Anti-LGBTQ protesters lined the streets outside White Rabbit. (Photo Credit: Randi Salvatore)

Hello everyone. I work part-time at White Rabbit. I have been working here since November 2019, and I LOVE my job, and my work fam! I moved to the Queen City from New York almost four years ago.

Getting this job was part of the right things coming together for me, to really feel connected to Charlotte, along with meeting my awesome girlfriend! Although I have been dating only girls for years now, I spent 40 years living straight, so I see myself as that same person. Again, being from N.Y., things don’t scare me easily, and my self-confidence doesn’t make me doubt myself or ever feel ashamed of who I am. For that, I am glad that I was the person working on Tuesday, Aug. 25, when at least nine older, white men showed up right in front of our store, White Rabbit, hollering, yelling and raising large signs with hateful, ridiculous words on them.

They were loud and so full of hate, and spewing stupidity, such as “Repent, repent…you nasty perverts. Give God back his rainbow, faggots, you stole it a long time ago.”

The phone started to ring, and it was local neighbors that had driven by and saw this hateful display out front. These neighbors included mothers, straight people, businesses owners — and they all asked me if I was OK. They offered to come to the store if I needed them, or if I did not feel safe.

White Rabbit employee Randi Salvatore. (Photo Credit: qnotes staff)

I felt so amazing at the kindness, love and support that showed up! I was truly touched that at least 10 people called within 30 minutes to see if “we,” White Rabbit, were “OK.” Central Coffee Co. next door called and shared their outrage at this display of hate outside, which went beyond our store to the corner of Louise Ave., the coffee shop parking lot. The female staff offered to come over if I needed anything and offered me any coffee or snacks. I thanked her and every other caller, for being so sweet and kind to take the time to think of us! I was not only “OK,” but I was touched and empowered to firsthand receive all the support from Plaza Midwood, while the angry men out front spewed “Lesbian you are going to Hell!” at me. I simply smiled, knowing that their actions were not very “Christian” and sure he was not agoing to get them to a better place.

A mother and her daughter walked into the store next, and the mother looked at me and said, “we have never been in here, but we just wanted to come in and offer you some emotional support.” If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I would have given them both a big hug! It was so great to feel this love and support, and did I mention, they were straight, even better! They made a purchase to support the store. Next a man walked into the store saying to me, “I have never been here, and I am not even gay, but I saw this yelling out front from up the street, and I had to come down and make sure all were OK, and support you!”

Yes! MORE LOVE! My heart personally was so touched and reminded of the good people and good deeds in the world, especially here in Plaza Midwood. Louisa from Central Coffee Co. came in with a bag of drinks and cookies, again apologizing to me for having to deal with the hate. Honestly, by this time, because of who I am as a person, and my own beliefs, the shouting outside was background noise, like white noise, but not exactly the kind to help you relax and sleep.

I was hearing and feeling the love that was winning over the hate in front of the store. For me, that hate was hitting our “rainbow” painted walls and bouncing off it back at them. The cops showed up and spoke to us. They also spoke to the “protesters,” who informed them that they would be moving on in 15 minutes. I was pleased with the cops also showing us support and kindness. They got a coffee next door and hung out awhile, to keep an eye on things. Sure enough, within about 15 minutes the protestors packed up their nasty, inappropriate signs and the noise drifted away.

Anti-LGBTQ protesters lined the streets outside White Rabbit. (Photo Credit: Randi Salvatore)

The hate was gone, but the love and support continued. Ice cream from Two Scoops Creamery and support from Seventh Sin Tattoo, both across the street from us. The rest of the day and into the night when we closed at 9 p.m., we even had a bunch of people come out and spread love with positive protest signs and outfits to support us, as a store, as a big part of the LGBTQ community. The next day we also were showered with more support and love. Gifts from Bridget at Living the Young Life, Sunflour Baking Company, and a wonderful collection of goodies from a group of awesome ladies, mothers who call themselves Plaza Midwood Moms!

Phone calls, social media posts, gifts, donations for the store and staff poured in over the 48 hours following this protest!  I personally am very overwhelmed and touched, as are all the staff here. I am dedicated to my job here and honored since I am the only female who works in the store. The only lesbian, which I am proud to say!

I am part of the LGBTQ community. My memory of this day will not focus on the hate spewed toward the LGBTQ community. I will forever be thankful and moved by the reaction from the Plaza Midwood neighborhood. The outpouring of kindness, love and support that was given to us is PRICELESS! I want to send a sincere Thank You to everyone. I feel stronger knowing I have so much support in my corner when I am here at work.

• • • • •

Much Appreciation

White Rabbi was showered with supportive gifts from Plaza Midwood Moms, individuals and businesses. (Photo Credit: qnotes staff)

On Aug. 25 around lunchtime, a group of mature white men with large signs of hate took to the sidewalk right in front of White Rabbit. Some of the man yelled at the top of their voices colorful words of hate and condemnation.

They were extremely ugly to our customers and our staff.

Then came the caring concern from our neighbors. As noted above, the Plaza Midwood community poured out support for us with love and compassion. For that we are so grateful.

Thank you Plaza Midwood Moms, the Plaza Midwood Merchant Association and all the businesses and individuals who showered us with support. This has meant so much to everyone here at White Rabbit.

Thank you from all of us,

Jim Yarbrough, Owner