Monday, July 11, 2005

Gay and Lesbian Pride in the Triad

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According to a July 10, 2005 article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (article), the gay community of Rochester, NY, has made itself a sculpture which is going to be placed in the city's "Neighborhood of the Arts." The sculpture (pictured at left), Three Pride Symbols, was designed by Christine Knoblauch and was built by her husband, Paul. It contains three of the traditional pride symbols standing for gay men, lesbians and transgender people, but according to the designer it can be interpreted differently. "It stands for us all — male and female," said Christine Knoblauch. I think having a sculpture to honor the lives of LGBT citizens is a grand idea. Our society already has sculptures and statues to honor war veterans, other community leaders/heroes, people of color and communities in general. Winston-Salem itself has numerous sculptures, ranging from one for Richard J. Reynolds at City Hall, one for his wife, Mrs. Katherine Smith Reynolds-Johnston on the grounds of the R.J. Reynolds High School and even a Confederate Memorial at the Old County Courthouse. A sculpture honoring the general LGBT community is no different. I would love to see the Triad get such a piece of art. As the "City of the Arts," I propose that Winston-Salem be the place to put such a sculpture and it should be put in the Downtown Arts District (the center of which being at Sixth & Trade Streets). In recent months, the visibility of the LGBT community of the Triad has become more outspoken. Thanks to the Triad Equality Alliance, billboards advocating for equal treatment of all people regardless of sexual orietnation have sprang up across Winston-Salem and Greensboro. The first such billboard stated, "Gay or Straight, all Americans deserve equal treatment under the law." The current billboards feature pictures of prominent LGBT community members with the following text above the pictures, "Lesbian and Gay People are Valued Members of this Community." But I guess that the first logical step toward getting a sculpture to celebrate the LGBT community of the Triad would be to first get our local governments to recognize that we even exist. The Mayors of Winston-Salem and Greensboro should both issue official proclamations every June celebrating Gay Pride Month (in the defense of the current and past Mayors of Winston-Salem: they have done this before). During the month of June the rainbow flag should be flown from the City Halls of Winston-Salem and Greensboro. It would also be nice to see rainbow flags put out on street lamps (like American flags put out for July 4th) in such affirming and more inclusive areas of our cities such as the Winston-Salem Downtown Arts District and Greensboro's counterpart. If we really wanted to be bold we could have rainbow flags put out on Fourth Street, Winston-Salem and Elm Street, Greensboro. So that's it. Before we get a big, fancy sculpture we need to get our governments to recognize our community every year in June, the one time of the year when we, as a community, celebrate our history, our lives and our pride. If we can succeed in that then maybe we will have a shot at not only creating a more inclusive and affirming Triad community, but we might also have a shot at getting that long overdue sculpture!