More than 100 NC Organizations, Attorneys, Officials, Individuals Condemn NCBA’s Drag Show Cancellation, Call for Retraction

Parade of folks flying LGBTQIA+ Flag

DURHAM, NC — Southern Coalition for Social Justice, along with more than 120 legal, nonprofit and LGBTQ organizations, current and former elected officials, members of the legal community, and individuals across North Carolina sent a letter today to the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) condemning its recent decision to cancel a drag show for fear of political repercussion. 

The NCBA cancelled its June 8 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Committee’s drag show trivia night event to prevent it from being “interpreted as a political statement” and because proceeding with the event would “impair the effectiveness” of the Association’s legislative dealings. By cancelling, the NCBA has hopped onto the conservative bandwagon that attempts to frame the existence and celebration of LGBTQ+ life as inherently political. 

“Conservative lawmakers are attacking the LGBTQ+ community from all sides across our nation,” said Ryan Roberson, Executive Director of SCSJ. “Organizations like the NCBA wield vast influence — it’s important for them not to bow to the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and political pressure to erase our queer family from public life, especially as we enter Pride Month. It’s worth a reminder, injustice against one of our communities is injustice against all.” 

SCSJ and the other signatories call on the NCBA to stand with the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month and every month of every year. The letter specifically asks the NCBA to issue an “unambiguous statement acknowledging the decision to cancel the SOGI Committee event was wrong and committing to centering LGBTQ+ voices in matters affecting their rights and well-being, eschewing censorship and authoritarianism in all its forms, and taking proactive measures to rebuild trust between the Association and its members.” 

Click here to read the full letter. (Or see PDF below)

In addition to the letter, please see the below comments from signatories (note for media, please contact Melissa Boughton if you would like to attribute one of these comments to the commentor so explicit permission may be obtained):  

  • North Carolina’s LGBTQ+ community deserves better from the judges, lawyers, and law students who are tasked with defending us and our civil rights. 
  • I’m pretty sure that the North Carolina legislature would probably say that the very existence of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Committee is itself a political statement. I can’t imagine that adding a drag show trivia night event would change that analysis. As a member of the NC Bar and a former member of the NCBA’s Board of Governors, I urge you to stand up to these bullies. My 12-year-old just founded the Pride Club at school to provide a safe space for LGBT students against bullies. Try to be at least as courageous as my 12-year-old.   
  • As a UNC law graduate, I am appalled to see our organization conduct such actions, particularly given NC’s unique history of LGBTQ equality among southern states.  
  • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” — Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail” Similarly, discrimination, whatever its form, sprouts from the same root. Discrimination against one of us harms all of us.” 
  • We must stand together.  
  • [I am] deeply saddened and disturbed by the NCBA’s cancellation of this event. Carolina Migrant Network (CMN) represents many LGBTQ+ individuals who are fleeing persecution in their countries of origin. I often wonder the reception they receive in their new home. 
  • I urge the NCBA to consider the significant power that it yields as an institution of law as we face a landslide of discriminatory legislation across the nation, our state, and our local communities. There is an opportunity here for repair and empowerment that would be tragic and life threatening to ignore. 
  • NCCADP is committed to creating a new vision of justice which affirms the human dignity of everyone, most especially those in our community who have (and continue to) experience inequity, lack of safety, and discrimination. As a coalition comprised of 18 partner organizations and thousands of North Carolinians, including many members of the NC Bar, we eagerly add our voice urging the NCBA to correct this harmful decision. 
  • We must not give in to hate and not holding the event is caving to hateful extremism.