DURHAM, N.C. — In the hit song “1999” Prince sings about his defiant intention to celebrate in the face of an impending cataclysm. The track would have been an appropriate theme for the 2011 NC Pride Fest and Parade, held Saturday, Sept. 24 in Durham on Duke University’s East Campus, where the mood was almost surprisingly lighthearted given the potential political catastrophe that looms.
Rather than the nuclear annihilation that threatens the song’s protagonist, North Carolina’s LGBT community faces a bruising May 2012 ballot battle over an anti-LGBT constitutional amendment that would not only limit marriage to one man and one woman, but also prohibit any recognition of same-sex relationships — possibly even by private agencies or businesses that currently offer domestic partner benefits to their workers.
While a scattering of anti-amendment signs were seen throughout the day, among the teeming crowd of revelers the most prominent sign of the coming fight was the small “No H8” icon painted on many of the broadly smiling faces.
The general air of levity that blanketed the Pride parade and festival could be misconstrued as fiddling while Rome burns, but it was more an act of rebellion, a refusal to surrender joy. Even a mid-afternoon deluge of rain couldn’t dampen spirits. Attendees smiled and laughed as they darted through the downpour, most settling under the vendor tents to wait out the bad weather.
Significant among the day’s speakers was a representative of Sen. Kay Hagan who revealed the Democratic senator’s decision to become a cosponsor of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. If approved, the bill will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of federally-protected classes with regard to fair hiring and employment practices.
This past June, the presenting organization behind NC Pride, Pride Committee of North Carolina, had their federal tax-exempt status revoked for non-compliance with required IRS tax filings. In May 2010, qnotes uncovered the group’s failure to submit Forms 990 over multiple years, which led to the revocation. We have subsequently published several reports on the situation.
Pride Committee Director John Short told qnotes in a July 2011 email: “We now expect to have our 501c3 status restored by December of this year.” He added that we will be sent a copy of the group’s IRS Form 990 the same month. qnotes will publish a follow-up/wrap-up article at that time. : :