Happy Pride Everyone!
If we haven’t already met, my name is Lillian McKeever and I’m a Digital Fellow with Precinct 206 this summer. That simply means that I work on the website and social media, making sure that our online presence reflects the group and its values. This month, one project that was important to me was a pride post. Something for Instagram and Twitter to show that Precinct 206 was celebrating Pride Month this June. When I started, I had a clear vision in mind. I wanted to compile photos of pride in Davidson. Photos of flags in windows and displays in storefronts. Photos of little gestures and bigger ones. Photos of pride in Davidson simply for the sake of celebration and joy.
What I found when I went downtown was a bit different. As I walked past stores and looked in windows, I didn’t see the pride I was looking for. There were certainly exceptions, but overall, flags were few and far between. It didn’t look like pride month to me. My Mom asked if I wanted to take photos of my pride flag in Davidson, but that felt wrong. I don’t want to manufacture pride in order to let people know they are welcome in this town. I don’t want to pretend that Davidson has flags, rainbows, and open arms for LGBTQ+ folks when that is not what I saw. I don’t want to make a cheery pride post when the reality is that our town could do a lot better. We have a long way to go.
I love this town, and I truly believe that I have been very lucky to grow up as a queer person in Davidson. But, as I reflect on what pride month means, it’s not just celebration. Pride is about accountability. It is about growth and change. June marks anniversaries of the Stonewall rebellion and the legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states. It symbolizes the strength of the LGBTQ+ community and reminds us that complacency is not necessary; equity is.
The LGBTQ+ community has already been through a lot this year. In our own state, the passage of SB49, a “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and the continued attack of gender affirming care and trans women in sports, has been terrifying for lots of LGBTQ+ folks who call North Carolina home. These bills restrict basic access to healthcare and identity. They forbid trans girls from playing sports they love and make it so a gay public school student cannot come out without his parents being told. These laws will cause real harm and are only made scarier by the feeling that this is just the beginning. In North Carolina, it looks like the LGBTQ+ community will be at battle for quite some time.
Which brings us back to Davidson. A town where outright discrimination is rare but pride flags are too. A town in which I, as a queer person, have never felt afraid or hated by my community, but don’t necessarily feel supported by it either. I know it could be a lot worse, and in many places in this country it is, but pride month is not about settling. It is not only about counting the blessings we have, but also about imagining what it would look like if the world were even better. I must ask what it would look like, if among all the terrifying laws in our state’s congress, Davidson looked better. I think it would look like a town that not only tolerates or even accepts LGBTQ+ people, but a town that actively supports them. A town that takes its allyship to Main Street and the voting booth. A town with a few more rainbows.