Over the last few years, there’s been an inescapable sense that NC Pride—which, for three decades, has been not just a Durham or a Triangle institution, but a North Carolina institution—had lost its bearings.
There were deep currents of discontent with the people running the annual event and complaints about poor communication. There was a Black Lives Matter activist who said she was assaulted by a Pride organizer in 2015 and an outright scheduling debacle in 2017, when Pride was booked on Yom Kippur. Beyond that, with at least some of the battles for rights and societal acceptance having been won, Pride seemed listless, without a clear sense of purpose.
Of course, there were other battles to fight: HB 2 and its replacement, HB 142. Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions. Neil Gorsuch and (maybe) Brett Kavanaugh. But more broadly, the fight became intersectional: Gay people didn’t just need gay rights, they needed good jobs at living wages. They needed to be free from racial discrimination. They needed to link arms with trans people and stand with the most marginalized. They needed to not become complacent and assume that hard-fought gains couldn’t be rolled back.
And they needed a new Pride to represent all of that.
So when, in June, the old NC Pride announced its demise—a shocking but not surprising development—it was probably a blessing in disguise. As Sarah Willets details in her story on Pride’s revival, the new incarnation—dubbed Pride: Durham, NC—is committed to the transparency and inclusivity this moment demands.
Elsewhere in this year’s Pride package, Leigh Tauss profiles Greg Ford, the first openly gay Wake County commissioner, who views success as both not being pigeonholed as “the gay one” and blazing a trail for LGBTQ leaders to follow. Layla Khoury-Hanold talks to an African-American same-sex couple who downplayed their personal identities when they started their catering business but have gone on to embrace it, seeing the chance to serve as role models—and, along the way, finding that corporations are much more eager to embrace diversity than they used to be.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same: teacher Dustin Britt writes about grappling with how to answer students who ask about his sexuality without getting fired in a rural part of a state that has abysmal protections for LGBTQ employees.
The Triangle’s LGBTQ community has a new set of challenges to face, a new festival from which to draw strength and solidarity, and a new platform from which to proclaim, as they did at the first Durham Pride parade in 1986, “We Are Everywhere”—and, you know, to romp around and have a good time. It is a party, after all.