and acceptance.

Charlotte’s LGBTA+ history went mostly undocumented until 1968, when Oleen’s and The Scorpio Lounge opened. Oleen’s was “The Show Bar of the South,” known for launching the careers of some of the city’s most legendary drag queens. It closed in 1997. The Scorpio, still open for business, began its life as a disco and drag show venue and has evolved back to its roots. Expect big (wildly diverse) crowds and much festivity here. 

The 70s and early 80s marked the launch of Charlotte’s first-ever gay publication, the Charlotte Free Press and what is now the nation’s longest running lesbian journal, Sinister Wisdom. In 1981, the Queen City Quordinators debuted as a fundraising-focused organization and put together North Carolina’s first-ever Pride events. 

The 1990s brought a wave of advocacy, with the foundation of groups like the LGBT Community Center, and a broader acceptance of the LGBTQ community. For more details, check out the City of Charlotte’s excellent timeline of local LGBTQA+ history.

Charlotte Pride Festival | Photo by Bobby Kerns/Courtesy Charlotte Pride

LGBTIQA+ Charlotte Now – Facts and Figures

It’s challenging to pin down exact numbers regarding how many residents identify as LGBTQ, as census data doesn’t always include comprehensive sexual orientation demographics. However, studies from groups like the Williams Institute have estimated that North Carolina’s LGBTQ population is around 4.5% of adults, which would break down to tens of thousands of folks in Charlotte. We bet the actual percentage/numbers are significantly higher. 

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The city’s first pride parade was organized in the 1990s, and since then, the annual Charlotte Pride event has grown exponentially, from 2,000 attendees in 2001 to roughly 260,000 people at the 2023 event. 

Safety and Community Support

Unfortunately, Charlotte has a crime rate of 40 per 1,000 residents, which is one of the highest in the United States. This means that there is a 1 in 25 chance of becoming a victim of violent or property crime. Hate crimes are classified as a misdemeanor in North Carolina, and so carry a relatively light penalty. Charolotte state Senator Jay Chaudhuri has been trying to pass a Hate Crimes Prevention Act for five years, with no success yet. 

Charlotte is currently seeing a drop in crime, but there is no reporting for hate crimes. As in any urban area, it’s important to be alert and aware of your surroundings. If you’re considering moving to Charlotte, you’ll also want to delve into the crime rates for the specific area you’re considering and perhaps visit the area during different times to get a personal feel for the environment.

Back in 2016, North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (HB2) required individuals to use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in government buildings. After boycotts and plenty of backlash, the bill was repealed in 2017. The state does not currently have laws protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, but Charlotte is working to be more progressive. In 2021, the Charlotte City Council unanimously passed an updated non-discrimination ordinance that included expanded protections for sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. 

Good places to know about in Charlotte include:

Twirl to the World and its TAP emergency assistance program that provides financial support, health services and basic goods for LGBTQ adults in the Charlotte metropolitan area. 

Charlotte Pride is now one of the largest LGBTQ Pride organizations in the American Southeast. It offers a wealth of programs, projects, and activities, including the annual Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade, Charlotte Pride Interfaith Programs, and Reel Out Charlotte, The Queen City’s Annual LGBTQ Film Festival, among others. 

The LGBT Chamber of Commerce, based in Uptown, plays an instrumental role in fostering an inclusive business environment, ensuring LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and customers find support.

Charlotte’s Best Gay-Friendly Neighborhoods

Plaza Midwood

Just east of Charlotte’s Uptown district, Plaza Midwood has long been a beacon for the city’s LGBTQA+ community. Established in the early 20th century, this eclectic and vibrant neighborhood has grown to become one of Charlotte’s most inclusive, offering a unique mix of historic charm and modern flair.

Plaza Midwood brims with diversity, offering a refreshing blend of cultures and backgrounds. Walking its streets, you’ll see a mix of restored early-1900s bungalows juxtaposed against chic urban condos. Murals and street art are prevalent, showcasing the neighborhood’s creative spirit.  The residents are supportive and protective of their neighbors, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

What’s happening in Plaza Midwood?

Heads up: most places in this neighborhood, whether explicitly LGBTQ+-oriented or not, welcome everyone with open arms.

  • While not specifically a gay bar, Petra’s is certainly gay-friendly. It hosts a variety of events, including drag shows, queer art showcases, a queer variety show, and a wide variety of live music performances.
  • Midwood Smokehouse is renowned for its authentic barbecue, and warm, rustic ambiance.
  • Zada Jane’s Corner Café has a quirky setting, laid back vibe, and serves up organic and locally sourced dishes.
  • Common Market is a beloved institution in Plaza Midwood, this market/café is a gathering spot known for its inclusive environment and community events.
  • The Workman’s Friend is an Irish pub that offers a mix of authentic Irish fare and Southern favorites in a cozy setting.
  • White Rabbit can help you fulfill your wildest fantasies or your basic need for a new T-shirt. (Adults only, please.)
  • Time Out Youth offers support services to LGBTQ+ youth in the neighborhood and the broader Charlotte area. They provide counseling, emergency housing, and community support.
  • Charlotte Pride operates across the city, but many of its events and initiatives find a home in Plaza Midwood.
  • Several churches in and around Plaza Midwood, like the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, openly welcome and affirm LGBTQ+ individuals.

