Voices For Marriage Equality In North Carolina: Combating Injustice With Art
I remember Amendment One. I actually worked at a poling site in a conservative Raleigh neighborhood, and I grew more bitter as “Protect Marriage” signs littered the walkways. I knew the fight for human rights was going to take a blow that day here in my home state, and I felt sick with the knowledge that so many of my neighbors were blindly voting for such a hateful outcome.
How, I wondered, could I ever look at my fellow North Carolinians the same way after this brutal assault against everything I know is right? For those of you who know exactly how I felt that day: Let me introduce you to the good guys, who have never stopped standing for the freedom and equality of all people in our home state.
This weekend, the Human Rights Campaign of North Carolina is giving a platform to women who stand for equality. An incredible line-up of powerful local women and artists will bare their pain and their triumph through spoken word and slam poetry. By sharing our stories and coming together as a community, we create a barricade against the government’s oppression. The law may not give us equality, but in our hearts we’re free. Free to love, free to celebrate together, free to say what we want.
Everyone has a story to share, and our stories give us strength and community. They remind supporters why we’re fighting and– hopefully–helps non-supporters understand the human side of inequality. Anna Lineback, part of HRC’s leadership program, shared her and her sister’s struggle:
“North Carolina’s 2012 amendment banning civil unions and gay marriage passed just ten days before my sister married her partner. That was my call to action. I’d participated in an HRC-sponsored education campaign about the harms of this amendment. I wanted to convert my anger over the loss into positive energy moving forward. Amendment One’s passage highlighted how much more work is left to do. Still, between the LGBT Center of Raleigh, Equality NC, and HRC, we’re making strides.
My sister and I have been very fortunate — for the most part, we have received unconditional love and support from family and friends since we both came out. I now feel a responsibility to help create an LGBT-friendly social and political climate so that others can experience the same support. It breaks my heart every time I hear of a fifteen-year-old boy being kicked out of his home because of his sexual orientation, or LGBT youth choosing to end their lives rather than deal with the torment of bullying. With more education and more visibility, we hope to avoid stories like these.”
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a supportive family, but if the community can come together, we can be each other’s support until the rest of North Carolina understands the need for equality. That’s part of why this Her HRC spoken word event is so important. Our stories give each other comfort and strength. And one story–one person–at a time, we can change the social climate in our hometowns. Changing society’s perspective is the first step to acceptance, and then, perhaps, to more political votes for equality in the future.
Willis Ward, a Board of Governor for our local HRC, spoke to me about his involvement, sharing a startling statistic that gives a major insight into North Carolina’s failure with Amendment One: “I think a real turning point was during my first HRC Gala in 2007. The person on stage said for every $1 HRC raises to fight for equality, the opponents for equality are able to raise $2-3. This resonated with me and so I decided that I needed to be part of the fight.”
The Her HRC event, while free, has a suggested donation of $15. But it’s not just about money. Donate what you can. Donate your time. Donate your own stories. Just be part of the community.
If you’re anything like me, it’ll make you feel better just to see that not all your North Carolina neighbors voted against equality and there’s a world of support out there.
If you’d like to attend the Her HRC event this weekend, there are several fantastic headliners, and the audience can speak their mind as well. You can find out more about the event at the Her HRC Event page. Check it out soon–the slam poetry begins Sunday, January 19th at 7:30pm! Everyone’s meeting at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham.
You can also get involved with our local HRC by checking out their website.
Come make your voice heard. North Carolina seriously needs you. I’m sick of seeing our state get laughed at on Twitter.