This summer, Peace First Fellow and founder of QueerNC Brennan Lewis, is traveling the rural south to uncover stories of queer leaders and how they've helped transform their communities. Recently, Brennan visited Salisbury, NC, a town in the center of North Carolina that just hosted it's eighth annual Pride Parade:
"This year, Salisbury Pride’s sponsors donated more than $25,000 to help make the event possible. And the festival was bigger than ever, with organizers estimating as many as 7,000 people attended the one-day festival. Food trucks and vendors lined Fisher Street, and energetic drag performers took to the stage."
Despite Pride Parades being present in many North Carolina cities, it's still not common to see an event like this in the more rural areas. Brennan spoke with Beth Meadows, president of Salisbury Pride and resident since 1989 to learn more about how this event's really taken off in this unsuspecting location.
"'The first Pride was one street long, it was a block,' Meadows said. 'We had police vans, we had SWAT, we had fire department, we had ambulances. There were more police vehicles there than we had vendors.'"
In the near decade since that first Parade, Meadows describes the community as more tolerant and safe for LGBTQ people, noting she no longer thinks about kissing her partner in public.