Featured photo: A new Pride mural will be installed in downtown Winston-Salem at the corner of Trade and Sixth Streets. (photo by Gale Melcher)
A mural will soon be installed in Winston-Salem’s Downtown Arts District at the intersection of Trade and Sixth streets, sweeping a rainbow across one of the crosswalks. The mural, which is planned for mid-June, will mark the city’s celebration of Pride month. According to Assistant City Manager Patrice Toney, the installation period will take place June 16-17.
The city’s sanitation department will powerwash the street before the mural is installed, according to Toney. The city’s Human Relations/Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Department and volunteers will be responsible for the installation of the mural and upkeep so the artwork does not fade away in the years to come.
During a city council meeting on May 15, the city’s Human Relations/DEI Department was authorized to install the mural in the city’s right-of-way. The design of the traditional rainbow flag has been slightly altered with arrow-shaped lines to include LGBTQIA+ communities of color and the transgender community.
The mural was recommended by an ad hoc subcommittee of the city’s Human Relations Commission. Human Relations/DEI analyst Sherita Cain presented the item to the city council and explained that the subcommittee previously conducted a nondiscrimination study to look at issues and opportunities with the LGBTQIA+ community. Out of that study, Cain said, there were several recommendations, one of which was for the city to paint a “Progress Pride Flag” crosswalk at the intersection of Trade and Sixth to symbolize the city’s support of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Southwest Ward representative and first openly gay Winston-Salem city councilmember Kevin Mundy told TCB he’s glad that the mural is going “right there in the middle of the arts community.”
“I knew that I could fight for getting a voice in city hall, but as far as being a voice for what they wanted and needed in the community, I wanted people who were more current,” Mundy said. “We decided that the best way to do that was to have this subcommittee.”
In 2021, North Carolina counted 33 hate crimes committed based on sexual orientation, according to reports submitted to the FBI. Another three hate crimes were based on gender identity. That’s an uptick from 2020, which saw 24 hate crimes committed based on sexual orientation.
In recent years, a spate of anti-LGBTQ+, specifically anti-transgender, bills have been sweeping across the country and in North Carolina.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, there have been more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in statehouses across the country this year. More than 210 of those bills specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date, HRC reported.
In North Carolina, there have been bills introduced that would ban trans girls from competing in school sports, restrict gender-affirming health care, ban drag shows and ban books that center LGBTQIA+ experiences from schools.
Cain said that the goal of this recommendation was to “celebrate the diversity of this community and to have a more inclusive society.”
To kick off a celebration of love, unity and equal rights, the Pride Winston-Salem Festival will start at 10 a.m. on June 24 in the Downtown Arts District. The celebration includes a parade as well as an array of live music, entertainment, street vendors and activities.
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