A gender identity panel will be held at the Cabarrus County Library in Concord to examine the importance of supporting the LGBTQ community in rural areas. (Photo Credit: Cecilie Johnsen via Unsplash)

The Cabarrus County Public Library is hosting a pride event on August 21, as a way to encourage LGBTQ and allied individuals in rural areas to celebrate and discuss what it means to be queer in the South. From 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., patrons will be engaged in tie-dyeing, in-depth discussions and lectures. 

A Gender Identity Panel is the headliner for the Saturday afternoon event, with representatives from Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Concord-Kannapolis, Encompassing Margins Corporation (EMC) and Time Out Youth (TOY) sharing their advice. 

“The discussion panel will be a good opportunity for people to learn and understand more about gender identity,” explains Kyle White, Branch Manager of the Concord Library, “and the complex ways in which individuals experience it.” Mary Perez and Isabelle Roach from EMC will also be available to discuss the importance of Pride and the impact that LGBTQ-specific events can have on historically rural areas like Cabarrus county. 

White feels that all public libraries are safe spaces for all community members regardless of sexual orientation or gender. 

In planning the event, White and her colleagues have learned about the LGBTQ community and grown from the knowledge. While this is the first pride event the library has hosted with a gender identity panel, White offers, it will not be the last. She confirms the number of attendees and the presentations included in the upcoming five-hour long gathering have seen it grow into an event that could stretch far beyond the confines of its current time and space. 

Along with bringing an item to tie-dye in rainbow colors, participants have also been asked to bring an appetite for education and for snacks. “We believe this event has the potential to grow year after year as we have more time to plan and as more resources become available within our community,” says White.

It is through the connections the Cabarrus County Public Library made with local and national LGBTQ organizations that the initial idea for this event came about. EMC, a 501c3 nonprofit, has recently created “kits” for members of the community to reach out to their Homeowners Associations and neighbors about maintaining an LGBTQ-friendly public pool. These types of simple, do-it-yourself community outreach programs are exactly what Cabarrus County’s libraries will be implementing from now on. 

To sign up for the Pride Event, go to bit.ly/3jUBTBX

The Cabarrus County Public Library of Concord is located at 27 Union St. N. Call 704-920-2050 for more information about the library and upcoming events.

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