NoDa (North Davidson)

NoDa is just north of Uptown Charlotte, and is a neighborhood renowned for its bohemian spirit, inclusive vibe, colorful murals, and vibrant arts scene. Its name derives from its primary street, North Davidson. The area is packed with art galleries, music venues, and theaters. Streets are lined with a blend of historic buildings and modern architecture, giving the area a unique aesthetic. 

The LGBTQ+ presence is strong here, and you’ll see rainbow flags and pride-centric art pieces on many windows and walls. Local businesses and residents alike often rally in support of LGBTQ+ issues and events. Whether you’re an artist seeking inspiration, an LGBTQA+ individual looking for community, or simply someone wanting to enjoy a vibrant atmosphere, you’ll find it in NoDa.

What’s Happening in NoDa

  • Chasers nightclub has more than 30 years of experience in entertaining Charlotte. It recently been remodeled after changing ownership. The drinks are cheap, and the go-go boys are hot. 
  • Haberdish, known for its southern kitchen feel, is a favorite for both its delectable food and inclusive environment. Have a cocktail or two!
  • Cabo Fish Taco is a popular spot for its mouth-watering tacos, and the laid-back vibe ensures everyone feels welcome.
  • Revolution Pizza & Ale House is a fun and relaxed venue, it’s not just the pizzas that are a hit, but also the sense of community and inclusiveness.
  • NoDa Company Store is known for its local brews, snacks, and its welcoming atmosphere. The outdoor patio is a great place to hang out and meet locals.
  • Heist Brewery offers a varied menu from brunch to dinner. Beyond its culinary delights, Heist is known for a community-oriented atmosphere where everyone feels at home.
  • Stroll down North Davidson Street to check out street art and do a little shopping. 

South End

 Adjacent to Uptown Charlotte lies South End, a bustling and rapidly evolving neighborhood known for its modern charm, historical significance, and a robust array of dining and entertainment venues. 

Once an industrial zone, it’s been revitalized into a dynamic urban locale. Old mills have become chic lofts, and dilapidated buildings have been transformed into trendy eateries and boutiques. The neighborhood’s aesthetic is a harmonious blend of the old and the new, marked by the iconic Rail Trail, a pedestrian pathway that teems with art and activity. With a notable presence of the LGBTQ+ community, South End seamlessly blends its history with a forward-thinking spirit.

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What’s happening in South End 

The South End is known for its vibrant arts and brewery scene rather than being specifically renowned for LGBTQ+-centered venues. That said, many venues pride themselves on being welcoming and inclusive to all, including the LGBTQ+ community. Some of our favorite places include:

  • Price’s Chicken Coop is famous for its fried chicken.
  • Hawkers Asian Street Fare offers a wide variety of casual Asian foods
  • Wooden Robot Brewery is a popular brewery with a gastropub feel.
  • Sycamore Brewing is known for its craft beers and frequent events.
  • The Suffolk Punch features a coffee bar, culinary café, and fermentation lab.
  • Seoul Food Meat Co is a Korean-inspired restaurant and bar.
  • The Bar at 316 is a standout gay bar that offers a mix of cozy vibes and lively entertainment, from karaoke to drag shows.
  • The South End Rail Trail often becomes a canvas for LGBTQ+ celebrations, particularly during Pride month. The pathway hosts various art installations and events, many of which emphasize LGBTQ+ themes and inclusivity.


Contrary to its name, Uptown is Charlotte’s downtown area. This is where gleaming high-rises meet charming historic structures, all interconnected with bustling streets and green spaces. Public art installations, theaters, and museums sprinkle the district, showcasing Charlotte’s deep appreciation for culture and arts. 

What’s happening in Uptown

  • Cathode Azure Club is an upscale lounge known for its trendy atmosphere and lively events. From themed nights to spirited drag shows, it’s a favorite spot for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Ink N Ivy’s eclectic décor and menu, combined with a commitment to inclusivity, make it a hotspot for many.
  • 5Church offers a chic dining atmosphere and is known for its support of diverse causes, including issues that matter to the LGBTQA+ community.
  • The King’s Kitchen: Beyond serving delicious Southern-inspired dishes, The King’s Kitchen is also known for its philanthropic efforts, and this includes support for inclusivity and diversity.
  • Sea Level NC: For those who love seafood, this place offers a fresh take on coastal dishes. Their welcoming ambiance and participation in community events have made them a favorite.
  • Mimosa Grill: This upscale dining establishment is not only known for its culinary delights but also for its active participation in community events, including those centered around LGBTQ+ celebrations.

Moving to Charlotte?

Charlotte, North Carolina, has shown progressive growth over the years in its acceptance and inclusivity towards the LGBTQA+ community. There’s a growing LGBTQ+ community and the city is home to one of the largest Pride festivals in the American Southeast. Numerous LGBTQA+ organizations and groups in Charlotte provide support, resources, and community engagement opportunities.

You can count on Bellhop to help make your move to Charlotte stress-free and easy. Use our moving cost calculator to get a quick view of the approximate costs, or just go right ahead and book your Bellhop move. We have local Charlotte movers as well as long-distance moving services in Charlotte. Questions? Contact us, we’re always happy to talk to you.

If you’re looking elsewhere in North Carolina, we also offer long-distance moves to Raleigh.

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Harmon Suhorsky
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