When Gil Croy finishes painting his mural on a building, the neighborhood will never be the same. Croys labor of love, Our Lives, Our Culture, Our Time, is a celebration of the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community in Charlotte. Along with volunteer painters, Croy has spent almost every day since late June painting the side of the White Rabbit building on 920 Central Ave. The artist plans to finish the project on Aug. 15 and have an official unveiling after the Democratic National Convention.
Q. What is the concept for Our Lives, Our Culture, Our Time?
The concept was just something fun and bright and colorful that incorporated the six Pride colors. (My friend Carllena Person) was a muralist here in town . She passed away in May. Inspiration truly in the end became how Carllena could bring life to something and thats what I wanted to do with this mural. She used to have an afro and it wasnt as wild as how Ive painted, but its truly a representation of her. She was just bubbly and Ive actually gone back and started adding bubbles to the mural.
Q. What is the goal of the mural?
I am bringing up certain LGBT issues. Were right now in the midst of most of the LGBT community wanting to be able to get married, or just the opportunity to get married, and were starting to incorporate that into the themes were doing. Its almost like a modern way of expressing through art emotions and feelings and ideas that are forefront in our community.
Q. How are passers-by reacting to your work?
The feedback, from people driving by, stopping by, talking to us, has been so encouraging. Id say out of the people who have talked to us, a good majority of those are the straight community giving us support and saying theyre so proud to have this in their neighborhood. That has surprised me more than anything has. I thought our communities were divided further than they really are, so thats been a wonderful thing.
Q. How have people gotten involved in the project?
The most wonderful thing is to see all of the volunteers because a tremendous amount of volunteers who show up while were working, along with donating money, since its a not-for-profit type thing. They donate money, supplies and time, so its been really rewarding to see that more than anything.
Q. Why is the mural part of the larger discussion on LGBT equality?
This mural is one way we can stand on the street again. Growing up in the South, I came out in my teens and played football and did all that. There were several words that have been tossed around at me my whole life that you finally learn to just go, I just wish them well and wish them no harm because it doesnt do any good to get angry.