Out Today, Out to Stay: Durham Kicks Off Annual LGBTQ Pride Celebration
It started with a murder, then a march, and now a parade. These are the words of John Short, the executive director of North Carolina Pride. Ronald Antonevitch’s 1981 beating and murder sparked a vigil, poetry readings, and North Carolina’s first gay and lesbian march, known as “Our Day Out.” These actions brought LGBTQ hate crimes to the headlines of Durham newspapers and to the forefront of Durham’s consciousness. Over the next five years, Durham’s LGBTQ community coordinated picnics and other community-building events to build on this new visibility and energy.
In 1986, a group that would eventually be known as the Triangle Lesbian and Gay Alliance coordinated Durham’s first annual pride march. The June 28, 1986 event, titled “Out Today, Out to Stay,” included almost 1000 marchers, both LGBTQ individuals and allies. They marched from 9th street to the Durham reservoir, where they heard Joe Herzenberg, the man who would become the first openly gay elected official in North Carolina, speak his famous words: “It’s time for the gay and lesbian movement.” These simple words signified the beginning of a tradition that would bring about years of rich LGBTQ+ organizing and community-building right here in Durham, North Carolina. Herzenberg captured the fervor that was behind this organized parade.
Durham Pride, as the parade and festival are known today, is still an annual event. The march kicks off from Duke’s east campus and continues down Main Street, not far from where the parade originated. Durham Pride is both an arena for activism and celebration, and an embodiment of the desire for liberation, visibility and acceptance by the LGBTQ+ community in North Carolina.
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