When Gil Croy finishes painting his mural on a building, the neighborhood will never be the same. Croy’s 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.
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 that’s what I wanted to do with this mural. She used to have an afro and it wasn’t as wild as how I’ve painted, but it’s truly a representation of her. She was just bubbly and I’ve actually gone back and started adding bubbles to the mural.
I am bringing up certain LGBT issues. We’re 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 we’re starting to incorporate that into the themes we’re doing. It’s almost like a modern way of expressing through art emotions and feelings and ideas that are forefront in our community.
The feedback, from people driving by, stopping by, talking to us, has been so encouraging. I’d say out of the people who have talked to us, a good majority of those are the straight community giving us support and saying they’re 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 that’s been a wonderful thing.
The most wonderful thing is to see all of the volunteers because a tremendous amount of volunteers who show up while we’re working, along with donating money, since it’s a not-for-profit type thing. They donate money, supplies and time, so it’s been really rewarding to see that more than anything.
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 doesn’t do any good to get angry.