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Sat Jun 15, 2019, 09:25 PM

50 years after Stonewall, NC town declares first LGBTQ Pride Day. Not everyone's happy.

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. -- Ashleigh Jackson was scared to come out.

At her high school here, she said, her friends had been bullied, spat at, had food thrown at them for kissing a same-sex partner in the hallway or experimenting with their clothes. One friend, who was bisexual, killed herself.

But on Saturday, Jackson, 22 and now openly a lesbian, sat in a crowd of rainbow flags and painted the faces of little kids. Around her, thirty-something drag queens danced with sixty-something pastors to Madonna and Lady Gaga.

“It’s just been life-changing,” she said. “Hendersonville was very hush-hush and traditional in terms of how you could express yourself... but now there are people here who are speaking up and fighting for equal rights.”

The story of how Pride came here — a retirement community of 13,000 in the heart of apple-picking country, in a county where Republicans outnumber Democrats 2 to 1 — is, by most measures, a sign of the dramatic shift in public opinion on LGBTQ rights that has taken place largely in Jackson’s lifetime.

Read more: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article231447278.html

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