Editor’s Note: Due to pressure from right wing residents of Horry County stating the resolution should not have been passed under a consent agenda, the Horry County Council rescinded resolution R-51-2022 declaring June as Pride Month at their June 7 meeting. HCDP is appalled at the decision of the Council as they continue in their failure to recognize our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors.
In the last two decades, there have been swift changes occurring across America when it comes to Americans accepting a diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities. A recent poll reveals that in 2021, American’s acceptance of gay and lesbian people reached the highest level the nation has seen thus far, standing at 62%.
Another poll records a record high of 70% for support of same-sex marriage in the U.S. This latest figure marks an increase of 10 percentage points since 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all states must recognize same-sex marriages. And, fortunately, both political parties have now reached majority support for same-sex marriage where 55% of Republicans and 83% of Democrats are in support.
Recent polls are also recording a dramatic increase in LGBTQ+ identification in the last few years. Roughly 21% of Generation Z Americans who have reached adulthood — those born between 1997 and 2003 — identify as LGBTQ+. That is nearly double the proportion of millennials who do so.
Looking locally toward community actors who support the LGBTQ+ community, I was able to catch up with Grand Strand Pride leaders Terry Livingston and Adam Hays and ask them some questions about their organizing work in Horry County.
We talked about some of the greatest challenges to the LGBTQ+ community in the state of South Carolina. Livingston told me how attacks on the community are happening very often from the legislators at the statehouse.
Fighting Discriminatory Legislation at the Statehouse
For one, there has been much recent controversy about whether the city of Columbia will uphold a current law that prohibits the barbaric practice of conversion therapy from being implemented. This is a dangerous prospect as reputable medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have denounced the practice.
In fact, a San Francisco University study recently found that LGBTQ+ children sent to conversion therapy are eight times more likely to report having attempted suicide and six time more likely to report high levels of depression. To date, 20 U.S. states, over 100 municipalities, and 16 countries have decided to legally ban conversation therapy.
Another dire concern at the statehouse is H.4776, a bill that would grant medical practitioners a broad license to discriminate. If passed, a doctor, nurse, or councilor could legally deny medical help to LGBTQ+ persons for religious reasons. It will almost certainly negatively impact LGBTQ+ South Carolinians. At this moment, the bill has passed the Senate and moved to the governor’s desk. The last chance we have is to convince the governor to veto the bill.
Sadly, the governor has already signed H. 4608 into law, which stigmatizes transgender youth in our state by not allowing them to participate in school sports. Legislators have been concerning themselves with implementing these discriminatory laws while they should have been concerned with creating viable budgets, funding education, and protecting all our citizens.
Hays said there is a widespread perception by the American public that the LGBTQ+ community has won their victories and that now everything is equal. However, we can see that there are still many legislative and public struggles that must be waged for the LGBTQ+ community to secure their rights in the civic space.
Livingston pointed out that having things protected through Supreme Court legal decisions is not good enough. This becomes apparent when we consider that the Roe v. Wade decision could be overturned any day now. With this heavily conservative court, the same could happen to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that guarantees the legality of same-sex marriages in all U.S. states. Women and LGBTQ+ rights are under attack, so lawmakers need to come together and pass legislation that codifies these rights into law. We can no longer rely on the supreme court.
Organizing to Support the LGBTQ+ Community
Research shows that more than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ Americans have faced discrimination over the past year, and that more than half are hiding a personal relationship from their families or jobs. To combat discriminatory legislation, Grand Strand Pride partners with the South Carolina United, which has people monitoring the action at the statehouse and distributing this information in real time to constituents across the state.
Hays noted that Grand Strand Pride ensures that this information is available on their social media, and this open communication strategy has been successful in stopping hateful legislation. Livingston added that the best chance to stop harmful legislation is to freeze a bill in committee before it reaches the floor for a vote, so people need to contact their representatives as soon as they are aware of potentially negative laws.
On the positive side, Grand Strand Pride is currently celebrating because on May 17, 2022, Horry County Council passed resolution R-51-2022 designating the month of June as pride month in Horry County.
This resolution assures us that Horry County is dedicated to:
- Ensuring the right of every citizen and visitor to live free from discrimination in a more just and inclusive society
- Guaranteeing that everyone is empowered to live their life freely and achieve their greatest potential
- Encouraging citizens to recognize, celebrate and accept the ongoing efforts and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community by building a culture of inclusiveness and acceptance.
Grand Strand Pride will celebrate this resolution at 4 pm on June 16th at Chapin Park in Myrtle Beach. This celebration is open to the public and will have a live DJ, food trucks, and guest speakers.