Over the past two decades the state of North Carolina has kept a tight grip on what it would allow drivers to have printed on their personalized automotive tags.

For the most part, text on car tags never stepped far beyond “family” friendly and “wholesome” American culture. 

The LGBTQ community has always been a resourceful lot, so in years past (mostly throughout the 1990s and 2000s) and up until just a few weeks ago – Queers in North Carolina showed their pride on wheels in a variety of ways, ranging from rainbow and pink triangle tags often placed on the front of a car to similar stickers in car windows. The Human Rights Campaign’s equal symbol also became a frequently seen sticker to be found on the back of automobiles driven by many in the LGBTQ community

Those are still popular but now there’s another option: state issued personalized “vanity” plates.

North Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV), after more than 20 years, finally made the decision to review their Do Not Issue list of 9,000 or more words and phrases that are not allowed on automobile license plates. When they were finished, more than 200 items had been removed from the states prohibited plates list, among them over two dozen related to the LGBTQ community.

“Anything on the ‘Do Not Issue’ list should not include the LGBT community,” said DMV commissioner Wayne Goodwin, in an interview January 13 with Winston-Salem radio station WFDD. “I don’t know how long the terms that relate to the LGBT community were on the list, but with my administration they are coming off.”

Among those directly related and identified with the LGBTQ community were such words and phrases as femme, gay, gaydcvr, gaygal, gayguy, gayhaven, gayheavn, gaypride, kindagay, LAGay, Lesbian, Queer, Soooogay, Soqueer and Trans, as well as a number of others.

If you think the list is limited, don’t worry. There’s no need to rush to claim your personalized tag: they can also be blended with letters, numbers and punctuation marks, which makes the list of possibilities practically endless.

“It’s a positive step forward for car enthusiasts and drivers in general in the LGBTQ community,” offered Darryl Hall, a co-administrator of the Facebook Charlotte-based Bent Car Club, a group of LGBTQ vintage car enthusiasts. “But I’m not sure everyone will be on board with it. 

“Because of the current political climate, it’s like an advertisement inviting right-wing extremists to vandalize your car. Still, it’s good to see another way for our community to express their identity.”

Despite the excitement surrounding the changes that allow queer drivers to express their identity, some LGBTQ phrases still remain on the Do Not Issue list, like gaysok and gaylib.

According to Goodwin, they will likely come off the list as the review process continues. Goodwin also added the DMV always welcomes feedback from the public.

David Aaron Moore is a former editor of Qnotes, serving in the role from 2003 to 2007. He is currently the senior content editor and a regularly contributing writer for Qnotes. Moore is a native of North...