All my conversation on Friday and this morning regarding Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield’s insistence that “Charlotte City Council has never taken a stance on anything that comes out of Raleigh,” has glossed over one small, but glaring undercurrent of discontent.
Any longtime North Carolinian is aware of the historic, regional divide between East and West in this state. In modern times, that divide has increasingly come to mean Charlotte v. Raleigh.
Mayfield hinted at that regional divide in her comments on Thursday evening — a sentiment that the City of Charlotte is somehow separate and distinct from “Raleigh,” which can mean either “City of Raleigh” or “State Government” / “State of North Carolina” depending on who you ask.
It’s that sentiment that James Miller, executive director of the LGBT Center of Raleigh, picked up on when he commented on my Facebook page in response to Mayfield’s comments: “This is ridiculous— just because it is ‘out of Raleigh’? PFFFFFFFFF.”
Politicians in Charlotte and state government officials in Raleigh can duke it out all they want (the actual merits of such a silly fight we’ll leave to another day), but the “Great State of Mecklenburg” complex Charlotteans have developed mustn’t need destroy any natural camaraderie we have with LGBT community leaders, activists and community members living in the state’s capital city. In fact, folks in Raleigh likely have a lot to teach Charlotte queer folk, who seem to be living in a not-so-modern world more suited to the late-1980s and early-1990s than today’s vibrant, inclusive and diverse society — an LGBT-inclusive political and social culture that has already developed in Tar Heel cities like Asheville, Boone, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and, yes, Raleigh.
It’s no coincidence that Raleigh has a stronger, more active LGBT community center and other LGBT community organizations than Charlotte. It’s also worth noting: the City of Raleigh and its elected officials actually held a public, on-the-record vote protecting LGB city workers… nearly a quarter-century ago.
Photo Credit: GoodNightRaleigh.com