'Visibility': Chapel Hill celebrates pride, talks political climate

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Sunday, June 4, 2023
Chapel Hill celebrates pride, talks political climate
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Hundreds of people gathered downtown in Chapel Hill to kick off Pride Month.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- The first Saturday of June was filled with color as hundreds of people gathered downtown in Chapel Hill to kick off Pride Month.

"I honestly thought that I would not really fit in," Lua Cavazos said. "I'm really happy that there's other young LGBTQ members."

Young people were the stars on Saturday, making up most of the crowd that blew away Chapel Hill Mayor Pro Tem Karen Stegman.

"That means it's speaking to them, and we are talking to them about what they care about, and that's critical and we need to do more of that," Stegman said.

Chapel Hill enters Pride Month as nationwide, not all LGBTQ young people feel supported.

ALSO SEE: LGBTQ community face hostile climate as Pride month begins, advocates

Fewer than 40% of LGBTQ young people found their home to be LGBTQ-affirming while at a state level, nearly 2 in 3 LGBTQ young people said that hearing about potential state or local laws banning people from discussing LGBTQ people at school made their mental health a lot worse, according to the Trevor Project.

"They think that being young and identifying as LGBTQ makes us feel like we're confused and we don't actually understand ourselves," Cavazos said. "I think that's a really big problem because it takes away from our own rights as children and what we identify as."

Some people feel they're limited by bills they consider anti-LGBTQ but no matter the current political climate in North Carolina, this Pride Month is all about strength to the community.

"Fighting is always going to be a struggle," NC drag queen Naomi Dix said. "But when you come out here and you see this beautiful crowd of people... can you imagine what you're doing for the youth out here? Just like I need to feel that support at my age, youth need to feel that support as well, and the best way to show that support is by visibility."

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