North Carolina is certainly no stranger to attention and controversy when it comes to non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. After the infamous HB2 was passed, businesses and major events pulled out of investing in the state, causing an economic loss of over $500 million and contributing to the ouster of then-Governor Pat McCrory.
As a new North Carolinian, Faith Love couldn’t believe the actions being taken in her home state; however, for the first time, she began to understand just how transgender people were being negatively affected by the legislation, and she wanted to take action.
“When HB2 passed, I was appalled,” she said. “It drove so much business out of the state – and other states were publicly thanking NC for sending business their way! This was the first local issue I really sat up and thought about. I started to learn more, and I really tried to dispel myths I heard at work.”
Faith went so far as to order buttons that became popular around the time: They featured the transgender pride flag and said #illgowithyou. “I loved passing them out and seeing people wear them around,” she says.
“I know I have privilege, and I want to use that to be an advocate and ally for other people.”
She also recalls a time she was in South Carolina with a friend who had transitioned, and shared his irritation that he had to use the ladies’ room in a public building. “We went together, and I was internally daring someone to say anything – of course, no one did.”
Faith, a data analyst, is no stranger to discrimination herself. As an openly bisexual woman, she has seen her fair share of misunderstanding and unfair treatment.
“When I came out in the 90s, it was important for me to look like ‘the girl next door.’ But I was dating the girl next door, too,” she laughed. “I think deep down I wanted to try and take away that feeling of ‘otherness’ and show people that we live in the world and we’re regular people just like everyone else. But I also know my struggles pale in comparison to those of so many others.”
“All I want is for students to figure out who they are without fear of physical or emotional intimidation.”
Faith is also keenly aware of her advantages. “I’m a bisexual woman, but I happen to be married to a man. So I ‘pass’ as heterosexual in a lot of ways. I know I have privilege, and I want to use that to be an advocate and ally for other people.”
Of particular interest to Faith is the protection of transgender students. Although she knows it can be a more accepting environment in larger cities, she worries about those areas that aren’t so metropolitan.
“Here in North Carolina, larger cities have a lot of university presence,” she said. “When you get to these larger hubs, people are usually more accepting, but then you take five steps outside the city, and that’s not the case. School is difficult enough. All I want is for students to figure out who they are without fear of physical or emotional intimidation.”
Faith is committed to speaking up and speaking out, and she knows that until non-discrimination is the law, the fight isn’t over. Furthermore, she hopes to use mistakes she may have made in the past as impetus to stand up for those who feel most vulnerable.
“I’ve made judgments in the past, I know,” she said. “But since I can’t find those people I feel I’ve wronged and apologize to them, I need to take that energy and be an ally. We’ve come so far, and that’s great, but the work isn’t done until there is non-discrimination across the board. We’ve got a long way to go, but it will get better. The one-on-one conversations and interactions — those have the biggest impact.”
It is Faith’s hope that through these continued interactions, hearts and minds will change for the better.
“I heard something once – the way you react to something first is the way you’ve been conditioned to think, and the next reaction explains who you are. When you know better, you do better.”