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‘We’re here, we’re queer and we’re not going anywhere’: Chapel Hill hosts Pride Promenade

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Chapel Hill and Carrboro hosted the first annual Small Town Pride festival in 2021. Photo courtesy of Catherine Lazorko, Carrboro's communication and engagement director.

The towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro kicked off their combined month-long LGBTQ+ pride celebration on June 3 with the second annual Pride Promenade.

The event began with a march that started at 2 p.m. at the Peace and Justice Plaza and ended with festivities at 140 West Plaza — which included a live DJ set, drag and circus performances, community mural-making and local food trucks.

Chapel Hill Mayor Pro Tempore Karen Stegman who has served on the Chapel Hill Town Council since 2017, spoke at the event.

“Pride is both a celebration and a protest,” Stegman said. “It is so important to celebrate how far we have come.”

After the passage of LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination town ordinances in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, the first annual celebration of Small Town Pride took place in 2021.

“Pride is also a protest of the hate, the discrimination, the marginalization that we continue to face,” Stegman said. “Especially our trans community, most especially people of color and youth. We must stand together and be more visible than ever.” 

Stegman said that when she and her wife wanted to get married 18 years ago, they were unable to legally. She also said her wife had “no legal relationship” with the couple’s children.

“I think that it is signaling to all queer people here that, not only are we accepted here, but we are expected, and the city is making an intentional effort to make sure that we feel welcome,” Samantha Slayer, who attended Pride Promenade, said. “I think that's especially important with all of the legislation coming out of the General Assembly.”

The N.C. Senate passed Senate Bill 49 — a bill requiring teachers to notify parents when LGBTQ+ issues were discussed in class — on Feb. 7. The bill has stalled in the N.C. House Rules Committee.

House Bill 547 and Senate Bill 631 were also passed in April. The bills would prevent trans students from participating in sports on teams that align with their gender identity. Both bills have stalled in the opposite chamber.

"This year, especially in North Carolina, and all the attacks against the LGBTQ community at the N.C. General Assembly, it’s more important than ever for local towns and cities to show their support to the queer community," Katie Jenifer, a board member on Equality North Carolina's 501(c)(3) Board, said. "As we’ve been saying for years: 'We’re here, we’re queer and we’re not going anywhere.'"

According to its website, Equality North Carolina is the oldest statewide organization in the country committed to pursuing legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community.

“I have a trans kid, and when she hears all these bad things about her being a bad person just because of who she is, it starts to wear down on them,” Jenifer said. “So when you come to an event like this, you’re like, ‘Wait a minute, all these people think I’m great.’”

The centerpiece of the 140 West Plaza celebration was “The Queeramid,” an art installation by Julia Gartrell.

One side is painted pink, a reference to the re-adoption of the “pink triangle,” a symbol used to help identify LGBTQ+ people during the Holocaust. This side of The Queeramid displays the words, “the first Pride was a riot,” referencing the Stonewall Riots.

The other sides of the pyramid say "Black Trans Lives Matter" and "Say Gay."

“We cannot and will not be banned,” Stegman said. “Today, let’s celebrate together."  

@LolaOliverio

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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