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Central Alabama Pride to Lawmakers: Don’t Drag Us Down

Hundreds marched in downtown Montgomery on Tuesday to protest a number of LGBTQ+-related bills currently put forth by Republican members of the Alabama Legislature, which opponents say, criminalize freedom of expressions. (Ryan Michaels, The Birmingham Times)
By Nicole S. Daniel
The Birmingham Times

Josh Coleman, president of Central Alabama Pride, said the LBGTQ+ community has made a lot of progress in recent years, but the Alabama Legislature is showing how much more work needs to be done.

On Tuesday, the Alabama LGBTQ Action Group, marched in Montgomery to demand equal rights for all Alabamians.

Coleman said the LBGTQ+ community has the power to demand change and make their voices heard by “calling our [elected] representatives.”

“It’s time to show them that we will not tolerate discrimination in any form and that we demand equal rights and protections for all. Let’s also remind the business community that embracing diversity and promoting equality is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business. Inclusivity and acceptance are values that resonate with consumers and can lead to increased loyalty and growth. It’s time for businesses to step up and do their part in creating a more just and equitable world for all,” he said.

The LGBTQ+ community and their allies say Alabama legislators are attacking the state’s transgender community in sports, education, training, public conversations, and spaces; and now through Drag Bans “as a means to criminalize freedom of expression.”

House Bill 401, which seeks to ban drag performances throughout the state, was recently introduced in the Legislature.

Coleman said he remains hopeful and has seen progress.

“The strides towards greater acceptance and visibility have been nothing short of remarkable, and I firmly believe that this community has a bright and hopeful future,” he said. “While political stunts like the proposed ban on drag shows in Alabama may be disheartening, it’s important to remember that the LGBTQ+ community is strong, beautiful, and resilient.”

Out On The Front Line

Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd, founder and executive director of Birmingham-based Transgender Advocate Knowledgeable and Empowering (TAKE), which recently celebrated her nonprofit’s 10th anniversary fighting to provide holistic services for transgender individuals, said, “I think that it’s ludicrous that they are coming up with something like (House Bill) and using children in a way to ban drag entertainment. It’s someone’s livelihood, a way for them to make money.  If that’s the case, you need to ban RuPaul Drag Race from television, because kids have access to television, laptop computers and all that stuff.”

Boyd added “not only LGBTQ individuals participate in the actual entertainment art form; you have cisgender individuals that participate in it as well. It’s a way of making money and if banning someone’s particular gender identity or sexual orientation is going about it the wrong way.”

Duncan-Boyd said the fight for the LGBTQ+ community is not new, pointing to Stonewell 50 years ago, a series of protests riots over a police raid against The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1969 that many feel helped launch the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S.

“The LGBTQ community had to fight for their existence, back then and now we’re repeating the same thing,” Duncan-Boyd said. “So if history repeats itself all over again, but just like when that happened over 50 plus years ago, we still know there is hope, and not to give up and continue to fight. Our voices should be heard in most of our visibility is imperative. Our community will be out on the front line.”

Kameron Baldwin, who has been a member of TAKE/Central Pride for a little over two years, feels the House Bill 401 was filed specifically to target the LBGTQ community.

“They are trying to make us seem like we’re some heinous monsters that we definitely are not. It’s just foolish,” said Baldwin, winner of the 2023 non-binary Central Alabama Pride division.

Baldwin said the anti-trans legislation goes beyond the LGBT community and support from those who identify as straight is needed as well, pointing out.  “Not all gay people go to attend these shows,” said Baldwin.

If the bill passes, that could mean a step back for the LGBTQ community, Baldwin said.

“We are not allowing our youth to grow up and have self-expression, or to grow up to see that it’s people who are just like me. You could be a straight person who does drag, you can be a gay person and do drag or a non-binary person that does drag which that’s what I am. Now more than ever, we need to be that visibility especially for our youth. Granted, we’re not trying to target the youth by no means but, we live in a day and age where technology rules the world.”

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Standing Together

Coleman said the Alabama Legislature’s “reckless haste to attack the LGBTQ+ community has resulted in a bill so sweeping that it could criminalize even a peaceful day at the beach. This crusade to legislate subjective notions of morality is a threat to the liberty of every Alabamian, and we must stand together to push back against it. We cannot allow this draconian bill to pass unchallenged. It is our duty to fight for the rights of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Although there has been backlash, Coleman said nothing can deter the LGBTQ+ community “from achieving their dreams and ensuring that everyone can be their authentic self. We must continue to stand together in solidarity and advocate for the rights and freedoms of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. With hope and determination, we can overcome any challenge and create a world that is more just, equitable, and inclusive for all,” said Coleman.