Just days before Gov. Pat McCrory is supposed to respond to the Department of Justice on House Bill 2, one of the the largest LGBT events in the state is getting ready to take place in the heart of the capital city. The Sixth Annual OutRaleigh Festival 2016 takes place on Fayetteville Street today.
This year festival organizers are expecting more than 50,000 guests and 150 vendors.
OutRaleigh is a major fundraiser for the LGBT Center of Raleigh and over 20 of its community programs. Last year, more than 25,000 people poured into Raleigh’s City Plaza to celebrate the LGBT community, their allies, friends and families.
It’s a family friendly event that will most likely have one more topic of discussion in the crowds.
In the last five years, Out! Raleigh has become an integral part of Raleigh’s downtown culture, promoted diversity awareness and a sense of inclusiveness for the LGBT community and its allies, both inside and outside of the Triangle.
“We are your friends and your neighbors, and we want you to be with us,” said LGBT Center of Raleigh Executive Director, James Miller.
Miller says politics over House Bill 2 have been tough to witness and that the community feels under attack.
“It really is something that I am concerned about,” Miller said. “People are hurting and I think it is because words matter. Our suicide line has gone through the roof.
Miller said more than 130 calls were made in one week, an eight-fold volume increase.
With the recent increase in phone calls, Miller said the festival comes at a perfect time this year.
“This year, it is focusing on the idea that individuals in our community are no different, and we went to invite everyone out in the community to see that,” Miller said.
Monday is the deadline the U.S. Department of Justice has given NC lawmakers to either get rid of the law or lose billions in federal funding. The Department of Justice said the law violates a number of civil rights laws. If it stands, North Carolina stands to lose $4.7 billion in federal funding.
For now, as they wait for Monday’s deadline, organizers with Out! Raleigh say come Saturday they’ll continue to do what they have always done.
“We welcome everyone,” Hoar said.
Visit OutRaleigh and the Raleigh LGBT Center online at lgbtcenterofraleigh.com