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Pride Fest shows support for LGBTQ+ in NENC

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Here is my reply to the letter entitled “Homosexuals should show pride in Christ, not sin” published in The Daily Advance on July 5.

My name is Richard Allen and I was one of the speakers at the NENC Pride Fest 2018 event. I know Elizabeth City and the northeastern North Carolina region to be steeped in the Christian tradition, as I attended Mid-Atlantic Christian University for two semesters from 2009-10. I remember coming to terms with my being gay there, and using one of my assignments to exegetically explore the Christian case for same-sex marriage.

I returned home to Maryland to finish my undergraduate degree, not because I was dissuaded from my findings, but because there was little to no support in Elizabeth City for LGBTQ+ individuals at that time. My stay in Elizabeth City was brief this year, but from my discussion with some of the NENC progressives, the vendors at Pride Fest, and some Elizabeth City citizens, things are changing for the better. People are becoming more accepting. A PFLAG (Parents, Friends of the LGBTQ+ Community) chapter is hopefully going to be established soon, and that will mean a nexus of support in the region.

I respect people who are opposed to the LGBTQ+ community; it’s a free country. Just know that we deserve to live fulfilling and open lives as you do. Pride was coined by Brenda Howard, who organized the Christopher Street Day Rally to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of June 1969. Pride is about celebrating, recognizing, empowering, affirming and remembering the LGBTQ+ community. Pride also helps eliminate the shame and social stigmas attached to being LGBTQ+.

I know that living in Baltimore makes me an outsider, but I would like to say to any person who is LGBTQ+ and reading this, that your community does care for and value you. NENC Pride Fest was evidence of this. Disregard all those who oppose your pride. Be yourself. Be open. People are more accepting than you think. Elizabeth City and northeastern North Carolina could become a bastion of acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community and a great example for rural areas across the country. 

Richard Allen

Baltimore, Maryland

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