North Carolina shows the power of LGBT visibility

Charlotte, North Carolina enacted an LGBTQ nondiscrimination law in August 2021.

Does anyone recall the battle in North Carolina over HB2, the sweeping anti-LGBT law passed in 2017? Defeating such anti-LGBT legislation was a major victory for our community. It happened last week, after a 4-year struggle. Here’s a recap.

HB2 is one of those Republican bills which tried to not only stop our community from gaining rights, but also rolled back rights and added new restrictions. It stated that no city or county in the state could pass any LGBT rights law, any that had been passed would be voided, there would be no gender neutral bathrooms, and transgender people must use the bathroom and locker rooms of the sex they were born with. 

A campaign was waged against the law, where some corporations stated they would not build new facilities in the state and others stated they would not move or hold events in the state. The entertainment community began to cancel concerts and other events. Some companies stated that they would move out of the state entirely.

The state knew it was in trouble, so a sort of negotiation between LGBT activists and the state government began. And an agreement was put into place that basically was called a breather. The law would stand but only until 2021, this year. So we are now back to where we were before HB2.

As soon as HB2, in a sense, was recalled, two cities acted fast to enact LGBT non discrimination: Charlotte and Winston-Salem, the largest cities in the state.  There is every likelihood that a state which is now a purple swing state will not once again go through the uncomfortable struggle of another HB2. They might try, but it will be a half hearted effort to satisfy their base.

What does this say?  It says what I’ve preached for 52 years. Visibility matters.  Battles like HB2 bring our community visibility, and if we are visible we eventually win, since visibility brings an understanding of who we are, and that understanding changes any fear society has of our community. 

Visibility is our number one tool in our struggle for equality. That same visibility is what has made young people so supportive of LGBT rights. They grew up knowing who we were. That is true even among young LGBT evangelicals, the core group that Republicans count on for their anti-LGBT campaigns against our community. A large part of the anti-LGBT segment of the Republican coalition is literally drying up. All you have to look at is North Carolina.

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