Editorials

‘I have been called faggot. Many times.’

The Observer editorial board

A non-discrimination LGBT proposal was rejected last year by the Charlotte City Council.
A non-discrimination LGBT proposal was rejected last year by the Charlotte City Council. Charlotte Observer

With the Charlotte City Council voting Monday on an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance, our inboxes have been dotted again with opposition.

There are the usual, unsubstantiated fears of transgender people preying on women and girls in bathrooms. Others are skeptical that there’s much discrimination to address here in Charlotte.

They wonder: Is the ordinance really necessary?

My work place forced me to use the men’s restroom when women complained about me going into their restroom.

Last year, the Charlotte Non-Discrimination Ordinance Coalition did a survey of members of the LGBTQ community. Among the questions: “Have you ever been discriminated against in any public setting?”

Taxi 3 times, Government Center once, Restaurant once.

It wasn’t a scientific survey, and the responses only told one side of incidents.

I kissed my boyfriend outside a Charlotte restaurant and a manager came out and told us to leave.

But they told that side again and again.

I have been called faggot ... Many times.

And again.

Under-breath comments such as “faggots” and “fairies”

The words didn’t just come from people passing by.

I have been asked if I am in the correct bathroom on several occasions.

And there were more than just words.

I was physically attacked...

Some spoke of discrimination at businesses, including neglectful employees.

Extremely slow service in restaurants and stores.

And rude treatment.

I used the women’s changing room, which is what I identified with, yet when walking out a clerk asked why I was using it.

And also, incidents a non-discrimination ordinance would address.

My girlfriend and I were denied a hotel room when we first moved to Charlotte. We finally got a hotel room in Gastonia after being denied at 3 hotels.

In the end, almost 60 percent of the 146 people who responded said they’d faced discrimination. Scott Bishop, board chair of the LGBT advocacy group MeckPac, read those responses as they came back last year. “I don’t think there was anything in there that surprised me,” he said.

That’s why Bishop understands, as so many do, that Monday’s City Council vote is about even more than one important ordinance. When a government says it’s not OK to discriminate – when something becomes officially frowned upon – then other behavior also begins to change.

Because there’s an alternative.

Someone complained about me using those restrooms too and I gave up.

That we shouldn’t accept.

At Carolinas Medical Center, a man outside the ER yelled out at me after I kissed my partner goodbye (on her cheek)

He yelled, “Hey was that really necessary?”

Yes, actually, it is.

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