UNION COUNTY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — One does not have to look far to see support for the LGBT community in Union County. In downtown Monroe, there are literal signs of support on one business, along with a Pride flag.
What is seen here is part of a larger change that has been happening fairly recently, but some in Union County have made it known that they flat-out do not like it.
“To see the anger that I’m seeing from people, it is surprising because I thought we had moved past George Wallace and Jesse Helms, and we haven’t,” said Cristal Robinson, President of Union County Pride.
The organization is set to have its first-ever Pride festival in September, but Robinson said the group has been feeling the brunt of attacks coming from others within the county against him.
“These people keep saying things,” she said, noting that the language could have an influence on others who may attempt to be more violent.
The specific words being tossed around would be offensive to anyone. Queen City News has seen some of the posts and messages for ourselves, which have called the group behind Union County “perverted”, accusing them of “pedophile grooming” and referring to them as a “den of vipers”, and that’s only on one public Facebook page posting.
The language has been used to demonize the LGBT community for decades, but has recently picked up as some groups nationally have highlighted some parts of the community they find objectionable. A particular focus has been on the transgender community and on measures limiting the discussion of LGBT topics or history in public classrooms.
Robinson noted there have also been credible threats against the organization, with some members fearing for their safety.
In addition to the posts, there is also an online petition against the event, which currently has 121 signatures.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that we have an organized effort to create online outrage, pouring outrage towards transgender people, drag performers, and the LGBT community at large,” said Matt Comer with Charlotte Pride.
Comer noted the language is antiquated and flat-out wrong, while Robinson noted the same passages of the Bible being used to condemn her organization and the LGBT community were also used against those who fought for civil rights.
“That rhetoric did not stop our movement from progressing, and it’s not going to stop us now,” said Comer.
Robinson noted that the controversy over the Pride events and festivals has only sparked more interest in the organization, noting that tickets for events are already starting to sell out.
She also noted that, despite whatever one may believe about the Pride festivals, they are at their core a celebration of individuality and self-expression, and they realize many people see that out of the organization.
“This Pride is for everyone,” Robinson said.
Robinson said they will have volunteers to maintain the safety of their Pride event, which will likely include escorting people to and from the event.