CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - Gay supporters of President Donald Trump who were denied a place in the city's annual Charlotte Pride parade are staging a protest at the popular event on Sunday afternoon.
The Charlotte-based Republican group Deplorable Pride said their march will begin 30 minutes before the parade, and they intend it to be "a non-confrontational peaceful demonstration." The group will walk from Romare Bearden Park on Church Street to the corner of Trade and Tryon streets, which is the center of Charlotte Pride activities.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police estimate up to 130,000 people will attend the two-day Charlotte Pride festival and parade, which is the largest annual parade in the city.
"Come and show your support for your fellow Trump supporters who are LGBT and are being persecuted by their own gay community," said statement on Deplorable Pride's Facebook page. "Please help us show that intolerance is not acceptable."
Charlotte Pride got national attention earlier this year when it decided not to include Deplorable Pride's 27-foot-long float featuring a female impersonator dressed as first lady Melania Trump. Plans also called for a handful of other female impersonators to wear blue-sequined "Make America Great Again" evening gowns.
A spokesman for Charlotte Pride defended its decision Friday, saying the nonprofit has the right to exclude any group it feels does not reflect the parade's values of welcoming groups on the fringes of American society, including undocumented immigrants.
"In the past, we have made similar decisions to decline participation from other organizations espousing anti-LGBTQ religious or public policy stances," according a Charlotte Pride statement. "Charlotte Pride envisions a world in which LGBTQ people are affirmed, respected, and included in the full social and civic life of their local communities, free from fear of any discrimination, rejection, and prejudice."
On Friday, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police said they were aware of the Deplorable Pride march and that it was the only known protest scheduled to coincide with Sunday's parade. The department said it continues to monitor social media for evidence that other types of protesters might show up.