Last year was a difficult year for North Carolina politically. House Bill 2 opened up the LGBTQ community for discrimination and landed the state firmly in the national spotlight for the worst reasons. Then the LGBTQ community had to witness Charlotte repealing its expanded non-discrimination ordinance on the hopes of an HB2 repeal that never came.
To make matters worse, Republicans managed to maintain their supermajority in both the House and Senate, which allows for them to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. They have also gone to work doing their best to strip power away from Cooper before he had even taken office, by limiting gubernatorial hirings and appointments.
So the need to continue, and indeed intensify, the fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community is as pressing as ever.
Going forward together with strength
Campus Pride is preparing to move into a new office space this year, as is Time Out Youth Center, which began outgrowing its space. Both will continue their work with LGBTQ youth and young adults, who are particularly vulnerable to discriminatory laws such as HB2.
Campus Pride held a protest at the Charlotte Government Center after the failed HB2 repeal attempts, to remind people that real lives are at stake when we talk about people’s rights, and is poised to continue these efforts.
Transgender and gender non-conforming support group Genderlines is planning to hold an HB2 discussion with community leaders and elected officials, with MeckPAC pushing the effort as well. The meeting was planned for Jan. 7, but inclement winter weather resulted in the event being postponed. A new date had not yet been announced as of press time.
Genderlines founder Paige Dula told qnotes that Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Charlotte City Councilmember Julie Eiselt had expressed interest in attending the event, and that Bishop Tonyia Rawls had agreed to moderate.
“As a community, it is critical that we move from a one- or two-issue focus and see ourselves as part of a larger LGBTQ movement that has the unique needs of trans people, people of color, elders, low income folks, people with disabilities, youth and immigrants at the center,” said Rawls.
She noted that her group, The Freedom Center for Social Justice, does this through their campaigns and efforts, such as the Yes, You Can Go Campaign, which placing trans-affirming safe restroom signage in businesses.
They also have a Do No Harm Initiative, working with communities of faith to “reduce the harm caused by the misinterpretation of sacred texts and by harmful denominational policies,” as well as the Transgender Faith and Action Network, and the NC Intergenerational Programming, the latter of which partners with the NC NAACP and other social and civil rights groups.
When contacted by qnotes about their plans for the upcoming year, MeckPAC said the question helped them highlight their issues and priorities for the year, and used the opportunity to update its website with their answer to qnotes . Most notably, it wishes to expand into state elections.
“Ensuring that the LGBT community has elected officials who will advocate and support our community is paramount to its advancement,” they wrote. “This is why candidate evaluations, endorsements, and the continued advocacy on off-election years will remain as pillars of MeckPAC and its mission. Historically, this process meant Charlotte City Council and the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners.”
They added that now they intend to expand “into local state House and Senate races to ensure our local legislators are always in touch with their local constituents, in keeping with our success in making all politics local.”
Meanwhile, they will still fight to make sure “Charlotte maintains a pro-Equality city council and expands the current majority to a veto-proof majority through direct action,” and also to focus on intersectionality.
They pledge to “advocate for the most at-risk, bringing to the forefront the drastic differences experienced by people of color, trans people, and our youth versus those who have the most privilege. Our intersectional work will include areas like HIV/AIDS awareness, Welcoming Schools in CMS, and the struggles of the immigrant community.”
Another support group for transgender and gender non-conforming people, Transcend Charlotte, also intends to expand their work.
“We will continue to expand our services and build strong partnerships with other providers so all trans and gender non-conforming people feel they have a network of support despite any negative individual experiences or government sanctioned barriers,” said executive director Trey Greene.
It is through local leadership that gains can be made and maintained, so it gives hope to see such strong organizational work taking place in Charlotte.