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Your guide to pride

CL's picks for the best of this year's LGBT-centric celebration

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Unlike some backward-thinking elected officials in South Carolina (based on their response to a recent controversial advertising campaign), we at Creative Loafing know for a fact that Charlotte is so gay.

Well, at least it is for the next few days when Pride Charlotte hits town.

You know, Pride Charlotte? It's that annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities -- but that isn't all. It's also a time to remember and reflect truths about prejudices that still exist across North Carolina, the United States and the world. "I believe Pride Charlotte 2008 offers the LGBT community a day where they can come together and feel empowered," says Matt Comer, Pride Charlotte's media and marketing chair. "It also sends a message to city and county leaders that the LGBT and their family and friends are here and that we deserve to be treated with respect."

CL got the lowdown on a ton of events scheduled to go down during Pride; here's a look at a few of 'em:

VIEWING OF SOUTHERN COMFORT: Watch the documentary film (a winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001) that trails the life of Robert Eads, a transgendered man who faces discrimination in Georgia. A group discussion will follow the film. July 23. Free. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and film begins at 6:30 p.m. Bag dinners will be available for $5 per person. Childcare is also available and free with purchase of dinner or a donation. To make reservations for dinners and/or child care, email: toryn@pridecharlotte.com. Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church, 9704 Mallard Creek Road. 704-510-0008. www.puuc.org.

PRE-PRIDE POTLUCK DINNER AND GAME NIGHT: Eat, mingle and play games while dressing up in your best "Pridewear." July 24. Dinner is from 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. and games will be from 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m. The Lesbian & Gay Community Center, 1000 Seaboard St., Suite B-11. (part of the N.C. Music Factory complex). 704-333-0144. www.gaycharlotte.com.

DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL: Join former Army Sgt. Darren Manzella, an openly gay medic who's been featured on 60 Minutes. He'll be speaking about his experiences, including his discharge from the Army and work with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Former Air Force Sgt. David Hall, who is part of an ongoing court case that challenges the constitutionality of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, will be there as well. July 25. Refreshments and snacks begin at 7 p.m. and program begins at 7:30 p.m. The Lesbian & Gay Community Center, 1000 Seaboard St., Suite B-11. 704-333-0144. www.gaycharlotte.com.

MISS PRIDE CHARLOTTE PAGEANT AND AN INTIMATE NIGHT WITH PETER PAIGE: Presented by Sabrina Love of Sabrina Love's Queer View, an online LGBTQ talkshow, and Velocity. Watch the premiere of the show, and see Love interview Peter Paige, who played Emmett Honeycutt on the hit TV series Queer as Folk. Paige has also made appearances on Will & Grace, Girlfriends, Caroline in the City, American Dad, Related, Grey's Anatomy and Without a Trace. Cover charge will apply. July 25. Doors open at 10 p.m., pageant starts at 11 p.m. and Peter Paige follows. Velocity/Crave, 935 S. Summit Ave. 704-333-0060. www.velocitync.com.

MOTORCYCLE RIDE TO PRIDE: Motorcycle riders are invited to meet at The Lesbian And Gay Community Center and zoom to Pride Charlotte together. July 26. 11 a.m. The Lesbian & Gay Community Center, 1000 Seaboard St., Suite B-11 (part of the N.C. Music Factory Complex). E-mail: ethnicfoodjunkie@yahoo.com. www.gaycharlotte.com.

PRIDE CHARLOTTE 2008 (The main event): Thousands from Charlotte's LGBT community and others are expected to be on hand to witness a variety of speakers and musicians on two different stages. The festival will also feature dancers and spoken word artists. Below, you'll find a list of some of the entertainers performing on the Main and Community Stages.

Main Stage:

Spoken word artists perform at 11:50 p.m.

• Greensboro-based indie rocker Rodie Ray plays at 12:30 p.m.

• The Queen City Outlaws, a country/Western dance group of Southern Country Charlotte will show off their down-home dance moves at 1:50 p.m.

• Soul man Ira Levi will deliver his vibes onstage at 2:20 p.m. He's known for his start in music as a dance artist (oh yeah, and his hit "Let The Children Dance!").

• The Lesbian duo, Marlee & Tully of Sugarbeach performs at 3:45 p.m.

• It's a pop, folk, country combo of melodies that Josh Zuckerman will dish out when he takes the stage at 4:15 p.m. After his releases of albums A Totally New Sensation in 2002 and Out From Under in 2006, Zuckerman has toured the world, playing with chart-topping music acts like The Indigo Girls, Macy Gray, Joan Jett and B.B. King.

Community Stage:

• Shane Windmeyer of Campus Pride speaks at 12 p.m.

• Hugh Hammond of Partners in Peace speaks at 12:05 p.m.

• Yasmine's (of Magic Hips) student troupe, The Beledi Beat Dancers perform a set of Middle Eastern belly dancing at 1:40 p.m.

• The Charlotte Roller Girls will give a demonstration of their skating techniques at 3:35 p.m.

July 26. Free. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Gateway Village, 800 W. Trade St.

POOL PARTY AND BEAR-B-Q: Presented by Charlotte Eagle, you can splish-splash, mingle and listen to the grooves that DJ Danny spins. July 26. $10. 12 p.m.- 4 p.m. Ramada Woodlawn and Conference Center, 212 Woodlawn Road. 704-525-8350. www.ramadawoodlawn.com. There will also be a pre-party at Sidelines Sports Bar, 4544 South Blvd. (next to Charlotte Eagle) from 7 p.m.-10 p.m.

PRIDE RECOVERY BRUNCH: Hartigan's will serve brunch specials, limited grill items and feature a Bloody Mary bar. July 27. Prices vary. 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Hartigan's Irish Pub, 601 S. Cedar St.

HOLLYWOOD SQUARES: Hosted by Roxy C. Moorecox, this event donates proceeds to House of Mercy. July 27. Charlotte Eagle, 4544 South Blvd. 704-679-9901. www.charlotteeagle.com.

For more information about Pride-related events, visit www.pridecharlotte.com.

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