When you take away someone's voice, your voice does not become stronger, it becomes illegitimate.
Recently a Gastonia man, who identities as gay, was told he was no longer welcome to speak at the upcoming Gaston Pride event. This man had spoken at past Pride events. Because of a recent "allyship" comment, posted on the personal Facebook page of the president for the local PFLAG chapter, he was told he would no longer be able to participate in a leadership role.
On the surface, this may look like a minor issue, however, it goes much deeper. Over the past three years, straight cisgender folk have taken on a much wider and visible role in the planning of our local Pride. In additin, PFLAG Gastonia is one of the top financial supporters of the annual event. Because of a simple opinion, a queer man is banished from the Pride leadership team and consequently silenced.
The Pride board stated he was welcome to attend Pride, but because he insulted the PFLAG president, he would no longer be welcome to take on an active role. This worrisome. Pride is a historic event -- honoring the Stonewall Uprising of 1969. This touchstone occasion was the impetus for queer and transgender liberation.
How ironic that this year's Gaston Pride has elected to stifle someone from the very group the purport to support. Perhaps it is time the queer and transgender community take back Pride and stop being held hostage by straight cisgender groups, such as PFLAG.
Jim Kellogg is a resident of Gastonia.