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Friday September 17th

Chapel Hill and Carrboro collaborate to host Small Town Pride events throughout June

A rainbow flag hangs on Franklin Street on June 3.
Buy Photos A rainbow flag hangs on Franklin Street on June 3.

In honor of Pride Month, the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro are collaborating to host Small Town Pride, a local month-long celebration of the LGBTQ+ community this June.

The celebrations will feature raising Pride flags in both downtowns, social media campaigns that highlight local LGBTQ+ leaders, history and milestones, specials at local businesses and the Small Town Pride Video. 

There will also be a variety of in-person and virtual events including:

  • Drag Queen Story Time, taking place at Southern Community Park on Saturday, June 12 from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
  • An in-person Pride Food Truck Rodeo and Dance Party, which will take place on Thursday, June 24 from 5-8 p.m. at the Carrboro Town Commons
  • A virtual Pride Book Club at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom where "A World Between" by Emily Hashimoto will be discussed

Chapel Hill Town Council member Karen Stegman said this event series is the closest collaboration Chapel Hill and Carrboro have ever had in regard to Pride Month. She said the Towns decided to work together in light of their shared importance placed on uplifting local LGBTQ+ community members.

“Acknowledging Pride is so important,” Stegman said. “The LGBTQ+ community continues to face significant discrimination, harassment and violence. Visibility and celebration sends a critical message about our values as a community.”

Stegman also said Chapel Hill and Carrboro recently worked together to pass non-discrimination ordinances, including being one of the first municipalities in the state to enact LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination rules for businesses, now that local municipalities can do so legally through the N.C. General Assembly. 

This partnership, she said, made the Towns’ collaboration on Pride Month an easy next step.

Matthew DeBellis, the LGBTQ+ Liaison to the Chapel Hill Town Manager, said it was necessary for his branch to work with Carrboro to engage the entire community. He said both Towns hope to establish standards for Pride and that those standards grow each year with increased celebrations.

Lydia Lavelle, the mayor of Carrboro, emphasized the importance of recognizing Pride Month in the local community and said both towns have a rich history of supporting the LGBTQ+ community. 

She said Carrboro is a progressive leader in North Carolina, being the first town in the state to offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples, to have gay and lesbian mayors and to oppose House Bill 2.

“It’s always been a really important value of the Town, so it makes sense that we should lift up that support and really show our community members who are LGBTQ+ how important the community is for all of us,” Lavelle said.

Lavelle is the first lesbian mayor of Carrboro, and so she said feels a special connection to the celebrations and feels it is important to recognize Pride Month.

Lavelle said since she has the ability to speak out and support the LGBTQ+ community — whereas many others lack the forum to do so — she can lift up community members who are struggling.

Though this is the first year that Chapel Hill and Carrboro fully planned Pride Month celebrations as a unit, Lavelle said Carrboro hosted a jam-packed Pride celebration for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 2019.

She said some events of 2019 were similar to the upcoming celebrations this month, including the LGBTQ+ book reading, the inclusion of the Rainbow Ram in the Pride march and the dance party.

“Lydia Lavelle is one of the most effective leaders in North Carolina,” DeBellis said. “Not only is she inspiring to the LGBTQ+ community state-wide and country-wide, but her work as mayor of Carrboro has been an example of what a progressive, small town in the South should aspire to.”

For more information and to register for the book club, visit here.

@Kelli_Rainer

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com 

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