During the “Join the Impact” series of protests in November 2008, following the passage of California’s Prop. 8, community members across the Carolinas joined together to take a stand and speak out against discrimination. On that day more than two dozen Eastern North Carolina residents joined together in protest in downtown Greenville.
Although small in number, the LGBT community of Eastern North Carolina is growing more vocal by the day. One call has been made for an organization to serve LGBT youth and another for an LGBT community center. Citizens are also joining together to challenge anti-gay actions by elected officials.
On July 13, nine community members protested again in Greenville, challenging the Pitt County Board of Commissioners on their consideration of an anti-gay, same-sex marriage resolution.
Protest organizer Randy Toler told Q-Notes that the nine individuals gathered to protest at the corner of a downtown intersection. Asked to leave by a business owner, the group moved to the Pitt County government building, where some spoke against the resolution during the Commission’s public comment period.
The controversy began at a Pitt County Commissioners’ meeting on June 29, when Commissioner David Hammond asked his fellow board members to consider the resolution putting the county on record as opposing same-sex marriage.
He said he wants to send a letter to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, to see if other counties will join the effort as well. Dozens of other county and municipal governments have already adopted resolutions calling for an amendment to be placed before voters.
Although Hammond says he is opposed to same-sex marriage, he also said he’d oppose a resolution calling specifically for a referendum by the citizens of the state.
While the issue has been discussed, the board took no immediate action on the item on June 29 or at the July 13 meeting.
Toler, a junior at East Carolina University, said he hopes the community can continue to rally together in order to stop a resolution from being passed. Although disappointed with the turn out for the protest Monday, he said he understood why some people couldn’t make it.
“A lot of it had to do with scheduling,” Toler said. “Several people on Facebook told me that they would be there but they had to be at work.”
In the past several weeks, Eastern North Carolina community members have called for establishing an organization for LGBT youth and a community center. Toler is optimistic both will come to fruition.
“I think it is completely possible as long as the people of the community are willing, for lack of better words, to man up and make it happen,” he said. “It is a completely realistic goal for an area that can be well-served for gay youth to turn to for counseling, medical referrals. It can happen but people are going to have to wake up and make it happen.”
Kevin Boyette, a recent East Carolina graduate, told the campus’ East Carolinian newspaper that he was working to establish a LGBT youth center. Boyette was one of just a few speaking against the idea of the anti-gay resolution at the July 13 meeting.
Community member James Smith has called for the creation of a community center. He is holding a community interest and planning meeting on Aug. 29 at 2 p.m. at the Tipsy Teapot, 409 S. Evans St., in Greenville.
Smith says he wants to also consider creating a Pride event for the area. Those interesting in attending the meeting or those with questions, comments or ideas can email Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.