You can’t stop Pride. Don’t even try. Human dignity and determination of spirit can’t be overshadowed by hate and prejudice. That’s exactly the message sent by the thousands who attended Pride Charlotte on Aug. 27, the same day hundreds of anti-gay protesters from Charlotte’s radical, religious right made a show of desperate force in an effort to stymie progress and turn back the clock on LGBT equality.
As a member this year of Pride Charlotte’s organizing committee, I had the overwhelmingly positive privilege of serving and volunteering with a phenomenal group of people. These folks, from all corners of our community, dedicated their time, talents and energy to a cause so much greater than themselves. It paid off.
As the day wound down on S. Tryon St. and as the Duke Energy Center lit up in rainbow glory, it became immediately apparent that something big had just happened — something the likes of which the Queen City has never seen. Pride Charlotte’s festival this year was the largest, in both attendance and physical space, ever produced by The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte or any other group that’s previously hosted Pride events here in years past. The event had some of the most diverse entertainment local Pride festivals have ever seen and a plethora of diverse vendors and participating organizations. To cap it all off, a full slate of Pride Week activities kept the Pride momentum flowing for 10 days. At the festival itself, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx made history by becoming the first mayor to ever speak at a local Pride event; he was joined by Chairman of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners Jennifer Roberts and several members of the Charlotte City Council.
The success of this year’s Pride Charlotte was overwhelming, but it came at an unfortunate time; LGBT North Carolinians find themselves facing a challenge of unprecedented importance. As I write this column, state lawmakers are ramping up to hear, potentially, a draconian anti-LGBT constitutional amendment that would forever write-off LGBT people as undeserving of the full rights of citizenship naturally afforded them in this great state. And, as you read, news of the amendment’s potential vote and its outcome will have already unfolded.
Whatever the outcome of the amendment vote, there is an absolute constant that can never be changed no matter the amount of hate and bigotry spewed across airwaves and on the streets by radical religious bigots or on the floor of our state’s hallowed legislature from radical anti-gay lawmakers. That absolute, my friends, is as solid as the ground upon which we walk and the ever-abiding truths that have shaped our nation’s continual march toward more and equal justice: All people are created equal and endowed with certain rights which can never really be stripped away.
If by the time you’re reading this, the amendment has gained the approval of the legislature and we now face a ballot campaign, take heart in the fact that truth always prevails. There are slips and there are falls, but, ultimately, as MLK reminds us, the arc of the moral universe always bends toward justice. LGBT people will have our day in the sun — anti-LGBT religious and legislative foes know this, and that is why they fight so desperately hard to stop our progress.
Pride Charlotte showed the Queen City the size, strength, value, diversity and courage of our local, LGBT community; any impending anti-LGBT ballot campaign will show the Old North State the same statewide. Whatever the outcome, we will be made stronger, knowing that attempts to strip away rights and freedoms never last, always finding their ultimate doom when the light of ever-prevailing liberty is cast upon them. : :
“The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1902-1932)
“The great ideals of liberty and equality are preserved against the assaults of opportunism, the expediency of the passing hour, the erosion of small encroachments, the scorn and derision of those who have no patience with general principles.”
— Benjamin Cardozo, U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1932-1938)