In a disappointing turn of events for the LGBT community, Lafayette recently turned down the resolution to consider June Pride Month.
Over 20 supporters stood to speak at the meeting, and only two of them were in opposition. Despite the overwhelming support it had, the resolution, started by Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, was lost by one vote. The final score tallied at 4-3 in favor.
In a written statement, Councilman Boudreaux told The Vermilion, “The individual who made the request, as well as many who supported, are tax paying citizens in good standing who afford the rights, privileges and protection of our constitution and charter. To deny or ignore is wrong and sets a precedent for all other subgroups of our society to be treated the same.”
Matthew Humphrey is a member of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Lafayette as well as a strong advocate for the resolution. According to Humphrey, the resolution was started because PFLAG Lafayette wanted to do something to celebrate Pride Month; he said it was especially important to do something this year because this particular June is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
The resolution failing has many LGBT upset. Santana Pilar Andrews — also known as Dylan Pontiff out of drag — is a popular drag queen in Lafayette who performs at Bolt. Andrews said it was a great chance for Lafayette to show its support and want for diversity in the city. She went on to say that the resolution’s failure sends the message that, “We live in a city that wants to remain close-minded and 50 years in the past.”
As for whether or not Andrews expected the resolution to pass in the first place, she had mixed feelings.
“I couldn’t believe something as simple as recognizing something that’s recognized nationally is such an issue, but Lafayette and certain council members know how to keep us in the dark days,” Andrews said.
Despite the anger the decision has brought the LGBT community, Humphrey says he doesn’t see it as a loss.
“I see it as we still have work to do,” Humphrey said.
“It would have been a giant step forward had it passed, but I don’t think it’s all that big of a deal that it didn’t pass, at least not for us, because we still have the work to do. There are still hearts and minds in this town that we have to change.”
Humphrey goes on to say that this isn’t the worst setback the LGBT community has faced, and next June the Lafayette community can expect to see him and PFLAG Lafayette working on this resolution again.
“Next year, it will pass,” he said.
Humprey also wanted to make it clear the resolution is not an attempt to turn Lafayette into a “gay city,” as some people accused it of being.
“It’s literally just recognizing the struggles of the LGBT community and saying that students should be free to learn in an environment free of discriminiation and bullying,” Humphrey said. “It isn’t anything that anyone can argue with.”
In the words of Councilman Boudreaux at the city council meeting, “There’s nothing in this resolution that forces anybody to participate in any event that they choose not to."
Humphrey also makes an interesting point about how this decision could affect Lafayette’s economy. He believes this decision will turn away some large businesses who wanted to set up shop in Lafayette, and that it will prevent Lafayette from bringing in more revenue.
As for the message the failure sends, Humphrey said, “Lafayette is trying to be a mini-Austin with all this music and culture and food, but we can’t have June, which is nationally recognized as Pride Month, and say ‘We know you struggle and we see it.’”
“The message is negative and a bad look for Lafayette. We are risking the stagnation of our growth and the loss of exceptional talent,” Councilman Boudreaux said in a written statement. “I do feel based on how this was handled and the response in favor and opposition against gives hope that we will do better in the future.”
LGBT people in Lafayette shouldn’t lose all hope, because Humphrey is adamant that the resolution will pass in the future.
“It’s absolutely going to get passed because we’re going to the city council and parish council,” he said. “I told Councilman Kevin Naquin that he can expect to see a lot of me because if I have anything to say about it, the children in this area — including his own children — will grow up to be a lot more open-minded.”