Every time I turn around, Oklahoma seems to be rising from its Western Sizzlin-induced slumber to do something stupid enough to make the news and remind the rest of the country why the Human Rights Watch thinks we’re one of the worst states for LGBTQIA+ rights. But the awful part is that the closer it gets to Pride, the more likely it seems that our state does something bigoted and dumb. In fact, remember last June when the Oklahoma GOP apparently tried to accuse OKC Pride of reverse-discrimination? Well as it turns out, that wouldn’t be the last time our great state made the news during pride month. Wait until you see what happened this year.
An Oklahoma man is receiving global praise after giving the tailgate of his pickup truck a colorful and creative makeover for June in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month.
Cody Barlow, who identifies as straight, decorated the back of his truck with strips of duct tape in rainbow colors, along with a message that read, “Not all country boys are bigots. Happy Pride Month.” He posted a photograph of the newly bedazzled tailgate to his Facebook page last week, along with a lengthy message explaining the significance of his effort.
“This is important to me, not only because I have family and friends that are LGBTQ+, but also because countless people have dealt with hatred and judgement simply for who they are, and/or who they love, for far too long,” the 28-year-old wrote. “Obviously doing this isn’t going to change the minds of those who are intolerant, but hopefully it can help drown out the hatred with love.”
Well ain’t that nice. Normally when you Google the keywords “LGBTQ” “Oklahoma” and “country” you get some pretty disheartening news stories. Or some really interesting pornography, depending on when you last cleared your browsing history. But for the time being, our state is actually trending for something positive. Even if that progressive positivity is not always accepted.
Acknowledging that “this is not a very welcome message” in the “rural area” of his state where he resides, he continued, “It doesn’t matter what negativity I receive for supporting this. I hope that this can help even the slightest bit to encourage and support at least one person that needs it.”
In the day and age where Pride clothing is trendy and #pridemonth with tiny emoji rainbows is trending, we sometimes forget what the rainbow flag has represented since the 1970s. According to the flag’s designer Gilbert Baker, the banner was created to unite people and provide a visible symbol of that unity in hopes that no member of the LGBTQIA+ community would ever have to hide. In other words, the flag is meant to rally folk and show solidarity.
Now, Oklahoma has done a lot to hurt our LGBTQIA+ family, so painting one tailgate and getting a little drunk on 39th Street next weekend isn’t going to fix all bigotry. But we can continue to change and show solidarity not only by waving the flag, but also speaking out, standing up, and voting in favor of our community. And maybe getting a little drunk on 39th Street next weekend.
Maybe not a little. Follow Hayley on twitter @squirrellygeek