It seemed like a bad omen.
As I stood outside of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center in the rain, the rainbow beads of my bracelet popped off its fatigued string with no provocation. Each bead sling-shot into opposing directions, some landing in the grass, others on the wet sidewalk. I sighed as I picked each one up, determined not to leave even one of them behind. Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Purple.
Charlotte City Council wanted to protect every color of the LGBT rainbow too, even if it was a painstaking process. Part eloquent discussion, part WWE smackdown, the LGBT non-discrimination ordinance meeting Monday night had it all.
The Council eventually voted 7-4 to add gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and family and marital status to the list of protections under the existing non-discrimination ordinance. The changes go into effect on April 1.
Council Member Al Austin remarked during the vote that God is love. LaWana Mayfield, Charlotte’s first openly gay council woman, said the laws were meant to protect the minority, and that she intended to look out for the people who needed the most uplifting.
Hundreds of people piled into Mecklenburg County Government Center. One hundred and forty-four people spoke for one minute each about their stance on the ordinance.
My LGBT friends and allies were ready with signs, sass and most importantly, the facts against fear.
A photo posted by @lookitsjoanne on Feb 22, 2016 at 2:53pm PST
I hadn’t heard my girlfriend Lara Nazario’s speech yet, the one she wrote that afternoon at Time Out Youth. Her words were poignant, evocative and left me with more than one tear in my eye.
Watch this excerpt of her speech at 2 minutes 43 seconds. “Is it my height or my Adam’s apple that makes me less of a human being?” she said. “I don’t want special treatment. I only want to be treated equally.”
A video posted by @lookitsjoanne on Feb 22, 2016 at 2:58pm PST
Then came Paige Dula. The renowned local transgender leader took to the microphone with a swift, sweet vengeance: She used some of the ugly words of the ordinance’s opposition against them. She finished by saying, “Who are the dangerous people here tonight? I think you see them here.” She pointed to them and with her outstretched arm, figuratively dropping the mic.
Brava, Paige. Brava.
Photo: Robert Lahser/Charlotte Observer