YADKINVILLE — For the second consecutive year, El Cambio and GetEQUAL partnered up to have a float in the annual Independence Day Parade. Last year the float was a team effort, but this year it was community centered. People from all across the Yadkin Valley helped in making the You Are Not Alone float a successful and empowering experience. Some people donated candy, some helped in painting the banner and decorating the float and many supported from the crowd.
“Several people in the crowd would call some of us out by name and wave as we passed. It was a good feeling to be among the other floats and part of this event that celebrates the idea of standing up for justice and freedom, especially in the place we know as home,” said El Cambio member Wooten Gough.
Although violent remarks such as “burn down their float” were heard, there was noticeably far more positivity coming from the parade goers, Gough said. Both El Cambio and GetEQUAL consider this experience a successful landmark for their You Are Not Alone project, a project that aims to create a local environment that promotes diversity, inclusivity and community building.
One way these groups plan on doing this is by providing direct resources, information, and community support for anyone identifying with the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community including allies and friends. After the Love Conquers Hate Vigil which was held outside Redeemer Yadkin-Valley Presbyterian Church in June, some members of El Cambio and GetEQUAL received private messages from individuals in the area who wanted to get involved or support their work, but said they did not know how due to the fear of persecution, familial exclusion or even violence.
“It was important for those individuals to see us in the parade so they can see that they are not alone,” Gough said. “There are LGBTQ people and allies across the entire Yadkin Valley region. On the You Are Not Alone float, there were riders from Yadkinville, East Bend, Boonville, Mocksville, Statesville, Hamptonville, Harmony and Elkin. We want to be a resource for LGBTQ people in all of these areas and more.”
El Cambio and GetEqual also announced that they will soon begin free, regular LGBTQ-friendly “community office hours” in which people can come and simply hangout and bond as a community. Organizers of the office hours hope to provide a safe and welcoming space for anyone who might show up.
Logistics such as where and what day of the week are still being worked out, but will be made public as soon as they are finalized. Those interested in, or having questions about the You Are Not Alone Project, community office hours or El Cambio and GetEqual call or email Wooten Gough at 336-306-3252 firstname.lastname@example.org; Bradley Hardy at 336-466-1703 email@example.com; Luis Aguilera at 336-244-0015 firstname.lastname@example.org; Lizette Diaz at 714-955-8884 email@example.com or visit their Facebook page for current, up-to-date information: https://www.facebook.com/elcambioyc.