America is currently experiencing particularly volatile growing pains as some in our country continue to wrestle with issues surrounding gender presentation and sexual orientation.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in small towns across the country and here in North Carolina.
In recent years LGBTQ Pride events have moved beyond larger cities and into smaller towns. Across North Carolina it’s not uncommon for places like Salisbury, Lexington, Chapel Hill and Apex, among others, to host their own Pride festivals.
Controversy came to the fore recently when the town of Apex announced they would be canceling a portion of their pride event, The Drag Queen Story Hour, because of complaints and threats from individuals and groups in the area. The presentation was geared towards children and youth and designed to promote understanding and appreciation for diversity in gender presentation.
Amidst a continuing plethora of anti-trans legislation and generalized intolerance from many conservatives and most of the Republican party, it was announced Saturday, June 4, the presentation was being canceled.
Apex Mayor, Jacques Gilbert posted on his Facebook page the following message:
“It continues to be my goal to ensure that all voices in our community are represented.
“I have received a variety of feedback regarding the drag queen Story Hour at the upcoming Apex Pride festival.
“Given that this part of the event was not originally presented when the event was proposed, I met with representatives from the organization hosting the event, the Apex festival committee, and presented the feedback I have received from citizens.
“Today I was notified that the Apex Festival commission has taken the feedback into careful consideration and has decided to remove the drag queen story or from the event.”
That didn’t last long. A bevy of parents, both straight and from the LGBTQ community voiced their disappointment and concern at what seemed like censorship.
In response, EqualityNC quickly stepped up to the plate as a sponsor for the presentation, and it continued as had originally been planned, without incident.
“It felt really important for us to hold down the space for the community, to work with folks who are supportive of the LGBT community and make sure that the focus was not on the people who hate us but the focus was on us and having these safe spaces, EqualityNC’s Kendra Johnson told the Raleigh News and Observer.